Open Journal of Philosophy
2013. Vol.3, No.1A, 67-76
Published Online February 2013 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 67
Theistic Humanism and the Critique of Monotheism
as the Most Evolved Religion
Chiedozie Okoro
Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos Akoka, Yaba, Nigeria
Received September 22nd, 2012; revised October 21st, 2012; accepted November 7th, 2012
The main thrust of this essay is to examine how Maduabuchi Dukor’s theory of theistic or spiritual or
comprehensive humanism (2010: p. 77) or what I choose to call theistic pluralism, can be made the basis
for deconstructing and resolving the crisis created by monistic and monotheistic orientations in the Afri-
can psyche and on the African continent. The need for such demolition and resolution exercise is intensi-
fied by the fact that theistic or pluralistic humanism promotes the temperament of—live and let live (i.e.
the Igbo onye biri ibeya biri) as against the monistic and monotheistic orientations which propagate a
“thread bare kind of humanism” (p. 63). Consequently, my critique of monotheism is basically focused on
the African condition. As of today and with the aftermath of double strands of colonization Africa is beset
with the Triple Heritage problem. The razor of my critique is pointedly directed at the expression triple
heritage, which not only portrays the psychological state of the African, but in actual fact determines the
totality of the African condition in contemporary times. In launching my attack on the triple heritage con-
cept, I go through the window of monotheism. Therefore, my critique of monotheism is intended for the
following reasons: 1) to explore the metaphysics of monotheism, which I hereafter refer to as theistic mo-
nism, and bring to the open the consequences of such orientation in a pluralistic society; 2) to examine the
metaphysics of Traditional African Religion (ATR), which in agreement with Maduabuchi Dukor, I here-
after christen theistic humanism or theistic pluralism, with a view to showing that African traditional
thought system is antithetical to the monotheistic culture of the Arab and the Caucasian; 3) to query the
rationale behind juxtaposing metaphysical systems that are antithetical to one another, in the name of tri-
ple heritage; and 4) to suggest way(s) of drastically ameliorating the anomaly on ground.
Keywords: Theistic Humanism/Pluralism; Monotheism; Polytheism; Triple Heritage
The term critique entails the critical and technical analysis of
issues intended to outline the positive and negative angles to
such issues. It is a demolition process of critical judgment of
some salient ideas about certain structure that one approves or
disapproves of. In actual fact, thinking or reasoning involves
the act of destructuring obsolete ideas and of drawing up new
plans for rebuilding old edifices afresh. As a process of decon-
struction a critique has as its main target the rehabilitation of
obsolete structures for the purpose of transforming and im-
proving the human condition. Consequently, the present dis-
course proceeds by way of acknowledging the advantage of
monotheism in assisting a people to build the aggressive and
strict orientation needed for the rapid development of their
society and the dogged defence of their worldview. However,
given that monotheism is absolutist, totalitarian and imposi-
tional, given also that the monotheistic temperament is the basis
for intolerance and the so much acrimony in the world today,
one wonders if a religious orientation that fans the embers of
war and encourages the dehumanization of humanity is worthy
of being ranked as the most advanced form of religion.
At this juncture I make a departure from monotheism and
embark upon the refutation of the assertions of Ludwig Feuer-
bach and George Wilhelm Hegel that Christian monotheism is
the most developed form of religion. My approach shall be one
of a two-way attack, in which I shall make a hermeneutic as-
sessment of monotheism and a deconstruction of the term
polytheism. On the whole, the process of hermeneutic decon-
struction shall reveal that it is a misnomer to address African
Traditional Religion (ATR) as being polytheistic. It shall also
be shown that the term polytheism does not necessarily mean
the worship of many Gods, but the view that God is one ulti-
mate, indivisible reality that can be understood and approached
from as many dimensions as possible. Hence, instead of poly-
theism, I speak of theistic pluralism, of theistic humanism. In
the same vein, monotheism does not necessarily mean the wor-
ship of one God, but the dogged insistence that there is only
one superior God and only one superior way of serving this
superior God, meaning that monotheism is in actual fact theistic
By the critique of monotheism, I do not intend to suggest that
its very idea and practice should be discarded or abolished, but
to expose the danger monotheism poses to the world at large,
and to argue that the monotheistic orientation is inadequate for
organizing the affairs of a pluralistic society. The danger in
monotheism lies in its vicious, totalitarian and absolutist nature
to either psychologically intimidate or forcibly coerce non-
adherents to accept its tenets as uppermost and God ordained,
thereby promoting the antagonistic attitude of winner takes all
and loser looses all. Such antagonistic and discriminatory atti-
tude is definitely inappropriate for organizing the affairs of a
pluralistic society.
The phrase pluralistic society refers to the new state (i.e.
black African countries) in Africa created by the erstwhile co-
lonialists. Colonialism through the process of balkanization
merged together people of different ethnicities. Coupled with
this is the presence of three different religious strands. So the
pluralistic society I speak of is one that is multi-ethnic, multi-
cultural and multi-religious. A problem of which metaphysical
orientation best suits the organization of such multidimensional
society then ensues. Is it the monistic order of theistic monism
or the pluralistic order of theistic humanism? The foregoing
question is addressed by the methodology of critique I have
adopted which is known as hermeneutic deconstruction, which
forms the hob of African symbiotic metaphysics, Heidegger’s
hermeneutic phenomenology and postmodernism.
Hermeneutic deconstruction is a process of technical assess-
ment of issues which yields interpretations meant to reveal or
bring to light facts which hitherto appear hidden. Beyond re-
vealing that which appears concealed, the fundamental thing
about hermeneutic appraisal of issues is that it should suggest
ways of resolving problems amicably. Hence, central to her-
meneutic interpretation is the principle of duality. In duality
contraries and opposites are not seen as exclusive, discrimina-
tory, compartmentalized and antagonistic, but rather inclusive,
mutual, symbiotic, complementary, interconnected and equi-
primordial. Within this principle of duality, technical interpre-
tation which yields revelations further rotates on a cyclical
The cyclical triad I speak about consists of the concept of the
circle and the tripod. The concept of the circle shows the inter-
connectivity among things. To illustrate, contrary to Hegel’s
and Marx’s principles of dialectics which portray progress and
development to be linear, hence, unidirectional, such that per-
manence (rest) and change (motion) are seen to be antithetical
or antagonistic; the concept of the circle in hermeneutics shows
that permanence and change are complementary, making pro-
gress and development to be cyclical. Thus in Heidegger’s
hermeneutic phenomenology we see that non-being is not in
opposition to being, neither is being a position prior to non-
being, such that the antagonism between the two results into a
synthesis. Rather, being and non-being are simply equi-pri-
mordial. Equi-primordiality in this instance, means that being
and non-being mutually co-exist. Like male (positive) and fe-
male (negative) factors are complementary, being and non-
being as opposites and contraries, symbiotically inter-relate.
Needless to say, the complementarity of being and non-being
makes the entire cosmos to be in eternal process, eternal state of
becoming, propped up on the duality of permanence (rest) and
change (motion), thereby making the universe order to be cyclic.
