All important philosophers, in the East European, and West European traditions were preoccupied also, directly or indirectly, by the concept of God, and even by the possibility of His existence, or, at least, by the possibility of speaking about His existence, in a meaningful way. The philosophy of religion is concerned with what can be called, in Kantian terms, the “conditions of possibility” of the religious sphere. From Nietzsche to Heidegger there has been a sustained critique of the metaphysical presuppositions of Western religious belief. According to Derrida’s claim modern Western philosophy has been obsessed by ‘foundationalism,’ which means the assumed task of philosophy to uncover the ultimate foundations of knowledge and reality. In Western and Middle Eastern religious views, God was seen as (arche), the foundation or ground of being, and an important metaphysical deployment was needed in order to make sense of someone who is, in the same time, transcendental, and also involved intimately with the human nature. What is difficult to accept through faith, which is always shadowed by reason, is even more difficult to demonstrate through reason, and more so, when faith lacks.
The history of metaphysics encountered numerous obstacles in demonstrating rationally the possibility of the existence of God, and even more when it tried to demonstrate the actual existence of a personal God. In this context the “death of God,” which Nietzsche proclaimed, is in effect the death of a metaphysical God. The task of the philosopher of religion is to understand what meaning can be given to religious discourse in times when the metaphysical God has been set out of the context. Martin Heidegger and Jacques Derrida have been the two main personalities concerned with this issue upon which the possibility of a philosophy of God is depending.
In his work, Culture and Value, Wittgenstein wrote: “An honest religious thinker is like a tightrope walker. He almost looks as though he were walking on nothing but air. His support is the slenderest imaginable. And yet it is possible to walk on it.” To elaborate a philosophy of religion without the help of traditional metaphysics is to realize a minimalist form of such a philosophy. Starting with Kant, a whole new direction into classical philosophy of religion was introduced. Kant has shown that pure or speculative reason was not able to rise beyond our sensory experience. Kant asserted that only the “practical reason” can fill the space left by the discredited metaphysics. Kant’s rejection of any philosophy of religion based on metaphysics has had an enormous influence on modern thought. John Henry Newman and Edouard Le Roy have developed Kant’s ideas, recognizing morality as being the only possible entry into the religious order while others embraced Kant’s dismissal of metaphysics in the “Critique of Pure Reason” but, in the same time, rejecting the escape offered by Kant in the “Critique of Practical Reason.” Initially, I intended to extend this dissertation to Derrida’s philosophy also but working on it I realized that such a project will surpass by far the scope and space of this proposition.
In my opinion, the most fundamental question of the philosophy of religion is to know what are the relationships between humans, as finite beings, and an infinite cosmic reality, and if behind this cosmic reality, or in it, there is any autonomous rationality. In the present dissertation I want to show that metaphysics are intrinsically and indestructibility linked to the above question of the philosophy of religion and when one wants to ‘divorce’ with metaphysics, one is prevented from answering the named question. This happened with Nietzsche and Heidegger, who were prevented from answering the most important question of the philosophy of God, and a necessary one, when decided that the metaphysics are no longer relevant for philosophy, so a way out of it must be found. For this reason, I consider Hegel’s metaphysical system a powerful attempt to answer to the most important question of the philosophy of religion. If one must get rid of metaphysics, one must first answer to the question: “How is it possible to separate philosophy from metaphysics, and in the same time to touch meaningfully and rationally the question of God?” Infinity is an object of preoccupation for humans and will always be and up to this moment religious revelation was the only relevant way to approach it and metaphysics to speak about it.
Hegel is considered to be a figure of “dialectical equivocity.” A philosopher, who places religion at the highest standpoint of the absolute, has also been seen as a major influence on modern atheism, and that, through some of his inheritors, such as Feuerbach. Nevertheless, Hegel was not involved in the trend of thought which implicates philosophising about religion, but without seriously speaking about God. From his point of view we cannot avoid speaking about God. When we speak of God, from Hegel’s perspective, it is important, firstly, to establish what we understand by God. I will follow few paths which will bring me to standpoints from which certain assessments can be made. First of all, will be the idea of transcendence.
“Transcendence” is not a Hegelian word and Hegel was a philosopher who developed the concept of immanence. Hegel was suspicious about a God who is ‘beyond.’ He didn’t see any value in such a God, rather a source of problems. Hegel’s God is the result of a speculative philosophy of immanence. Generally speaking, when talking about transcendence, one should differentiate the human self transcendence from the transcendence in which God is seen as a transcendental ‘other.’ The Christian God transcends finite creation or nature; He transcends humanity or history, not as human self transcendence but as a transcendent ‘other.’
Secondly, when we look to the issue of God in philosophy, the relations between ‘whole,’ and ‘parts,’ and between finitude and infinity are the main object. Where is Hegel standing, from these points of view? Hegel seems to suggest that, in his understanding, God is the Whole of wholes, and any other God, beyond that ‘totality,’ doesn’t find His place in his philosophical context. Hegel is constructing his God, starting from religious sources but drawing apart from them in the effort of reconfiguration of the divine transcendence.
One is prompted to the core of the issue of transcendence by an astonishing problem, which is an ontological one. “Why are beings and not nothing?” The possibility of a transcendence as ‘other’ is raised by such a question. What is the ontological origin of beings? What gives ‘existence’ to the things which are said “to be?” These are perplexing questions and the object of major preoccupation, in the history of philosophy. Nevertheless, this ‘givenness’ of being does not have an important place in Hegel’s philosophy. In the same time, this givenness of being directs the attention towards an intuition which goes beyond a ‘totality’ of finite beings. Hegel doesn’t answer this concern and the ‘Whole’ as ‘Totality’ is problematic in many ways.
In connection with the idea of transcendence, another kind can be also discussed, namely a transcendence of self-being, which is meet, for example, in the self-exceeding power of the human beings, which are finite and yet surpass finitude by their freedom and creativity. But the question is to establish if our self transcendence means that we, as human beings, are the product of our own creation or there is another Creator, other than us, who is responsible for this creation. The question of a transcendent God is determined by the possibility of existence of a reality, trans-human, and trans-natural, a reality not identical with humans and not identical with the whole of finite beings in nature.
Besides an exterior, and an interior transcendence can we speak of a superior transcendence, or a more original source of transcendence? This kind of ‘origin’ would have to be other than finite possibility and realization. It would have to be beyond determinate possibility and also beyond all determinate realization. To describe such a power or possibility is really problematic and the difficulty is caused by the limitations of the language, which is adapted for determinate finite beings. Nevertheless, the immanent self surpassing power or self determination of the human beings is not at all on the same level of conception as the possibilizing power beyond determinate possibility, and reality.
Hegel was concerned with the ultimate ground and with the possibilizing source of being and thought, and for him, this source is the Idea, Geist, the absolute, or God. He formulated the issue of transcendence in terms of a self-transcendence, which is transcendence from self to other, and the come back to self. There is not ultimate transcendence as ‘other,’ and in fact this type of transcendence is just a self completing immanence. For Hegel there is an absolute subjectivity that includes immanently the relation of subject and object. Divine intersubjectivity is, in the end, a relation between God and itself. Transcendence is firstly the ‘trance,’ which means a going beyond or across towards what is ‘not’ now oneself. If God is a transcending being, there is an otherness, which is not reducible to our self-determining. This transcendence cannot coexist with an absolute human autonomy, meaning absolutely in and for itself. There is an antinomy; if human autonomy is absolute, transcendence, namely the possibility of the existence of a transcendent God, has to be relative; if the transcending possibility is seen as absolute, autonomy must be relative.
In William Desmond’s opinion Hegel seeks a dialectical-speculative solution to the antinomy of autonomy and transcendence. In Hegel, there is no absolute transcendence as other. God abrogates His own transcendence by entering time, and in this process He is given over to immanence. The process of self becoming is, in the same time, characteristic for God, and for human beings. In Hegel’s philosophy, all references to transcendence as other are included, within the own process of self-determination of autonomy. The absolute form of being is dialectically self determining or, in other words, the absolute is self-determining being. Is God, for Hegel, the human being transcending itself towards the fulfilment of its spirit, in a conceivable absolute? As R.C. Solomon put it “If we cannot understand <<Geist,>> than we cannot understand Hegel’s philosophy; the <<philosophy of spirit>> is only as comprehensible as the concept of <<Spirit.>> The same author maintains also that “What clearly emerges from Hegel’s writings is that <<Geist>> refers to some sort of general consciousness, a single mind common to all men…Absolute consciousness is the explicit recognition of one’s identity as universal Spirit. The concept of <<Geist>> is the hallmark of a theory of self identity – a theory in which I am something other than a person.”
In order to understand better what “Geist” means, for Hegel, it should be said that this is a German word which has all the meanings of the English words: spirit, mind, soul and the French word esprit. In the German language there is no distinction between spirit and mind. Both meanings are represented by the word “Geist.” Even if usually “Geist” is translated either as spirit or mind they advisably can be used with both meanings Spirit/Mind. The goal of Spirit is Freedom, a Freedom which needs to be expressed and reflected in order to be really free. For Hegel there are three divisions of the philosophy of Spirit/Mind. The Subjective Spirit/Mind, The Objective Spirit/Mind, and The Absolute Spirit/Mind, the latter exploring Fine Arts, Religion, and Philosophy.
It must be noted that the idea of universal mind doesn’t originate in Hegel, but much earlier. The notion of universal mind came into the Western Canon through the Pre-Socratic philosopher Anaxagoras, coming to Athens at around 480 BC. He taught that all things were created by Nous (Mind) and that Mind held the cosmos together and gave human beings a connection to the cosmos, or a pathway to the divine. A quotation from Marc Aurelius may be interesting, in this context:
All things are implicated with one another, and the bond is holy; and there is hardly anything unconnected with any other things. For things have been coordinated, and they combine to make up the same universe. For there is one universe made up of all things, and one god who pervades all things, and one substance, and one law, and one reason. Marcus Aurelius - The Meditations (7.9)
Probably an important task will be that of seeing how far Hegel’s conception of philosophy of religion influenced the development of the concept of universal mind, and universal consciousness, which are important our days for the understanding of spirituality. I would like to argue that Hegel’s ideas are important today in clarifying philosophically the concept of extended consciousness. I hope that such an assignment can be fulfilled progressively along with the presentation of Hegel’s concept of God. On this ground, it must be said that, for Hegel, the autonomous process of self determining is the self-realization of reason itself, which comes to be itself fully, by overcoming its incompleteness, and indefiniteness, characteristic for its beginning, and by this, becomes self-fulfilled. Is God, for Hegel, “thinking thought” itself? Hegel rejects an “objectivized beyond,” and develops an immanent self-surpassing process of self-determination. In Hegel’s philosophy we have a God that has to become itself by a process of self-determination of what is merely implicit in the beginning. By surpassing an initial indefiniteness, ‘the absolute’ or God, ‘others’ itself, determines itself as ‘other’ that is other to itself, but comes to itself more fully, by an explicit relation with itself, in that otherness.
The great monotheistic traditions saw God as beyond humanity and beyond nature, and presented Him as a transcendent source of revelation. In other words, God is beyond what reason can conceive of Him, and that seems to be a reasonable thought, as far as we cannot conceive the infinity that is the infinite dimension of reality. In a way or another, we realize that existence cannot ‘not’ be, as Parmenides said, because we cannot accept the non-being as the source of being. Letting aside the subjective perception of being, from the perspective of personal human experience, we often wonder at the universal reality, which doesn’t have any conceivable beginning. Even if there is a beginning of the existence, humanity cannot conceive it, and for that reason, humans use to name this extraordinary mystery, God. From the explanation of natural phenomena such as reign, or the solar system, God was pushed by the “modern sciences” where the explanation of the ‘existence’ itself resides. How is it possible to conceive an unending, infinite existence, with no origin? Most probably, God stands firm on the intellectual and spiritual ‘location’ from which this question arises and either philosophy or modern sciences are very far from any successful attempt, to answer this question. On the other side, to me, to conceive God as Someone ‘existing’ outside ‘existence’ and giving existence to the existing beings is also very problematic. Nevertheless, this was a spread Christian position. We can also ask: “What do we have to understand by ‘existence’ and ‘being’ in pure philosophical terms,” as Heidegger does, but this demarche still doesn’t answer to the previous question. Revelation and mystery are two sides of the same process of knowledge, and Hegel is a philosopher of meanings, who saw much further than his predecessors the meanings of reality.
These questions are challenging. Was there any beginning for ‘existence’? Was the objective reality always there, without any beginning, just there, in a multitude of possible forms? Parmenides rightly said that the reality cannot “not be,” meaning that it is impossible to imagine a complete nothingness, starting from the standpoint of existence. God beyond finitude is a challenge for humanity and the question is how Hegel answered to this challenge. In the Judeo Christian traditions God cannot really be grasped, unless he decides to discover Himself to us. Our mind is not able to conceive a reality, which goes beyond our finitude, because all our instruments of thinking are adapted only for a finite, determinate reality. The idea of the revealed God was received with widespread opposition in modernity, and Hegel is not an exception. The word ‘God’ is often used by Hegel but this word doesn’t entail the irreducible transcendence of the Judeo Christian traditions.
Before going any further, it must be said that Kant was really important for Hegel’s thinking. As Hegel said:
From the Kantian system and its highest completion I expect a revolution in Germany. It will proceed from principles that are present and that only need to be elaborated and applied to all hitherto existing knowledge. This is a fragment of a Hegel’s letter to Shelling from 1795.
