Opinions Sat, 24 May 2014

Breaking the hold of superstition for realism

by Samuel Adu-Agyei (Member, Humanist Association Ghana)


Belief often appears to be part of human nature but some would argue it takes on an unnecessary importance. Most Ghanaian believers are surprised to hear someone profess to be a non-believer as they think that belief is essential, choosing to be in faith rather than reason.

You can believe something because of the evidence, for example Aspirin can help cure your sore throat, but when belief is dependent on non-evidential beliefs such as fables, fiction, fear of eternal damnation in hell, or societal ostracism, it is perpetuated by its peddlers and should be challenged.

Africa, and the diaspora, is the haven of religion, superstition and belief. Ghana, has a majority that believe in a personal god, various deities, ghosts, ancestors and all forms of beliefs. Those beliefs are often the result of the educational system which has made religious studies compulsory in school curriculums, right from kindergarten to the Senior high school.

Whereas younger students are examined to ensure they have accepted and understood what has been taught or enforced regarding religious belief, in senior high schools religion is not formally part of the syllabus. Instead students are forced to go to church or else face punishment. Punishments can last for a week or more and include weeding the bushes in and around the school, preventing them from going to class and studying! Is this what schools should be doing to independent thinkers in the name of belief?

Religion, has again metamorphosed into a major determinant when seeking a job, or entering into a training college (nursing or teaching) that require an interview. Most interviewers tend to ask questions based on religious belief, so those with divergent views go through a hard time and risk refusal of a place.

Most training colleges have been turned into prayer camps by students, thinking that depending on a god will make them pass their exams. But statistically many students fail, denying them entry into employment in their chosen area?

Students can be less serious with their studies because they aspire to making millions by becoming pastors, etc instead of focussing on their studies and using what they have learnt to develop themselves and the country.

Pastors, spiritual men/women and mallams, claiming to be healers are not being regulated, and in some instances being given leverage by media houses to advertise and operate freely, making a colossal amount of money from people using magic tricks.

At times, relatives of sick people laying in hospital beds are lured to discharge their family members to be taken to so-called spiritual men/women to be healed. Some of these innocent patients die in the hands of these unscrupulous men/women, but none of these cases are taken to court.

Ritual killing is still going on in Ghana with people killing others for sacrifice to a god to become rich and wealthy. Do they really get the money after this unforgiving crime of manslaughter? The answer is NO! Yet all these falsehoods are being promoted by the heads of well-orchestrated religions to make their members believe there are other gods or deities to help them make money, but then when they die, they will be damned to hell for eternity.

People selling medicines in buses, whether fake or real, also invoke god, or involve preaching before the medicine can be sold. So I dare ask this question: - how can we live in a developing country with everything being dependent on gods, spirits, etc?

Most Politicians have even adapted the principle of being religious, not performing well, then blaming the state of the economy on god or spirits. If we don't make these people accountable for their own actions how can this under-developed country grow? People must be awakened to science and technology to save Ghana from a despair economy, rather than basing our trust in fables to solve our problems.

There is a new wind of change,where some young men/women have freed themselves from the fear of being marginalized in society because they have no faith in a god,deity,or spirits,ancestors etc., and formed the Humanist Association of Ghana (HAG).

HAG is into social life, issues affecting society, and the way solve problems without depending on fables. They meet to link people with like minds, growing in number with every meeting. Their aim is to educate, promote rationalism, Freethought, idealism, the promotion of science and technology and to be free from the fear of religion. The group has so far been able to organise students, graduates and workers.

I see a future Ghanaian society arriving, consisting of freethinkers, educators, innovators and a prospering country, with the youth turning away from dogmas and living in reality.

Columnist: Adu-Agyei, Samuel