The striking phrase, “God is dead,” is the poetical expression of modern unbelief. Much is expressed in this phrase that is not to be found in the more prosaic expressions of modern atheism and agnosticism. A vivid contrast is established between a previous age when men believed in God and based their life and institutions upon Him, and a new age for whose inhabitants, supposedly, this once all-illuminating sun has been blotted out, and life and society must be given a new orientation.
The phrase, itself apparently coined by Nietzsche almost a century ago, was for long used to express the views of a comparatively few enemies of Christianity, chiefly “existentialists”; but recently it has caused controversy by being accepted in radical Protestant circles, and not it has become a concern of common journalism and the mass media. Clearly a responsive chord has been struck in Western society at large; the public interest in the “death of God” has made this phenomenon one of the signs of the times.