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Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not perpetually falling? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing?

God Is Dead! Don't Blame Nietzsche: It Was Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking Who Killed Him

Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is it not more and more night coming on all the time? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Gods too decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, murderers of all murderers, console ourselves? That which was the holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet possessed has bled to death under our knives.

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Who will wipe this blood off us? With what water could we purify ourselves?

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What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we need to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we not ourselves become gods simply to be worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whosoever shall be born after us — for the sake of this deed he shall be part of a higher history than all history hitherto. Here the madman fell silent and again regarded his listeners; and they too were silent and stared at him in astonishment.


At last he threw his lantern to the ground, and it broke and went out. The tremendous event is still on its way, still travelling — it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time, the light of the stars requires time, deeds require time even after they are done, before they can be seen and heard.

This deed is still more distant from them than the distant stars — and yet they have done it themselves. It has been further related that on that same day the madman entered various churches and there sang a requiem. This parable first printed in , is known as The Parable of the Mad Man. One of the characteristics of a parable is that it surprises us with a truth that we already know.

God is dead and we have killed him! Over the years, many of us have been taught to believe that the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the death of God. For those who bore witness to the execution of the Jesus it was a pain to incredible to bear. All their hopes and dreams for a future free from the injustices of Roman oppression hung upon that dreadful cross. In the generations that followed, those who heard the stories of Jesus life and death and saw what Jesus friends and followers had seen in him, recognized that in Jesus they had met someone so open to the spirit of God, that in him they could actually see God.

Jesus of Nazareth was for his followers the embodiment of God; or as our friend Dom Crossan insists, to the early followers of the Way, Jesus was what God looked like in a pair of sandals. Sure we learned various versions of this doctrine, but as Western Christians we learned that Jesus was a sacrifice for our sin; or that God in Christ died for our sin. Some of us learned this particular theory of atonement in a kinder and gentler way. So, for years, and years and years, we went to church on Good Friday, and we wept; standing in the shadow of the cross we wept, knowing that we are either wicked or fallen creatures, in bondage to sin, who cannot free ourselves, and that upon that cross Christ died to save us from our sinful nature, or that God himself died for us.

For generations, Christians have gathered on Good Friday to mourn the death of Jesus, confident that upon the cross God died for us and for our salvation. As biblical scholarship began to challenge our assumptions and more and more of us began to learn about the history of the events of the execution of Jesus of Nazareth, the various doctrines of atonement began to sound hollow to some, and downright sadomasochistic to many.

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How could a God whose name is love, demand such an awful price? Over the past few decades preachers and theologians began to relieve God of the awful blame for this sacrifice as we used what we were learning about the matrix of history that give rise to that cross.

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So, Good Friday sermons began to turn to the historically based notion that Jesus died upon the cross not as a sacrifice for our sinfulness but as a result of our violent nature. We looked to the death of Jesus of Nazareth to move us beyond violence so that we might begin to achieve our salvation by enacting justice as a means to peace. So, where the first mourners saw their hoped for Messiah dying up there on the Cross and generations to come saw the Son of God being sacrificed for sin, or God himself graciously dying on our behalf, for the past few decades many of us have come to church on Good Friday and seen the power of God embodied in a life that would risk everything, even death on a cross, rather than take up arms against another, so that love might be demonstrated to be more powerful than death.

Regardless of our theologies, somebody died up there on that cross and so we wept. Recently, it has become more and more difficult for many of us to come to church on Good Friday; or on any day for that matter. For so many of our neighbours, friends and families, God is indeed dead; killed not upon the cross but sacrificed upon the altars of reality.

Some of us have experienced this death of God as our knowledge of the creation has taken us to places our ancestors never dreamed possible. The Father-god, the Sky-god, God the grand puppeteer in the sky, who watches over us like a kindly shepherd, and listens to us, and interferes on our behalf, and judges us, forgives us and longs to welcome us into heaven, but is willing to let us languish in hell if need be.

