Are you an atheist? Africa is not really a growing place for you. Everything is anchored in a religious belief. Atheism simply means the lack of faith in God or gods, because atheism can be interpreted as the opposite of religion. There are many misconceptions about atheists that are simply not true.
Many atheists in Africa faced different challenges: the faithful would pray for them when they didn’t ask for prayers. This happened when the atheists were in need or in trouble when they are sick or in difficulty.
Nigerian atheist noted that after graduation, he could not find a job for several years. He asked for help from a religious relative, and the relative told him to go back to God. Another atheist explained how he asked for financial support and was told to ask for help from those who believed in what he believed. Later this man offered to pray for him so that things will change.
Most of the atheists in the African soil noted that theists made them feel as if the problems and existential challenges they faced were forms of punishment from God for their atheism.
Five ways atheists are misjudged in Africa
1. All Atheists are Devil’s apparatus
No words can convince or change the viewpoint of African theists (especially Christians) that the atheist is not a devil’s apparatus. The idea that atheists worship the Devil arises from the Christian belief that anyone who opposes God is a devil follower.
This is not the interpretation most Christians follow, but it is common in some communities. Since the Devil falls under the protection of God, atheists do not believe in his existence. Simply put: you cannot worship the Devil, in whom you do not believe.
2. Atheists hate God
Many Africans consider atheists to be rebels who either hate God or oppose him. Still, this misconception does not stand the test of logic.
When someone turns away from their God and religion, they usually conclude that they simply do not believe. Without faith, there can be neither hatred nor opposition. It is like a delusion that atheists worship Satan. Just as a person cannot worship something they do not believe in, they cannot hate or oppose it.
This delusion stems from the belief that atheists really believe in God and want to rebel against him. Even if the atheist says otherwise, many believe that because God is in everyone, it is impossible not to believe in him, so the atheist must rebel against God, like Satan.
3. Atheists have no religious knowledge
This misunderstanding emanates from the belief that an atheist does not believe in God and does not know his teachings. Because of this, people often propel atheists, hoping to enlighten and convert them.
The truth is that most atheists are well informed when it comes to religions and usually know a few. In contrast, most theists only know their own and often may know less than the atheist they hope to convert.
The study of religious knowledge has shown that atheists and agnostics know more about religions than any other group. Many people who now call themselves atheists or agnostics used to be active members of this or that type of church.
Extra research of their religion may have encouraged them to look elsewhere and find that they either wanted a different faith or did not believe at all.
4. Atheists unbearable to the Believers
Many people think that there is a general intolerance towards theists among all atheists, but this is simply not true. Online conversations may indicate a specific person to whom someone may be intolerant. Still, a general dislike of believers is not present in the entire community of atheists.
Opinion polls and scientific studies show that religious communities don’t trust atheists because of their lack of faith and prefer to stay away.
In Africa, a believer usually visits an atheist to preach and try to convert him. Invariably would threaten him with hell fire if he failed to accept his preachings or change his belief. Sometimes it ends up exchanging words or fighting but hardly do you see an atheist asking or convincing a believer to change his faith.
5. No Morality
African believers believed that only God makes one righteous and gives the wisdom to distinguish between bad and good. Therefore, atheists have automatically become unrighteous and have no morality.
How can one have a moral without God? This question is asked by theists, who believe that morality comes from religion. This concept may be right for the theist, but many people do not share the same religious faith but share the same moral insights.
Many atheists believe that atheists do not have a moral compass because they do not believe in God’s existence. Therefore, there’s no such thing as a “good atheist”, but this is a blanket generalisation without any merit.
Morality is complicated to explain because countless theories justify it as a sociobiological evolution or even as a logical conclusion. Human decency tends to be expressed in how it treats others, and many atheists seem to live by a policy of treating others as they would like to be treated, also known as the Golden Rule.