GOD IS DEAD
“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?
– Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None
The seemingly prophetic words of cultural critic Fredrick Nietzsche resonate all to profoundly from the perspective of a 21st century reader, as the inevitable consequences of a godless society which were once a dire warning, have transformed into a bitter reality.
Nietzsche, though not an advocate for the Christian faith, nevertheless acknowledged its integral importance to the sustainability and stability of Western civilization, and deemed it a foundational component of society, as Christianity provided fundamental answers to existential questions and objective truth and meaning, which guided the ethics and morality of society
Yet, in spite of Nietzsche’s warnings, Western civilization has entered an Age of Reason, in which post-truth and postmodern thought, have usurped the role of God, and humanity has been compelled to create their own meaning and truth to sustain society. However, as Nietzsche predicted, this society is beginning to become increasingly volatile, and it appears we may need to revive the same God we killed, with our own blood-soaked hands.
With the birth of postmodernism and the rejection of God and thus objective truth, meaning and ethics, humanity has had to solve this problem by creating their own albeit subjective ethical systems.
Let’s first examine the consequences for the pursuit of objective meaning. Humanity craves purpose in life, and once searched for, there are two main conclusions: nihilism or hedonism. Nihilism is the belief that nothing in the world, in the universe has any meaning to it, a deduction we see made by King Solomon, the wisest man in history. It is this same nihilism which drives Solomon to lead a hedonistic lifestyle, defined as the pursuit of pleasre over pain. It is this same hedonistic lifestyle in Western society, which Solomon ultimately describes as ‘meaningless’; the original Hebrew word ‘hevel’, denoting smoke or mist, here one second and gone the next, driving Solomon once again back to nihilism. So, we discover that both nihilism and hedonism feed into one another, both eventually leading to self-indulgence.
However, even the ethical guidelines which have been produced by human thought, to ensure a proper way of self-indulgence are disturbing.
JUST DON’T HURT ANYONE
Similarly, humanity must establish ethical guidelines by which individuals lives should be lived. These subjective rules are only as authoritative as those who enforce them, and so cannot reach the task of replacing eternal principles. Taking into consideration the new purpose of humanity: finding pleasure over pain, the most obvious ethical philosophy to adopt is that of ‘do what you want, just don’t hurt anyone’, and is phrase commonly heard in today’s discourse.
Whilst a seemingly virtuous notion, the principle of ‘do what you want just don’t hurt anyone’, has dire consequences for the culture of a society. It is this same mindset which led to the prominence of the sexual liberation movement. Sexual liberation inadvertently promotes lust, and sex essentially loses all sanctity and meaning, as cohabitation, pre-marital sex and promiscuity are not only condoned but promoted. Such an understanding of sex leads to a love of the body, evident in the alarming statistics of people watching pornography; with 80% of men watching weekly and two thirds of women watching at least once a month. This same movement has inevitably led to the loss of gender, gender roles, and destabilised relationships, marriage, monogamy and the meaning of sex; tenants upon which any stable society is built upon.
This ideology is also based upon the premise that humans are simply more evolved animals. As such, there is no inherent value to human life; this attitude evident in the alarming rates of abortions and the push for euthanasia.
Thus, the loss of objective meaning and ethics, does not lead to a utopia of liberty and freedom, but rather to a focused on self-indulgence and its own self-destruction.
THE IMAGE OF GOD
In contrast, Christianity provides objective truth, morality and meaning to life, and provides tenants for living that allow societies to thrive
One such truth, is that humanity was created with love, purpose and forethought in the Image of God (Genesis 1:26), made to be in intimate and loving relationships with one another and with God.
In this way, the Image of God determines that humans are of unique and inherent worth, regardless of sex, ethnicity, capability, disability or any other distinction. All humans are of equal value, and Christ died for all of humanity (Galatians 3:28). This distinction is of vital importance to the operations of society, as this belief negates any moral reasoning for actions such as murder, abortion and euthanasia, as humans do not have the right to take the life of another human (Genesis 9:6). Furthermore, if all humans are of equal value, then sexism, racism and slavery cannot be morally justified.
Furthermore, this belief bestows a responsibility to every person, to not only care for others but for themselves, understanding that they are precious. This encourages healthy lifestyle habits, abstinence from harmful substances, and avoidance of sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:19).
God also reveals in the creation of Adam and Eve, that the ideal stable relationship is for a man and woman in a monogamous marriage. This distinction of sex as something inherently sacred, leads to sex having true purpose and meaning, the necessity for the control of sexual impulses (both inside and out of marriage), and promotes loving an individual not merely to receive sexual pleasure, but for the individual they are.
Underlying the beliefs and principles that come from the Image of God, is an ideology in stark contrast to the selfish and self-indulgent philosophy of ‘do what you want, just don’t hurt anyone.’
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.”
In this way, God reveals his objective truth, giving each life inherent value and purpose, and providing objective ethical guidelines for individuals to live their lives by. It is these foundational truths which have largely been abandoned by society and have been replaced by the ‘way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death’ (Proverbs 14:12)
The Age of Reason is a failed experiment. The Book of Judges show us a ‘dark ages’ for Israel, in which ‘every man did what was right in his own eyes’. The French Revolution in 1798, outlawed the Bible, only to reinstate it three and a half years later following the moral bankruptcy France fell into. Genesis 6:5 states that every intent of humanity was only evil continually, and our society does not look too dissimilar. To continue in our Age of Reason, an experiment which history has proven to us time and time again is doomed to fail, is a foolish choice.
It is not the wisdom of man which can bring about a thriving, loving, fair and equal society. It is only the loving laws of God which can sustain, support and build up a society. Though our society promotes harmful ideologies, let us not be ashamed in standing for principles of love and respect, and transform our society from the inside out, through sharing the love of God.
By Christopher Petersen
Co-written by James Sullivan
Would you like to learn more about this topic? Click this link to have a one on one discussion with one of our MWM staff.