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Stop Ukpabio from Bringing her Witch hunting campaign to the US

Jan 12th, 2012 | By Leo Igwe

In March, Nigeria’s notorious witch hunter, Helen Ukpabio, is organising a Deliverance Session in the United States, according to the information posted on the web site of the Liberty Gospel Church. The event is slated for March 14-25 at Liberty Gospel Church in Houston Texas (Tel +1 832 880 8406 +1 713 530 2080). The program is said to be ’12 days of battling with the spirit for freedom.’

The poster lists the categories of people invited to ‘come and recieve freedom from the Lord’. It asks ‘Are you in bondage – Having Bad dreams – Under witchcraft attack or oppression – possessed by mermaid spirit or other evil spirits – Untimely deaths in family – Barren and in … Read the rest

Mileva Marić: The Other Einstein

Jan 9th, 2012 | By Allen Esterson

Mileva Marić: The Other Einstein.

A short film written and directed by Alana Cash (Vibegirl Productions)

“Mileva Marić: The Other Einstein”, whose writer and director has also made films on Anna Freud and Marie Curie, is worth detailed analysis because it contains claims about Marić’s alleged collaboration on Einstein’s epoch-making work in physics in the early period of his scientific career some of which are in wide circulation and stated as fact in a number of books. This provides another opportunity for subjecting these claims to close scrutiny.

Before moving on to significant contentions it is worth noting a couple of less important errors and misconceptions in the early section of the film. The narrator states that in the period … Read the rest

Bishop Oyedepo: A Slap in the Name of Jesus

Jan 2nd, 2012 | By Leo Igwe

A video clip of Bishop Oyedepo where this charlatan slapped a young lady during a deliverance session was being circulated on the internet but has now been taken down.

The first time I saw the link, I thought it was a joke; I thought it was something made up by someone who wanted to blackmail Oyedepo, who is the general Overseer of the Living Faith Church (aka Winners Chapel).

But after watching it I had no doubt that it was real. This is not only because of what transpired as recorded in this video clip but also what I know goes on in pentecostal churches and prayers houses across the country – impunity, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment by pastors.… Read the rest

Gay Marriage and African Politics

Dec 2nd, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

I am writing to condemn in no uncertain terms the recent passage by the Senate of the the anti gay marriage bill. The passage of this bill once again demonstrates how disconnected Nigerian politicians and lawmakers are from the realities of the 21st century. It has confirmed that our lawmakers indeed prefer to fiddle while our social, political and economic house, called Nigeria, burns. Otherwise how does one explain the relevance of this bill at a time when Nigeria has become almost a failed state due to terrorist attacks, sectarian violence, corruption, poverty, diseases, abuse of office, tribalism and nepotism, misguided politics and mistaken sense of statecraft?

The passage of this bill has shown clearly how misplaced our priorities are, … Read the rest

Facts and belief

Nov 18th, 2011 | By Ophelia Benson

Keith Ward wrote a short piece for Comment is Free, a couple of weeks ago, saying something about religion and science and claims and facts. (I put it loosely that way because Ward oscillates between terms a lot, so it’s not easy to specify exactly what he’s claiming. The title of the piece is “Religion answers the factual questions science neglects,” which is an ok summary, but it’s not necessarily written by Ward.) Ward’s piece was in response to Julian Baggini’s piece on whether science and religion are compatible.

Jerry Coyne wrote a piece responding to Ward’s. Jim Houston wrote a piece at Talking Philosophy responding to Coyne’s, with a response directly from Ward.

All straight? … Read the rest

How Many More People Will Boko Haram Kill in Nigeria…..?

Nov 6th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

The news has just come in that at least 150 people have been killed in a coordinated attack by the radical Islamic sect in Nigeria known as Boko Haram. Many government buildings have been reportedly destroyed. The group’s leader has threatened to carry out more attacks. And that means more innocent lives will be lost in the coming days, weeks or months.

