“Gott ist tot.” God is dead. Nietzsche wrote this line in the Parable of the Madman and The Gay Science, among others. It’s usually misinterpreted as a celebration or insult at believers. But rather, it is a lament-one that I have been feeling all too often as of late.
For centuries our belief in God has given meaning to the world, instilling a sense of morality, preserving hope. In a world with no god what would become of us? Would we have no purpose, torn apart by vices, masses commit suicide? This is the specter of nihilism and the basis of these 3 words. The threat of a world without meaning.
It is exactly through the fear of nihilism that I write this post. The robustness of my mind falters. My mind can’t logically comprehend this nihilism that it didn’t have before. For the most part I do consider myself a Dualist. More often than not when I think about these topics I find myself envious of those who can truly find themselves in faith and religion. But the morality of the system as a whole leaves me feeling like an outsider, and its getting harder for me to come back in, as much as I want to. In there, is a safeness and community I was raised in. Yet the missing premises, the rule-based, consequence-based ethics just don’t meld with my mind. Coming to the realization of this specter of nihilism makes me question how to live in a world with no easy answers.
From a distance it can all seem very silly. People leaving notes between cracks in the stones in the temples of Jerusalem, walking hundreds of miles to pray that they might get a chance to talk to a beloved friend or relative. It’s no wonder some atheists think religion is just ludicrous.
Nietzsche describes faith as not wanting to know what the truth is. But in some ways religion does help us. It doesn’t teach us the truth but instead about what many of us here on earth want so desperately to be true. Science may very well deny the existence of paradise and miracles but getting by the apparent irrationality of the religious, we should try to understand it and appreciate the intensity of the longings some of us have to believe in fantasy against all odds. Reality is sometimes just unbearingly painful.
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