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Opinions of Sunday, 25 March 2018

Columnist: Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo

The gods of yesterday are the same as today

In ancient times, humankind worshipped the heavenly bodies: the sun, the stars, the moon and the planets. And in propitiation of these heavenly bodies, humankind built the pyramids and the greatest of the temples and sacrificed large animals and sometimes their own children or slaves to satiate the appetites of these so-called gods.

Our own ancestors also, in awe of the environment: the rivers and mountains and trees and animals, turned these natural things into gods and worshipped them.

If these ancient tribes and races and our own ancestors were to be asked whether those bodies they devotedly worshipped in their time used to listen to their requests and answered their prayers, they would all unanimously answer in the affirmative. But is it truly the case then that the sun, the moon, the stars and the planets do answer human prayers or satisfied human needs? Is it the case that the rivers, the mountains and the trees and wild animals had ears to hear the prayers of the ancestors or to aid in their particular enterprises?

Because today, we cannot help but to look at the faiths and beliefs of those ancestors and observe with a measure of condescension that whatever evil they attributed to their gods wherefore they built these huge edifices and shed the blood of animals and children, these gods were impersonal to all their efforts and couldn’t have possibly heard their prayers or supplications. Period. We would even go as far as to opine that if any ill fate followed any action they took, then that ill fate was most probably the natural consequences of their own deeds; and it would not be the case that any god anywhere was punishing them for any evil deed. In pattern with this same logic, if any good fortune followed their acts of worship and sacrifice, it would probably be more a matter of coincidence, not because any of those heavenly bodies and natural things cared a hoot about their worship, prayers, rituals or sacrifice.

We know all these things for a fact because we now understand the heavenly bodies better in our time and know that they are all passive to human destiny. We also understand that the mountains and rivers and trees and animals are more subject to our behaviors and activities, rather than responsive to our prayers and sacrifices. In short, we have a clearer understanding of all those things our ancestors considered as their gods and for which they devoted a larger measure of their lives worshipping and serving.

So in a sense, it does not matter to us the magnitude of the resources and energy the ancestors devoted in building these huge temples and edifices, or the extent and sizes of their prayers and sacrifices. To us, they were merely worshipping false gods and simply wasting their time and energy. And even if they thought that their worship indeed brought to them some extraordinary benefits and power, we would readily vouch that it was more a matter of their psychology than their reality.

But one thing with religion is that like a snake, it could shed its own skin and take on another new skin, and when it does that, it can present an appearance of newness, truth and holiness without changing much of its former substance. Religion is also like a hydra’s head; whenever you cut one head, multiple others of the same head grow in its place, and the monster does not change at all, but simply becomes more dangerous. And so it is that while busily laughing at our ancestors and wondering amazingly about their follies and foibles, we are merely repeating the very same mistakes they made by worshipping all kinds of stuff. We are as religious as our ancestors and devoted to new gods to which we daily add. And to propitiate these gods, we are even more capable of wasting huge resources and making huge sacrifices. We are even able to commit greater genocide and wage bloody wars to protect these gods; so complete is our faith that these gods rather protect us and serve our purposes.

Thus, if there were any difference in those gods of the ancestors and those gods of our modern time, the difference would be more in terms of the naming of these gods and nothing else. We are simply calling our modern gods by different names in order to worship them in the same manner as our ancestors worshipped them. But they have no capacity or ability to help us or save us, just like they had no capacity to help those ancient devotees who built gargantuan edifices and wasted huge resources in their honor.

And that is the whole point of the phenomenology of the gods we have created ourselves throughout history to worship and to serve: We give no guarantee that our gods will do anything whether good or bad for us; but anything whether good or bad that happens to us, we nevertheless invoke our gods and rationalize an explanation for better or for worse. If the rains fall just on time for what we plant to do well, there is a huge festival in praise of the gods for which we give generous gifts to their messengers. But if perchance, the rains don’t fall, these messengers tell us that these gods are angry, in response to which we give generous gifts to the messengers to pacify the gods.

If the messengers prophesy good times and bad times ensue, they request for gifts to propitiate the gods; and if they prophesy evil times and good times ensue, they request for gifts in thanksgiving to the gods. If their prophecies totally fail to materialize, they attribute the failure to their prayer intervention; and if they come true, they boast of the power of their gods to bring about what they have prophesied.

So whatever happens or does not happen, the gods that we have created, through his rapacious messengers, will take their share of our resources and give us explanations for everything, anything, or nothing that happens.

But for us Blacks in particular, the most impressive of this whole god delusion is that we did not even have the originality to create or maintain any god of our race or color or even our language. We allowed foreigners to show us what God looks like, and agreed with the foreigners that this god is neither of our color nor of our language. Among all the races on earth, the skin color of the god each of them worship is at least a mirror image of themselves; but for us Blacks, the skin color of our god is that of the other races; and except whenever we imagine the devil, our color is never seen in any of the benign gods we worship.

So for us, it is not enough that god is just an imaginary being who will do nothing for any of his devotees; for us Blacks in general, God is of a lighter skin and of longer hair and longer nose; and our own kinky hair, thick lips and flat nose are that of the devil himself.

And so short is our confidence in ourselves that we have adopted other people’s books in which they have documented their dealings with their gods as our own, although neither our ancestors nor our historical experiences are mentioned in these said books.

Past religions have never been true, and modern religions, whose scion originates from the past religions, have never been true either. But truth lies in our own deeper level of consciousness and reasoning in which we have so far proven ourselves to be sorely deficient. When those ancestors built the gargoyles and temples in honor of the heavenly bodies, they were worshipping the empty wind no matter the grandiose nature of those temples and edifices, or the grandeur of their rituals and ceremonies. And nothing came out of the prayers and sacrifices performed by our ancestors in honor of those rivers and mountains and trees, no matter that they imagined that they had benefits from worshipping these things.

When civilization and enlightenment finally dawned on our world, they did not dawn because of religious faith but in spite of religious faith. Religious faith led to the burning of scientific books and the burning of their authors and thinkers at the stake. It led to the enslavement of our own brothers and sisters, continued war of attrition, genocide and even holocaust. It led to racism, sanctimoniousness, discrimination and hypocrisy. And today, it still plagues the world with terrorism and mayhem.

But our time is auspicious because when humankind became finally enlightened, they realized that no god can help them but they can immensely help themselves.

If we jettison religion and reason like those deep thinkers and philosophers of our times, we will realize that our mental horizon will expand, and we will stop worshipping gods who cannot help us. We will awaken the creative and inventive spirits within us and realize that all those people building computers, phones, planes and other technologies are not endowed with witchcraft, but that rather, they have stopped relying on gods and are busy utilizing the immense powers of their own minds.

Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo, J.D., is a general legal practitioner in Austin, Texas, USA.

You can email him at sarfoaddjei@yahoo.com.

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