Is God dead?

The question that scandalised America

On 8 April 1966, the cover of Time magazine posed that one question: "Is God dead?" It was to be the bestselling issue for 20 years and provoked thousands of letters in response. The man who wrote the cover story, John T Elson, has just died -- news in America, where many major papers ran obituaries, but not in the UK, it seems.

I mention this because, for one thing, the opening sentence of Elson's report could just as well have been written yesterday, not 43 years ago:

"Is God dead? It is a question that tantalises both believers, who perhaps secretly fear that he is, and atheists, who possibly suspect that the answer is no."

Second, because journalists today can only marvel at the time and resources that went into this one piece. Elson spent a year on it and 30 reporters contributed to it, conducting 300 interviews in the process.

And third, to draw your attention to the original piece itself, which you can read here. It is a fascinating portrait of religion in America at the time, and a reminder that struggles over the anthropomorphisation of God are nothing new -- though it's hard to see what progress has been made on this question in the intervening decades.

 

Sholto Byrnes is a Contributing Editor to the New Statesman
Getty
Show Hide image

The section on climate change has already disappeared from the White House website

As soon as Trump was president, the page on climate change started showing an error message.

Melting sea ice, sad photographs of polar bears, scientists' warnings on the Guardian homepage. . . these days, it's hard to avoid the question of climate change. This mole's anxiety levels are rising faster than the sea (and that, unfortunately, is saying something).

But there is one place you can go for a bit of respite: the White House website.

Now that Donald Trump is president of the United States, we can all scroll through the online home of the highest office in the land without any niggling worries about that troublesome old man-made existential threat. That's because the minute that Trump finished his inauguration speech, the White House website's page about climate change went offline.

Here's what the page looked like on January 1st:

And here's what it looks like now that Donald Trump is president:

The perfect summary of Trump's attitude to global warming.

Now, the only references to climate on the website is Trump's promise to repeal "burdensome regulations on our energy industry", such as, er. . . the Climate Action Plan.

This mole tries to avoid dramatics, but really: are we all doomed?

I'm a mole, innit.