The Nation (Nairobi)

Kenya: The Death of Religion And Rise of Atheism in the West

opinion

Nairobi — AS A MEMBER OF THE WORLD Council on e-Parliament, I have, in the last six weeks, travelled to several Western capitals including Brussels, Paris, Helsinki, London, Bonn and New York.

In all these cities, I spent time listening to radio, watching television and reading. Slowly, I was struck by the recurring theme of what, to my mind, is the slow death of religion in the West. The signs were everywhere.

The rise of atheism is being spearheaded by the most learned people. Renowned academics at Oxford University and in the Ivy League American universities are publishing books that propagate atheism and vilify religion.

In fact, the very concept of God is under fire. The hottest books on the New York best-seller list today are based on the theme that religion is a major source of evil in the world. One of them is entitled God is Not Great, Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens, and God's Delusions by Prof Richard Dawkins -- both self-declared atheists.

PROF DAWKINS IS A KENYA-BORN scholar based at Oxford University. He has won several awards. He has books in similar vein like A Devil's Chaplain. Mr Hitchens was born in 1949 and writes for several magazines like The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, and The Atlantic.

He attended Oxford University and was a well-known communist sympathiser. He has published widely.

In each of the cities I visited, I saw many empty, locked or closed churches. I saw high crosses on rooftops of what were once churches but are today a mix of theatres, cinemas, bars, cyber-cafes, lodgings, and nightclubs

Having been brought up on strict Christian teachings, my faith was assaulted daily. "Religion is a poisoner", Prof Dawkins declares in his book "I hope those religious readers who open the book will have become atheists by the time they put it down".

Hitchens states boldly: "Religion is man-made. Religion poisons everything". Both authors ventilate fully instances when barbarism, violence, savagery, intolerance and injustice sanctioned by the church caused misery to mankind.

Terrorism, the American far-right fundamentalism, the religious wars of Northern Ireland, the crusades, the inquisition,__ the suppressors of freedom and thought, and the justifiers of dictatorship, mass murderers and serial killers have all found refuge in religion.

Prof Dawkins describes the God of the Old Testament as "petty, unjust, unforgiving and a control freak". He adds the God is "misogynist, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, megalomaniac and a malevolent bully".

When I read several of the tabloids in the cities, I found further examples of assaults on the basic tenets of the Bible. Women legally marrying women, and men legally marrying men. Superstars were the most notorious or, perhaps, the most visible.

Is this decadence or modernity? I have seen jealous men fighting in bars over other men and women killing one another over love for other women. Where will the children come from? Will the idea of natural fathers and natural mothers ever exist again in the West?

At the technical level, I found other attacks on God through the direction scientific research is taking, especially in such areas as stem research, which today is able to create man without the reproductive process of egg and sperm, but through a cell that duplicates itself.

Obviously, this is contrary to all the teachings in the Bible and points to a future where the West will be able to create, say, super-soldiers or to recreate the likes of Albert Einstein.

Sometimes I wonder whether there is a conspiracy between scientists and the gay community. Is this how the women married to women and the men married to men hope to create? Is scientific research driving the march of atheism and death of religion in the West?

DESPITE THE ATTACK ON RELigion by renowned authors and the high sale of their books, one cannot lose sight of the enormous good that religion has done in such areas as generosity, self-sacrifice, and love for mankind.

The authors cannot satisfy me on the bankruptcy of religion since so many people believe in God while in their opinion there is no God to believe in.

And where are the intellectual titans of the Christian religion? Why are they not speaking out on this assault?

The few voices like that of Peter Lewis who writes for the Independent newspaper of London (circulation 500,000 papers per day) are drowned out by the aggressive atheists who sell over five million copies of their books worldwide.

Mr Odoyo is the MP for Nyakach and a member of the World e-Parliament.

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