The Clash between Darwinism and Creationism: 1859 to present

In this posting, I’ll talk about the American response to Darwinism and the continuing clash between Darwinism and Creationism in North American schools; 1859-1900 and later developments. Such an examination will show how the same arguments have been adopted by scholars, theologians, and churches the world over.

Fundamentalist religious groups have never accepted the uneasy relationship that exists between religious institutions and the theories of evolution and natural selection in the Western world. In America, those who believe in the Judeo-Christian accounts of the creation of the world as outlined in the book of Genesis have for centuries acted as political pressure groups to eliminate the teaching of Darwinism in schools by imposing their beliefs on public education (Strickberger 2005).

Origin of Species.Because Charles Darwin published “The Origin of the Species” in 1859 when America was on the eve of the civil war, serious opposition to the work began in the 1870s in the post war period. Initial rumblings began to emanate that science was becoming a threat to religion. However, due to the presence of an imminent threat of biblical criticism, the Protestants failed to perceive the details of Charles Darwin’s study hence causing delay in their response. In 1873, during the international meeting of the Evangelical Alliance, the question of evolution was finally voiced. Charles Hodge; a Presbyterian theologian from Princeton took the challenge and allayed fears of the impact of evolution and natural selection by saying that these were not new concepts, the only new concept was Darwin’s own version of the two concepts.

By proposing a design that nature was controlled by chance, he concluded that Darwinism was atheism. After this initial declaration by Hodge, Borden P Browne who was a professor of philosophy in Boston University characteristically interpreted Darwinism as being expressive of; “Life without meaning; death without meaning; and the universe without meaning. A race tortured to no purpose, and no hope but annihilation. The dead only blesses; living standing like beasts at bay, and shrieking half in defiance and half in fright” (Pyne 1996, p.12)

For Americans, the Origin of Species and the Descent of Man only intensified the allegation that science continued to attack faith. By disregarding the underlying belief that humanity was a semi divine creation and that the universe was expressly designed for the benefit of mankind, the evolution theory and the schemes of natural selection posited that just like all the other animals, man too was involved in the struggle of existence. Theologians and religious institutions were expressly against the fact that the natural selection debased man to the level of other animals by denying human beings the unique qualities of the mind, intelligence and the soul.

Darwinism created doubts on three fundamental components that had maintained belief in religion for centuries. It shattered the belief in the presence of any design and purpose, the belief that there existed a Creator or a Designer of the universe, and lastly in the belief on the presence of the human soul. The shaking of the later belief consequently created pertinent questions on the existence of life after death-a belief that had been held belief in religion for centuries.

Not even the educated public could afford to be less attuned to the ramifications of the evolutionary theory and natural selection that had created confusion and controversy among philosophers, theologians and scientists. Some were driven to suicidal thoughts. A case in point is the wife of Historian Henry Adams; Marion Hooper Adams who after the loss of her father was engulfed in depression leading to her committing suicide due to depression and doubts on the existence of immortality after death (Pyne1996. p. 13). Her death was attributed to the controversy of the evolution theory as her husband; Henry Adams had uncannily predicted her religious crisis. Marion could not succeed in reconciling her beliefs in religion and the scientific evidences of natural selection.

The 19th century also saw the rise of American geology but its development was affected by serious controversies that were both theological and scientific. Just towards the end of the 18th century clashes over the origins of the earth had began to be felt in the intellectual circles. Catastrophists perceived Creationism as outlined in the book of Genesis as the only logical explanation to the perfection of nature. The “uniformitarians” were against this explanation as literally presented in the Bible. Instead they postulated that the formation of the earth resulted from uniform and continuous courses working over long periods of time. These debates were transported to the periods after the beginning of Darwinism in the 19th century (Mandelker 1984).

When the ramifications of the Darwinian Theory eventually reached the majority of Americans, their reactions reached dimensions of hysteria. Everybody sensed that with his study, Darwin had deliberately and effectively destroyed the fundamentals of religion. Earlier on through the works of Paley and other historians of his kind, the world had been made to believe that though miraculous and mysterious natural processes, God had directly created new species. From the geological records, these geologists and naturalists had almost completely convinced humanity that the earth as it existed was the product of a grand cosmic design implying that nature was reflective of the Divine Mind and Purpose (Pyne1996).

However, as the years trudged on to the lure of positivist science, new converts were being acquired to be practitioners of this novel empiricism. In essence, a new divide of belief was created. People had to either choose the orthodox view of creationism if it suited their understanding of existence or alternatively chose the novel scientific positivism as expressed in Darwinism. The overlap between these two facets characterized the notable hostility of Darwinism in America.

While creationism was held foundationally on the presence of a purpose of nature that satisfied the belief that the world and humanity moved towards a predetermined end, the theories of evolution and natural selection described the movement of nature to be marked with random and purposeless variations. Even though Darwin himself was persuaded that nature was governed by natural law as opposed to miracle, catastrophe, or the caprice of a Creator, he maintained that through these chance variations and adaptations in nature evolution proceeded along a probable evolutionary chain. In his journey to study the species in South America (1831-1836) on the Beagle, he had observed and recorded several mismatches between species and the environments they inhabited. This led to the postulation that as opposed to the creationist theory, to exist in the changing environments organisms had to espouse a wide range of adaptive mechanisms to ensure their survival.

The liberal Protestants in America were especially more loathsome of Darwinism, as Darwin insisted on delineating the evolutionary process which implied that nature and the existence of humanity was laid waste in the brutal struggle for existence. They could not fathom that the postulations of the superfecundity and plenitude of nature, miscegenation, mutation, ugliness and randomness were the basis upon which natural laws operated. The mere fact that natural selection as Darwin had explained led to the extinctions of some species created a religious and philosophical ferment of great magnitude.

Ten years after the publication of the “Origin of Species,” and the rise of the anti-Darwinism movement which is attributed to Protestantism, Herbert Spencer developed a philosophy of science with the intention of allaying the controversies between religion and science that Darwinism had created. In his publication, the “System of Synthetic Philosophy”, Spencer expounded on the theories of evolution which had specifically been limited to biology, linguistics, fossil life, education, political history, architecture, psychological phenomena, child rearing, and rights of women, manners, morals, fine arts and in any other discipline in which the theory of evolution could be applied. Even though Charles Darwin publicly praised Spencer as “the great expounder of the principle of Evolution”, the two works not only differed in methodology but were also derived from different schools of thought (Pyne 1996; Numbers & Stenhouse 2001).

The “System of Synthetic Philosophy” was especially instrumental in accommodating Darwinism in religion because he attempted to explain that religious coherence as it existed in those ages was buttressed by the authority of truth derived from science. His intention can be said to have been the creation of a new form of science that incorporated both the scientific truths and religious beliefs into a form of natural religion that would replace the orthodox Christianity. If such an intention is understood to be one driven by arrogance, then it best describes the evangelical zeal he set in the interpretation of the evolutionary theory and its subsequent incorporation into the perfectibility of human life in his book, the “System of Synthetic Philosophy”. However, even though his work was instrumental it never vanquished the hostilities between science and religion.

As the ramifications of Darwinism continued to create an upheaval in religious circles, the Old Protestantism order which had its basis on the interrelationship of science, faith, the Bible, civilization and morality began to crumble. In 1869, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. offered a prediction of the catastrophe that was impending. He predicted that the collapse of the interrelationship would not be dramatic. He also intoned that the many vested interests of churches were rooted in evangelical idolatry and bibliolatry. For these reasons churches could not be expected to accept the implications of the novel views and explanations of the existence of man and the universe as the Bible could not challenge the scientific standards (Marsden 2006). The truth of the matter was that the creation evidence as detailed in the Hebrew books could not just be taken at face value as factual evidence of the creation of the world by a Supernatural deity.

By the 1970s so many evangelicals believed in the seriousness of the threat of Darwinism to religion but they did not share the analytic conclusions that Holmes had so aptly predicted. W.A Stearns attributed the current threats to Christianity as being no more than a continuation of the assaults that Christianity has been enduring (Mardsen 2006, 17). Other leaders reiterated that just as the skepticism, deism and atheism had been defeated in the Enlightenment, Christianity will be victorious again. While positing that never since Christianity has been strong as it was then, Stearns added that they will work together under the Evangelical Alliance to lift all people to achieve victory with the afflictions of modern rationalism, skepticism, the Papacy or any other false system.

These were the opinions that characterized fundamentalism. As an organized movement, it had two major forms. One front operated within the denominations where seminarians and ministers purged modernists and liberals with the sole intention of saving the orthodoxy. This form of fundamentalism cantered mainly in North America. The second form of fundamentalism was more of a popular crusade that was directed not only towards modernist and liberal heresies but also against Darwinism and the deteriorating moral trends in the society. While former mainly involved seminarians and conservative ministers, the latter was advanced by less scholarly or less academic preachers. These two forms of fundamentalism were joined into a form of loose coalition as they were working against a common enemy: Darwinism.

