Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

charlie hedbo

by Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo

“The Death of an innocent man is the death of humanity.” — Cf. Qur’an 5:32

On 7th of January 2015, two masked gunmen armed with assault rifles and other weapons forced their way into the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. They shouted “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for “God is [the] greatest”), fired many shots, and killed twelve people including a French National Police Officer and injured eleven others. The gunmen identified themselves as belonging to Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen. Five more persons were to be killed later and another eleven were wounded in related shootings that followed in the Île-de-France region.
The same day information started trickling of a much bigger massacre in Baga, Nigeria, by the Islamic sect known as Boko Haram. The official number of the dead and missing is still yet controversial, with local sources and international media reporting that it was in the region of two thousand, while the Nigerian Military gave a more meagre (though still very high) number of around one hundred and fifty people.

Map of Nigeria

Map of Nigeria  

While outrage for the much bigger death toll in Baga was very minimal and in some quaters non-existent even in Nigeria where the incident took place, that for Charlie Hedbo was far more extensive and widely expressed.

Victims of Charlie Hebdo Shooting, photo courtesy of Wikkipedia

Victims of Charlie Hebdo Shooting, photo courtesy of Wikkipedia

Procession and protest was held in Paris for the victims of Charlie Hedbo and for free speech, while in Nigeria, the victims of Baga were send gently into the good night without so much as a whimpher.
The publishers of Charlie Hedbo has since cashed-on on this publicity. The magazine now has about seven millions subscription for its latest issue, which has on its front page cover the cartoon image of a weeping Prophet Muhameed holding a banner which reads; I am Charlie.

Vigil for the Victims of Charlie Hedbo

Vigil for the Victims of Charlie Hedbo, photo courtesy of Wikkipedia

This has generated serious outrage and condemnation from the muslim world which the massacre in Baga did not generate, which the massacre of innocent people in Nigeria and Cameroon by Boko Haram did not generate. Now this is both an abnormal and contrasting reactions to two incidents.

Boko Haram have been kidnapping and killing innocent Nigerians, many of whom are muslims. ISIS have been kidnapping and killing innocent people in Iraq and Syria, mostly muslims. Al-Qaeda has been kidnapping and killing people in Yemen, majority of who are muslims.
All these they do in the name of Islam.

There have been some condemnation against these actions from some prominent muslims leaders, scholars and imams. That is the truth, but what was not seen is a protest in Niger Republic condemning the actions of Bokoharam, or a solidarity vigil in Turkey in memory of the victims, or a procession in Pakistan demanding the elimination of Boko Haram or ISIS, or a huge banner in front of a mosque in Nigeria denouncing the sect and their violence.
In Nigeria these are what you mostly hear:
-A fight against Boko Haram is a fight against Northern Nigeria.
-Boko Haram should be given amnesty like the Niger-Delta militants.
-Boko Haram members are not from Northern Nigeria, in fact they are not even muslims.
-Boko Haram is the military wing of CAN, Christian Association of Nigeria.
-Boko Haram is working for President Goodluck Jonathan, they are Igbos trying to destroy Northern Nigeria.
-Boko Haram is a conspirasy by France, by Usa, by the west and their media to discredit Islam and divide Nigeria.

In all of these, Islam is never part of the Equation. Muslims are never the aggressor, it is someone else, it has to be someone else. Yet when a mediocre magazine in France published a cartoon of Muhameed, there was widespread condemnation from the Muslims. There was violent protest in Niger Republic, there was a vigil for the terrorists in Turkey, there was a procession in Pakistan, there are banners now in some Nigerian Mosques condemning France and the cartoon.

Violent Protest in Niger Republic against Charlie Hebdo, photo courtesy of ABC News

Violent Protest in Niger Republic against Charlie Hebdo, photo courtesy of ABC News

Protest against Charlie Hebdo, photo courtesy of CNN

Protest against Charlie Hebdo, photo courtesy of CNN

As an independent observer, I am compeled to ask if the sanctity of human life, the sacredness and preciousness of this one and only life that we all have got, if it is worth less to some people than how others percieve their religion?
The Death of an innocent man is the death of humanity, does this no longer apply?
How can someone claim to love a God, whom he/she has not seen, who might not even exist, when he/she does not love (by love I mean appreciate the sanctity, the sacredness of) the life of his fellow human being that he can see?
How does one justify publicly and privately the murder of 11 cartoonist, the burning of churches, the pains of an opponent, the death and destruction of an enemy and yet bows his/her head in prayer to a God who is all merciful?
What happened to love for an enemies and prayers for those who persecuete us. What happened to turning the other cheek, to forgiveness, to tolerance, to patience, to moderation?
Is it that the actions of those two men at Charlie Hedbo is not murder –a mortal sin? Is it that the actions of Boko Haram, ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other islam sects who go around killing innocent people all in the name of a God who is all Merciful and his holy Prophet, cannot be classified as blasphemy, as a terrible insult and as a major threat to Islam?

