An interview with Adebowale Ojowuro: Author of Echoes of Common Sense
by Mandisa Lateefah Thomas, President of Black Nonbelievers
First posted on Black Nonbelievers.Org November 10, 2011
Adebowale Ojowuro, a native of Nigeria, is the author of The Crisis of Religion and Echoes of Common Sense. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with him about his literary work, as well as the important role he plays in the freethought movement through his writing and activism. Enjoy!!!
What is the motive behind the title of your latest book—Echoes of Common Sense—and what special stories have you shared with readers in the new book?
Let’s admit it, common sense is undoubtedly the major casualty in religious aspects of human life. Despite being at liberty to exercise the aptness of reason, the fundamental theology that binds humanity to religious beliefs continues fallible. It’s mind boggling to conceive how recurrent ignorance from past ages still largely compels complacent imbecility upon modern humans. This, openly, has become a disturbing question for ethics in several communities of rational minds. It is upon this alarming spectacle of irresponsible ignorance—that I yet again decide to echo another voice of reason, from a bleeding heart that’s been harrowed by the foulness of religion, to kindle the common sense of the people to the decency of holding the right belief. Read More…
“If we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”
– Karl Popper
Disturbing trepidations, shock, upset, alarming hatred, intolerable heresy, disloyalty to ancestors, infidelity to God, and so on… This record of startling bigotry is what the mere mention of the word ‘Atheism’ regularly ignites all over the continent of Africa. All African communities perceive a handful of Atheists in their midst as immoral disciples of Satan, dissidents of inherited faith, extreme adversaries of evangelism, infidels, and activists of satanic doctrines, whose licentious lifestyles engender organized apostasy against a compassionate God unfairly hurt by iniquities of their immoral conducts. Many Africans still believe the Atheist is a legal outcast in the society; “a nondescript monster created by Nature in a moment of madness,” as William Gillespie has wrongly observed some 150 years ago.
In the face of these tainted opinions, does Atheism truly represent any aspect of the ailing stigmas, which advocates of dogmatic faith have deceitfully impressed in the minds of Africans? Are the abject calumnies with which organized religions have branded Atheism truly sensible and just? The answer to these questions is a resounding no. It is, therefore, on the reward that our society may succeed in removing some of the many prejudices that numerous people under the influence of superficial bigotry have, without good ground, erected against the holders of Atheistic opinions that I decide to write this chapter for the benefit of pious readers.
Certainly, the widespread prejudices against Atheism are blatant societal errors, which invasive ignorance of credulous believers chronically festers throughout the length and breadth of the African continent. These offensive stigmas and invalid perceptions about Atheism are indeed outside the realms of value judgments and all decent contemplations in the mind of any reasonable person in the civilized world. The words of the French Philosopher, Voltaire, still hold true today in Africa: “On religion, many are destined to reason wrongly; others not to reason at all; and others to prosecute those who do reason.” Read More…
(Excerpts from the 5th Chapter of Echoes of Common Sense)
“Wandering in a vast forest at night, I have only a faint light to guide me. A stranger appears and says to me: ‘my friend, you should blow out your candle in order to find your way more clearly.’ This stranger is a theologian.”
− Denis Diderot
Organized religions contrive to make the universe a blind alley for the entire human race. Over the human world, complacent imbecility reigns supreme; as ethical science and wisdom that stand for irrefragable logic suffocates under the folly of religion. Beyond words blossom the dogmas of popular superstitions in every part of our communal society. Those in whom the faculty of reason is vital solution and means to the advancement of human civilization struggle for recognition amid the dominant influence of preachers who propagate nothing but outmoded customs and traditional beliefs of uneducated worshippers.
Today, the entire world yearns for more light, but the faith mentality unreasonably suppresses the premium that nature and common sense constantly places on reality. That, which we consider universal enlightenment and call reason, the despotism of faith unfairly subjugates for the hag of superstitious belief and ancient system of theism. The big claim by ignorant men who pretend to be oracle of God on earth excites the reverence and cheerful gratification of humankind far greater than the deeper fact that pragmatism best indicates in the philosophy of insight and scientific knowledge.
The iron grip of organized religion forbids that old things should pass away; it is thus written. Ancient theologies and worship of the old still lamentably dominate the control of human lives and rule their world in the 21st century civilization. In religion resides the Dark Age with mankind.
