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THE UNIVERSE OWES US NOTHING EXCEPT FOR THE GIFT OF LIFE AND LUCK

Sicebise Msengana

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The Universe owes us nothing except for the gift of life and luck

Copyright © 2017 by Sicebise Msengana

Smashwords Edition

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Dedication

I would like to take this opportunity to dedicate this work to my younger sister, Lutho Msengana. She is the one who keeps me going and motivates me to keep looking at the bigger picture. Because of the support, I received from my friends and family I was able to finish this task.

I cannot forget about my late friend, Loyisile Jonas. He went too soon. He played a key role in motivating me.



Acknowledgements

During the writing of The Universe owes us nothing except for the gift of life and luck, it has been my good fortune to have consult people, who expertise exceeds my own in certain areas.



Contents

Preface

Chapter One: Life is filled with injustices

Chapter Two: We are blessed

Chapter Three: Pain is not your enemy

Chapter Four: Seeing the bigger picture

Chapter Five: Happiness is a choice

Chapter Six: Never give up no matter what

Chapter Seven: Living life with a purpose

Chapter Eight: Finding your way

Chapter Nine: Taking control

Chapter Ten: Things happen for a reason

Chapter Eleven: Be a prisoner of hope

Chapter Twelve: You are not alone

Chapter Thirteen: Things are going to be all right

Further Reading

References



Preface

Who continues to break the trust? Who continues to invade African countries to loot, kill and destroy? Yet, Africans are encouraged to wait patiently and practice nonviolent philosophies against a group of vicious colonial vampires who are hell bent on the death and destruction of African people.

I believe in honesty, justice and liberty for all. However, when Europeans and Asians create problems for Africans, for example, bombing African countries for diamonds or acquire arable land through thuggish ways, Africans are under no obligation to remain peaceful and march about their problems. Africans should instead send the war back to the America, Europe and Asia. As Mao explained, “War is the highest form of struggle for resolving contradictions.” Colonial powers are neither peaceful nor passive. If they want to invade people’s countries, they will not wait for an excuse, they will make one. Think about the invasion of Iraq by the Bush administration: the invasion of Iraq went ahead and thousands of innocent people slaughtered under questionable circumstances.

When subjugated under colonial victimisation and social degradation, no oppressed people have to justify their pain and misery or “speak truth to power.” I support civil unrest and popular rebellion against oppression. Nobody should tell Africans and other oppressed people around the world to suffer peacefully unless someone tells the oppressors to practice nonviolent philosophies. We do not live in a make believe Utopian world. We should speak out against injustices whenever possible and actually do something to improve the lives of people. I hope this book is for the audience that deeply cares about social justice.

We live in tragic world. All world religions have tried to define reality. That is why religious systems sought to connect the pieces of the puzzle and see the bigger picture. Nevertheless, sometimes the answers are not enough because we live in a changing, complex world, marred by pain and suffering, an unchanging fact. The human experience is a story of great ingenuity and great catastrophe. Since time immemorial it was a daily struggle to live, monstrous beasts that roamed the prehistoric world and harsh natural elements made existence strikingly hell on earth. Great empires fell due to disastrous weather patterns, epidemics swept entire tribes from existence. Further, out of our lust for power and wealth, we came up with rigid, inhumane systems designed to indoctrinate, enslave, exploit and exterminate our fellow humans we saw as threats. Warfare as a whole has wiped out millions, or perhaps billions of people throughout history. Massacres dedicated to eliminate the “inferior people” were carried out until completion; entire groups of people were subjected to some of the most horrifying genocides. Today, a few enjoy luxury and comfort in first world countries, while millions are still lacking basic services. It begs the difficult question: why do bad things happen? When such things happen, it hits the people who have nothing to deserve them, while those that deserve what should come to them live in peace and health. For instance, look at the victims of the Holocaust; some were innocent babies and children. However, what is shocking is the fact that some of the Nazis perpetrators went on to die in old age. Some of the answers that best suit the ancient world are no longer valid today. We must let go of superstition, old beliefs and misconceptions.

Surprisingly, faith in religious beliefs can be a truly amazing source of comfort and assurance in tough times. I believe that if a person’s faith helps them through difficult times in a healthy manner, we should respect that religion. I have written this book especially for someone who is searching for the Truth and wants to grow. In following pages, I do not claim omniscience but I am sharing what I have learnt throughout life. Everyone in the world has a story to tell, some of the stories people are examples of how the good overcame the evil—the ideals of moral society and human rights being realized men and women of courage. Stories that inspired us to be the good we want in the world and demonstrated how much benevolent we possess to the stories of shameless individuals to went to show how dark the human heart.

This book carries a message of hope to those beaten by odds stuck against them. To those who feel like throwing the towel. I hope it will lift your spirits because I want to see a better you.

