“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.”

While trying to avoid the stereotype of a young, angsty atheist, I have been on a Nietzsche kick in the past few weeks. The newfound interest in this fascinating, if depressing, philosopher was sparked when we began studying him again in one of my philosophy courses. It is too bad that Nietzsche lived such a pitiful (irony intended, for those who have read Nietzsche) life, because he will be remembered with negative connotations than for his brilliant, if at points wrong, thoughts.

One of my favorite pieces of his, which I have not read in years, is the famous parable, “The Madman.” This brilliant little piece out of The Gay Science is as follows:

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.

“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? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us—for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.”

Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. “I have come too early,” he said then; “my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars—and yet they have done it themselves.

It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: “What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?”

Friedrich Nietzsche,
the Parable of the Madman
The Gay Science, 125

What I find so interesting about this parable is Nietzsche’s indication that humanity, including the religious, have killed God. Perhaps more accurately, we have killed the idea of God. The madman in this parable is a harbinger of a nonreligious society. He is to atheism what John the Baptist was to Jesus.

The sharp critique here seems to be on those who have forsaken any kind of meaningful religious belief, but continue to act in a religious fashion. People have stopped living in a meaningfully Christian way, but have not begun living in a meaningfully nonChristian way. “What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?” I find it interesting that Nietzsche describes the churches as the tombs of God. In the institution itself that claims to serve a Risen God, the idea of God lays profoundly dead.

If Nietzsche’s madman came to soon, and we still yet are unable as a society to embrace the death of God, how long will it be? I find it both comforting and frustrating that the religious are in the midst of a valiant, but losing, fight for the survival of their beliefs. With each generation the world becomes a bit less religious. But it seems, from my limited twenty-one years of existence, that the religious become increasingly ‘enthusiastic.’ As the nominally religious denominations (Methodists, Presbyterians, etc.) die slowly, the fundamentalists thrive upon their own victim complex. How long until the tombs and sepulchers of God are finally abandoned?

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18 Responses to ““God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.””

  1. You’ve got a real talent for writing man. I can’t agree with your conclusions but really appreciate your gift.

  2. Yes, you are very good at articulating your thoughts. As for you question? – Never, for we don’t see them as tombs… they are but buildings which come alive with praise and worship. It is not the building we Christians are concerned about. We can have church and praise GOD anywhere at anytime…because, for us, GOD is not a concept — some thing to be picked apart. GOD is a living being…to those who recognize HIM as such.

    But, yes, man killed religion a long, long time ago (even back to Moses’ time) by attempting to substitute just about anything for faith.

    Is that why you walked away from Jesus? – Because you just found it ridiculously too difficult to believe?

    Can’t blame one for that.

    Peace, http://www.lavrai.com/blogs

  3. Hey bud,

    This was a great post. I was a phil major and its nice to see someone actually do a nice job of interpreting Nietsche’s critique. I would have to disagree with your evaluation of the life-prospects of religion. Its funny you bring this up as I just finished reading a book a little bit ago that was pointing to the fact that religious belief is on the rise across the board. Its exploding in the 3rd world and is even on the rise in Europe and the US. At the same time, Atheism and non-identification of relgion is on the rise as well. What’s happeing is more of a polarization of more sincere, or at least committed, religious belief or identification. Interestingly enough, while many atheists look around and see the religious engaged in a “valiant, but losing fight”, many traditional believers and non-traditional critics have the same evaluation of traditional atheism or secularism. You can see this laid out in Alister McGrath’s “The Twilight of Atheism.” This kind of accounts for the rise of the more vocal and angry Neo-Atheist movement led by Dawkins and company. (Its kind of funny in that they’ve become the Atheist mirror-image of some of the Fundy groups on the right.)

    Anyways, keep writing. You got a gift.

    Derek

  4. Great post, great analysis.

  5. Is that why you walked away from Jesus? – Because you just found it ridiculously too difficult to believe?

    I walked away from Christianity because I had no more evidence for the Christian conception of God than the Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, etc. On the other hand, I found the evidence against theism to be much more compelling than any argument for theism that I have ever heard.

    This kind of accounts for the rise of the more vocal and angry Neo-Atheist movement led by Dawkins and company. (Its kind of funny in that they’ve become the Atheist mirror-image of some of the Fundy groups on the right.)