The world is becoming a more dangerous place. Good men are behaving more cowardly and evil men are becoming bolder and bolder, but in the words of Edmund Burke: all that evil needs to triumph is for people of good conscience to remain silent. So I ask; Is it so difficult for some of us to put aside our biases, our religious inclinations and to look solely on our humanity and choose that which is right between our creed and conscience?

Okoye Ezeamalukwuo writes from Lagos, Nigeria. You may reach him @mr_charlze

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this write up is solely those of the writer, and does not necessarily represent those of Lyriversity.

Liberty of Creativity

BROTHER FRANCIS (A Poem)

Posted: April 14, 2014 in Poetry
Tags: , ,

by Okoye Chukwudi Charles Ezeamalukwuo

Here you come, Brother Francis in your white
To pay me a visit; -a new convert
Of a different faith. The missing sheep
Gone from the fold, lost, in need of saving,
So you said. Here you are once and again
To pass harsh judgement, lay accusation
On the evening sun. Rest your feet, I pray
Come drink with me awhile, eat my kola,
Take a seat old friend before you begin
To reprimand, casting and binding me,
Seeking answers from the stone, asking me
Why I did not go for service today?
When last I had received the sacrament?
If I’d said my prayers five times and more?
Or if I still give heed to holy books?
Ah! My Brother, Where do I start to spit
The conflict in my soul; the doubts and droughts.
How do I tell the dark tales of my kin,
The broken arteries of my upper being
The ravaging war for a creed of peace?
How can my mouth bless a being of love, who seek
My blood and tears; a perfect offering?
How do I cry to a God, who created
The sun and the stars, the moon and the morn,
Negroes and Whites, Jews, Arabs, Greeks and More,
The Aztecs, yet chose a few for his own?
Tell! Tell! For I know not where to begin
Or where to end. Break full the coconut,
Shell and all, not like you did before, when
You’d replied with eyes sharp as the vulture’s
And lips dipped in holy water, you coughed
A divination from the heart, you said;
Religion and the Religious are two,
Not one but two joined together by faith.
You prayed, cursing flies and fouls over me.
Ah! Brother Francis, your words are profound
Deep and dubious, complex and confusing.
Wait! Listen…Answer if you can, I ask;
Is a tree not known by the fruits it bears?
Is the crescent moon not the same full moon
Partly obscured by the night of our choice?
Why do you strip the sinner of his sin,
Yet feed the saints with the spice of his hands?
Condemnation; you gladly had me preach
On the Niger, when civilisation
Was in its infant age. I do recall
The propagandas, the pleasure you took
Labelling me: barbarian, damned heathen.
You ceased not to tell; the heroic tales
Of your own, your clerks, your saints and soldiers.
You– a brave knight, I– a nameless savage.
Reminding me always of James and John
Of how they braved the Congo and the Nile,
Of how they ended the killing of twins,
Freed the slaves and gave sight to my people.
Or have you stopped unearthing dirt and dust
The skulls of victims –human sacrifice,
Hideous past practises of my kin.
Lo! Brother Francis, was the butterfly
Not larva, the old not once a child meek?
You commanded and we set upon it.
We followed like children hungry for sweet.
We followed you into the market square
Preaching the gambit, cursing our fathers.
We left the she-goat in tether, speaking
In a foreign tongue; the pater nostra,
Abandoning the ancestral beliefs,
Starving our own of life and libation,
Denying our gods of praise and kola.
We marched with hallelujah to Rome’s hill,
Singing “hakbur” in the vales of Mecca.
But our hearts were no more as green, our lands
Hold no harvest for the hands that hearken.
We pray, divided by perennial feud
Of east and west. We sleep caught in between;
A fox in a trap, we howl at the moon.
Ah! Brother Francis, my lips cannot tell
Drawing circles with the moon, to expose
All the pains and penance we still endure
From the hands of your religion of peace.
Our ancestors were to blame, blind, naive
Ardent to an unwritten faith, oral,
Without scribes, easy to fault, –to squeeze out
Like vinegar on sponge, doomed from the start.
Thus you condemned it in one single gulp,
One singular word, Ah! Cursed, Vile, Defiled
But here we sit, witnesses to dark side
Of you, –judge and jury, hands tightly bound.
Two pleas you gave yours, more if need arise.
Where is love, Brother, where is the justice
You so speak of? Where is it now, do tell?
Can the eyes find love unblemished by man?
Is your faith not flawed by your own actions?
You prayed, we forgave the ills of your past;
The inquisition, the tortures and wars,
The faith that stirred Richard at Aayadieh
Called Arabs to the sword with equal zeal.
The creed that sentenced Galileo to jail,
Doubters to death, heretics to the stake
And brought Gandhi to the sting of the gun.
Forgive me Brother, pray, may I go on
And split more secrets on the stubborn ear.
Death…fraud…deceit…hatred. Ah! Gracious God
The blood of martyrs; –extremists…the seeds.
The Church, the clergy and crowd are but one,
So is the Mosque, the Synagogue and Shrine.
Be they saints or sinners, viles or virgins,
Whatever they are, so is their messages.
Do my words offend you, there let me leave
Speak, why do you recoil, then let me stray
Go back to ways of old, or something pure,
Something green and true like humanity.
Raise altar in the chamber of my heart,
A Paradise on Earth, a new Eden.
Pray death finds me there, leaves me there a child
Where birds have lulled me in to sleep with songs
Of meekness, virtue, wisdom and patience.
I will not invite you, Brother Francis.
Lo! I will not disturb your good conscience
Or soil your sparkling white with heresy.
No– I will let you live your days in peace.
I beg you stay, let me live mine as free;
A lost soul, a heathen, an easy fool.
My hut; have it, my barn; you may keep it.
The clothe on me is yours to take, but lo!
Love me still with a love like mine the same,
Tolerant to all. To live and to love;
Side by side like wheat and weed, grace and grass.
A perfect mosaic, you- white, me -black.
Till Earth grabs me whole, enclosing my soul
With inferno or with indifference.

