Religious Propositions At Variance With Reason: The Nigerian Experience Of The undoing Of Religion?
By Justine John DYIKUK
Karl Max has criticized religion as, “the opium of the masses.” The Maxis proposition alongside other anti-faith believes have left debates and counter debates on the supreme being, God and the expectant worship due him by humans. Form the etymological and historical points of view, religion being old as humanity itself binds humans and the Supreme Being. It creates both vertical and horizontal bonds between adherents and the great being and among themselves.
Creeds are indispensable aspects of religion of whatever sort which create belief systems, ethics and rituals. Often, followers immerse themselves in doctrines and traditions in keeping with faith and time tested values. Religion, this God-given phenomenon, is expected to herald core adherents who are true to a life of worship in principle and in practice.
A bottle-neck in the quest of the divine and worship that should accrue him is the multi-faceted nature of belief systems in the world. A crucial and more critical issue is religious propositions which not only offend reason but are contrary to the demands of natural law. Since the worship of God and the practice of faith is a matter of choice, it is often, “everyone one to himself, God for us all.” This piece seeks to rationally and reflectively bring out various religious propositions in the air in conflict with the demand
of right reason, the albatross of our country.
The first straw is twin fatalism and predestination. This is not a new phenomenon among world religions. Fatalism or predestination is an ideology that presents both physical and spiritual reality as pre-arranged by God. It asserts that everything we do or say has been designed by God. If one employs right reason, the question the fatalist may not be able to answer is the place of human freedom and free will as well as the problem of evil in a world created by a good God. Why do we have laws for instance if God has arranged that human beings will commit evil? If I drink and drive and I am involved in an accidently in which I knock someone to death will I be culpable?
An implication in the above understanding is, those for hell fire have been earmarked; same for candidates for heaven. It then means that there is no need of making any effort to reform or change since one has a designated place designed for him from time immemorial. Again, where will we place free-will in the everyday life of human beings?
In this line of argument, is the believe that God has not only created some people poor and others rich but that he has designed society in that manner. It is expected that ‘poor Lazarus’ should forever remain mute, even in the face of injustices and look up to ‘the Rich Man’ for scraps – as an addition to this teaching, is the conception that this is God’s way of saving both the anawim and the bourgeois. Reason may ask; is God so unjust to create this uneven and cruel rich – poor dichotomy!
Closely related to the above is a mentality of allowing something evil which I can avert to happen to somebody so I can empathize with him and receive reward. Supposing I see my neighbor’s child falling into a well, I could just turn a blind eye and offer some sympathetic words after the kid must have drowned; that way, God will bless me. A pertinent question is whether all religions seek the supreme good or not? And if in the affirmative, are kind words better than a kind deed?
A more sensitive one is a religion that stands for God creating an abattoir ready for slaughter. At the slightest provocation, hands are up in arms. To whatever length, blood would flow. In this case, sacredness of life na your palaver. Perhaps, this God has no hands, ears, eyes or even legs and so he totally depends on human beings to sentence and acquit, chase and kill. A clear case of anthropomorphism you would say!
On the place of women, many malevolent theories abound. Aside from denying them a place in the scheme of things, they are meant to be seen not heard. Never daring to talk or raise an eye brew – always taking the last place – denied education and the choice of a career; seen as weak and lily-livered. It is as though it is the male-folk that determines their happiness, gives meaning to their lives and even ascertain their life-hereafter.
These are by no means an attempt at demeaning religion but a stitch in time meant to save nine. It is a wake-up call to all and sundry to make haste while the sun shines. The malevolence of the Nigerian society; bribery and corruption, subsidy saga, insecurity, anti-life activities, promiscuity, unpatriotic acts, take place; no thanks to religious propositions which stand in the way of right judgment. This is a crusade towards revamping sacred doctrines militating against the good of all and divine law.
Who is saddled with this daunting yet noble task? Your sentiments like mine go to the architects of each ‘artifact’ of worship and the numerous informed people of goodwill in our country. Uncooked religious leadership is an incubator of vice, violence and misinformed bullets of ‘knowledge.’ Our weighing scale for all propositions, I insist, consists of, truism, objectivity, sincerity, the common good and life-related maxims. May God help each and every Nigerian to balance his or her PIETY with PATRIOTISM and not PATRONISE PROPOSITIONS that PUT us in trouble. God bless Nigeria!
Fr. Justine John DYIKUK, a Catholic Priest and Public Affairs Commentator.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com