For Kant, morality gives ultimate significance to the human as ‘human.’ The human being alone is characterised by inherent purpose, and by this the humans are the inherent purpose of nature. Kantian autonomy refers to humans own self-legislation; transcendence, meaning the transcendence of Christian God refers to another, beyond our determination. Kant makes problematic the relevance of reason, when it is used purely theoretical, and in a speculative manner, in respect to the problem of God. He subjected all the so called “philosophical proofs” of the existence of God to a rational critique, and all of these proofs were rejected. On the basis of concept alone one cannot establish the existence of God. The gap between concept and existence cannot be bridged by the concept alone. The same is available for the concept of God. For Hegel, one cannot establish a gulf between possibility and actuality, in the concept, because the latter is self-actualising in the sense that it gives itself existence by thinking itself.
For Kant, practical reason can do what theoretical reason cannot, that is, can demonstrate God’s existence as a necessary axiom. There is a tension between happiness and virtue. One can be virtuous and unhappy but another can be happy and not good. To alleviate this tension Kant appeals to the divine. In order to realize a complete accord between virtue and happiness Kant proposes that God will establish this concordance by rewarding the virtuous, with happiness, in the next life. For Kant, there is a moral meaning of the whole and with that he makes reference to a moral God, who keeps His otherness in relation to the human beings. In the same time, the sense of the whole is important both for Kant, and Hegel.
In Hegel, a holism of nature will be reformulated, and the influence of Spinoza is also present. For Hegel, thinking is the true being of the divine. The whole is important for Hegel because in his system God is the God of the whole. We can ask if God is, for Hegel, the whole itself or God is beyond the whole. The question is complicated because, first of all, what and how could be anything beyond the whole? Secondly, what the whole means? Has the concept of ‘whole’ any meaning when projected in infinity? There is there a limit, and finite ways of thinking encounter difficulties when reach that frontier. Hegel approaches this barrier by a dialectic, which surpasses the limit. The whole determines itself in its own self-actualization, which is the only way to overcome the limit, because, on the one side, the whole is its own limit, but on the other side, the whole surpasses this limit in its self-actualization. Infinity and continuous, infinite, self-actualization are not incompatible, as I, personally, see. Hegel’s whole is infinite not finite, and it contains also finitude within itself. What is the relation between finitude and infinity? Can the relation between an infinite transcendent other and the holistic immanence to be seen as the relation between a transcendent God and his creation? To answer to that question one has to see if there is any place, in Hegel’s philosophy, for a transcendent other, who is other than the immanent whole. The answer was alluded to and will probably come, in more detail, on the course of this essay, and I will comeback also, to the problem of infinity.
For Hegel, reason is the most important element, in his approach to God. More over, reason cannot make sense of any reality if it doesn’t make sense of God. Hegel sees thinking as a continuous process of self-purification, thought purifying itself of all sensible content whatever. This is not of course a restriction of thinking, in relation with the sensible things; it is rather a transformation of those, in the process of thinking, in non-sensible entities. Rational thought can think the sensible, and the non-sensible, but only the rational thought can think the non-sensible. The essence of the sensible is finite, and for this reason, infinite, opposite to the finite, has to be non-sensible, in Hegel’s view. And that seems to be correct, at least from the perspective of the direct sensorial perception of the infinite, as a unique object of perception, because it is obvious that infinity cannot be sensed, by our senses or imagined, by our imagination. On the other side, an infinite reality, formed by matter and energy, contains elements which can each of them, separately or together, to a certain extent, become the object of the sensory perception.
‘Understanding’ tries to ‘represent’ the infinite, for example in mathematical symbols and that is what it does when it tends to think the object of religious consciousness. Nevertheless, ‘understanding’ cannot be successful with this because it cannot detach itself from ‘representations.’ Only reason goes beyond ‘understanding,’ consequently goes beyond ‘representations,’ and with this, the reality of God, which is the reality of the infinite, belongs only to reason.
When presented with objects, for example linguistic messages, or religious teachings, human mind gets an “immediate awareness.” This content, immediately given, is processed by the human mind by ‘thinking,’ and this is done through the means of the ‘images.’ These images are ‘representations’ which the mind, in a subjective way, makes to itself in order to help itself to come to grips with the content presented. This is the beginning of a dynamic movement, away from the image-character of what is presented. This is a process, a progressive movement from image toward thought. The movement of this process of thinking is oriented to transcending itself in ‘thought,’ and in this, shifts from subjective to objective. It is important to say that an infinite, which could, in any way be imagined, would not be infinite. Some questions can arise, for example, it can be asked if it is conceivable any kind of thinking without images. Before answering that, one should be able to raises himself or she to the speculative heights, of thinking, to which Hegel is inviting us. Hegel doesn’t give any proofs, in the formal-logical sense of the term, his logic is a study of the ‘logos,’ in which reality reveals in thought. Hegel doesn’t make the demonstration that the infinite can be grasped in imageless thought, or even that imageless thought exists. The only thing to do, for the reader, is to follow Hegel’s thinking, and to be persuaded by its good sense, by its logic. In other words, the ‘proof’ of Hegel thinking lays in its rationality, and that should be the correct reflection of an object of thinking, having the highest rationality, namely God.
Hegel has ‘theologized’ philosophy to a great extend so much so that even the philosophical thinking, per se, cannot dispense with faith, meaning with a content, which is faith. When reason doesn’t see the rationality of faith, the fault belongs to that particular kind of reason not to the faith, because the content of faith is necessarily rational. Religious ‘experience’ is neither irrational nor ‘supra-rational’ it is within the scope of rationality. Religious experience is integral to and continuous with the trajectory of experience in the process of becoming “absolute knowing.” Religious experience is a specific mode of thinking of the absolute content which is God. Truth for Hegel is the unity of the infinite and the finite. Spiritual activity is the very process of humanizing human, achieving this by authentically orienting the human to the divine. To be human is to be spirit, since God is the essence of the human. Reason “is the substance of spirit.” In parallel with the rationality of thought is the rationality of the object of thought. Object is rational, either when it is present in the explicitly rational form of philosophical thinking or in the implicitly rational form of religious consciousness. From the nature, in which it is immersed, the human spirit progressively moves to explicit rationality. A union between human and the divine is essential to the actualisation of the spirituality in the human. A quotation from Hegel can be useful, at this moment:
Man becomes actual as a spiritual being only when he overcomes his naturality. This overcoming becomes possible only under the supposition that the human and the divine natures are substantially and consciously one, and that man, to the extent that he is spirit, possesses the essentiality and substantiality which pertains to the concept of God.
As we can see, in the above quotation, Hegel speaks about the concept of God, and not about a Personal God, who is independently, and fully other than man. Have we to understand that thinking about God, developing the concept of God, make us to become one with God? Is the consciousness of our call toward divinity the way to become divine? Is it enough to think to God, in order to become like Him, in His nature, namely spiritual? The human call to progressively spiritualize his or her naturality, through thinking, is also a necessary path toward absolute, toward the essence of divinity, which is eternity or infinite. In thinking, man becomes divine because thinking brings, in a necessary way, the human spirit to the absolute, and in this, to the divine. The call of the absolute in the human mind is the call of divine, and this divine becomes conscious of himself in the human consciousness when thinking man necessarily evolve in his thinking toward a greater spiritualization. This kind of progressive spiritualization, through a process of self-cultivation is not specific only for the individual but manly for the culture of a people, and individuals share in a culture which is common to all.
The consciousness of the union between human and divine is something in which man must grow. This consciousness is given in Christ, and man has to awaken it in him. The importance of Christian religious consciousness, in the development of the post Roman culture was emphasised by Hegel. The realization of man as spirit has a history, with many elements in it, such as moral, religious, legal or political. The whole process envisaged the realization of man’s true being as spirit, spirit which is the base for human freedom. Nevertheless, in the development of the European history, Hegel describes a movement of separation of thought and culture, a split with their foundation in the Absolute, the Divine. With Descartes the ruling of the spirit from above is gradually replaced with the self determination of the human spirit. For the scientific mind the grace of God in not any more the decisive factor for the self understanding of man. “Cogito, ergo sum” is considered to be an acknowledgement of the fact that being and human thought are one. Observing the nature, the man noticed that the external reality is similar to the internal one and the nature has its own rationality visible in its laws.
Some see in the concept of God expressed by Hegel only a metaphor, God being for Hegel no more than the human spirit, even if not in the individual, sense. Others consider that Hegel disengaged himself with the human spirit when he presents the spirit as a sort of ‘superhuman’ spirit, and the latter is an ‘intrusive’ element, in the “biography of human spirit.” I would argue that Hegel presents a sort of panentheism in which the spirit is a consequence of the evolution of different forms in which the spirit finds itself in an incipient stage. In the same time, the spirit pre-exists the human mind, because he is find also in natural stages. This spirit is better seen as a universal spirit, which becomes conscious of itself in the human consciousness. In other words, the spirit permeates the whole universe but know itself only through the consciousness of the human, where the infinite force of existence and the rationality of the human mind meet. Nevertheless, to me, one can safely extend the spirit not only to the collective consciousness of humanity, but also to any possible consciousness existing in the universe, for example, other intelligent beings, unknown by us, but forming, together with us, a unique consciousness, an infinite being, communicating within all possible spirits.
In the same time, even if the object of religion is divine, infinite Spirit, the religious experience itself, of which Hegel makes reference, is a human experience. Nevertheless, for Hegel, the religious consciousness, which has God as its object, is indispensable to authentic philosophical thinking, and knowing. ‘Religion’ is the truth of consciousness, as moral spirit, and religion points to the fulfilment of its own truth in Absolute knowledge. It must be said that speculative thinking, in its search for truth, can never be confined to finding that truth in what is immediately present in thought, but only in that to which the immediately present points as its ‘truth.’ In the “Absolute knowing” the philosophical form of ‘knowing’ is suited to the religious content of ‘believing,’ and ‘thought’ supersedes ‘representation’ without altering its ‘object.’ What Hegel has done was to develop his thinking on the lines of Plato, Aristotle, and Spinoza, who had in common the idea that rational thinking is somehow divine and oriented to the divine. Thought reveals as an infinite activity, and only the infinite can have infinite activity. In order to see this openness of thought towards the infinite Being, which means that in a way humans are divine through their thinking but the spirit is much more then individual human spirit, and also to see the intricacies through which ‘spirit’ realizes its own infinity one should use “Science of Logic” as a guide in interpreting the “Phenomenology of the Spirit.”
The main point is the attempt to understand if the ‘God’ of religion and the ‘God’ of philosophy are one and the same. As Hegel wrights in the “Vorlesungen uber the Philosophie of Religion”:
God is self-consciousness; he knows himself in a consciousness which is distinct from him, which is implicitly the consciousness of God, but is also this explicitly since it knows its identity with God, an identity which is however, mediated by the negation of finitude. It is this concept which constitutes the content of religion. This is what God is: to distinguish himself from himself, to be object to himself, and yet in this distinction to be simply identical with himself – to be Spirit. [VPR II, p. 187]
The God known in religion is the same with the God known in philosophy, in the sense of the object of knowledge. Philosophy and religion have one and the same objective, that is, truth, absolute truth, God.
Another quotation from “Enzyklopadie der philosophischen Wissenschaften” is useful.
First of all, it is true, philosophy has in common with religion that their objects (Gegenstande) are the same. Both have the truth as their object, and that in the highest sense – i.e., that God and God alone is the truth. In addition both treat the sphere of the finite, nature and human spirit, their relation to each other, and the relation of both to God as their truth. [Epw, no. 1]
In Hegel’s view what is important for the human spirit is to be in the service of truth, because serving truth means serving God. The truth however can be found in philosophy. For Hegel, the content of philosophy is the “comprehensive knowledge of God and [thus[ of physical and spiritual nature.” Nevertheless, the sciences of nature, differ from philosophy because in ‘science’ we can have a ‘content’ which is ‘empirical’ and a ‘form’ which is ‘philosophical,’ but in philosophy both ‘content’ and ‘form’ belong to thought and to thought alone. Does Hegel have two meanings for the term God? This is very difficult to prove. Rather, when Hegel says that ‘religion’ is “consciousness … of the absolute truth,” he is saying that the ‘truth,’ which is “God and God alone,” is one and the same in philosophy and religion.
In the Introduction of “Vorlesungen uber die Geschite der Philosophie,” Hegel maintains that philosophy is the highest form in which spirit reveals itself at any time or place. Philosophy is not the only form because there are also non-philosophical ways in which the „absolute idea,“ meaning spirit can be present in thought in art and religion. They are „the way in which the supreme idea is present for non-philosophical consciousness, for sensitive, intuitive, representational consciousness. (Einletung in die Geschite der Philosophy, p. 42) These ways are not ‚pure’ thought but are neither non-rational because they are oriented to the supremely spiritual form. The truth, as presented in art and religion, is not based on rational argumentation (Rasonnieren). Rational activity is not synonymous with „logical argument” or with subjective thinking. Consciousness is not rational because a purely rational process of thinking arrives at truth, the rationality is given by the internal rationality of the object of thinking, correlative to that truth. The process of thinking will be authentically rational only if it accords with the inherent rationality of its object.
