People misunderstand what I mean when I say that common atheism, the type expounded by figures such as Richard Dawkins, is inherently contradictory. Although in the passage on the ‘death of God’ Nietzsche deals precisely with this self-contradiction, in that the ‘madman’ writes off the atheists present as irrelevant and ignorant, even those that quote the passage appear to completely miss his point.
If you look at the phrase “God is” there is no determination of God other than ‘is’ itself, and this is precisely because the determinations of both ‘God’ and ‘is” arose together and are implicit in each other. This phrase is a type of tautology, in fact, whereby something is not simply restated but two apparently different things are allowed to determine each other as the same. It’s not the case that the phrase is meaningless, but it is the case that its inverse is meaningless.
Since ‘real’, ‘existence’ and ‘being’ are also co-determined in the original thought by which they have any meaning whatsoever, adding any of those terms negatively to the concept of ‘God’ is inherently a contradiction.
The proper question, then, is not “Is there a God” but “in the way that the real is constituted for us today, what form does God take?’. As it happens, we are in a transitional period, which makes the question more difficult today than it was even fifty or a hundred years ago. For the 16th to most of the 20th century we could say that the meanings of “is” and “real” were derived from mathematical reasoning: “is” and “real” meant “is measurable”. In turn this only gets its proper meaning in that what is ‘measurable’ is thereby ‘exchangeable’. For the period that we consider “modern” (as opposed to post-modern or any of the other mostly equivalent terms we apply to the present) ‘God’ meant precisely the ‘market’, in the sense of Smith’s ‘invisible hand of the market’. ‘God’s Judgment’ meant money, in the sense that the judgment of what is exchangeable as value is itself measured in money. Money is the ‘most exchangeable’, and simultaneously the basic ‘act’ of the market, to value in terms of money.
From this we can see that the original way in which God was defined has been modified through the epochs of metaphysics since the original thinking that enabled metaphysics itself, but in a continuous way, since God always existed precisely as judgment ‘money’ is intrinsically substitutable for ‘market’, and as ‘most exchangeable’ simultaneously equates to the original determination as “most in being”. The real as what is ‘valued’ was in fact always a significant aspect of what was meant by ‘real’, ‘existing’, ‘is’ etc., precisely as essence was always a value-determination.
The changes that appear in the guise of the post-modern, as disruptive, discontinuous, ex-aptive rather than adaptive, make determining the meaning at present more difficult, since it is not clear in exactly what way it has been redefined, although that all these terms have been redefined is clear.