Archive | December, 2009

Time and Life Part Four: Seamless but Marked

I was struck by two seemingly contradicting definitions of time:

a. A nonspatial continuum in which events occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future

b. An interval separating two points on this continuum

The first definition talks about a continuum, which means “a continuous extent, succession, or whole, no part of which can be distinguished from neighboring parts except by arbitrary division”, while the second mentions an interval or separator. Ah, time. Continuous but divisible, seamless but marked. Now come to think of it, we can theoretically mark time by the infinitesimal fraction of the second to end up with the continuum again. Hmmm…

I read somewhere about how change in the life of a subatomic particle or the sun hardly matters to a human, because one is too fast and the other too slow to affect him or her. Conversely, the changes in the life of a person are insignificant as far as the sun or the subatomic particle is concerned. As such, I guess change only matters if we can practically observe it.

Like the changes that happen in a year of one’s life. Certain events must have occurred that are significant enough to be noticed. If these changes turn out to be generally desirable then we can say it was a good year. If not, perhaps it’s possible to zoom out to include a wider scope and see if it was a relatively good half-decade. Or to look through the seasons and into the days. Surely there must be moments worth remembering, memories we can feed on during times when life doesn’t seem so good. After all, it’s just a matter of how we mark time.

Happy new year!

Posted in Others1 Comment

A Simple Straight to the Fact Answer Will Do.

the_power_of_prayer4I don’t know…maybe it’s a good way to escape dilemmas. We call it here in the Philippines as “pa-pogi points”. Obviously, majority of their cult followers are either dumb or stupid to figure it out. But try reading Christian apologist reactions here in the Internet and you will notice that they are not answering questions. They are just …well …it sounded more like senseless, pretentious babbles (“ngak-ngak!”) to me.

One good example can be found on how a certain Eliseo Soriano tried to answer one of atheism simple inquiry, “Why won’t God heal amputees”?

First Mr. Soriano called the question as “stupid”. Hmmmm…so since you can’t answer the question, it becomes stupid huh? But I don’t blame Mr. Soriano, it’s a common Christian apologist tactic. Norman Giesler called the Paradox of the Stone as a meaningless question.

Now let us tackle the question “Why won’t God heal amputees?”
Bible idolaters believe that a pious Christian can ask God anything. Nothing is impossible to God (if it exist). Jesus Christ is even too generous to provide us his explanation. According to Jesus, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24)
Now in this scenario, a Christian prayed hard to God to make his severe limb grow back again…something like a lizard’s tail or a crab’s claw.
Christians agree that God works in a mysterious, supernatural way. Now, when we talk about supernatural, we’re talking about events not considered to be normal…hmmmm just like a miracle. Something is said to be supernatural if it’s beyond any scientific explanation. If a person’s severe limb grows back, well…we can consider it a supernatural event.

The Bible is full of these alleged supernatural acts of God. Talking donkeys, sticks that turned into living snakes, dead people rising from the grave, iron ax head that floats on water and people walking on water… Sure sounded like things from that T.V. show The X-Files, right? Anyway, a severed arm growing back may be considered a supernatural miracle. Any person who doubts the existence of a god will sure buy the whole shebang if he will see some feat like that.

Now how many times an atheist will tell these Christian charlatans, “justifying God’s existence just by reading Bible chapter and verses will not achieved anything.” If a guy rationalize the existence of a god base on Biblical fairy-tales…well that will automatically make the reality of Spider-Man and The Batman possible. So an event such as a growing arm replacing a lost one will surely be a hit! Not only does a god proved his powers to his devouted, delusional followers but also proved his existence beyond reasonable doubt.

Bear in mind the Bible claim that 1.) Nothing is impossible to God, 2.) That faith can move mountains and 3.) Prayer works.

Yet until now, there is no such event. Even sites said to be phenomenal such as Fatima and Lourdes, there is not a single case of an amputee miraculously been restored a new leg or arm. Not even a detached finger! Even in the pages of the Bible, you will by no means find a story of an amputee growing back any lost limbs (yet dead guys walking out of the grave like zombies are too numerous). Christian evangelists and apologists would love to tell non-believers about the power of their god by telling stories of how supernaturally the Red Sea parted and how the Sun stops moving, yet you won’t find a single case of God regenerating a severed arm or leg of his favorite people. So is that such an impossible act for an all-powerful, omnipotent God?

