Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Religion and Science Conversion Possibility: Towards the Formulation of a Systematic Theodicy of African Traditional Religion and Its Reinterpretation of Empirical Cosmology

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Religion and Science Conversion Possibility: Towards the Formulation of a Systematic Theodicy of African Traditional Religion and Its Reinterpretation of Empirical Cosmology

Article excerpt

Introduction

Science and religion are often portrayed in the Western epistemology as two irreconcilable fields; the latter is anchored in dogmatism, while the former builds on a methodical rationality. Hence, no bridging solution seems to be possible "except by abandoning either the clear teaching of science or the clear teaching of religion" (Whitehead 1925: 182). But how does the situation appear when seen from an African epistemology?

In this regard, Mudiji Malamba Gilombe (1988: 88) affirms that: "One of the most prominent features of the Black-African humanism is that it bathes completely in sacredness." And seen in the context of scientific lore, this view implies the possibility of a meeting between science and religion with respect to an African worldview. In this article I show that the Kongo religion can be formulated in a way that allows for a meeting of science and religion in their approach to knowledge and in their conclusions about the movements and stabilities of bodies of the temporal universe at the astronomic and subatomic levels, thus confirming that the conflict between science and religion in the Western episteme is the result of an epistemological choice.

The Problematic

The notion of the divinity is central to the traditional African holistic perception of the universe. Emphasizing this holism, Mabika Nkata (2000: 9) affirms that for the African "the use of the term cosmos is a conceptual blunder because the African culture does not conceive a universe separated from God".

In this article, capitalizing on this centrality of the notion of the divinity, I postulate the hypothesis of the possibility of the unity of science and religion as far as African holistic epistemology is concerned. In other words: a rational formulation of an African traditional religion which should lead to the possibility of a formulation of its convergence with a scientific perception of the universe.

To prove this hypothesis I propose a three steps approach. First, the formulation of a rational systematic theodicy through the means of a cosmological argument; this will be the establishment of the "belief that God exists"; however this is not sufficient without the "belief in God"; because it lacks the realism and the praxis which are required by the African epistemology. Therefore I will demonstrate the convergence of my systematic theodicy with an African traditional religion, with an African "belief in God", to provide proof of the existence of a logical African theology. Second, I will demonstrate the convergence of this systematic theodicy with modern science in the perception of an expanding universe, which is the base of the big bang cosmology, to provide proof of the possible unity of scientific observations and Black African religion. And third, this approach having led me to a logical formulation of a traditional African religion and its convergence with modern cosmology, it will confirm that the conflict between science and religion in the Western thought is the result of an epistemological choice in which soul was gradually denied the central role in the search for truth, a role it played in the African epistemology.

A Facto-Deductive Approach to Scientific Truth

If religion and science have to meet, the most plausible option is that religious truth has to be formulated in a non-dogmatic way. It is obvious that no religious truth can be wholly formulated in an experimental way, inasmuch as the religious field is the field par excellence of the revelatory origin of truth; but science is not always about experimentation. Formal sciences, like Euclidean geometry, have a conceptual object while they use the hypothetic-deductive method to arrive at their conclusions. Thus the question is: can the religious truth be formulated in the mode of the formal sciences? Here also the answer is no, because having to deal with reality, religion claims a strong metaphysical realism; thus it cannot be cornered in the realm of ideas. …

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