Hegel was having a lot a faith in the human, both for responding religiously to the self-revelation of absolute Spirit and also for the ability to understand rationally this revelation. The rationality of the revelation has its source in the Spirit who reveals, and the capacity to comprehend the revelation leans on the spiritual character of the recipient. Spirit speaks to spirit and the result of this process is both religion and philosophy. What then understands Hegel by spirit? One can start answering this question by acknowledging that in the world that we live we are confronted with two realities – nature and spirit, that is the world of ‘things,’ and the world of “spiritual activity.” What is the relationship between spirit, and matter? Generally, there are several solutions. One of the solutions is that of materializing spirit, in a mechanical ‘reductionism’ or in a ‘dialectical’ emergence of ‘spiritual’ activity from its ‘material’ base. In other words, the cause of the existence of spirit or its precondition is matter. Another solution is that of spiritualizing matter, and this takes two main forms. One is the power of spirit that, by its own resources, transforms matter, and spiritualizes it, as an object for thought. The second one is that spirit recognizes that matter is not just matter but it bears the imprints of spirit in it, and by this it becomes possible, a sort of an appropriation of the matter by the spirit. Fundamental to the second solution is the conviction that both, logically and ontologically, spirit takes precedence over matter, and also, that is inherent in matter a certain capacity to be appropriated by spirit. This capacity of the matter constitutes its intelligibility. In the same time, it is not about a totally independent intelligibility, but a ‘communicated’ intelligibility, and its reality is a ‘communicated’ reality. In Hegel, to communicate is the privilege of spirit alone, and in order for the ‘communication’ to be meaningful, it must be self-communication. It is possible to imagine this type of ‘communication,’ but only if there is a mechanism of communication, a relationship, having as its object this communication. If the things are matter, how can they make manifest to the human spirit? If they are not spirit, but matter, logically they cannot communicate themselves to us, but only through the existence of a transcendental spirit, which makes possible, the communication between a thing and the human spirit. It looks like nothing is illogical in seeing the being of both ‘things’ and ‘spirits’ as a communicated being which gives both things and spirits something in common which relates them to each other, and relates both to the Spirit.
For example, nature, like art, speaks to us, not only as an object of science but rather as a message from an Artist, who wants to communicate something more profound to us. In any event, it is difficult to see how such kind of consciousnesses is ‘illogical.’ If we go along with Hegel’s philosophical system, we can say that the One who speaks, through nature, is God. For Hegel, it is not only the nature, through which God speaks, but the human spirit speaks far more strongly of “absolute Spirit” than did nature. The most powerful indicators of both the reality and ‘nature’ of God are the reality and ‘nature’ of the human spirit. Human spirit reveals divine Spirit in a way that neither nature nor art can. When the individual consciousness experiences its own spirit, in the same time that particular individual consciousness experiences the “absolute Spirit” also. Individual consciousness of itself has a meaning only when it is a consciousness of itself as spirit, and that finally means to be conscious of the “absolute Spirit.” The very concept of ‘spirit’ doesn’t have any meaning unless is related to “absolute Spirit.” One cannot understand, in a valid manner, the spirit as a form of consciousness, even the highest; spirit is not reduced to a kind of relation. Consciousness is a moment in the being of spirit, and this is the connection between spirit, and the absolute Spirit. Finite spirit is at once different from and identified with absolute Spirit, this is an understanding which is grasped in religion. Finite spirit and absolute Spirit aren’t in any way separated in the process of knowing. Finite spirit is a manifestation of absolute Spirit knowing itself as the totality of both knowing and the known.  This infinite consciousness is in fact God, but one can ask what kind of consciousness is this? It is a self consciousness, becoming conscious of itself by a process of knowing itself, and in this development, finite spirit doesn’t have any particular consciousness of objects or of itself because it is only finite manifestation of infinite self-consciousness.
In order to make a link between Hegel’s conception of religion, and Nietzsche’s ideas about religion, and mainly the Christian religion, I have to analyze what relations can be found between Hegel’s philosophy of religion, and God, as seen by the Christian tradition. In this vein, it must be said that many can be surprised by the fact that Hegel employs a language which is mostly familiar to Christians. It is not only the language, but his speculative logic has its roots there. How can be appropriate, for a narrow theological frame, a philosophy, which proclaims the autonomy of human reason? One solution could be that of not taking Hegel literally. But apart of the possible accusations of bad taste Hegel could also be accused of choosing an inappropriate vocabulary for his purpose. But are these types of accusations right? What than can be said of the apparent contradiction of an explicit affirmation of the autonomy of reason doubled with persistence on a theological content of rational thinking? Hegel was not inconsistent of theologizing philosophy because he threw light not only on the essential finitude of reason, especially when the emphasis is on the subjective response called religion, but also on the infinite object to which religion is the response. Hegel has no difficulty in recognizing the value of the partial truth because he can view the finite and partial against the infinite and whole.
I am also making few observations about Hegel’s Christology, which I will compare with Nietzsche’s ideas about Christ, in order to be able to see better their different approach. For Hegel, God, Who is Spirit, can reveal himself only to man who is spirit. In fact the possibility for man to be spirit is divine revelation. The paradigm of this divine revelation, according to Hegel, can be found in the God-man, Who was Jesus Christ. Hegel didn’t deny that Jesus was human but he considered that the truth of Jesus Christ is not exhausted in his humanity. Besides knowing ‘who’ Christ was, we should know ‘what’ Christ is, and in Hegel’s perspective Christ is the paradigm of God’s self-revelation in human-nature. Christ as an object of devotion is not enough revelation, if knowing Him doesn’t bring us any closer to knowing God. In the “Berliner Schriften” one can see that Hegel criticised the Protestant theology because: “Thus the appearance of Christ has been degraded to a mere object of remembrance and of moral foundations.” The only way to know what God is, as Spirit, is explicated in a religious comprehension as Trinity of Persons. The God Spirit is Three, but also One, and that is the only way, for God, to be, in the same time, infinite and finite, absolute and personal.
I would agree with Hegel, because to me, in order to be Personal, God needs to have certain limits, at least certain precise determinations, if not, we have to speak of an infinite ‘personality,’ but that seems to be nonsense. Why is that? I reckon that the way we understand the concept of personality, presupposes that it has to have certain fix determinations, to be quantified, someone ought to have certain limits, a definition, in order to be personal. But how can we determine, quantify, an infinite reality? This development is pushing us to an understanding of God who is Spirit, probably impersonal Spirit, and Who become personal in man, and paradigmatically in Jesus Christ. The question is to know if this interpretation of God is in accordance with the classical Christian doctrine, about Trinity, and most probably is not. The Three Persons of Trinity have all personal characteristics. Another question is to know if the classical Christian doctrine, about Trinity, can be sustained with rational arguments, in a convincing way. The answers to these questions make the difference between the dogmatic Christian theology, and much more flexible and rationally motivated dealings, found in philosophy of religion. If God the Father is a Person, in the way the Christian traditions present Him, He didn’t need Jesus in order to become personal, but, in fact, He needed Jesus, and in Christ we can see the fulfilment of the human as spirit. A quotation from “Vorlesungen uber die Aesthetik” is very enlightening for this approach.
“Now, in order that spirit attain to its infinity it must likewise emerge from merely formal and finite personality to the Absolute, i.e., the spiritual must present itself as the subject which at once [is] the fulfilment of the purely substantial and thereby is self-knowing and self-willing. Conversely, the substantial, the true, may not, therefore be taken to be simply beyond humanity, such that the anthropomorphism of the Greek view is completely eliminated; rather the human as actual subjectivity must be made into a principle, and the anthropomorphic, as we have already seen, only this brought to perfection. [VA II, p. 129] In the Christian religion man succeed to understand what it is for man to be spirit, and only with the speculative philosophy man comprehends what it is for God to be Spirit, the Spirit who dwells in man and thus lifts him to the divine. For Hegel, the Incarnation is a “speculative middle-point,” a ‘Vorstellungen’ representing an event in history with “disclosure significance,” in relation to the question of God’s essential nature and his relation to the world.
The question still remains. Is Hegel’s God a transcendental Being existing independently of the human, and Who can exist even in the case when no man exist, in the universe? The positive answer is an interpretation proper to the Christian consecrated traditions, and surely is representative for the institutional Churches. In Hegel’s view the common source of the human spirit and of the nature doesn’t come from outside reality, but it is inherited in it. God is not an abstract, independent, Being, a source disconnected from humans or nature, but he is an evolving reality, going through successive modes. The absolute, the Christian God is not immovable, but active; the absolute is not a principle behind the nature and of mind, but is itself successively nature and mind. God is then the process, this perpetual generation of things, is the absolute itself.
In Shelling, things proceed from the absolute, which, for that very reason, remains outside of them. In Hegel, the absolute is the process itself; it does not produce movement and life, it is movement and life. It does not exceed the things, but is wholly in them; nor does it, in any way, exceed the intellectual capacity of man. If we mean by God the being transcending human reason, then Hegel is the most atheistic of philosophers, since no one is more emphatic in affirming the immanency and perfect knowableness of the absolute. Spinoza himself, the philosopher of immanency, does not seem to go so far; for, although he concedes that the intellect has an adequate idea of God, he assumes that the Substance has infinite attributes.
This quotation, from the History of Philosophy by Alfred Weber, is very clear and concise, and I agree that it expresses the way in which Hegel understood God.
With Nietzsche, and his word “God is dead,” one can notice a new development in the philosophy of religion, in which, from the sense, or meaning, of the natural to spiritual evolution, God, at least as promoted by the Christian institutions, became insignificant and misplaced, a danger for the free evolution of nature, for the deployment of the full potential of nature, in humans. We must notice that the expression “God is dead appeared, for the first time in Hegel. In a Lutheran context, Hegel has something to say, in his 1831 lectures on religion, concerning the “death of God. “The highest divestment of the Divine Idea …is expressed in a Lutheran Hymn as follows: <<God has died, God himself is dead.>> This is a monstrous, fearful ‘Vorstellung’ which brings before the imagination the deepest abyss of cleavage.” (Hegel, LPR, ed. Hodyson, vol. 3, p. 125) In the Phenomenology of Spirit Hegel also says: The Unhappy Consciousness is, conversely the tragic fate of the certainty of self that aims to be the Absolute. It is the consciousness of … the loss of substance as well as of the self; it is the grief which expresses itself in the hard saying that <<God is dead. >> (Hegel, Pf.G. para 752)
Hegel projects an optimistic interpretation of the death of God. Through His death God realizes Himself in his infinity through His identity with and as humanity. Death is raised to a higher level, into the infinity of the divine life, by the act of God, taking death upon Himself. Death is negated, and also overcome, in the same time. In “Lecture 65,” Hegel said: “God … maintains himself in this process [of death], and the latter is only the death of death. God rises again to life, and thus things are reversed.” The death of God, for Hegel, is “the death of the abstraction of the divine being which is not posited as Self.” Going through death, God resurrects in worldly form, as self-conscious humanity. From a mere abstraction God resurrects as Spirit. Divine death is understood by Hegel as a unique event, in which God’s self-realization in the world is seen. Crucifixion represents the death of God, as an abstract, metaphysical being by his complete dip in history and human life. God truly lives only in the temporal world, and whoever live must also die. But Hegel’s optimism is justified by the resurrection of God, meaning that He is resurrected in the Spirit, and lives through the religious consciousness of the members of His church. The life of the Spirit in the world, manifested through believers, radiates and converts the people. Jesus was the role model, the epitome of the manifestation of spirit in the human consciousness, but He was not the only One in Whom spirit manifests. As a consequence of the process, described by Hegel, Thomas Altizer speaks of the unlimited sacralizing of the profane, secular world, and Thomas Carlson sustains that the resurrected life envisioned by Hegel entails an overcoming of finitude. The death of God represents an emancipation of this world from the limitations imposed by the image of another world, which tends to extract life and value, and above all meaning, from the human existence on earth. There is no need for another reality in order to explain the infinite meaning of this world.
The main criticism directed by Nietzsche against Hegel can be found in the area of nihilism, and surely this affected greatly the evolution of the philosophy of religion in its course towards post-modernity. Probably the Hegelian concept of spirit was already suspecting, in Nietzsche’s eyes, because this concept it doesn’t seem to be a natural product, rather an artificial one. Nevertheless, Nietzsche had his own understanding about what ‘spirit’ can be. He posited that there are two forces at work, the Apollonian and the Dionysian, both with reference to the Greek gods; the former referring to the Greek god of order and stability, the latter the god of wine and ecstasy. Every individual is propelled by these two forces, the Apollonian pushing the individual to find a ‘self’ or being, and the Dionysian moving the individual to find newness and to experiment with unknown aspects of oneself. The Will to Power is in its essence the Will to Being, a continuous preoccupation with finding one’s place in the universe. To give ones a physical form, and stability, to crystallize a certain power, Apollinianism is needed. A creative spirit, in a world of ceaselessly unending change, without this Apollinian ability, would be like a Michelangelo without hands. The creative force is the Dionysian, driven by its power one seeks new horizons. Depending on how strong this force is in a person, the less or more restless he or she will be. Dionysian is not only the force of creation, is also the force of destruction. Mental Apollianism is consciousness, mental Diosynianism is unconsciousness. Only when a man's Dionysian and Apollinian elements are balanced in such a way as to give maximum 'free will' to both at once, perfection exists. The grater is the possibility of the one, the grater possibility of the other. As one can see, the Hegelian spirit is very different from the Nietzsche’s one. For the latter, who was not happy at all with Christianity or any other religion, the ‘spirit,’ as understood by Hegel, was a useless philosophical construct. Nietzsche also was not happy with the Christian values, as expressed and presented by the Christian institutions, but the freedom of the spirit, as it was conceived in the Hegelian philosophy, was not the same with the traditional Christian understanding of God.
