Nietzsche Vs. The New Atheists

Something that’s striking about the New Atheists is that they seem to regard Nietzsche as a sort of crazy uncle best left in the attic. John Gray was the first one I recall pointing this out (in a superb essay titled “Evangelical Atheists, Secular Christians“) I mean, he’s an uncle, he’s family, but the Nietzschean turn in philosophy was something that they at least implicitly regard as mistaken and therefore he’s the crazy uncle. I was reminded of this by a video posted by Andrew Sullivan in which Sam Harris argues that science can be used to determine morality. Sullivan observed that Harris was “basically attacking the post-Nietzsche fact-value distinction.”

So while crazy uncle Nietzsche might get respect from the New Atheists for being the one who penned the whole “God is dead” line, they really don’t like much his other philosophical legacy.