One of the most frequently quoted – and hotly debated – passages in modern philosophy appears in Section 125 of Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Gay Science. It’s worth quoting in full:
“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”
But the core statement is as ambiguous as it is catchy: was God an actual being that had ceased to exist, or had we merely stopped believing in him? In Nietzsche’s book, the words are spoken by a madman: did this mean that God was in fact still alive? Many have quipped: Nietzsche doesn’t look that alive these days either.