What happens after the death of god: A reflection


I have identified myself as an atheist for about a year now, before that, I was a practicing Catholic though there are a few things I had stopped doing over time for example I couldn’t bring myself to give offering [so no point in enriching the church], stopped going to confessions and saw going to receive communion as a long walk to the altar among others. In this post, therefore, I intend to reflect on the changes that have since taken place since I took leave of god. But before we get deeper into this, there is a passage in Nietzsche’s Gay Science that is appropriate for our purpose. He writes

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.

In many posts that I have seen by friends who were brought up religious, they talk about a certain loss, an emptiness and a struggle to let go or something similar. In my case, I think, the idea of god was quickly replaced by a desire to know, to understand reality, or as it were, nature that the feeling of loss, if it was there didn’t last quite long. In the duration that I have been godless, I have read more on religion than I ever did in the 28 years that I was religious. My major regret is that I wish I had known what I know now earlier. I have nothing against those who brought me up religious, they didn’t know better and they had themselves been brought up religious and my parents were not exposed to tools of critical thought that I have been exposed to. They did their best to grant me a good education and even though I was religious through my campus education, it is the love I developed for philosophy in first year that has made this journey interesting.

I have found questions about the historicity of Jesus intriguing, I have read a little about the Buddha, I have read a little on the authorship of the bible, the koran but I spend the most time reading philosophy.

In the passage about the madman, Nietzsche wants us[the godless] to urgently face the consequences of the death of god. What does this mean to me? In my case it has meant a fresh consideration of things that were hitherto taken as a given, for example, that man was created by god, he[god] was the author of morals, creator of the universe and all those things that have been attributed to god. I will attempt to explain some of these changes below in a little detail.

That man was created by god

This belief I think was held uncritically. I don’t know where life began, and I don’t think this will be known in the near future but I have a working grasp of how life has progressed on this rock called earth. I don’t think I rejected evolution even when I was religious, it was just treated as something different,  though I must add here that I wasn’t a good student of biology in high school. I didn’t find it interesting as the physical sciences and just did it because it was compulsory.

God as the author of morals

I have come to think that we shouldn’t talk about morality at all. My thoughts are that morality are in  line with this piece found here

 On the intellectual side, many have worried that there is no good way to vindicate the assumptions and commitments of morality. A careful and clear-eyed study of morality will reveal, some argue, that morality is a myth; others argue that the various principles that are presented as authoritative standards for all are actually merely expressions of emotion or projections of the idiosyncratic attitudes of those advocating the principles; still others argue that in some other way morality is not what it pretends to be and not what it needs to be if it is to be legitimate. On the practical side, many have pressed the difficulty of getting people to judge themselves and others impartially; others have worried that, while we have an interest in convincing others to conform to morality, we ourselves rarely have any reason, really, to conform; still others have thought that the sort of freedom morality assumes is not available to humans as they actually are.

I also hold the view that in the Euthyphro dilemma conclusively makes any talk about morality, if there can be such discussion, independent of god. I realize that some of the things I thought immoral, appeared to be so since I was looking at life using a christian filter. Having replaced this filter, I find, my reasons for objecting to some act is sometimes not based on any stable ground other than own feeling. Does this mean then that everything is permitted? No.

The universe as a creation of god

This has been one of the most interesting areas of learning. I have read a bit of big bang cosmology, I have looked at the cosmological arguments that attempt to posit a god as necessary for the creation of the universe. I am persuaded to believe that the universe has always existed in some state especially since I can’t think of a break in the cause-effect continuum and the creation or annihilation of matter. These, to me, persuade me to reject the notion of god being required as a creator of the universe.

Free will

I believed then that man was responsible for his actions. That man chose to do evil. Did I have reasons to believe this? I don’t know. Whereas I think we don’t have free will, I don’t think it would make a difference even if we had it unless it can be proved that; i) the cause- effect continuum applies to everything else in nature except human beings ii) that our environment has no bearing on our actions iii) our previous experiences do not affect our decisions iv) that a person would act otherwise than they did in a given situation.

Other areas of life that have had to be modified in light of the death of god include my thoughts on nationhood and patriotism, marriage, the question of love, culture, after life, heaven and hell among others. These may not be a direct consequence of the death of god but a result of critical thought and application of the much praised common sense.

