Atheism is greatly misunderstood in Kenya

Harrison Mumia who serves as the President, Atheists In Kenya during an interview at the Nation Centre in Nairobi on April 23, 2014. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • One who does not believe in the existence of a god or supernatural being is properly designated as an atheist. Atheism is not Satanism; nor is it devil worship.
  • I believe in goodness. I believe in equality, democracy; I want poverty eradicated. I believe in a good education. I believe in hard work. But I reject the god proposition. One can live a full life, a meaningful life without the belief in an invisible sky god.

Over the past few weeks, I have received many questions regarding my position as an atheist. Most of these questions point to the fact that many Kenyans have a distorted understanding of Atheism.

I have also observed that Atheism, even in Kenya’s “liberal” atmosphere, is still somewhat unacceptable. I will attempt to address some common questions that have been posed to me.

So what is Atheism?

 “Theism” is defined as the “belief in a god or gods.” The prefix “a” means “without,” so the term “a-theism” literally means “without theism,” or without belief in a god or gods. Atheism, therefore, is the absence of theistic belief.

One who does not believe in the existence of a god or supernatural being is properly designated as an atheist. Atheism is not Satanism; nor is it devil worship.

Why am I an atheist?

I am an atheist because the god proposition does not add up for me. It is that simple. Any logical and rational examination of religious texts and creeds would lead one to refute the god proposition.

Having grown up in a Christian setting, I am conversant with the biblical text. A keen examination of the biblical creation story, for instance, exposes a god who is obsessed with sacrifice, is vengeful, and unreasonable. I cannot reconcile the often preached goodness of Yahweh with his murderous character in the Old Testament.

Most religious people imagine that nobody needs to question god or religious beliefs. Yet even if one was to imagine a god exists, you would have to grapple with the logic of him creating a hell of burning fire for the sinners, instead of forgiving them.

Where do I go after I die?

Well, if I get buried, I decompose. I cease existing. I stop living. Religious people like to think that we have a soul that goes to heaven or hell. I think there is no proof of such an abstract concept such as the soul, heaven and hell.

I try to make the best out of my life without expecting supernatural rewards or punishment after death. And this makes me free to explore what the world has to offer.

Where do I think the universe came from?

I am fascinated by some of the theories that explain the origin, like the big-bang theory. The evolution theory is also very compelling. I, however, do not find the creation story sufficient in explaining the universe and life’s diversity.

At best the creation story sounds like a fable, originated by illiterate Jews. A garden, a talking snake and a forbidden fruit do little to explain the origin of this amazing world.

Finally, what do I believe in, if I do not believe in a god?

I believe in goodness. I believe in equality, democracy; I want poverty eradicated. I believe in a good education. I believe in hard work. But I reject the god proposition. One can live a full life, a meaningful life without the belief in an invisible sky god.

 

Mr Mumia is the President, Atheists In Kenya.

*This debate on atheism is now closed – Editor

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