Friday, July 15, 2011

Postmodernism and Theology

When Nietzsche declared the death of God he also inadvertently declared the advent of the postmodern era. With the death of God came the death of truth, and the death of much else that had previously defined Western Civilization. Today we will explore the implications that the postmodern worldview has had for the most important aspect of any culture, our view of God. Theology is simply the study of God, of His nature, and His demands of us (if indeed there are any). There are two distinct theological views within the postmodern worldview, the most prominent being atheism.

As Nietzsche declared, to the majority of postmodernists God is dead. God is simply a concept in the minds of those who need a crutch to carry them through life, an idea that has been perpetuated by civilization after civilization. The postmodernist finds no need whatsoever for this crutch, and seeks to simplify life by denying the existence of God altogether. After all, everyone else knows that God doesn't exist, but they lack the courage to state such a fact, and so, continue to live in their fantasy world.

Unfortunately, the staunch atheistic view that is held by many postmodernists presents an inconsistency in their worldview. Postmodernists are largely relativistic (this aspect of their worldview will be discussed in detail in later posts), yet they assert that God does not exist, in such a way that to them it is an absolute truth. This view undermines their relativism all too easily, for if truth is relative, how can they positively claim that God does not exist? This issue might lead some to hold a belief of God more consistent with their relativistic worldview, that His existence too is relative.

The second view held by some postmodernists is slightly more consistent with their relativism, but it too poses its problems. Some postmoderns believe that the existence of God, like so many other things (truth, ethics, etc.), is also relative. God may exist for you, but He does not exist for me. It does not take long to realize that this view is utterly illogical and plain ridiculous. If God only exists in certain households or certain corners of the world, than is He really God? If mortal human beings can limit His existence simply by choosing to believe He isn't there, then He must be extremely weak and not deserving of the title of God. Problems such as this usually lead postmodernists to atheism, which in turn leads them to the problems already mentioned under atheism.

In short, the postmodern view of theology is a vicious cycle of inconsistencies and logical fallacies. One view presents an inconsistency, which leads to the next view, which in turn has its own inconsistency that turns you back to the first view. God is dead. Period. But unfortunately for the postmodernist, it isn't as simple as three words and a period. The discussion goes on in an endless cycle, and the answer is never found. Their solution? Turn to the next stick in the worldview bundle; one where they can be a bit more sure of themselves: philosophy! In our next post we'll discuss the postmodern view of philosophy, and find out if it is any more concrete than their conclusions about God and His death.

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