African Concept of Human Personality

In this post I shall briefly explain how our African ancestors conceived of human personality and personhood. First of all, our ancestors were ideologically both creationists and evolutionists. They believe that the supreme God (Mawu) and his servant gods created the universe and everything in it. Man was created as an imperfect being and kept in a cave. Initially he could not speak but could only growl or make grunting noises like an animal. With time man emerged out of his cave and acquired human qualities such as bipedal locomotion, speech, thought, reason, conscience and virtue etc. This implies that the earliest man was probably a hominid. This concept contrasts sharply with the Christian creation story at Genesis 1, where everything was said to have been created almost instantly and perfectly. How then do we explain genetic defects such as premordial dwarfism, hunchbacks etc. and when I was Little I knew a man with twelve toes and twelve fingers. I bet all this people will wish they were not “perfect.”

Within African setup, when a baby is born, he or she is considered a non human visitor until after eight days. If the baby dies before the 8th day no funeral was held and no one was expected to cry or weep. The idea is that the baby is an animal – comprising pure ID (Instinctual Drives in freudian terms) and not fully human yet. Within the child’s ID is the mother’s blood, the father’ spirit and a soul from God. So the child is formed by three components coming from three different sources. The child’s life, as he survives and grows, is perpertually animated by these three factors. When he or she grows old and eventually dies, he loses the blood and spirit which he acquired from his parents but his soul is not lost. It returns to Mawu (the Supreme God) who is believed to dwell beyond the stars. The servant gods that dwell among the people and take possesion of animals, trees, rocks and rivers are never called “Mawu” but rather “Trorwo” meaning deities.

Please note that the practices described here are carried out by the Ewe tribe to which I belong. Different tribes have different ideas and practices though the differences are not very drastic. Also there are two forms of African personality: Indigenous African personality lived by our ancestors and contemporary post colonial personality emphatically espoused by Kwame Nkrumah, Leopold Senghor, Julius Nyerere etc. which stems from indigenous roots. 

God’s Boredom After the Sixth Day

I had argued with myself on several occasions as to why an almighty being will need rest at all. It was only six days, and he had created man, his finest handiwork and had retired the next day. I suspect he must have created the ape earlier, either to keep himself company or to mock man especially fearing that man, his finest creature, will eventually betray him and go out of control. Ofcourse gods have fears too. They fear that their subjects might abandon them and once abandoned they cease to exist. It happened many centuries ago in far away Europe where Heine attested to seeing the abanboned gods Zeus, Hera, Apollo, etc including their roman relatives in exile on a distant island with a hairless goat who later turned out to be one of thier human servants. They had been driven away by a new protestant god. Under such circumstances, the old gods lived as refugees and took on such menial jobs as wood chopping, says Heine. In Africa, things were a little different. The old gods fled in tumult and instead, took possession of rivers, rocks and trees. They didn’t flee into exile because apart from Madagascar there were no islands in Africa.

Interestingly, it was not mentioned anywhere in the bible that the Jewish god ever resumed work after the seventh day. Could it be that he never resumed work and had similarly fled into exile following the divine tragedy involving Angel Lucifer and his cohorts. Or he likely may have retired to some distant island and let humanity devise ways and means of settling their own disputes? And was that not a good thing for a god to have done for himself since he was already tired while the devil was always working? Could it be that the evil demon is more hard working since he never needed rest? If Lucifer rested a day, all of the world’s problems will be solved that very day and humanity will regain consciousness.

Anyway, so much to ruminate on this sunday. I believe I have, at least, reminded you of interesting questions as regards the genesis anecdote and god’s boredom after the sixth day. “Let there be light” and yay there was light! How amazing. Why can’t this be simply followed by “Let there be peace” for the world to experience peace and….”Let there be joy” for everyone to be healed and be happy? I guess it will be too much work. Happy rest day.

Speciation Events Don’t Disprove Creationism

Recently I realized there are fundamentalists in atheism just as there are in religion. They literally believe every single word that is published by evolutionary biologists. The scientific journal is probably their ‘holy book’ and they defend it with such zeal that you wonder what has gone into their heads.

Throughout the Judaeo-Christian account of creation, there is always the mention of birds of the air and fishes of the sea not fishes of the air and birds of the sea. This implies speciation. To be [of] something is to have descended from an autochthon of that place. Consider this passage:

“And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.”

