Archive | November, 2009

On this day (November 27)…

.. 1095 – At the Council of Clermont, Pope Urban II called for the First Crusade, declaring holy war against the Muslims who had occupied the Holy Land, beginning the first of at least nine Crusades. “The Crusades were fought mainly against Muslims, although campaigns were also waged against pagan Slavs, Jews, Russian and Greek Orthodox Christians, Mongols, Cathars, Hussites, Waldensians, Old Prussians, and political enemies of the popes.”

.. 1895 – Swedish chemist and industrialist Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, setting aside the bulk of his estate to establish the Nobel Prize after his death. The awards for the sciences – physics, chemistry and physiology or medicine – remain widely considered to be the more prestigious award one can receive in those fields.

.. 1978 – Assassination of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, “the first openly gay man elected to any substantial political office in the history of the planet.” The killing was regarded by many as a hate crime.

.. 2009 – First day of Eid al-Adha, the Muslim celebration of one man’s willingness to kill his son for no other reason than his God told him to.

Posted in Entertainment, Politics, Religion, Science, Society5 Comments

Imagine

lennon

Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

-Imagine, John Lennon

If you happen to catch this week’s episode of Glee, it featured a classic song from the 70’s whose message still rings true till this day. I am, of course, referring to John Lennon’s immortal masterpiece, Imagine. Yet three decades have passed since the song was first penned and the problems Lennon saw during his time still plague us today.

The local headlines of the past few weeks are a clear sign of how little progress we’ve made since Lennon’s time. Conservatives are still battling liberals over the fate of the RH Bill, gay people still being denied rightful representation by the COMELEC, political clans murdering each other… we still haven’t learned to live as one… perhaps we never will.

When the song first came out, it drew heavy criticism for singling out “country” and “religion” as the chief causes of human suffering. It was branded anti-establishment, heretical, and unpatriotic… like much of the rest of the early freethinking concepts of the hippie generation. But perhaps it was just the bitter truth that a lot of us are afraid to accept, that for all the security and structure these two concepts have provide people across generations, history also shows how much they have also divided us.

People were never really given the privilege of staying neutral. There was always the pressure to make everyone choose a side, Pick a political party, a religion, or a nationality. The world then, as it is now, lost the middle ground. It now operates along tribal lines. Loyalty has supplanted humanity as the primary virtue. To kill, or be killed for an ideal… that is now the greatest honor one can accomplish.

The divisive nature of religion, race, ideology, political affiliation, and a host of other polarities still pit tribe against tribe, neighbor against neighbor, and brother against brother. People still haven’t found a way to look past each other’s differences. It’s like we will never run out of ways to divide ourselves into, no matter how shallow or superficial.

Muslim against Christian, believer against non-believer, conservatives versus liberals, gay versus straight, man versus woman, the have’s versus the have-not’s… take your pick, choose a side, and fight till your dying breath. Lives have been ruined, or worse, ended, because of such man-made differences.

Of all the living things on earth, only people found the time and energy to fight for such abstractions as these… things that we ourselves invented for no other purpose than to draw imaginary lines between ourselves. It makes one wonder if we truly are the most evolved species on this planet. True, we are on top of the food chain, but we don’t seem to find it fit to share our lofty perch with our fellow human beings. There is always the constant struggle to push each other off the edge, trying to label each other as something different, or worse, inferior to ourselves.

Instead of embracing the rich diversity of humanity, we try to enforce conformity. We stubbornly insist that our way is the only way. Anyone outside our own little circles needs to be either subjugated or eliminated. When we start thinking that salvation is only the exclusive privilege of the few, that’s when we lose our humanity.

Who’s to say what another thirty years will bring… will that elusive peace be still left to only to our imagination, or will we finally join hands and be as one? Lennon may be right in a lot of things in his song, but maybe its time we stopped being dreamers. The world needs to wake up and take stock of the situation. We will never really all be as one. Each person is unique unto himself; there is no mould for the human spirit. What we need to learn is tolerance, a sense of open-mindedness. We need to realize that people who don’t look, think, dress, or act the way we do aren’t misguided, only different. There is no need to force conversion or conformity, no matter how highly some people might think their way of life is. That is not nobility… that is bigotry. One person’s life is not automatically better than another’s, based solely on who currently hold the status quo. Every minority group, whether due to political, religious, social, or economic reasons, should be afforded the same opportunities to thrive without condemnation as long as it does no harm to others. Why do we constantly feel the need to put others down to make us feel better about ourselves?

Maybe its time to try a better way… maybe its time to build up rather than tear down… to be more accepting rather than judgmental. But I hope I’m not the only one, I hope someday you’ll join us… and the world will live as one.