The cyclical order of the universe in turn rotates on the triad of
the past, the present and the future. In the African symbiotic
metaphysics, we see that the past, the present and the future are
one integrated whole captured in the age grade system, mortu-
ary and birth rites, and in the institution of the ancestors. As the
aged (representing the past) depart through mortuary rites into
the ancestral world, ancestors are assumed to transmute into the
spirit world (of the future), only to be reborn as children (rep-
resenting the present), who then go through the age grade proc-
ess and expectedly become aged again. The circle continues ad
infinitum. This order of concentric circles otherwise called the
cyclical triad is aptly represented with an equilateral triangle
which is superimposed in a circle, showing that the circle and
the tripod are central to hermeneutics either as a logic of history
or as a logic of discourse.
Elsewhere in “On the Problem of Hermeneutics” (i.e. a subti-
tle in the chapter one of my Ph.D thesis) and in a paper entitled:
“The Logic and Epistemology of Life-Force in African Phi-
losophy”, I made bare the procedures of hermeneutic discourse
in Heidegger’s hermeneutic phenomenology and in Afa divina-
tion system, which invariably constitutes the heart of African
epistemology and logic. In both works I showed that central to
the hermeneutic delineation of issues and events (be it in Hei-
degger’s hermeneutic phenomenology or Afa divination) are
the concepts of the circle and the tripod.
James Watson (1971), for instance, explains that Heidegger’s
hermeneutic phenomenology is meant to make explicit the
meaning of human existence such that the concealed will be
unconcealed, the veiled will be unveiled, all with a view to
demystifying the ancient belief about the hiddenness of things.
Consequently, Heidegger’s analysis of the human condition
(daseinanalytic) proceeds cyclically (i.e. in a tripological/tri-
logic pattern). First human concrete existence is undertaken in a
careful analysis of the Umwelt, Mitwelt and Eigenwelt which
correspond to the “being”, “phenomenon” and “logos” (i.e. the
merger of ontology and phenomenology which makes philoso-
phy a universal phenomenological ontology). It is here that we
enter into Heidegger’s triangular cum tri-circle-logic, otherwise
rendered; Logos as Discourse which is opposed to Logos as
Logic. The former depicts logos as understanding, intelligibility,
that which reveals or brings a thing to light; the latter portrays
logos as ratio, logical analysis, sheer ratiocination or delibera-
tion. Thus, Logos as Discourse designates what Heidegger re-
gards as “Hermeneutic Situation” (1962: p. 275), which vari-
ously refers to the circular structure or circularity of both
daseinanalytic and hermeneutic phenomenology. By implica-
tion, hermeneutic phenomenological discourse proceeds by way
of analysis, synthesis and revelation.
The hermeneutic procedure of the Afa divination system
proceeds on a tripological/tri-logic synergy of analysis, synthe-
sis and signification. Signification here defines the result of the
divination process that expectedly should reveal or unveil a
particular message (i.e. prescription) which then would be ap-
plied to a given situation, making revelation and application to
be by-processes of signification. What we notice at this level is
that the rule of deduction (depicting holism) and the rule of
induction (depicting particularism and probabilism) now role
into one to produce the binary system that progresses by way of
interfusion or integration. In essence, holism and probabilism
are interconnected in Afa divination. It is this interconnectivity
that brings about interpretation in the form of revelation. Need-
less to say, the revelation process is a continuous one that jux-
taposes opposing views that are in turn resolved at a higher
level. The assumption is that the universe of forces is one of a
continuum and in such a universe; things constantly undergo
alteration, hence, solutions like problems are in themselves
transient. But once a problem has been deciphered and solution
given, propitiation and appeasement should follow immediately
for the purpose atonement. Atonement in itself is a process of
reconciling the personality of the individual (who either has a
problem or has erred) with the cosmic forces around such a
person or with other members of the society on whose freedom
the individual infringed. In this essay, I regard atonement as an
intellectual process of deconstruction and reconstruction meant
to address the African condition as it relates to the triple heri-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
tage problem.
Having defined my methodological approach, my next line
of question is: With reference to the African condition, how
does my analysis so far relate to the problems of monotheism
and triple heritage? I address the foregoing question under the
following subheadings: Of Theism in General, Delineation of
Religious Anthropomorphisms, Religious Anthropomorphisms
and the African Condition, Atonement of the African Condition,
and Conclusion.
Of Theism in General
Theism derives from the Greek theos meaning God. It has
been defined as “the view that all limited or finite things are
dependent in some way on one supreme or ultimate reality of
which one may also speak in personal terms” (Lewis, Encyc.
Brit. 2010). Elsewhere, theism is defined in a broad sense to
mean the belief in any god or gods, but in strict philosophical
and theological sense, it refers to monotheism which is the
belief in one ultimate universal God (Microsoft Encarta, 2008).
Hence, theism is understood as: “Belief in one God who is per-
sonal and worthy of worship, who transcends the world but
takes an active interest in it, and who reveals his purpose for
human beings through certain individuals, miraculous events,
or sacred writings. A theistic God is personal if he can be un-
derstood by analogies drawn from human experience and if
human beings can enter into a personal relation with him and
petition him in prayer. Such a God is considered worthy of
worship because he is believed to be morally perfect and infi-
nitely powerful” (Ibid.). In line with the foregoing, David L.
Edwards defines theism as: “Belief at least in one God as the
creator of the universe, and the savior and ruler of human life,
and as transcendent because he is eternal and infinite (i.e.
unlimited by space and time) as well as immanent (i.e. present
and active in space and time)” (1988: p. 855).
From the above, we gather the impression that theism is
about a suzerainty covenant between two unequal entities: one
being supernatural, yet having the dynamism to manifest its
presence in the physical; the other being natural but also pos-
sesses the ability to comprehend and conceptualize about the
supernatural. The need thus arises to ask the question: What is
the nature of God such that as a transcendent reality unlimited
by space and time, it can immanently show its presence in
space and in time?
Back in the days of catechism one was taught that God is
spirit who has no beginning and no end. Later on, ones reading
of the Bible revealed that of the three men (Moses, Elijah and
John the writer of the book of Revelation) who tried to com-
prehend God in the most pure essence, two of them (John and
Elijah), had encounter with light and sound. Again, ones mod-
est knowledge of Islam reveals that Mohammed, the progenitor
of Islam, in his meditations in the mountains, attained a level of
spiritual consciousness where upon he discovered that man as
the “I” (i.e. pure consciousness) is a microcosm of cosmic con-
sciousness. Hence, in Islam, there is the concept of Anaaniya.
The Arabic Anaa means I, while Niya means ness, Anaaniya
therefore means Iness. In Islamic Sufism Anaaniya is that point
of spiritual consciousness, beyond the empirical and the mental
(or ideological), whereby the individual comes to realize self as
a sum or spark of the total forces of the universe. It is that point
where man realizes self as pure ego, and as pure ego, man is a
merger of earthly and heavenly forces, it is the point where man
fuses with the soul stuff of the universe and attains the realiza-
tion that he is the beginning (author) and end (finisher) of all
things. Anaaniya is comparable to the Buddhist Nirvana or
Edmund Husserl’s Transcendental Ego. In the Quran, the
Anaaniya concept is reflected thus: Innani Ana’llau lailaha illa
Ana, meaning “I am the Lord, there is nothing except me”
(Quran 20, vs: 14). As one developed further, one began to
gather a versatile view of God. For instance, my forage into
Memphite theology/philosophy shows that Ptah also referred to
as Logos is the uncreated primordial principle of creation com-
parable to the Chinese Tao, the Buddhist Universal Soul and
Ein Sof (i.e. God as infinity) of Jewish Kabbala (Matt, 1997: p.
