Volume 11, Issue 1, January/April 2022
An Argument for the Non-Existence of the Devil in African Traditional Religions
In this essay, I will argue that the discourse over the existence of the Devil/Satan has no place among the religious cultures in sub-Saharan Africa. This may be contrasted with the numerous efforts in the dominant philosophy of religion tradition in the Anglo-American sphere, where efforts toward the establishing grounds for the existence of God have occupied and commanded so much attention. On the other hand, it seems to have been taken for granted that Devil, the One who is antagonistic of God, among the Abrahamic monotheisms, is assumed to exist and does not require serious intellectual elaboration. For my aim, I explore the traditional Yorùbá and Igbo religious cultures to foreground that God. In the traditional belief system of these two religious cultures, there is no place to entertain the idea of a necessarily antagonistic entity, popularly called the Devil.Whereas I recognise previous scholarships that have served to show that Èṣù and Ekwensu in each of these religious cultures are not synonymous with Devil in the Abrahamic monotheisms, I move beyond these to establishing the ontological framework which endorses the absence of a Devil, even when evil lingers in the world. If the argument that there is no Devil/Satan in these religious cultures is proved valid, then it is pertinent to tender the origin and persistence of evil in the world. For this task, I explore the process-relational character of Yorùbá and Igbo theology to reinforce my conviction concerning the peoples’ belief in the existence of God in Chukwu and Olódùmarè, the presence of evil in the world, without encountering the philosophical problem of evil.