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Wednesday, 12 August 2015

What I Believe

My atheism came as a nasty surprise to my family largely because in Nigeria, it is unheard of to admit that one does not believe in any god, especially the christian god. It is erroneously assumed by most of these people that an atheist is deeply involved in the occult hence the disbelief in any god(s). But this is obviously not the case since I do not believe in anything supernatural. There is no spirit world controlling events here on earth.
I must admit that the concept of deities who look out for us from on high is quite a comforting one, but my views about religion stem from the fact that this protection racket is one which is ultimately exploitative. From the christian perspective, we are promised long life if we honour our parents, and an eternity of misery in hell if we die without Christ in our lives as our personal lord and saviour. It is like telling your child that you would subject him to horrible tortures for not going to school. What is more, a great majority of religious persons were born into religion, and most times simply swap one belief for another. It is the odd person who swaps religious beliefs for non-belief in the form of atheism, agnosticism, humanism, or secularism.
A particular matter I have had to deal with is being accused of arrogance. Some persons I have met have drawn my attention to the influence and popularity of Nigerian's most prominent preachers, and to the fact that some of them were accomplished in other secular fields before their 'calling' to the "vineyard of the lord." They argue that I am not as successful as these 'men of god', that I do not have as much experience in life as they do, or that I am not as schooled (many of them boast PhD's in theology or some other discipline). There are many well educated persons who hold religious beliefs as well as those who do not. It is not just a matter of being educated; adhering to a set of  religious beliefs or the decision not to believe in any gods is as complicated as human nature itself.
It is in our nature as human beings to want to find answers to the most pressing questions of life. I think religion is the very premature and stopgap answer to questions we had no answers to, when we first asked them. Maybe we asked ourselves those questions too early, the same way most parents would find it difficult to give an answer when their 5 year old asks them about sex or how babies are made.
I know for a fact that I am not set in my ways. If I have enough evidence to follow the tenets of one religion or another, then I certainly will. I remain an atheist because I am yet to be presented with compelling evidence to the contrary. Faith, for me, is simply not enough.