23). Then, I began to retrace my steps to ATR from where I
gathered that God is pure spirit, force or vital-force, boundless,
limitless and without beginning and no end. In the words of D.
E. Idoniboye, for the African: “Spirit is the animating, sustain-
ing creative life-force of the universe. Spirit is real... Its reality
is primordial and it is if not superior at least as primitive as that
of matter. In its pure state it is unembodied” (1973: p. 83). As
unembodied spirit is immortal and transcendent, yet it pos-
sesses the dynamism to get embodied in matter only to disen-
tangle itself when it wills. Needless to say, the ability of spirit
to exist independently, get entangled with matter and later dis-
engage, not only makes spirit transcendent and immanent, it
actually makes spirit a creative force. It then began to dawn on
me that force (i.e. light) and consciousness are not only con-
nected, they are one intricate whole. My curiosity grew
To clear the air of doubt around me, assuage my curiosity
and free myself of religious influences, I journeyed into science
all with a view to encountering an alternative view of the ulti-
mate reality (i.e. the ultimate source as the ens realissimum)
totally different from that proffered by religion and spirituality.
My discovery is amazing. In science, the doctrine of spirit is
demystified. What spirituality and religion call spirit is the
same as science’s energy or the light-wave principle. Thus, in
place of spirituality, a new theory of electromagnetism emerges.
Just as spirit is immortal, has no beginning, no end, and is un-
created; energy as material essence is uncreated, indivisible,
indestructible, hence like spirit is eternal, without beginning or
end. Energy is in fact a law onto itself. Energy is uncreated, but
it can be tapped, transferred from one body to another and also
transformable from one state to another. Hence, what used to be
considered the magical and miraculous dynamisms of spirit
becomes the law of thermo-dynamism in science. Energy com-
prises dense matter and subtle matter. Dense matter portrays
energy in its solid, liquid and visible gaseous state, while subtle
matter portrays energy in its incorporeal and invisible state. At
this level, matter as energy has no weight, no density, no mass
and no smell. In this state, energy has the capacity to begin
from “point zero and expand to infinity” (Weber, 1986). At this
level of subtle matter, we are back to pure energy as light-
waves, which is that omega point (i.e. energy as pure con-
sciousness) from which everything began. It is in this sense that
David Bohm speaks of the “hollowmovement theory” and goes
ahead to state that—creativity is nature’s signature (Bohm,
1986: p. 91). To this Bohmian assertion, Stephen Hawking
reiterates thus: “The point is that the new raw material doesn’t
really have to come from anywhere … The universe can start
off with zero energy and steal create matter” (Weber, 51).
But if you still doubt that spirituality’s spirit and science’s
energy are one and same stuff, all you need do is to pause a
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 69
while, and in this state of silence, take a deeper look at the
characterizations of spirit in spirituality and energy in science.
Spirituality posits that God as spirit is immortal, hence, is not
subject to change, distance and time. Little wonder St. Augu-
stine authoritatively proclaimed God’s infiniteness thus: No
time is co-eternal with thee. However, Einstein’s relativity the-
ory shows that energy as light-wave is not only co-eternal with
God (spirit), it is in fact the same as God. Light travels at 182,
282 (over 310, 000 miles) kilometers per second. At this speed,
there is no change, no distance, no time. We are thus back to
Parmenides’ Being. Einstein buttressed his new discovery with
the Dual Paradox Theory. According to this theory, if we
manufacture two vessels, we make one travel at the speed of
light and the other at a speed less than that of light, and we put
two boys (both ten years of age), one in each vessel, and make
the vessels to travel ten light years and back. It will surprise us
that the boy in the vessel that travels at the speed of light would
remain exactly ten years old, while the boy in the vessel that
travels less than the speed of light might have grown old and
frail or even dead (depending on the speed his vessel travelled
relative to the speed of light).
Baffling as it appears, the truth remains that both spirituality
and science open us up to the realization that spirit and energy
are one and the same. After all, the scientist and the mystic are
both investigating the same reality but in different names. This
point is reiterated by J. I. Unah as follows:
The scientific law of Conservation of Energy was formu-
lated using the categories of matter alone (i.e. objects of
empirical intuition). But the doctrine of the immortality of
the Soul was formulated using the categories of the mind
alone (i.e. mental constructions out of empirically unac-
countable manifestations) (1997: p. 57).
The fact is that going by the doctrines of electromagnetism
and spirituality energy or spirit is the self-animating, sustaining
principle of the universe.
At this juncture I like to emphasize that my intention at de-
lineating the nature of spirit is meant to demonstrate that God in
its purest essence is not in any way close to the conceptions and
image-nations of humans in the various world religions. In its
purest essence therefore, God is simply spirit, light or con-
sciousness, devoid of any creed or faith. However, by the for-
going submission I do not in any way imply that the God riddle
has finally been cracked. It in fact remains an ongoing debate,
and men will never cease, at the level of religion, to keep con-
ceptualizing God in the images they deem fit and in accordance
with the circumstances encountered. Therefore, the quest to
understand the nature of the ens realissimum who as a neces-
sary being is the ens causa sui, continues unabated. But the
elusiveness of such a quest stares us in the face. This is demon-
strated by the fact that the religious mind is easily intimidated
and cowered by the awesomeness of the unknown and before
long beholds an almighty image to whom propitiation must be
made thereby, leaving the mystic and the scientist as the only
ones entangled in the search for the ultimate source. But
whereas empathy is the mystic’s procedure of inquiry, the sci-
entist’s methodology is epistemological dissection. The mystic
wants to become one with the cosmic force, so that the micro
(the mystic) and the macro (cosmic force) can become inter-
fused, the scientist observes energy (i.e. cosmic force) from a
distance, his interest is to disembowel it and bring forth its hid-
deness to the open. As Renee Weber explains:
In splitting the atom, the physicist releases vast amounts
of energy that was needed to hold the core of the atom
together, its holding power. The operation requires the
physicist’s intelligence, effort, time, and commitment, but
not his very self, which can remain fundamentally un-
changed. Of the mystic, more is required. He is engaged
in deconstruction and reconstructing not some neutral ex-
ternal reality, but himself (1986: pp. 10-11).
In the quest for the ultimate source, the mystic takes as his
laboratory his own body and his aim is to find the God (spirit)
essence that lies within. The physicist seeks for the spirit es-
sence in the atom. But both body and atom are of course mate-
rial. Consequently, in the search for the God essence locked up
in matter, the mystic says he encounters ether. When tasked to
explode into the core of ether, the mystic says he encounters
nothing. Again, in the Something Called Nothing, Physical
Vacuum: What is it? Podolny (1986) explains that the quest by
scientists to dig into the issue of ether ended in futility, mean-
ing that the scientists’ quest ended in a nothing. If either by way
of spirituality or science, nothing becomes the end result of the
quest for the primordial beginning, it means that we are in for
an endless search. The search is endless because man is a die-
hard fanatic who will never give up on the attempt to unravel
the ultimate beginning.