Note: these lines were inspired by a chat I had with Anene Francis as regards Religion. It has been re-crafted into a work of hyperbole and history, questions and quest..and do not necessary bear my belief in full…a parts of it, sure is herein (a little fiction with equal facts). I am grateful to Francis (whose imaginary character though not as lucky) for the inspiration to write again after so long a drought.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

by Okoye Chukwudi Charles Ezeamalukwuo

All the science of the Saints is included in these two things: To do, and to suffer. And whoever had done these two things best, has made himself most saintly.
—Saint Francis de Sales

The virtue of patience, endurance, tolerance, fortitude and meekness in today’s Religion, especially in Nigeria is gradually evaporating. Religion is now becoming a quick-escape from reality, where supposedly spiritual folks go to in order to advance their physical/material well-being.

A female friend of mine gave a testimony last sunday in one of the pentecostal churches littered all over the country like used sachets of “Pure Water” on a typical Aba park. She asked the faithful to join her in thanking God for given her a job. She had been unemployed for three years since after her NYSC days. Until last two weeks when she finally secured a job with one big firm like that. Securing a job is always a great feat in our present-day Nigeria where there are more jobless or semi jobless youths than the youths who are gainfully employed, and therefore must be celebrated. But what shocked me was the manner in which she got the job. The aptitude test for the job had already been written before she even had an idea that there was a job opening, but for the fact that she knew one of the Ogas at the top in that firm, she was able to miraculously and spiritually surpass the other candidates who actually took the test…this to her is the hand work of God, God signifying the Oga at the Top. This to me is a pure case of Nepotism, Corruption and Fraud, but which never bothered the Man of God or his cheering minions of success-hungry congregation. God don do am be say Baba God don do am, the rest na super story.

The other day I turned on the television, and switched to one religious channels like that. The Man of God there was talking about 2015 election and the impending bloodshed to come. He advised his viewers to come to his ministry for a special therapy, a special prescription of prayers, of divine fortification that will protect them and their properties from destruction in 2015 when others are being slaughtered. When I asked my neighbour who was judiciously noting down the address and contacts of the ministry, why the man won’t pray for us all so that no life will be lost come 2015. The man laughed like a wise man that he wasn’t, while replying like an angel of doom that he is; saying that there must be bloodshed come 2015, that there is no way around it and that personal prayer is the only sure-immunity from the chaos to come in 2015…wonders shall never end.