    I would disagree that Dawkins counts as one of the angry atheists. He is fairly even handed, even if his followers are not always. But yes, I think it is regrettable that so many atheists disgruntled with the dogmatism of their religious counterparts that they themselves become dogmatic.

  6. Does this mean that the death of God is directly connected to the pursuit of knowledge, especially in the sciences?

    And it might not even be in relation to science, but also globalization. It’s easy to hold to the view that everyone outside of your group is damned when the only people you really know are those in your group. When you start meeting the non-group, and they behave the same if not better, then I would think that would lead to “killing God.” Or at least an idea of God.

    So to answer your question of how long it will take — it might not be until humanity is willing to go where the evidence leads, no matter what the cost is. And I’m not sure we’re (general we) capable of doing that. I include myself in the “we.”

  7. Does this mean that the death of God is directly connected to the pursuit of knowledge, especially in the sciences?

    I think, and this is in no way scholarly and I am very likely wrong, it what he is saying is that the as we pursue knowledge, our need for a God to explain the world dies.

  8. **it what he is saying is that the as we pursue knowledge, our need for a God to explain the world dies.**

    Which would make sense. If you can find a natural explanation for why things occur, then how much do you really need a supernatural one? Maybe God can only “exist” so long as we have mysteries, or questions without answers (yet). Which would be interesting to compare to the idea that God can be known …

  9. Derek Rishmawy Says:

    Relating to “Onesmallstep’s” comments: umm, there is actually an argument to be made that the sciences actually only developed in the way that they did in Western society specifically because it was primarily a Christian one with a belief in a God who set up a basically uniform nature that could be examined and tested and so on and so forth. I mean, some of the earliest breakthroughs in the sciences and earliest philosophers of science were also fairly traditional, devout Christians and theologians of the first order. (Pascal, Descartes, Locke, Newton, etc.)

    Beyond that, I would like to remind everyone that Christianity was born and rose in the Roman Empire, surrounded by a great variety of other religions, skeptical philosophies, and spiritualities. And it has almost always been at odds or in dialogue with other faith traditions, espeically at Christendom’s borders. Its not like Christians came into contact with “the Other” for the first time in the 20th century. Its been dialoguing and interacting with other faiths for centuries and its kind of anachronistic to think that we 20th century, Western, post-Enlightenment liberals are the first to think of the various issues involved with the plurality of faiths.

    Also, in regards to Nietsche, this parable of his is in no way a hopeful one. It is not infected with the dominant Enlightenment myths of progress and the eventual victory of Reason over superstition and myth and all of that. This parable is contemplating the bleakness and the ambivalence of a world in which the concept of God has died. (Because obviously, there never was a ‘God’ to Nietsche.) It is a world in which we will increasingly deify and worship new ‘gods’ of our own making and in which we ourselves “will have to become gods” to be worthy of our act of killing god. Its interesting that in the following century, which saw the general rise of various ideologies (communism, socialism, national socialism) whose driving push was towards this emancipation of man through human reason, science and progress, all ended in the deification of either the state, the nation, “mankind” in general, with the end result being untold misery and violence. The gods we made for and of ourselves after the “death of God”, have failed to deliver the salvation that they offered, and brought death and war. Quite frankly, the prospects of the glories and triumph of secularism, base on the 20th century, aren’t bright.

    (Also, sorry if I’m annoying you with all of a sudden, writing all this stuff. I kinda just got interested in your blog. Also, sorry if I’m ever coming off as rude. Totally not what I’m about. )

    Derek

  10. Derek,

    Thanks for the input. Not annoying at all, I enjoy the discussion. 🙂

    …there is actually an argument to be made that the sciences actually only developed in the way that they did in Western society specifically because it was primarily a Christian one…

    I think I would largely agree on this point. Though I think the scientific thought would eventually develop in a variety of circumstances, the conditions in Enlightenment Europe under the heavy influence of Christianity is where it did happen. Christianity is part of the history of western civilization, for better or worse. Christianity is part of my history as a person, for better or worse. Despite the irony, I think the argument remains from a nontheistic point of view that the search for a deeper understanding of the nature of the universe has begun to lead humanity out of the realm of religion.

    Also, in regards to Nietsche, this parable of his is in no way a hopeful one.