As far as we can trace the natural history of theology, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Sanskrit, the Torah, the Quran, and the Bible, etc, are not by any means Holy Scriptures. They are altogether a bunch of historical records, written by primitive men—savages who told tribal versions of events that entrench bigotry and intolerance, unruly deeds and violence, including hatred, brutality, and slavery into the culture of humankind at the fabricated commands of the imaginary gods of antiquity.
It’s out of the ordinary to imagine how unrestrained fallacies of pious men, in their despicable con job of heralding spurious ‘word of God’ to others, have made persistent mockery of the human race through all ages. Imagine how thinkers and men of astute nobility can no longer find a new emphasis of their own amid repressive rule of faith that saddles their critical faculties with the domination of absurd and contradictory theologies; which of course, can be so easily proven false by any adolescent schoolboy. It’s much baffling to imagine how humans can no longer think for themselves in their own world.
Just imagine how the despotism of faith has built extensive territories of gullible bigots across the length and breadth of the blue planet. If we should ask ourselves, what precisely are the benefits of the mental cruelties that program countless heads all over the globe into believing embroidered myths that are totally untrue? Of what gain does it profit humanity when organized religions compel the worship of fictionalized gods upon the general populace? As far as the generally accepted history of religion is concerned, where exactly has the journey of dogmatic belief systems led humanity, except for the business of propheteering and fattening the wallets of preachers and proponents of religious trades?
The enduring mental manipulations that fill the heads of little kids with the dogmas of the greatest lies of all times, and preset infants long before they could either reflect or think wisely, into subjective believers of popular superstition called the ‘word of God in print’ clearly depict the suppressive nature of faith. The very essence of this despotic propensity goes all out to show how organized religions commonly covet for no autonomous logical thoughts, born out of one’s own reflective convictions, to ever exist in this world; and for every sound mind in whom the rational mentality is truly alive to perish with the logic of his/her personal intellect. In fact, I am sincerely at a loss to conceive how the commission of this infamous system of suppression has been of any significant benefit to the progress of human civilization. My early childhood indoctrination into the Christian religion culminates into the study of nothing but a confused fable, featuring the character of a mythical, three-headed ‘supernatural God’ who is a lead actor and commander-in-chief of brutal wars amongst earthling creatures; together with gullible obedience that is inconsistent with freethought. Who can imagine what the world has lost by the evil execution of this notorious plot of dominating the minds of the world’s most valuable future resources with mountains of theological gibberish? Read More….
ECHOES OF COMMON SENSE
“The questions whether God exists and even if so, if religion is a good, useful thing, have always seemed to be the exclusive property of European and North American writers. Now, Ojowuro brings an authentic African voice and African point of view to the debate.”
• Professor Michel Clasquin-Johnson, Dept of Religious Studies, University of South Africa.
He, who hath ears to hear, let him hear. In spite of all threats, the rational property of truth can never be shattered or suppressed. Instead, its realistic vanguard will continue to advance in progressive dynamism to help heal the delusion of the world. At the front-line of a new worldview radiates the luminous hope of rationality to free souls held in bondage by imprudence of faith-based unreason.
The terrible error in the course of human civilization is undoubtedly the defective judgment that allowed religious authorities usurp the foundation of societal morality, in which all collective ethics of humankind must take a cause. This appalling blunder is comparable only to assigning the leper exclusive franchise to run beauty clinics in the society; this can only lead to cycles upon cycles of common infection syndrome.
No one can deny the fact that religion is, indeed, the most horrible infection ever to infest the rational mentality of humankind. Undeniably, discordant religious doctrines have prevented the priceless values of common humanism from blooming forth amongst the entire human race. The evidence of how religious practices have terribly Balkanized our world into troubled and conflict-ridden communities today disturbs and irritates our individual knowledge. We are all baffled observers to outrageous bigotry in the name of God. Each and every one of us is a perplexed eyewitness to unthinkable, disgusting intolerant conditions where diverse religious sects cannot live at peace with one another. Unto this day, religion still remains a potent force for enmity, violent behaviour, hostility, and hate in all human communities as it was, indeed, from the beginning of recorded time.
