Let me make it clear from the start that I don’t believe in God, Jesus or Mohammed. I believe that we exist in a natural world, governed by natural laws. I also don’t believe in miracles. That’s that.
Yet I must admit that there are strange phenomena that happen, unexplained events in nature, but these aren’t miracles. The dictionary definition of a miracle is an event not explicable by natural or scientific laws. Such an event may be attributed to a supernatural being (especially a deity), magic, a miracle worker, a saint, or a religious leader.
The word miracle is also used to characterize any beneficial event that is statistically unlikely but not contrary to the laws of nature, such as surviving a natural disaster, or simply a “wonderful” occurrence, regardless of likelihood. Some coincidences are seen as miracles. In my view, such versions of miracles are mere coincidences.
For many believers though, God does interact with the natural order and he has a right to do so from time to time because he made the natural order and he can interrupt it if he likes. The ordinary believer thinks that God and angels (and the devil) interrupt the natural order to do good things like heal people, protect them from danger and provide for them in time of need, or in the case of the devil, to do bad things like cause pandemics like the HIV AIDS or Corona Virus.
Belief in God, therefore, provides meaning for believers. The most profound purpose of every religion is to make sense of the whole of existence, including, and perhaps especially, circumstances marked by suffering and tribulation. When events like a pandemic that cause suffering are devoid of a greater purpose, life starts to look hollow for the believer.
The history of religions is full of believers who risked their lives to defend their freedom of worship against some sort of authority. In the 17th Century, after the Roman emperor Diocletian prohibited Christians from gathering for worship, some of them were caught celebrating Mass in the town of Abitinae, in present-day Tunisia. They were tortured and eventually killed. Asked why they violated the emperor’s command, one of them replied, “Without the Lord’s Day, we cannot live.”
To give an example, closer home, Church heads in Makueni County, Kenya were recently quoted as wanting to be listed as providers of essential services in the fight against coronavirus. The clergymen accused the government of sidelined them in major decisions which reportedly put them at the centre of criticism after churches were closed.
“We feel that the best way to fight the unseen enemy is through involving the church where there is God’s spiritual powers and subsequently through the medical professionals,” said Rev. Nicholas Kyule, the Makueni clergy spokesperson.
Surprisingly, the church leaders criticized the government for only investing in science and turning a blind eye on faith. They said that it was unfair to close churches which offer essential services and insisted that they too can self-regulate and ensure social distancing as well as high levels of hygiene. This despite the fact that faith has never proven to heal diseases.
In March, 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak a global public health emergency. So far, over 2.4 million cases of Covid 19, including more than 170,000 deaths have been confirmed across the globe. A few weeks ago, Italy recorded the most daily deaths of any country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the first major world leader to test positive.
Recently in Kenya, the Health Chief Administration Secretary Mercy Mwangangi announced that a six-year-old had died from the virus. She said the young patient was at the Kenyatta National Hospital had an underlying health condition. In the US, just two months after America’s first confirmed case, the country is grappling with a lethal reality: The novel coronavirus has killed more than 1,000 people, a toll that is increasing at an alarming rate. With India ordering its 1.3 billion residents to stay at home, there are now roughly 3 billion people in some form of lockdown around the world.
In a world where many believe in God, the logical question to ask is: Where is this God?
Last year, Prophet Owuor, a self styled Prophet in Kenya, prayed for Mama Rosa, who reportedly ressurected. Mama Rosa’s husband Samson Rotirakori said he believed that his wife had died for about two hours, and that she regained life after he sought prayers from the prophet. Why can’t this mighty God, who has the power to resurrect the dead, get rid of the Corona Virus?
In South Africa, Pastor Mboro, whose real name is Paseka Motsoeneng has said that he is more than ready to go fight the Coronavirus demon straight in hell and he’s more than sure that he will defeat the demon bringing peace and stabalisation to the world. What Pastor Mboro asks for in return is just a fee of $100,000 to cater to his transport that will take him to hell to fight with the virus head-on.
“I am ready to save mankind, ” Pastor Mboro said, “I have seen a vision of how the Coronavirus demon looks like and I will defeat it,”
In my view, the Corona Virus is killing God slowly, but surely. God is dying a slow death, especially in Africa, due to this deadly pandemic. I do not want to declare God dead like Nietzsche, but I think the death of God is imminent. Let me explain why.
The phrase “God is Dead” first appeared in Nietzsche’s 1882 collection “The Gay Science”. However, it is most famously associated with Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, which is most responsible for making the phrase popular. Like myself, Nietzsche was an atheist in his adult life.
After the Enlightenment, the idea of a universe that was governed by physical laws and not by divine providence was now reality. Philosophy had shown that governments no longer needed to be organized around the idea of divine right to be legitimate, but rather by the consent or rationality of the governed — that large and consistent moral theories could exist without reference to God. This was a tremendous event. Europe no longer needed God as the source for all morality, value, or order in the universe; philosophy and science were capable of doing that for us. This increasing secularization of thought in the West led the philosopher to realize that not only was God dead but that human beings had killed him with their scientific revolution, their desire to better understand the world.
Yet in Africa, God seems not to be dead. Maybe this pandemic will lead to an African enlightenment. The killing of God. African still has the most religious people in the world. According to Leo Igwe, the reason why most Africans believe in God is because they go through religious indoctrination from cradle to grave. Africans are not allowed by family, society and the state to think, reason or live outside the religious box. In Africa religion is by force, not by choice. Religion is by compulsion and not according to one’s conscience.
Africans are brought up to believe that there is NO alternative to religion, when in fact there is. So in Africa, either you are religious or you are nobody — you are not a human being, you are nothing. There is too much social and political pressure on Africans to be religious and to remain religious. The social, political and sometimes economic price of leaving religion, renouncing religion or criticizing religion is very high. Africans profess all sorts of religious crap even when they know it is all nonsense.
It is time for Africans to ponder the place of God in their lives during this pandemic. Do we really need God in our lives? This could be a moment of enlightenment for Africa. The Corona Virus pandemic is likely to kill God. I hope it does.