Nietzche said:

But let me reveal my heart entirely unto you, my friends: if there were gods, how could I endure it not to be a god! Hence there are no Gods. Though I drew this conclusion, now it draws me.

from Thus Spoke Zarathustra, this translation is from the Kaufmann edition here.

This doesn't seem to be a real explanation, from where does the conclusion come? Could anyone explain it better?

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    You might want to provide some citation info for this quote so people can see the broader context. I'm not sure it's that worthwhile to speculate about the meaning of a quote in isolation.
    – Dennis
    Commented Jul 8, 2013 at 0:02
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    Especially when we're talking about Nietzsche.
    – commando
    Commented Jul 8, 2013 at 0:47
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    I mean, this is clearly somewhat "trite"; note that in other places, he will emphasize the degree to which it's impossible to disprove absolutely the metaphysical possibility of the existence of God...
    – Joseph Weissman
    Commented Jul 8, 2013 at 2:02
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    This question does not cite the quotation it is asking about, and given that the source of said quotation cannot be found even with an extensive search, it is unanswerable until some citation is provided.
    – commando
    Commented Jul 8, 2013 at 14:16
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    Well, mystery solved! It's from Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Will edit the original question.
    – Dennis
    Commented Jul 8, 2013 at 17:56

4 Answers 4


Firstly I would say Nietzsche's writings show a deep ambivalence toward the Gods .. The introduction to The Birth of Tragedy, for example, which Nietzsche wrote years after its first publication talks about the "offensively Hegelian" character of his initial formulation of the 'opposition' between Apollo and Dionysus, taken together assuming the form of an "irrisponsible God"; the chaotic, suffering unity whose redemption is found in individuation, illusion, limit, masks, the 'dream work' of Apollo, with a synthesis of the two reaching a crescendo in Attic tragedy. I note this only as a single small example, and to point out that Nietzsche's work contains a world more than is ordinarily attributed to him in relation to his attitude toward God, the term encompasses a lot more in his work than his views on the Christian God. Off the top of my head, and just in brief, see aphorism 150 from Beyond Good and Evil, which Heidegger takes as the "guiding thought" of his second book on Nietzsche:

Everything in the hero's sphere turns to tragedy; everything in the demi-god's sphere turns to satyr-play; and everything in God's sphere turns to ... to what? "world" perhaps?

.. Having said that, the quote you cite is clearly satirical. One of the main things which Nietzsche's work emphasises is that the conditions of life also include error. Deleuze has a beautiful phrase in his Nietzsche and philosophy - "the affirmative power of falsity" ..

In your quote he is ridiculing attempts to disprove God because, as @Joseph Weissman notes to him the death of God, among other things, implies the absence of any transcendent guarantor of truth. The logic is egregiously unsound, as is the assumption that logic can be used to prove such a thing. For a comparison reason for Descartes was "the natural light", a divinely endowed capacity to perceive truth. Nietzsche did not believe this. One passage which illustrates his attitude toward reason is aphorism 11 from Human, all too Human

Language as putative science. -

The significance of language for the evolution of culture lies in this, that mankind set up in language a separate world beside the other world, a place it took to be so firmly set that, standing upon it, it could lift the rest of the world off its hinges and make itself master of it. To the extent that man has for long ages believed in the concepts and names of things as in aeternae veritates he has appropriated to himself that pride by which he raised himself above the animal: he really thought that in language he possessed knowledge of the world. The sculptor of language was not so modest as to believe that he was only giving things designations, he conceived rather that with words he was expressing supreame knowledge of things; language is, in fact, the first stage of occupation with science. Here, too, it is the belief that the truth has been found out of which the mightiest sources of energy have flowed. A great deal later - only now - it dawns on men that in their belief in language they have propagated a tremendous error. Happily, it is too late for the evolution of reason, which depends on this belief, to be put back. - Logic too depends on presuppositions with which nothing in the real world corresponds, for example on the presupposition that there are identical things, that the same thing is identical at different points of time: but this science came into existence through the opposite belief (that such conditions do obtain in the real world). It is the same with mathematics, which would certainly not have come into existence if one had known from the beginning that there was in nature no exactly straight line, no real circle, no absolute magnitude.


IMHO the statement is not a "proof" but rather an emotional argument.

Recall that religions usually defer major decisions to God or gods, to which many proverbs attest. Nietzsche, on the other hand, was strongly opposed to humbleness. Existence of omnipotent God would put severe limits on Nietzsche, beyond limits of the natural laws. Thus he refused to submit to being God's underling, an Untergott, so to speak.

Now, according to Nietzsche, God is a product of a human mind, like in "What is it: is man only a blunder of God, or God only a blunder of man?" Thus, by refusing to believe in God you eliminate God.

  • Good catch on the emotional argument aspect of this. +1
    – tnknepp
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 19:29

I think this a clear example of inductive reasoning wherein the unstated premise is that the God is omnipresent or "All is God's Manifestation". Hence, if God is omnipresent, how is it possible that the subject that is questioning the existence of God is not a god, and ergo there are no gods. This is my idea about this quote. An analogy here can also be drawn from the Epicurean's paradox , the first logical refutation of the existence of God, wherein he uses one premise as "God is omnipresent, so where from comes the evil? Another analogy can be drawn from the Black Swan Theory, wherein a Black swan thinks that since he is black , none of the white swan exists. Thanks


Nietszche doesnt wastes time in disproving god , he knows a truly inquisitive and truthfull bound character will be an atheist and trying to convince anyone of it is unnecessary. He even says he is an atheist by "instinct". He admits to denying any god, but as to "proof the non existance of him" he simply dismisses such a time wasting enterprise, let the people obsessed with universals convince the mob, his books are meant to be read and understood not really to establish a system upon one single universal truth, to convince a madman of his madness is not worthy of him, he has bigger goals in mind, and if he ever does it he does it playfully and with a sense of humour not as such awful characters as dawkins who ravel in bathing in the stupidity of the mob who cannot comprehend such simple concepts as atheism.

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    this is very subjectively phrased, not easy to comprehend for the lack of sentences, and lacks sources, arguments and references.
    – iphigenie
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 18:25
  • @iphigenie : I agree. The point of the question is not whether Nietzsche was right or not, nor is it whether we agree with him or not. It is justs asked to understand Nietzsche's arguments better.
    – vsz
    Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 16:24

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