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"God is dead" (German: About this sound "Gott ist tot" ; also known as the death of God) is a widely quoted statement by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, though the phrase appears several times in the works of G. W. F. Hegel.[1] It first appears in 1882 in The Gay Science (German: Die fröhliche Wissenschaft), in sections 108 (New Struggles), 125 (The Madman), and for a third time in section 343 (The Meaning of our Cheerfulness). It is also found in Nietzsche's 1883 work Thus Spoke Zarathustra (German: Also sprach Zarathustra), which is most responsible for popularizing the phrase. The idea is stated in "The Madman" as follows:

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?

—Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Section 125, tr. Walter Kaufmann

Death of God theological movement[edit]

This phrase was first put forward by Nietzsche when he put the words into the mouth of a character in a play.

The cover of the April 8, 1966 edition of Time magazine asked the question "Is God Dead?" and the accompanying article addressed growing atheism in America at the time.[2] At the time, a movement called "death of God" was arising in American theology.[3] The death of God movement is sometimes technically referred to as "theothanatology", deriving from the Greek words theos (God) and thanatos (death).

The main proponents of this theology in its original incarnation included the Christian theologians Gabriel Vahanian, Paul Van Buren, William Hamilton, John A.T. Robinson, Thomas J. J. Altizer, and the rabbi Richard L. Rubenstein. Today, thinkers self-consciously indebted to the death-of-God movement of the 1960s include John D. Caputo, Slavoj Žižek, Charles Winquist, Mark C. Taylor, Robert P. Scharlemann and Peter Rollins.

In 1961, Vahanian's book The Death of God was published. Vahanian argued that modern secular culture had lost all sense of the sacred, lacking any sacramental meaning, no transcendental purpose, or sense of providence. He concluded that for the modern mind "God is dead." In Vahanian's vision a transformed post-Christian and post-modern culture was needed to create a renewed experience of deity.

Both Van Buren and Hamilton agreed that the concept of transcendence had lost any meaningful place in modern thought. According to the norms of contemporary modern thought, God is dead. In responding to this collapse in transcendence Van Buren and Hamilton offered secular people the option of Jesus as the model human who acted in love. The encounter with the Christ of faith would be open in a church-community.

Altizer offered a radical theology of the death of God that drew upon William Blake, Hegelian thought, and Nietzschean ideas. He conceived of theology as a form of poetry in which the immanence (presence) of God could be encountered in faith communities. However, he no longer accepted the possibility of affirming belief in a transcendent God. Altizer concluded that God had incarnated in Christ and imparted his immanent spirit which remained in the world even though Jesus was dead. Unlike Nietzsche, Altizer believed that God truly died. He is considered to be the leading exponent of the Death of God movement.

Rubenstein represented that radical edge of Jewish thought working through the impact of the Holocaust. In a technical sense he maintained, based on the Kabbalah, that God had "died" in creating the world. However, for modern Jewish culture he argued that the death of God occurred in Auschwitz. Although the literal death of God did not occur at this point, this was the moment in time in which humanity was awakened to the idea that a theistic god may not exist. In Rubenstein's work, it was no longer possible to believe in an orthodox/traditional theistic god of the Abrahamic covenant. Rather, God is a historical process.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sources of Nietzsche's "God is Dead!" and its Meaning for Heidegger"
  2. ^ Time Magazine, Is God Dead?, April 8, 1966
  3. ^ Alister McGrath. Christian Theology: An Introduction. 2nd ed. (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers), 255
  4. ^ Richard L. Rubenstein. "God After the Death of God" in After Auschwitz: History, Theology, and Contemporary Judaism. 2nd. ed (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 293–306

Sources[edit]

  • Benson, Bruce E. Pious Nietzsche: Decadence and Dionysian Faith. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2008.
  • Holub, Robert C. Friedrich Nietzsche. New York: Ywayne Publishers, 1995.
  • Magnus, Bernd, and Kathleen Higgins. The Cambridge Companion to Nietzsche. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996.
  • Pfeffer, Rose. Nietzsche: Disciple of Dionysus. Canbury: Associated University Presses, 1972.
  • Welshon, Rex. The Philosophy of Nietzsche. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s UP, 2004.