A god who creates static or devolving organisms should be a very dumb god. Organisms are specially designed to fit their environments – birds of the air, fishes of the sea, beasts and creeping things upon the earth and even herbs of the field.  Clearly the Bible was talking about speciation. I wonder how that disproves the existence of an intelligent designer.

 

Some Interesting Phenomena That, According To Atheists, Happen By Accident

1. Mammalian Reproduction

This whole process always intrigues me – from fertilization, embryonic development to delivery through a canal lined with numerous delicate muscles that push the little offspring out. In most cases a human baby is clearly shielded from diseases of the parents including HIV etc. Some are even born with a blood group type different from that of the parents, especially the mother in whose body the baby was conceived and developed for nine months. There is certainly some kind of complex filtration going on in the genome. Again, at the outset of pregnancy in mammals, the breast glands begin to produce milk (of the highest quality) for the baby. If at any point in time complications develop in the uterus, which threatens the life of the mother, all conditions being equal, the whole process naturally self-terminates. How can such a biological phenomenon occur by accident and without purpose?

 

2. Respiration

The simple bodily process of taking in oxygen from inhaled air and releasing carbon dioxide by exhalation after which plants take carbon dioxide in and in turn release oxygen; Such a wonderful symbiosis. According to Biologists, there are only two life forms – plants and animals. Suppose plants begin to reverse the process (since everything happens by random chance) by taking in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide, don’t you think that all animals, the group to which humans also belong, will be annihilated in munites? To say that things happen because conditions accidentally permit it is like saying the earth rotates on its own axis because conditions permit it. And what are these conditions? Because we all know there is no gravity in space, so what is spinning the earth? This is where the super intelligent being comes in. The more we know about nature the more ignorant we would find ourselves. It is said that a little philosophy inclines man to atheism but the deepest philosophy pushes man back to an intelligent designer.

 

3. The Hydrologic Cycle

The hydrologic cycle or the water cycle, which describes the continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth is simply incredible. The mass of water on Earth remains fairly constant over time but the partitioning of the water into the major reservoirs of ice, fresh water, saline water and atmospheric water is, according to scientists, variable depending on a wide range of climatic variables. Still…I think someone could have done all this and set them in motion. It’s never by accident. Water alone covers 70% of the earth’s surface, yet it rarely submerges dry lands where there are large populations – even then not without “warnings.” The quantity of water that living organisms need on a daily bases may have informed the availability of such water on earth. I know of caves in my village where water comes out cleaner than tap – already filtered for drinking. Somebody or entity designed it.

 

4. Laws of Planetary Motion

By this I am referring to certain laws inherent in nature or if you like the universe. The laws regarding space and that regarding time are all mathematical and precise. Any accidental shift will spell the end of life. But the intelligent being, so superior in wisdom, made it in such a way that there has never been a major shift in the laws governing the universe. Of course now they say it’s a multiverse. Maybe a few new planets were discovered and then that’s another universe which is all ludicrous. It could be that the universe is constantly expanding, likewise the galaxy. Again, the precise movement of the planets without ever colliding with the others, the heat and brightness of the sun and the distance at which it is placed from the earth all point to an intelligent maker. The law of contradiction is another proof that there is a master planner. The universe hardly contradicts itself. Johannes Kepler did not originate but discovered the laws of planetary motion; he was simply allowed, by virtue of his effort and curiosity, to take a peek into the mind of the super intelligent being.

 

5. The Earth’s Life Support System

Life is made possible by the great variety of foods and herbs for the consumption of all living things. Yet the atheist is never thankful. He opens his mouth and immediately tells us that life occurs by accident and has no purpose. How do you expect to know the cosmic purpose of life if you didn’t originate it? I have my purpose you have your purpose and that’s fair. If God revealed the cosmic purpose of life , we would sabotage him. It does not occur to the atheist whether the water he drinks springs forth by chance, or the potato he eats or the bark of the nim that cures his fever also grew by chance. The great variety of foods such as tubers, cereals, fruits and vegetables, milk and animal products all point to a designer who knew that these things will be needed or required for growth and survival. This process of need and fulfillment could never have occurred by chance and the interesting thing is that it seemed the earth was prepared and arrayed with trees long before the first man appeared on the scene. Humanity is probably only a little over 10,000 years old whereas the universe is billions of years old. If life started with a so called “big bang” which implies a thick cloud of fire and smoke, how did trees and rivers come about? Can water emerge from fire? There is an intelligent designer.

