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I was 11 years old when God died. The April 8, 1966 cover of Time magazine declared his death, or at least speculated by asking "Is God Dead?"
I was too young to pay attention to the question. At 11, I only wanted to beat Paul Pechner in spelling. But it's a question that lots of people have been asking in one form or another throughout history. Maybe not, "Is he dead?" but "Is he relevant to my life?"
We are, above all, supremely self-absorbed.
Today, I looked up the 1966 Time cover story, "Toward a Hidden God," and read it. It could've been written in 2008.
German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said God died when "striving, self-centered man" killed him.
In the article, theologians lobbied for churches to "accept the fact of God's death and get along without him."
But that's not a new thought, not even in 1966. Nineteenth-Century atheist Karl Marx said churches and God needed to go if ever man was to be free to shape and improve his destiny. Man has always attempted to do life without God's interference, even the most religious among us.
Throughout the article, the author kept referring to "the problem of God." (If he's dead, what's the problem?)
Theologians and scholars offered their best advice, such as doing away with some of the hard dogmas of the faith and reducing Jesus to a "spiritual hero whom even non-believers can admire."
The article went on for pages and pages with quotes and theories from all kinds of experts and random people on the street. Some thought God, if not dead, was at least ailing. Others thought he was little more than an interesting thought, a superstitious hope, a wistful idea but not necessary for life itself.
As I drove home today, I thought about the Time article and about what I could say about it. How do you refute scholars and experts and people with important titles and who use words you can't even pronounce? Anything I have to say would sound simple and feeble.
So, I drove past my church where we're building a new student ministry center and past a field where cattle graze. I stopped at the market to buy apples and pears and salmon and sweet potatoes and watched a young mom wipe the face of her toddler sitting in the shopping cart.
I thought about music and the color of beets and broccoli and about electricity and rain and language - and the creativity of human beings. How did we invent cars and radios - and bread? How did someone think to mix living organisms like yeast together with ground-up wheat?
Where did the concept of justice come from? What keeps the planets from colliding? Where does kindness and sacrifice come from? Why do we long for liberty? It had to have come from somewhere - or someone.
I don't know if I ever thought God was dead, although at one time I wished he didn't exist. I didn't want to hear about his rules and how I had broken them and didn't understand his mercy and grace.
In my opinion, those who say God is dead are just putting their fingers in their ears, trying to block out the obvious - if God exists, then I am not master of my own fate.
C.S. Lewis once wrote, "A man can no more diminish (God) by refusing to worship him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell."
Yet some insist that we can live just fine without God, that he is a "delusion," according to biologist and author Richard Dawkins, or that religion is a "neurological disorder," according to comedian Bill Maher.
Maybe the ones who don't believe are the ones who are dead.
All I know is that the sun rises and the sun sets, there are creatures in the sea that look like tiny dragons and pumpkin pie tastes sweet, and there's a reason for it all.
And even though things look scary and the world is mad and getting madder and at times it might look like God is dead or maybe on vacation, no matter what so-called scholars and experts say, he is alive and well and making all things new.