Posted in Reviews, Society7 Comments

A Different Carol

A_Christmas_Carol_frontpieceAre you familiar with Charles Dickens classic Christmas story “A Christmas Carol”? Let me refresh you. It’s about this guy named Scrooge who was visited by the 3 Christmas spirits; The Christmas Past, the Christmas Present and The Christmas Future. Well? OK! Maybe it’s time I give you my version of this Christmas classic eh?
So hold your breath and count to 3….1….2…..3.

Christmas Past.
So the first in the list is the Spirit of Christmas Past. Here we can see pagan customs taken by Christians to make their own. The time was said to be the birth of Mithra. Druids also commemorate this date as the arrival of the winter solstice. The date of December 25 does not correspond to Christ’s birth but to the feast of the Natalis Solis Invicti, the Roman sun festival at the solstice. The Roman Empire began their official recognition of sun worship during the time of Aurelian when he instituted the cult of “Sol Invictus”. There is virtually no difference between the cult of Sol Invictus and that of Mithraism or for that matter traditional Christianity.

So, Christmas is nothing but a recycled pagan custom after all. Bah! Humbug!

Now we go to Christmas Present.
“Tis the season to be jolly.” Maybe the other name for this spirit is commercialism.
This is PARTY TIME!!!

Here in this season, the separation between the poor and the rich becomes more evident.

People on this time are too busy buying things for presents, parties and “Noche Buenas” to stuff their bellies while half of Manila is starving, eating trash in garbage cans or left-over thrown by restaurants, or food not even suited to be eaten by your dogs. This is also the time for religious hypocrites to thrive, blessing the rich because of the amount of their church donations. Social climbers and phonies held charity events to “help” the poor, to stuff the bellies of prison inmates with fruit cakes, to give clothes and toys to the destitute, all just for the show, but won’t even lift a finger to distribute their glut on ordinary seasons.

In the Philippines, it’s the time of the 13-month pay and bonus our employee would love to have, unfortunately, some business establishment cannot even give these people a decent minimum wage. It is also the time of the merchants who takes gain from selling their goods to the voracious public. People with very little money left in their pocket, will still try to buy some delicious ham for his family to feast on Christmas Eve will be eventually victimized by vulture-like merchandisers who will rise the commodity prices. It is the time marred with greed on the part of the business men and gift-receivers and the by pressure of duty, obligation, and guilt for the gift-givers. Tis the season where one can see the grossest display of the union between religion and business.

What so funny at this time are people pretend to be good. It’s really sickening hearing famous personalities, famous faces, politicians (especially politicians) announce good will and peace on Earth. Really like they mean it huh? BOY YOU”RE SO PHONY! And why make this a season of giving and sharing? Why this season huh? For 11 months you guys are killing each other, throwing mud at each others faces. Then be good at Christmas time so we can continue beating each others ass by January next year?

So what we have is a fraud celebration of a Christian messiah’s birth, commercialisms, greed and hypocrisy. Now what spirit are we talking about here? So why wait after 11 months to have this humanitarian spirit of goodwill to fellow men?

Christmas Future
Christmas future is only a speculation. Well we may end up with 2 possible roads. 1.) To continue fooling ourselves in thinking that this pagan holiday is a Christian holiday of a birth of a so-called Savior who will save the world from sin. Turning this circus as a good opportunity to bamboozle others and to make an impression to the public of how good we are. Turning dejected people as pegs in which you can put on a show about your surfeit so others will find you rolling in it.
Or
2.) We can make this humanitarian spirit available all year round, with no string attached.

The choice is yours.

Posted in Religion, Society4 Comments

Pics from November Meetups 1 and 2

Here are some pics from November meetups 1 and 2.

November Meetup 1

November Meetup 1

November Meetup 2

November Meetup 2

Posted in Media, Meetup, Pictures0 Comments

Rational Hero at RockEd Radio

Rational Hero at Rocked Radio (Small)

*UPDATE*: This has been postponed to Dec. 3, 9:45pm to make way for discussions on the Maguindanao massacre.

Tune in to Rocked Radio at NU107 to hear answers to the question:

What is a Rational Hero?

Thursday, Nov. 26 TBA, 9-11pm

Guests:

  1. Tania Arpa
  2. Mike Aquino
  3. Ryan Tani
  4. Bob Guerrero of Unitarian Universalist Church
  5. Beth Angsioco of Reproductive Health Advocacy Network
  6. Carlos Celdran of Rational Hero

Anything you’d like us to discuss? Tune in and call or leave a comment below. Thanks!

Posted in Announcements10 Comments

ImmoRALLY

getoverit (Medium)Let’s show our support for the LGBT, human rights, and secularism movements by participating in Ang Ladlad’s ImmoRALLY tomorrow. Below are the details and the other ways you can help. See you tomorrow!
***
[from Ang Ladlad]

Dear Human Rights Defenders and Protectors a.k.a Friends,

The Motion for Reconsideration (MR) was filed today, Nov18 at the Comelec.
We will wait for the Comelec’s decision to reconsider LADLAD’s accreditation to run for party list in the 2010 election.