    I don’t think even the most diehard Nietzsche fans would claim that he was the happiest guy around. 😉 I do think, though, that his parable is a fairly accurate representation of how the nonreligious perceive a largely socially religious society.

    Quite frankly, the prospects of the glories and triumph of secularism, base on the 20th century, aren’t bright.

    I’m not sure thats true. The 20th century is a perfect example of the growing pains through which our civilization is going. I would remind you that while Christianit dominated Europe there were just as many wars. The issue of suffering in the 20th century is not one between theism and secularism. The issue is about humanity’s (thus far) inability to control its own appetites.

  11. Derek Rishmawy Says:

    You’re definitely right about the battle not being between secularism and theism. I hope I didn’t give the impression thats what I was saying. I also don’t want to try and give a rosy, idealized picture of Western Church history and the development of civilization that accounts all of its ills to atheism and skepticism. What I will say is that the Enlightenment idea of the progress of human civilization and its liberation from the shackles of superstition and myth into the clear light of human reason, science, etc. in which all inhumanity and violence will subsequently be eradicated, so on and so forth, got a major kick in the face with the 20th century. The Inquisition at its worst executed maybe 14 people a month. Communist Russia under Stalin had periods exceeding 40,000 a month. Concentration camps were invented by the Soviets, developed by the Nazis, and perfected by the Soviets. The Religious wars(which in fact were often little more than wars of states coated with a thin veneer of religious language), of the Middles Ages saw nothing like the total warfare and annihalation employed by the modern, enlightened, rational peoples of Europe in WW1 and 2. (Let’s not forget that the Germans were heirs to arguably the most Enlightened and rational intellectual heritage of all of Europe and the West.)

    Beyond that, the failure and eventual eradication of religious belief was widely predicted and taken for granted about mid-twentieth century, or the “secularization thesis”, and has since been widely discredited. (See, Peter Berger “The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics”) The plain statistical fact of the matter is that religion has been making a comeback on a global scale and even within the Western world. And when it comes to religion and the sciences, it is becoming even more widely recognized by the religious and the non-religious that there is nothing inherently or even contingently contradictory between the vast majority of scientific knowledge, (including evolutionary theory), and traditional religious belief.

    My point is, religion isn’t going anywhere. And there is no reason to think that even if it did, the world would be any better.

    Good conversation!

  12. Derek,

    I’ve heard this line of argument several times, and I can’t help but think there is a fault assumption being made. Namely, that theism and atheism are opposing and comprehensive worldviews. I’m sure your views are much more complex than this, and I know it is difficult to succinctly state your position in this kind of atmosphere; however, I think there is in a general sense a basic assumption being made that atheists are presenting an alternative to a theistic worldview.

    Instead, I would like to reaffirm my position that there is no uniform atheistic position on anything except that there is no deity. There can be an atheistic communist government, an atheistic fascist government, an atheistic democracy, etc. There are atheist egoists and atheistic altruists and atheistic egalitarians. The number of possible combinations is innumberable.

    In that way, I think it is impossible to make any meaningful comparison between an atheistic “worldview” and a theistic “worldview.” Stalin was an atheist. Stalin committed terrible atrocities. It does not follow that atheists commit terrible atrocities as a general rule.

    As for a resurgence of religious belief, I honestly think your analysis is skewed. The readership of this blog is not big enough for it to be politically expedient to try to spin the facts, so be assured this is truly what I think. 😉 You have (roughly) 2 billion Christians in the world, 1.25 billion Muslims, nearly a billion Hindus, and a sprinkling of the literally hundreds of other categories of religious faith. My question is, how many of those are practicing?

    One of my vices (or maybe virtues) is listening to conservative talk radio while I’m in the car… weird, for someone of my demographic, I know. The gentlemen I listen to most often likes to throw out numbers whenever he can. When he wants to shoot down any kind of secularism, he boasts at just how many Americans are Christian in religious orientation. When he wants to lament the so-called moral decline of America, he uses the number of “born-again” Christians to show that the truly religious are in a romantic fight to rebuff secularization.

    In reality, he can’t have it both ways. How many of the 1/3 world residents that are “Christian” are actually practicing? How many Muslims? Hindus? My point is this: I think the numbers can be used to spin any position you want, but the level of committed religious persons is (in my opinion) in a steady decline generation by generation.

    I have more to say, but alas, work calls me away, haha…

    I’d like to echo, I enjoy the conversation.