At the end of the 19th century it seemed that religious leaders had started becoming in terms with the evolutionary theories, but still approximately half of the population in the United States still denied the scientific truths postulated by the Darwin theories. This proportion which rejects Darwinism in its entirety believes that human beings are a product of a Supernatural creation that happened at some time in the history of the universe.

With regard to the uniqueness of the political and constitutional history of the United States, and the long history of a religious culture the creationism movement became more popular hence characterizing the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It should be understood that the majority of the European settlers who came to North America during the 17th and the 18th centuries were settlers who were fleeing from religious prosecution from their mother countries (Dixon 2009).

Many of these settlers were non conformist Protestants who had adopted the belief in a personal relationship with God and the study of the Bible. They were Puritans, Quakers, Congregationalists, Baptists and Methodists. Since the settlers constituted a majority of the United States population at that time, these distinct religious groupings became the characteristics of the religious culture in the United States of America. Thus, due to the multiplicity of churches, there arose a need to separate the church from the state so as to prevent any favouritism of the any of the church groupings by the state. This spirit was aptly expressed when the First Amendment explicitly prevented the Congress from ever establishing any form of national religion. Despite this constitutional provision, other states still maintained contact with established churches but these were to soon die off leading to the full separation of the church and the state (Dixon 2009).

To exercise the same spirit of the separation of the church and the state, statutes were enacted to prevent other established religions from imposing their own version of Christianity on others. This led to the abolition of religious instruction in public schools. The passing of religious beliefs onto the younger generation was left to be done at home or in the Sunday school. This provision that completely eliminated religion in schools was what ushered in the clash between Creationism and Darwinism as the 20th century drew to a close.

The first instance of the clash with regard to the education occurred in 1925, when Dayton; a small town in Tennessee banned the teaching of Darwin’s evolution theories in public schools within their locality (Dixon 2009). The end of the sensational debates led to the elimination of the evolution theories from the science curriculum of most schools throughout the United States and for the duration between 1925 to the 1960s, the clash between Darwinism and Creationism subsided as they had both been eliminated from instruction curricula of public schools.

The elimination of such important scientific principles in the education curricula did not present any serious threats to the scientific development of the United States until the surprise success of Sputnik mission; a Russian space program which was launched in 1957. For fear that America was lagging behind in scientific development, a national panic arose that the scientific standards in American schools were low. The abolition of Darwinism in schools could no longer be tolerated. Acting against the wishes of many American parents who viewed Darwinism as the causative agent for the social ills in the society, the courts re-introduced the learning of the evolutionary theories in American public schools.

The 1960s to the 1970s led to the rise of the theories of the Intelligent Design. However, the religious fundamentalists especially those in North America were also determined to establish a way by which they could also be enshrined in the curricula. These developments led to the concepts of Intelligent Design and Scientific Creationism. There were those who advocated for the teaching of both evolution science, the creation science in addition to another alternative such as catastrophism so as to create a balance between the violently conflicting theories of Creationism and Darwinism.

Through the idea of an Intelligent Design, postulated by a biochemist Michael Behe and a lawyer Phillip Johnson, a new way through which the concept of God could be taken back to the classrooms. However, the teaching of the Intelligent Design in American classrooms did not see the day as judges ruled that it had been religiously motivated and therefore a breach of the First Amendment in 2005(Dixon 2009; Numbers 2006).

The clash between Darwinism and Creationism in America was watched with amused detachment or in some instances notions of superiority by the British as they could not understand that there still existed some culturally backward communities in America that prevented children from garnering knowledge on the theories of Darwinism. Given that their era of controversy had long ended, they could not understand that unlike in Britain, the United States had far different historical differences among its population. The presence of interdenominational rivalry that existed in the United States did not exist in England during the time of the evolutionary controversy. The supremacy of the Church of England and the existence of a Parliament with a long tradition helped settle down the controversies that raged after the publication of the “Origin of the Species” and the “Descent of Man”. Moreover the Fundamentalist Christian movement that took off in the United States in the World War I period did not take off in Britain (Dixon 2009).

In his analysis of the developments of the clash between Darwinism and Creationism or rather the Intelligent Design, Yeats observes that just like any other American he does not understand why naturalism should exercise monopoly in North American classrooms. He reiterates that individuals who espouse Darwinism are using the courts to sustain the principles of evolution and natural selection in public schools. He could not understand why an issue about the origin of existence could only be explained by Darwinism when there were a multitude of other options that could be taught in the public schools. However, given the motivations behind the intelligent design, a bad case was presented to the judicial system and from that bad case emanated a bad decision. By trying to use scientific data to prove that the theory of Intelligent Design was at par with Darwinism hence losing the case before a court under modern jurisprudence with judges who underwent secular training.

Therefore, while religious fundamentalists may attempt to negotiate for a dualistic approach in the education system, they have to understand that the attorneys as well as the system of training existing in North America is steeped in Naturalistic philosophy. Thus, unless the religious fundamentalists propagate the understanding that Darwinism is a religious tenet as in secular naturalism and that the education system as well as the public school’s science educators is nothing but the missionaries of the religion, any attempt to introduce any other theoretical understanding of the origin of man and the universe will be viewed as being religiously motivated. However, some argue that much as Darwinism can escape the reference of being classified as a religion, what matters is the element of faith. So long as students are taught to have faith in Darwinism as being the conclusive explanation of the origin of man, then it is religion and it should not be taught in public schools in North America.

In North America, the continuing conflicts between supporters of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection on one hand and the supporters of the creationist theories on the other are just the 21st century’s skirmishes that have characterized the struggles between science and religion. Creationism as a theory and its pseudo-scientific offspring; the theory of Intelligent Design are products of the historical, cultural and religious characteristics of the population in North America.

So long as these underlying characteristics of the population persist, there is limited evidence that a time may come in the near future where the supremacy of Darwinism in the public school system will be challenged with creationist theories like the Intelligent design or any other theory, so long as such a theory is deemed to have originated from religious motivation. Currently, with the observable lack of interest in the theories of Creationism by current President of the United States of America; President Barack Obama coupled to the support of Darwinism in schools by the Supreme Court as well as the overriding interpretation of the First Amendment, it is no surprise that religiously motivated anti-Darwinism in North America will continue to be kept out of American classrooms.

There is very little, when one judges the history of these developments, to suggest that Darwinism will not continue to be part of the science syllabus in countries with secular systems of governance. Creationism, held afloat by nothing but belief, will also be taught in many countries but it will never strangle Darwinism as far as understanding natural biological phenomena is concerned. There are mountains of evidence to that end, mountains that cannot simply be washed away.


Richard M. Oduor/Richie Maccs, Nairobi

Mr. Oduor is a writer, poet and critic. He did Biomedical Science and Technology (Bsc. Hons) and in line to pursue a Masters in Strategic Management. He is a founding Partner of a young company; Expert Research & Management Consultants and Founding Member at the Center for Intervention Against Alcohol (CIAADA). His prose and poetry have appeared in print and online journals and anthologies and the first poetry collection is due for publication. He has freelanced and copywrited for various local and international private research entities.




Darwinism, Religion and the Idea of God

The Greatest of all naturalists

Charles Darwin: The Greatest of all naturalists

When the “Origin of Species” appeared on November 24, 1859, a new intellectual impulse was generated and just as a novel generative idea defines a philosophical epoch, an intellectual movement that would define and engulf a whole generation began. While it can be generally posited that Darwinism in itself was but a terminus of the linkages in intellectual development in that century, it is much more preferable if we posit that Darwin inaugurated the reflex of the universal spirit of natural science.

While the “Descent of Man” included the species Homo sapiens as a natural consequence of the evolution theory, thus explaining its existence as nothing but a natural development from lower animal life forms; which was a rather natural progression of Darwin’s doctrines of the origins of species, the turbulence that the sole assertion would create was beyond his comprehension at the release of these works. Far beyond the bounds of natural philosophy, scientific theorism, religious and ethical depths, the reactions ranged from acknowledgement and admiration, from aversion and repugnance while a select minority maintained a sober and unprejudiced judgement.

To some, Darwinism represented the flambeau that would light mankind to perceive and discover new paths of truth and attain moral and spiritual perfection. On the side, Darwinism was also viewed as an unproven hypothesis that threatened to radically transform the noblest and grandest achievements of the past centuries and thrust them into a heap of ashes. Alternatively, Darwinism was also representative of the highest level of scientific, moral and religious height that humanity had ever ascended (Schmid 2008). Thus, under these overriding circumstances it was virtually impossible for guardians of religion and moral interest as well as those respectable individuals with sacred acquisitions that man had ever been endowed with, to assume the roles of idle spectators.