I have had the unpleasant experiences of staying in a place close to these new-generation/noise-loving churches, I must confess that I was forced into joining them in their services and night-vigils from the un-comfort of my house. Those folks have no respect for man or matter, only God, whom to me appears to be deaf or hard on hearing because of the amount of shouting and screaming that go on there for hours without end. I swear that if the prophet of Baal called on Baal in the manner those folks call on God, Baal would have answered them with a Volcanic eruption…I dey tell you.
To add salt to injury, one anointed sister like that lives in my house. Every wednesday is her own private night vigil. I have never heard the kind of evil-murderous prayers I hear from her in my life. She will start by praising God, dancing to the sounds of her hoarse voice and resounding clapping, then she will move to remind God of how good she has been that week and how God should make haste to crush all her enemies who kept her in her harsh condition. Then she will go into minutest details of how God should torture her opponents, it is like listening to a serial killer draw out her plans. I have contemplated telling her to tune it down a bit, but the fear of being added to her list of opponents is the beginning of wisdom…lord have mercy on us.

Religion is a very delicate matter, which requires a certain naivety, a certain unrealistic and impractical way of reasoning called faith for one to be an ardent practitioner. It is an institution built on the belief that an unseen, untouchable, unfathomable supreme being(s) exist that controls the world that we know and many more that we don’t. Religion by its un-physical nature is prone to misunderstandings, misinterpretation, and misinformation by the physical mortals propagating it. Coupled with this fact, is the growing idea that a truly religious being is one who ought not to suffer want because Jesus has paid for all their debts, hence they should enjoy all the good things this physical world has to offer while still seeking the spiritual one, which to me is of the same logic that a bird at hand is just one bird when compared to the two in the bush.
This is far from true, a truly religious being should be in the world, be subjected to the same physical trials and tribulations, the same sufferings and supplications, the same rules and regulations guarding it, but still not be a part of the world…what will it profit the religious man if he gains the whole world and suffer for loss of his soul.
Religion should not be an escape from reality, rather it should be a peaceful acceptance of the things we can’t change about our reality and the peaceful alterations of the things we can change. It is about love, it is about endurance, it is about tolerance, about bearing with our imperfections and those of others, it is about bearing our sufferings and cross, for if you love me says Christ, You must carry your cross and follow me.
It is funny to see those who profess that God is a being of boundless love in one hand, and in the other hand are seeking so much to avenge an injury, to destroy their perceived enemies, to plunder the earth for themselves alone….but it is written: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, only then will people know that you are my disciples, because the evil ones love only whose who love them and help only those who help them, so how then can you show that you are different.

Being religious is being different in a mental-way, it’s not about the physical, it’s not about the material…it is about the attitude, the way you see the world and the people in it. I have argued about the roles of our mega-pastors with some religious folks…those pastors who have entered the jet-age. I had argued and I’m still saying that those pastors have been given the privilege to speak up against the political/economic woes of the nation. And some have said that a religious man has no business in politics. This I totally disagree with…You can not have a jet, two or more jets worth N3 billion each, with a congregation of about 500,000 people, a university, a president who kneels before you for prayers and live in today’s Nigeria and still be divorced from politics…it is absolutely not possible. Are there no poor among the congregation, are there no unemployed graduates, disenfranchised people, folks living in extreme poverty around…even if those men do not wish to speak against the rich, they can always speak for the poor. I have said it before and I will state it publicly here…If there is ever a heaven, our present day mega-pastors, mega-bishops, mega-imans who refused to speak up vociferously against the evil of our elites, who continue to dine with those men who kept us in this condition will never enter it until the day that Nigeria becomes truly a great Nation for all its citizens.

In conclusion, I do not write as a religious person, actually I am far from it…I do not write as a righteous person, I am not…I only believe that what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong regardless of whatever you so believe. And that there is something seriously wrong with the way we go about our religion today. Religion acts as a means to unite us, to make us more loving, more compassionate, more human. It should make us to seek, say and speak the truth always no matter what, even if we have to die for it, for at the end of the day, if we are to die today, we will enter heaven today (He smiles). If our religion is not one that makes us to DO, to speak, to act sincerely and lovingly, and to bear whatever backlash, whatever SUFFERING that may arise from our honest/loving action, then we are not being RELIGIOUS at all…we are just being plain RIDICULOUS.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Lyriversity.

