doubt, faith, awe


I don’t know about you, but I don’t think the book of Job as Sasot claims, teaches us about what faith entails, but about vanity of the gods. Why does Job suffer? Because god has placed a bet with Satan. Let’s pause for a moment and just think about this. Religious people of all persuasions insist Satan is the source of their problems always tempting them. In the story of Job, we learn they, Satan and god, are work colleagues, each granting the other a favour when need be.

Sasot, taking Job 38:4 out of context, uses it to castigate Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar for advising Job to repent. In actual fact, that particular verse is god refusing to answer Job’s query on why he suffers, instead he goes on a rant.

I find it strange, coming from an atheist, when she writes

What this implies is that nothing and no one can tell us what exactly God wants but God himself. Anyone or anything who weren’t there when He laid the foundations of the earth are all ignorant of how the Divine would unravel.

Which god?

In this next paragraph, she makes a virtue out of faith. She tells us

Fundamentalism is based on absolute certainty, while faith is based on uncertainty. Fundamentalism claims, faith trusts. Fundamentalism is unreceptive, faith is welcoming. Fundamentalism is the negation of doubt and the annihilation of the doubtful, while faith is the presence of doubt and the refuge of the doubtful. Fundamentalism arrests, faith surrenders.

And I am yet to meet a religious person who has faith and doubts they are destined for heaven or even entertains the possibility there are no gods and that they are wrong about religion and all that comes with it.

I agree with her when she says

Inspire your children to find their unique path to self-realization.

and only add that encourage children to doubt, to ask questions and to be open to new knowledge.

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

36 thoughts on “doubt, faith, awe

  1. Barry says:

    The story of Job tells me that “shit happens” – there’s no such thing as “karma”. His friends insist that his misfortunes are his own fault. The bet between God and Satan are simply a literary tool around which the story is set. It really is a pity that such stories are taken literally.

    Today’s stories may in due course become myths, and some members of a future generation may to think these stories actually happened, while others think they are complete nonsense and a pack of lies. Many episodes of a range of Movies and TV shows, not to mention books, do intend to give a social message, and sometimes these are best conveyed using fantasy, science fiction, imaginary worlds etc. I don’t think it was any different way back when the story of Job was conceived.

    One way (and by no means the only way) of understanding the Bible is illustrated in Truth and the Bible. This would largely be in line with how progressive churches in NZ understand the Bible (although large sections of their laity are somewhat resistant to this way of thinking). It has it’s flaws but it certainly makes more sense than a literal understanding so popular with fundamentalists.

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    • makagutu says:

      You certainly are right that the first tellers of this story did not mean it to be taken seriously or literally. But to a whole many people who believe the bible to be the inspired word of god, it is a different thing altogether

      Liked by 2 people

      • Barry says:

        The trouble is that too many people take “the inspired word of God” too literally and have ended up worshipping the words contained within the Bible rather than valuing the message behind the words – and caution in understanding the message is necessary as it was compiled in an age that was very different from our ours today. Perhaps it’s best used to help us understand how we got to where we are today rather than.try to shoehorn a 2000+ year old belief system into the modern world.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Barry says:

    And I am yet to meet a religious person who has faith and doubts they are destined for heaven or even entertains the possibility there are no gods and that they are wrong about religion and all that comes with it.“. Um, Hello? I take my religion very seriously, and it’s true I have no doubt about being destined for heaven. I’m not, as there’s no such place. Have I considered the possibility of no gods? I did in my teens and rejected the notion of gods except as a metaphor. What that metaphor is has changed over the years, and probably will continue to do so. Am I wrong about religion? Quite possibly. However, using what “God given” faculties I have, and what experiences I’ve lived through and live with, my religion as I understand it now, is best for me at this moment. It’s not likely to be of much use to anyone else though 🙂

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  3. I find the book of Job (an attempt at Theodicy) very interesting. Not only that but also that of Jonah, Elijah etc. I think Jewish scribes, priests and prophets considered themselves engineers of Jewish society. They conjure up stories and then fill in the gaps with their own rich imagination. How did I know Job’s story was made up? Because all the tragedies were said to have occured at about the same time and the writer finished abruptly without telling us in great detail about job’s recompense. He simply finished by saying Job had other children and lived for a further 140 years but we’re not even told how old Job was at the time of the tragedy and how long his affliction lasted. We are told initially he had 10 children, 7,000 sheep etc. He possibly was already old. Even as fiction this story is a crazy story.

