Philosophical and Religious Interpretations of Theism within the Yoruba Context

Olorunfemi, Joseph Oluwasegun (5/11/2015)


The study examines and compared the age-long arguments on the existence of God from the Yoruba traditional and Western perspectives. It examined and compared the nature of the problem of evil in the Western and the Yoruba traditional views of God (Olodumare). The study discussed and evaluated the paradoxes in the attributes of God among the Yoruba. This was with a view to revealing the true nature and attributes of God in the Yoruba world view. The primary data for the study were collected through interviews with purposively selected practitioners of indigenous Yoruba religious tradition. Eight practitioners were interviewed in Ile-lfe, three in Osogbo, one in Oyo, one in Ondo and one in ljebu-Ode. The contents of the interview focused on ritual practices, mythic narratives and proverbs. The secondary materials for the study consisted of publications by Western and Yoruba scholars on the notion of God and the problem of evil. The data were analyzed using a comparative approach. The study revealed that there were inconsistencies in the western attributes of God in relation to the existence of evil in the world created by God. It also showed that the problem of evil in Judeo – Christian religion had been the source of atheism, skepticism and agnosticism. It further discovered that the attributes of God in the Yoruba traditional religious world – view did not lead to the problem of evil that was found in western theism. The study also found that the compatibility of the Yoruba conception of God with the existence of evil in the world was demonstrable in most aspects of Yoruba existence as expressed in the proverb "'T' ibit tire ni a da ile aye" literally, the world was created a paradox of evil and good. It was concluded that the Western notion of God's existence or non-existence was not a universal standard notion of God for all cultures, particularly the Yoruba culture. Moreover, the Yoruba conception of God provided a more plausible explanation for the joint existence of God and evil in the world than was provided by western theism.