In Nietzsche’s powerful parable “The Madman” a crazed individual goes around the market place in the bright morning light with a lit lantern, seemingly to seek God. But then he says
“Whither is God” he cried. “I shall tell you. We have killed him – you and I. All of us are his murderers.
This “God is dead” theme – anticipating the demise of religion – features frequently in Nietzsche writings, and what he actually means by that could perhaps not be expressed more clearly than in the following passage from book 5 of his “Die Fröhliche Wissenschaft” (translated as “The Gay Science”” by Walter Kaufmann)
Indeed, we philosophers and “free spirits” feel, when we heard the news that “the old god is dead”, as if a new dawn shone on us; our heart overflow with gratitude, amazement, premonitions, expectation. At long last the horizon appears free to us again, even if it should not be bright; at long last our ships may venture out again, venture out to face any danger; all the daring of the lover of knowledge is permitted again; the sea, our sea, lies open again; perhaps there has never yet been such an “open sea” –
What I read into this is a message of renewed hope! It proclaims that, with the ongoing demise of religion, our future is being opened up to us , and perhaps for the very first time we have the opportunity to chart a course of our very own choice. But the question is now: do we have the courage to be what we can be as human beings, as a species, and the guts to embark on that journey into the unknown? And what could be more exiting, more daring than that?