    Needless to say, the old testament god was in every way a nature god. The Jews didn’t bow to graven images but their god manifested through natural events such as rain, thunder, light, darkness, storms, beasts etc. All these are elements of nature. And they did carry an “Ark of the covenant of god” which is synonymous with an ancestral wooden staff or relic in Africa. In ancient Africa, among my tribe (Voodooism practitioners) a man is expected to carry the staff of his ancestors wherever he travels to, as a symbol of his loyalty to his ancestors.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. shelldigger says:

    Ah yes, the tale of Job. I remember that one. I couldn’t get over the fact that this god is a real s.o.b. and why in the hell would anyone think this was a god worthy of worship? The preachers always have a spin though, you can count on that. This story is one of many where I just could not make my way toward belief, and this one is especially, morally reprehensible.

    Preachers, the original artists of spin. They can take the torturous tale of Job and make it a good thing. I wasn’t buying it.

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    • makagutu says:

      Preachers will make a good tale out of anything. Haven’t you seen apologists make sense of the massacres in Numbers?

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      • shelldigger says:

        I’m a long way removed from when I actually sat down and read the babble. But yes, I do recall many a “justifiable” massacre in there. I also recall sitting in the pews trying to reconcile the spin explaining the blood on the ground. I had a tough time with that too.

        I think every believer should read the bible thoroughly. We might have less believers…

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        • makagutu says:

          reading the bible is not enough. many read it and still think it is the word of god. they have to approach it differently only then will they see the absurdities contained in it

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          • shelldigger says:

            For me, the reading of the babble, without the colored twist of the forked preachers tongue, gave me all the perspective I needed. 🙂

            But yes, you are probably right, the bible glasses need to be taken off, or they are only confirming their biases…

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        • Barry says:

          The problem is that if you’re convinced that the Bible is the literal word of God, you’re going to distort reality to fit accordingly.

          But then there’s plenty of otherwise rational people today who will attempt to justify the deliberate mass killings of innocent civilians in the atomic bombing of Japan and the firebombing of Dresden because they were intended to reduce casualties to allied troops during the final stages of the war.

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  5. renudepride says:

    Good post to start a new week – congratulations! I hope that you had a wonderful and relaxing weekend, my Kenyan brother.

    “Inspire your children to seek their own unique path to self-realization.” I don’t teach children but I do frequently encourage to question, research and investigate – not just faith or religion but *everything.* When we stop doing that, the evolutionary process and progress halts.

    Naked hugs O Exalted Holiness! 🙂

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  6. Nan says:

    Not exactly the point of your post, but I have to correct an error. And it isn’t just you … most believers agree with what you wrote.

    God did NOT meet with “Satan” OR “place a bet” with him — nor were they “work partners.” He met with a group of angels and ha-satan (literal translation=”accuser”) was among them. This was NOT the “Big Bad Guy” depicted as “Satan” in the New Testament (although he did seem to be somewhat of a troublemaker in the Hebrew BIble).

    I only point this out because it’s just ONE of the many beliefs in the Christian community that is “off-base” — but it has been repeated so many times it’s become “fact.” If you read my book, you know this was one of my goals — to illustrate that all is not always as it seems. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. basenjibrian says:

    What a bunch of babble. Are you sure she is an “atheist”? She must be a colleague of John Grey?

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    • Barry says:

      That’s a rather narrow view to hold in my view. I think the last paragraph sums it up well:

      Inspire your children to find their unique path to self-realization. Encourage them to study comparative worldviews so they will become aware of the various ways humanity attempted to understand the ocean of which they are just but a tiny drop. Understanding those various attempts inevitably stirs one to become more tolerant of the various paths people have pursued in order for them to wrestle with the mystery of existence.” (emphasis mine)

      I disagree with mak’s interpretation that the story of Job is about the vanity of gods, but his background and experience is different from mine, so he’s entitled to his opinion, as I am mine. Because you don’t share Sass Rogando Sasot’s experience, that’s not justification to doubt she’s an atheist as she claims. I’m a non-theist, but I still find the metaphoric use of “God” appropriate in many circumstances.

      I believe Lesley Hazleton is correct when she states “Abolish all doubt, and what’s left is not faith, but absolute, heartless conviction. You’re certain that you possess the Truth — inevitably offered with an implied uppercase T — and this certainty quickly devolves into dogmatism and righteousness, by which I mean a demonstrative, overweening pride in being so very right, in short, the arrogance of fundamentalism.“.

      Liked by 1 person

      • makagutu says:

        I, too, agree with Hazleton. Without doubt, the possibility of learning diminishes. It is the belief that one group has the true god that has led to religious wars. A healthy dose of doubt/ skepticism is good.

        Liked by 2 people

        • basenjibrian says:

          And Truth need not be only religious truth. Pol Pot and his crew truly believed they were creating a New Kampuchea that would be Paradise once those pesky class enemies were all eliminated. (Which is why I blanche a bit at lefties who speak (in our own little internet echo chambers) of eliminating all “the rich”. That way leads to madness.

          Liked by 1 person

      • basenjibrian says:

        Hey, Barry! Just favorited your Blog. Interesting stuff. Did not realize you defined yourself as a Quaker. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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