The bottom line of the above analysis is that man is primarily
a metaphysical being who possesses the capacity and ability to
transcend the limit of experience and project into the unknown
all with a view to explaining that which appears mysterious.
Obviously, like Hermes Trismegistus of ancient Egypt, Py-
thagoras, Plato, Spinoza and virtually all Eastern sages say;
“the quest for outer being is bound up with the quest for inner
being” (Weber, 7). Still on this matter, Miguel De Unamuno
explains that “man is preoccupied with the question of God
because he is preoccupied with himself, with his own existence,
the meaning of his life, and especially what will happen to him
hereafter” (1954: p. 114). J. I. Omoregbe on his part reiterates
thus: “it is the problem of man that leads to the problem of
God” (1983: p. 1). It then becomes the case (as asserted by
Protagoras of Abdera) that man is the measure of all things.
Man is the one speculating and conceptualizing about God. God
remains hidden and can only be made manifest through the
minds of humans. If this be the case, every pronouncement said
to be made by God is a pronouncement made by man. In like
manner, all conceptions of God are attempts by humans to
adorn the hidden in the image of man. Invariably man, accord-
ing to Feuerbach, is the creator of God.
Delineation of Religious Anthropomorphisms
Anthropomorphism is a way of personifying the unknown or
the apparently hidden in human form. It is a way of attributing
human characteristics (i.e. human forms, features and behavior)
to a perceived non-human entity. Recall that spirit in its pure
form is unembodied, a quality that endows it with omnipres-
ence, just like light waves are everywhere present. Anthropo-
morphically, spirit is adorned in human frame; spirit acquires a
human identity, a human image, thereby announcing the birth
of God. In Hegel’s dialectics, spirit as position stands in maj-
esty against matter and is antithetically opposed by matter.
Since spirit needs matter to manifest its majesty, it gets entan-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
gled with matter so that matter can be endowed with motion,
and having accomplished substantial change in the material
realm, spirit willingly disentangles from matter and reconciles
itself to itself. In religion the exact opposite happens. Humans,
ideologically images spirit so that spirit is forever entrapped in
a designed human frame. Thus, as an anthropomorphic deity,
spirit can no longer get disentangled; rather, it gets re-cloned in
diverse notions. This has been the story of religious anthropo-
morphism in history.
But how is it possible that man is able to domesticate the
unknown (i.e. spirit) in human form? The answer to the fore-
going question is found in human nature. Man is both a meta-
physical and an anthropological being. Anthropologically, man
is immanent, sentient and transient. Metaphysically, man is a
transcendent being who has the ability and capacity to tran-
scend the bounds of experience. Therefore, metaphysically,
man is able to contemplate and conceptualize about the un-
known (spirit) in a pure mental form. Anthropologically, he is
able to image the mental in human form. This dualistic nature
of man is well articulated by Immanuel Kant in The Critique of
Pure Reason (1970). Kant identified four faculties of the mind
which are; reason, understanding or the apperception, imagina-
tion and sensibility. To sensibility belong the attributes of space
(i.e. outer sense by which we become aware of the external
world which is called sensation) and time (i.e. inner sense by
which the intuited as sensation are arranged in sequence or
series which we call perception). In sensibility therefore, we
encounter the world in empirical form which is technically
referred to as a posteriori knowledge. To the understanding
belong the twelve categories through whose function of sche-
matism we form both rational and empirical concepts about the
world which technically is referred to as a priori knowledge.
The imagination is the mediator between sensibility and under-
standing, making it to be the unifier of concepts and the intuited.
As the unifier of concepts and the intuited, the imagination is
both productive and reproductive, a function (quality) that
makes it the faculty of trance (i.e. image formation). Reason is
the faculty of transcendent ideas whose essential function is to
legislate notions (ideas or ideals or forms) which are imposed
on the world to direct human activities.
Now, whereas sensibility, imagination and the understanding
are faculties meant to apprehend and analyze the phenomenal
(physical) world, reason is the faculty of metaphysics. Present
in man therefore, are both anthropological and ontological
qualities (i.e. the faculties of the mind). Again, whereas the
anthropological qualities of man form the basis for inductive
inference (i.e. Kant’s transcendental aesthetic) such that by way
of abstraction (an inductive procedure), man infers from par-
ticular instances in the cosmos, a primordial beginning called
the Uncaused Cause or the Unmoved Mover (i.e. Aquinas’
cosmological argument for God’s existence); the ontological
qualities of man form the basis for deductive inference (i.e.
Kant’s transcendental analytic and dialectic) by which process
man invokes (idealizes) a universal essence as the primordial
base of all things (i.e. Anselm’s ontological argument for God’s
existence). Little wonder in the fourth antinomy, Kant pro-
ceeded to show that the proof for the existence of a supreme
being by theology is a pure speculation of reason.
The analysis done above shows that man is capable of con-
ceiving God either as a concept or an image. Conceiving God
as a concept is a pure philosophical (metaphysical) project
meant to secularize the God talk for the purpose of directing
human earthly affairs. The aim here is to attain earthly bliss.
God conceived as an image of worship is a pure religious affair
and the purpose is to create a supernatural ideal for directing
human earthly activities. The aim here is to attain heavenly
bliss. But whether conceived as a concept or an image of wor-
ship, God remains essentially a notion. Nonetheless, my interest
is centered on the religious notion of God and it is at this junc-
ture that I would like to discuss the issue of the worship of idol
which is commonly associated with ATR.
Distinction is often made between monotheism and polythe-
ism. Monotheism is defined as belief in one supreme and uni-
versal God, while polytheism is derogatively defined as the
worship of many Gods. Because those grouped as polytheist
belief that organic matter is endowed with force which man can
religiously interact with, words like animism and totemism are
used to qualify polytheism, in the same way as polytheist are
denigrated as heathens. Microsoft Encarta (2008) defines hea-
then as “an offensive term that deliberately insults somebody
who does not acknowledge the God of the Bible, Torah and
Quran”. It is in the foregoing sense that Hegel and Feuerbach
regard Christianity, Lutheran Protestantism in particular, as the
most evolved form of religion. By implication, it is assumed
that monotheism is a more evolved religion than polytheism.
On the surface, the foregoing assertion appears to true espe-
cially, if we refer to the evolution of monotheism in ancient
Egypt some 3500 years ago by Pharaoh Amenophis IV (1350
BC) of the Eighteenth Dynasty, son of Amenophis III, grandson
of Thutmose III, who forcefully harmonized the whole of the
Egyptian pantheon of Gods into one universal entity called
Aten. Unlike other Egyptian Gods Aten was not represented in
any physical image. Pharaoh Amenophis IV then changed his
name to Akhenaten, meaning “son of the universal God” (i.e.
Aten) and also built the city of the universal God known as
Akhitaten. But like Ninian Smart warns, since in polytheism
there is a bold acknowledgement of a supreme universal God
who is above the smaller Gods and to whom the smaller Gods
account, it is erroneous to assume that monotheism is a higher
form of religion than polytheism. This assertion of Ninian
Smart opens up a new opportunity for me to take a closer look
at the terms monotheism and polytheism.
