By Joanne Ike
More than 85% of the world embraces some sort of religious belief. In Nigeria, atheists make up less than 1% of our population.
Sigmund Freud described God as an illusion. But despite his doubts and several others throughout history, religion has thrived for greater than 100,000 years. Faith in the supernatural continues to exist in every culture in every part of the world.
This is because humans, by their very nature, are predisposed to faith.
Psychologists believe that as humans, we naturally assume intelligent thought when we see complex design. They argue that when faced with the vast complexity of the universe, we naturally lean towards the belief that it was created with intention, a common thread among the many religions that exist.
More than that, they argue that humans tend to search for deeper meaning, trying to derive cause and effect relationships from otherwise unconnected events. Wearing a lucky pair of socks to every football game, reading palm lines, horoscopes, and faith in the supernatural, all result from this tendency.
The point is that human beings are primed to believe in something. The notion that the world materialized from nothing and we resulted merely by chance and from apes is not only mostly absurd to us but scary.
So, when faith tells us that the world and we were created with intention, we cling to it. It gives us purpose. It makes the randomness of our lives make sense.
It also feeds into our inherent need to interact and connect with one another as religion helps us form large social groups.
But even though faith and religion fulfill these natural human instincts, many argue, with good reason, that it is has done harm to us especially in cases of discrimination and persecution.
With Yahaya Aminu, the Nigerian musician sentenced to death for blasphemy against the prophet Mohammad, more and more people are questioning whether faith is indeed doing more harm than good.
But perhaps harmful doctrines and not faith is the problem. Doctrines have and will continue evolve over time. But faith and our inherent tendency towards it will continue to endure and will likely outlive us.