It is common knowledge that dogmatic believers do not only despise the infidels, they by the same token, extend extreme hatreds to each other. Pentecostals have refused to worship in the temples of Catholics; and the Sunni Muslims abhor the worship of Allah in the mosques erected with the monies of Shiite Muslims. Devotees of these religious sects forbid one another with passion, and horribly despise each other’s faith with abysmal fervour. Between Muslims and Christians, the terrible history has been that of unrelenting conflict. It has been brutal war amongst Islamist Arabs and the Jews. Recurrent clashes and bigotry endure between Orthodox Christians and Protestants, Muslims and Hindus, Buddhists and Hindus, etc.
Many indications clearly show that extremists of these religious sects are becoming more and more dangerous in the society. Ugly memories of the 9/11 terror attacks still worry Americans to this present day. More recently, Nigerians can no longer sleep with their two eyes closed, because jihadist suicide bombs are increasingly being detonated in their country by Islamist terrorists group known as ‘Boko Haram’.
For humanity to uphold its own inviolability, we indeed must expose the false certainty of religion and remove the spirit of worship from our communities. Religion demands worship—the very thing that man should give to no being, human or divine. Robert G. Ingersoll gave humanity this argument in his work, entitled, The Enemy of Individuality:
To worship another is to degrade yourself…It is the spirit of worship that elevates the one and degrades the many; that builds palaces for (liars), erects monuments to crime, and forges manacles even for its own hands. The spirit of worship is the spirit of tyranny…We should all remember that the intellect has no knees, and that whatever the attitude of the body may be,the brave soul is always found erect.
The resonant chord with uttermost echoes of commonsensical validity, in any admirable society, is the stern ethics that upholds the sacredness of humanity in taking a stand on reason. In this way we make every effort to build a rational alternative to faith-based unreason by erecting our ethics and moral outlook on humanity rather than imaginary gods of organized religion.
Comprehensive usage is the only condition attached to nature’s gift of reason. The use of reason and sceptical enquiry appends no senseless creed and unreasoning obedience to its ethical values; rather, it bequeaths upright consistency to those who genuinely search for natural truth. Therefore, people should not hesitate to resourcefully make use of this free gift of nature at all times, for our society to be free from the scourge of complacent imbecility that imposed malignant retardation upon the progress of human civilization for millennia of years.
Echoes of Common Sense brings the library of rationality and reason—the matter-of-fact reflection—with every engine of logic to stimulate the minds of the populace to the probity of right belief and the path of natural truth. As Baron d’Holbach has rightly held, “The Atheist is a man who destroys the chimeras that afflict the human race, and so leads men back to nature, to experience and to reason.”
I leave the variety of opinions and propositions articulated in this book, which are genuinely conceived in liberty of rational thoughts, to rest in the mind of the reader. Certain as Gloria Steinem has very truthfully observed, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”
ECHOES OF COMMONSENSE
The way to change a society is to impart rational thoughts into the minds of the people. Observable transgression against the law of sanity and common sense is a disturbing question for ethics in the human society.
Despite being at liberty to exercise the aptness of reason, the fundamental theology that binds humanity to religious belief continues fallible. Echoes of Common Sense brings the library of rationality and reason—the matter-of-fact reflection—with every engine of logic to awaken the common sense of the people to astute ethics of belief, which habitually gets misplaced in the common imbecility of human nature.
The author delivers fully packed commonsensical arguments to stimulate the minds of the populace to the probity of right belief and the path of natural truth. From the usage of articulate expressions, critical and coherent arguments, Ojowuro employs rational analysis in such a comprehensive and engaging manner to present several cases under reflection in this book. Echoes of Common Sense is a complete, satisfactory depiction of every virtue of reasoning. The book is scintillating and thought-provoking in its entire details. It’s emphatically a compendium of information and knowledge—enlightening and eye-opening—a resounding masterwork!
Interview with: Donald Wright, Vice-President of the Humanists of Houston, and Author of the Freethought book, The Only Prayer I’ll Ever Pray: Let My People Go
Echoes of Commonsense Editor, Nathalie Woods, discusses significant issues relating to the Author’s transformation from a life of redundant delusion as a Deacon in the Christian faith, into embracing a new life in astute affirmation of all that is rational and factual as an Atheist, Secular Humanist, and Free-thought activist.
Donald Wright resolutely proclaims in this interview: “If there is a god that answers prayers, I would request releasing black people in America from their extreme addiction to religion.”
You were born into the Christian faith, and served the Christian church as a Deacon for several years. Certainly a grave cause must have instigated you into renouncing your deep faith; why did you forsake the religion of your birth?
