By Leo Igwe

If recent space missions in Asia have not taught us anything, it is that gods or goddesses are not as useless and foolish, as some may think. The god notion still has some value, some relevance in the scheme of things. As an atheist, this statement may sound as a contradiction, right?. It is not. My position has not changed. I believe that gods are imaginary beings, created by humans to make sense of their lives, nature and experiences. Gods and goddesses do not exist as religions teach and preach. However, gods and goddesses seem to be staging a comeback and are regaining some place in contemporary affairs, in space probes, and missions. The world is witnessing a rebirth of deities, an intriguing trend, one that is capable of disrupting and transforming the idea of a god as entertained by believers and nonbelievers alike: the technologization of divinities and divinization of technologies.

Many years ago, German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche declared that God was dead. And let me qualify it, that god was dead in the religious sense. And one observes that the belief in deities as religions have taught has continued to wane in the West and other parts of the globe. However, it seems the modern space projects are on a mission to revive that belief, to resurrect the gods in a strange way.

Asian space programs are reinventing their deities. And Africans need to examine these new Asian gods and goddesses and probably borrow a leaf from their Asian counterparts. Africans need to learn from Indians and the Chinese this modern way of honouring gods and goddesses. In a separate article, I have drawn attention to these developments, and the potential benefits for Africa. I noted the technologization of transcendental thinking and the possibilities for the region. That was after India’s first solar observation mission, Aditya-L1, named after the Hindu sun god, successfully arrived at its destination. I emphasized how this religious icon was used to inspire a space mission. And now it has been reported that the Chinese lunar mission, Chang’e-6, which blasted off in early May, has returned and landed in the inner Mongolia desert after an almost two-month odyssey. They named the mission, Chang’e, after the moon goddess. The report says that Chang-e is among the Chinese mythologies. Take note Chang’e is a myth.

The government named its lunar mission after this goddess and there was no protest anywhere. As I have noted in a previous article, Africans should emulate Chinese and Indians in technologizing their gods and goddesses. This process is the next logical step for Africa, and for African emergence because, as in the cases of India and China, many gods and goddesses abound in the region. Hundreds of them exist and are technologically wasting away. The divinities include as the river goddess, mamiwota, the sun god, Anyanwu, the god of thunder, Sango or Amadioha, the god of iron, Ogun, the god of harvest, Ahiajoku, etc. In addition, there are the Christian and Islamic gods which many Africans profess and worship. Most Africans regard these gods and goddesses as real; they fear them and make sacrifices to them. Africans do not regard these gods and goddesses as myths. They have refused to technologize these divinities as in the cases of India and China.

For instance, a major sea probe mission could be named Mamiwota-1. Why not? This mission could help us understand some of the mysteries associated with the seas and oceans. But can that happen when many of our scientists and engineers still believe that Mamiwota is real and lives in the rivers and seas? A space mission could be named after Sango or Amadioha, and an agricultural research project could also be called Ahiajoku-2. Christian narratives such as resurrection and ascension could inspire research projects or space missions. But how many Africans are thinking in these directions? How many are fascinated by these profound ideas and programs?

Incidentally, these technological missions cannot materialize at the moment because, unlike Indians and the Chinese, a critical mass of Africans do not regard their gods and goddesses as myths, as icons for technological inventions and innovations. Many Africans are still under the illusion that the moon, sun, and water gods and goddesses are real entities with superhuman powers. And it would be sacrilegious or religiously offensive to append their names to earthly ventures like space or sea missions and projects.
That is the tragic predicament of Africa early in this 21st century.

But Africans need to wake up and must wake up. They need to realize that, as Nietzsche noted, these gods and goddesses including the christian and islamic gods are dead. Deities are mythical objects and fantasies. The transcendental ideas behind these gods and goddesses are alive and constitute resources that could be harnessed. God ideas are facilities that could inspire profound technological missions, inventions, and expeditions. Africans need to reimagine their gods and goddesses in the light of technology. They should resurrect and reinvent their divinities and become key players in emerging space and sea technological missions and probes.

Leo Igwe is a writer with interest in religion and transhumanism.

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