Skepticism In Lagos By Leo Igwe

By Leo Igwe

I would like to salute fellow humanists and skeptics, and other curious and inquisitive friends for honouring our invitation to the meeting of April 28, 2013 and for considering being there the best way to spend their time and observe their Sunday. Their presence was a clear indication that the idea of a skeptical Lagos of doubters, critical thinking and questioning individuals and groups was one whose time had come.

A day to the event, I was out in Sabo area distributing some flyers and inviting the people I met on the streets to attend this event. Interestingly some of the people whom I gave the flyers without looking or reading the content simply said “God Bless you”. Yes, God bless me indeed for promoting an event for skeptics and humanists!

And on my way back to my hotel, I met some young ladies and men mostly in their 20s also distributing some flyers but this time around inviting me and some other passers-by to ‘worship and fellowship’ with them at the ‘Manna’s Court’ branch of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Montgomery Road Sabo Yaba. The first flyer has a photo of a man with two kids and a bold inscription that reads- Jesus Loves You. Quite appealing, isn’t it?

It goes on to give 3 incoherent and unpersuasive reasons why Jesus loves ‘you’(I guess it was not referring to me), all starting with ‘because....’. 1. Because you have a past of sin and failure and Jesus wiped the slate of your past and ‘give{sic} you a new beginning’. But the flyer does not state Jesus’ purpose for giving you a new beginning. 2. Because you need a friend and Jesus is this friend because he knows the worst about ‘you’ and still believes in the best(whatever that means).

3. Because he(Jesus) holds the future. But the author of the flyer does not state the reason why Jesus is holding on to the future of his friends. The author like other purported readers, transmitters and transcribers of the mind of god or Jesus finds it hard to give us a coherent, consistent and intelligible articulation of the basis of Christian love. Like other religious texts believers hardly subject them to critical evaluation. They accept such messages as infallible divine wisdom.

A second flyer contains the timetable for the church’s program which includes a Faith Clinic session on Thursdays. I guess at this faith clinic session ‘Dr. Jesus’ visits and presides over the healing of every disease including HIV/AIDS.

But I found more hillarious the third flyer which has a short testimony on ‘About the Bible’. It states-

“I was told that I had to go to the seminary to understand the Bible. I was told not to open it. But one day I read it and it was like sunshine to my heart. I discovered that the Bible is{sic} really God speaking to me, and I could understand it. It said, “ For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that who ever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life(John 3:16). It also said, “He who does not believe the son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him”(John 3:36).
It further states, “Does it take {a} seminary graduate to understand these wonderful words? It’s so simple! God means what He says, and says what He means. I am resting on what God says”.

Going by the message, you do not need to be a skeptic to understand how mistaken the author and his/her God are. And mistake is something not often associated with sacred writing.

From the abovementioned reasons and others, this notion persists-and many people still insist- that there are no skeptics, atheists or freethinkers in Africa; that the African continent is a region of blind dogmatic believers and fetish voodoo worshippers; that Africans express skepticism only by imitating the western mentality; that skepticism is alien to African thought and culture. But friends, is skepticism a western outlook? Is the skeptical outlook alien to us? The answer is an unequivocal NO! The skeptical viewpoint is an impulse that beats in the minds of every human being. In fact anytime one casts doubt at any claim, teaching or belief; anytime one questions or demands reason or proof for any claim made by someone, the person expresses skepticism.

Skepticism speaks directly to  those ideals which make us human- curiousity, critical thinking, questioning, doubting, objection, interrogation, examination, review and revision, investigation and inquiry.
Actually, you don’t need to be a skeptic in order to be skeptical. But it takes skeptics for skepticism to be visible, vibrant and effective. Even the most faithful and believing folks entertain doubts. The difference between the skepticism of skeptics and the skepticism of believers- religious believers- is that skeptics at least aim to apply or express critical thinking and doubts in all areas of human endeavour while religious believers suppress their doubts, keep their doubts to themselves or apply their critical thinking in some areas of human endeavour particularly those claims or doctrines they reject or disbelieve or those beliefs that are opposed to their religion or those that conflict with the dogmas they profess or accept.