  13. Derek Rishmawy Says:

    First off, thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt when it comes to what I’m saying in these posts. I sooooooooo appreciate that.

    First: the numbers question. I honestly think I’m right on this one. At least if you’re looking at the 3rd world and China. Just looking at the growth of Christianity in these areas, simply measuring by the conversion and baptism rate of non-Christians to Christians is astounding. Millions upon millions of people become Christians each year in Africa, well into their adult years. In 1900, the African Christian population was 10 million. In 2000, it was 360 million. And these are in traditional, orthodox denominations. China’s underground Christian church is estimated to be anywhere as high as 80 to 100 million, or around 8% of the population, according to the U.S. State Department in 2002, and is only constantly growing. This, in a country where it is not a comfortable, easy or culturally popular thing to be a Christian, especially in the cities, so the question of commitment is a non-sequitur. And this is also a place where rationalistic Atheism is not a new or unheard of option and has actually been the chief ideology for the last 50 years. In the countryside where things are more open, I’ve seen video footage brought into class by my Professor who specializes in Chinese Christianity at UCI, of Sunday services in villages where literally hundreds of people are cramming themselves into buildings and standing outside to hear the Bible preached. This is not to mention S. Korea, the Phillipines, etc. The rise of Pentecostal and Evangelical Churches (where participation rates are statistically, generally higher) in the South America is historic. There has been a 6% growth rate for Protestant conversion each year since 1960. In 1940 there were about 1 million Protestants in S. America, now there are about 20 to 25 million in Brazil alone. India…wow. The Dalits, the untouchables, have been converting, and by most reports staying active, by the thousands and tens of thousands in the last few years and there’s no sign of that slowing down anytime soon. I could go on listing the statistics but I think you get the picture. When it comes to Africa, Asia, and S. America, Christianity and religion as a whole is not going away for a long time. Also the issue of American and European growth and decline…well, one way to look at it is that as the number of “non-identifiers” goes up, this, isn’t so much an indicator of where things are just now going, but of where they’ve been for a while. At the same time, there is no denying the growth of the younger, Evangelical and Pentecostal churches even in the States. Also, there is a growing revival within certain parts of the Catholic Church and a movement of people over to the Greek Orthodox Church. Quite frankly, the view the Christianity, or religion (because lets face it, we didn’t even touch on the rise of Islam) is dying is one that a Westerner with an eye only to the surrounding area could have. Go anywhere else and you’ll get a different story. (If you want to look all this up, see Philip Jenkins, “The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity”)
    Beyond that, you’re right: there are all different stripes of atheism. (I’m assuming atheism doesn’t include something like pantheism for you.) Its true that there are many different variations and that the belief that they all hold in common, that there is no god, is not a total worldview. That being said, it’s a huge part of someone’s worldview whether they are conscious of it or not. This is the case not only in the necessary positive corollaries of atheism (some form of materialism, naturalism which are the result if there is no divine), but also in the negative corollaries (ungrounded moral system, a rejection of a transcendent telos.) The belief in whether or not there is a God, determines much of what you think of man, his origins, his telos (whether he has any, and if so, is it determined by us or by society or not at all), and of the moral nature of the universe. So, there are some common, “worldview” level beliefs or rejection of beliefs that all atheist share, besides the bare minimum, “there is no god.” That belief simply does not stand alone, neutrally. It has consequences.

    Now, don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that the gulags are a necessary corollary to atheism. But, what I do think one can see, that atheism of any stripe, simply does not have the resources to critique and withstand radical ideologies that attach themselves to it without itself becoming radically oppressive in some way. Most of its moral sentiments are either hi-jacked from other systems or are hangovers from its religious heritage. Once that is realized, as Dostoevsky said, “anything is permissible.” So, the only thing to keep our baser natures in check is our own flawed wills, fleeting humanistic impulses, and arbitrarily chosen moral reasoning. This simply isn’t enough to human evil in check. (Believe me, if you ever read all the different accounts of how people without some transcendent metaphysics, tries to ground human rights, you’ll know what I mean.) Again, this is not to say that atheists are more immoral or evil or mean than theists. (Quite often they’re a lot nicer.) It is to say that atheism, in all its forms, simply does not have the resources to withstand the human selfishness and its will to power. It is to say that the horrors of the 20th century and the shift in the moral universe of Europe cannot be so easily disentangled as all that.