It would have been better if these groups of people delayed their onslaught on Darwinism until they had attained a significant level of evidence to judge or at least waited until the controversies subsided to levels that could warrant an unprejudiced analysis. However since, Darwinism was seen as being hostile to Christianity as well as the theistic view of the universe, these agents voiced their controversy. On the other hand, extreme materialists and the sublime monists, who are nonetheless hostile to Christianity, decided to use Darwinism as a reference point for shattering all belief of the existence of a Creator and Master of the world (Schmid 2008).

Cumulatively, taken as threats to God and religion, individuals with ethical and religious acquisitions could not afford to accept a reserved position on the matter. In essence, silence would have been understood to be an inglorious retreat. Therefore, it is important to understand the position that religion took with regard to the Darwinian theories.

Charles Darwin, Darwinism and Religion: 1859-1900

To pose a highly reliable discourse on the interactions of Darwinism and religion, it is only prudent that we take a look at the scientific problem in itself before digressing to the views of Darwinism as propagated by religion. At basic, this attempt desires that we first and foremost discuss the purely scientific theories that Darwin postulated. Generally, these theories attempt to give an answer to the question: “How did the different species of organic beings on the earth originate”(Schmid 2008).

Living in the midst of an endless variety of plants, animals and human beings, man has continually striven to understand the nature of all these by observation and design of laws that are in congruence to the natural world as it existed in a given century. With the facts of reproduction partially understood and after designing explanations for the existence of the species in immeasurable epochs of the history of the earth, we are finally faced with the task of developing a believable explanation of the origin of the first species, be it a plant, an organic being or an animal.

Since no man ever had the opportunity of witnessing the origination of other species as there are enough evidential proofs asserting that when Homo sapiens finally appeared, all other organisms were in existence. In the natural history of the progression of science, there reached a time when scientists desisted from attempting to solve the question as it was deemed unprofitable and utterly insolvable. Any attempt in solving it would require the use of unjustifiable hypotheses which in themselves could not provide an appropriate answer to the whole phenomena. Having faith in religion simply rendered these investigations useless because the question had aptly and fully resolved in religion.

In religion, all species had their origins from the creative act of God. This solution for the question of the origin in species sufficed for religion because as a believer, all things including the universe itself, was the work of God. Since religion is grounded on belief and as such cannot be taken as being indifferent or antagonistic to the scientific impulse behind investigations into the origin of the species, Darwinian evolution theories had a profound impact on religious belief. Traditionally, religion was grounded on the belief that both social and biological systems were designed by an intelligent supernatural deity.

Evolutionary theories denied that there existed a god who with a supreme purpose designed biological creatures. Since religion lies in human driven attempts to appeal to or control natural forces, which had long been incomprehensible to man but thought to be humanlike but supernatural, the concepts of God and soul arose. Both these concepts are supposedly eternal in nature and immaterial. Owing to the general insecurity of humanity and the instability of nature, religion provided the understanding that there had to be in existence a supernatural being who had the capacity to manage and control these components of the universe. It is such a propitiation that maintained deep beliefs in religions and cults. Through offerings and sacrifices, human beings sought to restore order, ameliorate guilt and provide benefits by appealing to the divine creator (Strickberger 2005).

Before Darwin, Galileo and Copernicus had challenged the notion of a powerful deity as the controlling force behind the whole universe. In their view, the idea of God only served as an explanation of the initial creation but not of the incessant manipulation of the solar system. However, their explanations could not cause such religious turbulence as Darwinism would cause. Darwinism posed that biological relationships; inclusive of the origin of man as well as that of all other species in the universe could only be explained through natural selection in the complete absence of a controlling or managing God.

At the onset of Darwinism a majority felt that the randomness and uncertainty of the evolutionary theories had almost completely replaced the existence of a deity with conscious, purposeful and human like characteristics. The postulation that evolution was a historical process and that species were not created spontaneously but rather formed via a succession of selective events in the past was a direct contradiction to the religious beliefs which maintained the understanding that there could not exist any form of biological design or otherwise without the existence of  Grand Designer.

With regard to evolution, interactions between different species and their environment results in the selection of successful traits that are further enhanced by selective events. Therefore, environmental adaptation has the capacity to continuously modify structures and organs over long periods of time, and complexities that had initially been unlikely singular spontaneous events progress to become evolutionary probable events. Even though the variability on which selection is dependent on may at times be random, adaptations are not because natural selection only chooses and perfects that which is adaptive (Strickberger 2005). With natural selection, the designs and purpose of a supernatural deity are not necessary.

Everybody who is acquainted with the hostility of the reviews, treatises and sermons just after the works, “The Origin of the Species” and the “Descent of Man” were released will understand that at the time Charles Darwin was perceived as a wicked infidel who had completely abandoned God as the Creator of the universe, a man who had completely undermined the authority of the Scriptures, a man who degraded human beings to the same levels as beasts and lastly as a man who had abandoned the universe under the control of chance. For centuries and centuries men had comfortably adopted the belief that God was the creator and that Nature as it existed was but an evidence of God’s purpose and design.

These men could not understand nor even tolerate that things could just grow without being products of the divine craftsman nor that the exquisite adaptations of organs to the environment was not a divine design but due to natural selection of variabilities that simply chanced to be favourable to the organism at a specific time. More serious was the disbelief that man, animals, vegetable or any form of inorganic nature had the same pithecoid ancestry.

Darwin’s Reaction to the Upheaval

These upheavals were strange to Darwin who could not simply understand what the fuss was all about. In fact, he regarded these hostilities with mild irritation and innocent surprise. In response Darwin wrote to Asa Gray in May 22, 1860 that, “With respect to the theological view of the question, this is always painful to me. I am bewildered. I had no intention to write atheistically” (Banton 11). To a Dutch correspondent, Darwin wrote in 1873, that since it is the impossibility of conceiving the universe with the help of our conscious selves that drives man to believe in the existence of God, he concludes that it is safe to surmise that the whole subject of the existence is beyond the scope of the intellect of man, but man has to do his duty. All through these attacks Charles Darwin maintained that he had a belief in a God.

While answering an earnest student who sought to know his opinions on religion, Darwin reiterated that he considered the theory of Evolution to be in compatibility with the belief in a God. In the same note to the German student, Darwin added that it should always be understood that different individuals had different opinions on what is generally referred to as God. On the insistence of the student who was like many other not convinced with his answers, he wrote that Science had nothing, absolutely to do with Christ (in reference to attacks from Christianity)(p, 12). In the same year while writing to J. Fordyce, he exhibited the typical Victorian individualism by saying that, “What my own views may be is a question of no consequence to anyone but myself”.

Such was the passion of Darwin for natural history that he could not fully understand that he had shattered the simple faith of belief in a Creator; a belief that had been held by thousands and thousands over the centuries. Having grown old and not the best of health, and at the same time possessed by his own pursuits he could not spare time for irresolvable questions. To shatter accusations that he was an atheist, he said that even in the most extreme circumstances he had never been an atheist as to deny the existence of God. In fact what could appropriately describe his state of mind was being as agnostic.

To get a more in depth understanding on what drove Darwin’s views on religion, lets take a look at Christianity as and its influence on his growth and development an a very tender age. Religion, science and Charles Darwin interacted strongly during the early years of the naturalist’s life. Before, Darwin released his works, science and religion, especially Christianity had maintained a form of a harmonious relationship. During the early 19th century and even before that, many naturalists of repute were clergymen who studied nature as an exposition and appreciation of the designs of the Creator. Students of the day depended on theological works by William Paley (1743-1806) that attributed the natural exquisite designs to the existence of the Grand Designer: God.

These naturalists also explained the perfect adaptation to the environment to the same grand designing. Based on these early exhibitions of intellectual development, it was therefore not a surprise that Dr Robert Waring Darwin(1766-1848) contemplated the clergy as being the most appropriate career for his son even though the young Charles Darwin had found medicine while at the University of Edinburgh to be distinctly uncongenial (Dupree 1986). During Charles years on the Beagle, he shared a cabin with Captain Robert Fitzroy; an intensely Orthodox man. Together they wrote an article defending the British missionaries in New Zealand and Tahiti (Dupree 1986).

Thus, Darwin as a person and Darwinism as a set of scientific theories both originated from the Christian culture. In fact the scientific community of that time profoundly depended on Christianity as a direct economic support and as a rationale for the social usefulness of science. It is also important to remind ourselves that when Charles Darwin went to Cambridge it was for the idea of being ordained as he had deeply studied and admired Paley. On board the Beagle, Darwin quoted the Bible as an authority on morality, a belief that was laughed by many officers on board the Beagle. In fact some German phrenologists once described him as possessing a “bump of reverence developed enough for ten priests” (Banton 13). On the basis of these facts it is impossible to accept the belief that his views expressed in the Origin of the Species had any intention of assaulting religion.