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Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

photo by yavorskiy_photo

photo by yavorskiy_photo

by Fiona Lovatt

“We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person –unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land –it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.”
—-Cf. Qur’an 5:32

It has been suggested that I write about the connection between Islam and violence. This is like being asked to write about the link between pornography and Christianity, where one could at least quote the passages of the Bible that deal with prostitutes and unequivocally prove that Jesus, peace and blessings be upon Him, socialised with women in that profession.
It is like being asked to expose the butterfly in the Amazon; who flapped his wings and re-ordered the entire meteorological pattern of the planet in chaos theory.
It is a link as tenuous as suggesting that Tony Blair has any credentials as a peacemaker, a man who could have made peace when he was in charge of a nation hosting an arms fair on 9th September, 2001, and didn’t even cancel any of those orders or tax breaks.

The dominant narrative is freely available almost anywhere you look. Television streams it in a continuous loop, fanatical haters repeat it, Facebook is awash with it. Yet, in the silence, in between the visions of carnage, we find that there are about 2 billion Muslims in the world and many more in their graves who have not lived violent lives. If their religion (and we know they are passionate about their religion) dictated violence then we could rightly expect violence from more of them. We could expect that their moral bankruptcy would ensure no one wanted to trade with them, marry them, join them, live with them. We could expect the annual hajj to be a scene of debauchery at least equal to a soccer world cup. We’d expect far more aggression so that instead of so many of them tolerating oppression in their own lands that they would have taken on the role of oppressors with huge munitions factories, massive military forces, and some serious land grabbing. Wouldn’t they manage more than one international television channel and produce movies of hate and carnage, fill childhoods with games and toys to desensitise children and train them in killing and premature sexuality (for the denigration of women surely goes hand in hand with the killing of sensitive, compassionate, humane hearts)?

We are meant to believe that there is a link between Islam and violence.
Let us translate “Islam” and use the English words “peace”.
What is the link between peace and violence? Peace is not just the absence of violence but the presence of justice, security, mercy and dignity.

Indeed, in reading the books of the people of peace, this is the message. The whole of their legal system is built on six principles or rights: the right to life, to family, to knowledge and education, to property, to conscience and freedom of thought, and to dignity. These rights are so deeply a part of the religion of peace that they extend to plants, animals and the earth itself.

Those who wish to pervert this rational and life-affirming institution fall in to two groups: the terrorists who are a threat to us all in their blood-lust and ignorance, and those who affirm their ignorance by repeating that Islam is a violent religion. The dominant narrative affirms, almost daily, what the terrorists say about themselves.
We should all start correcting them by repeating quotes that will correct them from the Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammed, Peace Be Upon Him. To kill one person is like killing the whole of mankind. The ink of the scholars is more beloved to God than the blood of the martyrs.
And for the love of God and Peace, let us make sure we are not among their enabling accomplices. Let the rest of us stand in unity, not just as the opposite of violence but as operatives of peace, security, knowledge and mercy.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Lyriversity.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

by Rasaq Malik Gbolahan
shrine

 

from a battered heart
to
the
sleepy gods

If I take thorns to
the shrine of our sleepy gods
If I pour hemlock drinks
On the shrine of the our strangled seers
Elders of the land,
do not blame me

You can proceed
To break the tie of love
in our fragmented bond
Swallow the deserted land
with gurgling river

If I use quenched light to
trace the shrine of our gods
Elders of the land…..
Do not blame me
You can go ahead
To shatter the face of the sky
to
Hurl stones at my accursed lineage

And if I betray the moon
By waiting for candle sellers at the gatepost of dusk
Do not wish me well
through midnight’s adventure
I am ready to suck bloods from midnight’s corpses
My teeth, stuffed with weary bones
I shall break the tie of dreams
The tie of blurry visions
by crippled missionaries

Elders of the land
do not wish me well
I know the mysteries
The histories
Of blind forebears with stiffed tongues
Wrapped with cursed words

And
If I, another progeny from the womb of night
another wailing child from lost lineage
Tarry the blood-soaked streets
Do not wish me well
For already, my hopes are peeling
My dreams are drowning in the basin of blood

by Okoye Chukwudi Charles Ezeamalukwuo

“God made man in his own image;
A being of love and boundless grace.
Man remade God in Man’s image;
A tool of fear, hate and disgrace.”