So sorry to dissapoint you Mr. Soriano but the question is still not answered. Your long and dull explanation and biblical canting haven’t satisfies the inquiry. Oh and by the way, the question is not stupid as you have indicted. The reply needs a good explanation…and giving a very lengthy Bible apology is a very shoddy way of dodging the issue.

Posted in Others24 Comments

Eliseo Soriano’s Imaginary Argument

broelisIf you’re a Christian or to be specific, a member of Eliseo Soriano’s “Ang Dating Daan” or ADD for short, chances are you’ve already read Soriano’s triage against atheism.

Using Soriano’s blog post (The Claim That There Is No God Is An Escape From All Realities), well what can I say…maybe instead of making a rebuttal I think it would be fitting to make an article about “How not to debate an atheist” instead. Using Mr. Soriano’s article we’re going to talk about poor methods employed by amateur apologists in dealing with atheism.

If we read the entire article there really isn’t any argument presented. Most of his blather doesn’t embark upon the issue of atheism and believe me, quoting Bible verses is really a poor tactic when dealing with atheism. Remember, to face an atheist Mr. Soriano should gave us a good reason why atheism is not a rational position.

So if we remove all the useless Bible verses in the article that tell us nothing about atheism, we are left with…eh nothing to talk about.

Stalin, Pol-Pot and Hitler?
After writing nothing about atheism, Mr. Soriano then included some infamous character to enhance his so-called argument.

So may I ask, “What’s the connection?”

Ah…these people were “atheists” so they killed a lot of people. Is that it?

But Joshua and Samson also killed a lot of innocent people? In fact, if you read the Bible, God’s generals also find it irresistible to do wanton killing of women, old folks, children and even cattle and live stocks.

Those Islamic terrorists that crashed jumbo jets in buildings, they believe that a god exists. Jim Jones, Mussolini, Franco and Saddam Hussein, these people also believe in a supernatural Supreme Being as Baise Pascal quoted, “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”

But unlike Mr. Soriano, I will not say that since some theists are capable of killing, therefore all theists are killers. Guilt by association is a poor way to male a valid point.

How About Hitler?
What does Hitler got to do with atheism?

Did Mr. Soriano know that Hitler is also a believer like him?

There is no evidence whatsoever that Adolf Hitler was an atheist. In fact, on his book Mein Kemp and his speeches, Hitler always mentioned God. Not only was Hitler a Christian, but he used Christianity to justify his acts against the Jews.

Here’s an example taken from one of his speeches:

My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter.

In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice…. And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people…. When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited.-Adolf Hitler, in his
speech in Munich on 12 April 1922

[Note, “brood of vipers” appears in Matt. 3:7 & 12:34. John 2:15 depicts Jesus driving out the money changers (adders) from the temple. The word “adders” also appears in Psalms 140:3]

I hope I’ll find better arguments on Mr. Soriano’s continuation of his article, but for now, all in all, his first part was rather dull and boring. It seems Mr. Soriano is just a beginner when it come in dealing with atheism.

Remember, when a God believer face an atheist or plans to disprove atheism, the issue is not to slander the atheists but to show that not believing in a god or gods is unreasonable.

Until next time,

John the Atheist

Posted in Religion79 Comments

L2MF Post #05: On the Non-Consumption of Pork

Lechon and Ham

Lechon and Ham

Dear Dad,

The holiday season isn’t complete without food and of course, the pièce de résistance of the noche buena would be the ham. In some cases, there’s also lechon and pork barbecue, which can also be served in birthday parties, wedding receptions, and other gatherings. But wait, those tasty food items are not just cholesterol-laden but also have some taboos associated with them.

I remember back in December 2005 when we had a family reunion in Iloilo, that you, me, and grandpa  were having breakfast. I can still recall what was served on the table that morning: fried rice, fried fish, hot chocolate, and pork longganisa. When I opted not to partake of the longganisa, you made a joking remark that I should convert to Islam. I was of course not taking it seriously, yet my response was that “pigs are friends, not food” (sounds like a PETA ad). Also, if I were to convert to another religion, I would just be like a product which is moved from a box by one manufacturer to a box of the competition.

