Considering that human nature is very fickle and unpredictable, I’m convinced after much deliberation that good is not the opposite of evil as many people believe. Good and evil are parallel to eachother and one can never predict how another person might act when provoked (which is even worse among the so called born again). When a supposedly evil person suddenly turns kind we should not be quick to say that he or she has changed but rather he or she has simply switched lanes. At any point in time evil can set in again. Everyone has the capacity for both kindness and evil and it is the social environment that brings out the best or the worst in us. Treat children with kindness and they will grow to be kind. Be mean to them and they will be mean when they grow up. I have realised that, for most people, whatever they experienced or are taught while growing up is what they accept to be true for the rest of their lives. Whether as creatures of god we are innately good or descendants of apemen we are innately evil is a difficult question because of the parallel nature of good and evil.
If Creationism (the nudist escapade story in Soyinka’s words) is a fact then we can understandably say that it was not included in the plan of creation for mankind to be happy. Because the sweetest apple was planted nowhere but at the center of the garden. Was it supposed to be perpetually tempting or what?
Again, concerning creation, what can we say is the purpose of the life of tiny living organisms which are not visible to our eyes but which cause us diseases. Are these also created? By who? I have speculated before that maybe the devil also created certain microorganisms in imitation of the creator if there is one. And for god so loved the world that when he found out that the devil was antagonising him he kicked the devil out into the world.
Do you eat chicken, beef or mutton? Do you think these animals scream in excitement when being slaughtered for their meat? What would make one think one deserves eternal life when one slaughters animals enmass for their meat daily? Is it moral to eat other living organisms. If our mortality is as a result of we having violated life, then that makes more sense to me than to say we die because someone ate an apple many thousands of years ago.
Those who followed this blog recently, welcome to a meaningful and a meaningless blog.
Today is sunday which means my favourite day to post. I want to get over all the anger and frustration with what God should or should not have done in my life. Being angry with God is like being angry with the weather – it’s vexation of spirit. To me God is nature or the universe and remains so. Though some friends tell me that my thoughts are contradictory, in my mind everything is harmonious. I know exactly what I want. I’m not confused about anything. I could go to church, sing the hymns and shake hands with the preacher but that doesnt mean I have become a fundamentalist. I call it resilience. I could entertain just about any idea without conclusively accepting it. Being part of a larger community also makes one more humanistic – we just have to agree to disagree.
Last time I heard, my neighbour was praying that Jesus should kill all his enemies and he actually said (verbatim): ‘All my enemies die in Jesus name…die!…die!…die!’ This made me laugh so hard and I figured if not because of the law he will probably ask permission from Jesus and murder them himself. So here we can see the corrupting effect of false religion on the human mind. If Jesus exists in the material world, and if indeed he listened to such prayers we will all be dead by now. Nine out of every ten christian in my country has prayed such prayer before. How will he killing one’s enemies make one’s life better? If one is lazy and ignorant one remains poor and miserable even after all enemies are dead.
As I mentioned earlier I want to draw your attention to three words that reach the heart. These words have proven effect on even the most callous person, provided such a person is actually human. But they are also words that, for the proud in spirit, are difficult to utter. Unfortunately secular education does not teach virtue anymore and it’s sad. They inflate the ego with logic and logic has no reverse gears. So one only needs to keep moving forward. Culture has also evolved in such a way that modesty and politeness especially in men implies a weakness, so now most youths act tough to impress others and it often fails them in the end. The three words which if uttered genuinely, reaches the heart, irrespective of whether the relationship is marital, professional or casual are ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘help me.’ Happy sunday!
John Zande, a colleague blogger has authored a book titled “On The Problem of Good.” It’s a bold and an eloquent exposition premised on the hypothesis that “there is no good, everything degenerates into evil” according to the author. It’s hardly a book for the regular reader because it’s highly philosophical or abstract and it’s backed by scientific facts. Many of you already know my position on Science.
The founder of Christianity asserts that there is none that is good except God (Mathew 19:17), so the author may not be far from truth except that he claims evil is the basis of existence, good is illusionary, hence there is nothing wrong with the world. Here I disagree. There is everything wrong with the world. When we speak of life or existence, we speak of living things and how they percieve their environment. I believe humans, in spite of all the evil in this world, gravitate towards good. No sane person dreams of war, violence, hate, death etc.
How could such virtues as peace, unity, love, compassion, genuine altruism etc be evil? What about people who devote their lives to taking care of orphaned children, the homeless, the sick, victims of abuse, the vulnerable etc. This acts appear good to me and contradict the Darwinian notion of “survival of the fittest”. The instinct to help eachother when in trouble, to form and maintain social ties, to strive for morality and fairness etc that’s one tiny way us humans are different.
