The commonest statement I have heard since infancy is: “The Jew loves you that’s why he died to save you.” I asked them: “When did he die?” They answered: “Two thousand years ago.” Ah! but I didn’t exist then and what am I saved from anyway? What are they talking about? Dear readers, I do believe in love but I have a question. Can someone die (out of love) to save you at a time you didn’t exist?
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.
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?
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.
And when death knocks on their door
Then do they run to the poet whom they despiseth
And say, trembling: “Poet, we have a visitor!
Death knocketh on our doors with his handcuffs
And as yet have we not enjoyed life enough,
Will thou allow him to drag our souls away?
Will thou allow him to drag us into the underworld?”
Then will poet sit on a rock and speak thus:
“I cometh and speaketh to you about death everyday.
How it sneaketh in the night and enters thy room
And draggeth thee to the underworld.
But thou despiseth me and mocketh me.
Thou did not listen. Neither did thou say, yes!
Poet, we have heard thy sermon and we shall put our
Modest houses in order before death comes.” None
Paid any attention and now must the poet fight death
For thee? Poet is mortal too. Poet wrestleth death but
He winneth not. For this reason does poet admonish
Thee to prepare thyselves for death’s unannounced visit.
For death’s entrance and life’s exit are but same door.
Suppose that the world was primarily composed of hammers and anvils, and everywhere some malleable metal is being hammered on an anvil. Though it is often considered virtuous, humane and even acceptable by the common era to be an anvil and suck in a little pain, I think it is still advantageous to be the hammer. A metal being hammered on an anvil could never ever regain its original shape, even after many years of reparation, neither could the anvil. The blacksmith who designed them both cannot be said to be an empathic, a just and a considerate one.
This short metaphorical exposition explains the effects of hierarchy in every complex social system where one man’s authority overrides another to his injury. Though everyone seems to sympathize with the vast majority oppressed people, everyone desires to be at the very top of the hierarchy. I think this is one primary aim of evolution whether it’s social or organic – a struggle to reach the very top.
Religion partakes in this process but adopts clandestine tactics trying to push it’s adherents to the very top of the hierarchy, in others words they too desire to be the hammer and not the anvil, though most deny the reality of evolution. The true goal of all religions is hegemony.
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?
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.
It is a fact that different societies have different morals and value systems. This argument is further advanced by most amoralists and serves as a basis for a rejection of universal moral values. But even when we look at the great diversity in human nature, societies and their values and norms, it is by all means that whatever one does, one will be repaid in full. This is what justifies vengeance even if it is done in the name of one god or another god. The desire for justice is innate in every human. Morality itself is not based on reason, it has its basis in instinct. So a rational discussion on morality is futile – one would just be moving in circles. However, one thing that runs through all moral laws irrespective of geographic location, social group, race or nation is that there is reciprocity. There is something akin to a reward or payback (though sometimes difficult to perceive) based on an act that was perpetuated or neglected thereof. This reciprocity is not peculiar to only relationships within social groups, it is the fabric of all individual human interactions. Others call it karma. The problem however is that sometimes this reciprocal relationships are also subject to subjective interpretations and people with similar perspectives randomly self organize and create a morality of their own. They may even seek to punish someone who may have done something right for the majority. In a society as dysfunctional as mine, based on random self organization, criminals or the most unscrupulous are sometimes selected as the decision makers and adjudicators. When it happens that way the righteous is punished and everyone turns evil. There is reciprocity in there. Society has to be better than individuals so it is very important that people aspiring to leadership positions have high ethical principles and are people of highest moral standards. This ensures that the right values are emulated and promoted in the system. Sadly, as the reader may be aware this is often not so. We elect leaders based on their wealth and connections, then we turn around and complain when they attack us.