 

6. The Remarkable Intelligence of Certain Living Organisms Which Operate By Instinct

Man’s first wonder was how birds fly. A baby bird needs not learn the flapping of wings. It was born with the instinct such that even if its parents died at birth it will still be able to fly provided it is of a flying age. What about Birds that migrate long distances like terns and gulls, we may call them intercontinental migratory birds, if you like. How do they know the location of the north and south poles and find their way at sea? It’s like they have a bio-compass in their mind. Again, how do baby turtles find their way back to the particular location of the Mediterranean Sea from where their parents come to hatch them on the shore annually? Scientists have helped us to see that that there are more wondrous things in nature than we can imagine. For instance, how do trees make energy from sunlight? Exactly how do the body’s cells derive energy from the food we eat? Scientists themselves don’t even know exactly how these things occur. Consider the mimic octopus, the giant squid, the chameleon, the electric eel, the firefly and so forth, are you not filled with awe? Yet all this animals act effortlessly and out of pure instinct. This means someone, some entity, who is far more intelligent than us, pre-programmed them. I invite any evolutionist to explain to me how evolution equipped the electric eel with the ability to organically generate electricity.

 

7. Powers of Human Imagination

On the average, a baby can recognize millions of faces and emotions. When it grows a bit older it can roughly guess who is a good guy and who is not, sometimes based on smell. That’s how come a baby may cry in one hand and be quiet in another. The ability to effortlessly acquire language is also inbuilt in a human baby. We humans are the most privileged in terms of mental capabilities. We can draw pictures from memory; we can sing for our loved ones, we yearn for the affection of others, especially of the opposite sex (although there is a whole new theory about love, sex and gender these days). Humans have a very dynamic social organization that is based on intuition – a visit to an auntie, an uncle, a brother or an old friend can be very reviving. In emotional terms, we can understand each other irrespective of race or ethnic origins. A smile makes the face looks different from a frown and this applies to all the races. In fact, I think I mentioned somewhere in my previous posts that happiness is a social state. We, humans also use imagination to predict and solve many problems. I wonder whether atheists consider life as a whole before making conclusions. Or that they simply pick what evidence they want. Objects in the universe constantly undergo a system of birth, death and rebirth. And it is completely ludicrous to think that because you have a brain in between your ears you must understand everything about the universe. Not everything is designed for mortals to understand. There is a limit to human knowing.

 

8. Evolution

I know at the mention of evolution, ears stand erect. Many take the theory of evolution, specifically “Origin of Species” as evidence of non existence of an intelligent designer. But upon careful observation of the whole theory, evolution may actually be the doing of an intelligent creator. The core objective of life is first to survive. Therefore the intelligent designer made his creatures incredibly dynamic – able to adapt and readapt depending on general living and climate conditions. That’s how come the dinosaurs gave way to man. Let’s forget about specifics and focus on generalities. Take the manufacture of automobiles for instance. The first make was very noisy and produced a lot of fumes. Then came an improvement on the first and another and another and another all aimed at eliminating the things that failed to work and maintaining what worked. Now we have cars that run on solar energy. Does the evolution of cars or defects inherent in cars prove that cars exist by chance? Or does the evolution of computers or defects inherent in computers prove that computers exist by chance. The natural selection processes we see to be random are not random at all. They follow a precise pattern – a pattern of progression, otherwise, apart from convergent and divergent evolution; there would have been what I will call “reverse evolution” since according to atheists it’s all happening simply because conditions permit it. What are these conditions? And why are they following a pattern of progression from inferior to superior forms?

 

9. Death

Death! It teaches us more about God than life. I admit, life for the most part is beset with numerous vicissitudes so that it becomes completely absurd to speak or even think of a good God. But I assure you all dying men see God. Two things are eternal: change and demise. An so how is it that there is such uniformity – in an event or an ending that all living organisms go through at a particular stage. In other words death is binding on all of us including even unicellular organisms. So somebody may have instituted that.

