Last night I had a religious moment. Mother Nature appeared in my dream and I had disturbing visions of the Pantheist Apocalypse, also called the “Great Rebirth”. According to my dream, there will be terrible darkness on the surface of the earth. The moon will not give of its light. The satellites in space will fall and be dashed to pieces. The cosmos will suddenly begin to shrink and “civilization” will be rolled back and all nuclear weapons will be submerged under the deep blue sea. Man will finally be defeated. The last of men will run back into the cave where he belongs and black ants will have dominion over him there. This event spells the defeat of man (not the devil) and the rebirth of nature. But the exact date of this event is unknown to everyone except nature.
Many theists believe their god is separate from the cosmos. As to whether he actively paticipates in the affairs of the cosmos it’s not clear. Deists claim he has abondoned the cosmos. Jehovah Witnesses (they visit me every sunday) claim in one article that the world in which we live is ruled by Lucifer but Jehovah remains the ruler of the universe which I find funny. A god separate from the cosmos as theists posit implies that:
(a) God is outside of the boundaries of our consciousness.
(b) God, or any maximally powerful being (separate from the universe -from our consciousness), is therefore unknowable. For the purposes of this blog lets assume creationism is a fact and god has a purpose for our lives.
(c) But what is the purpose of the life of animals? Couldn’t we eat herbs, fruits and nuts as herbivores do and do away with slaughter and predation? A cow eats grass throughout its entire existence but grows and reproduces just fine and there are creatures in the sea that no one has ever set eyes on before. Animals could not exist solely for our benefit.
Many people claim to know or have experienced god. Some even claim he once rode a donkey on the streets of Jerusalem. Would you be surprised if I told you my African ancestors used to bump into gods in the woods cooking yams? You would say the ancestors were crazy.
Us pantheists, have answers to all this questions. God could not:
(a) Be separate from the cosmos. Every aspect of nature represents god. Therefore god is synonymous with the cosmos. We can liken it a mosaic picture. The whole picture is God not just a single dot or particle that make up the picture. God therefore has dynamic nature or modalities.
(b) Since god is the cosmos, he is knowable but only through natural agents or events in the cosmos which may be “good” or “evil” to mankind. God is unfeeling and uninterested in our domestic affairs and moves the cosmos in the direction he alone wishes.
(c) The social world (from which many derive their anthropomorphic gods) is nothing but a construct. To truly know god we must have a stronger connection to the natural world – this is where the real value of knowledge lies. Once everybody recieves this valuable knowledge concerning an understanding of the natural world, all humanlike “feeling” gods will cease to exist.
(d) Concerning happiness, we can obtain ultimate fulfilment and happiness by living in harmony with both our nature and the natural world. Our moralities must harmonize with our higher nature not conflict them. We must not depend on others for our happiness but we must also not live in such a way that our activities bring sorrow to others. Last but not least, since reason or logic is primarily an instrument of the individual self, it must be guided by intuition (collective self) in order to arrive at an accurate knowledge of the universal god.
O Mother Nature,
We extol your name.
Us, “the earthborn”
Give you thanks and praise.
You have fed, healed and
Protected us (those who obey you)
From evil every day and all day.
You’re indeed the greatest O Mother!
Men have invented time for themselves.
Yet you do things in accordance
With your own seasons.
You send down rain and make the
Trees grow and bear fruits for
All living things to consume
(Even though they mistreat you)
You’re indeed the greatest.
Thank you Mother Nature.
Has religion contributed anything useful to civilization, asks Bertrand Russell? His own summative conclusion was that religion is a disease born out of fear and which has caused untold misery to the human race. The scars of religion still remain today in the human soul in such forms as the demonization of diseases such as epilepsy, leprosy, high fever and even the demonization of the harmless expression of sexual desire which is innate to all of us. In my late teenage years, I read the entire bible twice. Ofcourse I didn’t understand everything. I was also in the church for more than 15 years then I saw the brighter light, I realised organised religion advocates slave morality which ultimately enriches the master.
However, religion continuous to appeal to the masses because it is effective in neutralising pain. Christianity is the most effective pain killer and by so doing it slows the individual’s spiritual growth. The most unaccomplished people in the world are found among the most religious communities. It is however not clear whether their state of life is caused by religion or they are religious because of their state of life.
Here in Ghana, there are so many religious cults calling themselves Christians. The vast majority have not read the bible themselves. They wait eagerly each sunday to hear “divinely inspired words” from their esteemed interpreters. I’m yet to meet a zealot Christian in my own country who has a higher aspiration other than meeting his or her daily need of food and wine. In the typical christian, there is always something of the want of desire for higher aspirations. This religion extols mediocrity, condemns the application of the intellect to solving problems and recommends the most aimless and mentally soft to leadership positions in our society. They call it ‘servant leadership’ forgetting that there are two main prerequisites of leadership: self defence and self sustenance. In addition, by promoting a dualism of character (lion and lamb) it succeeds in making the zealous believer a most heartless double-crosser and a hypocrite. These are, I think, the attributes that stand out in the modern christians that I have met.