But many religious folks suppress and cannot express openly their doubts not really because they think these doubts are pointless and senseless but because of the social costs and consequences of doing so. (The doubting Thomases are always vilified and demonised)

This is particularly the case when doubts are openly expressed about dominant religious teachings or popular superstitions and traditions. Such a fellow could be attacked or ostracized by family members. The person is persecuted or could be killed at least in some parts of the country. So we find ourselves in a situation where it is risky and dangerous to doubt or question issues openly and publicly.

In fact we find ourselves in a situation where it is risky and dangerous to think. So ours is a society where many people are afraid to hold independent views and opinions. Ours has become a believing- a blind believing- not a thinking society. And most of the problems that plague us today is due our inability to think freely and critically about issues, our inability to encourage critical evaluation of claims. Our country Nigeria needs a freethinking and skeptical climate to generate the ideas we need to tackle the problems we face. Unfortunately, most people in our society prefer, have resigned or are content with received 'wisdoms' which are sometimes not appropriate or suitable to the specific and contemporary challenges we face today.

So most skeptics and humanists are in the closet. Skeptical views are expressed in hushed tones. And this shouldn't be the case. We need to let the world know that we have skeptics in Lagos, that not all the people in Lagos believe or accept the miracle claims of T. B Joshua, Enoch Adeboye, David Oyedepo and other fake healers. Not all the people in Lagos accept and consume the paranormal and penticostal wares of prophets and magicians, witch doctors and soothsayers that dot the nook and cranny of this city. Not everyone endorses religious exploitation and faith based abuses being perpetrated across the state.

A skeptical Lagos holds a lot of promise for the people in Lagos, in Nigeria and Africa.

So let’s work and campaign to make it happen.
Arise, all skeptics in Lagos.
 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

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Waiting

When you are ready to address issues and not attack persons and views call my attention. If you have so much of a case, why would you go so low as to paint others in bad light? Go ahead and present your facts, not attack others. Remember, putting off another's candle doesn't make yours brighter.

Skepticism in Lagos

Dear mr Igwe,pls permit me to further enrich your timely write up by submitting this quote from Neale Donald Walsch's Eternal Trilogy " CONVERSATION WITH GOD-an uncommon dialogue" Bk 2 p247. Here we go " understand that in order for organized religion to succeed,it has to make people believe they need it. In order for people to put faith in something else,they must first loose faith in themselves. So the first task of organized religion is to make you loose faith in yourself. The second task is to make you see that it has the answers you do not. And the third and most important task is to make you accept its answers without question. (for) If you question you start to think ! If you think you start to go back to that source within. Religion cant have you do that,because you're liable to come up with an answer different from what it has contrived. So religion must make you doubt yourself,must make you doubt your own ability to think straight." I rest my case.

Dear Igwe,to contribute and

Dear Igwe,to contribute and enrich your timely piece"skepticism in Lagos",please permit me to provide the following quote from Neale Donald Walsch's eternal trilogy "CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD-an uncommon dialogue" Bk 2 p247.Here we go: "...understand that in order for organized religion to succeed,it has to make people believe they need it. In order for people to put faith in something else,they must first loose faith in themselves . So the first task of organized religion is to make you loose faith in yourself. The second task is to make you see that it has the answers you do not. And the third and most important task is to make you accept its answers without question. (for) if you question,you start to think! If you think,you start to go back to that source within. Religion can't have you do that,because your liable to come up with an answer different from what it has contrived. So religion must make you doubt yourself,must make you doubt your ability to think straight". I rest my case.

Anon

Dear Anonymous above, maybe if you spelled "sceptic" correctly, I would take you seriously.

Religion sends people into frenzy

You have no proof of the allegation that Leo Igwe was rusticated from the Seminary just like like you don't have any proof of the existence of God. As Karl Max stated "religion is the opium of the masses." No where is this so evident than in Nigeria where many have taken this opium and are in a state of dillirium.

