Futile Attempts to Supplant God

Michael Fitzpatrick, in Spiked (accessed 21 Jun 2014 through aldaily.com) reviews yet another in the long line of books surveying the battlefield strewn with fallen ideas in the aftermath of the death of God. This one is Culture and the Death of God by Terry Eagleton. Western civilization, it seems, has decided that the death of God is now an accomplished fact. God, claim the bold new atheists, is not to be missed, though in fact he has left a huge gap at the center of our values system, a gap which we can’t quite imagine how to fill.

One of the characteristics of writers such as Eagleton, Richard Dawkins and others is that, not believing God was ever alive, they can only talk about religion, not really about God. “God,” they assume, is merely an idea, empty of any actual meaning. The resulting flaw in their discussions is that they can talk about religion only as a sociological phenomenon. As outsiders, they can only guess that people who give their lives in love and devotion to God are utterly deluded.

As one who is an insider, that is, one who is active in the church and devoted to Jesus Christ, I can only say that it is comical to hear these learned discussions about religion when the very heart of the matter — faith in and love for the living God — is simply invisible to the outsiders. It is as if they were having extensive discussions about oranges when all the have in hand is a bit of dried peel.

Discussions about religion are important and necessary, both for believers and non-believers, but those who think the Creator of the Universe is merely an aspect of religious belief will always be mystified by the very subject which they claim to know so well. It is okay to be mystified by something. . .unless you have deluded yourself into thinking you are seeing clearly.

If God is nothing more than a minor aspect of religion and religion, therefore, is strictly a sociological reality, then of course those who want to dispense with religion will assume it can be replaced with other sociological movements and its belief system can be supplanted by other forms of faith. But faith in science results not in meaning and morality, but mere scientism, A belief in the normalizing powers of capitalism and its god — the vaunted “market” — offers no meaning or morality. A worship of Self is simply self-destructive, since we make terrible gods for our own lives.

We truly can’t answer the question raised long ago by Camus. If there is no God, then suicide is the only question. That is, if there is no God, then there is no meaning to life, no reason to prefer life over death, no reason to value life in ourselves or in others. We end up with Nietzsche’s Ubermann, trying aimless to pretend we can create our own meaning. If each of us is ultimately the creator of our own meaning, we are absolutely alone in our tiny little universes. And aloneness, true and deep aloneness, is unbearable.

The thought that our non-believing “experts” want to convince us that we are alone and without meaning is especially saddening in light of its needlessness. There truly is a Creator who cares for us and in whose love we find our meaning and purpose in life.

Have you asked the Lord to reveal himself to you? I don’t mean to suggest you are to challenge God but to humbly invite him to open his heart to yours.

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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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