Chapter One: Life is filled with injustices

“Don’t try to make life a mathematics problem with you in the centre and everything coming out equal. When you are good, bad things still happen. And if you’re bad, you can still be lucky.”˗ Barbara Kingsolver

Even though, I was still young certain questions kept surfacing. Most South Africans were poverty-stricken, right from our diet down to our clothing preferences. It is not because of inherent preferences for these things, but because the people could not afford anything better.

One of the happiest things about being a Xhosa boy was a carefree environment and as boys, mainly left to our own inventions and ourselves. We played with toys we made ourselves. We carved and moulded animals out of clay and wood. Nature was a playground. Usually the boys played among themselves, but sometimes we played with girls. Hide and seek was a favourite, playing houses, and a game of telephone using empty food tins and strings.

Like all children, I acquired knowledge mainly through observation. We all learned through imitation and emulation. It was through watching adults that we learned some valuable skills in life.

Religion occupies a great deal of the lives of Africans and humanity in general—be it African Traditional Religion, Christianity, Roman Catholicism, or other religious affiliations. My life and that of most Africans was shaped by custom, ritual and taboo. That is when I became interested in knowing the cause of everything. It was also at that time I asked myself the toughest questions about life. Too often I kept wondering, “How the world was created.” The second question was “who?”

My family, teachers and people around me believed that an invisible being created a vast universe and everything in it. This all-powerful being also had feelings, desires and a personality. I wanted to know more about this deity but the answer I always got was “Have faith in Him or that weak faith will get you tortured in the hottest place in hell.” So worshipping God was an obligation. However, the questions kept haunting me day in and day out. I went to church to please both God and my parents, as any obedient child would do.

Just as any person of faith, questioning God’s actions was a serious issue and the Bible had stern warnings against it. God has the right to do anything He wants as the following verse stated Jeremiah 18 ERV

The Potter and the Clay

‘3So I went down to the potter’s house and saw him working with clay at the wheel. 4 He was making a pot from clay. However, there was something wrong with the pot. Therefore, the potter used that clay to make another pot. With his hands, he shaped the pot the way he wanted it to be.

5 Then this message from the Lord came to me: 6 “Family of Israel, you know that I can do the same thing with you. You are like the clay in the potter’s hands, and I am the potter.” This message is from the Lord.’

I rest assured that all injustices will be made right someday. It kept me going. In2000, I went to a Catholic school, ST. Joseph Junior Secondary School, in Norwood, Mthatha. I was doing grade 3. I erroneously assumed that I was with other students. However, I was painfully mistaken. No one cared or knew me. This was an important lesson. It forced me to stand up for myself (I was extremely shy). I realised that I had to make my way up on the basis of my abilities; most of my classmates could outdo me at sports, were smarter in the classroom, and I had a lot of catching up to do. However, it was the lack of self-confidence that kept me from playing sports and try my best in the schoolwork. I did not come from a well-to-do background. I did not have a rich or famous family. At school, I was always amazed when I saw coolest toys, cell phones, dream holidays and designer clothing other kids got.

Some kids wanted a cool gadget and they got it in a day or two. Things came easily to them; I had to swallow the chill pill and relax. I was angry and sad at the same time. All of my life, I have lived from hand to mouth. I was always concerned about how I was going to have necessities, but it has always worked out well. I have to laugh at my suffering, because I knew that something bigger awaits me in the future.

It felt like the universe had failed me miserably—that was my worst nightmares come true. Growing in a harsh environment and losing my uncle may not be the worst thing ever, but it does remind one that there is no such thing as “fair” in this world. Throughout history, there have been terrible injustices. Many of us will do just about anything to avoid serious issues in our lives or just pretend that they do not exist at all. It is easier to pretend that everything is okay. We all know that Prince Charming is destined to marry the beautiful princess and they live happily ever after...but in real life, there is no “happily ever after.”

A while back, I witnessed a terrible car accident close to my home. Four people were injured and one died. One of the survivors wailed at the sky: “What have we done to deserve this? Why did God allow this thing? Why?”

I was asking myself the same questions the survivors were asking themselves.

Through the unfairness of life, we experience times of loss, pain, sadness and confusion. Sometimes bad things happen to us through no fault of our own. Sometimes we mess up, but we want someone and something to blame. As we grow older, we discover that life is not always fair. We learn that people do not share equally; we also learn that world has little love in it and so much hate. Perhaps our hearts are torn into pieces when someone we loved walked out on us. Perhaps we lost a loved one or were diagnosed with a terminal illness, or injured in a car accident that left oneself paralyzed. Perhaps we were a victim of crime. Someone deliberately harmed our loved ones or us.

From these and many other disappointments, we may come to certain conclusions about life. Bouncing from one crisis to the next, we may be tempted to believe that there is no meaning or things happen by randomness.

