Negating Nietzsche, the Society Decides God is not Dead

The Society convened on February 9 for the sixth debate of the semester to examine the question Resolved: God is dead.

Mr. Jesse Whitfield spoke on the affirmation.  Mr. Jonathan Askonas spoke on the negation.

Mr. Whitfield began by announcing, “I’ve come here to bury God; not to mourn Him.” He went on to define that this debate is not about if God exists or if He should play a role in society; but rather, the question being considered is from where do we derive our morality. According to Nietzsche, it comes from us. In today’s society we’ve lost the fear that comes from total surrender to a morality from the heavens. With this ability to choose, we determine our own morality and “good or bad, you must affirm.” Mr Askonas countered that we murdered God on the premise that his existence hinders freedom but He did not choose to stay dead. He argued that every time God is murdered, man proves himself inadequate. He goes on to illustrate his concept of “too great greatness” with the story of Rasknolnikov, who in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment murders Alyona Ivanovna, attempting to create his own morality, then goes mad because man cannot handle this freedom. This is further illustrated in his dream about watching a mule being horribly beaten only to find himself extremely upset because in murdering God, we kill the image of God in everything, and in this, we kill ourselves as well. Thus we must make a choice between madness and peace because “man will not be free except he find himself in God.”

During the floor speeches, Ms. Wood argued on the affirmation that the role of religion in society has shifted back and forth, showing that God does not provide society with stability, whereas Europe has actually found stability in not having God. Mr. Biesiada countered that it is a negative when people become Nietzsche’s superman character and warned, “Take care when you grapple with monsters lest you become one yourself.” Mr. Bade then argued that we need not wish ourselves to be slaves by looking to the sky to find the meaning of life, rather we can find it in the human experience. On the negation, Mr. Spagnuolo argued that whether we as individuals can kill God is not what matters because enough people still believe that God has a plan and a morality to offer them. Ms. Wynter added that religion has been founded on the premise that man finds brokenness  and as long as that still exists, God is alive. However, she cautioned the Society that while God is not dead, he is dying because we are attempting to place Him where He does not belong, such as the public sphere of politics. On the affirmation, Mr. Arber rejected the notion that without God we cannot have motivation because we want to reach for a level of higher understanding and we’ve reached a point where we’re okay with not knowing everything. Thus we’ve killed God because we’re capable of driving forward as humans without divinity. Mr. Medina added that we can live in a world where people have religion yet still affirm that God is dead. He argued that man has both angel and demon within himself and that good is in the world because it has to be; we need each other, not God. Ms. Green countered that in looking at where we are today, we see that there is something missing. We need God as part of our fundamental vocabulary to deal with revelations of modernity, to be able to compensate for the evil in the world. Mr. Manchester argued on the affirmation that religion has been corrupted by those who interpret it to the point where it unrecognizable to us, and so God has been killed because we no longer recognize the real God.

Mr. Askonas concluded that while we all murder God when we grow up and rebel, we eventually come back. He argued that Nietzsche’s argument took a progressive view of history, but history has proven itself to be cyclical. He questioned, “If God is dead, we are our own God, but what happens when we die?” Thus there must be something greater than us and God lives, “He is risen!” Mr. Whitfield then argued that when one engages in reason, it should lead to God but because we’ve talked about concepts of God as separate, we’ve proven that God is dead. This is shown in Nietzsche’s argument that we will cast away our slave moralities because he too makes the mistake of separating God from reason and nature, and that is why God is dead.

The Society voted 27-5-14 to negate the resolution.

The following outstanding speakers were awarded Merrick points:

  • Mr. Medina – 5
  • Mr. Manchester – 4
  • Ms. Green – 3
  • Chancellor Iacono – 2
  • Mr. Askonas – 2
  • Mr. Henderson – 1

This brings the Merrick totals to:

  • Mr. Henderson – 14
  • Ms. Green – 14
  • Chancellor Iacono – 11
  • Mr. Medina – 9
  • Mr. Manchester – 7
  • Mr. Dulik – 5
  • Mr. Petallides – 3
  • Mr. Askonas – 2
  • Mr. Taft – 1


Emily R. Coccia

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