Inserted between the seats of a bus I was riding on my way to Makati was a torn page containing this line, a battlecry of the new secularism and impassioned plea made by Ludwig Feuerbach for the substitution of the image of man, in his social context, for the image of God as the guiding light of Western civilization. Served me a short antigospel to reflect on during the 30-minute ride:
It is a question today, you say, no longer of the existence or non-existence of God, but of the existence or non-existence of man; not whether God is a creature whose nature is the same as ours, but whether we human beings are to be equal among ourselves; not whether and how we can partake of the body of the Lord by eating bread, but whether we have enough bread for our own bodies; not whether we render unto God what is God’s and unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but whether we finally render unto man what is man’s; not whether we are Christians or heathens, theists or atheists, but whether we are or can become men, healthy in soul and body, free, active and full of vitality.
I deny God. But that means for me that I deny the negation of man. In place of the illusory, fantastic, heavenly position of man which in actual life necessarily leads to the degradation of man, I substitute the tangible, actual, and consequently also the political and social position of mankind. The question concerning the existence or non existence of God is for me nothing but the question concerning the existence or non-existence of man.