Throughout history, people from different cultural backgrounds have given several explanations to the unfairness of life. However, there is no solid answer we can be surely known. All of these explanations are an attempt to answer the questions humanity has pondered over the centuries whether you believe in God or not, fit into one of these categories:

a) On August 4, 2013, I had minor chest pains and went to hospital to get some prescriptions from the doctor. While we were waiting for help, I took note of a young girl. She was sixteen years old. Her condition appeared as if she had minor symptoms. However, an hour later she was in a critical condition unable to breath, the medical staff put her on life support. Unfortunately, she never made it. It was painful to watch a young girl full of life and dreams just perish like that.

I will never forget the look on her face as she passed on. The monotheistic religions namely, Christianity, Islam and Judaism offer explanations or as responses. These faiths teach that God created a perfect world until Man took that fateful bite. Out of our freewill, we chose to disobey him. Since God’s creation was marred by sin and imperfection. People of faith want us to believe that one of the reasons God allows evil and suffering is simply because we are sinners under God’s eyes. In other words, we suffer because we deserve to. The original sin of Adam separated us from God and justified any punishment from God. It does not matter whether you are a righteous saint or a bloodthirsty warmonger, God in his perfectly holy nature cannot stand anything that is unholy.

A sinner has no rights nor is he equal with God. Therefore, under no circumstances should we go crazy when we are suffering. To a person of faith, bad things happen are simply because we are sinful creatures. People should realize that they deserve to suffer and if they are not suffering, they should praise and treat God with honour. Some religions go to the extremes to say, God is up there tapping his foot, waiting for us to make a mistake so that he can punish us. If God gave us, justice it would mean sending all of his creations to hell. However, in his infinite mercy he sent great moral teachers like Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad to bring us close to him. It forms part of the doctrines taught by many religions around the world.

Nevertheless, it is very uncomforting to many people. First, suffering is not equally distributed. In history, there are many examples of how the good suffered while the evil flourished (Joseph Stalin died in peace and old age after years stained by blood and evil). Even newborn babies and little children who are under the “age of accountability,” suffer as well. In 2001, there was a gruesome rape of five month old by two men, which shocked the nation. South Africa was disgusted and horrified beyond doubt. What has the baby girl done to deserve such evil? Is it right for a child to suffer like this? What sin could she have possibly committed to deserve such horrific punishment?

Even in the Bible and Quran there are perfect examples where God commanded extermination of entire towns or of a tribe because of the sins of few individuals. The story of Pharaoh in the Bible is such. The whole of Egypt suffered because of sinful actions of Pharaoh (see Exodus 7:14-24; 7:25-8:15; 11:1-12:36).The Quran also has verses suggesting such measures: Quran (17:16) - “And when we wish to destroy a town, we send our commandment to the people of it who lead easy lives, but they transgress therein: thus the words prove true against it, so We destroy it with utter destruction.” [2]

Ancient religious texts suggest that God created perfect human beings from the beginning. Genesis 1:31 “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good. And the evening and morning were the sixth day.”[3]

How does perfection begat imperfect? Where does this sinful nature come from? Did God rework everything from perfection to imperfect by cursing the whole universe? We wind up back where we started, why did God punish all of his creation because of the actions of two people? The Christian ideology teaches of It means Adam was the federal head of the human race. When he sinned, we sinned in him. Nevertheless, we not present at the time and I do not think that the rest of us gave him any permission to act on our behalf. The doctrine of imputed sin is similar to an analogue of a father who takes his car and goes on a drinking binge. At the party, his friends tell him to sleep over but he insists that he is not drunk. After seeing that he is adamant they let him go. As he is heading back home he does not see incoming traffic and drives straight into it; killing a young mother and her new born baby.

The father is converted and sentenced to twenty years in jail. Nevertheless, the presiding officer (the judge) also insists that the son who was out of town going about his business must come forward and serves the same sentence. How just is that? The innocent must suffer because of the sins of the guilty, is that what you call divine justice?

Religious groups argue that God could be testing us to see how much we love him or how loyal we are to him. Again, it fails because an omniscient God should know of what lies in our hearts. Being omniscient means that, he knows everything. In other words, he has nothing new to learn and improve on. Inflicting great pain on his creation like the way it manifests itself in the world would be unnecessary.

Another argument offered is the promise of an “afterlife” which synonymous with heaven. Religious folks argue that the eternal rewards of heaven will compensate for all the injustices on earth. The “saved” will be rewarded for their righteous acts and the “damned will be punished for their wickedness. I too like this idea of eternal bliss. A place where there is no suffering: no tears and no pain. Everyone is smiling and the sun is always sunshine. The birds are singing. However, the promise of infinite happiness does not justify the harsh reality of present suffering; a morally good God would at least provide an immediate solution to current problems of the people.