Back in my first few years in college I had a dialogue with a Muslim friend about the non-consumption of pork. Out of curiosity, I asked him why they do not eat the flesh of pigs. He told me that it is haraam (forbidden), as written in their holy book, the Qur’an. We did not have a copy of the book at that time but he explained to me that the reason why they do not consume pork is because pigs are unclean. He also gave me non-scriptural reasons for avoiding pork consumption: trichinosis, foot and mouth disease, high cholesterol, swine flu, etc. I was satisfied with his explanation and left it at that.

I have researched further on the taboos about food and stumbled upon a verse from the Qur’an which states the prohibition of pork consumption:

“He has only forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and any (food) over which the name of other than Allah has been invoked. But if one is forced by necessity, without willful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits, – then Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” — Qur’an 16:115

I have not heard about a similar prohibition taught in Mum’s religion and in the Roman Catholic church (except for the “no-meat on Fridays and on the Lent” teaching). However, I have stumbled upon a few verses in the Judeo-Christian Bible which state the prohibition of pork:

“And the pig is unclean to you, because though the horn of its foot is parted, its food does not come back. Their flesh may not be used for food, and their dead bodies may not even be touched; they are unclean to you. — Leviticus 11:7-8 (Bible in Basic English)

Now that’s a clear instruction. The spirit of that prohibition can also be read in Deuteronomy 14:8. There are also other verses that state God’s disapproval of His people’s consumption of pork:

“All day my hands have been stretched out to an uncontrolled people, who go in an evil way, after the purposes of their hearts; A people who make me angry every day, making offerings in gardens, and burning perfumes on bricks. Who are seated in the resting-places of the dead, and by night are in the secret places; who take pig’s flesh for food, and have the liquid of disgusting things in their vessels.” — Isaiah 65:2-4 (Bible in Basic English)

I fully know that Mum’s religion follows the Bible to the letter, yet they don’t have this prohibition in their fundamental doctrines (which includes the taboo in blood consumption). I am not expecting them to ban the consumption and sale of pork, rather I am expecting them to be consistent with their indoctrination materials. They proclaim to be the true followers of Jesus, yet not all of the laws are being observed. This is what Jesus has to say:

“Let there be no thought that I have come to put an end to the law or the prophets. I have not come for destruction, but to make complete. Truly I say to you, Till heaven and earth come to an end, not the smallest letter or part of a letter will in any way be taken from the law, till all things are done. Whoever then goes against the smallest of these laws, teaching men to do the same, will be named least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who keeps the laws, teaching others to keep them, will be named great in the kingdom of heaven.” — Matthew 5:17-19 (Bible in Basic English)

I have been training myself for the past five years to abstain from eating pork as much as possible. I don’t see the need to follow a particular religious dogma in order to perform such abstinence. I have personal, medical, and practical reasons for doing so. (Well, not Practical, the pig who built a brick house in Three Little Pigs.)

There are people who would still buy, sell, and consume pork, and I’m not against that. If they find that ham, lechon and other pork foodstuffs are tasty, then let them enjoy their meals. Dad, I know that you still eat pork on occasions and I’m not going to give you a lecture every time you do so.

I have to go now and tell Mum to revise her shopping list so that she would sin no more during food preparation.

(J) The Freethinking Geek

Posted in Personal, Religion6 Comments

" Jesus who?"

LaughingJesusBWMost readers may think that I am fooling around if I say that I do not really know whom this Jesus H. Christ is. In the first place, this Jesus is so popular like the Marlboro Man and the Beatles, it is quite impossible to say that you do not know who this Jesus is.

N. Geisler even wrote some chapters on his fundy book, “When Skeptics Ask” devoted to this Jesus character and even compares Jesus to other religious or philosophical people. Therefore, this Jesus person is that important huh. Talk about being Mr. Big Shot!

Most Christians that I have chat in the Internet asked me what is it like to live without Jesus Christ in my life and they always insisted that have I felt Jesus have already done something special in my life; Now here’s my answer, NOTHING, NADA, ZIP and lots of it. That statement can really piss off any Christian.

