The Power of Stories in Shaping and Reshaping our Worldview

Thought Leaders Series: 2018

The primary reason why we hold on doctrinal problems is largely because of our Sunday school experience.

For example, the idea of an angry God who requires the brutal death and blood of his incarnate son in order to reconcile with his creation is a major doctrine in Christian settings.

Consequently, any idea which contradicts or challenges this position fundamentally disrupts our understanding of the divinity of Jesus and perhaps most important, our understanding of how the world works.

This is because stories passed on at an early age are both powerful and dangerous. They are in fact some of the most difficult mindsets to unlearn.

Even when we are presented with better arguments and facts, we still find it immensely painful to detach from them. As such we end up upholding them simply for sentimental reasons.

Healingsprings fellowship: Human Capital Development

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The Royal Wedding

Thought Leaders Series: 2018

I have observed that many have been theologising on the recent royal wedding. In fact in some quarters, God favoured Meghan Merkel to be blessed with Prince Harry.

While I am happy for the newly weds, in my view, If it was God who favoured Meghan over the billions of single women who would have wanted to be married to Prince Harry in the world today, then God would not be benevolent – at least as we understand the concept.

Fundamentally, the idea of God’s sovereignty often leads to more ethical and philosophical questions when we try to explain it using such examples.

By the way, the question of injustice, or the Problem of Evil, is a cross cutting theme in most faith. It is a debate that has been with us from our very existence.

In Judaism for instance, thinkers would often ask why God did nothing to save the innocent from natural disasters, famine, sickness, diseases, pain, suffering and death. In some cases, they interpreted it as judgement for one reason or the other.

They asked why change or redemption often failed to materialise for the poor, vulnerable and powerless. Why their oppressors seemed to prosper, in spite of their evil deeds.

Put in today’s context, why most of the richest and prosperous countries tend to be countries that have prospered through exploitative practices, aggressive policies, nationalistic goals, and industrial scale corruption; and their victims still languish in poverty.

These thinkers observe that some evil people prospered, and some good people suffered till death with no form of justice, while others were killed for doing nothing wrong or illegal. Then they began to toy with the possibility of life after death. And subsequently, judgement for our actions while alive in the shape of heaven and hell.

The questions for believers then, especially those of the Abrahamic faith is: will we still continue within the doctrinal and moral framework of our faith if we knew that heaven and hell were only ideas developed by Jewish philosophers as a means of regulating their community through fear against behaviours that endangered their existence and prosperity?

This question is vitally important because a humanist will still be fighting for justice, and doing what is ethically and morally right, regardless of the existence of God, judgement, heaven, or hell.

This is because they are not motivated by the fear of going to hell, or by rewards, rather, they are inspired by what they believe is morally and ethically right for peaceful coexistence and prosperity of all humanity, regardless of faith, colour, gender, social class; or anything else that religion teaches or instructs which alienates, or divides humanity.

Healingsrings fellowship: Human Capital Development

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Do You Understand What You Are Reading?

Thought Leaders Series: 2018

In order to understand the Bible, one would need to understand the underlying principle or worldview of its contributors.

One of these principles is centred around the concept of objectivity, also referred to as the Objective Reality in some quarters.

By way of definition, largely, objectivity means the state or quality of being true even outside a subject’s individual biases, interpretations, feelings, and imaginings.

So, similar to other ancient religions, for the Jews, reality is not seen objectively, but rather, through the lenses of a theological system. As such, subject to religious and cultural biases.

The implication of this is that history, data, and facts as we know today are completely irrelevant in understanding the Bible. These phenomena do not exist in the world of the Bible, hence, we struggle to make sense today of stories like Adam and Eve, Tower of Babel, Noah’s Ark etc.

Case in point, their defeat against the armies of the Babylonians was not seen as a defeat as one will treat it in historical sense. For them, it was not a defeat, but the Sovereign Lord’s punishment for their unfaithfulness to his covenant with them. This fundamental principle anchors the Text, hence the constant admonition to faith and not rationality.

This is the challenge we face today when we start trying to rationalise the Text without doing the theology. When we do this, we are treating it as empirical or objective reality. Thus we start arguing with scientists and historians that the world was created in seven days, or that Noah’s Ark truly existed. When we do this we are merging two clearly distinct schools of thought: objective and subjective realities; and they are polar opposites.

The Bible is based on the latter. It was written with the biases of the contributors. This is reflected in the plots and character sketching. Therefore, if one is seeking objective versions of events, the Bible is not the right platform for such quest, academia will serve better.

These writers are not writing in the same genres we know today, therefore, to understand the Bible, we will need to understand their theology or philosophical framework.

If we really want to use the Bible as a tool for spiritual and social transformation, we will need to get into the world of its contributors, so that we can understand their message. Then we can begin the tedious work of extrapolation to see if, and how we can apply them to our world.

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