Can God create a rock he can’t lift?
The aforementioned question is asked by a character, Nick Haas, in the Netflix thriller series The Sinner. Elaborating further, he goes on to state that if the answer is yes, then there does indeed exist a rock that God can’t lift. Which means he’s not all-powerful.
Answer no and that means that he is incapable of creating such a rock- not all-powerful again. So the very creation of an all-human god is a human creation and a flawed one at that. Food for thought? Definitely.
Nietzsche and Netflix
Bearing striking connotations with Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of the Ubermensch, season 3 of The Sinner is based entirely on this very philosophy. A philosophy that has existed for aeons and is built solely on the ideals of power and greed. Practitioners of this philosophy spend their lives on a quest for the bottomless depth, the abyss. To be able to see beyond one’s delusions and enter the void of superiority, devoid of morality. The Ubermensch moulds and creates his own morality, which evolves in a virulent form.It is this bane of toxic masculinity which exists today, that leads one down the Nietzschean rabbit-hole of flawed machismo.
Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you – Beyond Good and Evil, (1886)
A concept entrenched in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, the Ubermensch encompasses the spectrum of beings who deem themselves superior, the chosen race in a planet of inferior entities.
Evolution of the Ubermensch
First mentioned in his book Thus Spoke Zarathustra in 1883, the concept has evolved over the years in different forms and spheres. From peer groups to national icons, the cult of superior personality caters specifically to the legend of the Ubermensch. From Joseph Stalin to Adolf Hitler, to present day Kim-Jong-Un and Narendra Modi, the sheer cult of personality cultivated by these men supersedes the mass of people deemed “ordinary”. Authoritative and unputdownable, the aura they command is guided by the bane of self-aggrandisement and the perils of autocracy.
The higher we soar the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly. – Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 1883
Larger than life and characterised by an iron hand, the philosophy of the Ubermensch has shone through the actions of leaders through the years. This philosophy also finds reference in George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman, where mankind is constantly evolving towards attaining a superior plane of perfection. This plane can only be achieved on the basis of one’s will to strive towards said perfection. Rather than seek fulfilment in other worlds, the Ubermensch denounces the afterlife and strives to make this earthly world- an everlasting eternity; a power portal to purgatory. A world, guided by power and unbridled control- of one’s thoughts, one’s senses and one’s way of living itself.
You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame; how could you rise anew if you have not first become ashes? -Thus Spoke Zarathustra
The Aryans interpreted the Ubermensch as a means of instilling a sense of superiority, where they imposed themselves as the biologically superior race. The very concept of a master race arose from Nietzsche’s Ubermensch and exerted itself upon the so called inferiors. If we look at the realm of comic books, even the world’s most popular superhero, Superman, was originally conceived as a villain, existing solely to wreak havoc, unlike the saviour we recognise today.
Since then, the Ubermensch has constituted a formidable foe to Superman, be it in terms of his twisted clone- Bizarro, or in Zack Snyder’s adaptation Man of Steel, where General Zod becomes emblematic of the Ubermensch. Overpowered and beyond divine intervention, the Ubermensch believes that “God is dead”, and bases his mentality on this very thought. While Superman has an ideal to strive towards, spurred by the motivation to protect his people, General Zod is spurred by his ideal of world domination. A theory which bears strong resemblance to the ideals of several dictators throughout history. Their sole desire- to reaffirm life itself without a morsel of resentment ensures the Reign of the Superman as Chaos, walking.
Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman–a rope over an abyss… – Thus Spoke Zarathustra
The Failure of the Ubermensch
What the Ubermensch often fails to realise is that the power they so often seek, is destined to slip out of their grasp the moment it consumes them. Since human beings in reality have no control over “free will”, the Ubermensch believes in taking the fight to a non-existent messiah, who in reality, is man himself.
The binding system of morality which defines the Superman we know, is absent in Nietzsche’s Superman. If we analyse the pages of history, equating Science with Religion often foretells an evolutionary catastrophe, for the militarised drive to purge the earth of inferior beings, is in itself, a stigma on humanity as a race itself.
But what I have in view will now be understood, namely, that it is always a metaphysical belief on which our belief in science rests… still take our fire from the conflagration kindled by a belief a millennium old, the Christian belief, which was also the belief of Plato, that God is truth, that the truth is divine- Die fröhliche Wissenschaft (The Gay Science), Nietzsche, (1882)
About the author:
A freelance journalist with a strong penchant for anything cinema, travel and poetry. An optimistic over thinker who flits between Fincher and Fitzgerald. An old-school philosopher trapped in a rambunctious, young man’s body. At heart, a firm advocator of carpe diem, with a Masters in spouting random trivia and a PhD in gastronomy