Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Finding a Common Religious Soul for Sustainable Democracy in Nigeria

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Finding a Common Religious Soul for Sustainable Democracy in Nigeria

Article excerpt

Introduction

Religions and religious practices are characterised by various beliefs that shape the private and public lives of adherents of these various religions. The influence of these religious beliefs and doctrines are so much that they influence the level and manner of participation of citizens of particular states in the political administration of their states. Consequently, to understand the level and manner of participation of certain people in the political administration of their state, it is important to understand the influence of religion on the political decisions of these people.

However, to understand the influence of religion in politics, it is important to understand the character of the Religious beliefs that shape the attitude of people towards the political sphere of their lives. This requires proposing a particular conception of 'belief that will provide a basis for understanding the nature religious beliefs. This paper examines the nature of religious beliefs and their influence on the attitude of citizens of Nigeria towards the political administration of the state. The paper examines the complex nature of religious beliefs in Nigeria and how this affects the development of sustainable democracy. The paper argues that for democracy to thrive in Nigeria there is need to identify a common religious soul which will serve as an agreeable foundation for public policy making and administration.

The paper is divided into five sections. The next section examines the nature religious beliefs with a view to understanding the kind of influence they have on believers. Section III examines the nature of contemporary Nigerian society and discusses how the complex nature of religious beliefs in Nigeria affects public political action. Section IV discusses the concept of a common religious soul and argues that this is required to develop sustainable democracy in Nigeria.

The Nature of Religious Belief

Characterising the concept of 'belief is a difficult task, one which has occupied the attention of epistemologists over a long period of time. To keep the paper focused on its primary task of understanding the character of religious beliefs, this paper does not intend to enter into the debate about the character of beliefs. Rather, the paper adopts the characterisation of beliefs proposed by Robert Audi.1 This model is instructive because it presents a comprehensive model for analysing the nature of beliefs and it identifies a number of elements that are ordinarily associated with belief states. According to Audi's model, there are two complementary notions through the concept of belief can be understood. The first notion is the content notion. This notion focuses on the content of the belief possessed by the believer. In other words, the content notion of belief focuses on the elements that are contained in a belief. Three elements are identified that, given the content notion, may serve as the content of beliefs.2

The first element is propositions. An important element of every belief is a proposition. To say that an epistemic agent has a belief that p is to say that the agent has a disposition to accepting a particular proposition which expresses p. For instance, it may be said of an epistemic agent A that s[he] believes that the number of planets in the universe is eight. In this case, the propositional content of Jones' belief is the proposition 'the number of planets in the universe is eight'. Thus, the content of a propositional belief is a proposition, and it involves a disposition to accept a certain proposition as true. A second element based on the content notion of 'belief' is an object. This is because the content of a belief is usually that some certain object has, or lack, some certain property. This is Objectual Belief. Thus, for instance, the content of Jones' belief may be that there are white unicorns.

In this case, part of the content of Jones' belief is the conception of a particular object which is believed to have the property of being white. …

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