In conclusion, if I was clever before, I have just moved closer to genius 😛

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

40 thoughts on “What happens after the death of god: A reflection

  1. john zande says:

    “My major regret is that I wish I had known what I know now earlier.”

    Spot on!

    Like

  2. muggleinconverse says:

    Looking at the world through the lens of reason can certainly change a lot of views. It definitely altered a lot of my opinions.

    Even though I was never deeply religious, I went though what I can only call a grieving period. The universe was a vastly different place than I had been led to believe. It was astounding and one of the best things that ever happened to me.

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      In the beginning I was quite excited, I especially liked to discuss bible verses that had made sense till that moment when I started to look at life using a different filter.
      This days, I can’t believe it that so many think a god listens to their prayers!

      Like

      • muggleinconverse says:

        Once the veil of faith is removed, it is difficult to understand how one ever believed any religious teaching. Childhood indoctrination and the fear of death tend to kill reasonable thought though.

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  3. violetwisp says:

    Wow, you have come a long way in a year! I had about 10 years of down time before I even wanted to think about Christianity again.

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    • makagutu says:

      I think reading has helped me a lot to come this far. I have to like old atheistic treatises. I enjoy reading the old books, they are just great to say the least!

      Like

  4. mixedupmeme says:

    There are surely as many different ways of coming to an atheistic conclusion as there are atheists. No story is the same. No time frame is the same. Perhaps one of the most alone thing ever done. There is no group creed or confession to recite once a week proclaiming your non belief. The first time I thought about it was enough. No need to go back and reaffirm over again. I never gave critical thought to it. And any philosophy courses in college about it did not convince me one way or the other. (My understanding of philosophy was rather like yours with biology. 😦 )
    If anything my eye opener would have been like Saul’s. The scales just fell off my eyes and that was it. But then it helped not to have been very religious in the first place. Lucky Me!

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    • makagutu says:

      You have told me about you love affair 😛 with philosophy and it really was similar with mine and biology.
      Thanks for reading and commenting. We all have different stories and all are great stories!

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  5. I hadn’t known that you were a Catholic. Very excellent post!

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  6. aguywithoutboxers says:

    Very interesting and DEAFinitely “food for thought!” However, you shouldn’t feel regret for not understanding truth earlier. If you had been exposed to it before you were, you may have rejected it because of religion.

    By the way, my Nairobi brother, your infamous acerbic wit suits you well in your closing comment: “if I was clever before, I have just moved closer to genius.” How true! 😉 Much love and naked hugs!

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    • makagutu says:

      Thanks my friend. Am told there are different sets of people; those who wait to praised and those who praise themselves, the second lot is usually called vain! I have no apologies for being in the second lot 😛
      Thank you for always reading and commenting and for your compliments.

      Like

  7. themodernidiot says:

    dude this was so cool!

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  8. This is a very good post. Though I disagree with you on free will, everything else is right on target.

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    • makagutu says:

      Let us posit we have free will for a moment, how would our actions be truly free of influence from previous environments and upbringing among others?
      Could we act other than we acted in the given situation?

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      • 1st – yes, we can act free of influencing factors if we choose even if this is not our base instinct.
        2nd – influence from previous environs etc. is not a controlling factor but a knowledge source on which we ‘can’ make future decisions.

        To say there is no free will is to say that something compelled those animals to act to help others by doing extraordinary things. What was it?

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        • makagutu says:

          1. give me an example of one such free actions that is free of external influence or one that can’t be attributed to any such thing in the past.

          2. I can agree that the past is not controlling how you will act, but influences how you may act.

          To say there is no free will, in my view, means to acknowledge becoming that is, that people or animals will act as they did.

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          • 1) What’s on top of that mountain? What’s in that box? Why are leaves green? I bet I could use this to cut skin from an animal. Why is this rock green? I hate you. I like this color blue. (some examples)

            It’s a tenuous link to say that such curiosity is not free will.

            Anytime (mostly) that we seek to solve a puzzle or answer a self-posed question we are using free will.

