Complete optimism is naivity and every fraudster requires that his victims be optimistic. In my country today, there is religious ecstacy and people are so optimisic that they deny the existence of many problems. Still, denial is not resolution. Nature doesn’t care who believes what. Some even say problems should be seen as opportunities. Right! So if the IRS or the army is dysfunctional does that mean people can start their own armies or tax agencies? And if we all try to solve problems for profit, wouldn’t the common good be in limbo? Maturity always comprise some element of realism which is often mistaken for pessimism. Truth is, optimism indeed can lead to the biggest opportunities or blunders. So lets not only emphasize the former as faith mongers always do. Half truths are lies and lying is immoral.
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.
Are you living your own reality or you are living those of your parents or friends? I’m saying this because it seemed 90% of everything I learnt right up to the age of 20 was not observable fact. Some were facts but they did not speak to my own reality – much like “the ugly duckling” story. I have realised that society offered me only half truths. I’ve had to find the other half myself and I consider myself lucky because I recognise the need. The average person moves on without the reconstruction process.
Parents and friends may do their best but they can only teach what they know at any given time. If you’re interested in “truth” then your journey is even longer and harder because most don’t even bother about what “truth” is. They just go through life and do all the things regular people do and then suddenly the end is nigh.
Would you much rather live your entire life based on your parent’s or other people’s experiences or you prefer to try something new and learn from your own experience. Remember, once you accept other people’s perception of life, you also inherit all the weaknesses therein. So my question again is: “These realities which terrify you, are they yours or they were inherited/adopted?” If they’re not yours then crack that shell, step out and do what you’ve always wanted to do.
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.
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.
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.
What do people mean by positivity? Offering half truths? And hoping for the best outcomes. There is an objective reality that is much different and independent of thoughts and feelings. Different cultures have different truths but one cannot live in all cultures at the same time. One lives in only one society at a time and therefore the universally acceptable morality within such a society applies. What one feels is one’s truth but only as regards “the self” not the external world of matter.
I have encountered many people present nefarious ideas as “truth” simply in the name of “positivity”. Whoever teaches that the universe conforms to our thoughts and feelings must test his or her assertions by writing a job application, put it under his or her pillow and simply wish for a job. It’s an experiment. Or wish to travel from one location to another and then suddenly, since the universe conforms to our wishes, one’s destination is brought to one’s doorstep, thus saving one from the arduous journey. It’s another experiment. I’m sure the proponents of “positivity” or selective truths will oppose such logical applications of their own philosophy. So what then do they mean by “positivity?” Must we dilute or sugarcoat the truth? Is that not immoral? Could the scribes not have simply said that Stephen died after being stoned? Why did they write that he fell asleep. Sleep is completely different from death.
I’m a realist and I believe that in order to be sure of what’s happening in every single aspect of our lives we ought to perceive our social world with as much realism as possible. Our consciousness has to be as clear as a flowing stream. It’s the only way to perceive the whole truth to the bottom and there is some comfort and inspiration in finding the whole truth – both positive and negative.
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.