    I’ve probably screwed something up here and there in my answer. Especially in that last paragraph, (although I think it has more to do with my ability to make the argument, rather than the argument’s falsity).

  14. I honestly think I’m right on this one. At least if you’re looking at the 3rd world and China.

    I think this statement here probably shoots yourself in the foot somewhere down the line. I’m not sure that the ability of a white missionary to convert a tribal village in Benin is really that impressive (I say this not to make light, a mission trip from my school returned with testimonies of how they convinced a village chief to make Christianity the religion of the entire village, and while I am not a fan of attempting to decide whose conversion is genuine and whose isn’t, a group of middle class white students from the midwestern United States taking food stuffs and clothing to Africa in order to win their religious affections is not impressive in my eyes.). I’ve heard a saying, from an aide to Josh McDowell actually, “When a Christian comes to Africa, the locals call him a missionary. When a Muslim comes to Africa, they call him a scholar.” The point being that the number of conversions in Africa is (a) hard to estimate and (b) most likely does not take into account the number of people who convert out of confusion and do not continue a life of Christian faith.

    Is the Pentecostal movement really what you want as the standard bearer for Christianity? A movement with no theology and a dependence on emotionalism? (Note: As a former Pentecostal, I feel like I can poke fun without being too much of a jerk) How long before the Pentecostal churches begin to fizzle out?

    Ultimately, I think the numbers show an overall decline in Christian faith. At least orthodox Christian faith.

    That being said, it’s [belief in/not in God] a huge part of someone’s worldview whether they are conscious of it or not..

    Agreed.

    But, what I do think one can see, that atheism of any stripe, simply does not have the resources to critique and withstand radical ideologies that attach themselves to it without itself becoming radically oppressive in some way.

    Please clarify, because I don’t see this at all.

    It is to say that atheism, in all its forms, simply does not have the resources to withstand the human selfishness and its will to power.

    This sounds to me (and again, I don’t mean this to sound antagonistic by any means) that your argument is stemming from the idea that it is more desirable for there to be a theistic basis for morality, as opposed to there being sufficient evidence for a theistic basis for morality.

    Anyway, I’m late for class. Just some thoughts I threw out in a few minutes. Maybe they are jumbled. Good luck deciphering them.

  15. Derek Rishmawy Says:

    1. Umm, on the question of numbers in Africa, etc. Much of Africa is industrialized, developing, and quite modern. Colonialism had some effects. So, the idea of the only converts in Africa being some ignorant, half-educated, tribespeople is a bit anachronistic and reflects a lack of knowledge of much of the missionary situation in the country. It also assumes that only an “educated”, Westerner can have the wherewithal and the knowledge requisite to be able to make an educated decision on religion.

    Beyond that, the numbers are quite well documented. Check out the book. The guy’s a professor of Religious Studies at Penn State.

    You’ll also notice that your argument fails to touch China and the Latin American religious revival, in these obviously industrialized nations. (Note: my comment about the village in China; my professor at UCI with a Ph.D. from USC was from that village and was himself a Christian. These are not backwards villages intellectually.)

    As for Pentecostalism: not all Pentecostal churches are emotion-driven, theology-deficient organizations. I know some very serious, intellectually-gifted and astute Pentecostal pastors. Some are the way you say. But not all and probably not even the majority. (Although, that would be hard to determine.)

    2. Atheism: It would take too long to go into the first comment about “radical oppression.” As to the larger issue of Atheism and morality, yes, I do think Theism or some acknowledgement of the transcendent, actually provides a better moral grounding, (and I mean actual grounding, rooted in reality, and not simply adopted according to personal or social preference), than materialistic Atheism. The fact of the matter is that it is quite next to impossible to ground moral system in a universe that is the result of mere matter, motion, and chance, devoid of any ultimate reason for things being the way they are. This point is openly acknowledged by the most honest atheistic philosophers.

    So, yes, I think Theism has a leg up on Atheism when it comes to grounding morality and making moral statements actually mean something.

  16. Derek,

    Sorry for the delayed response, busy week.