-The Journey of the Soul

Yesterday, I was reading the news and I came across the story that involves Kano state Sharia law and the destruction of countless crates of legal alcoholic drinks. I was shocked by this development because I thought Alcohol is legal in Nigeria. I thought that Nigeria is a secular state and that there is a clear separation between state and religion. To make matters worst, the comments from some people on the post did not help. They argued in favour of the destruction of another man’s legitimate business, stating that alcohol is wrong according to the teachings of their religion, and so should be forcefully resisted. Hence, it is right to destroy what is legitimate under our constitution and under the constitution of many countries in the world because someone told you some one thousand four hundred years ago that God (whom happened to choose him alone) told him that alcohol is wrong. Hmmmm…unbelievable.

My experience with the antics of Organised Religion started from birth. My childhood and most of my adolescence were spent in the strict adherence to the Catholic faith. I grow up in a family that wore the Christian Doctrine upon their skin (alas! not as much in their hearts). I was taught that Jesus is the ONLY true way, the only true teacher and that any other way or teaching is false. I was taught that Christianity (which happens to have about 1/5 of the world’s population) is the only true religion ordained by God, and that other religions were works of the Devil. This idea of being specially made me a bit arrogant and proud. Out of many, I was among the few chosen.
But as I grew older and started to study deeper and wider, I began to see the similarities of my religion with the other so called “damned” religions. I began to know many of the evil practises and actions done in the past by the Church in the name of God. I began to understand that Christianity is not the only Religion that thinks it is special. The Muslims, the Jews, the Buddhists and co also think that theirs is the only true Religion. Hence, I made a 180 degrees turn around, an epiphany. Today some friends and family members accuse me of being an atheist and in dire need of deliverance so to speak because I disagree with their narrow view of God.

The root of my problem with organised religions lies in their inability to tolerate opposing views. Each Religion believes that it is the One True Religion, the only one instituted by God and the only one good enough to make Heaven, while it believes that the others will be damned in hell for all eternity. We see this mostly in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In Catholic Church, it is called Heresy for one to preach anything that contradicts with the Vatican. In the olden days people were burnt at stake for Heresy. The clerics argued then that it was better to torture the body that is temporary in order to save the soul that is permanent. In other words, whether you like it or not we will send you to heaven but first we will pass you through hell on earth. We see this actions being practised today by the radical islamists, who bomb, maim, torture innocent people because they share a different opinion from their own. But the true is that…

“God calls not only with the Jew,
Nor has he special relation
With the cross, star and moon and few;
For God is of no Religion.”

-The Journey of the Soul

I have asked this question many times and I will ask it here again; when a religious person encounters a pagan religion, whose people live in love, peace and harmony. Whose people are warm and hospitable and treat both friends and strangers with love and respect, and also embrace him as one of their own, treating him with dignity, but have only the flaw of worshipping idols, will he still go about preaching to them to repent and abandon their “Evil Practises”? This question beats me…

I have argued somewhere before that the idea of being special by Religious sects is a very dangerous one because it will make man to do unpredictable things in the Name of a being as ambiguous as God. The Israelis (who are but 0.1% of the world population) believe that they are the chosen people. God created 7 billion people and chose only 7 million as his people…does this make sense? This theory has been propagated by them to justify the hedious crimes against humanity taking place in Palestine.
The same can be said of Christianity in the Dark-Medevial ages down to the crusades and the spanish inquisition. And Islam too.

The teachings of organised religions have split in two many homogeneous countries today. We see this in India and Pakistan, we see this in Israel and Palestine, we see this in North and South Sudan, in Iraq (Sunni vs Shite), in Ireland and Northern Ireland, in Serbia, in Lebanon, and even in Nigeria to mention but a few. Religion, I have been told is supposed to make us better and more humane. But what I have seen is neither of the these. I have seen families divide over religion, Countries go to war over religion, Marriages dissolved over religion, Children disinheritated over religion, innocents slaughtered over religion and etc. History is overflowing with the blood of the innocents killed by the holy sword of Religion.
God has become a victim in the hands of Religious heads, who use him at will to achieve their self-centred political and economical goals.
In my part of the world, Catholics hardly marry from any other Denomination in the Christian faith, yet we all are supposed to be children of one loving God through Jesus Christ…Make I hear!

Furthermore Organised Religion had impeded the growth in Science and Technology for many centuries. Man was busy trying hard to achieve Heaven while Earth rots away.