My question is this: should the world keep quiet, stand by and watch this bloodthirsty group continue its killing spree? How long will the international community continue to pretend not to know that Boko Haram is a deadly terrorist group that is capable of destroying and destabilizing the country and the region? I mean how many deaths will … Read the rest

Atheism for the World

Nov 5th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

When we organize atheism to benefit atheists only, when we promote atheism among atheists and for the good of atheists, when atheist groups defend only the interests of atheists, we make the world poorer and rob humanity of an inestimable good. This is often the way I feel when I try to reflect on how atheism is being organised today. I come from a part of the world where atheism is not something many people will openly identify with. I come from a part of the world where many people are suffering and dying due to theism’s stranglehold on their lives. I come from a part of the world where there is so much need for atheism. I think it … Read the rest

On the vilification of rail enthusiasts and what this tells us about contemporary society

Nov 4th, 2011 | By Edmund Standing

Rail enthusiasm (or ‘railfanning‘ as it is known in the US and some other countries) is a hobby with an international following which involves and incorporates a number of different interests in railways and trains. In the public imagination (at least in the UK), rail enthusiasts in general tend to be automatically seen as ‘trainspotters’, despite trainspotters actually being a minority in the rail enthusiast community.

Trainspotters are people who go out and about seeking to ‘spot’ as many locomotives as possible. The point is not, as some assume, to simply ‘collect’ numbers as such, but really to enjoy watching trains in action and to attempt to see as many as possible. As noted above, trainspotting is really … Read the rest

Public Philosophy and Our Spiritual Predicament

Oct 16th, 2011 | By Andrew J Taggart

When I was 16, I was confirmed Lutheran. By the time I got to college, I’d been won over to atheism. Seemed like a no brainer at the time. Sometime after that, though, I lost my way and gained some insight.

(This, I assure you, is not a story about being dipped in water or writhing on the floor.)

I’ve since noticed a certain post-Kantian convergence emerge in our fragile secular age. As Kant showed in the First Critique, all rational proofs for God’s existence, the immortality of the soul, and the ex nihilo creation of the universe have failed, and yet from these results we have no grounds for concluding that a God can’t exist, that the self can’t … Read the rest

Humanism as the Next Step for Nigeria

Oct 2nd, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

A conference introductory speech delivered by Leo Igwe at the National Humanist Convention at Vines Hotel Durumi, September 23 2011.

Fellow humanists, and dear friends of humanists,

I want to join the Chairman in welcoming you all to this historic meeting. For a long time we at the Nigerian Humanist Movement have longed to bring our convention to Abuja. We have desired before now to get our politicians to understand that there are Nigerians who are openly, proudly and publicly non-religious and non-theistic. We have longed to register our presence here at the Federal capital territory and to get the politicians and people of this country to understand that Nigeria is not just a country of Christians, Muslims and traditional … Read the rest

Stop Amputation Now

Sep 19th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

I am writing to urge the governor of Zamfara state, Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari, not to authorize the amputation of Auwalu Abubaka, 23, and Lawalli Musa, 22. Recently, a sharia court in the state convicted the two for stealing a bull and ordered that their hands be amputated at the wrist in public(1). The amputation is scheduled to take place on October 8. Meanwhile the judge stated that Abubaka and Musa could appeal against the sentence. However, right now there are not indications that they have appealed or can afford to appeal, so the fate of Abubaka and Musa is in the hands of Governor Yari.

In 1999, Zamfara state was the first to introduce sharia law. And in 2000, Zamfara’s … Read the rest

Overland versus the ‘new atheism’

Sep 8th, 2011 | By Bruce Everett

Perhaps you're familiar with Jeff Sparrow's article published by New Matilda in June of this year, 'Where Have All The Progressive Atheists Gone?'1, wherein with a new Global Atheist Convention announced for Melbourne in 2012, the supposed, inherent, right-wingedness of the 'new atheists' is lamented. If you haven't, my apologies in advance to non-Australian readers.

'The so-called New Atheist movement, in which Hitchens is a key figure, is not progressive in the slightest. On the contrary, it represents a right-wing appropriation of a once-radical tradition - and it’s well past time that so-called left-wingers, both in Australia and elsewhere, stepped up and said so.'2

Never mind the insinuation that progressives not on-board with Sparrow's particular brand of … Read the rest

Being a Skeptic in Africa

Sep 6th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

I was not born a skeptic. I grew up to find out that I am one. What makes it most interesting is that I was born in a country and continent where most people are not inclined to skepticism, where doubting, questioning and challenging recieved wisdom is frowned on by most people. Mine is a society where most people are inclined to blind belief, to uncritical acceptance of doctrines and dogmas.

I was born 41 years ago in a remote village, Mbaise, in South Eastern Nigeria. I was born into a religious home and to parents who were born animists but were pressured to embrace Christianity. My father told me that he embraced Christianity in order to get formal education. … Read the rest

My life as a daughter of Christian Patriarchy

Sep 3rd, 2011 | By Libby Anne

Deep within America, beyond your typical evangelicals and run of the mill fundamentalists, nurtured within the homeschool movement and growing by the day, are the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements. This is where I grew up.

