Wars illustrate how God is irrelevant in human affairs

Author, Musaazi Namiti. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • It is astonishing that people continue to believe that God is concerned about conflicts and performs an instrumental role in ending them or in supporting warring parties.

In July 2014, a young Arab woman in the newsroom where I was working went around asking everyone she could speak with to contribute money for the people of Gaza who were suffering because of Israel’s military campaign against Palestinians.

My mind jumps quickly to the relevance of God in our lives whenever I see suffering and people scrambling to help. I made a cash donation, but I was not happy. The young woman who was collecting money and everyone who donated cash believed — and continues to believe — that God was taking care of Palestinians.

A couple of years before this appeal for cash donations, a South African journalist with whom I worked and who was coordinating efforts to help Syrian refugees, had come to my apartment to collect cast-offs for the refugees. A devout Muslim, he believed God was providing clothing for the refugees.

Yet there was a better way for God (assuming He is real) to help the Palestinians and the Syrian refugees. For the Palestinians, all He has to do is to enable them to acquire weapons and military hardware which are superior to what the Israelis have. For the Syrian refugees, God can help them establish good governance in their country.

But if you have lived on this planet for at least four decades and you think for yourself and independently, you know that neither can be done by God for the simple reason that we have zero evidence that He exists and cares about how we live, zero evidence of where He lives, zero evidence of how He works and when He works.

It is astonishing that people continue to believe that God is concerned about conflicts and performs an instrumental role in ending them or in supporting warring parties. 

Uganda’s minister of State for ICT, Joyce Ssebugwawo, told a local TV station that Ugandans are worried by the Russia-Ukraine conflict because of its potential to become a world war and urged people to pray to God for a solution. 

But how can/will God help? And why does He have to be reminded by way of prayer to help, yet, if He exists, He already knows there is a war and, in fact, knew — since He is supposed to know what people think — that Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, was going to launch the war?

If Mr Putin, who has hinted at the possibility of using nuclear weapons, is not bluffing and goes ahead and uses those weapons, how can God prevent the catastrophic consequences?

The nuclear weapons have been made by scientists who know perfectly well that they work and are supposed to work to almost inconceivably devastating effect. God does not work. How can He stop them?

The questions I am raising in this article are not intended to offend people who believe in God. They are meant to make discerning readers reflect deeply and soberly on what they believe.

We are on our own as humans. We can stop the Russia-Ukraine war. We cannot rely on religion and what it says about God. Mr Putin is a ‘religious’ man but has used the Orthodox Church to manipulate Russian politics. 

Pope Francis has spoken about the “tragic” war in Ukraine, and had strong words for those who wage war in general, but he did not condemn the invasion or refer to Russia by name. Why? He, as the Wall Street Journal reported, has prioritised better relations with Russia. He refrained from explicitly condemning the attack on Ukraine because of politics.

That is your man of God!

Mr Namiti is a journalist and former Al Jazeera digital editor in charge of the Africa desk