For thousands of years humanity has been ravaged by disease, wars, famine and drought. From the origins of humanity, it was a struggle to survive and millions perished. Extremely evil men like Nero, Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Talat Pasha, Kim II Sung, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Tomas Torquemada, Leopold II of Belgium and Pol Pot established evil regimes that were responsible for some of worst crimes ever perpetuated in human history. Even if the sweet promise of heaven makes up for everything, it does not justify anything.

Fallen heroes like Martin Luther King, Chris Hani, Steve Biko, Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere, Malcolm X, Khalid Muhammad, Amilcar Cabral, Che, Fidel Castro and many others, including living legends like Thabo Mbeki, Dai Lama and Desmond Tutu were moved into action by the plight of their people. Their lives are powerful examples of how compassion put into practical use at the time people needed it.

They matched their intentions with their actions. They understood that their people are suffering right now and needed a solution to their problems. They would not be great if they waited for the perfect time to “practice what they preached.” Just imagine if Chris Hani and Oliver Tambo took the easy way out by turning a blind eye but promised to fight injustices in apartheid South Africa in the future. We would question their motives behind their actions. It still does not solve the problem of pain and suffering in the world because for the people involved—it is not enough. It goes beyond than simplified explanations. Moreover, for most people this answer is not satisfactory. In fact, it brings more questions than answers: why does God allow bad things in the first place? Since he is omnipotent (all-powerful), why does He not prevent them?

There is also an argument that religious people like to use: If things go the believer’s way, it is a sign of “God’s will” or “Divine intervention.” If they go wrong, God works in unknown ways that we cannot comprehend. Further, God has an unknown plan to us. It is not up to us to question his will. However, the question come backs to haunt someone who has lost child due miscarriage or went through a tough time. Let us go back to that story of a young girl who dies right before my eyes: her death made no sense. She was young, beautiful, and supposedly ambitious. She died before time. It begs the question: why are we are not given a clear and distinct guarantee from God that He has benevolent reasons for allowing bad things to happen, which we could understand?

I once heard a religious person say, “God allows the things he hates in our lives because he wants to achieve something good out of it.” I am a believer in that truth. To certain extent bad things, happen for a greater good. I do not recall any highly successful person that had everything served to him on a silver platter. It still raises serious questions about the nature of God. If God is omnipotence (all-powerful) and omniscient (all-knowing), why doesn’t he find creative ways to prevent pain and suffering without losing greater good and lessening the evil or eliminating it entirely?

If God allows bad things to happen because of our freewill, then he could have created a world where human beings could only do good things. He could have created a world where only evil people harmed themselves as the consequence of their actions. He could punish sin immediately. He could wipe off Adam, Eve, and the serpent as he destroyed the world with a global flood and started afresh. He could have simply forgave them and changed his mind as he changed his mind frequently on several occasions (See Numbers 14:14-45).He could have prevented Adam from eating the forbidden fruit. Why God did chose to remain passive and fail to respond?

If you have compassion and love in your heart, you should agree that no child deserves to suffer, let alone any human being should experience such evils. The extent of evil in this world has left us shaking our heads in sorrow and pity.

As slippery as it can go, all arguments offered in defend for why God allow injustices has little comfort for the suffering victim(s) and the people involved. One can argue that religious explanations for the existence of suffering are not strong arguments and they do not give you anything solid to hold on.

Let us put defences and theodicies aside. One wrong does not make two rights. The theist does not have an adequate explanation to the problem of human suffering and evil. We can try to ignore suffering by creating arguments that we blame people for their suffering or we can respond to the problems of the world immediately. All the theodicies in the world do not justify or undo the evil in the world. I believe people wanted to make sense of the natural world they inhabited created the defences. Ancient goat herders and desert nomads who found themselves at the mercy of a complex and vast universe, it was safe to assume that all things created by God served a greater purpose and that one day all the people who place their trust in neither world religions would go heaven and live happily ever after. Evildoers would be damned in hell for their evil acts, for eternity.

If there is a God who truly loves us and wants the best for us, why would he turn a blind eye from the real problems that people are facing? Why would he allow people to hurt each other? Why does he allow bad things to happen when he easily prevent bad things from happening? There are mindless, bloodthirsty, psychos who are readily intent on slaughtering their fellow human beings over their religious beliefs. Many people struggle daily with their faith—tormented with doubts and uncertainty. Many people experience the mental pain of trying to believe. When is God putting an end to this?

From the story of Adam and Eve as described in the Holy Bible, Quran and Torah says a lot about God’s nature: right after God had created the heavenly host, one-third of those angels rebelled and committed sin, which was unpardonable because of the light (knowledge of God). God had no choice but to expel them from his presence. Some theologians argued that God created human beings to replace the fallen inhabits of heaven. Therefore, he made a perfect world—sadly, the first couple he made rebelled against him and ate the forbidden fruit. He cursed not only the couple but also the rest of humanity, and every living thing across the universe for all time.