Comelec has the option to sit on this and let time pass until LADLAD, due to technicality, will not be able to register to run in the 2010 election because the Comelec has only a few days to finalize the list of party-list groups that would be included in the ballot.

WE NEED TO PRESSURE THE COMELEC TO COME UP WITH A DECISION.


JOIN US IN SAYING WE ARE NOT
IMMORAL AND ARE NOT A THREAT TO THE YOUTH.

JOIN US FIGHT FOR OUR LGBT RIGHTS!

As Amnesty International would say,
ALL HUMAN RIGHTS FOR ALL!!

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

1. JOIN THE PROTEST ACTION ON WED. NOV 25, 2009
Because of Manny Pacquiao’s motorcade on Friday, Nov.20 around Manila, Ang LADLAD decided to move the rally to next week.

TENTATIVE DATE: Wednesday, Nov. 25
ASSEMBLY TIME: 9:30AM
VENUE: COMELEC

Your group can send your message of solidarity & support to LADLAD at their FB page or email at [email protected],

[email protected]

Your group can bring placards, streamers, anything rainbow, be in costume on that protest.

imMORAL white shirts are being sold at P250. I’ve attached the design to this email. Contact Mj Yap thru FB or email her @ [email protected]
– Send your name, contact info, number of orders, & t-shirt sizes. I think they have male & female sizes

2. LETTER WRITING CAMPAIGN
The Internationall Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), together with Ang LADLAD will have a letter-writing campaign to pressure Comelec to come up with a decision the soonest time possible.

We will inform you once we have uploaded the letter at the www.iglhrc.org website. You can copy & paste the letter together with the email addresses included in the article and send to the Comelec Commissioners, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) who have been so supportive of LGBT rights especially Atty. De Lima.

3. REPOST THIS INFO

Please inform us of your intentions/interest for proper coordination with LADLAD

Again Thank You.

SCHEDULE

Working Programme: ImmoRALLY

November 25, 2009

Plaza Roma, Intramuros, Manila (in front of Comelec Head office)

Assembly time: 9:30 am

Emcees: Naomi Fontanos and Jessie Dimaisip

TIME ACTIVITY PERSONS/AGENCIES RESPONSIBLE
9:30 Assembly ALL
10:00 Welcome Message
Why we’re here; who were are, etc)
EMCEES
10:05 Statement from L Ging Cristobal
10:10 Statement from G Jonas
10:15 Statement from T Dee or Gia
10:20 Statement from B TBC
10:25 Reading of official statement
10:30 Solidarity Messages2-3 mins Akbayan: Ms. Etta RosalesLikhaan: Dr. Junice Melgar

Task Force Pride

Lawyer’s Groups

Santugon–DLSU

Filipino Freethinkers

Single Guys Online

Others (TBC)

Excerpts from statements of:

Rene Saguisag

Joker Arroyo

Raul Pangalangan

CHR

11:15 Announcement of formation of a Coalition and Closing remarks Emcees
11:30 –  12:00 Tie a rainbow ribbon Everyone

Posted in Announcements, Meetup, Politics, Society3 Comments

Essay Writing Contest – Second round of voting

Okay, so last meet-up it was brought to my attention that members did not realize that they had 15 votes to give away for this contest, which would probably explain the low vote count.

So, due to popular demand, voting has been reopened for a second round. Note that the votes made during the first round still count, and you’re still allowed to vote for a particular post just once. (But you can vote for up to 15 posts!)

Fifteen, if you didn’t catch that. 15. Labinlima. Quince. 十五. 열다섯. δεκαπέντε. חמשעסר.

As usual, you can find the list of entries here. The Vote link can be found in the author box at the bottom of each post. The time limit this time is two weeks, to give everyone enough time to read through everything.

On a separate note, what do you think our next contest should be?

http://filipinofreethinkers.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=635&sid=0b0b32592f021b5be1c3ca87abced88a

Posted in Announcements, Organization16 Comments

The Price of being a Freethinker

richpoorlogo “A cheerful poverty is an honorable state.” – Epicurus

I have to be honest, it is hard to catch up a freethinker’s lifestyle. Most freethinkers here in the Philippines belong to the class “A” affluent families and as a person belonging to the…eh down right dirty, I’m having a hard time coping with it. As a freethinker I have to be realistic and here’s the fact: LIFE SUCKS!

We always held our meetings in this classy mall, surrounded by stores and restaurants that only the privilege can enjoy. We do it in Starbuck…WOAH! A cup of coffee in Starbuck cost …eh is it 175.00 Pesos ($3.74) per cup? I can only afford a coffee in a styrophor cup worth 10.00 Pesos (that 21 cents for you American readers). They eat sandwiches and novelty foods I only dream of eating, they have gadgets like cell phones with videos, Nintendo Wii, Videocams, sleek cars, cute dogs, beautiful and sexy girllfriends…the whole shebang!! Just think what that does to me? Boy…if you want to start feeling sorry to yourself and indulge in self-pity.