In order to grasp better the criticism of Hegel by Nietzsche we have, firstly, to acknowledge the fact that Hegel was a major contributor to the development of Nietzsche’s philosophical means. In spite of this, Hegelian dialectic was an object for the Nietzsche’s critical attention paid to the metaphysical tradition. What is Nihilism? In short, the Nihilism could be described as the impossibility of accepting the burdens of the real world, the refusal of the concrete order of things, such as it is displayed, in the realm of the worldly sensitive experience. Both Nietzsche and Hegel belong to the lengthy, far-reaching modern school of post-Cartesian which refused to identify human rationality with the mathematical accuracy and basic intellectual capacity of calculation. The confusion between reason (Vernuft) and understanding (Verstand) brought to the mechanical understanding and consequently to the prominence of the concept of causality. Only Verstand is in fact able to express the endless tonalities of the Being. In the same time, Nietzsche and Hegel are divided by the question about the ontological status of the individuality. In a draft from 1873, his second “Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen,” Nietzsche explained what the main disagreements were that drove him apart from Hegel in the field of the philosophy of history, more precisely in the chapter concerning the role of singular persons in the historical process. Nietzsche’s views on the role of the individual in history assert that humans depart from their own limitations and ontological faults in order to get their dignity through the risk of self-government and decision, even against a background of uncertainty. Against the principles that constitute the core of the Hegelian philosophy of history, Nietzsche maintains that the historical responsibility of individuals is not a burden; it is not a reflex of ignorance or an image of the individual secondary role in the historical drama. The principal of personal responsibility is the mark of a true ethic life and the tendencies of modern forms of Nihilism which try to avoid the high price and ordeal of responsibility and decision. The exercise of responsibility is the solid ground for the human value and this acknowledgement leads towards the search of a new morality “beyond good and evil.”
I present these observations because I think that the Nietzsche’s approach on Christianity is linked with his conception about the individual responsibility which is undermined in a value system in which a transcendental reality, takes charge of the human conduit. In order to see the connection between Hegel, Nietzsche and Heidegger, around the issues pertaining to the philosophy of religion, I started to say few words about transcendence and the way in which it is seen by each of these philosophers. According to Nietzsche “Man is something that should be overcome.” It is not to be overcome, as is the case in the Christian teachings, by spiritualization, coming from above, from a Supreme Being, or from spiritualization, coming from an evolution of the Spirit, and made manifest in the human spirit, but through self-transcendence, by his or her own means. The overman is Nietzsche’s model of the self-perfected man, the one who has overcome or transcended himself or her. Self-overcoming as the basis of self-transcendence and self-perfection is the core of the Nietzsche’s philosophy of man.
There isn’t any Creator of the universe for Nietzsche and the idea of a universal Creator who is responsible for His creation would undermine the principle of human responsibility, so dear to him. I must admit that this principle of human responsibility seem very reasonable to me but in fact the human responsibility is the core of what God expects from humans. Nietzsche sees the humans as being his or her own master but, in the same time, we are parts of a whole. God can be seen as a personification of a regulatory principle in which all individuals and their “will-to-power” are harmonized in a universal peaceful concert. Hegel was right to take into consideration the oneness of reality and his harmony, in the “Absolute knowledge,” and Nietzsche’s continuous competing world can survive but with lots a collateral damage.
As the ‘creator’ and the ‘creature’ of his authentic existence, man is what he or she does from himself or her. For Nietzsche the human capacity of self-command is of the essence of the humanity. To be able of overcoming is of the essence of what means to be human. How can one be, in the same time, the one who overcomes and the one who is overcome? What constitutes the human reality of self-overcoming, and what is to be overcome? Is there an underlining substance with double polarity, or two different potentials, among which one have to choose? Are they two forces, which exclude each other or just one with two opposing poles? The human is an artist, but not only, also is, in the same time, the basic raw material, and the finished product of his own self-transcending creativity. The creative artist must overcome the resistance of the raw material in transforming it into a beautiful work of art, also the creator, in the human, must overcome the resistance of his natural self and that through the artist’s creative appropriative power of projection and interpretation. Inside humans there is ‘chaos’ which refers to the natural self and is the chaos of unrestrained instincts, drives, desires and passions. At the bottom, the human is nothing more than a field of competing instincts. Each instinct seeks its own gratification and seeks to control every other instinct, and Nietzsche termed this dynamic essence or the instinctual field the "will to power." All instinctual drives have this will to power.
For Nietzsche transcendence is possible only as human self-transcendence and not at all as a superior transcendence of a God. From the structure of Nietzsche’s thinking one can see that there is no place for God in his philosophy. Nietzsche tries to overcome the negative nihilism figuring out how man may pass from his present condition to a new comprehension of Being and as such to a superior condition. Nietzsche makes the difference between the man as he was until now, the last man and man as he should be, the “superior,” or “super”- man. The reason why the “modern man” is lost in a value-less nihilism is that he has not really entered into himself. Failing to do that, he cannot understand and appreciate correctly his own nature and consequently cannot assume it. The super-man has comprehended himself and accepted his real nature, in terms of the Will-unto-Power and consequently he has a new relation to Being. The super-man brings the essence of man into the truth and freely assumes that truth.
What is than the movement in the understanding of the philosophy of religion, concerning God, in the German idealism, form Kant to Hegel, and from Hegel to Nietzsche? Starting with Kant, who criticized the philosophical proofs for the existence of God, the existence of a transcendental Being, the source for all that is, became problematic, from the point of view of the human reason. For Kant, human reason seeks to move from an apprehension of a series of conditioned phenomena in space and time to the affirmation of a ground for such series that is represented as unconditioned, i.e., as independent of space and time. He considered such a movement, to claim knowledge outside the limits of experience, to be problematic. He also considered that it lies beyond the powers of human reason to bring us to any knowledge of an unconditioned ground for the framework within which we apprehend objects in their spatio-temporal relations. This tendency to go beyond the limits of experience culminates in the representation of ideas such as the idea of the soul, the world, and God as the final outcome of the efforts of reason to affirm what is absolutely unconditioned. In the same time, Kant sees a significant negative side in the concrete, historical character of the human reception of the religion. In consequence, Kant articulates some of his strongest criticisms of the organization and practices of Christianity that encourage what he sees as a counterfeit service to God, and among the major targets of this criticism are external ritual, and a hierarchical church order.
Nietzsche is not than the first critic of Christianity in its institutionalised form, but he follows an established tradition. Hegel prompted himself to re-establish the status of reason according it a much more complex scope. Nietzsche sees behind the Judeo Christian traditions a development, which starts with Plato. He was a philosopher who understood very well the philosophical failure of Christianity and he criticized the roots of such a situation. The separation between the ideal realm of God and the reality of the world with the imposition of the former over the latter was one of the main causes of the misrepresenting of God. For Plato the world of Ideas was the real one, the truth, unchangeable, idealized reality and the instable sensible world was only a domain of shadows, of appearances. Transposed and subordinated by Christianity, through the philosophy of neo-Platonists and Fathers of the Church this Platonist pattern suited perfectly to the need of rationality, which summoned the Church. He didn’t really criticize Christianity as a possibility of a miraculous path towards the universe but he negated the philosophical fundament of it, casting doubts about its rational support. “God is dead” is a philosophical concept and doesn’t question the possibility of the existence of God, as a reality, but the metaphysical description of such a possibility.
For Nietzsche, the worst error of philosophy have been a metaphysics of transcendence the idea of a ‘true’ or ‘real’ world, which transcends the world of the senses, which is the world as we experience it. Plato left a legacy of error, which influenced deeply the Western philosophical and religious views. The idea of another world is found in Christian thought through its philosophers such as: Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, Locke, and Leibniz. It also appears in Spinoza, Kant and the post-Kantian tradition in which Nietzsche includes Hegel and Schopenhauer. The origin of this false belief in a transcendental world is a moral belief, because truth, goodness, or wisdom cannot have their origins in their opposite, meaning in this ‘lowly, deceptive world’ of the senses and desire. To explain these virtues the philosophers needed to refer to, something imperishable, not things as they appear to us, but Reality itself. Several questions arise. Do opposites really exist? Is ‘true’ the opposite of falsehood? Is goodness the opposite of badness? Are values such as goodness absolute or relative? Is the relativity of values, in case they are relative, explained by psychological drives?
Throughout his philosophy Nietzsche’s concerns with origins, both psychological and historical, is visible. For him, philosophical theories and arguments are not a priori but they have a specific historical basis. Opposite to Plato, who tried to define general philosophical concepts, such as justice or knowledge, Nietzsche aimed in explaining the concepts by their history. The knowledge doesn’t come, for Nietzsche from through the contact with abstract Ideas or Forms, and the realm of such abstractions doesn’t even exist. All otherworldly is seen by Nietzsche as mere projections of a certain kind of Will to power. The transcendence promoted by the philosophers is just a way in which they promote their need for contemplation. The values of the philosophers sustain a certain kind of life, one in which they can achieve a maximum feeling of power. Philosophy requires a lifestyle not of action but of contemplation, and also a certain ‘ascetism.’ In order to protect this life of the mind the philosophers present their values as being transcendent values of the mind, knowledge of the truth and goodness, and that they are grater than the values of the body and of the world of experience and action. This kind of attitude enables them to maximise their feeling of power over themselves, expressed in ascetism, and over others, by getting other people to respect their way of life. We find this idea in “Beyond Good and Evil,” as a hint, and developed in “On the Genealogy of Morals.”
Are the philosophers responsible for the emergence of Christianity? Of course they are not. Christianity surfaced in the context of the Hebraic religion, which was far from the Greek philosophical environment. Jesus himself preached the existence of another world, the Kingdom of God, which was not and which is still not fully present on earth, but only inside the people who receive Him. Probably the right question to be asked is what was to happen to Christianity, if it didn’t encounter, in the course of history, the Greek philosophy? I argue that the need for ‘reason’ cannot by supply by anything else and ‘faith’ alone without philosophy set Christianity at the level of any other human believes. My opinion is that without philosophy Christianity couldn’t be a comprehensive framework for the biggest questions which confront the human mind. There is a need for reason in the human consciousness and the failure to answer to this need marginalizes any system of religious believes. The Fathers of the Church probably understood this need and tried to answer it. Another question also is to know if Jesus was only the personification of the contemplative human mind, or more than that. Was Jesus the biggest contemplative human being, in the history of humanity, or was He more, such as Hegel presented Him? To answer to that question one needs to consult Nietzsche, in “The Anti-Christ,” in order to get an image of how Christ was understood by him.
“On the contrary: the history of Christianity – and that from the very death on the Cross – is the history of progressively cruder misunderstanding of an original symbolism.” (The Anti-Christ 37) Nietzsche maintains, in this text, that Christianity has evolved in a process of adaptation to the needs of believers and on this route became more and more afar from the original meanings of its founder. Nietzsche also appreciated that the requirements that Christianity was intended to satisfy were morbid, low and vulgar. The Church is view as a “morbid barbarism” hostile to all integrity, to all loftiness of soul, to all benevolent humanity. As a matter of fact even the word Christianity is considered to be a misunderstanding, because in reality there has been only one Christian, and he died on the Cross. “…only Christian practice, a life such as he who died on the Cross lived, is Christian.…” The Christianity it is not represented by a set of believes, or a group of realities or affirmations held to be true, but by a way of life. Nevertheless, states of consciousness, believes of any kind or holding something to be true is incomparable less valuable than instincts. Nietzsche saw the whole concept of spiritual causality as being false. Even ‘faith’ is seen as a cloak, a pretext, a ‘screen,’ behind which the instincts played their game. It is a trick way to hide on the back of instincts. The only driving element in the roots of Christianity is the hatred for actuality.
Nietzsche tried to analyze “the psychological type of the redeemer,” which is contained “in the Gospels in spite of the Gospels.” (The Anti-Christ 29). The philosopher was not interested so much in what Jesus did or said, but in his typology as a human being, if this kind of psychology it is possible or usual at all. Nietzsche didn’t see Jesus as a ‘hero’ quite the contrary; as a matter of fact Jesus was seen as an ‘anti-hero.’ A hero is someone able to fight his or her cause, but not Jesus who promoted the principle of not-resistance to evil. Jesus was not able for ‘enmity,’ and that seem to be telling. A man laking the instinct, which every other human possesses, the instinct of self-defence is very atypical. A man born without natural instincts is a very hard demonstration to make, and I would argue that Nietzsche didn’t do this kind of demonstration.
Nietzsche rejected also the qualification of genius, applied to Jesus by Ernest Renan. He saw in Jesus the symptoms of an ill human psychic, not a super-human psychic, but a form of a natural psychical illness. The symptom described was “a morbid susceptibility of the sense of touch,” which Nietzsche considered that is the proof of the “instinctive hatred of every reality.” In other words Jesus was born with some ‘anti-instincts,’ which can explain His strange teachings. Personally, I think that this theory is self-defeating, and if this theory doesn’t stand, everything, which Nietzsche said about Jesus was also self-defeating. Why is that? If Jesus was the personification of a certain psychic illness, he couldn’t be the only person in this situation, because there isn’t any illness with just one patient. If there is such an illness, with just one patient, its symptoms cannot be described by the medicine or by psychology, consequently, not by Nietzsche. Medicine is a science, and as any science needs more than one observation, in order to advance a theory or a hypothesis. If there were more than one patient, many like Jesus could promote similar teachings, with the same force and effects, but that it isn’t the case. It was, in fact just one Jesus, and his uniqueness speaks about an extraordinary event.