And to top it all, Christians still insist that he is a god. So how can I say something like that? Maybe Christians who are reading this might say that I’m just being unfair, bias and they will never tolerate anybody that trash talks their Savior.

Oh come on, I’m just saying facts here.

So you think Jesus is really that important huh? OK…let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about Jesus!

HERE’S THE FACTS! This Jesus fellow never really contributed much to society in general. On the whole, Jesus said little that was worthwhile. He introduced nothing new to ethics (except hell). He instituted no social programs. Being a god, he is supposed to be “omniscient,” he could have shared some useful technology or medicine to the Hebrews, yet he appeared ignorant of such things. Let’s put this statement in a more specific manner.

According to Christian legend, Jesus was born in the time when Palestine was under the rule of Rome. In those times, slavery prevails and very common. I was just wondering. What did Jesus say or did to abolished slavery? What’s worst, Jesus encouraged the beating of slaves. (Luke 12:47). He never denounced servitude, but quite the contrary, incorporated the master-slave relationship into many of his parables. Also, what did Jesus did to bring about something in the issue of International Relation. Surely, Christian says that Jesus was God, so is it impossible for a god to talk to Roman authorities and knock some senses in their heads? Well, today the United Nations is capable of putting conquering states at bay. I wonder why a god could not accomplish this feat.

Jesus did nothing to alleviate poverty. Rather than sell some expensive ointment to help the poor, Jesus wasted it on himself, saying, “Ye have the poor with you always” (Mark 14:3-7).

Does Jesus do something to champion woman emancipation, women’s right and intolerance toward other culture? No women were chosen as his apostles or invited to the Last Supper. In Mark 7:27 (“But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. “). Imagine! Jesus equated non-Jews with dogs. It looks like Jesus teaches intolerance towards other religion and culture. Now just imagine what kind of a person will instruct his followers to kill in front of him those who don’t want him to be king ( Luke 19:27). By relating this incident, Jesus is implicitly condoning executions!

Christian believers say that Jesus turn water into wine, have healed the sick and resurrected the dead. Wow! Great feats of miracles! But when did this god-man turned health contagious? Did Jesus eradicate leprosy? Scientists, which are not gods, have eradicated small pox. So what disease did this god-man have wipe out when he was on earth? What he taught to his disciples was that sickness were caused by demons possessing our body or you need God’s forgiveness to be cure of your illness instead of teaching people that diseases are cause by tiny life forms called “germs”, and proper hygiene can lessen the chances of having a disease.

Christians say that Jesus made the blind to see and the lame to walk again. Have he taught the Hebrews how to cure polio or glaucoma? Have he taught the Israelites how to cure different ailments using simple medicinal herbs? How about teaching the Hebrews of turning dirty desert water into drinkable table water or a new agricultural technology that will make fig trees bear fruits even if it’s not fig season? All I have read so far in the Gospel is that Jesus knows how to curse fig trees. Does short time miracles really the only solution this god-man knows?

Now for Christians, Jesus is the sacrifice God use to take away the sins of the world. Hmmmm.. According to Jewish belief, you need to kill an animal to serve as a burnt offering for your sins. Does this mean Jesus is as good as a sacrificial goat? Beside, after Jesus is offer as a sacrifice like a temple animal to please God wrath to humanity, still sin is around every corner. Nothing really changed that much.

Christians will tell you that Jesus was send to us so we may have everlasting life. That is why it is very important to know Jesus. Yet the same Bible said to us that, “As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more” – JOB 7:9 and “Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal….all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?” – Eccle. 3:19-21 NIV.

Now in a last ditch effort, a Christian might try to convince me about Jesus based on his moral teachings. According to Mr. Norman Geisler, Jesus moral was superior compare to Buddha, Lao Tse and Socrates. A certain person even tried to persuade me on liking this Jesus character because he claims Jesus taught us the Golden Rule. But Whoa! Wait a minute there. The Golden Rule is a universal rule and people like Confucius have already taught us that rule 3000 years before Jesus.

But does Jesus really have a superior moral standard?
1. “While he was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him; so he went in and sat at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not at first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, `Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of extortion and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also?…woe to you Pharisees! for you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God; these you ought to have done…'” (Luke 11:37-44 RSV).
Now this is an example of blatant rudeness! Imagine talking like this to someone in his house after he invited you to dine with him. Even if it were true, common decency dictated a more refined approach.