I was a member of this pre-dominantly black mega-church in Houston for 19 years. It was the church where I was a deacon. In 2003, the pastor was exposed in a homosexual scandal. It found its way into the local and national media. The pastor was portraying a happy heterosexual marriage. This was devastating to the membership. A special meeting was held to determine his fate. The membership voted and by a small margin, the majority preferred him to remain as pastor with the condition that he would agree to counseling.
Our family was not alone in leaving, as a substantial number of members immediately chose to find another church. This situation was very disturbing because within two years the church membership decreased well over 50%. Homosexuality is a major theological challenge for most Christians and obviously I did not accept it as a lifestyle choice for a church leader.
This incident initiated my religious renouncement. Following the decision to find another church, I committed to becoming a greater student of the Bible and the religious practice of Christianity. I was no longer going to be dependent on the preachers and anointed Bible teachers for interpretation and instructions. The next two years involved intense self-study in addition to enrollment in a local Bible college to obtain a Bible teaching certificate. Some family members and friends suggested I was being called to the ministry. The study required me to ask hard and challenging questions. It required me to pursue the history and origin of the Bible. It led me to observing clear contradictions in Bible. Eventually I would find my way to reading the Age of Reason by Thomas Paine and in September 2006 my religious journey was terminated. Self-study and the pursuit of truth led me away from religion and into a life-stance centered on Humanism and Atheism, not the pastor’s homosexual scandal. I am glad I finally decided to scholarly study the Bible.
Has life fared any significantly better since being atheist? Are you happier with no religious beliefs?
A better perspective on life and being happier are both products of my revised life stance being free from religion and that is because I am no longer in mental bondage confined to religious dogma.
There are some many things that can affect our lives. Being an Atheist, Christian, or any other belief system does not prevent negative experiences. I am uncertain as to whether a better life can be experienced as long as humans are being oppressed and exploited by other humans.
The title of your new book—The Only Prayer I’ll Ever Pray: Let My People Go—is pregnant with profound array of meanings. What’s the true story behind the title? Is it in any way an advocacy for freedom from religion?
The title is a reflection on a major activity within the Christian religion that I view now as a waste of time—Prayer. As we (wife and daughter) were discussing some religious concepts during the writing of the manuscript, my daughter reminded me of not having to pray any more. Coupling this with the overall purpose of the book lead to the title; which, of course, is an advocacy for freedom from religion. If there is a god that answers prayers I would request releasing black people in America from their extreme addiction to religion.
What’s your purpose for writing the book? Is it aimed at converting your people into Atheism or Secular Humanism because you’ve come to realize a new world view that exposes religion as a hoax that has for a long time misled them?
The point of focus in the book is on organized religion, primarily Christianity, and why I think blacks in America
should strongly and urgently consider disregarding the need for religion. It is about my journey and it is based on a practical, common sense perspective of religion and its harmful influence in the society. It is not aimed at converting people into Atheism, but I do think that Secular Humanism is a better alternative. I agree with the expression that religion is a hoax that has misled too many people, not just black people in America, but the entire human race.
What is the relevance of your book to the community of African-American? Do you think your people will ever listen to any thought that may constitute a hindrance to their very strong attachment to religious practices?
African-Americans should find my book to be thought-provoking and a candid display of a logical process by which I came to a very difficult decision. It encourages each of us to ask the tough questions and demand fact-based answers. It takes courage to change, but I have come to the realization that with the right information and a little motivation and desire, attitudes and behaviors can be modified regardless of the attachment. I expect a gradual increase of African-Americans that will find freedom from religion.
How did you come to the conclusion that the God of religion is imaginary? Are you in any way influenced by the work of any Atheist or Freethinker?
It was my desire to find the origin of the Bible, Christianity and other religions. This study advanced my knowledge of the three dominant world religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—and that the Bible is a common thread. A thorough objective study of the Bible guided me into a discovery of how human imagination can be posted as divinely inspired without any factual proof. When a statement is challenged to be supported with facts and evidence, and it fails, it is very reasonable to conclude human imagination is involved. God speaks to Moses in a burning bush but the plant is not destroyed by the fire—Human imagination. I was and I am still influenced by a number of individuals that are Atheists and freethinkers, but the Age of Reason by Thomas Paine had the greatest impact on me. After reading it, I could no longer justify the practice and support of any organized religion.