In the next posting I will talk about the American response to Darwinism and 1859-1900, and later developments in the 21st century, especially with regard to the war between Darwinism and Creationism in American Schools because these perspectives define strands of thought the world over.


Richard M. Oduor/Richie Maccs, Nairobi

Mr. Oduor is a writer, poet and critic. He did Biomedical Science and Technology (Bsc. Hons) and in line to pursue a Masters in Strategic Management. He is a founding Partner of a young company; Expert Research & Management Consultants and Founding Member at the Center for Intervention Against Alcohol (CIAADA). His prose and poetry have appeared in print and online journals and anthologies and the first poetry collection is due for publication. He has freelanced and copywrited for various local and international private research entities.


Banton, M. Darwinism and the Study of Society: a centenary symposium. Routledge Press: New York.

Dixon, T. (2009). America’s Difficulty with Darwin. History Today. February 2009. Volume: 59 Issue: 2, p. 22-28.

Dupree, A. H. (1986). Christianity and the Scientific Community in the Age of the Darwin. In, God and nature: historical essays on the encounter between Christianity and science; David C. Lindberg, Ronald L. Numbers. University of California Press.

Mandelker, I. L (1984). Religion, Society, and Utopia in Nineteenth-century America.  University of Massachusetts Press, 90

Marsden, G. M. (2002). Fundamentalism and American culture. Oxford University Press US, 10-22

Numbers L. (2006). The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design, Expanded Edition. Harvard University Press.

Numbers, R. I., & Stenhouse, J. (2001). Disseminating Darwinism: The Role of Place, Race,  Religion, and Gender. Cambridge University Press.

Pyne, K. (2006). “The American Response to Darwinism”. In, Art and the Higher Life: Painting and Evolutionary Thought in Late Nineteenth-Century America. University of Texas Press.

Schmid, R. (2008). The Theories of Darwin and Their Relation to Philosophy Religion and Morality. BiblioBazaar, LLC.

Strickberger, M. W. (2005).  Evolution. 3rd Edition. Jones & Bartlett Publishers, p.  63-71

Yeats, J. L. (Dec 22, 2005). First-Person: Call Darwinism What It Is-A Religion.

The Secret Black Hole of Religion

“How can you tell me Christianity is the one and true religion, when it is one of the religions with a dark past? Do not think I do not know what I’m talking about. I have done my homework by reading and studying much about what I’m talking about. If you doubt me, you can do your own research to confirm what I know already (well…that’s if you have the patience to read books. I know most people don’t read that is why they perish for lack of knowledge). The Christian religion is the most fragmented and divisive in the world. Christianity, compared to other religions in the world, has the bloodiest history in the history of mankind. It has destroyed so many lives and invaded so many lands in the name of Jesus. The name of the first slave ship that brought Africans from the Motherland to the Americas was called “Jesus.”

You tell me Christianity is the truest religion there is but let’s break things down here. How can you tell me the Christian faith is true when it has so many denominations, and these denominations can’t even agree with each other? This is just crazy. Under the Christian umbrella, you have the Catholic church, the Protestant church, the Anglican church, the Baptist church, the Methodist church, the Lutheran church, the Mormon church, the Eastern Orthodoxy church, the Nestorian church, the Coptic Catholic church, the Apostolic church, the Presbyterian church, the Paulist church, the Episcopalian church, the Anabaptist church, and so on. Gosh…I can go on and on. It’s just crazy. Now, according to the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, there exist roughly 43,000 Christian denominations worldwide in 2012. That is up from 500 in 1800 and 39,000 in 2008 and this number is expected to grow to 55,000 by 2025. Hmmn…this means Christianity will continue only continue to divide more and more.

Currently, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary estimates that a new Christian denomination is formed every 10.5 hours, or 2.3 denominations a day. God is not a God of division and confusion, but of unity and oneness. For a religion, which claims a divine origin, to have so many denominations or “duplicates” of itself does “not” stand on a solid rock. Something is definitely wrong wrong such religion. Just think about it. How can a religion which is true so many denominations like this? Trust me, the truth does not have duplicates to it. The truth is always one and original. Anything that is true cannot have carbon copies of it. The fact that the Christian faith has so many denominations like this means it CANNOT be a true religion. It is a false religion. Even Islam has divisions of its own too. There is Sunni Islam, Shia Islam, Sufi Islam, Ahmadiyya Islam, Ibadi Islam, Qurani Islam, Yazdani Islam, and so on. Islam is not as divided as Christianity, but division, nonetheless, is division. Division is division, and there is nothing good about it. In Heaven, there is no such thing as division. What replaces division in Heaven is unity. It is only on Earth that such nonsense division exists.

Okay, back to Christianity now. Next, how can you tell me the Christian faith is true when its holy book, the Bible, has so many versions to it? I mean, how can a holy book, which is claimed to originate from God, have so many versions? Does that make sense? There are so many Biblical versions and they are all different and conflict with one another. When it comes to different Bibles, there is the King James Bible, Amplified Bible, Good News Bible, Coverdale Bible, Mormon Bible, International Standard Version Bible, Lamsa Bible, and the list goes on and on. Once again, this is just crazy. According to my research, which can be confirmed, there are hundreds of different translations of the Bible. Now, this is super crazy. Hundreds of translations of one holy book? Wow…it doesn’t make sense at all. All the Christian denominations have a particular Bible that they read. Catholics have their own Bible. Protestants have their own Bible. Mormons have their own Bible. It’s just crazy.

Other weird things about Christianity is the number of Christian churches worldwide, which to me, seems like money-making, private enterprises. What I mean is that the Catholic church – which is the first and oldest church – is the global headquarters of all churches, while other church denominations are like “subsidiaries” scattered across the planet to generate greater profit. Think about it. If a business/company wants to compete globally, reach out to the global target audience (customers), and market its product to generate greater profit, what do you think that company, which does not have foreign offices must do? Of course, it needs to open up foreign based offices, factories, and businesses to do that. This is what companies like Apple does in China. Apple and Nike products are made in China, rather than America.

What the church did many centuries ago is what big corporations are doing today. Apple success can be attributed to the church. When it comes to “expanding business interests” and winning souls or winning “customers,” the church is number one. Okay, the church, from the very beginning (just in case you didn’t know) is a business. I’ve done my research on this. Based on my research, I discovered there are more than 3.7 million Christian congregational churches (businesses/branches) in the world. WOW. We are talking about 3.7 million churches in the world. That’s huge. One has to wonder if these churches are “really” in the business of “winning souls for Christ,” or “accumulating more cash.” When you dig deep into the dark history of Christianity, you’ll figure out the answer in a flash. I mean people really need to start thinking outside the box.

The world is changing and most of the lies our religious and political leaders have been feeding us with are coming to light. Thinking outside the box will not kill you. Thinking outside the box is rational, logical, and sensible. If the Creator never wanted you to think, you wouldn’t have a mind to think and calculate things. The fact that the Creator gave you a mind to think with, means you are allowed to think for yourself and not let corrupt authority control your thinking for you. If you must know, “all” religions, not just Christianity alone, have dark histories to them. All religions are divisive. All religions wage wars and shed blood to grow and expand themselves, which is quite logical, considering the fact that no thinking human would embrace anything new outside of his or her conscious circumference. But does it really make sense to impose religion by force, which is what most of the Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – has done for millennia? These three religions have caused so much wars, death, and destruction on Earth beyond measure. The destruction caused by these religions continue up to this day. It has not stopped, and may never stop, until people wake the hell up. Hundreds of millions of lives have been wasted because of these three religions.

If it is true that these religions are from God, would God really want to spread religions by force? Is it necessary? Wouldn’t God want people to accept a religion naturally, rather than forcefully? What happened to free will? How can God give man free will and at the same time act like a dictator by literally “forcing” a religion down our throats? I hope I’m making sense here. You cannot give people a choice and deny them that choice by imposing your “own” choice on them. It does mean any sense at all. God does not operate that way. Why aren’t people thinking? Like I said, there is nothing wrong with thinking outside the box. Religion does not permit free thinking. This is a FACT. But must a person live his or her entire life not thinking outside of the box for once? Most educated people cannot fight or free themselves from the mental chains of religion. It has a strong hold on them. As far as I’m concerned, any doctrine, or philosophy, or religion which prohibits free thinking cannot be from a pious God. It must be from the devil. Belief systems, centered around ignorant and blind obedience without questioning authority, is based on mental slavery.

