One of the essential characteristics of the age in which we live, according to the later Heidegger, is ‘the loss of the gods’.1 This is not, however, merely one of the manifestations of the way in which we now understand and relate to what is as it is, as might be said, for example, of the impetus towards ‘automation’ and ‘systematic improvement’,2 but rather concerns the very nature of the way in which we find ourselves ‘in the midst of beings as a whole’. ‘The default of God means that no god any longer gathers men and things unto himself, visibly and unequivocally, and by such gathering disposes the world’s history and man’s sojourn in it.’3 It means that the default of God is not experienced as a default, and through this ‘there fails to appear for the world the ground that grounds it’. We live in the age ‘for which the ground fails to come’.4 Philosophy as metaphysics has been since Plato the thought of such a ground, which as the ground of all that is, is at the same time an interpretation of God, the ultimate measure for man and what is. Our age is no longer metaphysical: philosophy ‘turns into the empirical science of man, of all of what can become for man the experiential object of his technology’.5 In An Introduction to Metaphysics Heidegger had characterized this aspect of our contemporary existence as ‘spiritlessness’, ‘the rejection of all original inquiry into grounds and men’s bond with grounds’.6 The way in which we now relate to ourselves and to what is, is one which drives us, not towards, as during the epochs of metaphysics, establishing a ground for ourselves and what is, but away from such a concern and solely towards ‘the manipulable arrangement of a scientific-technical world and of the social order proper to this world’.7 It is because of this that Being, the name which within

metaphysics indicated the ground which it sought, has become for us ‘a mere word’, its meaning ‘an evanescent vapour’.8 And with that too, ‘God’ has become a ‘mere word’ which lives on in the ‘religious experience’ of individuals,9 divorced from any central role in the understanding of man’s nature and the Being of what is. Nevertheless, this predicament, precisely in revealing metaphysics as a tradition, opens up the possibility of a new form of thinking which may herald a non-metaphysical and non-technological way in which humans may exist. This possibility is, at the same time, that of a non-metaphysical apprehension of ‘what the word “God” is to signify’.10 But this is not just a new form of human existing and a new understanding of God: ‘The god-less thinking which must abandon the god of philosophy…is…perhaps closer to the divine God…more open to Him than [metaphysics] would like to admit.’11 For that thinking would not think God through a thinking of the Being of beings, as the ground of an intelligible totality, but through a thinking of Being itself. It is only such thinking which prepares the way for ‘the divine God’ to manifest Himself to humans, that God who could be as the ‘AllHigh’. It is precisely towards a recognition of the absence of such a God, an absence due to the failure of Being to address man as such in metaphysics and technology, that Heidegger’s thought summons us. In an address given on the occasion of his eightieth birthday, Heidegger posed the question with which our age addresses us as ‘Is our “dwelling” a sojourning within a withholdment of the All-High?’:12 that is, do we, in the age of Technology, understand ourselves in the light of the default of God so that we may be prompted towards a thinking which could make possible the manifestation of ‘the divine God’? ‘Only a god can save us’ Heidegger famously remarked in his interview with Der Spiegel.13 But this god for Heidegger, encountered from out of the thinking of Being and not from metaphysics, would be ‘the divine God’, the ‘All-High’ in His Being as such. This would not be for man one further interpretation of God: ‘Man measures himself against the godhead: only in so far as man takes the measure of his dwelling in this way is he able to be commensurately with his nature.’14 It would be to understand God as the measure for man and hence as the All-High, rather than as the ground at which man himself arrives. It would be

to think God as God, to let God be God, the God who can be God for man in his ‘nature’.