Many of these guys are armed with shelves full of books! There are those who owned about 400 to 600 volumes. Well…I can only dream about it. Being financially deficient is a hindrance. I lack the finances to buy books. And to top it all, most freethinkers’ books (or May I say “all”) are foreign made. Geewizz! Foreign books are too costly! Thank Darwin that I have a photographic memory when reading books. There is this bookstore here in Manila, yep Power Books…that is the name of the shop. Luckily, for me, this bookstore allows shoppers to read the books off their shelves.

Sometimes I feel that I should stop attending this “yuppie club”, fearing that people might think that I’m just a “pabigat” (weighting them down financially) or worst, that I’m a freeloader.

Therefore, it made me thinking. Is freethought only for the affluent? Is freethought synonymous with people who graduated from prestigious schools and universities, to those who are successful in life, for those people with cars and are able to dine on fancy restaurants? Is freethought only a vice of well-off individuals just to exercise their bored minds? How about the poor, the destitute, the miserable and the hopeless, can they afford to be freethinkers?

I sometimes wonder why I become a freethinker in the first place?

Pragmatism is the philosophy of the poor man. He seems to believe things that have uses for him. Don’t get me wrong, my freethought was not fueled by hate of life. Life is not fair, but I do not blame it to a so-called “Supreme Intelligence”. Maybe I am a different case…one in a million perhaps. Nevertheless, not every poor people in Manila share my enthusiasm with philosophy and science.

It is impossible to philosophize with an empty stomach. Do you think a poor man will have the luxury of time and money to do some research regarding science and philosophy?

Speaking of research, books are expensive and education is too costly. Poor folks will use their resources more on food. The sad news is that majority of people in the Philippines is below poverty line, and because of the worldwide economic crisis we are now facing, it is expected to double.

In this situation, what’s use of freethought?

For some people, and especially the poor, this is where religion sets in. Religion thrives in a world of crisis. When people become desperate, they start to look and cling to any support they can find – even invisible ones. So how can you tell them that people who mastered the art of selling God are using them?

I still believe that somewhere in Payatas, Tondo or those shanties in BASECO Compound, there is a freethinker like me. He may now be writing his thoughts on a piece of paper…he doesn’t have a computer, he can’t afford it. I wonder if people in his community listen to what he says? Christians in his community may even accused him of just being angry to God for giving him a miserable life. People will not take you seriously when you are poor.

I imagine him getting his information from books that sold cheap in Recto, books that were published in the 60’s and 70’s, too obsolete in modern standards.

Does he sometimes stop from his backbreaking labor to wonder if his arguments are correct or if there’s a new idea that entered his mind? Does he also look in the Internet if he can spare P15.00 from his small salary? Does he also analyzed religious revelations if they are true? How does he handle the idea of having no after-life, with the thought that he is doom to live in a miserable existence without any means of escaping? Does he also think he’s alone?

Freethought may be expensive but thinking is priceless. Maybe that is why I keep on attending this yuppie club.

I believe that social stratification is not a hindrance especially if the Filipino freethinkers’ vision also caters love and camaraderie.

As a freethinker my goal must be realistic so I can reach my hand on a different world- the world without luxury, where false hope thrive. This is the world of the impoverished where self-pity becomes a thick haze that blocks the vision of progress. Where pragmatism narrows objective world-view, where minds are clouded by distrust and apathy and where poverty limits dreams and aspiration.

Unfortunately, there are freethinkers trapped in this kind of world, and these are freethinkers I would like to reach out to. It is a matter of cooperation within the Filipino freethinking community to reach to such sad individuals.

Posted in Personal, Society, Stories43 Comments

Revelations in the reconversion (post)

Some of you may recall my earlier post regarding reconversion. More than a month later, here now is the message within my message, for those of you who didn’t have the time or patience to take a stab at it (I don’t really think talent or mathematical skill has anything to do with it, what with the number of glaring and obvious clues and hints given in the comments section 🙂 ):

There are many kind hearted people, some are educated some aren’t, or they do not care they are living witrational people. Belief in a great many mysteries and things is good but now that I try to think about it, oftentimes I feel most enlightened overall. Of course to them (rationalists) I become foolish and irrational for believing and for being defensive of religion. When I began it (faith), it comes as revelations to me in matters of hopes concerning the true religion. We ask Why believe it? Must you ask religion to not be at all special? Of course one must be very polite to likely impart a reason since this is faith. Perhaps because non-believers think most believing people, of course including us Bible readers, were not well taught in logic, and that we indoctrinated and convinced as many innocent children we’d found. To believe and not ask any question about the matters of God, of our heavenly faith. You and I are brothers. Can’t religion triumph? Prevent it not. Myself included, we’re from this moment questioning not faith, my personal revelations, beliefs, nor God. Every moment is time well spent, I think, to reflect on God, on his mercy. My skepticism’s now past. Returning to religious status,  my convictions have changed. I now solemnly arrive to serve at God’s feet. The one true conclusion is such that of mine. A loving, forgiving, personal, and merciful God the almighty, is certainly not absurd.

