Ghanas Many Problems: The Promise of Humanism 3

Posted: October 3, 2014 at 1:47 am

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Feature Article of Friday, 3 October 2014

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis

We are back yet again to the subtle relational dynamics between science and superstition. This question requires further clarification as superstition gradually begins to gain hold on public psychology, systematically replacing analytic thinking and threatening Ghanas development economics. The scholarly work of Dr. Amartya Sen, the 1998 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences awardee, linking gender equality, social justice, political liberalism, welfare economics, and poverty may have snippets of theoretical correlations to the general outline of our arguments. That having being said, we do also acknowledge the fact that in the ancient world (Egypt, China, India, Rome, Greece, etc) especially, science and religion never stood severally as antagonistic next-door neighbors in the philosophical investigation of the natural world, with the two coming across as Siamese twins instead.

We may have to add that the Age of Enlightenment (Age of Reason) and the Industrial Revolution, expansion of knowledge about the natural world, growing need for specialization, internecine tensions between science and religion brought about by vigorous scientific discrediting of superstition, modernity, etc., all contributed to complete decoupling of science from superstition. What we do also know for a fact that science, unlike superstition, makes adequate room for dialectic episodes of revision, repudiation, and debunking of established theories, laws, and hypotheses found operationally problematic in the event of new information, revelations or discoveries. As a matter of emphasis, superstition permanently finds itself fixed in time with all possibilities of theoretic renewal closed to new discoveries. For instance, scientists are presently looking for new innovative theories to explain new cosmic conundrums that have risen in the field of physics. Dark energy is one such good example of the handful of cosmic puzzles that currently has arrested scientists investigational attention and which the Theory of Relatively does not seem to sufficiently account for (See Prof. Eric Verlindes scientific paper On the Origin of Gravity and the Laws of Newton).

Can we find a fitting parallel example elsewhere to account for the juxtaposition of scientific flexibility? Let us see. A typical Christian has no problem gullibly accepting the miraculous birth of Jesus. But will that same Christian accept the miraculous birth of Buddha as divine revelation? Probably not! In fact the righteous hypocrisies go in the other direction as well. Again, are Christians willing to accept evolution as the quintessential backbone of the universe and life forms rather than St. Aquinass Five Proofs (Quinque viae) establishing the existence of God? Probably not! Charles Darwin took God out of the equational blueprint for the evolutionary parturition of the universe and life. The well-accomplished Christian scientist Dr. Francis Collins, in contrast, appends a divine signature to the evolutionary process, ultimately bringing back God from the abyss of obscurity. What were Charles Darwins and Friedrich Nietzsches reasons for killing God? And what were Francis Collins reasons for bringing back God from the land of the dead?

These questions are interesting for a number of reasons. We ask: Did they all look objectively at the same scientific evidence? Why did one make the evolutionary process entirely atheistic, the other entirely theistic? Our point is that religion and superstition are very powerful tools for mind control. They are exceedingly powerful in their controlling influence on human psychology because spirits, hell, deities, devils, heaven, fear, and other paranormal structures are involved. Cheikh Anta Diop and Albert Einstein are mortal. Enoch and Elijah are immortal. God and the Devil are immortal. We are also familiar with some of the worlds infamous dancing faces of the devils of science. Let us mention them here: Dr. Wouter Basson (South Africa), Dr. Joseph Mengele (Germany), Drs. Eugen Fischer and Stabsartz Bofinger (South-West Africa, now Namibia), Dr. Shiro Ishii and Otozo Yamada (Japan), Dr. Raymond A. Vonderlehr (America), etc., and the pain they collectively wrought upon the world via diabolical acts of human experimentation. Some may have a hard time trying to juxtapose or reconcile the atrocities wrought on mankind via science and superstition. Who are the Gods of science? None.

Thus it is superstition, not science, that ultimately puts man in close contact with the paranormal structures of transcendence. The fear factor which we mentioned earlier incidentally plays into ready, gullible acceptation of superstitious absolutism as a defined point of spiritual contact with the dreadful mystery and intimidating caprice of transcendence. Superstition therefore constitutes an avenue through which man takes advantage of opportunities offered him by his mind to understand or explain an extension of his environment whose ontological appreciation is otherwise narrowed by scientific materialism. The scientific approach to understanding the natural world operates likewise though the means and ends of scientific inquiry passes through the testable conduits of rationalism, verifiable observations, and empiricism. Nonetheless, the repressive intolerance of superstition and its un-amenable tendencies toward historical revisionism constitutes a major obstacle to advancement. The imagined or perceived threat from paranormal hellfire in the case of Christianity and Islam is not encouraging, either, given mans conscious experiences with the chemistry of fire, thus making acceptance of superstitious absolutism an easy undertaking to many.

Superstition also neutralizes serious investigational or exegetical tendencies toward Koranic inerrancy or Biblical inerrancy, making either sacrilegiously unmentionable. It could as well be that superstition may, perhaps, represent a mythologizing of life actualities and cultural normative in the distance past whose practical correlation to contemporary existential instances is lost in the remoteness of time. The metaphysical fluidity and crushing weight of this question may be beyond the empirical grasp of scientific affirmation. On the other hand, this and other questions drive a section of humanity to pursue the ideals of atheism, agnosticism, ignosticism (igtheism), and deism. Further, the ideological battle raging between proponents of creationism and evolution largely stems from superstitious impositions of grotesque epistemology and the realistic imperatives of science. The irony is that a significant portion of evolutionary theory itself is built on the infrastructure of superstitious absolutism.

The contrasting ideological animus between proponents of pro-life and anti-abortion (the right to life) directly translates into a connotative derivation of the philosophical conflict between creationists and evolutionists. Evolution is partly science, partly superstition. And science itself is partly infused with elements of superstition. Dr. Chandra Kant Raju, a world-famous Indian computer scientist, mathematician, historian, physicist, and statistician has written extensively on this subject (See his scholarly books The Eleven Pictures of Time: The Physics, Philosophy, and Politics of Time Beliefs and Mathematics and Religion: Essays on the Relation of Religion to Mathematics, Logic, and Probability and his scientific paper Cultural Foundations of Mathematics: The Nature of Mathematical Proof and the Transmission of the Calculus from India to Europe in the 16th CE). Thus we do ourselve
s a great disservice at the very point we exclude this useful knowledge, the subtle and not-so-subtle marriage between science and superstition, from general discussions on superstitious absolutism.

On another level the historical evolution of science is deeply intertwined with the absolutist charisma of superstition. Alchemy and psychoanalysis readily come to mind! Yet the metaphysical contestation between God and man, exactly as St. Augustines advanced it in The City of God and exactly as the Persian Prophet Mani developed it through Manichaeism, reflects in our treatment of girls and women at trokosi shrines and witch camps. An immediate cultural instance is the ritualistic auguries used to single out individuals believed to be doused in demonological mud, ritualistic strategies we deem methodologically sexist and therefore operationally problematic. Sadly most of the human outcomes of these questionable auguries are girls and women. Perhaps the deities involved in these divinatory rituals are female. Perhaps the numerical representation of women in the traditional priesthood may have to see a proportionate increase in order to bring about telluric and transcendental balance in gender relations.

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Ghanas Many Problems: The Promise of Humanism 3

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October 3rd, 2014 at 1:47 am