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Deceased Deity Smackdown: Part Two

May 16, 2012

Quien es mas macho? Dostoyevsky or Nietzsche?


Yesterday a like-new 1880 model Dostoyevsky pulled into Herb’s Semantic Garage for a quick check-up. “If God is dead, then everything is permitted.” Gotta admire those antique but still lethal-looking lines! So, full of enthusiasm, we popped the hood on this racy vehicle for atheists on the go.

Built by the Karamazov family of Russia, their classic old-world craftsmanship is thought to have the high horsepower of a terrible but honest truth. Instead, our inspection plainly indicated the rhetorical engine driving the English translation is fueled by play-acting, by a crass theatrical effect, and the so-called “honest truth” is mostly grimacing grease-paint over-dramatizing a ho-hum truism.

So this was yesterday’s big breakthrough… For a century-and-a-half the West has thought it was hearing the implacable voice of Science, only to find out now it was, like, Sarah Bernhardt all along. Gross disillusionment! Is nothing sacred, not even the Scriptures of atheism? Must the breed who always proudly announce having seen through God “when I was fifteen” begin again in middle-age by doubting doubt itself? 

Luckily, fast-fast relief exists for college-educated despair. There is still lose one mastermind of atheism even more dazzlingly epigrammatic than Dostoyevsky. Nietzsche! Another certifiable genius! Never fear! Good conformists can continue to cling to their pious and respectable middle-class godlessness, even when sorely tempted by assertions, blasphemous to Science, that, actually, hope might be the human portion after all.

Notice the difference in conclusions drawn from the exact same premise…

“If God is dead, then everything is permitted.” — Dostoyevsky

“If God is dead, everything is weightless.” — Nietzsche

Notice how the Russian speaks for only himself, his ilk, while the German speaks for us all by foreseeing our tragedy?

“Everything is permitted” to whom? The ordinary man in his everyday rounds confronts, not this dramatic everything, but rather humanity’s shabby heirloom crimes of ordinary theft, assault, infidelity, whatever. To now suddenly believe there will be no divine judgement for, say, stealing from your business partner does not tip the balance for a basically honest man to turn robber. Impending bankruptcy might.

So the question remains. Who among us, in 1880, will be most likely, in the years to come, to invent new and more outrageous violations of what used to be God’s unbreakable Laws? Not the powerless average folks. What about society’s powerful people, tho? Especially, those whose power is largely hypothetical — journalists, politicians, artists, editorialists and activist. Remember, at this  instant in the novel, Dostoyevsky’s character is in the front parlor, debating with just such people as these.

On the other hand, Nietzsche addresses everyday global life for all of us in the 21st century. Weightless, stranded on Instantaneous Island, hedged in by flatscreens, staring at the one in my palm and wondering why I love nobody…

Today many feel they are being forcibly exiled to Nietzsche’s floating, weightless future, not because it needs to happen, but because of the calculated crimes of the Dostoyevsky’s elites to whom everything is permitted because God is, you know, dead.

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