If God is dead, somebody is going to have to take his place.
It will be megalomania or erotomania, the drive for power
or the drive for pleasure, the clenched fist or the phallus,
Hitler or Hugh Hefner.
Christianity . . . does not say that in spite of appearances, we are all murders or burglars or crooks or sexual perverts at heart; it does not say that we are totally depraved, in the sense that we are incapable of feeling or responding to any good impulses whatever. The truth is much deeper and more subtle than that. It is precisely when you consider the best in man that you see there is in each of us a hard core of pride or self-centeredness which corrupts our best achievements and blights our best experiences. It comes out in all sorts of ways—in the jealousy which spoils our friendships, in the vanity we feel when we have done something pretty good, in the easy conversion of love into lust, in the meanness which makes us depreciate the efforts of other people, in the distortion of our own judgement by our own self-interest, in our fondness for flattery and our resentment of blame, in our self-assertive profession of fine ideals which we never begin to practise.
We look back on history, and what do we see? Empires rising and falling; revolutions and counter-revolutions succeeding one another; wealth accumulating and wealth dispersed; one nation dominant and then another. As Shakespeare’s King Lear puts it, “the rise and fall of great ones that ebb and flow with the moon…” Can this really be what life is about, as the media insist? This interminable soap opera going from century to century… from era to era, whose old discarded sets and props litter the earth? Surely not. Was it to provide a location for so repetitive and ribald a performance that the universe was created and man came into existence? I can’t believe it. If this were all, then the cynics, the hedonists, and the suicides would be right. The most we can hope for from life is some passing amusement, some gratification of our senses and death. But it’s not all.
Thanks to the great mercy and marvel of the Incarnation, the cosmic scene is resolved into a human drama. God reaches down to become a Man and Man reaches up to relate himself to God. Time looks into eternity and eternity into time, making now always, and always now. Everything is transformed by the sublime drama of the Incarnation…
In the Pensées, at the very moment of the birth of science as we know it today, Pascal prophesied its downfall–which we are witnessing. As men came to grasp the vast extent and complexity of creation, ranging between the minuteness of the atom and the immensity of the universe, they would become, as he predicted, terrified by the “eternal silence of these infinite spaces.” A choice would confront them between seeing the whole future of man locked up immutably in his physical being, in his genes, or accepting with humility and contrition a role in the mysterious purposes of a loving God.
One of the peculiar sins of the twentieth century which we’ve developed to a very high level is the sin of credulity. It has been said that when human beings stop believing in God they believe in nothing. The truth is much worse: they believe in anything.
If God is dead, somebody is going to have to take his place. It will be megalomania or erotomania, the drive for power or the drive for pleasure, the clenched fist or the phallus, Hitler or Hugh Hefner.