    1. I think perhaps I did not properly convey my point regarding Africa. I am well aware that the continent is incredibly diverse. It is undeniable though that regions like sub-Saharan Africa are among the poorest and least developed in the world. My point is that the basic evangelical Christian message will play well in a that sort of region. I am not an expert in missiology, but I think it is also fair to say that western missionaries have also often failed to take into account long-term planning, and leave regions of the world only to have them retreat from orthodox Christianity.

    As for Latin America, I’m glad you brought that up again, I did completely forget to comment on it last go around. I would think that Latin American churches are not a shining beacon of hope for mainstream Christianity, either. Liberation theology run amuck. Evangelical churches are a distinct minority (in most areas, at least).

    As for Pentecostalism, I’m not sure exactly what paramenters we are setting forth to define Pentecostalism. However, I think in general I am willing to stand by my previous statement. When I was a Christian, I was often discouraged by the growth of Pentecostal/charismatic churches because of their lack of theological grounding.

    2. As for theism providing a better moral grounding, I’m afraid that all it does is push the problem back one step further. An inter-subjective moral system is dangerous because it stands to change at the whim of popular opinion, yes? Then what makes it acceptable for God to decide what is/is not moral. Is that not arbitrary morality simply at another level?

    I’ve already stated that I would deny any objectively existing moral system. But if there is a moral system in place because God says so, then I would still be sceptical of what credentials he offers to put forth such a system.

    I don’t theism provides a more real picture of morality, or even a better one. Theism just provides a more comfortable perception.

  17. Derek Rishmawy Says:

    Nice to have you back. No worries. I’ve got stuff to do too. 🙂

    1. There are more Anglicans in Africa than there are in the UK. In fact, some of the most prominent Bishops in the Communion are from Africa, including ArchBishop Desmond Tutu. The Presbyterian church has a strong presence and many other Evangelical denominations have taken root. The Catholic Church also claims 10s of millions of faithful on the continent as well. There was speculation that one of the next popes could come from Africa or South America. There is also the phenomenon of indigenous African, yet still orthodox, denominations springing up in Africa as well. Also, I’d like to point out again, that the numbers keep going up. Also, the situation is no longer one of primarily foreign, Western missionaries coming over to preach and teach and spread the Gospel. The work of spreading the Church is largely indigenous and has been taken over and even improved quite competently by Africans themselves.

    Latin America: The impact of Liberation theology in large parts of Latin America is either waning or not much of an issue as much anymore. Plus, I actually think there is a place for it. Beyond that, Evangelical Churches have always been a minority. That wasn’t my point. My point is that they are a growing minority. The conversion rate is in the millions. Also, much of Pentecostalism is as you say. But much of it isn’t. In any case, my point was simply to contradict the idea that religious belief was losing out in any irreversible way.

    2. You’re assuming that I subscribe to a Divine Command theory of morality. That what’s good is good only because God says so in some arbitrary fashion. I don’t. The point is that with the idea of Creation by a Divine and good Creator, comes the possibility of thinking in terms of telos, of purpose, of a moral order to the universe, which has been arranged in accordance with his own good character. (This is pre-Fall of course, which would account for the current nastiness of things. Or so the story goes.) Also, in any case, Divine Command would at least be a step up from a subjective moral system. At least God has the whole “I’m the all-powerful and wise Creator” thing going for him while we have what? The “I am a randomly arrived at configuration of matter and energy” thing?

    Beyond that, the statement about God “providing credentials”, seems to me, poorly conceived. Assuming he does exist and is something like what Christian theology has always held, then he automatically has the “credentials.” That’s part of the definition of what it means to be God. (Also, the divine condescencion, in Christ to live, suffer, and die under his own law for the sake of a rebellious humanity seems to be pretty decent moral credentials to me. Of course, this doesn’t convince everybody, but the willingness to sacrifice your own life out of love for people who hate you seems to be a sign of moral excellence. )

    Also, one clear advantage a Christian system has over arbitrarily chosen subjective one, is a moral starting point. One example: human rights. Its much easier to defend the rights of a rational being made in the image of God than those of a cosmic accident who’s existence may or may not be of benefit to the species.

  18. like the state of a logic gate wont change to true until the input state changes its output state so we are the input that represents the number 0 (untrue) until we become true the output state remains a zero (GOD)
    our collective death will change the input state to 1 (TRUE) and then the output will be true (1) once again
    the mathematical universe was all (TRUE) until we arrived and changed it to (0) UNTRUE ,it is an AND GATE!

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