Have Some Christians Truly Cornered the Market on Goodness?

by Enitan Doherty-Mason

To get young Africans weaned from their almost congenital reliance on fate, they must be educated to stand on their own feet. The worst bane of Africans is a chronic dependence on the deity to solve all their earthly problems. Give everybody an education for self-reliance and we will vie with the best nations everywhere.” – Tai Solarin (Nigerian Humanist 1922-1994)

I am a humanist and firm believer in random acts of kindness. My lack of belief in a god/God/ a supreme being is part of my world-view. I believe that each act of kindness or goodness serves to bring balance to our often times seemingly chaotic world. I do not believe that there is a grand “heavenly” plan. Like many other people, I have my fair share of questions about everything from the creation of the universe to why we exist as human beings. I will continue to question, but I refuse to throw my hands up and attribute anything to a supreme being. In my mind only those who are dead cease ask questions.

I do the good that I can to my fellow human beings in the here and now. I rejoice with friends no matter their belief. I try my best to live a life of tolerance even when I do not agree with the ideology of others. I live the best I can with my shortcomings. What never ceases to amaze me, however, is the response of a good number of my Christian friends when they “discover” that we do not share a common belief. They act as if Christians have cornered the market on goodness. They seem amazed that any good can come from anyone who is not a Christian. They falsely attribute all that is good about me to my Christian parents as if I had no mind of my own to choose my actions.

In their minds, all good things come only from the God of the Christians. They are amazed that I extend myself for their own benefit when I can. They marvel at the fact that a “godless” person has a heart. They pity my “condition” and tell me that I am in a temporary state of confusion, which will be reversed by their prayers, the “holy ghost” and Jesus Christ. They suggest that I keep my humanism hidden, while they blatantly advertise their Christianity. I, on the other hand am amazed at their narrow mindedness and their inability to see beyond the powers with which they have endowed the god of their imported religion. I feel no need to advertise or hide. At this writing I feel a need to clarify.

I appreciate the grave concern that is expressed for my “mortal soul” by some of my Christian friends (although not a single one of them has been able to give me reports back from heaven or hell). I know some simply are afraid for me because they are not yet able to grasp what I believe. I am at peace with the person that I am and what I do. I take responsibility for my life. I neither praise nor blame a deity for the good or ills that befall me. As an African woman who chooses not to stand with either theists or with magicians and their craft of confusion, I have moved beyond the shame, secrecy and pretence that surround what is labeled as “witchcraft” or “demonic practices”. I am well aware of the ability of those who are gifted at “magic” and the creation of illusions to exercise their craft. I am also well aware that these are human beings like you and I, not agents of the Devil or any so called spirit beings.

I choose not to live in fear of a hell or damnation; neither do I choose to live a life constrained by the fear of missing a ticket to a heaven or paradise. I am content to live as I live.with no shackles to bind me, and no religion to blind me. I know as definitively as I know my own name that Christians nor anyone else has cornered the market on goodness. For those who marvel at the goodness of strangers, let them continue to marvel. For those who are able to live a life of tolerance and who are able to live respectfully with others, I commend you. For those who would like to learn more about humanism, visit this website or this one.

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.” americanhumanist.org

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Anonymous April 20, 2006 - 10:50 pm

I have quite a few articles that u have written but this is the one relate to the most. Nigerian humanist are feww and far between. After years and years of trying and failing at be a christain, at 19 I finally understood why, and it has been a very liberating experience. I'll discribe myself as a humanist and an activist. I'm now going to turn 21 very soon and I feel like my eyes have finally been unveiled and my life is mine to make with it what i want. I'll live this life that I have now to the fullest and not treat is as a passage to an afterlife that there is absolutely no proof or garantee of.

Anonymous April 20, 2006 - 5:49 pm

Your article was wonderful!!! Well written and you certainly articulated your point of view in a very intelligent manner. You are indeed someone who is very rare in the Nigerian community since most Nigerians are hypnotized with this "God" business. I certainly agree with everything you have talked about. I visited Nigeria in the year 2003 and I noticed that the only thing that was progressing in that country was "God and Religion" while everything else -Economic development remained stagnant. People would rather spend nearly the whole day and night in churches chanting and wailing instead of being productive and trying to see how to make their lives better. We have been completely brainwashed severely with this religion to the point that some of us can no longer reason intelligently. Even the Europeans and Arabs that introduced this religions to us have moved ahead by developing their various economies while we pathetic Africans are there relying on "God" to solve our earthly problems that are man-made. I now believe that Religion is definately man-made while sprituality is something else. You can be spritual but not religious. Christians believe that they are going to Heaven and non-christians are going to Hell. Muslims believe that they will be the ones to inherit Heaven while non-believers (Infidels) will be condemed to Hell. Jewish people believe that they are the choosen children of God. All this just confuses me and I have decided that I don't want to be a part of all this religious rhetoric!!! It really amazes me that a country like Nigeria with all these religious people but yet there is so much corruption and violence especially religious violence – Is this what this "God" that they all claim to serve instructs them to do? It really makes me wonder. The average Nigeria uses the word "God" about five times in a single sentence without even being aware of it. A lot of atrocities have been committed in this world in the name of "God" and "Religion" – just to name a few – Slavery, Racism, the holocaust, genocide and I could go on and on forever!!! By mere observation it seems most of the westernized countries are less religious while most of the third world countries (Most of them in Africa) are very religious but yet so poverty stricken. Doesn't that make you wonder and think? One can certainly be morally conscious and at the same time not acknowledge God. I know a lot of people are going to have a problem with what I have just said but as the sayings goes "The truth is a bitter pill to swallow". Let's deal with it!! My cousin told me that in the early seventies when Nigeria was very prosperous there weren't a lot of churches around compared to today with thousands of churches scattered all over the place. The present economic problems we are facing in that country has nothing to do with "God" but with we Human Beings and our deficient so called leaders. We need to understand that for our lives to be better we need to rise up and make it happen. "God" and "Religion" won't make it happen for us. I never knew the term "Humanism" existed until I read your interesting article. Please keep up the good work and keep informing some of we narrow minded Nigerians especially those that responded to you saying that you will answer to the so called supreme being at the end of our lives.

Good Job!!! A Article!!! I would like to read more from you.

Anonymous April 20, 2006 - 2:39 pm

I congratulate you on a fine article. I also congratulate you on being able to live a chritian life style without accepting the exhistence of the creator. I know that when the time comes, he will give you pass marks for a life well spent but ?

Anonymous April 19, 2006 - 1:21 pm

congratulations on being a humanist.I hope it serves u well when the chips are down.

I know I may sound like ur christian friends,perhaps because I am a christian,but the truth is that there is a supreme being and u and will be accountable to him at the end of our lives.Hope u will be ready to defend ur denial of him when the time comes.Goodluck.

Anonymous April 19, 2006 - 12:44 pm

Very well written. Its good to hear that someone can still be a good person and live a meaningful and rich life without religion.


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