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          • makagutu says:

            All the things you have listed are not actions but are subjects of intuition. We have nothing to do with what why leaves are green or what’s in a box unless we put it there and as you say they are questions that arise out of curiosity and nothing more.

            Anytime we seek to solve a puzzle we are employing our cognitive abilities and not free will.

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          • Who directs us to use these cognitive abilities? It is thought that leads to action. Other examples are fraught with excuse about what forced that thinking from an external vantage point.

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          • makagutu says:

            Our cognitive abilities are not questions of choice. Our brains do what it must when presented with either sensory material or representations. I don’t choose to say 1+1=2. It is not a question of choice, it is as it is.

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  9. Mordanicus says:

    Great post indeed!

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    • makagutu says:

      Thanks mate!

      Like

      • Mordanicus says:

        I have been practically an atheist for over a decade. The idea of believing in personal god is in my eyes a ridiculous thing and a serious obstacle to pure religiosity (I subscribe to a kind of non-theistic religious naturalism, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_naturalism ). In my country no one really gives a damn shit about religion, although we are suffering from the plague of nihilistic ietsism.

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        • makagutu says:

          I met the first godless person, rather the first person who told me they were godless like 5 years ago, and I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that someone could live their lives without god. Now as you say, I find the idea of a personal god or any other god maybe with the exception of a dead god to be simply ridiculous. And so you know, here people pray for rain, sun and I don’t know what else!

          The article on religious naturalism is quite interesting.

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  10. A very interesting post, Mak! I generally feel much more inspired if people write about their own experience with atheism instead of recycling endless statements. (I only like statements about atheism if they strike me as funny, these days. But maybe that’s just me.)
    I have wondered recently why so many atheists go on to endlessly ridicule their old beliefs instead of asking themselves what has changed. In my opinion, if you have changed a lot in a year it’s because you asked yourself these questions. And that is really interesting! (I think it also means you’ll have to reconcile yourself to living without easy answers…)
    Thank you very much for writing this!

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    • makagutu says:

      Thanks very much for reading and commenting. I think as the wise Socrates said the un-examined life is not worth living, an appraisal is important once in a while.
      The past should be a learning source, ridiculing it while not drawing any lessons from it is not a useful pastime. I agree with you on that!
      I realize that to the many questions I might have, there could be no answers, especially now that goddit doesn’t fly.

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  11. Ishaiya says:

    You are only limited by the extent of your current ability to think. So do you have free will? What do you think? Guaranteed though, that in five years time you will have a very different view.
    For me even though I was born into a catholic family, the concept of god has always struck me as ludicrous. I can remember at age six making another girl cry because I was adamant that God and Jesus did not exist. It just didn’t feel right to me, and nothing has changed in that regard. Atheism doesn’t make sense to me either, because even that is playing with the notion of there being a different interpretation of God, or godhood. It has taken me a long time to trust my own thought process, and in so doing I have been lead on many a fascinating adventure, and down many avenues of thought that I perhaps would not have entertained otherwise. I can therefore only commend you my friend for staying true to your own reasoning process.
    And yes such thinking does bring you closer to genius. It’s a good place to be 🙂
    Nice to get to know you a little more.

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    • makagutu says:

      As a little boy, I wondered why we had to give priests money if it was meant for god. Why wouldn’t god come for the money himself and beyond that there was a saying that one is poor as a church mouse. I couldn’t get it especially since every Sunday, there was contribution to the church kitty. Whereas I identify as atheist, I am inclined to the position of the Buddha on the question of gods. That we can’t make a determination whether or not they exist and that our duty is to live here and now.

      On the question do I have free will? I don’t know and I don’t think it would matter for the simple reason that I think if the statement every effect has a cause is true for all things in nature, then my action will have been a result of a cause that in many situations will always be out of my control. That’s my thought on the matter.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Like

  12. […] I was taking a break from writing this, I saw that fellow blogger Makagutu had written a very interesting reflection on the death of god. He also thought about morals in a […]

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  13. […] have free will. I have written quite a number of posts that can be found here, here, here, here and here that try to espouse my thinking on the idea or opinions by other philosophers of old on the same […]

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  14. […] What happens after the death of God: A Self Reflection […]

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  15. […] year ago I wrote a reflection on what next after the death of god. Time flies […]

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