By Douglas Anele
One of the most persistent misconceptions by believers concerning the entity designated with the word ‘God’ is that he (she or more appropriately it) is unquestionable, meaning that the existential perplexities troubling the heart of humans should not be brought to the doorstep of the Supreme Being.
The idea that God is immune or beyond the questioning spirit of human beings is both a linchpin and article of faith for religious apologists, to the extent that it is considered sinful, heretical and blasphemous in the three Abrahamic religions, especially Christianity and Islam, to demand to know why, for instance, a world supposedly created by a perfect, omniscient, and omnipotent being should contain so much evil.
If you demand from a devout Christian or Muslim the reason one should not ask God critical questions about the vicissitudes of human life and existence in general, you are likely to be told that ‘’God is the almighty, omnipotent, and perfect being and no one has the right to question him.
He has created the universe as he pleases; therefore, since he is absolutely superior to us we should acquiesce to his divine power and worship him. After all a piece of pottery is not in a position to ask its maker, the potter, any questions”. Now, the main problem with such a response is that, unlike the pottery which lacks self-consciousness and rationality, a human being is a self-conscious rational creature whose intellect can transcend certain limitations of his finitude.
Thus nothing, including God, is beyond the whetstone of rational interrogation. The possibility or necessity of asking God searching questions is meaningful only on the tacit assumption that the entity denoted by that word and described in religious texts such as The Holy Bible and
The Holy Koran actually exists. If ‘God’ denotes nothing, if there is no objectively existing being outside the fecund imagination of humans that corresponds to the concept of God, then the problem of whether it is proper or improper to ask such a being probing questions does not arise because it makes absolutely no sense to ask a nonexistent being questions – and probably expect answers too.
In that connection, although there is no doubt in my mind that the anthropomorphic God of religion does not exist despite the ingenious fallacious arguments marshalled by theologians and religion-minded philosophers right from antiquity to date, we should suspend the issue of God’s existential status or, better still, presume tentatively that he exists and concentrate on the appropriateness of asking him questions, the sort of questions that we should put to him just in case we meet him face to face.
In my opinion God has a lot of questions to answer, for if indeed he has all the superlative qualities traditionally ascribed to him in the scriptures, then he is duty-bound to explain or justify, as the case may be, fundamental anomalies, absurdities and evils which permeate his creation.
The first question I would ask him is: God why did you create anything at all? Others include: God, if you were really all-knowing and all-powerful, why did it take you billions of years of trial and error just to evolve life on earth, and why should a world created by you be filled with egregious flaws as if it was produced by an apprentice learning on the job?
Why did you single out an insignificant planet (earth) for preferential treatment out of the astronomical number of planets that you allegedly created? Why did you create the earth specially for human beings (according to scripture) and yet filled it with deadly viruses and bacteria to terrorise them? Why did you give humans free will when you, as an omniscient being, already knew they will abuse it?
Why are you indifferent to human suffering although you have the power to bring it to an end? Why are you tribalistic? Why did you choose Israel or any other ethnic nationality as your favourite if you really created all human beings? Why did you permit the totally unnecessary and nauseating rigmarole of Jesus dying on the cross to redeem humankind when you simply could have forgiven people for their sins and allowed the matter to end there?
Must the so-called original sin purportedly committed by Adam and Eve affect every other human being? Does it make sense for a loving father like you to create a very boring place called heaven and a most hideous and terrible place, hell, where people will be tortured forever? Do you derive pleasure in seeing people suffer without end?
Why are you indifferent to the plight of Nigerians? God, why can’t you afflict corrupt Nigerian leaders, both past and present, and their collaborators, with the worst incurable diseases on earth to ensure they did not benefit from their wickedness and reinforce the futility of corrupt enrichment and primitive accumulation?
Why are you silent while pastors and imams are shamelessly deceiving and stealing from gullible Nigerians in your name? Are you happy with the cash-and-carry religiosity dominating Nigeria right now? Why are good people suffering so much whereas the wicked ones are enjoying in this world? If you are perfect, why are people born with serious congenital abnormalities?
On a personal note, why did you make me an albino when you know that I will live in the tropics where human skin needs a lot of melanin for protection from the sun’s harmful ultra violet radiation? To even worsen matters, you chose as my place of origin a backward country dominated by cruel ignoramuses who stigmatise and mistreat albinos just because they look different – how come?
Why wasn’t I born in Iceland or other places where the colour differential between albinos and others is small and where the sun is very mild? Indeed why even create albinos in the first place – is it because you ran out of melanin and just wasn’t patient enough to make more?
God, whatever you are, I have so many questions for you, but the limitations of space cannot allow me to ask all of them in this essay. Meanwhile religious bigots should stop making silly excuses for God, because assuming that indeed God actually created the universe and all it contains, the truth is that, given the serious imperfections in the universe (and in the earth particularly), the universe is certainly not the product of a perfect omnipotent being. That is why I sometimes sympathise with the suffering God of process philosophy postulated by Alfred North Whitehead.
Believers might respond to my questions by quoting the scripture which declares that “the ways of God are not the ways of man”. Well, that is the whole point of this essay: if the ways of the almighty are so different from ours, how can we be sure that he has all the attributes traditionally ascribed to him? How can we really be sure that he even exists?
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