Yes. That is what religion is all about. It was created by a few elite people to mentally enslave the minds of people. Physical slavery is bad, but mental slavery is much worse. When someone has control of your mind, you become a property, a slave of that person. The only way to free your mind from religion is to learn to think outside of the box. The best religion is not religion itself, but love. Loving one another like yourself is the best way to live. There is no contradiction about it. Love does not contradict itself. Love is what it is. God is not concerned about religion because God never gave religion to man. Instead, man gave religion to man. Evil men created it to control the sheep (the masses). After death, God will not be concerned about what religion someone practiced. A clean mind, clean heart, and clean hands is what God will look at. Religion is irrelevant to God because it is man made. Wake up, humanity. Free your mind. You are created to live free, not in chains. Wake up, people.

By Adebisi Atitebi

Adebisi Atitebi., based in the United States, is a writer, poet, philosopher, and historian. A ardent truth seeker, Adebisi studies and writes about global politics, esotericism, conspiracy theories, history, and religion.

What is the way forward for Africa? Join the Online Discussion

Motherland Africa

We live in a world of continuous changes. Changes create fears and insecurity as well as challenges and possibilities. What continues to differentiate successful countries from others is that in the latter, their leaders failed to anticipate changes and respond to them effectively. There is no doubt that the problems that currently confront Africa are complex and deep-rooted in Africa’s history. However, it can be stated that Africa is poor, underdeveloped, and home to many problems because leaders have failed to respond to changes and challenges and exploit opportunities effectively. Africa continues to suffer from inappropriate policies, bad governance, incompetent, corrupt, and ineffective leaders.

Africa has failed because it lacks the requisite capabilities and the political will to effectively respond to its leadership and governance challenges. Because of poor leadership and governance, Africa is unable to optimally exploit the major developments in science and technology, novel types of production, organizational principles, invention of new goods and services, or adapt innovative forms of social development. There is a need to develop a new way of doing things.

The current problems we face are not new. In fact, these problems are the cumulative consequences of our inability or unwillingness to respond to changes in our midst. Africa is becoming progressively isolated because of being a weak participant in the global marketplace. Africa’s weak position increasingly makes it a victim or casualty of the global changes and challenges. In essence, Africa is a recipient of other people’s ideas and ways of doing things, goods and services.

The persistent negative images of Africa, as a continent in deep trouble, and Africans as people who are unable to solve their own problems is unhealthy and potentially damaging. If Africa cannot challenge these images, then these images will continue to mislead the world and cause many Young Africans to continue doubting their own capabilities and self esteem, and thus undermine their role as levers for change and agents that can provide a better alternative future for Africa. The net result is that Africa must build its requisite capabilities now and respond to its marginalization from world activities. Africa must accelerate its participation in trade and politics, science and technology. Africa must be heard to be seen.

There is no continent that is going to bail out Africa. Africans must, out of necessity solve their own problems. To do this, there is need for a re-thinking of our position followed by imaginative discourses and bold answers. We need competency, honesty, vision, and commitment to fully liberate our minds.

—- Richard Oduor –Nairobi, Kenya.

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The Soul as an Aesthetic Response, A Fantasy: A Review of Hillman’s ‘Re-visioning Psychology’

All influences or actions of individuals are psychological in nature. It is on this basis that Hillman solidifies his discourse of a poetic basis of mind and that psychology begins in the process of imagining. The mind and the workings therein define all experiences of an individual. In the same vein, all conceptual categories that can be developed are nothing but products of individual imagination which is driven by psychological, religious, scientific, mythical, and artistic factors. To fully develop a framework for understanding the poetics of imagination, Hillman avoids Freud’s dichotomy of the mind into conscious and unconscious. He posits that all psychological activities have their roots in fantasy; where fantasy encompasses imaginations, fancying, and daydreaming. Fantasy is presented as being an unconscious behavior uncontrolled by the real world. In other words, all psychology is of necessity based on fantasy (Hillman, 1976 p. 70).

One strength of deviating from Freud’s dichotomy is that it allowed Hillman to state that if psychology is a product of fantasy and psychology is the origin of all human activities, then it can only mean that human activity is based on fantasy or in other words, intrinsically imaginal. It follows that all ideologies, paradigms, philosophies, and belief systems among others are mere articulates of specific fantasies.  This is the framework on which Hillman’s archetypal psychology is based and used to refute assumptions on which the understanding of ego and self presented in the West as a substance that is monocentric, autonomous, and always in pursuit of perfection (73).

In archetypal psychology, this framework also lays the foundation for his discourse on the soul. The work concentrates on the soul because, Hillman believes that the soul should be the sole business of psychology whose definition literally translates into intelligent accounts of the soul or speech or reason (Hillman, 1983 p. 17). Contrastingly however, Hillman does not refer to the soul as a substance, rather a perspective. Again, the primary activity of the soul is imagination. The soul is constituted of images, but again, these images are generated by the soul (14). The poetic basis of the mind pictures all psychological activities as images.

Fantasy is images, products, and also raw materials of the psyche. They are the primary modes through which the soul can be accessed because the soul is an imagining entity and images are its constituents. In the same plane, myths are also representations of fact which are vital to understanding the soul (Hillman, 1976 p. xi). Within this framework, dreams are understood as being compensatory to the sufferings and struggles that individuals go through in life and are not mere random residues. This approach of dream analysis directly contrasts interpretive/hermeneutic approaches. In place of these accepted methods in psychology, archetypal psychology relies on phenomenology and avoids interpreting a dream; rather the contents of the dream are presented as they are (54).

Hillman’s drew his influences from a mixed group of people. The main influence on his archetypal psychology was Carl Jung, but the whole list includes Freud, Vico, Scheling, Coleridge, Plotinus, Plato, and Heraclitus as well as an assortment of poets, artists, alchemists and philosophers (Hillman, 1976). It can be surmised that their writings influenced archetypal psychology, psyche/soul, and associated analysis of dreams, with regard to the process of soul making (44-46).

Hillman’s work cites three aspects that define his psychology, that is, the soul or psyche, aesthetic response and what he calls polytheism. The definitions and interrelatedness of these three concepts form the foundation of his archetypal psychology. The definition and dimensions of the soul is important for understanding aesthetic response. The soul as presented in archetypal psychology functions through images, myths, feelings, and individual stories (Hillman, 1976, p. xi).  Apart from these, the soul can also operate via an aesthetic response of perception. In this regard, the aesthetic response is that of feelings. Through feelings the soul is able to appropriately respond to aspects that affect. Aesthetic response is that specific, distinct, and unique sensual sensory and embodied response of what the soul perceives. Aesthetic responses bestow value and meaning to all the things that the soul encounters. Broadly understood therefore, the soul is religious (Hillman, 1976).

It is on this basis that Hillman develops his notion of polytheism, which is nonetheless a religious term. In archetypal psychology, the word is borrowed from religion to help in re-visioning psychology and its understanding of the self. Rather than monotheism which is closed, the polytheistic reference justifies Hillman’s notion that the soul has the space and freedom to generate aesthetic responses. Again, it is on this basis of pluralism that he calls for an extensive re-examination of monotheistic psychology, especially its psychological paradigms, within the new framework of polytheistic psychology. This multidisciplinary alternative would open up psychology to new expressions and perceptions in a dynamic and multicultural world and also make psychology more relevant and meaningful (Hillman, 1976 p. 27).

In other words, the soul being constituted with both imagination and images thus project the subjective and the objective on one hand, and human and divine on the other. These projections cannot be understood through personalistic reductions or one-sided interpretations. For this reason, only a polytheistic approach can bring together all the experiences of human life to the imaginative perspective and thus exude an aesthetic response (18-19).

Hillman also tackled the centrality of beauty to psychology. Hillman criticizes psychology for completely neglecting beauty. He notes that no experimental, social, or therapeutic branches of psychology have found it within its desire to incorporate beauty into the life story. In place of the beautiful shades that can be found even the most twisted of fates, professional psychology is wreath with banal language, mountains of useless books, and pretensions of progress. The neglect of beauty means that psychology can no longer find the right answers to life stories and the reward for this is an increase in sexual harassment cases, problems in gender and sexual relations, and reduction of every inquiry to experimental designs. In essence, there’s no longer any fun or humor in such inquiries (Hillman, 1976 p. 56-57).

Hillman maintains that psychology is the cause of its own death and it may not heal its own affliction. Even evident is Hillman desertion of all the common contemporary language in psychological writings. Thus, he states that words like ‘performance’, ‘coping measures’, ‘development’, ‘identity’ , ‘response levels’, as well as ‘ego’, ‘experience’ ,‘consciousness’, a host of diagnostic tools among others. These terminologies erase beauty and so archetypal psychology is the only vehicle that can be used to join psychology with beauty (Hillman, 1976 p. 134).

