First posted as draft-test version on 20 April 2006. Just edited for clarity and language. Thank youRe-posted below. Relevant, I think, as the year 2008 draws to an end but atrocities in Gaza escalate.
Wars over the world have been fought in the name of God, and to defend God. Is God well, and truly alive?
The madman. - 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.”
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Book Three, Section 125 (Translation by Walter Kaufmann, Vintage Books edition, 1974).
On our deathbed, if we are told that we are going to live again, would we be jumping for joy? Or do we now wake up everyday with a terrible feeling that work and our endeavour in the next 8-10 hours before we rest again are things we need to do purely to put food on our tables, clothes on our bodies and shelter for our families?
Can one come to us today, expound a wonderful theory about humanity and the afterlife, package the theory as the one and only Truth for eternal life, gather groups of believers, be persecuted, die, and in the process be elevated in status as a martyr, while in the process create a ‘religion’?
What is it with religions that differentiates among them, if any? Is there a singular trend which unites?
What are our common denominators as human beings – as opposed to differences in how we practice our beliefs or ways of life, particularly in how we want to be treated in the after-life?
Why has the Gospel of Judas surfaced? Does it change the Christian landscape today? Does it really matter?
Has religion kept us together? Or more apart?
Why was I born in one part of the world and my friend in another? Why were some born rich and some poor?
If your name was Seira and I called you Sherrie, how would you react?
If I said you were beautiful but you thought otherwise, would the sun stop shining?
Is there a God?
I am not sure. I am trying to find answers to these questions. I may never find THE answer. But there may actually not be AN answer. Were we not taught that there is no truth but only ‘a’ truth?
But one thing is certain – we live here and now – and we are to make the best of what we have for ourselves and others. That means – while I may not know the answer regarding my existence – those who think that they do are not entitled to forcefully tell me that theirs is the right answer.
And let us have more talk in terms of practical solutions based on evidence of what is wrong and what should be right:
- what is the problem we see before us
- discuss it transparently with all concerned
- be as inclusive as possible
- find workable answers
- decide on which are to be implemented
- who are to implement them
- how are they to be implemented
Surely this may be a better attempt to unite. But this does not mean we cast off religious beliefs. The freedom of thought, conscience and religion is absolute and must be secured. We must all stand by this principle. In fact, religions inform, and enrich the discussion. We must listen and adopt means which will help our civilisation progress.
There are irreconcilable differences among religions. But there is one similarity that between believers – we are human beings – and we have mental faculties which must be put to good use, sincerely. Some have said it before that had the generations before us not used their minds, the existence of so many organised religions today would not have come to realisation. Those who adopted various religious teachings and beliefs, and practiced the same used their minds as well way back then!
Pray for all of us.