This world is not a perfect place. But I think it does little good to be in perpetual denial. What one believes says a lot about him or her. Of course there are many “sound” arguments for atheism but does that lead to any meaningful end? As far as I can imagine, most radical atheists gravitate towards sensualism, through a kind of chronic despair to anarchism and eventually end up in nihilism. The choice, of course, lies with the individual and I don’t think the lack of a complete understanding of God or gods should be a barrier to acceptance that certain super human being exists, if such a belief ultimately makes one a better person.

Note that, I am not a Christian apologist. My position is only a philosophical position. I don’t attend any church or feel the need to make senseless noise in the name of worship. I think that is lunacy. But, other than ascribing events and existence to random chance, I simply hold the view that there is an entity higher than man, who originated the universe.

Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

 

 

 

Holes In The Theory of Evolution

I’m speaking here of the idea that humans and other mammals evolved from a common ancestor. This common ancestor is not always named. Once upon a time it was “Lucy”, then came Homo erectus, after that, “Turkana Boy,” followed by Neanderthal and now we have a new South African neighbor called Homo naledi (That sounds like na lady?). So are….are we gonna have “na gentlemen” in the near future? ….Very funny mind games!

Secondly, there are questions that I want answered by evolutionists. Kindly note that the core concept of evolution, including natural selection, was based on Darwinian principles and according to Richard Dawkins, Darwin was completely wrong about genetics and hereditary. So this leaves us with his classification simply based on anatomy. I have faced many objections from proponents of evolution saying that the theory was not based exclusively on similarities in anatomy. So what new evidence do they have?

Questions:

(1) If evolution is a fact how did the human heart evolve, since all locomotive mammals and possibly other organisms must poses a heart from the moment of existence.

(2) If evolution is a fact how did the sexes of animals originate? Since micro-organisms such as viruses, bacteria, protozoons and even trees are asexual.

(3) Evolutionists have consistently failed to show us all the “missing links” between chimp and human, fish and bird, amphibian and reptile, cockroach and spider etc. Please show us all the missing links.

(4) Every organism, even of the same parentage, has a unique immune system (please don’t confuse it with antibiotic resistance) that, after first infection, automatically gives the organism a lifetime immunity from the disease. Will you say such a specialized system evolved or was designed?

With this unanswered questions, I think I have punched four holes in the theory of evolution, case closed. Evolution is even more of a philosophy than a science because it is not immediately observable. DID anyone see one organism transform into another? DID Darwin see it? DID you see it? If no, case closed.

Determinism And Freewill Are Opposite Ends of the Same Phenomenon

Determinism is a philosophical theory holding that all events are inevitable consequences of antecedent sufficient causes; often understood as denying the possibility of free will. I, for instance, do not know if determinism is a continuum, permeating all aspects of our lives but what I do know is that we have freewill, to a great extent. This freewill which I speak of is nonetheless limited in certain respects by no other concept but determinism. We cannot decide on how the natural world or the universe is organised. We cannot decide on what gases to breath in or what food or herbs to eat (we can’t eat plankton) or what anatomy to have as humans. We can only decide on our abstract wishes and desires – things closely related or emanating from us.

So I am tempted to conclude that maybe what we call “Determinism” and what we call “Freewill” are the polar opposites of the same phenomenon. In other words, to the extreme left is determinism and to the extreme right is freewill. And that humanity is moving from the former to the latter. The reason for the unending argument between proponents of the two theories is that philosophy itself (logic) has an inherent problem – in that it cannot tolerate ambiguity or gradations. Neither does it tolerate any concept resembling the gestalt one. A conglomerate concept handed down by nature is often broken down by philosophers into individual parts and then these philosophers spend the rest of their lives struggling to derive meaning from the separate ideas, when in fact by grouping these ideas, we could instantly arrive at something meaningful.

Let us test this idea (determinism and freewill as opposite ends) with a historical event like the second world war. Determinists will say that the war was bound to happen due to certain “antecedent sufficient causes” whether or not Hitler became chancellor of Germany at the time or whether any humans triggered it.  Proponents of freewill will say that the war occurred because of our thoughtless actions or mistakes as humans. But the fact remains, something good came out of the war, and that is the union of world nations. So we can say these two opposing concepts are a linear process juggling humanity back and forth depending on certain individual elements. African societies typically embrace determinism to a fault. In fact the typical unlettered African believe his actions or even his fate (misery or death) simply as by-products of certain divine arrangements and he is right in some respects. Perhaps we can say everything begins with Determinism and ends with Freewill. What are your thoughts?