Looking at the complex structure of the universe from the point of view of a rational thinker, do you believe Atheists truly have any logical indication to refute the powerful Argument from Design that Theists have advanced in support of the existence of a creator-God?
I am an Atheist because there is not enough evidence to support the existence of a god. Especially the gods of the various religions. I don’t believe in a god because I don’t have to. From my perspective as a rational thinker, it is never a requirement to prove the negative. The theists should have the burden to prove the existence of a god as the creator of this magnificent universe especially since they promote the concept that life, human and non-human, is governed by this supreme being. I prefer science rather than theology as a means to understanding this complex structure. This debate is led by individuals with brilliant minds and I am not one of them. At this point in my life, I am a lot more concern about the conditions affecting our existence in this universe than how or who created it. It appears that the god of the theists enjoys human suffering.
We have had stories of discrimination against Atheists, especially in black communities; have you in any way experienced any form of unfair prejudice? Are your Christian friends still your friends, or do you now fraternize with like minds only?
I have not experienced or detected any discrimination or unfair prejudice as an Atheist. However, I am almost certain that some Christian friends, associates, and probably a few relatives would prefer to limit their contact with me. The majority certainly would rather avoid the conversation. Some are still in shock of my transition and lack the words to substantiate their position other than, “well, all I need is faith.” I continue to maintain relationships with many Christians, but I would like to increase the number of quality relationships with other Atheists and humanists.
There are several cases of Atheists re-converting to religious practices because of the feeling of loneliness? Don’t you sometimes feel there’s a vacuum in your life? Ain’t you missing something in religion that Atheism cannot provide?
I am certain in my declaration that there is nothing about religion that I miss. The most common positive aspects of the religious experience in the black community are the fellowship and the music. The church fellowship is replaced by many other opportunities to meet with family, friends, and acquaintances through other special occasions, organizational meetings, and business activities. The many genres in music provide endless opportunities for listening pleasure. Sunday is no longer a day of obligation; church attendance and placing money in the basket whenever it is passed.
Do you see the need for Atheists or sceptics to belong to liberal religious group, such as Unitarian Universalism? Is there any contradiction in an Atheist merging non-belief with religious tradition, because s/he deeply misses the practice of an act s/he had been initiated to perform from childhood?
As individuals, we continue to evolve regarding needs that will sustain us socially. It is a necessity for group
participation and gatherings for some but not for others. Currently, I am opposed to all religious type institutions and find it unnecessary for me to participate in non-religious organizations that deem it relevant to offer
practices or rituals similar to religious institutions. I have no interest in being reminded of church worship services. I would not call it a contradiction, but it would be rather surprising that an Atheist would need to maintain similarities to religious practices learned during childhood to sustain a secular life.
If I got the information right, the “Day of Solidarity” is a project you’ve proposed to boost solidarity among African America non-believers. Did you record an impressive turnout for the first edition of the event?
Instead of impressive, I would call the turnout or response noticeable considering I made the proposal only three weeks in advance. The responses were all positive. There was a gathering here in Houston, in the D.C. area, and Los Angeles. I have formed a committee to assist in promoting next year’s observance and to give ample time for event planning. In the African-Americans Non-religious Day of Solidarity, I visualized a special day of observance once a year on the fourth Sunday in February, Black History Month, to promote fellowship, share experiences, meet new non-believers, and discuss the lives of black non-believers that our typical history books omit. Also, this could be the opportunity to encourage community activism. Obviously, my hope is for this to become an annual event organized in cities and towns across the entire United States.
Impression of Arthur Jackson (San Jose, California) Author of How to Live the Good Life: A User’s Guide for Modern Humans Posted on Amazon.com on Thursday the 3rd of March 2011
“I have just finished Adebowale Ojowuro’s amazing book, “The Crisis of Religion.” And, I salute him for the great work he has produced. He has examined the Jewish/Christian Bible in more depth than I’ve ever seen before…
If anyone stays with him on his journey I can’t imagine that they could remain a True Believer.
He presents his material from a different perspective from those of us raised in a Western setting. Very fresh. Very startling. Very growth promoting.”
- Arthur Jackson (San Jose, California) Author of How to Live the Good Life: A User’s Guide for Modern Humans rated The Crisis of Religion 4 Stars on Amazon.com
Culled from Amazon.com