I have personally witnessed good. I have seen mothers risk their lives to save their children from harm. I have seen fathers sacrifice their future so that their children could have one. I have seen strangers offer refuge to the afflicted. I have seen people donate all their wealth to the needy after their death. I have seen strangers pull out a trapped person from under a rubble without asking to be paid. I have seen a crowd carry an accident victim to a hospital without requesting anything material. What is responsible for such altruistic acts if all there is is evil? These acts tell me humans are equally capable of good. However, agreeably, there is more evil and less good.
Now I have two questions for the Author concerning his hypothesis of a maximally evil, omnimalevolent universe.
1. Is the world a case study for testing his hypothesis?
2. If the world is his case study, then his hypothesis cannot be proved.
1. There is both good and evil in this world according to the experiences of the vast majority of people. This is irreducible to an all evil world. So John, if you are reading this how did you prove your hypothesis to be true? Forgive me but was it through confirmation bias?
According to Nietzsche there is no moral phenomena, only a moral interpretation of phenomena. This means the morality of an action or a deed is in the interpretation of that deed, making morality subjective. All things subjective are of, existing in or related to the mind. There is also the issue of motive which helps us to judge whether an act is moral or not.
For instance, we cannot say something is good or bad until we know the motive with which it’s done. If a politician builds a library or makes a cash donation to his community, we cannot say he is a good man until we know his motive, which is often definitely to seek another term of office, which means plowing his money back from state coffers or from bribes.
Kant, Locke, Hobbes and even Rousseau presented their ideas about morality as if it were a direct product of reason or rationality. They implied that primitive societies which had not ‘mastered’ reasoning had no sense of morality at all but this is erroneous. Kant in particular attributed virtue to individual freewill and autonomy but our modern experience presents a different evidence. It is indeed true that with personal freedom and autonomy comes reasoning but morality does not necessarily follow through. We pride ourselves today for being in the age of reason but our moral curve keeps plunging downwards. My observation is that virtue is an attribute of nothing but the emotions in their proper frameworks and that the source of both virtue and vice is in our primitive days. Reason only comes in after the stage is set.
All good or evil deeds proceed from the heart and reason, though resulting in self awareness and personal security, does not necessarily prevent evil. Most people who commit moral crimes are aware of the evil nature of their deeds but they do it anyway. Reason for the most part is self serving and often fails the motive check which I mentioned earlier. For instance, people who give a part of their salary to the homeless and beggars have no apparent reason or motive at all for doing that. They simply were moved by their emotions.
There is another interesting twist to morality – which makes it somewhat undulating in nature. Consider this: A murderer is an immoral person but one who murders the murderer for the safety of the community is deemed moral. It follows that the murderer’s murderer’s murderer is also deemed immoral and it goes on and on switching back and forth. We can think of it as an equation attempting psychological equilibrium, which is something inbuilt in us.
The biggest problem in morality so far is the influence of power or authority. Nietzsche goes on to say that whatever interpretations exist or persist is a function of authority and not truth. One will notice that Pilate’s question to the Jew: ‘What is truth?’ lends credence to this statement. To Pilate, truth is what the Roman empire says it is, so he wanted to know the deferring truth which the Jew was purported to have taught his disciples. In practical life, one will have noticed that the vast majority of people will readily accept truth only and if only it is backed by authority. Sometimes during a court trial, witnesses freeze or crumple in the witness box or fail to appear altogether because the truth which they witnessed will offend authority.
And now a question: Though they all claim to be doing it for peaceful purposes, do you think there is morality or moral truth or ethical merit in so called nuclear programmes? To what extent should a nation go in protecting itself or its interests?
Those who may not know, euthanasia means mercy killing – to ask to be put to death either because of deteriorating health, abuse, misery or simply despair. Euthanasia is legal in some European countries but not yet in Africa, where there is so much gregariousness. It will be absurd to even speak of such a thing to the most ordinary African.
I must convey a very important observation here. Many people confuse moral laws with legal codes or rather they superimpose legal instruments over moral ones. If something is legal it doesn’t necessarily make it moral. Immoral laws are sometimes passed because there is so much pressure on the judiciary to help solve certain perceived problems. Suppose that a friend feels so much pain as a result of disease or personal misfortune and asks to be put to death, I can never be the one to do it. My solution will be to give him as much help as I can and send him to social welfare or public care home.
