Nietzsche famously said, “God is dead. And we have killed him”.
I’ve been reading Hannah Arendt’s The Life of the Mind lately though and early on I think she more or less describes what is really going on:
…it may be wise to reflect upon what we really mean when we observe that theology, philosophy, metaphysics have reached and end – certainly not that God has died, something about which we can know as little as about God’s existence (so little, in fact, that even the world “existence” is misplace), but that the way God had been thought of for thousands of years is no longer convincing; if anything is dead, it can only be the traditional THOUGHT of God. And something similar is true of the end of philosophy and metaphysics: not that the old questions which are coeval with the appearance of men on earth have become “meaningless,” but that the way they were framed and answered has lost plausibility.
-Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind, p.10
So it’s not that God died, but rather that we no longer know how to talk about God – how to “frame” questions about meaning and metaphysics. Is this a loss or a gain? The priests of secular atheism today simple declare it was obviously a gain and quickly dismiss any remaining whiff of them in the air. But is LOSING the words and thoughts to even imagine a subject a gain? No matter what is being talked about, it sounds like a loss to me.
Imagine a high-concept science fiction novel where generations of humans are raised by increasingly intelligent robots. Along the way, all knowledge about how the robots were first built, or how the basics of electronic wiring even works at all were lost. One day, the robots all suddenly shut down due to some Y2k-esque software bug. The humans are thrown into disarray as nobody even has the words or thoughts to even contemplate beginning to repair the robots. Man is resilient though and learns to go on living without them, regressing to some kind of early bronze-age society. The robots are dead. Oh well. A few generations later the stories about them seem to be little more than myths. Is this gain or a loss that nobody can productively talk or even think about the caretaker robots anymore? Sounds like a loss to me.