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Does Religion Impede Development?

I've always wondered about Nigeria's development and I reading several posts in the forum has led me to a certain conclusion. Perhaps the greatest detriment to human development is the inability for a people to think critically. Specifically I refer to posts by "literal" christians that even in the face of overwhelming evidence still insist on a literal interpretation of the Bible. Even years after christian scholars and theologians themselves admit that several parts of the Bible can only be taken mythologically! People still insist on the creation story, Noah ark, israelites exodus from Egypt etc as historical facts, because the Bible says so.

A simple cursory examination of the Bible will show so many contradictions, impossible stories, blatant errors that it would require amazing feats of cognitive reasoning to back up this stories. On the other hand if the Bible is understood as the writings of ancient people in their quest to formulate a god for their times a lot of things are explained.

I wonder if literal Christians in the room can take a moment and step back to observe christianity neutrally. Without all the emotion and sentiment just try to examine your religion critically. It's difficult because you have probably be taught from birth to believe without questioning like many of us. You must be courageous enough to search. I assure you that the result will bring you nearer to "God" than you ever imagined and possibly the Nigerian nation can begin to become a country that can provide basic physical and emotional care for our citizens, instead of simply being the nation with the most churches and church goers while remaining the most corrupt!

Cheers, comments are well appreciated.

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9 answers

Religion is Nigeria's 2nd biggest problem. First is corruption

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Well I guess here is the fundamental difference in the way we both think. I believe practically every part of the human culture - including religion - is there for a purpose. Things didn't just come out of the blue for some mystical supernatural reason. Even if that was the case it still seems funny that a society and persons that have "firm" religious footing still end up doing completely silly stuff. Deeply committed religious persons have kept slaves, killed children, flogged wives, burnt witches etc. All this things society would denounce now. How could people who believed they were so spiritual end up doing things so silly. If their spirituality didn't stop them from committing atrocities or maybe even encouraged them to commit such then why is being spiritual even considered to be a good thing?

Cheers

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you are opening up a whole can of worms here. Does anything in life have to be purposeful? Does religion have to be purposeful? How can I explain myself?

Not everybody that is walking down a street is going somewhere. Some may have a destination. Others are just simply going on a walk cos they feel like it. Further purpose is a very arbitrary thing. your purpose might be antithetical to mine. Say we both have access to a mountain and you want to exploit the mountain commercially for all the diamonds that can be found in it. That is your purpose for taking interest in the mountain. I might just think that the mountain is a nice place to live and I appreciate the clean air and green slopes, I certainly don't want you coming and digging your dirty mines and polluting the whole place. We are at cross purposes. In fact everybody in this world is to some degree or the other at cross purposes with each other. This is part of what makes life so beautiful and diverse as well as difficult.

To suggest that religion exists for a purpose is to miss the point of religion altogether. To say that love, compassion and what not are the goals of religion is worse than missing the point. Perhaps this might be true for some man made 'religions', but Love, compassion, joy, peace, these are just side effects, what christians call the fruits of the spirit. There are many other fruits too. There are so many beneficial side effects. As Jesus said: Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours. The purpose of religion is communion with God and after this there are so many beneficial side effects that accrue. That is the only purpose worth considering because all other purpose being arbitrary is ultimately untenable. You can go on asking why forever.

eg. The purpose is Compassion

But WHY should I want to be Compassionate?

Because It is Good to be compassionate

Yeah, but why do I want to be Good?

Because Mommy will be please if you are Good and get a good report from everyone

Yeah, but WHY do I want to please mommy or get a good report from anyone?

Because If mommy is upset and no one likes you you will not enjoy it

What if I don't care if anyone likes me? WHY should I care?

Everyone cares don't they?

I don't seem to, no! I don't care, which I suppose is why they say I lack compassion in the first place. What did my doctor call it? yes, sociopathy. Apparently I've got a chemical imbalance in my brain.

There is an infinite egress here.

But the action of spirit is spontaneous and gracious, full of love and understanding. Not because of anything or to fulfill any purpose but simply because it is essentially generous and life giving and loving. And anyone filled with the spirit will exhibit these attributes. Just like someone filled with the spirit of their favourite song will spontaneous break into dancing. They will shuffle to the left and then shuffle to the right and then repeat this movement over and over again. Why all this exertion? Energetically going nowhere, just left and right and left and right ad infinitum. Imagine you are looking through a soundproof plate glass window at a dancer and you can't hear the music. Don't they look silly? What energetically pointless actions. So it is with anybody that cannot hear the music. Without spirit life will become pointless. There is no basis for love and compassion being any goal for humanity. In fact no one put this better than nietzsche in his famous passage called the Madman where he declared that God is dead.

NO God, equals no purpose, which eventually equals nihilism.

THE MADMAN----Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: "I seek God! I seek God!"---As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated?---Thus they yelled and laughed

The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. "Whither is God?" he cried; "I will tell you. We have killed him---you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.

"How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us---for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto."

Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. "I have come too early," he said then; "my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars---and yet they have done it themselves.

It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: "What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?"

Source: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (1882, 1887) para. 125; Walter Kaufmann ed. (New York: Vintage, 1974), pp.181-82.]

Nietzsche is in my opinion the most honest Atheist that ever lived. If other atheist realised the enormity of their positions they too would probably go mad like him. What other option is there for them? Ah, but the trick is that most Atheists are not Honest.

I could go on and on but let us first digest this little bit first.

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I'm not quite sure what you mean when you say non religious people choose not to believe in certain things and absorb everything else. I certainly don't accept everything I hear about. The point I'm trying to make though is that religion is simply pointless without it being purposeful. The things that most religions try to promote, love for humanity and care and compassion for each other can be achieved without the needless brainwashing. In fact the fundamentalist approach to religion is counterproductive because first you must turn the listener into an unthinking zombie before then making him do whatever you want. On the short term it looks effective but it's definitely very damaging on the long run. It also involves the risk of bad leadership causing mayhem - example religious riots in the North of Nigeria - because the listeners are simply following without thinking. Cultivating the spirit of critical reasoning in a people may seem dangerous initially as they may decide you are not worthy to be their leader finally. You would however have escorted them to where they can fear no more.

We must accept the responsibility to achieve this goal ourselves as Nigerians, because you can be sure the developed world isn't exactly crazy about Africans achieving self emancipation and self respect.

Thanks, and again comments are well appreciated.

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Religious people may actually be more critical in their ideas, than non religious people who in fact are not as inquisitive but simply choosing not to believe in certain things and absorbing everything else.

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sometimes it does and sometimes it doesnt.

It depends on what context and who is talking (which way are they biased).

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Also see: http://www.nairaland.com/nigeria/topic-143171.0.html

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Well said!

I found this site very useful: http://reasonworks.com/BS%20Your%20Parents%20Never%20Taught%20You.html

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What a great advice,but the blind faith issue and the wrath of god is deeply rooted,that is the snag,i wish they can really see and be free for once before they die for eternity.

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