Some of the reasons why I wrote this, and some notes:

  1. I was bored at the time when I wrote this, and I had an idea so I had to write/scribble/type it down to scratch the itch.
  2. I wanted to make people think out of the box. A lot of articles  nowadays are so monotonous and uneventful to read. Sure there are quite a number of them which are well written, and they make you reflect and think about things they talk about, but they let you do so in a more or less similar or linear fashion.
  3. Some have noticed the Yoda-ish style. It was intentional to give the reader some form of hint that there might be something more to this post/message/article than meets the eye.
  4. Regarding the comments about similarities to The Bible Code, funny thing is that code never really occurred to me, although I intentionally wrote this message with a code (message within a message). Thanks to the commenter/s who pointed the similarity. I guess you could say it’s a micro anti-Bible-Code code. 🙂
  5. I just wanted to have fun, both with the non-believing and believing side, and to attract both parties’ attention as well. I think I somehow managed to do that no? 🙂 For non-believers or skeptics, it was meant to keep them on their toes. For believers, it seemed to address their woes (on non-belief).

Posted in Entertainment, Humor, Personal, Poetry, Religion, Society5 Comments

Math is probably for you

Math can be really fun. Seriously.

This post is the 2nd in a series of posts I’m planning to have about why math is such a beautiful, useful, and awe-inspiring subject, and that a lot of us can do math (advanced/seemingly difficult math even). Math is such an integral part of humanity since our cave dwelling days, and much more so now in most of our technology driven lives. Previously I wrote about how even advanced math, particularly advanced geometry, can be easily tackled with just your imagination. This time it’s about probability. I can just imagine some of you cringe at the thought of math, let alone probability. But I’ll try to show you that often times, logical reasoning is all that it takes to wrap your head around probabilities, even the ones that confound a lot of brilliant people, even some mathematicians themselves. In fact, we’ll end this article with a simulation of a game/game show. Not bad huh? 🙂

Continue Reading

Posted in Entertainment, Humor, Media, Personal, Pictures, Science, Society, Stories31 Comments

Is the Philippines Ready For Humanism?

rizal-music-787684A long line of women together with their children, standing under the sun, waiting patiently for their turn to buy a few kilos of rice. The poorest of the poor has their own line in buying cheaper rice, mostly located in the baranggay’s parish church. Poverty really took its toll in the Philippines, which makes me sometimes wonder, is the Filipino ready for humanism? Can you imagine Filipinos thinking themselves at the center of the cosmos?

The term is too alien to the typical man in the street. Here in the Philippines, you will not encounter the term “humanist” in everyday conversation. But how about in the past? Four hundred years of Spanish occupation has ruled out any possibility for the Filipino to use rationality to think for themselves. Roman Catholicism seems to obliterate it. It was the Spanish friars who fasten the sense guilt to every Filipino…the guilt of being poor and ignorant. As if God has sealed every Filipinos’ fate. The Filipinos are now bonded by the belief that they are all sinners and needed to be punished. This sense of guilt has achieved its purpose. It has broken the Filipino spirit to resist these European invaders. It has broken the spirit of every Filipino to seek change and improvement until now.

There are but few people who fought this. Yet they were labeled as rebels instead of a humanist. Dr. Jose Rizal for example fought for social reforms. In his travel to Europe, he has witness how education and reason have brought the status and life of European nations. Rizal wanted this kind of philosophy to enter the Filipino mind. He also saw in Europe that religious belief can be questioned. Aha! So it can be questioned, religion can be put in the stand! Rizal never really left his god-belief and Christianity, yet because of his European travels, he was influence into rationalism. For him (Rizal), the best religions are those that are simplest, most in conformity with nature, most in harmony with the needs and aspirations men. (Rizal-Pastells IV, &; ER 4:120) Christianity is greater not because of how God discloses himself in the pages of the Old and New Testaments, but because it conforms to nature and fulfills the needs of the human person. Rizal states that he believes in God’s existence “through reasoning and necessity than by faith (Rizal-Pastells III, 4; ER 4:85) and that his faith in God is a conclusion of deductive reasoning process.

In Rizal’s novel, Noli Me Tangere, Elias (one of his characters) believed that miraculous intervention from God is an impossibly. A miracle, as a contravention of the law of nature, is a contradiction. It may reflect Rizal’s own belief relative to the Spanish rule in the Philippines. Ferdinand Blumentritt, Rizal’s German friend, introduced to Rizal the spirit of free inquiry.

