In order to better understand Nietzsche’s ideas on the Ubermensch and Eternal Recurrence, we must first start with the phrase that precedes the conditions for an Ubermensch (God is Dead). The phrase ‘God is Dead’ is usually misinterpreted. Many people seem to assume that this implies God was once a living creature, and he has since passed away. But this is a misconception. Nietzsche was an atheist, and thus never believed that a God existed in any form except as a figment of the human imagination.
The phrase does not mean that God was an actual living creature who has now died. What it means is that the idea of “God” is now dead. We have realized that there is no God, and thus he is now ‘Dead’. His essence no longer has meaning to us. As we advanced and became less reliant on faith and more reliant on logic, we came to the conclusion that there is no God, and that there will never be a God. Since we no longer believe in God, he is therefore ‘dead’. He is no longer a part of our lives, he has faded away and can no longer hold influence over us.
As Nietzsche wrote ‘God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?’ Basically, Nietzsche is saying that since we no longer believe in God, we have metaphorically killed him.
Given Nietzsche’s strong animosity towards religion, you would think people realizing that ‘God is Dead’ would make him happy. After all, Nietzsche was dedicated in his quest to try and rid the individual of dogmatic and supernatural beliefs. Surely, people disregarding religion would be a comforting sight to Nietzsche. But this was not the case. Nietzsche was deeply troubled by the lack of a God, he feared that this may lead to the destruction of our society.
Since God never existed, that would imply that there is no afterlife and no soul. It would also mean that there is no objective morality. As Dostoevsky wrote ‘If there is no God, everything is permitted.’ Nietzsche feared that once Europeans abandoned their Christian faith, the world would sink into nihilism. By realizing that there is no God, this would cause individuals to lose all hope or any sense of respect or belonging. Humans would go mad and there would be chaos everywhere. The current structure of society would fall apart as nihilism swept across the continent. This is what Nietzsche feared. That the masses would not be able to handle the notion that there is no God, and thus would use their newly discovered freedom on harmful and destructive ways. The impending nihilism of the future appeared to be coming closer and closer. Thus, Nietzsche began to search for an answer to nihilism (without using religion). The answer was the Ubermensch.