I’m Done Questioning God. I’ve Decided To Just Not Believe In Him.

August 20, 2019
Illustration by Celia Jacobs.

To get a better understanding of Nigerian life, we started a series called ‘Compatriots’, detailing the everyday life of the average Nigerian. As a weekly column, a new instalment will drop every Tuesday, exploring some other aspect of the Nigerian landscape.

This week, we’re telling the story of a young lady whose inability to get the answers to her burning questions about God, led to her shunning his existence entirely.

I’ll start the same way I used to start my days: with a word of prayer.

Thank you for seeking out knowledge, for learning the real rights and wrongs, for vesting accountability in no one but yourself and for actively seeking out the grace, to simply be.

In the past, my prayers would have been directed to an all-seeing, all-knowing messiah, whose existence both terrified and soothed me at my most trying moments. These days I keep things simple, directing all gratitude, supplications, and admonishments to a 5’5, chipped-tooth, second-hand clothes-wearing, indecision riddled human being ⁠— myself.

I grew up in one of Nigeria’s more conservative churches: popular for sermons which never deviate from salvation and godly living, its fame is eclipsed only by a set of rules, which even by Nigerian wholesome standards, call for some uncomfortable shifting in pews.

No television, no earrings, absolutely no unnatural extensions of any kind. ‘Sisters’ were encouraged to keep their hair covered in readiness for prayer, while women that chose to show off shapely calves in jeans were only highlighting body parts already simmering in the lake of fire. Attending church here was ostracising, judgment igniting and sometimes even laughter-inducing. But it was home and I loved it there.

Or at least I did until I turned 7. Which was right around the time I started losing teeth, a milestone that only left me determined to square up with a creator who reckoned my smile needed a big gap in the middle.

“Who is this God?” 

“Where did He come from?”

“What is the source of His power?”

These were some of the questions I burdened my Sunday school teachers with at the time. I remember being disappointed with generic responses like “He is the Alpha and Omega” and “we don’t question where He came from.” This explained nothing. What if we were rooting for the wrong guy? An assertion that didn’t seem too far fetched, especially after the Holy Spirit entered my Shit List for ‘revealing’ to a Sunday School teacher ⁠— in full view of everyone ⁠— that I dared to wear braids to the House of the Lord. Never mind that my braids (an allowance of my liberal parents) were peeking out of my scarf, clear as day for man and spirit alike to see. 

That is not to say it marked the start of my unbelief; that would come very shortly after. But from my tweens, right up until the very early stages of adolescence, I was a model, middling child of God. While I wasn’t crazy about observing weekday hours on weekends just to make it to church before 8 am, I did so with the unquestioning submission of a child still heavily reliant on her parents. I memorised Bible verses (all forgotten now), always completed a daily checklist of trinity prayers: upon waking, before eating and right before bed and I never once took the name of the Lord in vain. But something happened when I made the leap from shimis and a fresh face to training bras and an unbecoming pitch fuzz  — I made the realisation that I really, really, didn’t like attending church.

Look, I don’t know what it is about being a teenager that transforms parents from being your cool, employed best friends, to the very last people you’d want to be stuck on earth with, but my parents got this end of the stick, and my heavenly father was no exception.

While my earthly parents were stuck with a teenager prone to mouthing unrepeatable things under her breath, the Lord got one unwilling to visit, even in his own house! I became masterful in avoiding church services, plotting my escape days ahead — blaming everything from phantom period pains to untraceable headaches. It was during these periods that those truly unanswerable questions, once again reared their heads:

“Who is this God?”

“Where did He come from?”

“What is the source of His powers?”

While my family was away, singing hymns and praising at the House of God, I was home alone, spending an unaccountable amount of time staring at a mirror, trying to come to terms with the fact that my reflection was indeed myself, a person fearfully and wonderfully created by a mysterious God.

As I got older, these questions matured as I did. Growing from merely interrogating the origins of my God, to attempting to make sense of His end goal. Where childish exuberance marked my early ploys to avoid church, at 17, they were my crutch to stay sane. 

"I couldn't help but conclude that if God were a man, I wouldn't like Him very much."

Post-adolescence was riddled with attempts to rationalise a God who would create a world of people, solely to worship Him. 
Who could orchestrate scenarios where safety was compromised, simply to guarantee your gratitude that He pulled you to protection. 
How could God create a world filled with multiple religions, each believing their tenets correct, but with such intricate devices of worship, only one could truly be correct? A God that fearfully and wonderfully created certain humans a special way, but opened them to damnation, per His book? 

Who punished deviants from His word with an eternity spent consumed by a lake of fire. And rewarded adherents with a whole lifetime spent praising Him? Forever and ever, worshipping? I couldn’t help but conclude that if God were a man, I wouldn’t like Him very much.

By 19, I understood the appeal of religion and a higher power interceding, where humans might have failed. Especially in a country like Nigeria where uncertainty in safety, sustenance, and security are the order of the day. Where the promise of finally being able to find rest, in a levitating mansion in heaven, is almost literally the thought keeping many underprivileged citizens alive. It just didn’t make much sense to me.