2. “So the devils besought him saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out they went into the herd of swine; and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters” (Matt. 8:31.32).
What had the owner or owners done to have their property destroyed by Jesus? What had the animals done to deserve such treatment? What happened to animal rights huh?

3. “Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. And if any man ask you, why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him. And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them. And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt?” (Luke 19:30-33).
Are we to believe this isn’t stealing? Imagine seeing an unfamiliar person driving your car away while claiming the lord needed it.

4. “Verily, I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecution, and in the world to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).
This teaching is not only immoral, but erroneous as well. Jesus is saying that the reward for giving up your wealth and following him is far greater wealth; So that means people should do right in order to obtain personal gain, not because it is the right act to do. Self-aggrandizement is not a decent basis for morality.

5. “Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees which were of Jerusalem, saying, `Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.’ But he answered and said unto them, `Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?'” (Matt. 15:1-3).
The statement “Why do ye also” is admittance by Jesus that his disciples were violating a commandment of God. He doesn’t deny they are breaking God’s law; he simply says that his critics are guilty of the same offense.

6. “then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat;…” (Matt. 25:41-42) and “when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee hencefoward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away” (Matt. 21:18-19).

Here Jesus failed to show the mercy his believers claim he has. An eternal curse resulting from disappointed hunger is hardly the reaction of a divinely merciful being equal to God. Killing a tree for lacking fruit isn’t indicative of a reasonably merciful and composed individual.

7. “the Son of man has come eating and drinking; and you say, `Behold, a glutton and a drundard…” (Luke 7:34 RSV).
If this comment is true, and there is little evidence to the contrary, Jesus’ character is, indeed, substandard.

8. “There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands…” (Mark 10:29-30).

Promising one’s followers immense riches is actually a form of bribery.

9. “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33) and “Jesus said unto him, `If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me'” (Matt. 19:21) and (Mark 10:21, Luke 3:11, 11:41, 12:35, 18:22) yet on Mark 2:15 it is said that “And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house”. Jesus has a house while telling others to surrender their wealth.

10. Jesus said, “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true” (John 5:31) and later stated, “I am one that bear witness of myself…” (John 8:18). The logical conclusion to be drawn from combining these two statements is that Jesus disproved his own honesty.

11. Jesus told us to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you” but ignored his own advice by repeatedly denouncing his opposition. Matt. 23:17 (“Ye fools and blind”), Matt. 12:34 (“O generation of vipers”), and Matt. 23:17 (“…hypocrites…ye are like unto whited sepulchers….”) These are excellent examples of hypocrisy.

12. “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). “I am come to set man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household” (Matt. 10:35-36). When one of his disciples requested time off for his father’s funeral, Jesus rebuked him by saying “Let the dead bury their dead” (Matt. 8:22). Jesus never used the word “family” and he never married or fathered children. To his own mother, he said, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” (John 2:4).

So what kind of family value does this Jesus taught us?

13. Jesus said that whoever calls somebody a “fool” shall be in danger of hell fire (Matt. 5:22), yet he called people “fools” himself (Matt. 23:17).

14. He appeared to suffer from a dictator’s “paranoia” when he said, “He that is not with me is against me” (Matt. 12:30).

And here are some more of Jesus so called “superior moral teaching”.
• Marrying a divorced woman is adultery (Matt. 5:32).
• Don’t plan for the future (Matt. 6:34)
• Don’t work to obtain food (John 6:27)
• Don’t save money (Matt. 6:19-20)
• Take the money from those who have no savings and give it to rich investors (Luke 19:23-26)
• If someone asks you for anything, give it to them without question (Matt. 5:42)
• If you lose a lawsuit, give more than the judgment (Matt. 5:40)

(Source: Biblical Errancy by Dennis McKinsey)

So when a Christian told me things about Jesus, and by comparing what history and Biblical mythology have to say about this person, I always ask the Christian back, “Jesus who?”