In the New Testament is written that there where others, trying the same endeavour, but they were wiped out from the history. Are all Christians ill with the same illness, as Jesus was? How about the Muslims who also recognize Jesus as a prophet? I think that such an assertion it is not sustainable, in Nietzsche’s system, because he also maintained, in “The Anti-Christ,” that there was just one Christian, and he died on the Cross. If Jesus was the single representative of a certain mental illness his illness is impossible to detect, because it is impossible to be confirmed in other cases. What makes Jesus unique it is not an abnormality, a deviation from normal or natural, but His contact with the super-natural or, as Hegel put it, a paradigmatic manifestation of the Spirit, in the human consciousness. If Jesus was just a kind of mad-man He would have the fate of any mad-man, not to be taken seriously by serious annalists, but this is not the case with Jesus. He was taken very seriously because behind His teachings there is not madness but a profound logic, which Nietzsche, in my opinion, didn’t see it.
It is true that Jesus described another reality than that of this world, but was He transformed, by this fact, in a mad person? I don’t believe that He was. The cosmic reality obviously entails other aspects, not only the aspects of this earthly world, and first of all, an infinite dimension, and Hegel saw this much more clearly, than Nietzsche, and this is one reason by which, in my own opinion, he deserves credit. It is false to say that Jesus didn’t resist evil, He resisted what he considered to be evil, namely destruction and human suffering, but He resisted through peaceful means. Even if this is not, probably, always the right method, adapted to any situation, nevertheless a huge personality, such as Mahatma Gandhi saw Jesus like being most inspiring.
Although Hindu, Gandhi had a very close connection with Christianity and admired Jesus very much, often quoting from his favourite <<Sermon on the Mount>> chapter in Mathew 5-7. When the missionary E. Stanley Jones met with Gandhi he asked him, <<Mr. Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?>> Gandhi replied, <<Oh, I don't reject Christ. I love Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ>>.
Ghandi was not considered mad, rather a big personality of the last century. This is, of course, an example that Christianity it is not an ideology and Nietzsche rightly rejected as such, but it is “the way of the spirit,” which give us a chance to grasp the unimaginable, the infinite. It is true that Nietzsche rejected this spiritual dimension of the humans, and tried to explain everything by merely natural instincts, which is nothing but an oversimplification of the complexity of the universal reality.
In order to pass from Nietzsche’s thoughts on religion to Heidegger it is important to start with the essay entitled, “Nietzsche’s Word ‘God is dead.” Heidegger appreciated that, for Nietzsche, God is the God of Christianity, but interpreted in a non-Christian way. God determines, as a symbol, the ideas and ideals, the earthly world from above and from outside. According with the Platonic tradition the real world is that of the ideas, represented by God, and the changeable world of sensible entities is only an apparent one. The world of sensible realities, taken in the broad sense of Kant, is the “physical world” and consequently the world of ideas or ideals is one of metaphysics, which is of the “supra-physics” and for Nietzsche the latter was represented by God. To say that God is dead equal to saying that the metaphysical world is dead in the sense that it doesn’t offer any more the foundation for a new hope. The metaphysics as such it comes to mean nothing at all and this nothingness is in fact nihilism. According to Heidegger, the formula “God is dead” is nothing more nothing less than the realization of a real occurrence, a striking expression of a fact.
To come back to the original text of Heidegger’s essay; “Nietzsche’s Word: God is dead” several observations must be made. Heidegger considered that Nietzsche represented a stage of Western metaphysics that is, as it seems, its final stage. No essential possibilities have remained for metaphysics, after Nietzsche. The super-sensory is a product of the sensory and by denying it, as its antithesis, the sensory negate its own essence. The dismissal of the super-sensory effaced also the distinction between sensory and non-sensory. In each phase of the history of metaphysics the destiny of Being tailored its way over the beings “in abrupt epochs of truth.” In his essay Heidegger states it from the preparatory stage:
The following commentary, in its intention and consequence, keeps to the area of the one experience out of which Being and Time is thought. This thinking has been concerned constantly with one occurrence: that in the history of western thinking, right from the beginning, beings have been thought in regard to Being, but the truth of Being has remained unthought. Indeed, not only has the truth of Being been denied to thinking as a possible experience, but Western thinking itself (precisely in the form of metaphysics) has specifically, though unknowingly, masked the occurrence of this denial.
I took the liberty to reproduce this passage because it expresses very well the starting point of Heidegger thinking both in Being and Time and in his whole work. In the above named essay Heidegger take also the opportunity to observe that Nietzsche sees himself as a thinker under the sign of nihilism. In any case Heidegger prevents the Nietzsche’s reader to take the word of Nietzsche: “God is dead” too hastily but to focus on analyzing it as it was intended. Heidegger made it clear that in speaking about the dead of God Nietzsche, referred to the Christian God but in the same time to the “super-sensory world in general.” As I said earlier Heidegger point out that for Nietzsche “God is the name for the realm of ideas and the ideal.” From Plato and from the Platonic interpretation given by the latte Greek philosophy and Christian thinking the sensory world is the physical world and the super-sensory one the metaphysical world. As Heidegger shows; “God is dead means: the super-sensory world has no effective power.” What that means? Was the super-sensible world not relevant any more?
As Heidegger noticed “In ‘God is dead’ the name ‘God,’ thought essentially, stands for the super-sensory world of ideals that contains the goal that exists beyond the earthly life for this life; they determine it thus from above and so in certain respects from without.” If theology was forced, as Heidegger maintained, to the role of explaining the beings in their entirety it surely avoided the question of the Being of beings. The place of Church dissolved authority was taken by the authority of conscience and of the reason. The withdrawal from the world into the super-sensory was replaced by the historical progress and instead of the promises of an eternal bliss in the hereafter many people, not all, have chosen an earthly happiness. God is not any more the only Creator because humankind entered itself more and more in a process of creating its own world. What will happen when the hierarchical order of beings, adopted from the Hellenistic-Judaic world will be replaced with something else? What else can be put in place?
Nihilism was not determined by unbelief, in the sense of apostasy, it is not a subjective attitude but is an effect of the misunderstandings due to metaphysics, concerning the question of Being and the relationship with beings; “rather, it is always only a consequence of nihilism: for it could be that Christianity itself represents a consequence and a form of nihilism.” Because the essential ground of nihilism resides in metaphysics itself there is a danger for effects to be taken as causes. Heidegger considers that any analyzes of the social or spiritual life will be fruitless until the place for the essence of man and the experiencing of the truth of being will be clarified.
Even if Nietzsche reclaims the field of metaphysics on the basis of a Life-force principle, his nihilism remains as such in spite of its highest status. Heidegger argues that it fails in its claims because it remains metaphysics. He sees all metaphysics as nihilism. This kind of nihilism is based on the fact that the revelation of Being as truth means nothing as far as the Being of that Being itself does not have any meaning. In fact, the truth of beings counts as Being, because the truth of Being is not understood. This is the reason why metaphysics is nihilism, which is a forgetfulness of Being. 
The only way to overcome such nihilism is to pass beyond metaphysics and to approach the Being-process itself. But Nietzsche cannot do that because he remains within the borders of metaphysics. If God of the Christian faith left the place empty other lesser gods rushed themselves to occupy it; doctrines of world happiness, socialism or Wagner’s music, “everywhere that ‘dogmatic Christianity’ has gone bankrupt.” This is an incomplete nihilism and doesn’t sort out the difficulty, because it is impossible to escape nihilism without revaluing the former values. The incomplete nihilism errs by the fact that is placing the new values in the place of the old ones, which is the domain of super-sensory and a complete nihilism will wipe out entirely this area, of the supra-sensible. It is a new re-evaluation of values, which calls for another region. Instead of the world of super-sensory the re-evaluation of all values should be based on life. The philosophy of Nietzsche is one of the values and with him the notion of value became more popular in the modern philosophy and culture. Heidegger noted that the theories of value became a substitute for metaphysics. But for him value, if it is something, ought to have its essence in Being.
Nietzsche raised the value-thinking to a principle in the attempt to overcome nihilism. As already said, values does not allow Being be Being and for this reason a theory of value, in Nietzsche’s system, it is by no means a overcoming of nihilism but a completion of it. The kind of disguising practiced by Nietzsche, toward Being, is more sophisticated because Being is seen as being value, than being valuable, but in fact the obtrusion of the Being of Being is there. Elevating God to the highest value is in fact a reduction of God, who is considered real, because his Being is not thought. In other words, being considered a value, God comes only secondary to Being, the latest, as an example, with Nietzsche, is the Will to Power. For Heidegger this thinking “is absolute blasphemy when it is mixed into the theology of the faith.”
What is Heidegger’s own thinking on God? In a work published in 1963, Heidegger writes that after four semesters he gave up the study of theology (toward ordination to the Catholic priesthood) in order to devote himself to philosophy. He adds that he had begun to see that the strained relations (Spannung) between ontology and speculative theology were caused by metaphysics, already in 1911. In “Being and Time,” becomes clear what metaphysics means for Heidegger when, at the end of the Introduction, he anticipates the need of a rethinking of the history of ontology. He appreciated that the concept of God must be taken out from metaphysics and the metaphysics must be gotten out of theology. In a work published in 1957 Heidegger maintains that one cannot worship a causa sui (the "God" of Spinoza), nor can one pray to it or fall down on one's knees before it, or dance and make music to it. He was critic to the way in which the concept of God gets into the philosophy as the essence (Wessen) of metaphysics. This is more than the debate about the old difference between the God of religion and the gods of the philosophers. The metaphysical "God" of a Hegel or a Spinoza must be eliminated and also Nietzsche’s “God” of the super sensible foundation must loose any relevance.
Also in an article, entitled “La Chose,” (The Thing) Heidegger live a gap, an opening of a door, in order to make us able to see his understanding of what a deployment of all reality, concentrated in a concrete thing, can be. If there are any divinities, they are included in this deployment, but nevertheless, he included in it a certain element, a donation, which is indispensable when someone wants to explain how the reality works. A divinity, separated from the world, existent independently of the ‘things’ it is unacceptable for Heidegger, if we have to consider the article “La Chose,” (“The Thing”). Heidegger mentions Master Eckhart who employed to word ‘thing’ in the same time for God and for soul. Eckhart considered God “the highest ‘thing’ and the most supreme.” Heidegger recalls also a passage from Dionysius the Areopagite, where the latter says metaphorically that the nature of love is of the sort that is able to transform human in the ‘things’ which he or she love.
What is the ‘thing’ for Heidegger? In the above mentioned article Heidegger speaks firstly about the relativity of what we call ‘distance.’ What it seems to be very distant can in fact be very near by, and something which is in our proximity is in fact far away, in the sense that his inner nature escapes to the knower. For example, through the filmed image, an object situated far away can become close to us, by his visual image, and an object which is very close to us can be, from a certain point of view, very distant. Small distance doesn’t mean proximity and big distance doesn’t necessarily mean nearness. The question pose by Heidegger is: “What is proximity if it is absent to us even when the big distances are reduced to small spaces?” What is proximity which escapes us even when the distance is missing? What happens when, through the annihilation of the big distances, everything is in the same time, far away and also close to us? What is the signification of this uniformity? Probable the answer can be found in the understanding of the ‘thing.’ What is this thing which is attracting our attention? It is visible, and also hidden in the way in which everything is presented. In spite of all victories against the distance the proximity of what it is remains absent.
What is it the proximity and what is its being? Usually the proximity of a thing is considered to be what we can directly experience, through a direct contact with that thing, about it. An autonomous thing can become an object if we place it in front of us through an immediate perception or through a memory which reactivate it, in our mind. Nevertheless, the thing is not what it is because its representation in our mind nor because its objectivity. A vase rests a vase either if we represent it in our mind either if we don’t do that. But in order to exist every vase must be produced and incorporate many other elements such as, for example, the clay. In the same time, Heidegger affirms that even if the vase is autonomous, starting with the objectivity of the object there is no way to lead to the ‘thing-ness’ of the thing. Before to approach the ‘thing-ness’ as such, the mind must firstly attain to the thing itself, as an object. The vase is not a vase because it was produced but it was produced precisely because it is a vase. Before being produced the vase was already in the mind of the producer or even in his face as a prototype. What really is the vase, it is not obvious from the sensory experience one can have with it, neither from a thoughtful experience starting with its aspect. This difficulty is manifested in Plato’s thinking and in all the thinkers which succeeded him. They perceived all things presented as objects of production.
In fact, the vase is just a form for vide, which it contains, and for this reason what makes a ‘thing’ from the vase is not the materials from which it is produced but the vide which is contained. Heidegger criticized in the article the situation in which science creates only the illusion of the opening of the knowledge of the thing-ness of things, but in fact this being of things it was up to the date obstructed. What is the reason by which the being of the things was not thought? This is because we loose its view in the moment in which an appearance try to impose itself. What it does for a thing to be what it is deployed as being in the donation of its offer. What a thing is, in its being, cannot be limited to the appearances of a certain thing because it is much more than that. In every thing one can find many other sources such as the earth or the water or the air. For example, in the being of the vase the earth and the sky are present. The appearances of just one thing are deceiving, when they are used as the only coordinate for the grasping of the being of that thing, because they rather hide than show the complexity of what that thing really is.