Hillman’s work has had a huge impact. They have inspired a whole generation of thinkers and individuals who have adopted the soul-centered approach in teaching, research, scholarship, governance, interpersonal relations, ethical decision making, psychological training, and promoting diversity as a way of life. Individuals trained in archetypal psychology have the sole purpose of freeing the soul from the straps of individual, personal, and humanistic strings so that it can explore in fantasy inspired imagination and re-soul the world.

Richard M. Oduor

Books for Further Reading

Hillman, J. (1976). Re-Visioning Psychology, New York: Harper and Row

Hillman, J. (1983). Archetypal Psychology: A Brief Account. Dallas: Spring Publications

Utopian Socialism: Does it Warrant Our Thoughts?

I think we should discuss the concept of complete socialism.  By that I mean an economy where every member of the community works at whatever task they can do, and the community’s production is distributed equally to everyone.  Of course, there will be some who cannot contribute in any way, such as the very young, the very old, the sick, or disabled. And some of these will require less or more product than others, but for the great majority, no one needs any more food, clothing, or shelter than anyone else.  We have to realize that in any community there will always be mix of brains, brawn, and beauty, but there is no ethical reason why someone who is more intelligent, stronger, or more beautiful is entitled to more of society’s products than anyone else.

The usual reaction to the idea of such complete equality is: “Impossible!–people need incentive; those who contribute more to the community should be rewarded with more of its products, and the lazy ones, who contribute less, should receive less.”  But this reaction is based on the idea that the only reward for working is purchasing power, whereas there are many other reasons for expending effort: because the work needs to be done; because no one else does it as well; because of a feeling of accomplishment; because of the recognition of a job well done; because of interest in the work itself; or because of habit.  As for the people who are considered lazy, they may be bored by the wrong job, or a few may be incurable slackers.  For the latter, social pressure would help to get some contribution.

In a utopian socialistic community, it is obvious that cooperation would be a necessity.  Fortunately, cooperation has been shown to be hard wired in the human species.  In fact, even in our present unsatisfactory economic system there is a remarkable degree of cooperation.  By having complete equality, the natural tendency of everyone would be to work for mutual benefit.  Although inevitably there would be difference of opinion on details, the unifying effect of a common goal would help to reduce conflict.  But if only a tiny bit of inequality were to creep in, the evils of envy, graft, and intolerance could take root.

Such a community, where everyone is pulling in the same direction, where envy and conflict are minimized, and where economic security is spread over the whole group, obviously would be desirable if it could be organized.  Unfortunately, there is no way to suddenly change direction of the present economic system, even if a large number of people desired it.  And large numbers are not even thinking about complete equality.  Most people dismiss the idea as preposterous.

The Spirit Level, by Wilkinson and Pickett shows that in any society, the degree of equality determines the health and happiness of its members, not wealth, resources, culture, or climate.  Further, more unequal societies are bad for everyone, rich, middle class, and poor.

Under today’s economic system we will never get anywhere trying to deal with the problem of inequality, regardless of how much we preach about treating each other better.  But I believe that     equal sharing of all products is a possibility for at least a portion of the population who would be willing to give it a try.  That is why I would like to get the discussion going.  I have already worked out some practical details of an alternative system of value and how to distribute products without the use of money.  Let us not be dissuaded from discussion of the idea by conventional thinking.

Edward Wilson is a Global Thinker and Writer on Contemporary Issues.

He can be reached at

Argyle Lane, Gabriola, B.C., Canada

This article is part of the ‘What is the way for Africa?’ Series. You can contribute by sending your article to

Quick Links on Utopian Socialism


Utopian Socialism. Maybe Wikipedia should be your first stop

Utopian Socialism; According to the Socialist Party of Great Britain

Utopian Socialist Experiments. Quick read here

 Is America’s Dance with Utopian Socialism Ending? See what the American Thinker has to say

Utopia and Marxism; An Interview with Karl Held

Can modern cooperatives possibly be the foundation for socialism, given that the most modern historical efforts such as the Israeli Kibbutzim have failed or become capitalist corporations? The Idea might be called Utopian


Reclaiming the African Dream: Call to the Committed African

The redemption of Africa remains with Africans. Africa can no longer continue heaping piles of blame upon colonialism. It is a case closed. Period. Despite the imperialistic injustices suffered at the hands of the Europeans, we must move on. Charting the way forward is what should disturb us. Reducing unemployment rates, alleviating poverty, acquiring technology that will help treat diseases and investment in African man power is what any sane and committed African needs to worry about. It is imperative to find better ways to improve on modes of governance and establishment of firm institutions that outlast leaders. In other words, passing on of a better world to the future generation is the most persistent thing that should tickle any committed African. But how do we do it without sounding abstract? How can it be done practically so that the common citizen who bears the greatest brunt of incompetent governance, wretched indigence and suffering the most treatable of maladies benefit and live a better life

Here is my two cent worth. First, there must be a commitment by everyone to make him/herself better with whatever we have at our disposal. Whether it is farming, teaching, rearing livestock, writing, acting or just offering advice; it is fundamental to have something that keeps us busy. It is from a started project that an individual may solicit for help which mostly is always financial and at other times, social or even emotional. Back in the rural areas, it is being done with women forming farming groups to help them improve on their farming methods. Young men and women who have not had the chance to join institutions of higher learning are constantly forming groups and writing numerous letters to both governmental and non-governmental offices asking for funds to support their nascent ventures. That is the way forward. I am speaking from the Kenyan context though it resonates well with most African nations. These ventures will help in the reduction of poverty and dependence that is known to drag back most African families.

 Another thing is to constantly put our leaders to account. Especially political leaders because it is them who influence most of the destinies of their nations. Shooting of people demonstrating for their rights as happened in South Africa of platinum miners should be loudly condemned. Massacring of thirty four people should not be allowed in Africa at this age especially when it is done by law enforcement agencies in a country with a vibrant democracy as South Africa. This also goes to the CCM party in Tanzania where police beat up a journalist and ended up dropping tear-gas canister killing him in the most heartless technique ever witnessed. In other words, the electorate of Tanzania cannot allow CCM to continue with this pointless hegemony and must vote out Jakaya Kikwete and his team that embodies such cruelty. Right here at home, the Tana massacres should have prompted the Police Commissioner who is also serving illegally under the constitution to resign. It is the responsibility of the state to protect its citizens because we pay tax. Condemnation of such atrocities should be loud and made known to the government that the denizens are not pleased.

 Where is the soul of a nation when people are killed up to fifty two and no serious demonstrations take place to express the outrage? Then the killers get more emboldened and set ablaze more houses and another bloodletting follows and we sit back and assume nothing is happening at all. Does it not prick you? Are you not disturbed or is it just normal? After all its just news, so what. Is that how you quip? Down in South Africa when miners were massacred a section of the populace went into demonstrations and their government and the world got the message loud and clear: We Are Fed Up With the Killings! Even in the Arab world it is now possible after the success of the Arab Spring. In a nutshell, everyone must get into the frontlines in ensuring our leaders are accountable for what they do. Telling me you do not love politics does not help the situation but what are you doing with what you love to make the country better?

Africa needs innovatorsThird and the most crucial of all is the use technology to help ourselves. Generation Y have a chance to reclaim the glory of Africa using technology being the most tech-savvy of all the existing generations. The young men in the Arab nations especially Tunisia and Egypt used it in order to ouster their dictators. Why not other African countries? Coming up with helpful innovations that help make things better is the hallmark of being counted in this information age. Look at what M-Pesa has done in the money transfer. Young innovators are busy developing various mobile applications that target the common citizens in order to improve lives. Young people are running online companies and getting self employed hence demystifying the notion that one must get formal employment after school. That is the best way to go. And for those who have learned the ropes, pass the baton to others. Spread the word.

 Lastly, it is the participation of the middle class in the politics of the day. Why are our middle class especially in Kenya taking a distance from the political scene? Or do they want to put the lower class to the fate of Sisyphus who was condemned by the gods to roll a rock to the top only for the rock to roll back. Then Sisyphus would repeat the same process. Is that the fate the middle class want by standing at the periphery then expect the lower class to transform leaders overnight? From solid to liquid. Instantly. No. It cannot happen that way. They should begin dirtying their hands too. Nations like Egypt and Tunisia succeeded in the revolution because the educated masses that mostly constitute the middle class joined in the struggle for a better a nation. And that is what should be replicated in other African nations. Only then negative ethnicity and rampant graft will decline. Only then will that average citizen who survives on less than a dollar have an improved life of feeding him/herself.