Rizal’s idea is really not humanism (its more rationalism) but it’s the only thing that is very near the humanist philosophy. We really do not know if humanism will developed as Rizal matures but we know that his life was cut short. He was sentence to death and was shot on December 30, 1896 in Bagungbayan (Luneta)

How about today? Are Filipinos ready for humanism or did it died with Rizal?

Before we answer the question we have to explore what humanism is.

Humanism is a human centered philosophy focusing on the human individual’s pursuit of identity and meaning amidst the social and economic pressures of mass society for superficiality and conformism. Hmmmmm…The idea is too vague for a typical Filipino. Every Filipino might says that everyone is pursuing identity and meaning.

Maybe we need to specify things a little bit.

Luckily I have a copy of Mr. Paul Kurtz’s affirmations of humanism. Maybe I can use one or two of its paragraphs to see if the Filipino is ready to become a humanist.

A humanist is committed to the application of reasons and science in solving problems. And he/she uses human intelligent free from superstition. How about the Filipino? Jose Rizal has shown the benefit of using reason – but did the Filipino listen? There was a time when Filipinos work by cooperation; we call this “bayanihan”. I really do not know what happened to this positive Filipino trait? Filipinos these days are more into controversies and “crab mentality” when facing national concerns. “Hey if that is our problem, let us all sink in the mud together.” So how does Juan Makabayan (Filipino Nationalists) resolve his problems? Well…maybe you have seen a lot of militant rallies going on in the street of Mendiola. That is how they solve it.

And Juan dela Cruz (the Filipino masses) believe that every incidents, is the will of God. Oh yes…and did I forget to tell you that they also believe that their life is just borrowed from God. Yeah…like life is being forfeited in some divine pawnshop.

Superstition hinders knowledge and what more damaging is the belief that a so-called supernatural deity that watches every humans destiny. Success is seen as a manifestation of godly favor. This idea suggests that what you become is what God’s will you to become and not because of your own struggle. So what happened on your efforts? Well it seems every Filipino’s action is really not his own. So when failures and obstacle come, the answer is prayer- Prayer to turn God’s favor back to you. It diminishes any sense of accomplishment and responsibility.

And the cost?

Then because of this unhinge inspiration, the Filipinos tend to become less scientific and too counter productive. Even the education system in the Philippines is becoming less result oriented. Instead of producing more intellects and technocrats, we are producing more domestic helpers to send abroad and wash some old Caucasian’s ass.

I would like to thank religion…yes that old time religion whose lies and propaganda have turned Juan Dela Cruz a walking “uto-uto” – you can picture it like a newly hatched duckling that aimlessly following empty promises and authoritative doctrines based on fear and superstitions. A good case example is that of the EDSA revolution of 1985 and 1992. It was said that EDSA revolution was kindled by prayers. Sure…majorities of faces in that revolution was nuns and priests and it claimed God have changed Philippines forever. To commemorate it, we now have a large statue of the “Virgin Mother” there at EDSA and a church near a large shopping mall. So? What changes did it do so far? We are now worst compare to the Marcos Era! It is said that Philippine society began to disintegrate after EDSA. Compare to the Marcoses, a lot of people have observed that we are now more chaotic. Graft and corruption did not go away; in fact we have the worst cases. The church says that we now have the freedom compares to the Martial law years…yet they forget to include responsibility.

And until now, Juan dela Cruz still anticipate for divine intermediation to resolve someday his problems. So if God has the power to help the Filipino on their difficulties, why should they trouble themselves to look for solution? As a result the Filipinos are contented in believing that God will help them if they will just pray for these evils to end. If not, then it means God was displeased. God is displeased on the Philippine government, on how the Filipinos are not worshipping Him properly, on how immoral the Filipinos became and so on. In each failure that occurs, it was God’s anger and reckoning. National crisis became a sign of divine judgment and retribution.

And what kind of solution does this mentality can accomplished? Whether we like it or not, the Philippines has a very inferior quality of education compare to its Asian neighbors. Poorly paid teachers give poor kind of education. Today, a lot of our public elementary schools are deteriorating both physically and mentally. We now have poorly equipped classrooms with children too weary to study and teachers too busy selling commodities to subsidize her low take-home pay. Well some people will say as an excuse in contrast to Japan, we Filipinos can speak the English language efficiently. But is it really something to be proud of? The Japanese employer using his crooked English tells his English-speaking Filipino employee what to do, while the Filipino nursing aid, using his fluent English, asked his Chinese employer in Hong Kong what else to do. Gosh!

It was not the Filipino’s fault to become like that. It’s not his fault that the government is entertaining more partisan politics. It’s not his fault that rice production becomes scares. It’s not his fault that a lot of people do not have a job and most international capitalist are leaving. It’s not his fault why the government doesn’t have enough money to subsidize fuel prices. Nope, it’s God’s punishment to the Filipino people for not being too “Christian”. Yet He still love our President. God bless us.