Further reading[edit]

  • Farrer, Austin. God is Not Dead. First American ed. New York: Morehouse-Barlow Co., 1966. 127 p.
  • Heidegger, Martin. Nietzsches Wort 'Gott ist tot (1943) translated as "The Word of Nietzsche: 'God Is Dead,'" in Holzwege, edited and translated by Julian Young and Kenneth Haynes. Cambridge University Press, 2002.
  • Kaufmann, Walter. Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974.
  • Roberts, Tyler T. Contesting Spirit: Nietzsche, Affirmation, Religion. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998.

Death of God theology[edit]

  • Thomas J. J. Altizer, The Gospel of Christian Atheism (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1966).
  • Thomas J. J. Altizer and William Hamilton, Radical Theology and the Death of God (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1966).
  • Bernard Murchland, ed., The Meaning of the Death of God (New York: Random House, 1967).
  • Gabriel Vahanian, The Death of God (New York: George Braziller, 1961).
  • John D. Caputo, Gianni Vattimo, After the Death of God, edited by Jeffrey W. Robbins (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007).
  • Hamilton, William, "A Quest for the Post-Historical Jesus," (London, New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 1994). ISBN 978-0-8264-0641-5

External links[edit]


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353 news items

 
MyrtleBeachOnline.com
Fri, 18 Apr 2014 19:48:45 -0700

It was back in the '60s that Time magazine, in a controversial cover story, declared: “God is Dead.” I'm a longtime and loyal subscriber to Time, both as a news magazine and as a tracer of trends, but I do believe its declaration was a bit premature ...

Burlington Times News

Burlington Times News
Fri, 18 Apr 2014 14:22:30 -0700

The movie follows the story of a college student named Josh Wheaton, played by Shane Harper, who has to decide whether to go along with his philosophy professor's (Kevin Sorbo) challenge to write “God is dead” on a piece of paper and sign it. Josh is ...
 
The Tennessean
Wed, 02 Apr 2014 09:51:55 -0700

Yip, a Chinese foreign exchange student, is in the class along with Wheaton and is moved to consider Christianity as he observes Wheaton's defiance of the professor's assertion that "God is dead." In real life, Wang said he began to question the ...
 
MyCentralJersey.com
Tue, 08 Apr 2014 22:08:53 -0700

Then he insists that each student sign a paper asserting that "God is dead" or face a failing grade. The film purports to deal with reality, but such a move on the part of a legitimate instructor at a respected academic institution would have caused an ...

Charisma News

Hollywood Reporter
Fri, 21 Mar 2014 18:18:42 -0700

On the first day of class, the haughty professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo) asks that all students sign a paper affirming that “God Is Dead,” so that he will not have to spend time arguing with traditional believers. Josh refuses to sign, and the professor ...
 
A.V. Club
Mon, 24 Mar 2014 13:03:45 -0700

Professor Radisson teaches an introduction to philosophical thought course that asks students, on the first day, to write on a sheet of paper that God is dead, then sign it for credit, so that he can move past the early stuff and get to the things he ...

ChicagoNow (blog)

ChicagoNow (blog)
Sat, 29 Mar 2014 05:47:01 -0700

God's Not Dead is a movie based on a lie. No Philosophy professor has ever told his or her class that they all know there is no god and made writing “God is dead” a class assignment. Never happened, and such a premise is not only blatantly dishonest ...

Christian Post

National Catholic Reporter (blog)
Fri, 04 Apr 2014 12:52:30 -0700

This story of a freshman college student, Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), who, along with his fellow philosophy students, is forced by Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo) to sign a statement “for the purposes of this class” that God is dead, is not good ...
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