Everything that God had created was a failure, and needed a desperate plan to rescue creation and put things back into order once again. Abrahamic religions have professed to offer that solution. However, from the story alone raises very questions: God created a smart, evil and talking serpent and set it loose on humanity, but failed to warn Adam and Eve of the impending danger. How can this carelessness be reconciled with the fact that God deeply care for us and desires only the best for humanity?

If it never crossed God's mind for his will to be broken then why did he create an evil animal with a sole purpose to tempt them into sinning against God?

God had all the power in the universe to cleanse and redeem them but he chose to curse them to a life of pain and suffering. Not only did he make life unbearable for Adam and Eve, he also put a curse on all their descendants who were not even physically present at that time. Why did he do so?

God could have punished Adam and Eve straight away. Nevertheless, he made sure that the gates of Eden were wide open for their descendants. Instead, he exiled them together with their innocent descendants and how can one explain this? All I am trying to say is that the possibilities were endless. Things did not have to be this way. God could have brought about a far better outcome than this. The outcome would eliminate the need of unnecessary pain and suffering and Hell.

The problem with religion is that many questions go unanswered, unnecessary pain and suffering reign supreme and the almighty creator of the universe is silent on many issues. In the ancient past God performed awestruck miracles and many of his exploits were recorded for many later generations to remember. Nevertheless, today those miracles have been shrinking with the recent developments in science. Why is it that way?

In order for us to understand religion first, we need to have an idea of what religion is all about, what is religion? Loewenthal (1995) suggested that major religions have a number of features of belief in common:

• There exists a non-material (i.e. spiritual) reality;

• The purpose of life is to increase harmony in the world by doing good and avoiding evil;

• (In monotheistic religions) the source of existence (i.e. God) is also the source of moral directives.

• In addition, all religions involve and depend on social organization for communicating these ideas [4].

The sociologist Emile Durkheim, argued in his seminal book, , described religion as a [5]

To add on what social scientists have studied. Religion is a collective tool to grasp the supernatural phenomena, through human intelligence. Religious beliefs have common features that attempt to explain the origins of the universe and consciousness (i.e. life) and the purpose of that life. Therefore, religion is an organized collection of dogmatic beliefs, ritual activities and worldviews by which people within the religious community seek a relationship with a God, gods or the supernatural, and among themselves.

Why are people religious?

are a term I will use to define the common beliefs and systems found in religions, particularly the monotheistic religions.

Religion as a survival instinct

If God exists, then we need to discover his will in order to serve and appease him.

By nature, human beings are spiritual. Ironically, even those who profess disbelief or lack of belief are spiritual in one way or the other.

Thousands of years ago before well-organized settlements came into being. After observing the natural phenomena (i.e. natural world) and lacking the basic knowledge of it, early humans wanted something that was permanent and could explain everything. That would unite them and keep them from being scattered. That ensured that they spoke a single language and used the same words. Moreover, that thing was religion.

They put together what appeared to be God has “inspired” revelation to humanity. The ancient religious texts allegedly contained God’s will and his laws to give us a glimpse of the spiritual world and that it somehow relates to the physical world. They decided on the reward and punishment basis. For example, if you serve god A, she/he will wash your sins away. This god will lavish every conceivable blessing—be it material or spiritual. However, should you refuse to worship him. He will cast an unrepentant sinner in hell for rebellion against his divine laws. Thus, worshipping a wrong god or being born in the wrong religion makes a person hell bound, by default. This god placed human beings on earth to teach them about himself and the manifestation of his attributes—spiritual truths which never be learnt without us having to suffer for his sake. He promises great blessings to those that worship and please him, a place in heaven. Regrettably, sinners will suffer in hell for all eternity.

God B is your typical war-like deity. He is very tough-to-love. He is only interested in worship and punishing sinners. He takes infinite pleasure in inflicting pain and misery on his creation. He is very mean, fearsome and quite bloodthirsty. “Serve other gods other than me? Die!” “Question my sovereignty? Die!” This god has unnatural hatred for Africans, Jews, homosexuals and other minority groups (tough to love indeed!).

