"Have you not heard of that Madman who lit a lantern and in the bright morning hours and, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly, "I seek God! I seek God!" As many of those who do not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Why, did he get lost? said one. Did he lose his way like a child
? said another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? Or emigrated? Thus they yelled and laughed. The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his glances
"Whither is God" he cried. "I shall tell you. We have killed him -- you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained this earth from it's sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, leftward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night and more night coming on all the while? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the grave-diggers who are burying God? Do we not smell anything of God's decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have murdered him. How shall we, the murderers of all murderers, comfort ourselves? What was holiest and most powerful of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives. Who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games will we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must not we ourselves become gods simply to seem worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever will be born after us -- for the sake of this deed he will be part of a higher history than all history hitherto."
Here the madman feel silent and looked again at his listeners; and they too were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke and went out. "I come too early," he said then; "my time has not come yet. This tremendous event is stil on its way, still wandering -- it has not yet reached the ears of man. Lightning and thunder require time, the light of the stars requires time, deeds require time even after they are done, before they can be seen and heard. The deed is still more distant from them than the most distant stars -- and yet they have done it themselves."
It has been related further that on that same day the madman entered diverse churches and there sang his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called into account, he is said to have replied each time, "What are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?""
--Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (1882) section 125.