Political Ethics between Biblical Ethics and the Mythology of the Death of God

Article excerpt

Abstract: The text discusses the importance of religion as a symbolic construct which derives from fundamental human needs. At the same time, religious symbolism can function as an explanation for the major crises existent in the lives of individuals or their communities, even if they live in a democratic or a totalitarian system. Its presence is facilitated by the assumption of the biographical element existent in the philosophical and theological reflection and its extrapolation in a biography which concerns the communities and its governmental resorts. It is in this context that we discuss the way in which the myth concerning the death of God can influence the formation of political ethics relevant for the contemporary man. From the analysis of the signification of the death of God in the contemporary Judaic theology and philosophy emerges a series of important elements for the creation of a political ethics situated between biblical morals and the extermination of the innocents in the 20th century.

Key Words: political ethics, the death of God, European Jews, genocide, death camps, human condition, the theology of history, religious experience.

The Existence of Religion as a Survival Policy

People cannot survive without religion. The entire history of religions, but also the mythical, symbolical and ritual behaviors of the contemporary individual, the acts of community celebration or the need to invest sacred meanings in personal elements reflect this need for religiousness.1 We cannot ignore the fact that the idea of secularization is one of the most important cultural and ideological construct having a significant impact in the creation of modernity. Yet, even if secularization is an important trait of the modern world, the profound needs of the human being are still connected to a sphere of sacredness and desire to live in a universe where values are invested with a certain kind of transcendent force. A relevant argument in this regard is the fact that people perceive religion as a fundamental need of their personal life, even if they accept the theories concerning the secularization of the modern world and of the essential components of a modern day man.2

Thus, the need for a coherent overall perspective of the world and the sense of living in accordance with that vision, the need for a symbolic structure able to hold all the imaginative constructions, the need to place oneself on the path of a pending accomplishment, the need for a savior able to supply for the lack of power or the disability of individuals or the community to handle power, the need to feel this power working on its own, the need to project into the future the longing for what is originary, authentic, heavenly, and many other similar needs imply that the human being cannot be conceived outside a relationship with religion, no matter how distant it is.

Religion is the answer for emptiness, for the void, for a tendency for annihilation, for the darkness, for a longing, for an absence. Religion generates fullness, the fulfillment of meaning, the occurrence of light, the emergence of hope and the appearance of a presence. Religion is part of the human condition and the human being, in its display, cannot deny its religious needs most of all because the human being is in need for a Presence. When these needs are not invested in theistic systems, they form the basis of symbolic constructions of transcendence or are projected upon different ways of displaying sacredness. One of the most complex bearers of such projections is the political sphere. We can easily notice that religion and politics are always together during the course of the history of human communities. This relationship becomes questionable in modernity because of the separation between religion and politics, as well as of the separation between the religious and the political imaginary and the separation between the purpose of political actions and decisions and those belonging to the religious sphere. …