In historic times, humans once lived in total anarchy. To solve this someone had to invent religion to ensure a harmonious relation between people. Out of the several theories reviewed by Richard Sosis and Candace Alcorta who pointed out to the adaptive value of religion. Interestingly, such theories regard religion as a means of cooperation and cohesion with groups. Group membership (i.e. participation) provides benefits or advantages that enhance an individual’s chance for survival and reproduction [6]. One observational fact is by looking at the religious systems that support “social solidarity theories.” Religious groups endorse interpersonal relationships like marriage and teamwork among themselves, and even offer support to individuals. Moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt argues in his book,

Religion as a source of economic exploitation and racial discrimination

Whether it was God, who created us in his image or it were us who created him in our image. There is a possibility of a God. In fact, the widest thing a person could ever do is to consider the possibility of God. Nevertheless, it is our definitions of which God and what he expects from us are reprehensible. Many aspects of religion are synthetic. All the explanations offered such as his attributes, hell, heaven, and why he allows bad things to happen is a stretch of human imagination (sometimes a stretch of the truth). The God depicted by world religions is too human and the manner in which he handles human affairs as portrayed by religion is a negative representation of him (God deserves better than this). The status of women is worse than men in most are, if not all religious traditions and are the property of men. For example, the Quran in Sura (Chapter) 2:223 says:

Your women are your fields, so go into your fields whichever way you like . . . . (MAS Abdel Haleem, The Qur’an, Oxford UP, 2004).

God is like a bloodthirsty psychopath who has special hatred racial groups and in those sacred books, human beings learn to hate what God hates. Again, Christianity proves this fact true (See Deuteronomy 20: 13-20; Joshua 11: 20-23).

Consider the regions around the world where these scriptures interpreted literally—killings of innocent people, bigotry, homophobic attacks, mistreatment of women and children, science and intellectual progress is discouraged. Those religions are low on human rights legislation and high on human rights violations.

Most Africans are deeply religious. Even John H. Clarke remarked, [7]

However, religion is not godly as far as spirituality is concerned. Religion is a synthetic enterprise. For someone to make important life decisions based on ancient nomadic beliefs is very worrisome.

Someone may say, “There is one true religion.” We are told by fundamentalists, “Those white people who enslaved Africans and subjugated Africa to colonial slavery weren’t true Christians” or 9/11 Terrorists weren’t true Muslims.”

Islam has a long history of discriminatory attitudes towards Africans and it is evident in the comparison by Chinweizu in his essay, [8]

The problem with such statements is that they are all unfalsiable claims. There is no evidence to support these claims. What it really says faith cannot be lost. Those who are guilty of those heinous crimes against humanity are not part of our group and thus criticism of that action is not criticism of the group. It is impossible to refute that claim. Because we cannot measure faith and see who is real or faking it. However, it begs the question: for example, if the majority of Muslims cannot tell one who practices the fake or “real” Islam, then how can we distinguish between the two groups—fake or real Muslims? We rely on those who make the claim. Nevertheless, there is no such thing as “true” religion because no such period existed and will never happen.

It took religious mobs and institutions, as enshrined in their respective sacred books, to use religion as justification for their massive crimes against humanity and committed an endless array of atrocities. Indeed, those heinous crimes could not have been committed without the help of religion. Africans should be able to remove the mental slavery brought on by these synthetic religions that continue to hold us captive. Religion is a powerful psychological weapon in the hands of the oppressors. Conquered people had to believe that the very image of God was the image of a white man. This is the greatest miracle of Christianity—a northern European in Middle East! The religious myth of a blond blue-eyed saviour motivated by a political and economic agenda intended to colonise and enslave.

Then John H. Clarke later asks an important question: [9]

One cannot run away from the fact that the world applauds the dominant culture. The enslavers and oppressors consider anything that goes against their culture “barbaric” and “uncivilised.” Thus, it is tamed and domesticated. Brainwashing tools like religion that happened to coincide with their desires.

In essay, Corey Gilkes writes, [10]

For instance, Christianity stressed Christ-like virtues such as forgiveness and submissiveness (obeying your masters. See Ephesians 6:5). God had to be white to serve the white supremacist political agenda. Jesus is white because it serves the mental conditioning associated with whiteness, why is every image of Jesus, heaven, and its host all white? Where are the Africans, Indians and Chinese? Africans were purposely seen as “backward”—intellectually, biologically and culturally. Until a moral, philosophical and religious justification was reached.

Malcolm X exposed the hideous aspects about Christianity, when he wrote; [11]

Even if apologists were to claim that they “misinterpreted” the scriptures, it does no good for those who were victims. This is an invention by religious apologists. These people were sincere and dogmatic in their convictions, just as much as modern religious people are. Again, history has shown that those who “misinterpreted” religion have done it at great human cost. If that is the case, let us abolish destructive religions. Perhaps we can stop the misinterpretation of scriptures. If I might add, Africans are among the few people who put enslaving colonial religions before their own people and nation building institutions. We are the remaining few who lack the ambition about liberation, excellence, progress and development of institution building. African believers like to defend, promote or support enslaving colonial religious institutions. Billions of dollars are collected annually by African churches worldwide. However, not enough support actually goes out to correct the problems of those individuals who are loyal to these religions.