Recall I stated that God is spirit, that spirit in its pure essence
is unembodied, and is therefore comparable to energy or con-
sciousness. Recall I also stated that the human mind by is con-
stitution is capable of imaging or representing the bodiless es-
sence called God in human form, which is technically referred
to as anthropomorphism. Now the imaging of God in human
form can be done in two basic ways which include: mental
image and physical image. At the level of mental image, physi-
cal representation of God is strictly prohibited. Thus, the hall-
mark of monotheism is that it represents God purely as a mental
image. This mental image persists in the minds of the adherents
of monotheistic religions who claim to have personal encounter
with their Gods (I hereby refer to the different monotheistic
conceptions of God in Judaism, Christianity and Islam). At the
level of physical Image, God, the supreme universal force be-
comes “incertus and remotus” (Idowu, 1982: p. 142), God be-
comes incomprehensible in any image possible. But since God
is essentially a force that is everywhere present, physical repre-
sentations of it are replicated in the forms of divinities and dei-
ties. Thus, the hallmark of what has been christened polytheism
is that God is not worshiped in any form (since God as force
has no image), rather, divinities and deities act as intermediar-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 71
ies. It is along this line of thought that Maduabuchi Dukor de-
scribes ATR as African Polymonotheism (2010: p. 190), which
through the processes of pantheism and panpsychism (pp. 181-
190) makes the practice of religion humanistic, empirical, exis-
tential and pragmatic (pp. 186,190).
It should however be noted that entities known as intermedi-
aries are not exclusive to polytheism. Intermediaries also form
the basic feature of monotheistic religions. For instance, Moses
is the key figure in Judaism, in Christianity it is Jesus Christ
and in Islam, Mohammed is the principal figure. Consequently,
the main difference between monotheism and polytheism is not
in image worship, but in the manner of approach to God. So
long monotheism and polytheism are anthropomorphic in na-
ture, it means that both are guilty of image worship, both are
neck deep into idol worship. The real difference between
monotheism and polytheism is that whereas the former insists
that there is only one way to God, the latter states that there are
innumerable ways to God. In fact, in polytheism, I as an indi-
vidual, am a way to God. Same goes for every individual. The
basic difference here is that whereas monotheism is monistic,
reductionist and impositional, polytheism is pluralistic and
therefore, humanistic.
Since like monotheism polytheism asserts the reality of one
universal God, but since unlike monotheism polytheism offers
us myriad ways to that ultimate realty which religion calls God,
it is gravely erroneous and grossly inadequate to describe ATR
as a polytheistic religion. In the light of the foregoing, Bolaji
Idowu describes ATR as “Diffused Monotheism” (p. 204). I. E.
Metu on his part describes ATR simply as “African Theism”
(1988: p. 71; cited by Iroegbu, 1995: p. 361). Maduabuchi Du-
kor variously refers to it as “Theistic Humanism”, Spiritual
Humanism”, Comprehensive Humanism” or simply as “Poly-
monotheism”. I on the other hand think that the more appropri-
ate description for ATR is “Theistic Pluralism”. The main point
here is that a religious (theistic) orientation is said to be plural-
istic if it offers many ways by which one can reach or relate
with spirit. In like manner, a religious (theistic) orientation is
said to be monistic, reductionist and impositional if it grants
only one way to reach or relate with spirit. To use Naiwu Osa-
hon’s analogy in The End of Knowledge (2002), God as spirit is
comparable to the internet system which requires engines like
Google, Yahoo, MSN, Hotmail, etc, to penetrate. These internet
engines play similar role as the divinities in ATR, Jesus Christ
in Christianity , Moses in Juda ism a nd Mohamm ed i n Islam. We
can already see from the foregoing that whereas ATR affords us
the opportunity to so many engines to penetrate into the super-
natural, the monotheistic religions offer one opportunity each
and still go ahead to insist that of the limited ways, only one
among them is superior.
It is at this point that I depart from the conventional defini-
tions of monotheism and polytheism. Going by the analysis
made above, it is clear that monotheism is not the belief in one
universal God, rather, it is the insistence that there is only one
superior way to God and that whoever does not adhere to that
way is doomed. In like manner, polytheism is not the belief in
many Gods, rather, it is the view that there is one universal God,
but that there are manner ways to reach that God. Based on this,
I reject the term polytheism and in its place, I substitute the
term theistic pluralism or theistic humanism. The difference
here is that monotheism is guilty of caging God in the form of
mental image which it considers to be eternal. Realizing this
guilt of monotheism, the Indian sage Sankara declares as fol-
O Lord, pardon my three sins.
I have in contemplation clothed in form Thee Who art
I have in praise described Thee Who art ineffable
And in visiting temples I have ignored Thine omnipres-
ence (1945: p. 19; cited by Idowu, 1982: p. 38)
By refusing to name the ineffable source, but instead choose
to make the formless become immanent in the personalities of
countless divinities, theistic pluralism heeds to the admonitions
of Daniel Matt who states thus: “When you contemplate the
Creator, realize that his encampment extends beyond, infinitely
beyond, and so on, in front of you and behind you, east and
west, north and south, above and below, infinitely everywhere”
(1997: p. 25). Since religion is inseparable from culture and
since every people of the world developed one cultural orienta-
tion or another, the following questions readily come to mind:
Would it not amount to serious conflict if religious orientations
of antithetical nature are allowed to co-exist in a society? And
would the conflict not be made worse if two monotheistic re-
ligions that are antagonistic to each other are allowed to
co-exist with a third religious orientation which basically is
Religious Anthropomorphisms and the
African Condition
The African condition I speak about in this instance refers to
the juxtaposition of three strands of religion whose metaphysi-
cal orientations are antithetical one to the other. Incidentally,
the juxtaposition of these three strange bedfellows has been
dubbed triple heritage. One is then urged to take a second look
at the word heritage. As denoted, the word heritage simply
means legacy, status, condition or character bequeathed to or
inherited from ones ancestors, family or social class. Except
connotatively, the word heritage has clandestinely been ad-
justed to include imposed culture, to regard the culture of the
invader as a heritage is to negate the saying that culture can be
borrowed, adapted or readapted. Worst still, using the singular
heritage instead of the plural heritages to qualify three different
strands of culture, unwittingly, but inevitably propagates the
spirit of absolutism which stands in contradiction to the tradi-
tional African temperament of pluralism.
Chinweizu makes it abundantly clear that the rise of mono-
theism tantamount to an assault on the African gender diarchy.
With the ushering in of monotheism by Pharaoh Akhenaten:
The ancient spirit of tolerance and the syncretic rivalry
which were traditional between the cult of Kemet’s gods
were abrogated and in keeping faith with the logic of
monotheism, and with an iconoclastic passion alien to
Kemetic temperament, Akhenaten strove to extirpate the
Kemetic galaxy of gods, so that only his sole god, Aten,
might shine in the sky, day and night (2005: p. 18).
Thus with the invention of monotheism by Akhenaten, the
ancient spirit of syncretism and the temperament of pluralism in
Egypt were destroyed. To paraphrase Allan Gardiner; the new
faith of Atenism could not spread without the suppression of
the countless gods and goddesses hitherto worship“the very
word for gods was a taboo” (1964: p. 228, cited by Chinweizu,
139). Akhenaten’s Atenism was matrilineal in character, but it
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
gave rise to three other brands of patriarchal monotheism which
are Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These latter brands of
monotheism bear similarities and differences with Atenism. On
matters of similarities, like Akhenatenian monotheism, patriar-
chal monotheism is monistic, absolutists and impositional.
