Editor’s note: According to the Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism, in Nigeria, 93% of the nation’s respondents say they are religious.
Nigerian atheists/unbelievers/freethinkers share their experiences of being atheist on Quora.
Quora is an online site where people can post questions they are having trouble answering. Rather than get answers from one person, the site allows all users to weigh in on what they think the best answers are.
Precious Amamgbu (born by an Igbo dad-Cross Riverian mom, full-fledged Nigerian)
First off all, I'm Christian, but I'm sort of tending towards skepticism like Carl Sagan, so I can give you a very comprehensive answer. This means, I believe in God, but there are some things in Christianity I don't accept or believe as logical. Let me tell you a story that actually happened:
Yesterday (yeah, yesterday!), after skipping church again, this time, to do massive cleaning (only reasonable excuse I've had in forever), this man that has tried convincing me to come to his church(names withheld, obviously) comes over again asks that we speak. Note, this is about 8pm in the night. I live in the campus, so there wasn't any fear or whatnot.
We begin talking and as usual, he brings up some points which I counter. He gets to some Aha! Gotcha! Moments, but I'm basically on top of the convoy. He did raise some salient points though, but really, most other things he said lacked serious thought, so his fall-back option was "Just come to church and ask questions. I'm not a pastor but you'll have a lot of answers to your questions if you do. I also doubted but I attended one service, and most of my questions were answered." Cool story, bro!
So, as an atheist or freethinker, expect people to be convinced your soul is ripe for destruction if you don't change your ways. Nigeria is overtly religious, which wouldn't have been as bad, if logic didn't have to suffer. You will be vilified in private, but seen as a big addition to the church, once you see the light.
It's not going to be easy. Your parents won't be happy at all, but I feel life is about adventure, exploring. So, explore. Think. Scrutinize. Do what you may. If you try to combine belief in God and science, like I'm attempting to do, fine. If it's science all the way, fine. I'd advise you to do the former, but like I said, think. Let your decision be the product of your thought.
Olayinka SF (Proudly Nigerian)
It's very very hard.
I grew dreadlocks a couple of years ago and my dad called me on the phone at 8am on my way to class informing me with a loud and authoritative voice that I'd gone rogue.
I kept my hair tangled and long, was all.
Not believing in the existence of a deity is way worse.
People immediately condemn which goes against nearly every religion practiced in Nigeria. You can't date if you're a guy because the women are the most religion zealous. My parents are fairly convinced that I'm possessed by some evil demon.
Truth to be told, the above doesn't bother me much. I don't live off my parents or some priest so in general I give little about their opinions.
You know the pain about being an atheist in Nigeria? It is seeing how Nigerians worship God.
Wait no, I take that back. These people are so delusional that they don't realize that they do not worship God. They worship self-proclaimed ministers of God.
I'm from a country where the general overseer of a Christian church group is so rich, he owns private jets. Jets not jet.
Make what you want of that.
In my country, the church is a business and it sickens me.
Obviously one would have to go about avoiding any topics that might allude to religious preferences. If you want to live a relatively normal life in the midst of hyper-religious proselytes, this is the only recourse.
Atheists are unsurprisingly viewed with suspicion and sometimes hate. You have people equating your lack of belief with allegiance to the devil (even though lack of belief means being skeptical to all aspects of the faith). And then people thinking you are contagious, that your mere presence would make them the unbelievers that they fear.
With the many initiatives being made to establish religious tolerance between Christians and Muslims, the love atheists don't get only shows that inclusion is the motive; the movement only serves to abolish one manifestation of prejudice, not prejudice itself.
I'm just glad I no longer have to deal with old ladies that want to probe your status with God (and then ostracize you and make you the gossip of the area) while they sell you plantains. I moved.
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