The Luo idea of god

Continuing from where we stopped a few days ago where we treated of African religion in general. We will now look at specific manifestations of the religious experience of different groups found in Africa.

Ogot (1964) notes that the original homeland of Western Nilotes is a difficult historical problem which has defied any satisfactory solution. What little is known is that about 1000CE they were living in the open grass plains of the present Equatorial and the eastern parts of the Bahr el Ghazal province of the Republic of Sudan.

The Luos, a Nilotic group, are divided into three groups; Northern, Central and Southern Luo and are found in Sudan, Ethiopia, Zaire, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. The Northern group found in Ethiopia and Sudan is believed to have moved the least as compared to their other kin who moved South to their present homelands in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda.

Studies show, that while the concept of god is similar in some fundamental ways between these groups, there re slight variations that have been attributed to changes in time and space as these groups moved and interacted with others along the way. The argument being advanced here us that a change in the way of life results in a change in the idea of god.

Ogutu (1975) informs us that to the Luo, Jok is the ultimate object of ritual and was worshipped at the chiefdom shrines which were either erected for the purpose or were unusual natural phenomena or outstanding landmarks in the landscape. In most cases, these shrines , those that were built, were the houses/ homes of the leader of the group. The function of Jok, we are told, was limited to the clan and chiefdom. They also believed that Jok rested where people wanted it to rest. One can see here that the god worshipped was still a local god, almost under the direction of its human worshippers. We see eventually, this god transformed to an omnipresent god.

In the same work referred to already, the author, referring to a work by Okot p’Bitek says sacrifices were offered at the chiefdom shrines to Jok (god) and to the ancestors and any hostiles ghosts were dealt with accordingly. It is evident there was some belief among the Luo of a life after death in some form. Where these spirits (ancestors) resided is one that I have not seen answered.

From Ogot (1961), we learn that to the Shilluk Juok. Jok is the greatest spirit, and creator and sustainer of the world and everything in it. He notes, referring to a work by Leinhardt, that Juok is conceived in trinity that is in spirit and body. While referring to an article by Hayley, he says Jok can be seen as a natural power permeating the universe, neither well nor badly disposed towards mankind, unless made use of by man. It can be said that Jok is a kind of impartial, impersonal, limitless and universal power.

Ogot argues that because the people believe the vital force, that is, jok, can only be received through intermediaries as the ‘spirits of the air’ or prophets. For this reason, it is expected that the ancestors or medicine-men, diviners should be treated with respect.

To the Padhola, another Luo group, Were (god) is conceived of as one Supreme Being that manifests itself as Were Madiodipo ( god of the courtyard), Were Othim (god of the wilderness). The name of god is never spoken, but always referred to as Jamalo ( the one from above) (Ogot, 1972).

It should be noted, in passing, that to the Central Luo, the idea of a god responsible for man’s suffering did not exist.

As I mentioned in the beginning, that the idea of god is determined in time and space, the Luo concept of god changed during their migration from a god that rested where the community wanted it to, to a god found everywhere (Nyakalaga). What merits comment here is that the sun and other stellar objects, as many others have claimed, was not worshiped as a god but rather was seen as a manifestation of god, that is, the sun as the eye of god.

While it is generally believed by majority of Kenyans that the Kenyan Luo have always been fisher folk, this is in deed far from the truth. Evidence show that they were pastoralists and agriculturalists and only adopted fishing once they settled around the lake region. Fishing became a religious activity centered on the fishing vessel.

It is to be noted, to the Luo, any doubt on the existence of god Nyasaye/ Were/ Jok was an absurdity.

The Luo of Kenya perceive god as  jachwech (moulder), nyakalaga (omnipresent) and jarit (protector). Unlike other groups, for example the Jews with their god of Abraham, Jacob and Isaac, the Luo see god as wuon ogendni (guardian of all people).  God is also said to exist in space (nyakalaga- everywhere present) and in time (wuon kwere- father of ancestors).

The cosmology of the Luo simply states that god moulded the earth. A creation ex nihilo is a concept they have no word for.


Ogot (1961) The Concept of Jok. African Studies, Vol 20 2.

Ogot (1964). Kingship and statelessness among the Nilotes. The Historian in Tropical Africa. 284-304

Ogot (1972). On the making of a sanctuary. The historical study of African Religion. 122-135

Ogutu M.E.G (1975) An historical analysis of the Luo idea of God. Unpublished Thesis, University of Nairobi.

 

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How would an atheist feel if scientists theoretically proved the existence of some higher conscience like God?

Scientists are not obsessed with proving stuff. Prove is not the purview of science but were that to say happen. I see no reason why it should be a problem for atheists.

What would be the nature of this higher intelligence?

Will it demand to be worshiped? Will it give reasons for making this demand?

How would the theist tell this particular existence is their god?

What if this existence is malevolent, will the theists still want to be associated with it?

What if this higher intelligence is just part of the universe?

