A madman with a lantern cried out, “I am looking for God! I am looking for God!”

In response to the laughing crowd, he then proclaimed, “God is dead. And we have killed him.”

Nietzsche spoke these words through the voice of a fictional character in his book The Gay Science. Nietzsche’s point is essentially that man, because of scientific advancement and rationalism, no longer has need of god. Thus, we have thrown off our adolescent whims and in the process killed the idea of god altogether. But this crime could not be overlooked, as Nietzsche later said by way of the madman:

How shall we, murderers of all murderers, console ourselves? That which was the holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet possessed has bled to death under our knives. Who will wipe this blood off us? With what water could we purify ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we need to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we not ourselves become gods simply to be worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whosoever shall be born after us – for the sake of this deed he shall be part of a higher history than all history hitherto.”

God’s death would come at a price, and Nietzsche questioned whether man would be able or willing to pay it. Nietzsche was right. We killed God. But it doesn’t end there and it doesn’t result in nihilism (a loss of absolute values and purpose). Nietzsche was right, but not right enough. He took his philosophy as far as he could take it, but he didn’t take it far enough.

We killed God. But God came back. He rose again and in so doing he left not one molecule in the universe unaffected by his radical resurrection.

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

(2 Corinthians 5:14-15)