African believers meet every week to praise Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Jehovah, Yah or whatever god, but they cannot meet to discuss, plan and organise tools and techniques to empower African people and solve problems in the African community. Imagine the zeal and resources, which support churches and mosques annually, set aside for teaching our people the skills and knowledge needed for individual and collective African empowerment. Then create independent nation building institutions that encompass meaningful strategies and develop an empowered people and ascension of sovereign African nations. Religious institutions in most cases have done little to liberate African people, except for pimping and preaching , which stroke the egos of the masses. Most have engaged in cult(ish) ideologies or mind-altering, self-defeating superstitions such as the Hebrew Israelite doctrine.

Religion as a source of psychological support

The human race likes to engage in , a trait that enable us to treat God and other unexplained phenomenon as if these entities have minds, wishes, and motives. However, things become a bit difficult when it comes to knowing the will of God. People consult God through prayers, worship, reading and reciting sacred texts like Holy Bible, Quran, Vedas, Torah etc., or seek advice from pastors, rabbis, imams and shamans. We then follow what we see as God’s revelation only because we see those specific words sensible to us. In other words, we are inferring our thoughts and wishes based on what we think God would act at a given moment. Religion is a dogmatic belief system based on the argument. Whether the belief is real or imaginary it does not matter as long as it offers us comfort, security and meaning.

The era of consciousness forced human beings to deal with the problems of everyday life—life and death; failure and success; sex and love; scarcity of resources and other complex issues in the world. After realising this, our pre historic ancestors had to create a system of beliefs, regardless of the evidence to manage this fateful situation. As soon as humans are aware of the certainty of their deaths, bad things happening to them, some of us experiencing pain and suffering far more others. We tend to engage in thinking argued by Terror Management Theory. This helps people to come to terms with unpleasant conditions and their implications. In my village in Tsolo, a young girl died under mysterious circumstances. I asked friends, family and eyewitnesses a few questions. From the answers, I got an interesting response.

• 80 % of the people believe it was witchcraft or black magic that was responsible

• 15% of the people thought it was natural cause

• 5% of the people did not know

This is definitely not a book about religion and I would never dream of taking sides on religious matters. According to the accounts of eyewitnesses and ancient texts, religion has produced some of the greatest people to walk on earth. Moses one of the few people to reasoned with and change God’s mind on several occasions (Exodus 32:30-35, Numbers 11:1-25). Reading the Gospels, the words and life of Jesus come alive. Jesus is a good example of excellent leadership. He casted out demons, healed the sick and fed the poor, thus he was ministering to the needs of the people (Matthew 8:14-34; Mark 8; 1-26) The Holy Quran praises Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

Indeed, in the (Prophetic) Messenger of Allah you have an excellent example for him whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much. (33:21)

In addition, most surely, you have an exalted moral character. (68:4) [12]

These great moral teachers were everything a young person should be and everything I long to be. However, what I would like to bring to your attention is that the religious worldview is not the sole method we can rely on in the pursuit of the answers why things happen and why people act the way they do. Less publicised is the fact that religion is human invention— collective claims by religious superstitions. What makes religion seem is because it is emotion-based rather than evidence based. Religion appeals to basic human emotions—reward and punishment, fear, authority, love, disgust, grieving and excitement. For example, take the doctrine of Hell. The teaching collapses under the weight of its irrationality.

The vivid descriptions of such a horrible place of torment are designed to invoke an emotional response rather a logical one. The existence of such a place is incompatible with the attributes of God, namely, loving, compassionate, merciful, just etc. Infinite punishment for finite crimes is absurdity. It denies justice. For justice to be achieved the punishment must match the crime. Look at the wide variety of religions practiced in the world. Honestly, do you think that God suffers from multiple personality disorder? Out of all the thousands of gods that have been worshipped for thousands of years and the new ones invented each day, how can one choose the correct religion and therefore, choose a correct god? Out of all gods that and a person singlehandedly picks one god, what is the secret? What led you to choose this deity?

However, it is understandable, our ancestors needed a method to manage the tribes so that civilization could develop and thrive. Our history as a specie has been a long and barely a nice ride, but we have made it. Things are improving. Humanity has long since reached the point where it can decide for itself. Today we have explored the solar system and observed stars, planets, moons and galaxies in nearby solar systems. Incredible feats that our ancestors would never possibly imagine. Let us toss away the indefensible and embrace reality (and science).

Science is the only redemption for humanity which at least, very reliable.

Maybe we are suffering because of the sins of our ancestors or God is constantly testing or punishing us to teach us lessons. We may find limited satisfaction in these answers. One way or another, these explanations seem to have some fairness in them.

