Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Whither is God?

Guest post by Jason Kanz

Most Americans, if they are honest, go about their days without much regard for the world around them. They may feel small microtremors of brokenness, but rarely do these events shake them out of their complacency in any real way. After looking up and wondering what they just experienced, they turn back to playing Angry Birds, the already faint memory fading quickly.

Unlike these microtremors, earthquake stories about the brutal murders in Aurora and the years of depravity and cover up at Penn State have shaken many Americans out of their blissful unawareness of the daily tragedies that surround us. Once people recover from the initial aftershocks of stories like these, they begin to ask questions. "How could this have happened?" "Why did this tragedy occur?" "Where was God?" People are searching for answers, but secular answers leave people wanting, at least for a season. Eventually though, the stories fade from the limelight, people stop asking why, and they slowly fade back into their blissful slumbers.

As I thought about these events, Friedrich Nietzsche's Parable of the Madman came to mind. He begins,

"Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: 'I seek God! I seek God!' -- As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated? -- Thus they yelled and laughed.

"The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. 'Whither is God?' he cried; 'I will tell you. We have killed him -- you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him"

The atheist philosopher understood that to "kill God" would lead to nihilism, relativism, and amorality. Though he welcomed the death of God, he would not have been surprised at these tragedies occurring today.

When you seek to kill God and rely solely upon naturalism, morality is no longer grounded in a moral law giver. When relativism prevails and there is no objective morality, people can no longer claim that something is morally right or wrong in any objective sense. For the relativist, the outrage over tragedies like this merely represents personal preference. Nineteenth century philosophers understood the consequences of killing God, but most people today do not. Indeed, many are on a conquest to do so.

The next time a tragedy like this occurs (and it will), stop and ask why you are morally outraged. The next time you find yourself asking "whither is God?", let your answer be "We have killed him--you and I." Rejecting God not only has grave salvific consequences for the individual; on a societal level, rejecting him destroys cultural morality and goodness. If you don't believe it, turn on the news.

1 comment:

Gregg said...

And read Romans 1:18-32 to see where the process of rejecting God leads to.