A conflict between sense and reason, Oduyoye is the first to admit that his findings may be largely debatable. He recalled the partition that separated his teachings from commonsense and uncommon radical sense.
“When I first began to say some things, somebody mentioned the phrase, ‘far-fetched’, I was confronted with words like, ‘are you not going too far?’ Why Yoruba and the Hebrews? Do you think there can be any connection between Yoruba land and India?
“That was what I faced and, therefore, needed patience in trying to answer the objections raised, but, it paid off, eventually, and it gladdens me to notice, when things became clearer, that there are people who now say, ‘I think he’s saying something important’. I am grateful to them and those who organised the seminar that celebrated my 80th birthday.
In Physics, it is said that for every action, there is an equal reaction, although, Omniscience scholars say, there are unequal reactions to every action. As a Christian Scientist and traditional religionist, Oduyoye has his own conviction about blood transfusion.
“I don’t think there is anything wrong with it; it’s not a religious issue with me. I’ve had blood transfusion before when I had an operation. There are certain things that human beings have known, which I accept and even take for granted. And I didn’t see anything in my Scriptures which makes me study,examine or worry over it.”
On the argument between scientists and theologians concerning God, creation and science:
“When I read somewhere in one of the Prophets, where Jehovah was speaking: I created light and I created darkness; I was first shocked because in Genesis 1, what we read is, ‘Let there be light.’ So God created light and that was what we learnt as children. Therefore, we associate God with creation of light, and not creation of darkness.
“Then the question is, since God has the power to create light, why did He not banish darkness altogether? Why do we still have darkness today? “Now, that tells me that darkness has its own function. If darkness was not created, how would we enjoy our sleep? Before electricity and lamps, if there was no darkness, how would we know when to stop work and go in?God made other beings that move in the dark, like the nocturnal animals, so we share the same thing.
People think that it’s God that created darkness, whereas, it is the rotation of the earth which makes you think that darkness exists. The sun never sets, it never blackens out, but, when you turn towards the sun, you say it’s daylight, when the rotation changes later, you say ‘there is darkness’. I don’t want to call darkness an illusion, but our eyes cannot pick things out like nocturnal animals.
“Now, God is all seeing, He is the one who created those animals that can see in darkness, and He created those animals in His image, of course, to teach us that it is possible to see in the dark. Therefore, nothing can happen in the dark which is not naked before God”.
Some of your disciplesargue that the GOD of the Bible must have also been created, that there is no infinite GOD. Is this your understanding?
“The noun for infinite is infinity. We were taught in Class One in the Secondary School that two parallel lines are lines that never meet, no matter how far you pull them at both ends. We worked at Geometry problems in Class1 to 4 with this axiom and we were able to solve some of the problems.
But in Class 5, one of our teachers was amazed that nobody got one out of the five Geometry problems we tried to solve, and this was because we were using the same axiom that two parallel lines never meet.Then he said to us, ‘Are you children so ignorant? Don’t you know that parallel lines meet at infinity?’
It was a bombshell; we now made the lines meet, and the problem got solved.
The question now is, is there a point called infinity? Infinity is something that will always recede, so infinity is a postulation, a working hypothesis, and I believe eternity is the same, unreachable.”
In the past 80 years now, what would you say life has taught you?
“Many things, but I would like to single out one. About 15 or 20 years ago, I came to the realisation that life, the universe goes in a circle, likewise the earth, moon, sun, Mars, but for the big size of the earth, all living things would have been feeling dizzy.
“Then it occurred to me that, if all these things are circling, there is no plain level ground. What we have is the surface of a curve; then I realised, forward ever, backward never is impossible: you go forward and forward, you end up where you began.
“It was very illuminating for me, and it is this continuous return to the beginning that will make it endless; if it was going on a straight line, it will certainly end one day, but since it has the ability of curving back to the beginning, it can roll endlessly.
So I told myself that it was wise for human beings to realise that that was what life is. For instance, since we were born, our life is sleeping and waking repeatedly. If somebody says ‘I want variety, I don’t want this sleeping and waking anymore’, then such a person is not ready to live anymore, because life is defined by sleeping and waking daily.
“Life is all abouteating breakfast, lunch, supper, sleeping and waking; life is about leaving your house and returning later. Life is about planting and reaping. In case of water: rain falls to the ground, the sun laps it up and through evaporation, the same rain forms clouds which become heavy and pour down again; life is just a circle.We must never try to get tired of repetition.
At 80 years of age, how long do you expect to be around?
If anybody says I am still hoping to live longer, I ask the person, ‘to do what?’ What is it that I’ve not had the opportunity to do? I think we’re enjoying life, because there’s still something to do tomorrow.
If by tomorrow, I am supposed to wake up, have breakfast, wait for lunch and supper and repeat that routine for a week, I don’t think I will be enjoying my life anymore. So when projects end, one will, surely, say, ‘I’ve done everything I wanted to do’.
For instance, if there’s no compulsory retirement age in any employment, won’t some people stay at work till the age of 110?
For a man to continue working till the age of 110, means he would become a burden to his colleagues, because he would always be asking for their assistance in carrying out his assignments. At that point, someone should tell him , ‘now you have many assistants, sir, shall we reduce your salary?’