At that age, I made a decision that marked the start of the rest of my life ⁠—  a year without religion. One year where no one but I, took centre stage in my life. Where all the credit and blame for my grades went straight to me, and where only my hard work and intuition guaranteed me multiple streams of income in university. No divine grace or exceptions here.

From that year, I decided to wing this life thing. I’m finally done with asking questions with no definitive answers, I’ll just wait to maybe be proved wrong at the other side.

Boyin Plumptre

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this


Now on Zikoko

November 25, 2020

If you’re a Nigerian woman living abroad, chances are that you’ve run into one or more of these types of Nigerian men. 1) Mr. qualifications Before you say anything, they’ll remind you about all their degrees – MBA, PHD, WAP, MD. 2) Green card gang In your first conversation, they want to know your status […]

November 25, 2020

2:49 a.m.  I wake up and I know instantly. I’m sick. Okay, maybe “sick” is a tad dramatic. I have phlegm and it won’t stop until I use some medication. It happens to me every year during harmattan and it’s usually very frustrating. Ugh, now I will be spitting all day. Iyama.  6:36 a.m.  All […]

November 25, 2020

Traditionally, marriage is designed to be a life-long commitment between two people. Sometimes, people go against the norm and seek emotional and sexual solace with people other than their spouses. I spoke to eight married men about cheating on their wives, why they do it and what the future of their marriages look like. Ben […]

Recommended Quizzes

November 15, 2019

There are two types of people in Nigeria right now: those who are proud Marlians, and those who are still in denial about stanning the divisive star. So, for those who proudly wear the Marlian tag, we made a quiz to test how well you really know Naira Marley. If you get more than 6 […]

November 14, 2019

The fourth season of Big Brother Naija came to an end over a month ago, but the conversation surrounding the housemates is far from over. So, in a bid to keep the fire burning, we decided to create a quiz that tells you which famous member of the ‘Pepper Dem’ gang is your soulmate. Take […]

November 7, 2019

These days, everyone is always talking about how much sex they’re getting, or how little sex they’re getting, or how disgusting sex is etc. There’s just so much talk about sex, it’s almost impossible to know who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. In anticipation of our new series about the sex lives of young […]

More from Citizen

UK Sanctions Nigeria
November 24, 2020

Yesterday, November 24th 2020, the UK parliament, at the Westminister Hall debated e-petition 554150, relating to Nigeria and the sanctions regime. The debate was led by Theresa Villiers MP, and it suggested sanctions for members of the Nigerian Government and police officers who have been involved in human rights abuses. The parliamentary debate has generated […]

Nigeria recession
November 23, 2020

Recession, palliative, ad-hoc committee, ultra-modern, bistro — you can’t claim to be a Nigerian if you’ve never heard these words. They are so popular, we wrote about them. Speaking of recession, on Saturday, November 22nd, 2020, the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics reported that Nigeria’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) reduced by 3.62% from September to October […]

November 19, 2020

The Nigerian police is ranked as one of the worst in the world, and the Nigerian society is notable for widespread human rights abuses. In your house or outside it, you’re always a moment away from having your rights abused by the police in Nigeria. After the #EndSARS protests, the Nigerian police have ramped up […]

CNN Lekki
November 18, 2020

Some Nigerians were still rolling in their bed this morning, trying to pick up pieces of their lives after the Lekki Massacre, when CNN Africa sent shockwaves through Nigeria’s part of the Internet.  In a brilliant collation of all the videos that have trended over the #LekkiMassacre, mixed with excellent investigative reportage that made use […]

Eromosele Adene
November 17, 2020

If you don’t know about Eromosle “Eromz” Adene’s case, well you should. The arrest of the 27-year old musician and philanthropist has generated a lot of controversy across social media, with opinions and counter opinions on how horrible the Nigerian society is, and why the Nigerian government cannot keep abusing human rights while getting away […]

Local government in Nigeria
November 16, 2020

A local government is an important part of governance in Nigeria. Local governments supplement the work of the federal government and the 36 state governments by administering a particular area. However, many Nigerians always complain about the federal government and state governments while ignoring that there is also a local government. In fact, if many […]

Nigerian police can arrest you
November 15, 2020

“Park! You’re guilty of reckless carriage of a heavy load condensed as two trunks right in between your back and your legs, something like an ukwu!” Okay, the Nigerian police shouldn’t arrest you for that. But these are 5 things that can actually land you in court: 1. Witchcraft E shock you? You didn’t know […]

Access Bank
November 14, 2020

Access bank is no stranger to court cases relating to “Post No Debit” (PND) orders, and we will explain so in this article. On November 4, 2020, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) obtained an order from a Federal High Court in Abuja that empowered it to freeze the bank accounts of 20 individuals and […]

November 12, 2020

Lately, Nigerian courts seem to be issuing a lot of ex parte orders. On November 6, the Central Bank of Nigeria obtained an ex parte court order freezing the accounts of 20 individuals and public affairs companies linked to the #EndSARS protests. The CBN was able to freeze the accounts of 20 #EndSARS campaigners after […]


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.
February 6, 2020
Who doesn't want to find love? In our bid to help, we paired up a bunch of single Nigerians, sending them on an all-expense paid date, and interviewing them before and after they met.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.