In the above context one can place the ideas of Heidegger about divinity. In the same way in which the vase is used for the pouring of water or vine, in order to respond to the needs of the mortals, the vase can be used also for ‘libations’ offered to divinities. In this framework Heidegger seems to refer to ‘divinities’ more as to the Greek divinities, than as to the Christian God. Nevertheless, he considers that the ‘libations’ offered to the deities, the donation or the gift is the veritable gift, and in a sense a completion or integration of the things in a higher reality, in which ‘deities’ are not excluded. These deities can be seen more like the ineffable mysteries of existence and probably not at all as a personal God. In this context must be said that Heidegger’s personal relation to religion underwent transformations in the sense that out of the Roman Catholic monotheistic faith, he developed ultimately into a poetic polytheistic thinker.
In this donation, consecrated to deities, one can see the deployment of the being of beings, in the sense of the offering and sacrifice. The whole idea of donation is contained by self donation, by sacrifice. There, where the donation is fulfilled, in an essential mode, where is properly analyzed and authentically expressed it is identified as ‘Guss, giessen, in French ‘verser,’ it is than understood as sacrifice.
The mortal humans are present in the donation made by libations, and in this way the divinities get back the donation made by them. In the shed of the donation the earth, the sky, the divinities and the mortals are present together. All four are present in the same manifestation, in the same thing. Even the donation is such a donation because it retains all four elements. Heidegger explains the term retains in the sense of creating appearance. It is also the road to clarity for what is the being of the four. Starting from their simplicity this four elements turn in confidence ones towards the others. The moment of donation it expresses the being of the four, what is the most essential for each of them, which is accomplished in this donation. What is gathered in the donation, gathers itself in creating the appearance of the four. This gathering is the being of the thing. The being of the vase is the gathering which shed the liquid and which gathers in the fact of the presence. How a thing deploys its being? Any thing has the conduct of a thing, which means gathers different elements. Those elements are gathered in a thing for the duration of their being ‘present.’
The thing it is not a thing in the sense of the word ‘res’ used by the Romans, neither is a thing in the sense of “the ens” understood in the medieval philosophy, and even less an object as this term is understood in modernity. The thing is a thing in its characteristic or trend of gathering. In the process of identifying the proximity, the being of the thing imposed firstly. The thing gathers, and in gathering it brings together the earth, the sky, the divinities and the mortals. Proximity is bringing together the four elements, but in this approach the distance still conserves. The thing is not in proximity in a way as in a container, but it is in the gathering of the elements. In the generic notion of the earth, all elements pertaining of what is terrestrial is included, and the same is to be said by the sky. What are then the divinities for Heidegger? The divinities are those which make us sign, the messengers of the Divinity. The Divinity is apparent in the four elements gathered in things but is not something to be compared with any thing existing in presence. This is a brief exposition of Heidegger’s conception about God and, in my opinion seems like a description of a pantheistic or a phanentheistic view of the world obviously with important particular marks.
The question of religion is indestructible connected to the question of being. The latter was a continuous preoccupation for the science of metaphysics, in which being found its possibilities and also its impossibilities. As professor Joseph Cohen wrights in his article “Le sacrifice de L’Etre – Note sur le sacrifice dans la pensee de Heidegger” [The sacrifice of the being – Notes on sacrifice in Heidegger thinking]: “The <<science of being as being>> is not limited to any determination. It opens to what transcends all determinations and overcome all generic generalities. The being cannot be reduced to a horizon which can be understood like on ‘object’ which is already predetermined. For this reason being is the non-objective, indeterminate and indeterminable transcendent. These assertions emphasise a problem for the metaphysics, namely the answer to the question: << How can this transcendental be circumscribed to a science which through its definition must be concentrated on a <<determined genre>>?”
In his ‘Metaphysics’ Aristotle established the fourfold definition of being, namely being as accident, being as true, being after the categories, and being as potency and actuality. Nevertheless, being, in the utmost sense is reserved to being as true. In the question of being Aristotle built a metaphysics understood like a science able to create a base, a foundation for the existence. This construction is named by Heidegger “the constitution onto-theology of the metaphysics.” At this point, the difference between the “grasping of being,” and “being as the foundation of existence” starts and continuously diverge, in the history of metaphysics. Even if Aristotle spoke clearly about the ‘polysemie’ of the being, in fact the being understood as essence and substance (ousia) took a predominant place and was understood as the essential principle of existence. This hierarchy marked a distinction between a “general metaphysics” and “special metaphysics,” the later divided between psychology, physique and theology. In the area of the “special metaphysics” a special place is reserved to theology because it is foundational for the other sciences being the only science for which universality is an essential element. In the same time, theology is preoccupied with the essence of the Supreme Being. Theology was meant to explicate the essence of the prime and perfect Being and his attributes, and in this way to make light on the existence as such. In theology God is seen as giving being to beings in virtue of His own essence, and in this way a synthesis between the Supreme Being and the existence in its totality is made. Onto-theology, for Heidegger, refers to the whole tradition in which being is thought as “reason for being,” ‘cause’ or ‘foundation.’
This movement projected itself up to Hegel and Nietzsche the thinker who tried to reverse this direction. This movement, onto-theology, is the essence of being and with Hegel had to be explicated by constituting itself “in and for itself.” This was the True which was to be conceived not only as substance, but also as Subject. In this way, the Concept is the absolute understanding of being as uncontested and incontestable fundament of being. In this way the theology was a constitutive dimension of the ontology. It was for Heidegger to think the original place for true beyond onto- theology, and also beyond any foundation of beings, as understood, in the history of metaphysics. For him, the true is not any more a justification of the foundation, it is not seen as ‘adequatio,’ but an event, ‘Ereignis,’ a place were a double movement of occultation and un-occultation happens. (A-letheia) The presence (Anwesen) is already retracted from the “actual present” and that prevents it to be exhausted in it.
In “Time and Being” Heidegger opens la possibility of thinking donation, donating itself in presence, in other words, the “coming in presence” of the presence. With this, donation can be thought in its own non-reduction. It is in question the origin of being as presence, meaning as time, and presence as present at the present moment. Asking ‘presence’ of its own origin, from where it comes and thinking of it through another event, namely the “Es gibt.” Thinking of the being of beings and the being of time itself, Heidegger thinks of what ‘gives’ being to beings and to time. “Es gibt” understood as donation is on which must be thought being and time, consequently their provenience. “Es gibt” is the matrix of the donation of being and time.
In terms of the Christian tradition, God is the source of being and time, and in order to understand Heidegger’s religious conceptions, if there are any, one has to see his understanding of the origin of being, and of the time in this event of donation. Is there any place for any God? If there is not, hardly can one suspect Heidegger of any religiosity at all, unless he remains open to mystery of the unknown, to the unconceivable, as any human usually does. What happens inside “Es gibt” is double and redoubled. Why is that the presence retract itself from presence when donating to presence? The course of the history of metaphysics, which is in fact the history of the being, is the example of this presenting and this retracting, in the same time. Being retracts from presence and retracts from this retraction, from presents, accentuating, in this way its own occultation. “Es gibt Sein” constitutes the ‘epochal’ character of the being, epochal understood not as an historical epoch or a moment in an historical chronology but as highly significant or important, the original trait of the donation of being. The being is opening itself in consideration of its own historicity but, in the same time, “keeps every time close to itself.” This historicity is called by Heidegger ‘destiny.’ Quoting Heidegger:
The donation which donates only its donation, but in donating in this way, being able to retain and extract itself from this donation we call ‘destine.’ If the donation is thought in this way than being which it is, is the destined. Destined in its manner are all its changes. The historicity in the history of being is determined starting with the destined character of a destination, and not starting from a <<course of history>> understood in an undetermined sense.
The donation offers itself without noticing what is the ‘what’ of that which is donating and liberates on its on freedom of retraction. In this way the ‘destined,’ in its destiny of the deployment of the presence keeps safe the source unnamed of its own donation. The destined deploys itself, in the same time, like a ‘reserve’ and also like a ‘pouring.’ May be that the better word to be employed is ‘shedding,’ with the sense of something that sheds, ex. watershed. Heidegger uses this word also in his article “La Chose,” to which I will come back. The ‘destined’ is the instant when being “liberates in being the deployment of being.” The ‘destined’ must be thought in connection with the history of its deployment and the retraction of this history. What remains to be noticed is what is conserved namely the traces, the presentations, the apparitions obtained in and by this determined unity of all destinations.
I think that I must present in brief the Heidegerian system in order to show that there are probably some connections between God, understood by religion and being described by Heidegger. God, in the Christian tradition, is beyond time, but also in time, which means that God is actual in the past, present and future, in the same time.
God’s relation to time, however, is a topic about which there continues to be deep disagreement. From Augustine through Aquinas the major thinkers argued that God was not in time at all. They thought of God as eternal, in the sense that he is timeless or atemporal. Now, the dominant view among philosophers is that God is temporal. His eternal nature is thought of as being everlasting rather than timeless. He never came into existence and he will never go out of existence but he exists within time.
The majority position today, at least among philosophers, is that God is everlasting but temporal. That is, God never began to exist, and he will never go out of existence. God does, however, experience temporal succession. That is, God experiences some events (for example, the first century) before he experiences other events (for example, the twenty-first century.) If God is temporal, his existence and his thoughts and actions have temporal location. He exists at the present moment (and he has existed at each past moment and he will exist at each future moment.) In August, he was thinking about the heat wave in the mid-west. In the thirteenth century, he listened to and answered Aquinas’ prayers for understanding. His dealings, like those of the rest of us, occur at particular times.
The claim that God is timeless is a denial of the claim that God is temporal. First, God exists, but does not exist at any temporal location. Rather than holding that God is everlastingly eternal, and, therefore, he exists at each time, this position is that God exists but he does not exist at any time at all. God is beyond time altogether. It could be said that although God does not exist at any time God exists at eternity. That is, eternity can be seen as a non-temporal location as any point within time is a temporal location. Second, it is thought that God does not experience temporal succession. God’s relation to each event in a temporal sequence is the same as his relation to any other event. God does not experience the first century before he experiences the twenty-first. Both of these centuries are experienced by God in one “timeless now.
Some philosophers think that God’s relation to time cannot be captured by either of the categories of temporality or timelessness. Rather, God is in some third kind of relation to time. One in-between position is that God is not within our time, but he is within his own time. In this view, God’s inner life is sequential and, therefore, temporal, but his relation to our temporal sequence is “all at once.” In a sense, God has his own time line. He is not located at any point in our time line. On this view, God’s time does not map onto our time at all. His time is completely distinct from ours.
I present all these quotations in order to show that the problem of the relation Between God and Time is one of the most complicated in Metaphysics and also I want to sustain my thesis that Heidegger, in his philosophical system, in “Being and Time” and in “Time and Being” touched the most precarious and un-clarified aspect in Christian philosophy. Heidegger said that “Time gives time” but the whole problem in Christian metaphysics is to explain the relation between God and Time. In the interplay of the sequences of time “Time gives Time,” and in this way time is perceived in its ‘being.’ Nevertheless the ‘existence’ of time and the ‘being’ of time seem to me to be two different issues. I don’t have enough place in this dissertation to develop this problem but I would like to say that the understanding of the relation between God and Time is the key to the understanding of the relation between God and ‘being’ in finally to the realization of what the ‘being’ of God could be. From where comes the existence of time and space, and what are their relationships with matter is a question studied by philosophy but also by theology and modern sciences, and it cannot be reduced only to the understanding coming from Heidegger’s philosophy. Nevertheless, in the following paragraphs I will present the Heidegger ideas concerning the origin of Being and Time.
The most authentic question is: “Which is the source of this deployment, of the being?” At the first approach being (ousia), because is presence [in time] seems to be marked by a temporal characteristic, which is, by the time. Another question becomes necessary: “What is the source of time?” Criticizing the classic philosophical views on time Heidegger rethinks the temporality starting not any more with its traditional representation but with its own “extatic unity.” This is a unity in which deploys the differentiating movement of the three temporal dimensions, present, past, and future. Present, past and future find them in a continuous play of tension where a “mutual accord” emerges. The presence is the result of the donation of the time itself. Heidegger said: “The time gives time.” Heidegger speaks of the “free space of time” in order to describe the time in its process of its own donation. In other words, he proposes to think temporality starting with that which is not at all temporal, namely a “space of time”. (Zeit-Raum) This ‘space’ doesn’t need to be represented in spatial terms; it doesn’t have a spatial extension. It is rather the ‘place’ where the time finds its appropriate unity, or its own temporisation.
Heidegger emphasis that thinking “Es gibt Sein” means to inscribe the donation of being in its history as directed by a retraction and an occultation. In order to think “Es gibt Zeit” it means to open the time to the spatiality from which the ‘accord’ of the three dimensions of time deploys and this accord is given as “approaching proximity,” where that which is donated rest reserved and safeguarded in another and afar donation. The “it is” of the being rest on the “it is” of time, and with this “it is” of the time rest on another place. There is equivocalness inside “it is” which come from the thinking, in the same time, of the donation of the difference of the being and of the time, and also of the donation of their co-appurtenance. This donation of the difference and co-appurtenance bear the name ‘Eraignis.’ What is “Eraignis?” To answer to this question another language is needed. Nevertheless, “Eraignis” doesn’t belong to being, it gives being, and doesn’t belong to time, it gives time. “Eraignis” give the ‘and’ of the being ‘and’ time, their co-appurtenance. In the same time, Heidegger tells us that it is impossible to think “Eraignis” as something present, in other words, it is impossible to ‘represent’ it, because “Eraignis” it is not something present, it is the donation of the present. In the heart of “Eraignis” it is deployed the impossibility to pin point the thinking which endeavours to think it, consequently, the impossibility to grasp “Eraignis.” Being and time are not based on a primordial foundation; they come rather from something which is always free and retired from any grasp. No ‘foundation’ is there to seal the freedom of this donation.