Earth is a Hell and not a home
Paradise; -a place yet unknown
Man in his quest to gain Heaven
Made a Hell of Earth; faith driven

-The Journey of the Soul

Problems that involved simple human reasoning were left to grow complex while Man waited on God. There is this lack of ambition and constructive reasoning among religious people, their eyes are perpetually focused above, and their attitudes are usually one of resignation to their fate. Their’s is an unrealistically rigid mentality that is incapable of independent reasoning. “My pastor told me” syndrome or “It is written in the holy book” logic. To them, Earth is a distraction, Heaven is the goal, thus everything is accepted in faith. “God giveth, God taketh, Glory be to his name.” Hence nothing is done to advance the comfort and convinence of the society as a whole. I have said it times without numbers, the day that Nigerians stopped overly waiting on God to solve our problems, that day will half of our problems be solved.

In conclusion, I believe that the end product of Religion should be to make us more loving, to make us more tolerant, more patient, more kind, more gentle, more humble, more honest, more disciplined etc. Thus if your faith is that which makes you less of these, which makes you more paranoid, more aggressive or demand the blood or tears of your fellow humans, my brother…”Know Ye well thy Path leadth unto Hell.”

“All Religion is part of truth,
None alone has it all by root
Any faith that practice not love
Is dead and far from God above.

-The Journey of the Soul

I believe that organised Religions by the fact that they are organised -standardised, are prone to manipulations by the CEO and board of directors who manage them. The chief aim of establishing those Religions I believe was to awake our inner self to try and find consolation in death while making the world a better and more loving place to be, but with growth and time, corruption which is the inherent in humanity entered into these Religions, and these goals were substituted for a more standardised versions; that of increasing membership, that of silencing dissent voices, that of money making and global hegemony.
I must state clearly that I too am a bit religious myself. I believe in a Supreme Being, controller of the Universe; God. But do I believe that he called only a handful of people to be his and condemned others…NO, with a capital. God is for everyone. He is not a product that Judaism, Christianity, Islam or any other Religion has a monopoly on. You do not need to enter a church, a synagogue or a mosque before you can order yourself a basket of God. There is no exclusive right or patent to him. He is as free as the air we breathe. And anyone who truly seeks him will find him in their own way.
For as it is written; “Seek (my good friend) and surely you will find.”

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and does not necessarily represent those of Lyriversity.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

by Okoye Chukwudi Charles

“Science does not conflict with God,
For it seeks Harmony in all.
Science does not conflict with God,
But with Religion and Its Law.”

–The Journey of the Soul

In as much as I believe that there is a reason for everything, in as much as I believe that there is a reason for our existence, for life and death, and that there is no mistake or chance in the Universe. I think that shallow explanations or reasoning (or lack of them) for things are not good bases for mankind to operate on, even if such explanations/reasoning give us all a peace of mind.

I read a post on “Ndigbo” group page on Facebook some time last year. In that post the writer tried using many fallacious statements to disprove Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. He argued that if Evolution is possible that there should have been evidence of evolution in recorded History. And since no one has witnessed it first hand, and since no animal or plant has evolved in human history, then the Theory must be bullocks. He also used the premise to dismiss Science as the work of deranged if not devil-possessed men, whose aim it was and still is to misled the Children of (his) God. He concluded with a vague and highly hilarious statement using coldness and darkness, where he stated that Coldness is not the lack of heat for coldness has degrees of heat and darkness has degree of light. According to him, one can not make darkness more darker, even though one can make something brighter, in other words, Science has no control of anything.
I do not know the writer but from all the fallacies I read, I did conclude that he is not a scientist, and he does not in anyway understand the workings of Science.

According to Wikkipedia; Science (from Latin word scientia, meaning “knowledge”) is a systematic enterprise that builds and organises knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. In an older and closely related meaning, “Science” also refers to a body of knowledge itself, of the type that can be rationally explained and reliably applied. A practitioner of science is known as a scientist.
From this definition one can see that science has a clearly laid down procedure that must involve series of proven and coherent tests. And once a hypothesis does not stand the test of time or space it is either abandoned or reviewed.

Science is very very different from Religion, for it is built on logic, reason and experiment and not on faith. The teachings of Science can be abandoned or reviewed in the face of superior arguments/theories, but not so with Religion; which continuously demand unconditional surrender be it in the lion’s den or in the burning furnace (If you know Daniel, then you will understand).

