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    Sunday Perspectives

    Sense, nonsense, and commonsense (2)

    President Goodluck Jonathan presenting his hand over notes to the President-Elect, General Muhammadu Buhari during the official presentation of Handover notes to the President-Elect at the Aso Chambers, State House, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida

    On security, for example, failure of the Nigerian military to subdue Boko Haram and rescue the over two hundred secondary school girls allegedly abducted from Chibok was seen by critics of Dr. Jonathan as evidence that his government cannot provide adequate security for our people. Concerning the fight against corruption, the former President could have done better, but his temperamental weaknesses, the shambolic federal civil service system and nefarious activities of the vicious cabal or “invisible government” prevented him from mounting a credible anti-corruption programme.

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    religions

    A secular humanist critique of religion (4)

    By making morality a matter of acting according to rules purportedly set by a divine being, faith-based ethics ignores the most important component for developing moral consciousness or awareness, that is, making children learn appropriate moral principles through practical examples from parents, teachers and adults generally. If the humanist approach to morality, which gives primacy to the well-being and happiness of individuals on earth not to an imaginary blissful existence in paradise, becomes widespread, eventually a new generation of more reasonable human beings would emerge equipped with inner conviction that the rightness or wrongness of a given action cannot be rationally decided without considering its effects on sentient beings that might be affected by that very action. Moral absolutism, which posits God as the ultimate foundation of morality, is clearly untenable. Thus, it is essential that each individual should periodically re-examine the moral principles he or she lives by, based on the recognition that morality is the product of human evolution and does not transcend the existential conditions peculiar to human beings in this world.

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    bible

    A secular humanist critique of religion (3)

    For most ecclesiastical leaders and theologians, the so-called revealed truths contained in religious scriptures allegedly written under the inspiration of God are unassailable. Indeed, in their reckoning, such “divinely revealed truths” are superior to verifiable information about the objective world generated through scientific investigation. The fundamental problem with religion with respect to truth is that the believer is cocksure that he is right because he has read the truth from a certain holy book and knows, in advance, that nothing will make him change his mind. Therefore, the truth of the holy book is an axiom accepted a priori, not the end product of the process of reasoning or painstaking research.

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    quran1

    A secular humanist critique of religion (2)

    Like other psychological traits the combination of which, with physical and intellectual attributes, constitute human nature, faith and fear are not necessarily harmful. Faith, in the sense of tentative conviction about something or acceptance of a belief inspite of insufficient evidence, is rational and justified as long as the individual is willing to change his or her mind when better evidence supporting the contrary view becomes available.

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    religions

    A secular humanist critique of religion (2)

    Because of this, some humanists consider it necessary to label their own version as ‘secular humanism’ or ‘scientific humanism’ in contrast to ‘Christian humanism’ or ‘religious humanism.’ For our purpose in this discourse, we shall adopt Smoker’s characterisation of ‘humanism’ as secular or scientific humanism, that is, a positive human-centred philosophy of life based on rationalism that is either atheistic or agnostic, being concerned with life in this world, not with imaginary deities or a hereafter.

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    An actor playing Jesus hangs on a cross during a performance of the Passion of Jesus by the Wintershall Players in Trafalgar Square, central London on March 29, 2013.  AFP PHOTO

    An unbeliever’s interpretation of Easter (4)

    Over 99.9 percent of Christians are unaware of the numerous books left out of the New Testament, including the Gospels of Mary Magdalene, of Philip, and of Barnabas. In its embryonic stages, Christianity was a chaotic movement, with different sects declaring each other heretics, which led to periodic bloody confrontations. Emperor Constantine of Rome, a brutal and bloodthirsty misanthrope, was instrumental to the crystallisation of Christianity by changing profoundly the course of its history.

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    An actor playing Jesus hangs on a cross during a performance of the Passion of Jesus by the Wintershall Players in Trafalgar Square, central London on March 29, 2013.  AFP PHOTO

    An unbeliever’s interpretation of Easter (2)

    The Gospels disagree on basic issues, such as the identities of those who accompanied Judas when he purportedly betrayed Jesus, the manner in which Jesus was arrested, the bearer of the cross and the inscription on it, the time Jesus was crucified, how Jesus died and his last comments, and on the events connected with his resurrection and ascension. For starters, Matthew and Mark claim that Judas, in the company of armed multitude from the chief priests and elders of the people, came to Gethsemane to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:47-48; Mark 14: 43-45). But in St. Luke’s version, an undifferentiated multitude was involved (Luke, 22: 47). Luke (22: 50-54) and John (18 :10-12) report that the ear of the high priest’s servant was chopped off before Jesus was arrested, but Matthew (26: 50-51) and Mark (14: 46-48) indicate that it happened after the arrest.

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    President Muhammadu Buhari

    President Buhari: The bigger the head, the bigger the headache (5)

    As I was saying last week, given the large amount of money set aside in the budget for the comfort of President Buhari, his family members and the top echelons of the presidency, he is not on a moral high ground to put pressure on members of the National Assembly to drop their silly plan. Hence, another headache for Buhari is his gradual but steady loss of the much-needed moral authority that can compel positive attitudinal change among high-ranking public officials, including legislators.

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    President Muhammadu Buhari

    President Buhari: The bigger the head, the bigger the headache (4)

    The “kill corruption” programme of Buhari would gain a lot of credibility if allegations of financial impropriety against these former leaders are thoroughly investigated by the relevant agencies of government, including appropriate sanctions against those found culpable. Moreover, imagine what would happen if the EFCC, acting on the orders of the President, beams its searchlight on APC kingpins, some of whom are governors and ministers right now.

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    President Muhammadu Buhari

    President Buhari: The bigger the head, the bigger the headache (3)

    Last week, I stated that the money allocated to Aso Rock clinic was 3.4 billion naira. I later discovered that 4.8 billion naira was actually set aside for both capital projects and recurrent expenditure for it, the clinic used by the President, Vice-President, their families and close associates. That amount competes favourably with the total allocation usually earmarked by the Federal Ministry of Health for tertiary health institutions nationwide which serve thousands of Nigerians annually, while only about N2.66 billion is to be spent on building new hospitals all over the country.

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    President Muhammadu Buhari

    President Buhari: The bigger the head, the bigger the headache (2)

    These cases went to the Supreme Court until the fourth time in 2015 when God agreed that I will be President.” Clearly, President Buhari was expressing his frustration with the Nigerian judiciary, which has increasingly come under critical fire for surreptitiously allowing hideously corrupt top public officials to escape justice. That said, the virus of corruption has penetrated every aspect of our national life to a debilitating degree, such that only a sustained moral reorientation led by a more scientifically minded improved Nigerian equivalent of Mahatma Gandhi can reverse the situation, in the long run.

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