An Analysis of The Death of God by Simon Blackburn

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'The death of God' by Simon Blackburn is an excerpt that challenges the role of religion in the ethical decisions that we face. Throughout the piece the idea that religion has involvement with ethics is never disputed, however the article does question this involvement by asking to what extent and why this is the case. By analysing Blackburn's main message I shall decide upon whether his arguments are justified in conveying this. Taking on the role of an apparent atheist, Blackburn demonstrates his place by illustrating the absurdness of some religious stances.

In order to show how certain religious messages cannot be taken literally in today's society, Blackburn uses some radical examples from The Old and New Testaments. These include 'God having no problem with a slave-owning society'; and that ‘justice can be satisfied by the sacrifice of an innocent for the sins of the guilty'. Here he demonstrates well that God's word is in fact not ‘eternal and unchanging' as the bible claims it is; but instead as we evolve, so does our environment and moral situations. Blackburn implies that it would be unfitting for people to base their ethics solely upon what is dictated to them through Christianity.

Blackburn explores the reasons behind this reliance upon the ‘handbook' of religion from which people form their ethical beliefs, and features an attack on Christianity by ‘Friedrich Nietzsche' to support his argument. Nietzsche states that ‘it is only those who are at the bottom who seek their salvation in it', that ‘the highest good is regarded as unattainable, as a gift, as "grace." Blackburn introduces the notion that the threat or fear of punishment after death is enough in itself for people to obey religious messages, just as it is for the rewards that are spoken of, such as heaven. This is a significant concept, and is reinforced by Blackburn's use of an extract by Immanuel Kant: ‘It encourages us to act in accordance with a rule, but only because of fear of...
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