In my opinion, Heidegger raised the understanding of the source of being and time beyond any classical metaphysical comprehension, without being in any way irrational. I reckon that he introduced a revolution in philosophy, similar to the one coming through the quantum physics, in science. The same principle of indeterminacy, which is more and more considered as being the source of all existence, by physicians, is somehow manifest in Heidegger’s philosophy. This principle of indeterminacy can be observed, with special instruments, in laboratories, but it is harder to be observed with the mind, in philosophy. Nevertheless, I find Heidegger’s philosophy very modern and very responsive to the concerns of the modern man, who expects from science, understood as a re-questioning of all foundations, the answer to the question “Why is something rather than nothing.” In the same time, there is a limit to this way of thinking present in the modern sciences and in philosophy, namely that in this way, setting nothingness, retraction, impenetrability in the place of a Permanent Source it is, in a way, similar to explaining existence, from non-existence. In the same time, Heidegger will not accept that ‘something’ can come from ‘nothing’ or be created from nothing because that will contradict the basic principles of philosophy.
The same way of thinking, is happening in the writings of Dionysius The Areopagite, where God is seen as something beyond existence, which is probably nothing else than nothingness. In my opinion this is a very Plotinian way of thinking. To me, Hegelianism is a step forward in comparison with the Plotinus’ way of thinking because it takes existence as a datum, and doesn’t try to explain its source. There is not source for being and time, they just are. They are in interplay and Heidegger’s philosophy explains very well what is the source of the presence, but what is the source of the source of being and time is more like a question of the revelation and is less of a pure rational endeavour. Before Plato, Parmenides said that the being is, and it is impossible not to be, saying in this way, that any discussion about the source of existence remains a theoretical enterprise and not more than that. Heidegger very aptly demonstrated the absurdity of the possibility of a finite being, as a source of beings, but he left the question of the possibility of an infinite being, raised by Hegel, unanswered. “Eraignis” never presents itself and the donation is, in the same time, retraction. “Eraignis” is retracted in itself, is never seized in presence and preserves and safeguards in inmost depths what it is its own most. “Eraignis” donates in “Eraignis,” expropriation happens in appropriation, and in this, the donation of “Eraignis” in “Eraignis” expropriate itself in that which is donated. To me, the difficulty in the understanding of God, through metaphysics is that ‘being’ is prioritized over ‘existence’ and that ‘being’ is a narrower concept than ‘existence.’ Why is that? Because ‘being’ is ‘for,’ “in relation with” and have to have a meaning but ‘existence’ is beyond any ‘meaning’ or is in spite of any knowable ‘meaning.’ The necessity for a meaning, what means “to be” or ‘is’ generates problems, because everything is relative to the beings able to give a ‘meaning.’ Existence is infinite but any being is ‘finite’ except Hegel’s “infinite being.” But when one thinks of an “infinite being,” necessarily, God is presupposed. Can metaphysics ‘prove’ that ‘existence’ is infinite? This is another debate closer to the philosophy of religion.
To me, Heidegger wasn’t in the situation to give an answer to the problem of God because he was in a dilemma namely that ‘being’ must to ‘present’ to ‘beings’ which get a sense of what ‘being’ is. God nevertheless, doesn’t need to be recognized in order to be. One can conceive God, who is not ‘present’ to the human consciousness, who doesn’t present Himself to any intelligent beings in order to be assessed, perceived, thought or evaluated. God ‘was’ before humans and He doesn’t need any ‘beings,’ in order to ask in the direction of the meaning of ‘being,’ and finally to find the meaning of that ‘being’ in an interplay between the past, present and future sequences of time. To approach an ultimate reality from the point of view of human existence is problematic and this difficulty started with Hegel, for whom the Spirit becomes conscious of itself in the human religious consciousness. What I am saying is that even if no man would be on earth, or on other planets, or places in universe, or even if there aren’t other intelligent beings, the universe will probably still exist, but none would know it and the problem of ‘being’ wouldn’t be posed. ‘Existence’ than is before ‘being.’ Heidegger related “the meaning of being” to humans but one can legitimately ask: “What is that ‘existence’ of which any possible ‘meaning’ is totally independent of human understanding? To relate, or even condition, ‘being’ to human understanding and to connect the problem of God with the philosophical understanding of what ‘being’ could mean is a limit of both, Judeo-Christian traditions, and to Heidegger. To me, God, and God’s own being, is on one side, totally independent of humans or other intelligent beings and resides in Himself, but, on the other side, He also have a special meaning for the knower, either a human being or another intelligent being and that special meaning is specific to the beings that know. In the same time, God doesn’t need to be known, or understood, in order to exist.
What is the meaning of God for humans is a theological question. In order to answer it, one must start by separating clearly and decisively the ‘being’ of God in itself and the ‘meaning’ of God for humans. Heidegger answers, from a purely human perspective, of Da-sein, to the meaning of ‘being,’ but he doesn’t presume any ‘meaning’ ‘beyond’ and totally independent of humanity. Nevertheless, for Heidegger the meaning of being doesn’t answer to the problem of God and how God relates to His own being wasn’t Heidegger’s preoccupation. If there is God, what possibly is His being? If God is above the time, as He is presumed to be, this one cannot be responsible, in any way, for the being of God. For someone who sees ‘being’ in relation with time, as Heidegger does, God cannot have any kind of being consequently cannot be said that He ‘is.’ Even ‘existence’ is conceived by Heidegger to be only the attribute of humans because only we can ‘be’ in the ‘opening’ of ‘being.’ But this ‘being’ cannot be God because it is dependent of man’s perception of time. A God whose existence is ‘dependent’ on human understanding is unthinkable, in a metaphysical manner. In his book “Heidegger’s Philosophy of Religion-From God to the Gods” Ben Veder argues that an understanding of religion from a subjective point of view may seem modern but is just an intensification of the onto-theological approach.
Only if God can somehow be thought existing before and totally independent of humans can He be said to have His own specific being. But if God gets a sense only in and through the human consciousness Heidegger was right in separating being from God. What could the being of God be, separated from the human consciousness is a big mystery and Hegel discouraged this way of thinking. For Him the problem of God has a sense only in connection with the human mind. Heidegger went farther and demonstrates that starting with the human mind, the problem of the being of God is totally inaccessible. It is an answer to Hegel on the lines of Kierkegaard thinking.
Heidegger’s “Letter on Humanism” locates religion in the neighbourhood of the thinking of being, and in the end it is a theological one. His thinking of being tends toward a poetic theology in which he names gods, as an invocation of them. The thinking of being it is not any more in line with faith, religion or divinity. The above are not in unity or necessary harmony. Thinking being means rather to think a topology, a place for the happening of being, characterized as available. In this context Heidegger maintains that he does not know God, he can only describe God’s absence. There is a possibility for the reception of God or gods, but there aren’t any confirmations. Heidegger has seen a gap between theology and philosophy, the first is based upon revelation and historical occurrence, and this characteristic separates it from philosophy. He made this remarks before a group of theological students at Tubingen in 1927. Emphasising the word ‘logos,’ Heidegger describes himself as a “Christian theologian, in 1921, in a letter to Karl Lowith. Asking what is being, in his “Letter on Humanism,” in 1947, Heidegger answers that it is simply itself. It is not a foundation or ground and it is not God. Still, in the 1929 work On the Essence of Ground, he noted that the interpretation of Dasein as a Being-in-the-world makes no decision either for, or against, the possible existence of God; nevertheless, perhaps by clarifying the meaning of Dasein's transcendence it may be possible to inquire how the relation of Dasein to God is ontologically constituted.
For Heidegger, the question of transcendence doesn’t refer directly to God, and is related to the relation of being and time. For Heidegger transcendence is not a question of proving the existence of an ontic God. It is a question of analyzing the origin of the understanding of being with respect to Dasein’s temporal transcendence. Nevertheless, one may wander, when one understands what the philosopher means by the word transcendence, if there is anything like transcendence, in Heidegger at all, in a traditional sense. For Heidegger transcendence is: a “standing out” (ekstatisches) of what is “standing in” (Innestehen) the world. In a seminar, in 1951, in Zurich, the philosopher reckoned that his understanding of being can open the way for a new theology. In this theology ‘being’ will not appear at all, because faith has no need of the thought of being. Heidegger agrees with Kant that the word ‘being’ is not a predicate for God. Inherited from Kierkegaard, the gap between speculative philosophy and religion is maintained by Heidegger who would assert that there is nothing philosophically acceptable in order to maintain that from nothing comes anything. That assertion is philosophically unacceptable but is a postulate of Christian religion which says that “From nothing comes created being.”
Taking God out from metaphysics, as a Supreme Being, or, as a matter of fact, as a being at all, doesn’t take out of the question the problem of God but prevents a philosophical discourse of that issue. This is in line with Kierkegaard but I wander if a conceptualization of a personal faith in God is really to be avoided as far as it is based also on personal spiritual experiences. It is one thing to try to demonstrate the existence of God on ‘pure’ speculative grounds and it is a totally different thing to give a conceptual form to a personal experience. Nevertheless, trying to speak about your own spiritual experience in terms of a God for whom one cannot use any attribute of existence, of ‘being,’ of ‘is,’ seems a veritable impossibility, and this is a difficulty about which, later in his writings, Heidegger, perhaps, became aware. In “Die Technik und die Kehre” (The Technique and the Kehre) Heidegger writes: “Whether God lives or remains dead, is not decided by human religiosity, still less by the theological aspirations of philosophy and science. Whether God is God happens out of, and within, the situation of being.” What attitude one has toward being is not without consequences concerning how one understands the possibility for God. I avoid writing “for the possibility of the existence of God” because like Kierkegaard, Heidegger draws a sharp distinction between being and existence. He, in “Was ist Metaphysik,” (What is Metaphysics) notes that the only being that can be said to "exist," open, in the truth of being, is Dasein. The rock, the tree, the horse, the angel, and God are, but do not exist. In saying that God is, but does not exist, Heidegger explains that it should not thereby be imagined that God, like any of the other things that are — but which do not exist — is somehow unreal, or a mere idea (Vorstellung) of the human being.In the “Letter on <<Humanism>>,” Heidegger asks how the thinking of being makes possible the thinking of the divine.
Quoting Heidegger: “With the existential determination of the essence of the human being, therefore nothing is decided about the <<existence of God>> or his <<non-being>> no more than about the possibility or impossibility of gods.”
He thinks about the possibility and framework within which something like a god has to be thought. Heidegger said:
Through the ontological interpretation of Dasein as being-in-the-world no decision, whether positive or negative, is made concerning a possible being toward God. It is, however, the case that through an illumination of transcendence we first achieve an adequate concept of Dasein, with respect to which it can now be asked how the relationship of Dasein to God is ontologically ordered.
Heidegger doesn’t take the attitude of an atheist or of an agnostic, but he stresses that, before one decides about god or the gods, one has to think of being. What is the relationship between the thinking of being and the thinking of the divine? “Only from the truth of being can the essence of the holy be thought. Only from the essence of the holy is the essence of divinity to be thought. Only in the light of the essence of divinity can it be thought or said what the word <<God>> is to signify.” The ‘openness’ of being is not God but is only a space, in which the divine can appear or withdraw. The truth of being can be found in what appears and also in what withdraws. The holy is to be found in that dimension of truth in which the phenomenon of withdrawal would appear. The holy appears in the concealment, in the ‘lethe.’ This kind of appearing of the divine is the appearing of the withdrawal within the truth of being and it happens from the dimension of the Godhead. Heidegger clearly says that the Godhead as essencing (Wessendes) receives its origin from the truth of being. God needs being and as Heidegger mentions: “the admission by god that it needs be-ing, an admission that does not relinquish god or its greatness.” (Martin Heidegger (“Contributions to Philosophy”)
As I mentioned earlier, Heidegger makes God dependent of the human beings and not the other way around. God (as the essence of the Godhead) gets its origin from the event of the truth of being. He said that God is waiting for human beings and for the foundation of the truth of being, and not the opposite. “How few know that god awaits the grounding of the truth of be-ing and thus awaits man’s leaping-into Da-sein. Instead it seems as if man might have to and would await god.” (Heidegger “Contributions” 293) Before than of raising the question of God, one must raise the question of holy. All this started with Hegel, who made man responsible for the unveiling of God and it is a logical evolution of the Hegelian thinking, although in a critical way. For Hegel, the Spirit passes through all necessary stages in the way to “absolute knowledge,” and this route goes through the human religious consciousness but for Heidegger everything happens inside the human consciousness and that for the humans living in the world. Living in time, and in the world, and also in the opening of being, gives to men the consciousness of his being. Da-sein is much more than what living in the concrete worldly conditions can reveal; is not just another being, among beings, as for example, stones are. I would simply put that on the complexity and multidimensionality of the human consciousness, but Heidegger would not do that, because that is an unwanted subjectivism.