Second, like Akhenatenian monotheism, patriarchal monothe-
ism was founded to promote societal cohesion, political stabil-
ity and economic prosperity. However, in the evolution of pa-
triarchal monotheism from Atenism, “three important devel-
opments are discernible: a more categorical assertion of the
monist attribute of the deity, massculinization of the sole deity
and the rise of cultural monolatry” (Ibid. 141). We note here
that Akhenaten’s monotheistic God (Aten): “like other self-
created deities of Pharaonic Egypt, was androgynous. It was
addressed as ‘the mother and father’ of all things created”
(Ibid.). Contrary to this, patriarchal monotheism declares its
God to be solely male and without any female attribute which
makes patriarchal monotheism to be more absolutist and totali-
tarian. And whereas in the Akhenatenian matriarchal monothe-
ism, “the female and male” are combined in order to create
balance in the society and by so doing, tame excessive aggres-
sion, in patriarchal monotheism, the complete absence of the
female factor would leave the world at the mercy of an over-
zealous God who has no form of restraint. Chinweizu is more
explicit on this matter.
Aten was addressed as “Thou sole god, like whom there is
no other”. In Judaism and Christianity, the attribution of
uniqueness is rendered as the henotheist injunction by
Yahweh/Jehovah to his worshippers: Thou shalt have no
other god before me”. With Mohammedanism, this prima
donna demand for precedence becomes the categorical
declaration: “There is no god but Allah”, an absolute de-
nial of existence to all other gods. In these claims, injunc-
tions and declarations are rooted the intolerance displayed
by these religions; they sanction their adherents’ zeal in
eradicating the rival cults of other gods, so as to deny
them recognition, precedence or existence (Ibid.).
The rise of monotheism in history meant the evolution of
metaphysical monism which happens to be the ground for ab-
solutism, reductionism, impositionism and intolerance. The
monistic and reductionist attitude of metaphysical monism lays
in the fact that it: “Reduces all reality to some common sub-
stance, or that it focuses attention on an ultimate divine Being.
Of a variety of things that are-P, Q, R, S, T, U, ad-infinitum-a
metaphysician says he sees or experiences P or that the thought
of P occupies his mind” (Unah, 1995: p. 65). By encroaching
upon the domain of another metaphysical monism sows the
seed of discord, fundamentalism and violence. Hence:
When a metaphysician takes a basic position and relegates
whatever does not fall within his conceptual scheme to a
second order reality or a total unreality, he is thinking a
nihiliating thought. When a metaphysician repudiates
what does not “fit in”, he nihilates it as not. In other
words, metaphysical thought cancels out as nothing what
does not fall within its perspective as Being (pp. 66-67).
Now, let us suppose that there are other metaphysicians
holding repudiating views, the tendency is that the world is
made a battle field for the supremacy of views, which soon
lapses into a ding dong affair of winner takes all and loser loses
all. It is in this sense that a metaphysician sees his view as the
only real reality and repudiates other views either as utter non-
sense or absolute nothing. This attitude of nihilism is well pro-
nounced in patriarchal monotheism as evident in the following
proclamations: “I am that I am; thou shalt have no other god
beside me” (Judaism). “Christ is the way, the truth and the light,
no one cometh to the father but through him” (Christianity).
“Islam is the supreme ‘will’ of Allah and Mohammed the seal
of prophets” (Islam). Such pronouncements are not just anti-
thetical to metaphysical pluralism of the African, they fuel the
ember of “fundamental blasphemy” (p. 53). Fundamental blas-
phemy is that interminable way of speaking without letting
others express their views. It is that manner of arrogating to self
the air of superiority, thereby looking down on others as the
camp of opposition to be converted (either through persuasion
or coercion) by every means possible. Hence, monotheism, like
metaphysical monism, by attempting to subsume all existing
religious systems under one universal orientation extols the
attitude of fixism and the nihilistic and vengeful temperament
which threatens human freedomthe freedom to “see and say”
(p. 45).
By accident of Arabic and European colonization of Africa,
post independence Africa harbors two main strands of patriar-
chal monotheism which are Islam and Christianity. These two
brands of monotheism are not only hostile to each other, meta-
physically; they stand in antagonistic opposition to the African
thought system. Both Christianity and Islam begin from the
point of negating each other. Christianity holds that Christ is
the only begotten son of God; in Islam such assertion amounts
to speaking “monstrous falsehood”. Orthodox Christianity
holds in the Trinitarian concept of one God; for Islam Allah is
one and indivisible. By the doctrine of Christianity, Muslims
and non-Christians in general cannot make heaven. By the Is-
lamic doctrine, Christians and non-Muslims cannot make para-
dise. Christianity posits that Jesus is savior of mankind, Islam
recognizes Jesus as a prophet, while Mohammed remains the
seal of the prophets. Granted then that both Christianity and
Islam operate on the common orientation of monism, like the-
ism and atheism, capitalism and scientific socialism, they re-
main doggedly opposed to each other. Both maintain their en-
trenched positions without any willingness to yield grounds. Is
it then of any surprise that both Christianity and Islam are fa-
natical and intolerant of each other as well as other world relig-
Monotheism like metaphysical monism operates on the prin-
ciple of dualism which is antithetical to African metaphysical
pluralism which operates on the principle of duality. “Dualism,
in philosophy, is the theory that the universe is explicable only
as a whole composed of two distinct and mutually irreducible
elements” (Microsoft Encarta, 2008). In dualism, opposites and
contraries are seen to be in conflict or in antagonistic relation-
ship. Dualism then operates on the law of dichotomy and by
this law, contraries and opposites are polarized, making the
affairs of the universe to rotate on a lope-sided linear scale.
This explains why in Christianity and Islam there is a polarity
between this world (earth) and the other world (heaven), be-
tween God and Satan, and between heaven and hell. For in-
stance, in both Christianity and Islam, Satan is an eternal rival
of God. Dualism as such operates strictly on the law of exclu-
sivity. Duality on the other hand upholds that opposites and
contraries are mutual, symbiotic and complementary. This ex-
plains why in the African thought process, the universe re-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 73
volves on a cyclical scale, so that centrifugally things move
away from the centre, centripetally they return to the centre.
There is then no divide between this world and that world, be-
tween heaven and hell. Besides, the African Satan is not a vain,
wicked and callous entity who willfully wants to frustrate the
work of God all the time. The Satan of ATR is rather an ap-
pointee of God who as a cosmic policeman oversees the affairs
of the universe. And unlike the God of Christianity and Islam
who is an absolute monarch, the God of ATR functions by way
of delegation of duties (i.e. to the divinities). Evident in the
foregoing is the fact that duality operates on the law of inclu-
By the law of inclusivity, reality is seen as being multi-fac-
eted, multi-directional, multi-dimensional and pluralistic. By
the law of exclusivity reality is seen as being unidirectional,
uni-dimensional indivisible wholehence, monistic. By the
law of inclusivity entities are allowed to be the way they are (i.e.
unaltered). By the law of exclusivity entities must be reduced to
one supposedly superior and accepted mode of life. In this
process, the original essences of these entities become bleached
and altered. Now if the African mode of reasoning is that of
inclusivity which promotes pluralism and if the mode of rea-
soning for Christianity and Islam is the law of exclusivity
which promotes monism and reductionism, my question is:
What rationale is behind the acceptance of metaphysical sys-
tems which are antithetically opposed as one common heritage?