What is my point here? That finding some existence slightly higher conscience [whatever that is] than humans does not advance the theists argument an iota.

A god not bound by space and time

Most likely doesn’t exist!

It is my contention that this post is built on premises that cannot be demonstrated, outright lies and logical fallacies. It seeks to answer

If there is a God, why don’t we see, hear or touch Him?

They tell us

But the answer defies human logic, reasoning and experience.

In simple speak, they are saying the question is unanswerable. One would think they would stop there, but no, they have much more to say.

I argue, we cannot speak of anything that defies logic (it makes no sense qualifying logic as human for that’s all we know), reasoning and experience. For where would we start? We will be in the realm of absurdities where fronkeys are the queens of the jungle and where sense doesn’t rule.

The authors of the article claim, relying on two verses only that

The God of the Bible, however, dwells in a different dimension—the spirit realm—beyond the natural perception of our physical senses.

A statement contradicted by the very bible. For example, when it is written Moses saw the hind side of god, it was a physical behind for what else would he be speaking of? When Adam and Eve are said to be hiding from YHWH, it’s not from a spirit they are hiding and there are several examples one would find in the bible that would demonstrate my point. In passing, I can include the verse, I think, in John that says no one can see me and live. This is not, in my view, talking about something spiritual, whatever that means, but about something physical, material that has extension.

A lot has been written about the non-existence of Jesus that I need not rehash it here. The empty tomb was the subject of this blog. Those who talk about the existence of Jesus should tell us what he did at age 15, 25, or even 27. Or are we to believe he was born, was 12 years, then 30 years and committed suicide at 33?

Genesis that talks about the creation of the world doesn’t talk about a creation ex nihilo. The most we can get from Genesis 1 is that god created the earth. In all instances when humans talk about creating something, the only meaning we give to the word is modification of what already is. We have no conception of a “creation out of nothing”. It is empty of meaning.

The authors write

Many people reject the Bible, the Gospels in particular, because it describes many miraculous occurrences—dramatic healings, resurrections, fire from heaven and spectacular visions, to name a few. They believe these things are impossible because they defy human experience and the laws that govern our physical existence. They thus conclude that biblical accounts of such things cannot be true.

And one is tempted to ask, have they read the old testament where donkeys talk, trumpets bring down walls, one man kills 1000 with a jaw bone, lights fire to the tails of 200+ foxes that he has managed to tie their tails together, the people brought back to life by Elijah, to name just a few! I defer to Jean Messlier’s argument against miracles, but I prefer this by Mark Twain,

The difference between a Miracle and a Fact is exactly the difference between a mermaid and seal. It could not be expressed better.

One can also refer to Walter Cassel’s response to Dr. Lightfoot  on miracles which can be found here.

In the paragraph below,

Regrettably, they fail to consider that God the Father and Jesus Christ can operate beyond the bounds of the physical laws that govern the universe. A God who can bring the universe into existence can certainly perform miracles such as those found in the Scriptures!

the authors are again making things up. There is no where in scripture, unless in reference to so-called miraculous feats, which are in themselves doubtful, does the bible talk of god acting out of the laws of nature. It is worth noting also, that to the writers of the bible, they do not refer to the vast universe as we have come to regard it. They know only of the earth around them and it is for this reason, the earth was created when the Sumerians were already in existence. Most creationists believe the earth is 6000+ years old or thereabouts. To believe in an old earth, they have to eschew the bible’s teachings and adopt that which geology has shown.

To their final question,

Where does this leave us?

I will answer, contrary to their claim that

“Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”!

we must demand an answer from deity to believe. The theist has told us the price of disbelief, a grave a crime, is eternal damnation. This subject cannot be treated lightly. The theist has their work set out for them.

It is however important to note the following,

  1. the bible does not tell us what god is
  2. the bible doesn’t talk about a god existing out of time and space
  3. the bible doesn’t talk of creation ex nihilo

and finally, I agree with P. Shelley B, when he writes and I quote

 

god is a hypothesis, and, as such, stands in need of proof; the onus probandi rests on the theist.

Dear atheist

You have met ufuomaee before. She has written a letter to atheists. She has diagnosed all of you and here is the prognosis

You have a problem.  You have an addiction.

and you may want to know what is the cause of your addiction. Guess.., I will wait.

The cause of your addiction is

 You crave to know.

And her remedy

In your longing for the truth, wait.  Wait in expectation.  Wait, and believe that there is a Truth to know.  Don’t start thinking about what it is.  Just free your mind.

In case you have any doubts, the truth is in the bible. I think she was being sarcastic but failed miserably.

This prayer prager group has a problem with anyone questioning POTUS45. Anyone who thinks tRump could be misguided is a Fascist. What would Jeebus say?

And finally, the best for last!

If there is no god.

Someone please tell me if those boy fucking priests didn’t believe in god?

Or the countless people who have killed others because god told them so didn’t believe in god.

Have a good weekend everyone and see you soon.