May Nigerians are into religion for all the wrong reasons and we are paying for with blood sweat and tears. Man is not born to be religious. We just get indoctrinated to believe without evidence or questions. You simply cannot be logical and believe in religion. As for me any form of religion makes no sense and I have let it be known to many who know me and I don't care what they think. I am a natural sceptic.

To each his own

Mr. Igwe,

Skepticism does not mean lack of faith. And faith does not mean stupidity. The way you portray your point of view as the only reasonable way to thing is just as judgmental and intolerant as that of many believers in God (whatever the name they give Him).

I will admit to a narrow mindedness inn our cultural and faith circles, and a lack of inquisitiveness. But that is due to the way our society is structured to never question.

You are free and should be encouraged to ask people to think for themselves. I believe even religious leaders should ask their congregants to think and examine for themselves. But when they do, and come to a conclusion different from yours, it should not direct you to declare them intellectually deficient.

No Need For Abuse

Leo, you may be skeptic. I’m not, but I have respect for those with contrary beliefs. It wasn't only education that wrought this in me; it is the life of a Christian who knows what. You needn’t write names and then categorise them as fake healers. While not holding brief for them, I must tell you true faith adds not to a people's national problems, neither does it cause them. I am Christian, and when thinking on moving this nation forward, I’m there. Real faith people know issues don't resolve themselves on their own; men resolve them. We believe God would do stuffs for us, most of which He would do by us. Consider Tunde Bakare next time you think or write about faith, skepticism and the society. Even if he is just one, you have a positive skeptic for your project, if truly you want to move a people to solve their problems. If you are a doubter, fine. But you don't need to pull down others in order to advance your cause- that may just be your own way of using force.

Dear Humanist Igwe

Only a fool says there is no God. Sorry, I am not calling you a fool, but that is what the Bible says and I believe that God cannot lie. As for you and your group, I can not trust for your knowledge is very limited.

Nice one

Please, we need more info on when and where you'd be holding your events.
Good to see that people are finally having the guts to ask critical questions in Nigeria...the words of Christopher Hitchens remain true..."religion poisons everything"

DUMB AND ILLOGICAL SCEPTIC

Mr Leo Igwe,
you were kicked out of a catholic seminary because you could not meet up to the standards.
because of this you became an atheist.
does that mean all of us should join you in your miserable life?

Jesus Loves you whether you accept or not!

By the way your own arguments are lousy!

Cool story bro.

Cool story bro.

Thank you

Thank you for consistently being a voice of reason and believing enough to actually raise awareness about the doomed superstitious beliefs and blind belief in religion that characterizes our thinking, especially in Africa. Africans in general are not critical thinkers and not to be disparaging , we are the race that has benefitted humanity the least. In fact if the continent of Africa was erased by a storm or fire, the rest of the world would not miss a beat.
. Religion has become a huge albatross for us, being that the very nature of religion is a belief in the ridiculous to the detriment of reason. And how proud we are of our religions and our daft, stupid superstitious beliefs! We seem to be the only ones affected by spiritual attacks, flying witches, disappearing private parts and other supernatural occurrences that have rational explanations if only we allowed ourselves to see beyond our limited mental capacities.

Let Freedom reign...From the oily creeks of the SS&SE mangroves

Leo Igwe, let it be known too, by the same token, that we have skeptics in continent Nigeria who do NOT believe Nigeria is a country. Let it be known too, in very clear terms that the SS&SE is seceding from continent Nigeria & it is NON-NEGOTIABLE.

Let freedom reign. From the oily creeks of the mangrove swamps of the Warri to the clement and mineral rich mountains of Obudu Ranch in Calabar,Let freedom reign. From the rich Benin river basins in Edo state to the palm olive haven & crude oil reserves of the Abia red earth, Let freedom reign. From the great Onitsha bridge-the land flowing with oil, inventors & entrepreneurs to the rich Royal waters of Bonny land & priceless natural gas. Let freedom reign. From the oil laden land & water of the Ogoni peoples to oil rich plains of Eket in Akwa Ibom. Let freedom reign. From Enugu coal & bitumen mines to the peace of the oily River Ethiope. Let freedon reign. Long live United SS&SE