They say God is dead but they can’t bury him

An interesting review of two books was published last week in Prospect (accessed online through, 06 May 2014). Entitled “God is Dead – What Next?” the review looks at “The Age of Nothing: How We have Sought to Live Since the Death of God” by Peter Watson and “Culture and the Death of God” by Terry Eagleton.

Both books are built on the assumption that God is now dead. That is a popular but inexcusably sloppy way of thinking because it implies what no authors such as these believe at all, that God was once alive but is no longer. What they are trying to say is that faith is dead, but that of course is not true at all. Billions of people believe in the existence and active presence of God.

So what is it that the new atheists are really saying? Answering that question is quite complicated. Most simply put, it seems that Watson and Eagleton, as well as the more popular Richard Dawkins, are saying nothing more than, “I don’t believe in God and you shouldn’t either.” Proving the non-existence of God has turned out to be no more possible than proving otherwise.

The problem is obvious: If there is a personal Creator, that Creator will never fit into or be subjugated under any of our categories or ways of thinking. Modern scientism (i.e., the attempt to make science the sole explainer of all reality) wants very much to say that nothing is true that cannot be scientifically verified.

None of the most important things can be so verified. My wife and I love each other and whether or not that can be verified is utterly irrelevant. The work of a scientist is simply too trivial to matter when compared with that love.  

A scientist who does not know my wife will simply make a fool of himself if he tries to convince me there is no such person. I know better. Likewise, though he may then study her and correct my view of one detail or another about her, the scientist will still not be in a position to tell me she doesn’t exist.

What truly amazes me is that people who don’t believe in the existence of God try to convince me to become agnostic by using a very strange argument. First they tell me what God would be like if he existed. He would, for example, be evident to science. Then they say, since there is no being who fits our definition of what God would be like if there were a God, there must be no God. Hubris and foolishness thus go hand in hand but gain nothing.

In personal relationships, there is great delight to knowing and sharing lots of information about one another but the relationship remains pretty shallow if it does not develop into a sense of knowing each other directly and more deeply than merely knowing about one another.

Those who do not know the difference between the two levels of personal relationship will have great frustration when they talk with someone who claims to know God. They can converse only at the level of knowing about God, which is something quite different altogether.

So, feel free to tell me whatever you like about my wife or my Lord, but if you know neither of them, please don’t ask me to take you seriously. If you do not know God then of course you know nothing about him.

Meanwhile, our presses continue to pour forth books on the death of God. Isn’t it fascinating that people who dismiss God remain intrigued and can’t stop thinking about him? I wonder what that means. . .


About mthayes42

I am a retired pastor, interested in the Bible, cross-cultural ministries, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the current and past history of western civilization.
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