In many cultures around the world, ancestors are worshipped as demi-gods or at very least revered. Nevertheless, from an African context, there is a high chance that ancestral reverence is astonishing. Being to the idea early in my childhood years and it changed the way I viewed things. A close observation of my father’s family who believed the dead possessed god-like supernatural powers to heal, punish and cause us to prosper. Revered as divine messengers from God or gods that are fit enough to intercede on behalf of the living. It is believe that they are fully equipped to understand what it means to be human.

Even the African Traditional Religion approach is highly unfair because sometimes it involves the innocent falling sick or misfortune happening to people because the ancestors whose wishes have been neglected. The dead do not care who should suffer or die—it could be an innocent infant or a blameless animal. If the living has ignored their desires, someone or something must be punished. As such, ancestors need to be appeased through a sacrifice of an innocent goat, sometimes a sheep and traditional beer (umqhobothi) serve as sacrificial offerings. Punishing the innocent for a crime they did not commit is not just nor does it motivate the guilty to mend their ways and show them how wrong they have been.

If ancestors really exist, it is within their right to reward us for good behaviour and correct or reprimand us for wrong behaviour. However, if it involves the innocent suffering, it is safe to question their motives.

On the other hand, if God exists and truly cares for us it is our duty to serve honour and worship him. Everything that God throws at us serves a greater purpose. No greater joy can come from knowing your creator. It is a command to love God and serve him unconditionally. God has the final say on how things go. This is a call to everyone who can tell right from wrong to seek him and follow him. If God has already revealed himself through nature, the prophets and divine writings, then we will not receive any other proof. All we have to do is to take a step of faith and trust him.

Let God’s love and compassionate nature calm all our fears and doubts. If science confirms the existence of such being we should cast aside all arrogance, pride and misconceptions because we are angry with God, for his ways are unknown to us or too big for us to comprehend, and seek a personal relationship with him. With that said, we are without excuse, because he has proven himself beyond reasonable doubt to humanity. We should dance according to his tune (we should play by his rules). The reward for honouring God is a golden ticket to heaven. However, if we refuse to acknowledge him then he has no choice but to punish anything unholy that to tries to usurp his throne and defy him in hell.

Knowing that God exists offers comfort and security from a dangerous world. We begin to make sense of everything that is happening in our lives.

I felt convicted to share some insights that can begin a dialogue between different religious systems: over the centuries (and still today) the world has being torn apart by conflicts arising from that has a better God and “inspired divine” revelation. Let us discuss these steps in detail:

• Firstly, I am not judging people who hold religious beliefs. Nevertheless, there is a difference between a religious person and a spiritual person. A religious person is caught up with unchallenged dogmatic beliefs. A spiritual person focuses on reading the Torah, Quran or the Bible for spiritual wisdom and growth. What if real living is not merely reading religious texts but actually grasping it as a source of a moral compass? • The religious people live by rigid religious beliefs that hinder growth. Spiritual people already know that there is more to life than simply studying the texts. To them it is a way of life; the goal is to live a purposeful life that is connects them to God. In most cases being spiritual means, you decide when to lose an argument with a person but win the person. Sometimes it is not about having the right religion but having the right words to say to people.

• In this world, there are religions that are healthier and peaceful than others but most of them have past wrongdoings, whether it was the abuse of power or immoral doctrines taught. There was a time in history when it was unlawful to question texts. Tens of thousands of people were victims of excommunication, torture and death because of asking questions. The Middle Ages is a perfect example of such practices. Religion is simply a hurdle to intellectual and scientific development because any new discovery must be interpreted in the context of religious beliefs. For example, in the past people thought what made people sick were demons. We thought natural disasters happen because God or the gods are mad. And chronic diseases like AIDS were a curse from God because of the sins of sexually immoral people and so on. Then nothing happened.

Everything we lack understanding of was explained using supernatural methods—God and demons. There was no inquiry into the unknown—scientific and intellectual discoveries were discouraged because it happens to be a “threat.”

For a religious person, if God created the universe it settles it. Nevertheless, for a curious spiritual person it does not end there. For example, he will ask, “If the universe was created by the Big Bang, what caused the Big Bang?” The answer will be “energy and matter.” Again, he asks, “where did that energy and matter come from?”

Religion will tell us that it has all the answers and people stopped investigating. People have stopped asking questions like, “What lies beyond the grave?” or “Is death the ultimate end of existence?” Because we were led to believe in a set of beliefs that cannot be easily proven or disproven.

For example, the teaching of an afterlife, God will weigh our sins and good deeds. If the good outweigh the bad, we go to heaven. On the other hand, if our sins outweigh the good we are casted in the eternal fires of hell to everlasting punishment. Every time I look at the blue skies, cliffs, animals and seas, I am awestruck. Regardless of minor chaotic disruptions, the universe has a great complexity for life and fine-tuned for life. I believe one of the main goals is to find meaning and part of finding that meaning is stepping out to explore and discover the answers.


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