I learned that women are to be homemakers while men are to be protectors and providers. I was taught that a woman should not have a career, but should rather keep the home and raise the children and submit to her husband, who was her god-given head and authority. I learned that homeschooling is the only godly way to raise children, because to send them to public school is to turn a child over to the government and the secular humanists. I was taught … Read the rest

Witch Hunts and the New Dark Age in Africa

Aug 30th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

As Africa’s foremost scholar once noted, “From time to time, there are witch hunting rituals and cleansing to ensure that witches do not terrorize people and that their powers are kept under control.”

Witches and sorcerers are the most hated people in their community. Even to this day there are places and occasions when they are beaten to death by the rest of the people.

So the witch hunt is not a recent development in Africa. Belief in witchcraft constitutes part of the traditional religion and the witch hunt is a form of traditional religious expression. Witch hunting is as old as the belief in witchcraft in Africa. The persecution of alleged witches has been going on in Africa Read the rest

Bomb Attack in Nigeria: Islamists Continue to Waste Human Lives

Aug 27th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

Yesterday, Islamic terrorists struck again. They reportedly exploded a bomb at the UN House in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. The blast which shattered some parts of the building killed at least 18 people and injured many others. A local Islamist group, Boko Haram, has claimed responsibility for the attack. Boko Haram is said to have links with al Qaeda and Al Shabab in Somalia. It reportedly recruits militants from Nigeria, Chad, Niger and other African countries.

Boko Haram is waging a violent campaign for the strict implementation of sharia. Sharia is already in force in 12 states in Northern Nigeria. In 2000, politicians in Muslim-majority states foisted the Islamic law on citizens in these states in violation of the … Read the rest

The Distortions of Google

Aug 20th, 2011 | By Charles Freeman

Suppose you have heard of my book The Closing of the Western Mind, a study of what happened to Greek philosophy at the end of the Roman empire. (Some of it was absorbed into Christianity, some was not). You want to hear more about it. Perhaps you start with Amazon and when you access the US and UK sites you are pleased to find that there are 86 reviews to read. This will surely give you some idea of how the book has been received. Fifty of these 86 are five star and another 22 four star to make 72 four and five star. In contrast there are only six one or two star reviews. Not everyone agrees with … Read the rest

Belief in Witchcraft in Africa

Aug 19th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

According to Prof Bolaji Idowu, “In Africa, it is idle to begin with the question whether witches exist or not…To Africans of every category, witchcraft is an urgent reality.” Unfortunately, I don’t know how Idowu came about this idea that it is pointless inquiring into the existence and non existence of witches and wizards. For me, it is not idle to begin with trying to establish the existence of witches or to subject the claims of witchcraft to critical evaluation. It is pertinent to do so in order to understand, tackle and eradicate the problems associated with this irrational belief. It is rather cowardly to avoid the question whether witches exist or not when dealing with issues related to witchcraft. … Read the rest

The Nuanced Discussion

Aug 16th, 2011 | By James Sweet, Corwin Sullivan and Ophelia Benson

Here is the promised dialogue. The subject is sexist epithets: how bad are they, are some worse than others, if they are bad then in what way are they bad, does it really matter, is it reasonable to think they are a bad thing, if so why?

James Sweet

I have accepted Ophelia’s challenge. Am I qualified? I am a male, and this is my real name. I do fancy myself a liberal, and would like to think of myself as a feminist, to the extent that men can be. So: how do I feel about sexist epithets?

Well, they’re bad. Usually. But like so many words, the degree to which that applies varies depending on context and … Read the rest

Oh, The Humanities! How the Liberal Arts Can Save Themselves

Aug 14th, 2011 | By Joshua F. Leach

Is it possible to imagine a society without the humanities? Such a society has probably never existed in all of human history. There is little doubt that the human animal is obsessed by its own past, by the meaning of its existence, by narratives and theories which help it make sense of experience. Whatever science and technology help us to achieve, they remain useful tools which offer little insight into the core of our emotional lives and the bulk of what motivates us on a day-to-day basis. They can answer the question of “how” but have little to say as to “why.”

As has been pointed out before, the scientific method has proven itself successful by limiting the questions it … Read the rest