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Friday, November 28, 2008

Zuma's Country of God

Jacob Zuma is apparently an idiot.


That's no big surprise to the bulk of my readers, I'm sure. There have been plenty of examples of idiocy spewing forth from him over the years, but I suppose I always gave him the benefit of the doubt... assuming that his lack of formal education left him intellectually stunted, but not necessarily stupid.

After reading this article on IOL this afternoon, I've decided that there's probably no difference between the two. His stuntedness is, for all practical purposes, equivalent to stupidity.

This is what has led me to this conclusion.

At the National Presidential Religious Leaders summit* yesterday, Zuma said

"When all of us take office in government... we raise our right hand and indeed pronounce... so help me God. I believe no one can argue South Africa is not based on the principles of God," said Zuma.

"The bible says pray for those who are in government. I believe we must go beyond that. You must advise and criticise if there are things we do that are not in keeping with the principles of God."
He also points out the fact that the following phrase appears in the preamble to the constitution:

"May God protect our people...God bless South Africa."
Now, I wasn't there when the constitution was being drafted, but it seems pretty obvious to me that this specific wording was chosen so as to remain ambivalent to which "God" was being referred to here. Is it YHWH? Jehovah? Jesus? AllahThe Deist God? Spinoza's GodZeus? Thor? Quetzlcoatl? The Flying Spaghetti Monster?

It doesn't specify. And I imagine that it was a deliberate choice to write it this way, and not to refer to a specific version of God, so as not to alienate South Africans adhering to faiths other than Christianity. (I'll ignore for the moment the fact that it still manages to alienate those of us who believe in no gods - that's a subject for another post).

So isn't it interesting that Zuma automatically assumes that the God of the bible is the one we should be paying attention to? Why is Zuma's God the important one, and everyone else's gods are not?

He also presumes that the bible is the best way to find out what "the principles of God" are. The morality expressed in the bible is at best ambiguous. How are we to interpret it correctly? What makes Zuma's interpretation better than mine?

Of course it makes sense that Zuma would look to the bible for his values. He is, after all, a polygamist and not opposed to having his way with younger women - both of which are strongly advocated in the Christian bible.

I would expect a presidential candidate to be capable of looking beyond bronze-age mysticism and see the functional logic in a utilitarian ethical system. Blind adherence to a non-specific religious moral code is intellectually immature, and does not serve a president, or a country, well. Particularly a country such as ours which claims to pride itself on its ethnic diversity.



*Exactly why such a summit exists mystifies me.