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God Is Dead Essay

1468 words - 6 pages

In his book, The Gay Science, Friedrich Nietzsche famously states that God is dead. Passages 108 (New battles), 125 (The madman), 153 (Homo poeta) and 343 (How to understand our cheerfulness) all deal with a particular aspect of this assertion. Passage 108 states that God is dead but that it may be a long time before we acknowledge this. Passage 125 reiterates that God is dead and then goes on to say that we have killed him. Passage 153 shows homo poeta taking culpable responsibility for the death of God. Passage 343 deals with the aftermath of the death of God and questions what will change. Through critical analysis and examination of these four passages, while extending upon in-class discussion, a more complete understanding of this quote is possible.

Passage 108, ‘New battles’, states ‘God is dead; but given the way people are, there may still for millennia be caves in which they show his shadow.’ In this passage, Nietzsche is saying that God is no longer a transcendent thing; that the definition of God has changed within the minds of man into a physical God. Thus, God has become present within the Universe. Although this does not explain how God has died, this is an important argument that lays the foundation for the argument given by the ‘madman’ in passage 125. Despite God’s death, however, Nietzsche says God’s followers, will continue to preach gods existence, perhaps for a very long time.
The concept of God becoming immanent, rather than transcendent, was discussed in some detail in class. In his article ‘Immanence and Transcendence’, Philip Leon defines an immanent God as ‘within… the Universe’ and defines a transcendent God as ‘supra machinam… Whatever happens, it is the same; it has no beginning and no end; it is not really in space or time or in the Universe.’ Supra machinam can be loosely translated as ‘beyond the machine’, where ‘the machine’ is the world. These are workable definitions that allow for further analysis. We can see the evolution from a transcendent God to an immanent one in the writings of St. Anselm. In his Monologium St. Anselm says ‘[God] exists in every place and at every time.’ This clearly falls into the category of immanence because, as Philip Leon states, transcendence would require God to be outside of time and space.

It seems that the bulk of this argument rests upon the definitions of transcendence and immanence, and that all anyone would need to do to oppose this argument is say that there is absolutely no conflict with a transcendent God existing within the world. But this is poor objection that contradicts the conventional understandings of the words. Consequently, religious writings, such as St Anselm’s Monologium, make an important distinction when they define God as immanent rather than transcendent because, referring back to the definitions, transcendence would mean God has no beginning or end whereas immanence presupposes no such thing.

Passage 125, ‘The madman’, describes a...

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