God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and earth is dead. And so a few of us come to church on Good Friday grieving the loss of the God we had personified, worshipped and adored. God is dead and we have killed him!!! For those of us gathered here in this place, on this particular Good Friday, the death of the personified god is all too familiar. I long to return to the garden alone.

I long to embrace the God of grace, the God of love that did indeed save me. I also see upon the cross, my own sinful nature. I know that I am an evolving creature, incomplete and I look to Jesus to see a way of evolving into a creature who put love above all else. But I can see upon the cross my own incompleteness, and my own willfulness, my own selfishness, and I can also see my own violent urges, and I can see all that multiplied as my sisters and brothers, neighbours, friends and enemies in their incompleteness lash out at one another, or choose greed, hatred and violence over love.

So, I look upon the cross and I see the death of Love.

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But I also look upon the cross and see the death of the god we have personified and there is pain in that particular death; pain I am only beginning to see the contours of. God is dead; the Father God, the Sky God, the kindly Shepherd that I was counting on to make me lie down in green pastures, is dead. So, on this Good Friday in addition to the horror of Jesus execution, on top of all the suffering of my sisters and brothers, and for the violence that we cannot seem to escape, in addition to all of that I weep for the death of the god we have personified.

There are billions of nebulae. Some of them make stars, like we need more stars. For authors of popular science books, feeling dazzled is a consistent response to the grandeurs of the universe. What is it to be amazed? None of these terms — dazzle, amazement — has anything to do with the practice of science. There is no sense in which this passage is related to the scientific method. Hawking uses an aesthetic terminology without feeling any need to provide an actual aesthetic.

But, as Gould makes clear, these are not the only magisteria. There is also art. And he would not be alone. This book [ The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark ] is a personal statement, reflecting my lifelong love affair with science. We win, he says. We scientists win. The legendary Richard Feynman takes a shot at the problem in a footnote in his book Six Easy Pieces :.

Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars — mere globs of gas atoms. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination — stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one-million-year-old light. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined! Well, to be generous, Feynman does not give me a lot of confidence that he actually knows much about what the artists of the past imagined.

He clearly thinks he knows, and he thinks his readers know, but my suspicion is that what he means is both trite and unexamined. They make the members of the cultural group who use them have the affective experience of meaning without forcing them to go to the trouble of finding out whether they have understood anything or not. These words are the totems of in-groups at the higher cultural levels.

They are the equivalent of the insignia of the Masonic Shriners. I suggest to you that this is a failure to take evidence, all the evidence, seriously. Scientists — Dawkins included — do get weepy-eyed over their discoveries. I get weepy-eyed over their discoveries. What I do blame Dawkins and science for is their lack of curiosity about what this feeling of awe means. Amazement-before-the-cosmos cannot be tested or proved by observation, and it is not predictive of anything other than itself. In the hands of science, beauty is just a tautology, or a dogma. This is the solar system, and this is the proper emotional and aesthetic response to the solar system.

You may ask questions about the planets, but you may not fail to be amazed. And if you do fail to see the universe as beautiful, you will be frowned upon by adults. In short, science operates within a matrix of familiar aesthetic values that while not necessarily religious are entirely extra-scientific. And it seems to be entirely blind to the fact.

Worse yet, the education it offers young and old is this: you will defer to your betters, those who know, the scientists. You might think that this would be the place where a little philosophical inquiry could help out, you know, some aesthetics, but you would be wrong. For science, the only thing deader than God is philosophy. Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics.

Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge. Amazingly, while the news media rose in scandal over the possibility that Hawking denied God, his claim for the death of philosophy passed nearly without comment. When science flatters itself that it is the last man standing — philosophy dead, imagination dead, and art for entertainment only — it becomes its own enemy. It then puts on the mask of power, grim as the face of Saint Robert Bellarmine explaining to Galileo the particulars of his predicament while sitting in a room with instruments of torture.

It is because of these concerns that Peckham and Jacob Bronowski insist that science must come to see itself in the artist, and the two should together make common cause against dogma and social regimentation. Must I think of myself as the moral equivalent of a virus? It has little to do with the real complexity of nature.