WASHINGTON, July 6, 2013 ― Frederich Nietzsche is known for his infamous declaration, “God is dead.” Those words are an affront to decent people everywhere, aren’t they?
The real question is, what qualifies as an affront to another? Is Nietzsche’s statement more offensive than declarations of belief in God?
Nietzsche was bold enough to say something that most religious skeptics are reluctant or afraid to say. But it isn’t true just because he said it, no matter how brilliant or bold he was.
It is provocative, and it strikes to the heart of something that is of profound importance to people who believe that God is at work in the world today.
Most people believe in some sort of deity. However, Christians do not subscribe to the notion that we all, regardless of our religion, ultimately worship the same God. Our beliefs about deity are too diverse and contradictory for that idea to make any sense.
Pantheism declares that God is everything there is: “I am you, you are me, and we are God.” Panentheism postulates that God is in everything. Islam establishes an absolute and unique Allah. Polytheism is a belief in many gods.
Humanism (which was officially recognized as a religion by the U.S. Supreme Court in the early 1960’s) establishes that human beings are the ultimate authority in the universe, and are solely responsible for our destiny without acknowledging any form of deity.
The list goes on, but the question is, why have the foundations of all of them been susceptible to the declaration, “God is dead”?
People tend to judge religions by their doctrinal foundations, and by the lives of those who believe in them. “By their fruits shall you know them.” Look again at what Nietzsche wrote:
“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. Yet his shadow still looms. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”
The diversity of religion doesn’t just give us more options to believe; the diversity and inconsistency of religions helps bring the whole enterprise into doubt. And if you look at the lives and detestable practices of so many religious people, it is no wonder that proponents of Nietzsche consider religion the source of humanity’s ills.
Evil exists in the world today. From a Judeo-Christian perspective, the heart of man is depraved, self-centered and self-serving:
“The heart (of man) is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
From that same Judeo-Christian perspective, consider the words of Dr. Frances Schaeffer, from his lecture “The question of personality and the Bible’s answer”:
“The only way to function on the basis of non-Judeo-Christian presuppositions is to be inconsistent with those presuppositions.”
When philosophers like Nietzsche make dogmatic statements that “God is dead,” we should first be introspective (and honest) enough to look critically at what we believe. Determine whether or not there is an unwavering and consistent truth in our religious dogma, and a corresponding parallel borne out by the example of our own lives. All double-standards and contradictory examples of either help add a nail to our deity’s coffin.
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