And how about science? When will Juan Dela Cruz accept the benefits of science? Here in the Philippines, the word science is mostly synonymous to a child’s nursery rhymes. No, not because we excel on it, but because majority of private schools in the Philippines are run by religious organization. Do you think they will be very happy to teach those rich kids about evolution and the advancement of science against religious superstition?

So when a typhoon or an earthquake struck it is divine will. Forget about ozone depletion and the Green-House effect. Forget about the floods cause by caiñguins and illegal loggers. Forget about CFC and pollution cause by vehicle exhaust; forget about the effect of global warming, cyanide fishing and “moro-ami”. Nope it is a sign that the Filipinos are losing faith to the Lord…Halleluiah!

Back in the 70’s, the Philippines were known as one of the best rice producing country in Asia. A lot of our Asian neighbors like Thailand and Vietnam have sent some of their best farmers and technicians here in the Philippines to learn from us new technique in rice planting and harvesting. Now we are importing rice from those nations! What happened? What scientific achievement had the Filipinos did in the last 30 years?

The Banaue Rice Terraces in the Mountain Province is now deteriorating and instead of sending technicians and archeologists, we are sending Born-Again Christian missionaries to convert the pagans to Christianity – Alas! We are witnessing with a sad adieu the disappearance of the Mountain Province’s heritage and culture.

Filipinos have been fond of saying that they have been fighting for freedom, democracy, tyranny and poverty all the time. Some are even saying that it’s time for the Filipino to tell the truth? Damn! Even the Catholic Church is saying that the Filipinos should fight for the truth. But what truth are Filipinos fighting for? Are we ready to admit that religion has never really opened our eyes so we can perceive what we have become? What is the use of liberty if we are still chained in the neck by superstition and ignorance? For centuries we are taught that the dignity of man was not his own possession. That we are judge by a deity, whose invisibility has become the excuse of conniving conmen whose only purpose, is to enriched themselves with money and power from the very hustles of the Filipino masses who allowed themselves to be used and abused. This is what is happening to the poor Filipino.

The Filipino is not ready to take the humanist’s stand. But when will he accept his self-worth? When will he makes an effort to elevate his knowledge. When will he accept the power of his own understanding? When will the Filipino start paving his destiny?

Posted in Society4 Comments

Problem of Evil

Here is another article I wrote back when I still considered myself a liberal theist. I am now practically a deist.

Here’s an African child, about three to five years old, maybe eight or nine (it’s hard to tell the age of this little girl because starvation and disease have distorted her body and disrupted her growth). Possibly born with AIDS contracted from her mother and definitely undernourished, she has a major leg defect that causes her severe difficulty walking. But she duck walks and crawls to a UN relief camp about five miles away. Somewhere halfway her frail body starts to give up. She stops crawling, kneels, and bows down to rest her weary head on the ground, probably having the last few moments of her life.

A vulture lands nearby and patiently waits behind her, drooling in anticipation of a meal. As the child breathes her last breath, the vulture’s sharp eyes notice that all movements have stopped including the rising and falling of her abdomen as her damaged lungs desperately try to grab at thin dry air.

Now to those who believe that their religion is the only way to heaven, this child has probably never been baptized, and so her soul burns in hell even as the vulture feasts on her still-warm body, starting off with her soft entrails, then moving on to other soft parts – her eyes, her mouth, her cheeks, – and then finally tearing at her emaciated muscles until all that is left are her hair and bones.

The Problem of Evil has long been pondered and discussed by many theologians and philosophers, but it is so simple that ironically it has no simple answer, a satisfactory simple answer, that is. In simple terms, the problem of evil is summarized into the following:

If God is all-powerful and all-good, why is there gratuitous or unnecessary suffering and evil in this world? Either he doesn’t want to stop it (which makes Him not all-good), or he can’t (which makes Him not all-powerful). Logically, if there is gratuitous suffering in this world, then God cannot be all-powerful and all-good at the same time. Or, as the atheists would openly conclude, God does not exist.

But the faithful offer another explanation: God has a plan that we humans simply cannot yet understand because our minds are too finite for God’s infinite wisdom. Well that’s an answer, but I doubt if everyone finds it satisfactory. Just think of the African child. All her sufferings would be useless and extremely unnecessary if her soul would eventually just burn in hell for all eternity.

I’ve always prided myself as a man who gives paramount value to logic, science, and reason. And being a Christian, the problem of evil has been an eternal bug up my theist ass. Fortunately, I also pride myself as someone who thrives in mystery, who is quite comfortable with not knowing but nevertheless continues to seek answers only to question these answers in turn. For I don’t believe that the same God who gave us intellect would demand for us to relinquish it. And so the problem of evil, though it continually hovers just above my conscious mind and occasionally manages to land and provoke my thoughts, will just be a constant shadow which will keep me on my toes as I try to shed light into it.

Yeah, I think I am getting there.