Posted in Religion12 Comments

Hang Him High

James_Tissot_Judas_Hangs_Himself_300The Judas story conflict exists because the fourth century editors who decided which writings should be part of the Bible didn’t worry about whether one author’s story conflicted with another.Those who wrote Matthew says that Judas hanged himself (Matthew 27:1-5 and Matthew 27:3-8), while
those who wrote Acts says that he fell and his guts spilled out (Acts 1:16-19).

Now let us see Michelle Arnold’s ( Apologistng Catholic Answers Forum:) answer to the problem.He said, “There are two possible ways to reconcile the verses: Luke’s
purpose in Acts may have been simply to report what Peter
said at a point in time when the apostles’ information on Judas’s
death may well have been sketchy. After some of the Temple priests
converted (cf. Acts 6:7), they may have given further details on
Judas’s death that were later incorporated into the Gospel accounts.”

Mr. Arnold continues, “It is also possible that after Judas hanged
himself the rope broke
and he fell onto rocks that disemboweled him postmortem. Matthew’s
emphasis then would have been Judas’s actions in taking his own
life, while Peter’s emphasis was on what happened to him after his
suicide.”

Yet other Christians concluded: No. Both accounts are true. Apparently Judas first hanged himself. Then, at some point, the rope either broke or loosened so that his body slipped from it and fell to the rocks below and burst open. (Some have suggested that Judas didn’t do a very good job of tying the noose.) Neither account alone is complete. Taken together, we have a full picture of what happened to Judas. (For similar assumptions, see: Answers to Common Questions ,Whither the Traitor? and CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS & RESEARCH MINISTRY )

Now, maybe it’s better that we use a little common sense here? It should be noted that Judas fell headlong, meaning head first. So, an explanation is needed as to why Judas’ body rotated 180 degrees upon the rope breaking. Judas could have hung himself from a tree branch that protruded over a cliff in order to all the fall sufficient distance so that his body could flip, but that seems strange, First, why hang yourself to a tree with a branch that is portruding to a cliff as it would not have contributed to the hanging unless Judas meant for the rope to break? In fact it would have made it needlessly difficult as Judas would have had to climb out onto the tree to reach the protruding branch and tie the rope on that brance.

Now, did Judas fell and hit another such as another tree branch, that caused his body to flip? This is possible, but it would make more sense for Judas to simply choose the lowest branch that he could find that was sufficiently high. A branch with a branch underneath it would have only gotten in the way.

Various assumptions can be made about the organization of Matthew and Acts in order to justify placing the hanging part of the death in Matthew and the falling part of the death in Acts. Perhaps Matthew preferred to talk things in the air whereas Acts preferred to talk about things on the ground. Such assumptions seem arbitrary and contrived unless they are vindicated by the rest of the text.

Regardless of what is assumed about the organization of Matthew and Acts Judas died only once. Either Judas died when he hung himself and then later fell, or he was still alive when he fell and died when he hit the ground. In either case either Matthew or Acts neglected to mention how Judas actually died. Appeals to the idea that the authors of Matthew and Acts each knew what the other would write and wished to not be redundant are difficult to defend in light of the amount of repeated material in the rest of the New Testament; particularly the synoptic gospels.

There are other contradictions beside those stated above:

In Matthew, Judas threw away the money to the priests before
dying, then he went to hang himself. After that, the priests bought
a field. In Acts, Judas used the money himself to buy a field.

Let me add an additional item of interest. In Matt. 27:9-10, it is asserted that the prophet Jeremy (Jeremiah) uttered a prophecy regarding Judas, but no such statement is found in the book of Jeremiah. Instead, a similar statement is found in the book of Zech. 11:12,13. So did Jesus erred?

So whether those who wrote Matthew recorded their own fiction, or Acts recorded their own fiction, we will never know.

Posted in Religion9 Comments

Sinful Perfection

Blake,-Satan,-Sin-and-Death I’ve been visiting a lot of Christian chat rooms in Yahoo. Well…just for entertainment, you see you just can’t learn anything in a Christian chat room. Majority of people there are too terrified just reading the word “atheism” while others are too threatened to discuss their belief system. But just the same, majority always shove their “god” to everybody’s throat.