Finally, christianity is like theological marxism in the sense that it aims at or at least predicts a glorious future through the usurpation of the master by the servant thereby creating a blissful classless society where sorrow will be no more. This was the same hubristic delusion they preached in the middle ages. Sorrow (and joy) has always been part of human life. While some change in human society is possible, it is however highly improbable. One must understand that in human societies throughout history, social structures exist that are never compromised except through revolutions. The strong and influential will continue to dominate the weak.
I must however add a caveat to this rather lengthy critique of religion. It is far from my aim to dissuade people from worshipping whatever god they want to. I don’t gain anything from criticising religious beliefs. But I also aim at provoking thought. I believe everyone is free to follow his or her convictions as long as they allow others to follow their own. There are different types of “faith” and though I believe I’m a very conscientious person, very much spiritually in tune with my being I don’t think god is a mechanic. Because I often hear the typical christian pray: “O god help me!” whenever their car breaks down on the road.
Nature is supreme. Nature is no respecter of persons. Nature is true and same everwhere. Nature is god.
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.
Whenever arguments are advanced concerning the study of nature (as in human nature and the natural world which is the main subject matter of poetry) they always include Freewill. The idealists define freewill as the power of making free choices unconstranied by external agencies. But these external agencies have far reaching influence on human life and actions. They say we have the freewill to do this or the freewill to do that which I find delusional. Because all our actions are reactions to the environment.
We can’t control planetary orbits nor alter their laws. We cannot control the climate and the seasons that come with it. We are locked in our genes which informs our instincts, emotions, behaviour, culture etc. Even concerning the natural world, in circumstances where people were informed of disasters such as rains, storms, tsunamis, disease epidemics etc. still we are at the mercy of such external agencies which strike unexpectedly. We are simply walking egos.
Unless the Freewill which they speak of almost in ecstatic way have limitations which I suspect to be related to human societies? If Freewill has limitations then our life is to a great extent determined in advance. For instance, one has no freewill to choose which gases to inhale. All animals must inhale oxygen in order to live. If we continue to carelessly cut down trees and destroy virgin forests and consequently become short of oxygen, we can only wait to die. Where is freewill in this?
The indegenous non-westernised African cares not much for the significance of celestial bodies. It’s clear from where the sun rises every morning and where it sets. It’s clear whether it’s a full moon or it’s half or a crescent. But he makes no clear connection between these objects and an evolving universe. There was never a sun god or a moon god in any African tribal theological constructs. Instead, concerntration was on immediate surroundings – the trees, the rivers, the sea, the animals and rocks etc. In fact they believed in something which could be immedietely experienced such as peace, love, success, fertility, health and they had gods of such attributes. We could say that everything in African world at the time was a social construct. Objectivity was still subject to interpretations.
Mythologies, fables and fairy tales involving animal characters informs us that our ancestors sensed a connection between humans and animals long before genetics descovered that. Their actions guided by animalistic totems implied that they viewed the animal society as an extension of the human society. All organisms are possessed by a life force called ‘spirit’. Spirits could take possesion of anything they desired. Even today the typical indegenous African considers certain animals as an embodiment of spirits or higher ancestral beings. A bird standing at the window could be an anamorphous spirit agent visiting the family and carrying a message. Ofcourse this notion is completely fallacious to the scientific mind but there are interesting observations similar to those supplied by the theory of evolution. This concerns the metamorphosis of organisms. Whereas Darwin’s theory claims that phylogenesis is gradual and takes millions of years, our ancestors believed such transformations are instantaneous. But bottom line is transformations do occur.
These ideas extend even to what we call the world of ancestors, the netherworld or hades or the grave which we all dread. To the African the world of the dead is not far. It’s like a basement or an area below the deck of the ship of existence which one could shuffle anytime in a spiritual sense. Therefore our dead ancestors are not believed to be really dead, they have just changed form from physical to spiritual. The spiritual forms the substructure for the physical. The interesting thing is that these ancestors do not wait to rise in the future and save the living. Instead, they rise everyday, they metamorphose into other creatures everyday, they aid and guide the living everyday. A cat, a bird or a lizard or even a beetle etc. are not just animals one could disregard and exterminate. They are all metamorphous agents having a connection to humans. As someone who likes nature I find this concept more inspiring.
Life is planned in thoughts
But experienced with emotions.
Reminiscence occurs but not
Last night I dreamt about the sea.
Its waves so strong, it roared like a mob.
The sea overstepped its shores
And landed on a rocky Island.
I saw a lot of people including kids.
They were having fun in the water.
It looked like a vacation or something.
But some people also seemed like workers.
The water entered a glass building nearby
But nobody seemed alarmed, least of all me.
The strong waves was rather fun to watch.
I was fully dressed but when I looked down
I saw that my feet were buried in blue foamy water.
It felt very cold, then everything receded and
Lo, I’m awake.