My reply to an agnostic who asked to be convinced about Christianity.
Some have argued that there is no need for religion as human civilization has evolved beyond the need for it. Many say humans have evolved well enough to have the capacity to define their own morality, principles and code independently. As a decent observer, I look at nuances critically.
Are humans inherently good? I believe that humans were born tabula rasa and that what people become is a product of their environment. I speak of ‘environment’ as both a matter and an abstract material.
For instance, humans engaged in more violent activities when there was scarcity of food and other resources. What was moral was any action that the notion ‘survival of the fittest’ permitted.
In fact, the Hobbesian theory captures it well enough. That in the state of nature, life was short, brutish and nasty. And with time, humans developed a social contract that enabled them have a definite leadership.
But have humans really become much better people? The headlines answer this swiftly. With more education, phone in hand, access to the internet and other resources, have humans demonstrated true ability to be good in the truest and rawest of sense?
My argument is that humans have in fact become more dangerous and mean and self-centered.
I think the world has continued to be a battlefield of cultures and interests. The theatres of conflict may have changed but the agenda is the same.
I believe this world is deeper than we see it. That, whether we accept it or not, there has been an active war between good and evil. Different generations have experienced different challenges, but it is the same theme. And that in equal measure, there have been conscription in either blocs of ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
Furthermore, more people say religion entrenches indoctrination and strips people off their free will. But there are today, about four horsemen of Nihilism (which people have come to identify with)- Individualism, Secularism, Hedonism and Materialism. The individuals who proselytize these ideologies use different means like propaganda, battle of cultures and beguiling, especially through social media to conscript people into the bloc.
Have you seen the yearnings of those who belong to this bloc? A quick glance at their social media bios tells you what you need to know;
‘I can resist everything except temptation; A reckless hedonist’
‘A person whose life is devoted to the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification’
‘Women need to stop giving birth to males, or at least stop wasting resources on them’
Social media has democratized information and made ‘experts’ of anyone who can garner some following. There is an increase of the usage of relatable lingo to attempt to intellectualize their indulgences. Meaning, every behavior, however sick, has some ‘ism’ to it- giving legitimacy to vices. Consequently, vices are packaged in shiny boxes with pretty ribbons and sold cheaply- from social media, then to public discourses, then to the classrooms.
I ask, how exactly isn’t this a modern form of indoctrination?
Some religions have exhibited a great level of discrimination- ostracizing people who don’t believe in their faith and worse, some killing others. But we can draw a parallel to what is happening now.
Many who refuse to adopt some certain ideologies have had their school of study, their funders or their jobs written to, simply because some people have decided on the kind of morality the world must follow and thus, whoever is not part of that echo chamber should be punished.
Another point to support the above stated is that humans have a yearning to be led by something. From the days of old, people have depended on Kings and Clerics. Today, idols and ideologies have been depended on for purpose or to understand life’s meaning. Even Nihilists who claim that life has no meaning rally behind the concept of Nihilism, developed by humans themselves.
Since humans cannot escape the indoctrination that comes from social media, shouldn’t the sources of such ideologies be very well questioned?
A swarm of opinions repeated day and night stand a higher chance of being accepted as the truth and as law today. But one should stop and ask; ‘From what kitchen is this ideology cooked? For what purpose? To what end? What kind of characters are they?
A brilliant acquaintance of mine, Adachukwu said- ‘There are many gods and their true worshippers manifest their true nature’. What are the fruits produced by these people? What is the result of this modern indoctrination? Has it made more humans good?
In the quest to make everyone ‘happy’ by accepting every identity, idea, or opinions without critical introspection and analyses, we have sachetized a freedom that no one can put a lid on its excesses. The result? Unchecked bahaviors and a growing generation of people who cannot take responsibility for their actions because of the already established and accepted defense of ‘I did what made me happy’.
Can you also see my point that there is a reversal to the state of nature?- where everyone is an authority on their actions.
Christianity, I believe stands as the hedge against the other bloc. Indoctrination fights indoctrination. We are simply to come to terms with what kind of indoctrination we think works best, produces better results and makes good out of people. And I write in practical terms.
Going further, I remain a Christian because of the principles which are the foundation of the faith. The holy book explains that true Christians are those who follow Christ. They reflect his light and all he stands for. This is why I’m not fazed when some Priests or preachers do not exactly stand out as the ideal role models. Jesus has been defined as the blue print for a true Christian life and we are called to ‘let our light so shine before men’. The markers of the Holy Spirit are ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control’ and they reveal that these are the markers of they that have Christ. I believe that so far, in my Christian journey, even as a Child, my excesses have been checked by merely recognizing how necessary it is to possess these virtues.
Another defining feature of Christianity is ‘hope’. There’s a teeming population of youths who talk about having depression, with some giving in to suicide.
I believe that the faith provides a shock absorber that allows believers have hope for better days. It is why I’d think that the Nigerian poor population find solace in the church rather than give in to despair.
I’ll give an instance. My husband who managed some business recorded some losses. This meant loss of his own funds and those of other clients.
His immediate reaction even when his clients’ deadline had passed wasn’t despair. It was faith. I was so worried for him. It was the year we got married- just last year and he had just turned 26 and I, 25. We were young. I thought he was too young to carry such burden and I feared he’d break.
As a family, we spoke words of faith to each other and took the matter to God. We only had a month to raise this huge sum, yet he gave them a date he was going to pay. A date without any idea of how the funds were going to be recouped. But we had faith.
We rolled our sleeves. My husband dusted an idea he had developed long ago. We enfleshed it. Built the software product and pitched this idea to some investors.
It’s wild that a day before the deadline he gave the clients on our neck, the first cheque came in. The following days had many other positive responses to his product.
This is a testimony of what faith is. We believed even when we did not see. And this belief energized us to work without despair. As young as we were, we did not take to telling our family members our problems nor sulking. We believed and we worked and God perfected it.
Finally, dear reader, you may not know me and don’t have to believe what I write but knowing God and being a Christian has made me a better and smarter person.
Growing up, I was told that I was a mature young girl. That I behaved differently. I knew there were indulgences I had but my conscience would not permit me. I would think ‘Would mummy be happy if she heard I did this? Would God be proud?’ I would rarely give in to hate or insults because how would I say I was a Christian if I did those?
I’m not a Saint, but my character has been a big work in progress because of the principles of my faith.
I have seen this religion make decent people out of illiterates, just by them abiding. I have seen the fruits of Christianity and those of the other bloc, and I have decided that leaving the world to indoctrinate my children would make them less decent humans- filled with hate, unhappiness and unkindness. And I don’t want that. I believe there’s an active war between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ and I choose good.