This brought me to my topic today. When I was in a certain Yahoo Christian chat room, most Christians told me that I become an atheist just to excuse myself into sinning. Whoa! What? Sinning? I don’t know the basis for this accusation. Maybe Christians think that it’s a better reason than to say I become an atheist because I started “thinking”.

Anyway, with this explanation, Christians therefore conclude atheists are morally bankrupt. But what does sin got to do with the concept of right or wrong? If a person is without sin, does that mean that the person is morally upright?

The best way to answer the question is to know the meaning of the word “sin”.

According to Christian theology, sin is the transgression of the law of God (1John 3:4). So it’s very clear that we are talking about the law of the Judeo-Christian god concept. Majority of Christians agrees that Adam and Eve were the first people to sin as a direct disobedience on God’s command. Generally speaking, if Christians think that God’s commandments are equal to good, so sin means everything that is evil – a direct rebellion to God’s command. So sin is unrighteousness. This is the foundation of Christian ethics.

Now we have a connection. Sin is the transgression of God’s law and commandments. God in inherently good and all his commandments is naturally good, according to Christian belief and to transgress God’s law and commandments you are automatically unrighteous or evil.

According to the dictionary, evil means morally objectionable behavior. The last six commandments of the Decalogue (The Ten Commandments) apply here (Ex 20:12-17). To dishonor one’s parents, to kill, to commit adultery, to steal, to bear false witness and to covet are moral evils.

Now we go to the fun part. If Christians think that sin is evil because it transgresses God’s laws and commandments, and evil means morally objectionable behaviors, then Christians should show to us non-believers that all of God’s commandments and laws are intrinsically good. Sounds easy eh…Guess again.

Now let’s talk about some of God’s commandments and laws and figure it out if it’s morally good.

1. “A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord.”
Now, what morally good can you find in this commandment eh? Beside, can you consider bigotry a morally good act?

2. Ex. 22:29-30 says, “Do not hold back offerings from your granaries or your vats. You must give me the firstborn of your sons. Do the same with your cattle and your sheep. Let them stay with their mothers for 7 days, but give them to me on the 8th day.”

Are human sacrifices morally good?

3. Ezek. 9:6 says, “Slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children, and women….” and 1 Sam. 15:3 says, “…slay both man and woman, infant and suckling….”

So killing your enemies young and old, even babies are morally good?

4. Num. 31:31-40 says, “Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the Lord commanded Moses. The plunder remaining from the spoils that the soldiers took was 675,000 sheep, 72,000 cattle, 61,000 donkeys and 32,000 women who had never slept with a man…. And the half, the portion of those who had gone out to war, was….16,000 people, of which the tribute for the Lord was 32.” Women rank right up there with cattle, donkeys, and sheep. And they have to be virgins, at that! Imagine a righteous and perfect God wanting 32 virgins to be set aside for him!

5. Joshua 11:6 says, “The Lord said to Joshua,…You are to hamstring their horses and burn their chariots.”

6. Deut. 21:10-13 says, “When you go to war against your enemies and the Lord you God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife…. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife.”

7. Ex. 21:20-21 says, “If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.”

8. Ezek. 4:12 says, “Eat the food as you would a barley cake; bake it in the sight of the people, using human excrement as fuel.” Can someone explain to me the moral value of these commandments?

9. “Bid slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to be refractory, nor to pilfer, but to show entire and true fidelity, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God” (Titus 2:9).
• “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free” (Eph. 6:5-7).
• “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:18-21).
• “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence of the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Col. 3:22-24).
• “All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them. These are the things you are to teach and urge on them” (1 Tim. 6:1-2).

Why does God command how a slave (or “servant” as how other Bibles changed the word “slave”.) should act and obey his master? Isn’t it more morally good when God should teach people to abolish slavery instead?

According to Norman Geisler it is presumptuous to think that our own moral standards should judge God and tell Him what is right and wrong. God’s unchangeably just nature is the standard of justice (When Skeptics Ask p 170). But does that statement just tells us that Christian ethics is arbitrary in nature? It just says that good is good because God wills it to be good and solve nothing. Beside, according to Christians, our moral standards came from God, if so, then what is the difference between His standard and our standard. Does that mean God can rape or plunder or murder because for God these actions are not evil and only in human standard that makes rape, plunder and murder evil?

