The Wretchedness of Religion
by Leo Igwe
Early in life I found myself in a Catholic seminary, where, for more
than a decade I was bombarded with assorted religious dogmas. I was
coerced into believing in a deity, into submitting unquestionably to the
so-called supreme being. But I left the seminary believing more in
humanity than in any divinity. Because in the course of my studies, I
discovered that the more I was "indoctrinated" into believing in
God, the less credible he (she, it) appeared to me. Furthermore, I came to
understand much more vividly about the time-honored confidence tricks
religions have played on humankind for ages. To my greatest surprise, I
found that the idea of religion was all about a few parochial individuals.
Priests, pastors, mullahs, rabbis, gurus, and so forth imposed their
stupid and silly thoughts and interpretations of reality on others.
I came to understand quite well how the supernatural faiths have,
through their bogus and often conflicting claims to absolute truth and
knowledge, fueled intolerance of new ideas and other viewpoints, hampering
intellectual growth, moral progress, and the evolution of an open
I discovered that religions have been generally sustained by a set of
unsubstantiated and very laughable claims that are not subject to
falsification. These assumptions are most often hinged on the illusive
promise of eternal bliss for a selected few in the hereafter.
(Unfortunately, all religions of the world have yet to arrive at a
consensus as regards the criteria for this divine selection.)
I still cannot understand how intelligent beings could have swallowed
this bait. I still cannot understand how a person with common sense can
blindly embrace the idea of a benevolent deity that afflicts his (her or
its) creatures with pain, sickness, and death while on Earth, only to
reward them with everlasting happiness as rotting corpses!
In me, this evokes more resentment than belief. This claim of the
afterlife is the most childish trick religions have played on human
beings. With this myth, accompanied by the threat of eternal damnation,
religions have cowed and clobbered generations of human beings into blind
obedience and unthinking fidelity. Religions have held believers in mental
and spiritual bondage under perpetual deception and servitude.
The religious belief in an afterlife has made most people devalue life
and happiness in this world. Due to religion, most people are fatalistic,
accepting their situations, even if they are in a position to improve
them. In this way, religions have robbed human beings of the good they
could have achieved-a more meaningful, peaceful, and prosperous life in
It is not wise to invest in a business that does not yield some
dividends while one is alive. That is to say, it makes no sense to believe
in a God that rewards human efforts and suffering endured in this world,
in "the great beyond." Moreover, it is downright stupid to
worship any deity that will reward us mortals with immortality.
Humanists say "no" to this religious scam. Humanists are of
the opinion that heaven and hell are found in this life-which we have the
opportunity to only live once. Evidence of an afterlife simply does not
exist, or is at best, flimsy. Clearly, the belief in an immortal soul is
rooted in wishful thinking.
Humanism, on the other hand, offers an alternative that seeks to bring
out the best in people so that all people may have the best in life.
Humanism offers people a historic opportunity to achieve a more exuberant
and meaningful existence. Human life, though, will not be perfect. The
world will continue to have poverty, wars, suffering, injustice, and
diseases. Humanists, however, are of the view that human reason and
emotion will create a better world. Moreover, this world will always
surpass the heavenly paradise that religionists imagine they will inherit
in the hereafter.
Leo Igwe is the executive secretary of the Nigerian Humanist Movement.