About the Author

Amol Awuor is a young Poet, Short Story Writer, Critic and Freelance Analyst of various issues affecting the global society. He can be reached at

He also runs a blog

Nairobi, Kenya

This article is part of the ‘What is the way for Africa?’ Series you can contribute by sending your article to

Meditations on my life as they came to mind …

Who am I? Sometimes seated alone, calm and supposedly immune to the chaos around us, we draw into ourselves and examine who we really are. Such self-examinations are never comprehensive because our environments are not immune from interference. Distractions abound, not that they should not. Stimuli offer us one of the most portent mirrors of ourselves and of the world. I, just like any other mortal, loves the peace of silence, the freedom to have my time, my space. There are times where discursive topics such as politics, religion, social issues, economy, philosophy, literature … are shelved for a while. There are the times when we reflect on us and our relations with other humans. In most cases, these reflections don’t come in a neat analysis complete with footnotes. They are as jumbled and different as the species of life dotting the face of the earth. I’m having such a time now and I’ll write my reflections as they come to mind.

Sometimes I want to spin the wheel of fate and land in another cauldron of boiling mire. Maybe my treasure lies there, hidden from the cuddly warmth and peaceful mind that has become my trail. I scratch beneath my peace and lustfully gaze at the turbulence that blows threatening to erupt should the balance tip. It never does. I have disciplined the mind but left enough disorder so that my body may not shy from pursuing its selfish desires.  Sometimes I think this discipline is a lie, a suppression of willfulness, a torment of my true essence. But knowing whoever I can be without the discipline makes a humble creature out of me.

I gulp too many pills of humility, washing them down my throat with the thin fiery liquor of contemplation. The digging up of old trenches, replaying old thoughts, mulling over regrets, wishing I could simply say sorry, seeking the ideal, and wishing that love was not a flower that withers with time – are the dots scattered in my waking hours. When my eyelids bid bye, I drown once more in my fairy lands where I can practice full courses of love in exotic expanses, pure and unadulterated.

I shy from praise, repeated spills of appreciation makes me flinch like my knees have been stabbed by a pin. I wish to build a foundation strong enough to support heaps of praise, so that I’d be left alone to be the simple man I am.  Sometimes, I wish I could be generous to the point of being ludicrous but my willingness to share suffers derision from scarcity. Nonetheless, one day my palms will be heavy with bounties of blessings and I’ll give and give and give.

I recount past faults and take stock of my sins each Sunday morning and repent them within the confines of my roof. It’s over ten years since my feet touched the marble floors of the cathedral to join in the Holy Mass, but I cuddle my Bible just like a little baby and mine whatever wisdom Solomon generously shared. I love my Quran – a passionately errant book – a special and intimate gift and Gita pacifies my soul and injects me with heavy doses of inner peace. My religion is like medicine, and I strictly adhere to the prescriptions. There are times when you wish you could be part of the flock, even if to serve only the social functions, only to realize that you are not sheep and may not gulp lies from the preacher. Let none steal my soul, for in the end I still desire to own it fully.

Yet just like any other man, I realized how selfish I can become. Seeming only to mind my own and discard the thoughts of another from sprouting. Not helping when I should. I have my weaknesses, a fair share of weaknesses. Power, control, wildness, lies, mischief et al! I ran off-lane a couple of times and have, though mildly, been confronted by the laws of the land. But I hold my sword by my side and desist from shedding blood. Guns rest not under my pillow and I’m, to a large extent, a free law abiding citizen. Though, like any revolutionary, I have my little fantasies of shooting the government’s ass. But they are just that, ‘fantasies of shooting the government’s ass’, nothing more.

As we grow old you make many friends. Friends that make us whole. Friends that share some of our passions in life. Nature bonds two people to enable them discover the beauty of life. To know their weaknesses and build barricades against misfortune. Fate may make friends, fate may break them. Circumstances pull friends towards a centre of action, but the actions of individuals mark the path of friendship. Friendship oils the jutted wheels of humanity; smoothening the rugged plains of life. In friends we find ourselves, and in ourselves we find peace.

As you grow older you fall in and out of love. There are those you’ve never stopped loving even though they are now far from your grasp. There are those you love now. There are those you wish you’d loved. There are a few jewels that fall in our arms when our ropes are old and cannot contain any more. Each day we fall in love only to be held back by the bridle of commitment. It is man’s nature to love. But nature binds beings with strings and strives to hold them in a pit of harmony and responsibility. Sometimes nature gives you a glimpse into the pleasures that abound outside the self-imposed prison. Sometimes it allows you to chase these pleasures, however flimsy, and have your fill before tugging you to guilt’s wall and chastising you for your lack of restraint. Somebody said ‘love is all the world needs’. Sure, I guess it’s all we need.

The illusiveness of joy and the inconstancy of happiness are realities all beings face in each waking day. We battle indecision and nurse failures. We mourn our inadequacies and heap balls of wishes on the wiry frame of desire. Most fall off and scatter, released by life, to find homage elsewhere. We have our little lives to live in the vast universe. Our little parts to play. We are all like children out there in the field trying to discover new animals, insects, and plants – only to grow older and find volumes of books on the identities and nature of these entities. But that was us. Today’s kids discover their animals, insects, plants – and many more ranging from the holiest to the obscene, from their computer and television screens. Yet this does not stop newborns from re-discovering the world, on their own terms. In essence, growing older, in the search, gives you the ability to access the vast body of knowledge that has been recorded and stored since the beginning of time.

Some seek consolation in prayer; that divine link with the creative force. Some seek comfort in material possessions. Some live their lives not knowing much, not judging much. But for some, living is an opportunity to discover the secrets of existence. Good knowledge unites human beings, makes them friends who are tolerant and willing to engage each other, though their worldviews may differ.

After all, life is but a snapshot of the millions of phases that swim on the wavy energies of existence. There is more in the darkest regions of the universe that pleads for our peering telescopes. There are more voices that are yet to bless our ears. There is more to life than our little beliefs and religions. There is more in the mind of a man than the whole universe. In there, are energies that link us with all entities of existence. There is nothing in the farthest galaxy that does not exist in our minds. Let us discover the depth of our minds, shine light into the blurry scrolls of knowledge that lie unused before us. Let us seek that we may know ourselves better.

Bombay’s Republic by Rotimi Babatunde: Mining Meanings

Rotimi Babatunde after receiving the Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story Bombay’s Republic

Nigeria’s Rotimi Babatunde has been enthroned the 13th winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing. Well, that’s no longer newsworthy! According to the Chair of Judges; Bernardine Evaristo, “Bombay’s Republic vividly describes the story of a Nigerian soldier fighting in the Burma campaign of World War Two. It is ambitious, darkly humorous and in soaring, scorching prose exposes the exploitative nature of the colonial project and the psychology of Independence.” Apart from other literary indulgences, Rotimi also walked home with a cash prize of £10,000. The closest rival to Rotimi’s scorching prose was Kenya’s Billy Kohora’s Urban Zoning. Stanley Kenani’s Love on Trial, Melissa’s La Salle de Départ’ and Myburgh’s Hunter Emmanuel were equally riveting. Thanks to Africa’s literary renaissance.

Bombay’s Republic is an exemplary, meticulously plotted story that offers a fascinating glimpse into the experiences of Bombay during World War Two.  It’s a beautifully written story with a good number of brilliant lines that hangs on weeks after the story has been stashed away. I found the phrase; ‘was something he had not thought was possible’ as sticky as ‘looking for peri-urban pussy’ in Urban Zoning. The imagery of the war, narrated from an African’s perspective, sanctions historical productions that have always eliminated the bravery and achievement of African soldiers from the victor’s tale. Nonetheless, Bombay’s ‘conspicuous acts of bravery’, instances of self introspection, and partial-insanity are central to his psychological transformation and independence. The dark humor, big laughs, and quixotic ending are the story’s own, and evidence of Babatunde’s masterly pen.

Bombay’s Republic is a story about Nigerian soldiers who fought in the Burma campaign and the psychological effects during and in the aftermath. The narrative is wreath with interesting, sometimes derisive and grisly events, but Bombay refuses to narrate these to grownups experiences after returning home. He refuses to join veterans ‘who zealously quoted Gandhi and Du Bois’ and shouted their battle-front achievements at incendiary meetings. Instead, he maintains practiced silence.

One finds it interesting that a distinguished veteran with ‘not only the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the George Cross but also the rarely awarded Victoria Cross’ ‘showed not the slightest interest in populist agitation. Though not particularly effusive in detailing the Japanese brutality at the Front, Bombay was more comfortable chatting with the younger ones, telling tall tales. The saying; ‘you cannot teach an old dog a new trick’ explains Bombay’s disinterest with grownups.

