It was the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who boldly proclaimed “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, murderers of all murderers, console ourselves? . . . Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we not ourselves become gods simply to be worthy of it? (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science)”
His idea was that through scientific discovery, rationalism, and a sharp critique of religion, we buried God and with him all things supernatural.
It is that last part (all things supernatural) with which we ought take caution. Should we really believe the only things that are real are made up of material? Are there no immaterial realities?
Think about the immaterial realities we’re being asked to abandon: belief in the reality of good and evil, love, and the concept of truth itself. Nietzsche knew this and admitted to it. Yet, he felt we had transcended what it long meant to be human. Now we “must become gods” that make up our own rules (side note: Nietzsche also was later admitted into an insane asylum).
Jesus, as he hung on the cross, was mocked and ridiculed for his claim to divinity. No doubt there were sarcastic echoes of “God is dead!” In fact, in Lukes gospel, some in the crowd mocked, “He saved others let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One (Luke 23:35).”
But Jesus knew that like Nietzsche, these people were unaware of the ramifications of “killing God.” Thus He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23: 24).”
Nietzsche and other post enlightenment philosophers don’t always seem to understand what they are asking for once God’s out of their way.
What happens when we embrace materialism (the idea that only material things exist)? What happens when we become our own gods?
We find out just how human we are.
In the Garden, the serpent lied to Eve saying, “ye shall be as gods (Genesis 3:5).” The reason this was a lie is because we’ve never truly had the power or authority to create the truth in this world. Therefore, when man tries to create his own truth, things always go awry.
For example, Hitlers regime was driven by a materialist philosophy and a Darwinian Survival-of- the-fittest mentality. After all, if all that exist is the material world, then we can and should make it what we will.
But once we advocate for an authority beyond human intellect and understanding, we bring God into the conversation. Evolutionary processes do not produce morals nor do they produce truth. Those things are produced by mind not matter. Therefore, these immaterial realities were created only by the ultimate mind; a personal creator: God.
Because we are made in his image, we also acknowledge the immaterial world. This is why we love, hope, and have courage despite our physical limitations. It is also why we desire something beyond the physical world.And it is why we can be creative and use our imagination to understand reality.
We cannot transcend God. Any attempt to do so, is against the nature of what it means to be human. And therefore “killing God” is in another sense “killing humanity.” There must be a perfect being, a standard of morality, and objective truth. Without it humanity crumbles.