Allan Tacca is a Ugandan novelist and socio-political commentator. Every once in a while he writes about religion in his weekly Sunday column in the Monitor – and when he does, it stings! Here is his most recent article, as it appeared in the Sunday Monitor, 31st July 2011:
Just like other gods, Abraham’s God can die
Isis lies dead. Jupiter lies dead. Zeus…. Apollo…. Eros…. Cupid… Venus… Aphrodite… The roll-call goes on, and in their silence we forget that, in different great civilisations, these gods once answered man’s quest for an understanding of the forces that gave life to him and his universe. But their once undisputed power came to be questioned and their impotence finally exposed.
Some time back, I heard about a movement in Greece advocating a return to the worship of their ancient deities. The contradictions of doctrine in the Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), and their endemic violence in the name of faith make a return to Greek paganism a quaintly charming alternative.
However, it must be a tiny freakish movement; the general consensus is that the gods of the ancient Greece only survive in museum displays, literature, and scholarly enquiry. And we love them better that way, because they can no longer harm us.
It is interesting to note that, regarding the Egyptian and Greek civilisations, their highest achievements in architecture, art, mathematics and philosophy belonged to a pagan era. Abrahamic views took root when these civilisations were in decline.
In a sense, all religions are con jobs that start as cults. It was with a stroke of genius that Middle Eastern visionaries came up with the idea of a God who was ordinarily inaccessible to the five senses, and yet had the power to encompass the roles of all the earlier gods. If He “appeared” and “spoke” to a man at a dinner table, the man’s companions at the same table would see or hear nothing, except perhaps the contortion of the face of the chosen man. In European religious art, the experience of revelation was often depicted as similar to that of an orgasm.
How do you debunk this God? Biblical accounts show that Abraham, Moses and Elijah murdered thousands of people (especially priests) who served or worshiped other gods.
After European and Middle Eastern imperial and commercial power spread the idea of the one almighty and invisible God, it gained its own momentum. A semi-literate street preacher at the nearest road junction in Kampala now often thinks they know more about these things than all the rabbis in Jerusalem or the cardinals in Rome.
But just like the other gods, this God should show us His works; otherwise we defect to a godless universe; a universe that claims no mercy and threatens no malice; a universe that is as indifferent to our joy as to our suffering.
It is irrational reasoning (although many are brainwashed to reason that way) to say that those who were lucky to survive the Kyaddondo Rugby bombs were saved in a divine scheme. If it were so, then those who died also died in the same divine scheme. This makes God and the Devil an inseparable duality. If they are not a Siamese pair, then the Devil triumphed at Kyaddondo when his holier nemesis was temporarily asleep.
When God was alive, He would say to Moses: “I am in this burning bush. Take off your shoes…” Then to Samuel: “Get up; I will give you words to speak…” And to Jonah: “Go to Nineveh…”
God had that clarity; He would be very specific. Sending messengers has resolved nothing. We want Him here. His silence bothered a devotee no less saintly than Mother Theresa. Is He away fabricating other universes? Why is He dodging us?
Serious thinkers on this subject already know that God faces His greatest credibility crisis since the death of Jupiter, the king of the Olympian god. So this article is not dedicated to them, but to the many Sunday Monitor readers who have kindly responded to my July 17 article (“How Useful was God at Kyaddondo Rugby grounds?”), both in personal e-mails and to this newspaper. I am very grateful to them.
He writes in clear, lucid, and bitingly sarcastic prose… reading this, I am somewhat reminded of renowned author Sam Harris.
But of course, Allan Tacca is in a league of his own.
See other articles by Allan Tacca: