Friedrich Nietzsche
Translation: H.L. Mencken


A criticism of the Christian concept of God leads inevitably to the same conclusion.--A nation that still believes in itself holds fast to its own God. In him it does honour to the conditions which enable it to survive, to its virtues--it projects its joy in itself, its feeling of power, into a being to whom one may offer thanks. He who is rich will give of his riches; a proud people need a God to whom they can make sacrifices. . . religion, within these limits, is a form of gratitude. A man is grateful for his own existence: to that end he needs a God.--Such a God must be able to work both benefits and injuries; he must be able to play either friend or foe--he is wondered at for the good he does as well as for the evil he does. But the castration, against all nature, of such a God, making him a God of goodness alone, would be contrary to human inclination. mankind has just as much need for an evil God as for a good God; it doesn't have to thank mere tolerance and humanitarianism for its own existence. . . . What would be the value of a God who knew nothing of anger, revenge, envy, scorn, cunning, violence? who had perhaps never experienced the rapturous ardeurs of victory and of destruction? No one would understand such a God: why should any one want him?--True enough, when a nation is on the downward path, when it feels its belief in its own future, its hope of freedom slipping from it, when it begins to see submission as a first necessity and the virtues of submission as measures of self-preservation, then it must overhaul its God. He then becomes a hypocrite, timorous and demure; he counsels "peace of soul," hate-no-more, leniency, "love" of friend and foe. He moralizes endlessly; he creeps into every private virtue; he becomes the God of every man; he becomes a private citizen, a cosmopolitan. . . Formerly he represented a people, the strength of a people, everything aggressive and thirsty for power in the soul of a people; now he is simply the good God...The truth is that there is no other alternative for Gods: either they are the will to power--in which case they are national Gods--or incapacity for power--in which case they have to be good.

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