But in all of these, Science does not challenge the existence of God. I am yet to read any book where it is clearly stated “Science Confirms the Non-Existence of God,” rather all that science is doing is to make us to be more realistic, more rational, to be users of our mind, to be better at our faith. Science has tried to rationalise everything, to make all terrestrial…to make all simple…so that a skeptic will see and believe. It is some scientists and philosophers that make their own personal beliefs regarding the nonexistence of God (which is also based on logic, reason and experiment) but these are not Scientific Laws, they are mere theories, if not hypotheses.

Science only disagrees with Religion on its modus operandi. Science goes for what was, what is and from these tries to determine what will be. It also tries to answer why the universe was, is and will be. But Religion goes for what should be, and often times substitute it for what is and what will be. Science is purely logically and experimental, it is pragmatic and appeals to our human reasoning and common sense, but Religion is loftier and exotic and appeals to our emotions which at best is dynamic and influenced by our human fallibility.

To say that something is True, it is true if and only if it is universally true at all times. You can not be fair today and tomorrow dark and expect to be judged as universally stable. You can’t keep people “blessed” by continuous confusing them and making it difficult for them to find out the truth. You can not always use the tactics of Faith, -blind faith… “Believe it all in Faith”

EVOLUTION is only one of the THEORIES that explain the existence of life-forms on earth as we know it…but not the only Theory. A theory is a statement that correctly explains some of the happenings on the Universe, it can still be reviewed or abandoned for a better theory, it is very very different from a Law.
A law in science is A and Amen, it is like a dogma in Christendom and is unchangeable…like the Law of gravity, law of thermodynamics, Hooke’s law etc but there is no Law yet for the formation of life. Still the Evolution theory has tried in its own way to explain life with some physical evidence though imperfect-as they may be, but an evidence still. Its religious counterpart quick to denounce it forgot to give us any evidence to support its points except to state that “God made the animals and then made Man, and you should never doubt God, you should not concern yourself with his ways but in all thing, Believe!” They have even in a mocking way asked ignorantly why no evolution had been witnessed so far. This question is for the stupidly ignorant..as a geologist I know how long it took for mountains to be form, for oil in the Niger Delta to accumulate, for a river to run its course and so on and so forth…so the answer will always be TIME. Give it enough time, a million years, even hundreds of millions of years maybe, and you may see it or you may not.

The Idea of God is a very delicate one which has caused more death and suffering than the Atomic bomb. There is nothing that divides the world today more than the belief (or lack of belief) in God. Wars have been fought (and still being fought), innocents have been slaughtered (and are still being slaughtered), properties had been lost, lives had been ruined in the name of a being who is all merciful and loving yet have remained indifferent through it all. This has led me to conclude that

Maybe all things were made by God
But it created more problems than it solved
Maybe there is life after Death
But Religion could be the cancer of Earth

—Lines Written at Midnight Hour

Nevertheless, I do strongly believe that there is still a place for Religion in our present society. As I stated above, I do not believe that the Universe is by chance or that Life is a mistake. I do not believe that we are born just to run around and die leaving descendants that will run around too and die…I do not believe that life is a run around unto Death. No! I feel that there is a purpose, a goal for all these coming and going. Religion gave us a theory to explain our existence, Science is yet to give a workable theory on that, and till it does, I feel that Religion as ambiguous as it is, as open to speculations and manipulations as it is, still holds relevance to those of us that are on the precipice of running mad in this coming and going that goes on forever.

In conclusion, God gave us a brain, the working of the brain produces the mind, in the mind lies Thoughts, Ideas, Dreams and co….without the brain, a material entity there will be no mind, an immaterial entity.
God gave us the tongue, the working of the tongue, a material entity produces words, an immaterial entity.
I have raised this point before and I will raise it again…

“From the Physical Universe,/ Comes the Spiritual Universe”
—from “The Journey of the Soul”

And

Water flowing under the bridge
Is much more older than the bridge
And much older is human soul
To spiritual teachings and goal.

—“The Journey of the Soul”

Who knows, we might even discover at the end, that God himself is part and parcel of the Natural Universe, a product of this Natural universe….if I were to call The Natural Universe the Brain, then I will Call God, the Mind.

Matter begets the Mind, but its the Mind that subdues, purifies, perfects and recreates Matter. It is the mind that rules over Matter and visa versa….this is what I call a SYMBIOSIS.