My deep mistrust of medical doctors was confirmed recently when they put a woman (alleged to have been sexually abused for over 15 years) to death because she had asked to be killed. I can tell you assuredly that they are murderers though they did it legally. There are serious ethical problems right there especially the fact that every physician swears an oath to try his best to save human lives. The average underprivileged person has had suicidal thoughts at least once in his or her lifetime but those moments are only transitory. The storm soon disappears and life resumes to normality. Therefore, as a society we should not be quick to grant people their wishes. Nobody likes death. When people choose death it’s because they feel rejected, empty and abandoned by humanity and it’s a shame. This is why I think everyone needs to cultivate spirituality because it acts as a ‘shock absorber.’ Spirituality is an attitude and a valuable survival skill. I may not be religious but I don’t joke with my personal spiritual life.
Concerning euthanasia, it speaks worse of the society where it’s accepted than the people who request for it. At many levels, I think life is a gift which must not be wasted.
You may have read the story of a man named Wuor Arop, the lone survivor of a plane crash in South Sudan that killed all 37 aboard. Apparently the only other survivor is a 13-month old baby not related to Arop whom he cradled in his arms during the crash. Somehow, it makes sense to me that the baby survived because it is innocent but for the man there may have been some intervention – some karma involved. There is definitely some higher authority in this universe.
According to some atheists blogs I read (Makagatu & co), they claim that “no one is self sacrificing unless he is going to benefit from it.” So in this case, I want to ask the atheists what benefit was Arop thinking of when he cradled the baby. The truth is the act, before impact, of protecting the baby was an instinct. He had no intention of benefiting from anything whatsoever. He knew he was going to die but he put his self-preserving instinct on hold and thought to himself, “let me attempt to protect this baby” and they both survived. His friend who sat beside died also.
Of course he may not be a good man and we cannot say this god or that god saved him, but in those critical moments only our good deeds can save us. His momentary act of goodness has saved him for now. If there were no religions or all religions were corrupted there will still be moral men because morality is something innate. Failure of religion is not an excuse to lead an immoral lifestyle. Please Mr. Atheist don’t tell me you don’t have a religion so you don’t know what is good from bad. You’ve got to be kidding me! Faulty moral judgments don’t affect anything but us.
At what point does God’s authority supersede the judge’s authority? God can condemn, the Judge can also do same. The Law has all the supremacy of God. Whilst the moral man looks up to God or the gods, the cunning one looks up to the law so that he may find a way to exploit it. In the affairs of the state, it’s not the rule of Gods but the rule of law. So we can say that God or gods occupy a certain domain of reality far from worldly reason but not out of touch with our personal realities – in as much as the rule of law does not mean there are no incredible interventions. I hope I’m making sense.
There are very big societal problems in this world. Has it ever crossed our minds as to why many youths from Europe and even America are trying to join the fight in Syria? Recently a South African girl was arrested at the airport on suspicion of trying to join IS to fight the war in Syria. Why fight anyway? Maybe it’s because sometimes and for most people, war promises long term freedom.
In the modern “me first” world the have-nots and the underprivileged without capital are, forever, wage slaves. But these analyses of class struggle will be for another post. For now, let me start by explaining what is meant by Cooperative Humanism. Bear in mind that humanism itself underpins all moral/ethical rules. We have been practicing humanism for millions of years without actually identifying with it.
Humanism as we know basically, in broad terms, refers to the doctrine that people’s duty is to promote human welfare. But this definition pushes us towards individualistic humanism, because others may argue that if one promotes his/her own welfare it may amount to humanism since he or indeed she is also human. That is pointless. I don’t even side completely with the humanist organisations of today who seem to make the individual the center of the universe; also having their motto as: “Good Without God.”
Our kind of humanism says: “Good is God.” Cooperative Humanism therefore is a concept derived from “conscientious notions.” By this we mean that everyone must be treated as an end and not a means to an end as we already have in this fallen world. Practically, people from all faiths are welcomed to subscribe to the concept. Neither faith nor Atheism nor any form of irreligion is an obstruction to becoming a Cooperative Humanist (CH).
Cooperative Humanism therefore means that every one of us must be rule by our individual consciences (sense of right and wrong) thus leading to the treatment of fellow humans as an end and not a means. This will help us create a kind of communalistic society where everyone lives according to his or her own desires in so far as it promotes, ultimately, the betterment of the larger community (for a desire to be obstructed is a dangerous thing). This is ethical concept is our formula for happiness and by this I hope I have defined Cooperative Humanism. Of course it is by no means comprehensive but at least I believe the reader has gotten the basic idea. Cooperative Humanists abhor greed, loftiness and egoism.
Five Principles of Cooperative Humanism.
- All actions and or reactions must necessarily spring from love.
- Everyone must be treated as an end and not a means.
- Happiness is a social state and therefore can only be achieved through suitable cooperation.
- Do unto any group what you would expect the group to do unto you.
- Unity in diversity but where cooperation is not possible, part peacefully.
N: We shall continue later. Criticisms and contributions are welcome.