Care to share your thoughts?

innerminds.wordpress.com

Posted in Religion10 Comments

November Meetup 2

600px-Banner_of_the_Qulla_Suyu.svgSunday, November 22, 2009
1:00pm – 4:00pm
Starbucks (near cinemas) at Shangrila Mall

Meetup Agenda:

  • Ang Ladlad vs. COMELEC
  • Homophobia
  • Secularism
  • Activism

[image by Huhsunqu.]

Posted in Announcements, Meetup1 Comment

Learning from Dr. Seuss

zaxIn my first year as an atheist…well I always feel the need to debate. I don’t know…must be an ego trip or something?

That was a long time ago.

Do these debates really have some use?

In an article in a certain Freethought magazine, Prof. Richard Dawkins in an interview said something about why he rebuffs to debate Creationists. You may say that it’s spinelessness in the part of the evolutionist…Hmmmm I may even think that in my early years on atheism. But now I understand his stand.

Enter Theodore Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss. When I was a tot, I don’t have copies of Dr. Seuss books like Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham and Fox in a Sock. I only saw copies of these books in my Aunt’s house. My cousins have these books (Unfortunately, my cousin never learned anything from them – Alas! But that’s another story.) In any case, I started to understand Dr.Seuss in a later age. I thought Dr. Seuss’s stories were just nattering for little children created to sound like nursery rhymes. But inside those rhymes are gold mines of ethical issues of moral standards like tolerance, anti-discrimination and a lot more…better than what the Bible can offer.

Each story can be use to illustrate a certain aspect in one’s life. In this particular scenario, I will use the story of the Zax.

According to Dr. Seuss’s story, in the prairie of Prax resides the Zax. One is a North-going Zax and the other one is a South-going Zax. As both Zaxs walk, they soon, as expected, collide with to each other. The North-going Zax won’t budge since well…he can’t go east or west. Neither does the South-Going Zax. So they stand there at a standstill and bragging to each other that both will not move an inch for 59 years, or even if the world stand still. Well fortunately, the world didn’t stand still…only the two stubborn Zaxs.

The story illustrates a common scene between an atheist and a Christian.

I consider that believers will be as obdurate as the atheist. Both will not budge on their valued point of view. So why waste time of debate? As an atheist I only articulate the alternatives other than supernatural explanations. I will answer questions in an atheist’s opinion…but that’s it. I think that is more fruitful, compare to a volley of endless arguments.

To bicker against faith is fruitless.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong to enter on debate. But hey! Before you enter such inane squabbles, maybe it’s wiser to check the other party first. Make an effort to see if your rival will recognize your reasons. Try talking to a rock; do you think such endeavor is evocative?

Ok…not convince?

Try this as a case in point:

Christian: Everything has a cause, so God is the First Cause.
Atheist: How do you know that God is the First Cause?
Christian: Because the Bible said so in Genesis 1:1
Atheist: How do you know that the Bible is telling the truth?
Christian: Because God inspired the Bible and Jesus is the way, the truth and the light.

Now base on the example above…does it make any sense? Did the Christian clarify why God became the First Cause? If an atheist asks him why, Christians often shift the dialogue to another topic.
Yet that’s how Christian vs. atheist discussions always ends up.

Also, I notice that god believers will not recognize any explanations other what they read in the Bible and what they want to accept as true to protect their faith. I knew this man in Luneta who was too mulish to understand that a rainbow is produce when sun light passes through rain drops and as these water acts as a prism, they break the white light to bring out the colorful spectrum that creates the rainbow. No siree! He trusted what the Bible says about rainbows. He believed that the rainbow is God’s sign as a promise that he will never again obliterate humanity by a flood.

Try explaining to him the scientific cause of a rainbow and he will just laugh or worst, he’ll start name-calling. That’s because they believed that the Bible is the only source of facts…even scientific or historical data. Yet a book that says mental illnesses are cause by demonic spirits, well… anything and everything is possible. I suppose that’s why a lot of Bible-believers are too daunted with science

There is also this guy, who blows his own horn about his grasp with the Bible yet up till now doesn’t accept the definition of matter. Science defines matter as anything that occupies space and has mass. He on the other hand, describes matter as everything that occupies space and rejected the word “mass” in the definition because he wants God to be composed of matter…to make the concept of god believable. Well as they say, try putting water inside a close jar whose lid will not open and what will you achieve?

Lately I notice that Christians are now entering this site…maybe to have some discussions and debate about…the Christian belief system. I promised myself not to get occupied to this kind of futility. To personally posts comments just to engage or to answer rubbish is not worth my time.

Prof. Dawkins have said his reasons why it’s not worth anything to answer Creationists challenge. Maybe it’s also time for us freethinkers to think about what Prof. Dawkins have said. What’s new anyway? Christians are still singing the same old tune.

Posted in Personal, Stories6 Comments

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