And if we now realize the foolhardiness in such a position, the
question which also follows concerns how we can proceed
about the amelioration of the anomaly on ground?
Atonement of the African Condition
As earlier stated, in traditional African thought system where
spirit or force is regarded as the primordial operating principle
and man is understood to be an embodiment of society and the
cosmos, atonement is the process of propitiation and appease-
ment meant to reconc ile man with ot her members of t he society
as well as the cosmic forces. The watchwords here are concilia-
tion and reconciliation, which in actual fact are processes of
integration. However, for the present exercise, I regard atone-
ment to be an intellectual principle for construction and recon-
struction meant to appraise the African condition with a view to
rehabilitating such condition so that the African can overcome
the confusion in which he finds himself entrapped. Atonement
in this instance becomes a hermeneutic process for re-inter-
preting and deconstructing the African condition.
The beauty of hermeneutics is that it affords one the oppor-
tunity to interpret and deconstruct situations the way one deems
it fit and in accordance with the facts on ground. In the first
place, contrary to dialectics, hermeneutics posits that history is
multi-directional, multi-dimensional and pluralistic. In an essay
entitled: “Is the Wheel an Immutable Concept: A Dialectical/
Hermeneutical Delineation of Change”, I attempted a compara-
tive analysis of dialectics and hermeneutics in relation to the
problem of change. There I showed that contrary to the dialec-
tical procedure which is linear, uni-directional and hence, mo-
nistic and reductionist; the hermeneutic procedure, being cycli-
cal and multi-directional allows for a pluralistic assessment of
issues and by so doing promotes pluralistic interpretation of
human existence. Needless to say, such pluralistic outlook
happens to be the prevailing orientation in the contemporary
world order. It forms the core of African metaphysics, herme-
neutic phenomenology and postmodernism. Therefore, my
choice of hermeneutic deconstruction of the African condition
through the process of atonement is not only adequate but
Besides, hermeneutic deconstruction as atonement follows
the procedure of double demolition. By this is meant the intel-
lectualization and secularization of African spirituality, wherein
is locked up the metaphysical principle of integration, which
should in turn act as the foundation for deconstructing Euro-
Christian and Arab-Islamic traditions in order to purge them of
the dogmas of monism and reductionism. Recall I stated that by
the African condition, I understand a pluralistic society in
which reside three world traditions which are diametrically
opposed such that cohesion and progressive development are
seriously hampered. It is only wise and proper that the resolu-
tion of such conflicting situation should be done by inculcating
into the psyche of the people a pluralistic orientation. Once this
pluralistic orientation firmly takes root in the collective psyche
of Africans, it will help to re-enact the syncretic attitude of
“live and let live” or the “win win” temperament which used to
be the hallmark of African existence.
In the pre-colonial years when Arab and European cultures
had not intruded upon Africa, pluralism informed the way of
life for Africans. This very spirit which held Africans together
was broken upon colonization. Chinua Achebe captures it suc-
cinctly in the following words: “Now he has won our brothers
and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife to
the things that held us together and we have fallen apart” (1984:
pp. 124-125). The “he” being talked about here is no other than
the erstwhile colonizer who, using religion as a potent force,
disemboweled African culture. In Petals of Blood Ngugi Wa
Thiong’o precisely explains how the African spirit was disem-
Today children, I am going to tell you about the history of
Mr. Blackman in three sentences. In the beginning he had
the land and the mind and the soul together. On the sec-
ond day they took his body away to barter it for silver
coins. On the third day seeing that he was still fighting,
they brought priests and educators to bind his mind and
soul so that these foreigners could easily take his land and
produce (1977: p. 236).
The tools for systematic colonization of Africa were religion
and education. In Things Fall Apart Achebe reiterates the fore-
going point through the story of Mr. Brown the missionary at
Umuofia who upon seeing that proselytization brought little
progress decided on systematic conversion through education.
Thus the principal goal of colonial education was to teach: The
children to learn to obey what the missionary recommends, who
is the father of their soul, to ensure their total submission and
obedience (to the will of the colonizer), and to avoid develop-
ing the spirits in the schoolsto teach students to read and not
to reason (Hylton, 2003).
Colonialism had the agenda of abolishing African culture and
its place, transplant and transpose the culture of the colonizer
upon the African. It is such nihilistic act that created the prob-
lem of the Estranged African Psyche. Through the process of
decolonization, African independence leaders were supposed to
reintegrate the African back to his culture so that the African
can find in his culture the esteem required for regaining his
personality. A plethora of ideological orientations emerged to
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
tackle the African condition. Among such ideological orienta-
tions are African Socialism, Democratic Socialism and Neo-
Welfarism. But the decolonization project of African inde-
pendence leaders was fraught with one fundamental problem.
African independence leaders also suffered from the problem of
alienation. This was largely responsible for why most of them
could not see the basic difference between the African meta-
physical orientation and the metaphysical system of the colo-
nizer. Granted some of them such as Julius Nyerere and Leo-
pold Senghor vehemently argued for a return to and a re-sus-
tenance of African value system, but the programmes outlined
by these two leaders were not comprehensive and adequate
enough to achieve the goal of re-orientation. This perhaps, ex-
plains why the structures and institutions of colonialism were
left intact. For instance, religion and education, the very tools
for re-orientation (i.e. decolonization) were left in the hands of
missionaries who are principally agents of colonialism. So, give
and take, decolonization met with failure because African in-
dependence leaders relied on ideological and religious systems
whose metaphysical and epistemological orientations are dia-
metrically opposed to the African traditional world outlook.
Like I pointed out in another paper entitled: “Ontological
Evaluation of Decolonization Theory in Postcolonial African
Philosophy”, insofar as there was ideological alienation, it
means that decolonization did not take place. If at all it did,
then, what took place as decolonization lacked profundity, at
best, it was mere window dressing.
Kwame Nkrumah is one leader who addressed the problem
of the dissociated African conscience directly. Nkrumah quite
understood the fact that colonialism left Africa in a most com-
plex, confusing and devastating state and that there was the
urgent need to reverse this state of anomaly. As he states:
Our society is not the old society, but a new society
enlarged by Islamic and Euro-Christian influences. A new
emergent ideology is therefore required, an ideology
which can solidify in a philosophical statement but at the
same time an ideology which will not abandon the origi-
nal humanist principles of Africa (1978: p. 70).
Nkrumah proposed Philosophical Consciencism (Ibid.) as the
“ideological orientation whose aim shall be to contain the Afri-
can experience of Islamic and Euro-Christian presence as well
as the experience of the traditional African society, and, by
gestation, employ them for the harmonious growth and devel-
opment of that society” (Ibid.). The proposed principle of har-
monizing the conflict on the African soil and in the African
conscience is known as Categorial Conversion. This principle
takes dialectical materialism to be its operating methodology.