While it would be much easier to laugh-off the author’s clinging to Achebe’s internationally acclaimed fiction by creating some sort of kinship between Bombay and the more popular Okonkwo; the fact that Bombay was almost doing what would have been a ‘naturally’ prescribed punishment for his deed – based principally on the precedent laid by Okonwo – link story to it’s overall literary purpose.

In the short story, “Bombay remembered his countryman Okonkwo whose story would become famous some years after the war when it was told in a book titled Things Fall Apart.”   Okonkwo had hanged himself to deprive the white men the pleasure of killing him after he’d “killed an arrogant constable of the new colonizers”. Bombay wanted to hang himself too, or ‘take the brave route of Okonkwo’, to achieve the same ends after killing the rouge white bombardier. However, he received a commendation from the commanding officer; “so Bombay was surprised that it was possible to be praised for killing a white man.”

The principal literary purpose of Things Fall Apart, according to Chinua Achebe, was to erase Western presentations of African culture as primitive, simple, and backward. Achebe believed that the African story had been ‘mistold’ over the centuries, even by well meaning authors such as Joyce Cary in Mister Johnson who deliberately presented the colonial masters as being sympathetic to the Nigerian people. Joseph Conrad was famous for his reductionist portrayals of Africans as mysterious, animalistic, and exotic. Babatunde counters these simplistic and foolish inclinations by debunking myths and stereotypes, though a self-learning and awareness process that paints colonialists as rigid and ill-intentioned with respect to their understanding of Africans and African culture, but flexible and good-intentioned particularly towards those furthering their objectives.

The depth of racial ignorance from the British and Japanese soldiers is astounding. The author presents their sensibilities as caricatured blots on cross-cultural knowledge. The British believed that Africans had tails (“Reports had come that the pants of African soldiers were sewn three-quarter length to conceal their tails …”) and the Japanese believed war propaganda intimating that Africans were cannibals (“The stories that preceded you to this war said that the Africans are coming and that they eat people … screaming towards them like bloodthirsty savages.” ) Bombay’s reaction to these depictions aligns with the underlying dark humour that clothes the story. To the tail business, “Bombay’s was not angry. He simply found it interesting people could assume he had a tail. The chance of anyone having such a belief was something he had not considered possible”. To the man-eating business, “Thinking more about it, Bombay’s stomach got queasy and he had to steady his rising urge to puke. That people would imagine he was a cannibal was something he had not thought was possible.”

Even though dark humour clouds Bombay’s narratives of these realizations and blankets the harshness of derision and dehumanization of African soldiers, it should not be forgotten that depictions of Africans as noble or exemplary are infrequent, indeed rare in Western literature. “Monsters,” “savages,” “cannibals,” and “torturers” typify the descriptions of Africans in colonial travelogues. For instance, Judah Paddock narrates, “their figure, and ferocious look, to say nothing of their behavior, were as savage, and even exceeded in savageness, any thing that I have ever read in narratives of voyages …”[1] In 1929, Jeremiah Gondwe, a Nyasaland nationalist preacher, explained these discontented African sentiments echoed by imperialists. He said, “Some of them (whites) have returned to our elder brothers (Afro Americans) and told them that we are monkeys and have tails. Our elder brothers have made aeroplanes and have come to see if the white people are telling the truth.”[2]

Though, unfortunate, the exoticizing of such myths and illusions should be understood as the imperialist’s way of dealing with their own notions of inadequacy, with regard to the invention of the evilness of Africans. As Kovel notes;

“Whatever a white man experiences as bad in himself, .., whatever is forbidden and horrifying in human nature, may be designed as black and projected onto a man whose dark skin and oppressed past fit him to receive the symbol.” [3]

Both the demonization and exoticization of Africa was a means of legitimizing (disguising) colonial violence (which negated the ideals of the Enlightenment). Christine Matzke & Ezenwa-Ohaeto sum this beautifully as; “the Black who ‘eats’ whites exonerate the white who denies the humanity of these ‘cannibals’ and takes away their land and resources.”[4] Such projections were a principal tool for explaining away white violence and devaluing blacks, while at the same time enhancing the white man’s status and legitimizing their alleged social superiority.

One also wonders whether Bombay’s Republic  is an off-shot of the persistent struggle for liberation, or terrorist activities as some say, in some Nigerian quarters. In a recent discussion between Ezioma Obabuko and Emeka Ugwu-Oju; President South-East/South-South Professionals, on the state of progress in Nigeria, Obabuko surmised that ‘Nigeria lacks ingredients of nationhood’. Could Bombay’s decision to secede from colonialist’s influence be a mark of lack of ingredients of nationhood? Could it be the worm that has for decades ate the roots of Nigerian national unity? There have been widespread sentiments that the tussles between the nation and state are ethnocentric, and that the underlying ethnic differences were sharpened by colonial masters for their own selfish interests. Could Bombay’s Republic offer an extreme alternative to those seeking complete freedom from any kind of the other’s political control, however ludicrous?

On a subliminal level, the short story explores the myths and realities in Nigerian nationhood. The frequency of sectarian turmoil is the unfortunate balance between desires and attractions of nationhood sitting on the leaf, and illusions and realities hanging under it. Extant literature informs us that the urge for independence is often linked to groups who ascribe their non-independence status to slavery, exploitation, and racism. Independence provides such entities with the ‘others’ experiences, however, very few practicalities of the struggle succeed to restrain passion and wedge violence on the divisive wall. Bombay’s self-declared independence and the conjoined nationhood status is a realization of the fruits of self awareness.

Bombay’s Republic also fundamentally challenges political theories that intimately bind nationhood to political mobilization. Margaret Canovan notes that, “if nationhood is a political phenomenon that can create and empower a stable, lasting collective subject, without needing to be kept in a frenzy of mobilization or saddling that subject with ideological commitments, then it is scarcely surprising that liberal democratic political theory should display a kind of elective affinity to it.”[5] Contrarily, Bombay’s Republic accepts that nationhood is an inherently fuzzy concept and that it may or may not mediate the relationship between the nation and state. It represents the formation of a state, without the requisite necessity of subjects, or ‘we’ (the collective identity/political mobilization/elective processes).

From writing the seven hundred to ninety-two page constitution, inaugurating Bombay’s Republic, sending communiqués, organizing general elections, and forming all other duties as ‘the enclave’s sole citizen President’; Colour Sergeant Bombay, Scourge of the British Empire … Father of the Internet, His Excellency, President of the People’s Republic of Bombay did it all.

“Bombay would rewrite his republic’s constitution eleven times and serve as the enclave’s President for forty-seven arbitrary tenures after elections won with landslide support from his republic’s sole citizen, until finally death unseated him from office.”

Bombay’s Republic derides the idea of naturalness in the establishment of mature nation-states, while giving the impression that political power can be obtained as easily as pressing a switch. In an adorable fit of creative mania, the author succeeds in installing Bombay as both the object and subject of power. Bombay is the archetypical saint of power and the illusion of control. It is a classic manifestation that power can ‘go to one’s head’. Bombay’s Republic confirms a recent finding reported in Psychological Science on how power, once attained, can be maintained or lost. Notably, “the illusion of personal control might be one of the ways in which power often leads to its own demise.”[6] [7]

Bombay’s Republic is a metonym for white-black relations during the World War, mapped on the dichotomy of good and evil, civilized and savage, colonizer and colonized. It should be celebrated by Africans as a great lamp post lighting the path for continued de-authorization of colonialist literature. Dotted with unending tints of dark humour, Bombay’s Republic forces us to see ourselves as we need to see us, not otherwise.


Richard M. Oduor a.k.a Richie Maccs


Researcher, Writer, Poet, Critic, and Founder of the Centre for Intervention Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (CIA-ADA).

Nairobi, Kenya


[1] Paul Michel Baepler, White Slaves, African Masters: An Anthology of American Barbary Captivity Narratives, University of Chicago Press, 1999, p. 37

[2] Tony Martin, The Pan-African Connection: From Slavery to Garvey and Beyond. Volume 6 of New Marcus Garvey Library, The Majority Press, 1984, p. 38

[3] Joel Kovel, White Racism: A Psychohistory, New York: Pantheon, 1970, p. 65

[4] Christine Matzke and Ezenwa-Ohaeto, Of Minstrelsy and Masks: The Legacy of Ezenwa-Ohaeto in Nigerian Writing, Issue 33 of Matatu: Journal for African Culture and Society. Rodopi, 2006, p. 204

[5] Margaret Canovan, Nationhood and Political Theory. Edward Elgar Publishing, 1998, p. 73-75

[6] Fast et al. Illusory Control: A Generative Force Behind Power’s Far-Reaching Effects. Psychological Science, 2009; DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02311.x

[7] Association for Psychological Science (2009, March 3). Power And The Illusion Of Control. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 3, 2012, from­ /releases/2009/03/090303171451.htm