Da-sein is the only being who question in the direction of ‘being,’ who asks about his or her being, namely the origin of his or her being. But this ‘being,’ to Heidegger, cannot be God, simply because God cannot be, in the same time, a particular being and also to give being to beings. As a matter of fact, God can ‘be’ but nothing proves that He really is, says Heidegger. He leaves open the possibility of the existence of God and speculates about the place where He can be found but doesn’t say anything about the ‘necessity’ of the existence of God, for the universe or for humans. Is God ‘necessary’ for the explanation of the existence of the universe and consequently for the existence of humans? For Heidegger, He is not, because first comes humans and after that comes God. I would argue that in Heidegger’s system God is nearly impossibility because He takes being from the same source that man takes being but time is not an issue for God. God ‘needs’ being means that God has to get being from another source than Himself, but this is the end of God, as he is understood in the religious tradition. God is not the source of being but a beneficiary of being, a receiver, but to me this is more of an onto-theology even in comparison with the classical metaphysics. Why is that? That is because God doesn’t disappear but, in the same time, ‘being’ is raised to a higher level, even higher than God.
Is Da-sein the only being able to question in the direction of being? How about God? If He doesn’t question in the direction of being how can He be in the openness of being? Is God not transformed, in this way, in another being, similar to Da-sein? For Heidegger ‘being’ and God are not the same thing, being is rather a common source for both Da-sein and God. Da-sein and God are both derivations from ‘being’ and both need being. Heidegger wants to separate faith from philosophy. The philosophical reason cannot bring the certainty of faith. A metaphysical approach within theology cannot bring the explication of faith. God as a conclusion of philosophical thinking cannot be the object of pray or sacrifice. (Martin Heidegger “Identity and Difference”)
For Heidegger, is too early to speak about the divine. Beforehand one must prepare a non-metaphysical speaking of the God. In order to do that it is necessary that the thinker learns to open his or her mind for the word of the poet. The poets can prepare us for a speaking of a non-metaphysical God outside onto-theology. As Heidegger maintains, man has to learn to stay in the nearness of being. “In such nearness, if at all, a decision made be made as to whether and how God and the gods withhold their presence and the night remains, whether and how the day of the holy dawns, whether and how in the upsurgence of the of the holy an ephiphany of God and the gods can begin anew. But the holy, which alone is the essential sphere of divinity, which in turn alone affords a dimension for the gods and for God, comes to radiate only when being itself beforehand and after extensive preparation has been cleared and is experienced in its truth.” (Martin Heidegger “Letter on Humanism” 258) Some of this passage I already quoted but I find it essential for Heidegger understanding of God and for this reason I quote here the whole passage.
As I already mentioned in the commentary of Heidegger’s article “La Chose” (“The Thing”), he develops the paradigm of the fourfold. This paradigm doesn’t mean that mortals or human beings have no relation with the gods. There is a certain theology when they sing and praise the gods. Noticeable for this is Heidegger’s commentary about the poet, particularly Holderlin. The poet must wait for the word to come and with the word he or she can name the gods. “Mortals dwell in that they await the divinities. In hope they hold up to the divinities what is unhoped for. They wait for intimations of their coming and do not mistake the signs of their absence. They do not make their gods for themselves and do not worship idols. In the very depth of misfortune they wait for the weal that has been withdrawn.” (Martin Heidegger, “Building Dwelling Thinking” in Poetry, Language, Thought.) There are two moments: the waiting of the poet and the naming of the gods.
For Heidegger the possible has priority over the actual and this insistence on the primacy of the possible distinguishes him from the Western metaphysical tradition, the latter being primarily concerned with the actual and the possession of the real. The classical ontology is inclined to change the possible into the actual without paying enough attention to the possible. The essential structure of desire, on the other hand, allows that the possible remains standing above the actual. Heidegger claims that the Western ontology is concerned with dominance of the actual over the possible. In contrast, Heidegger wants to measure the actual from the scope of the possible. The place where the possible appears, for Heidegger, is the dream and the dream determines the measure in which the actual appears. The unreal gets priority over the actual. The non-reality of the dream must be thought in accordance with the ways of the poet. The dream is the poem of the holy and it cannot be composed in advance. When naming the holy, the poet creates a special place to prepare a location for gods and mortals. The important difference between Heidegger and all philosophy of intentionality and will is that the former rejects a transcendental consciousness and that is because man is always already addressed. Humans are always already situated in language and because that they are always addressed by language. The poet knows that he or she is called by the gods with the aim to praise their name and this presupposes that the poet at first has to be a listener to know how to get the word like a gift. Theology (Theologia) is than a praising, without a connection to a dogma or to a church.
As a very short conclusion I would say that from Hegel to Heidegger the retraction from objectivity to an innermost, subjective understanding of meanings, in the problem of religion, materialized in getting metaphysics out from the sphere of conceptual tools, which permits the human mind to approach the problem of God. Hegel’s system can be seen as an extraordinary display of conceptual thinking and one of the most important products of the metaphysical thinking in Christianity. Nevertheless, it was criticised both from the point of view of a naturalistic approach of the understanding of human existence and from the point of view of a strict human subjectivity. The Christian revelation presented God from His standpoint and permitted a more objective dealing with the universe, in which the human consciousness was a receptor of what came from outside it and in which humans strived to find a place. Starting with Hegel, one can see a process of appropriation and identification of human with the divine, a ‘deification’ of the human in which humans can find a meaning for religion. God is not a stranger, a total Other, is in us, is us. It is about an emancipation of the humans based on the evidence of their power of creation. God is not the only Creator and if we have the power of creation this must be because God is in us. Hegel succeeded to avoid the competition of God as a Creator and humans as creators, and the presentation of Christ as a paradigmatic human being is also the best expression of what God can be for man.
In the same time, Nietzsche found this appropriation of God by humans a dangerous thing, because being a foreign element God can pervert and destroy the human nature. In fact, the whole Christian moral is based on the idea that the human nature is corrupt and it needs to be replaced with God’s nature, by a process of spiritual birth, or regeneration. In Nietzsche’s view, God is seen like a poison, which finally will take away the most important element in man, his instincts. The destroyer of the instincts, Jesus, was Himself a Person without instincts, which was an anomaly, spread over many other people, like an epidemic disease. Nevertheless, Nietzsche found a place for God as an antithesis of what man should be, namely the over-man. God remains useful, even if it is ‘dead’ as a ‘scapegoat,’ for all human and philosophical failures. Nietzsche took God as a useful element of comparison, as a polarity, necessary, in order to construct his system. Without Christianity, as a term of reference, Nietzsche’s system couldn’t be edified. This kind of construction, on the ruins of another, is problematic particularly when the wreckage was deliberately provoked.
In fact, going on the same direction Heidegger, annihilated not only God, from the philosophical discussions, but even his memory. Nietzsche ‘killed’ God and Heidegger “get rid of” His memory. We don’t need God at all, in order to understand our origins, our destiny, our ‘being.’ The problem of God doesn’t even exist; God is not any more an issue for humans. If we want to understand who we are and from where we come, we don’t need God for that reason, we need to understand better the philosophical problem of ‘being.’ ‘Being’ is something other than existence, is in man, it is his openness toward what he is not, and can be found in the way in which man understands his ‘being’ in the world, his destiny, and his being with the ‘other.’ ‘Being’ is not God but is ‘giveness’ coming from the place where the reality is authentically what it is. Even if Heidegger explains very well what the philosophical concept of ‘being’ really is, and how must it be understood, the problem of the origins of ‘existence’ is not solved. ‘Being’ can tell what man ‘is,’ but cannot say how the universe, indeed the whole objective reality, objective in the sense of existing independent of human consciousness, came in place.
A mentioned have to be made. Even if Heidegger didn’t find any place for the Christian God, he kept a “spiritual nostalgia” living a small, narrow “crack in the wall” for the unknown and the mysterious. He doesn’t totally reject the possibility of the existence of mysterious beings, who come in dreams and who gives us signs. The problem is that getting rid of metaphysics Heidegger cannot say, in any meaningful way, what this divinities can be and where can be there place in the universe. In a strange way, being extremely rational but extremely critic with the possibilities of rationality, Heidegger came back to the pre-Christian mysteries and divinities, which, many of them, ‘died,’ in the human culture, precisely because they cannot answer to the exigencies of the modern man, fault of a systematic, metaphysical way of explanations.
The ‘dream’ also is symptomatic for the understanding of God, by the Christian faith, because the dream is the way, in which the Christian God communicates with humans, for example when Joseph was announced to live Judea, and in many other cases, in the Old and the New Testaments. The dream of the poet is not the same with the dream of the prophet but this is a suitable analogy. If the ‘divinities’ can speak to the poet in dreams why couldn’t God speak to His people in dreams? If there is a divine object for thought, why cannot this object be expressed in any language, such as arts, music, but also philosophical or mathematical language? The rationality of the language depends on the rationality of the object of thinking, and when God speaks the metaphysics cannot stop Him to speak. It is one thing to recognize the limits of the rational discourse, concerning God and another thing to prevent the rational or metaphysical discourse to speculate about God. In any case, all languages about the infinite dimension of reality are only human approximations, found either closer or farther from the reality of God but lacking something from His essence. Why is that? Because if God is a Person He can reveal to us, but also He can hide from us, and if he doesn’t want to be found He has enough means to veil. A Personal God is always a Subject and never only an Object of our thought. If we accept God as a Subject we will understand why we need revelation, in order to know Him. Starting with Kierkegaard we understand the importance of our subjectivity in dealing with religious faith, but God’s subjectivity in His relationships with us was probably not enough considered.
I hope that through the content of this dissertation I could show that neither Nietzsche not Heidegger are able to answer to the problem of the relationships between finite human beings and a infinite reality, existing autonomous in relation with the human mind. The question of the human aspiration, the human ‘call’ toward infinite reality was approached by Hegel but was avoided both by Nietzsche, and Heidegger. Trying to negate metaphysics brings the human mind in the impossibility to deal rationally and systematically with the problem of God, but the problem still remains. Trying to get rid of the problem of God, from philosophy, doesn’t mean to dispense with the existence of God, who comes in revelation. If one eliminates a problem, doesn’t mean that the problem doesn’t exist or is not important. If one considers the problem of God unapproachable by philosophy the only thing which achieves is to disarm in front of that problem by surrendering the most important ‘weapon’ namely the systematic human reason. As one cannot get out of the human reason when thinking, and as human thinking has its rules and its requirements metaphysics as speculative thinking still remains relevant and cannot be replaced by poetry, art or any esoteric experiences in relation with God. A divinity that cannot be thought systematically cannot be understood, known or accepted.
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 Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 162
 Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 162
 Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 165
 Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 165
 Heidegger Through Phenomenology to thought by William J. Richardson, S.J. page 363
 Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 169
 George J. Seidel … Heidegger’s last God and the Schelling connection … Laval theologique et philosophique, vol.55, nr.1, 1999, p. 85-98
 Martin Heidegger … La Chose … Essais Et Conference … page 195
 Martin Heidegger … La Chose … Essais Et Conference … page 195
 Martin Heidegger … La Chose … Essais Et Conference … page 197
 Martin Heidegger … La Chose … Essais Et Conference … page 202
 Martin Heidegger … La Chose … Essais Et Conference … page 203
 Ben Vedder … Heidegger’s Philosophy of Religion … from God to the Gods … Introduction … page 2
 Martin Heidegger … La Chose … Essais Et Conference … page 204
 Martin Heidegger … La Chose … Essais Et Conference … page 204
 Martin Heidegger … La Chose … Essais Et Conference … page 206
 Martin Heidegger … La Chose … Essais Et Conference … page 211
 Joseph Cohen … “Le sacrifice de l’etre … Note sur le sacrifice dans la pansee de Heidegger
 Joseph Cohen … “Le sacrifice de l’etre … Note sur le sacrifice dans la pansee de Heidegger
 Joseph Cohen … “Le sacrifice de l’etre … Note sur le sacrifice dans la pansee de Heidegger
 Joseph Cohen … “Le sacrifice de l’etre … Note sur le sacrifice dans la pansee de Heidegger
 Joseph Cohen … “Le sacrifice de l’etre … Note sur le sacrifice dans la pansee de Heidegger
 Martin Heidegger “Time and Being” in Joseph Cohen … “Le sacrifice de l’etre … Note sur le sacrifice dans la pansee de Heidegger
 Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy … http://www.iep.utm.edu/god-time/
 Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy … http://www.iep.utm.edu/god-time/
 Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy … http://www.iep.utm.edu/god-time/
 Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy … http://www.iep.utm.edu/god-time/
 Ben Vedder … Heidegger’s Philosophy of Religion … from God to the Gods … Introduction … page 7
 George J. Seidel … Heidegger’s last God and the Schelling connection … page 87
 Ben Vedder … Heidegger’s Philosophy of Religion … From God to the Gods …Introduction … page 4
George J. Seidel … Heidegger’s last God and the Schelling connection … page 88
George J. Seidel … Heidegger’s last God and the Schelling connection … page 88
 George J. Seidel … Heidegger’s last God and the Schelling connection … page 89
 Ben Vedder … Heidegger’s Philosophy of Religion … from God to the Gods … Introduction … page 189
 Ben Vedder … Heidegger’s Philosophy of Religion … from God to the Gods … Introduction … page 190
 Ben Vedder … Heidegger’s Philosophy of Religion … from God to the Gods … Introduction … page 192
 Ben Vedder … Heidegger’s Philosophy of Religion … from God to the Gods … Introduction … page 193
 Ben Vedder … Heidegger’s Philosophy of Religion … from God to the Gods … Introduction … page 194
Ben Vedder … Heidegger’s Philosophy of Religion … from God to the Gods … Introduction … page 195
 Ben Vedder … Heidegger’s Philosophy of Religion … from God to the Gods … Introduction … page 245