But the materialist dialectics Nkrumah speaks of is one that
acknowledges the duality of matter and mind. In which case,
philosophical consciencism takes matter to be the “primary
realty, not the sole reality” (Ibid. 88). Thus, he rejects the the-
ory that matter is motionless (inert). He also rejects the theory
that matter is apathetic to motion (inertia). For him, matter is
dynamic. Matter is simply plenum of forces and its dynamism
lays in the fact that every quantitative transformation results in
a qualitative change, in the elevation of the human condition
from a lower to a higher form of existence.
Perhaps, Nkrumah’s emphasis on matter is hinged on the
Marxian truism that the real source of exploitation is not relig-
ion but the control of capital by the ruling class, who use relig-
ion as a smoke screen, and who in this instance is the imperial-
ist or the erstwhile colonizer. The watchword therefore, was to
gain control of state capital as a way of making sure that the
new state builds wealth for the collective well being of the peo-
ple. This might be the reason why Nkrumah advanced that the
political kingdom should be sought after first and all other
things shall follow. Nkrumah is quite right about this claim.
Political autonomy is definitely the way to societal reconstruc-
tion, only that this bold proposal lost sight of two principal
First, in trying to invert Marxian materialism into African
theory of forces and vice versa, Nkrumah was oblivious of the
fact that he unwittingly merged two metaphysical systems
which are diametrically opposed. The real problem here con-
cerns how the monistic and reductionist metaphysical system of
Marxian dialectical and historical materialism can be perfectly
harmonized with the dualistic and pluralistic metaphysical sys-
tem of traditional Africa? Such eclectic juxtaposition of dia-
metrically opposed metaphysical systems would only generate
further conflict in the society, in the same way as it would gen-
erate a conflicting account of man, mind, history etc. Needless
to say, Nkrumah is not alone in this eclectic juxtaposition of
metaphysical orientations which are diametrically opposed.
Second, Nkrumah’s proposal lost sight of the proverbial say-
ing charity begins at home. Bertrand Russell succinctly cap-
tures this fact thus: “In the advanced countries, practice inspires
theory, in the others, theory inspires practice. This difference is
one of the reasons why transplanted ideas are seldom so suc-
cessful as they were in their native soil” (1972: p. 601).
Arab-Islamic and Euro-Christian intrusions dealt a devastat-
ing blow to African culture and imposed on Africans foreign
modes of existence. A juxtaposition of these two alien tradi-
tions with the African one will only succeed in making Africans
become second rate Europeans and second rate Arabs. The right
and proper thing to do was to revamp the destroyed African
foundation and use it to domesticate the two alien traditions. If
we think this is improper, then we have no choice in the matter
but to look to history to draw inspiration.
Africa is not the only one that has witnessed foreign domina-
tion nor is it the only one that has found itself is an utter state of
confusion whereby there exists cultural conflict. Kamet (ancient
Egypt) before and during the reign of Akhenaten had the prob-
lem of cultural conflict. Thus, Akhenaten’s harmonization of
the religious systems in ancient Egypt was principally aimed at
building a common platform for political, economic and social
cohesion. Again, in 325 AD, Constantine, through the Nicene
Conference of 219 Bishops, formalized Christianity into the
official religion of Roman Empire, all for the purpose of build-
ing a common political, economic and social hegemony. 570
AD marks the birth of Prophet Muhammad which also signals
the ascendancy of the Arabs. Prophet Muhammad rallied his
people around Islam so that they could have a platform to re-
buff Christian and Jewish domination and subsequently make
attempt at Islamizing the rest of the world. In the 16th century
England, Henry VIII revolted against the Roman order. In place
of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, he initiated the English or
Anglican Church. He made English the official language of
England, and also ordered that English history become the offi-
cial history of the English. In 17th century Japan, the Tokugawa
Dynasty, seeing that Christianity weakened the Japanese heri-
tage, ousted the Christian missionaries, and ordered Japanese to
return to the indigenous religion. To save Japan from further
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 75
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
contamination, those who refused to revert to the traditional
order were promptly executed. As recent as 1948, upon gaining
control of China, Mao proceeded to clear China of the confu-
sion into which it was entangled. He banned Christianity and
Islam in China and made Confucianism the official way of life
for the Chinese.
From the summation made above, it is clear that apart from
Akhenaten whose action violated the serenity of ancient Egyp-
tian society, from Constantine down to Mao, the intention was
to reconstruct an already decadent situation. This apart, Akhen-
aten and Constantine’s actions show that religion is central to
socio-politico-economic organization. From Prophet Muham-
mad down to Mao, the point is made that religion must cohere
with culture for there to be societal cohesion and balance. Go-
ing down historical memory therefore, we can see that those
who obeyed the common injunction “charity begins at home”
were able to substantially and comprehensively surmount the
problem of alienation. The same cannot be said of Africa where
African leaders h a v e f ai l e d t o c o ntinuously heed this injunction.
Consequently, upon the attainment of independence what the
African leadership should have down was to develop a pro-
gramme for re-integrating the African back into his culture. The
aim of such programme would be to train and empower a crop
of intelligentsias whose task it is to embark upon the intellectu-
alization and secularization of the knowledge corpuses locked
up in traditional African institutions. Such a project is meant to
exhume the principle of pluralism locked up in African spiritu-
ality, which would then be made the basis of a National Orien-
tation Education Programme for re-orienting the society. The
purpose of such education system would be to make the African
to touch base with the essence of his culture. At this level of
mental exposure, the African comes to value and love his cul-
ture. And having understood the essence of his culture, he pro-
ceeds to make it the basis for evaluating and adapting foreign
ideals. This way, Arab-Islamic and Euro-Christian traditions
would become domesticated, infused with the pluralistic orien-
tation and divested of their monistic, reductionist and absolutist
toga. This way, the African syncretic spirit will be re-enacted
such that the African would think of Islam and Christianity
within the African context.
The attempt to make the African pluralistic orientation as the
basis for ameliorating the African Personality problem caused
by monistic and monotheistic orientations has been hinted at by
Maduabuchi Dukor in his treatment of the triple heritage prob-
lem. He makes allusion to Olu Holloway, a grandmaster of the
Freemanson and Olori Oluwo of Reformed Ogboni Fraternity
(ROF), both of whom crave for how the pluralistic nature of
ATR could be harnessed for the resolution of religious crisis in
Black Africa.
In my view the African condition will keep getting worst if
we do not toe the line of thought suggested by Maduabuchi
Dukor. Wise civilizations do not depart from the metaphysical
systems which form the hob of their cultures. In actual fact, a
people’s culture is defined by their spirituality and in their
spirituality lays their metaphysical system which in turn embel-
lishes the totality of their thought system, particularly, their
religious and educational systems. In the first place, religion is
metaphysics for the masses, while education has the task of
ecularizing a people’s spirituality for the purpose of meeting
up with contemporary challenges. These two must never be left
in the hands of foreigners or in the hands of agencies and agents
representing foreign interest. Besides, a wise government must
use every dynamic process possible to ensure that religion is
domesticated through a home grown educational programme.
Religion and education are pivotal to national unity. Whichever
government ignores this injunction is bound to lose both coun-
try and citizens to foreign control. Religion and education are
great weapons for dissociating the psyche of the people and the
unity of a nation (i.e. if both are alien to the culture of the peo-
ple). But if domesticated, religion and education are also great
weapons for instituting national unity and cohesion.
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