So that is what sin is all about. It has nothing to do with upright morality since God himself is not really a good god. Reading the Christian “holey book” just shows us that this god really is a defective Law Giver. Hay my papaya, and these Christians accused atheists of being morally bankrupt? Maybe these Christians should start reading the Bible to see carnal banality and moral blasphemy face to face.

Posted in Religion10 Comments

The Ten Commandments

Is it really necessary to display the Ten Commandments just outside the Philippine Supreme Court building? Are the Ten Commandments the epitome of all our morality?

Most Christians are familiar with the Ten Commandments, and even atheists like me won’t miss it. OK…if you’re not too familiar with it…

10-commandments
Exodus 20:
2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the
land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods
before me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness
of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that
is in the water under the earth:
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them,
nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity
of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them
that hate me;
6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and
keep my commandments.
7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in
vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou
labour, and do all thy work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the
LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy
daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger
that is within thy gates:
11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD
blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
12 Honour thy father and thy
mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth
thee.
13 Thou shalt not kill.
14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
15
Thou shalt not steal.
16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy
neighbour.
17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not
covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox,
nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Christians believed that the Ten Commandments remarkably display infinite wisdom and is a morally perfect code beyond criticism.
Yet the Decalogue is not a perfect moral code, nor at all superior to the religious and legislative codes of other ancient civilization. The first 5 ( Exodus 20: 2- 11) possess no moral value whatever. It is obvious that they are simply religious emanations from obsolete priestcraft. The last 5 ( Exodus 20:12-17 ) bears the same relation to natural morality.

Exodus 20:5 – 7 is a strange commandment that claiming to be coming from an “all-good” and “all-powerful” God. It is worthy to note why an “all-powerful” being will be “jealous”. Also, this make the Hindu god Brahma more sensible when He (Brahma) said, “Those who worship other gods worship me because I hear them, and correct their mistakes.”

Exodus 20:12 Now that’s a good commandment, but I have never learned that long-live persons have been more dutiful to parents than others.

Exodus 20:13 Yet the so-called “holy people” were killing all the time, in His own commands! Thus, violating this commandment.

Exodus 20:17 Here, a wife is treated as a mere property – same as a servant, an ox or a donkey.

The Bible is, for the most part, a crude literature of people who lived long ago and it emits the dissipated deeds and opinions of self-profess priests and prophets. Looking at the Ten Commandments, I may say that finer principles of morality are neglected.

Posted in Religion32 Comments

Humility: Reason vs. Faith

I often hear religious people say that freethinkers are proud people, leaning on their own human understanding. The faithful claim to be humble, acknowledging our limited wisdom and thereby surrendering mind and will to the Almighty, the Supreme Being of the universe.

At first it seems they have a point, but if we look closely we’ll see that it’s actually the other way around. While theists may appear humble before their God, they are actually quite contemptuous towards people who do not share their beliefs. I could not explain it better than a commenter named Pecier Carpena Decierdo:

Reason is humble, faith is not. Reason is open to the possibility that its claims are wrong, faith is not. Faith is cock-sure and certain, scientific reason is not. Faith makes claims to super-human knowledge, scientific reason does not.

The only knowledge human brains can contain is human knowledge, that is, limited knowledge. Because all we have are human brains with limited human knowledge, we cannot claim to be certain about everything. Yet faith, that archenemy of reason, makes people believe that they can be certain about things they actually know nothing about.

I just watched a one-hour video on how the universe could have literally come out of nothing by accident, negating the necessary first cause or creator. The speaker remarked that this shows just how insignificant we really are. And it is a humbling thought indeed.

Which leads us to ponder, what then, is the purpose of our existence if we came out of nothing by pure chance? I guess my answer will be that the purpose of our existence is to find a purpose for our existence. Existence precedes essence, and if we indeed came out of nothingness because of pure luck instead of being created by a deity, then I guess that would be the greatest and most generous and most humbling miracle of all. And since we are lucky enough to exist at a point in time and space where conditions are suitable for life, it is wise to open our eyes to the world around and not waste our finite days haughtily holding on to some eternal “truth” that demands suspending our reason. Surely we have better things to do here.

innerminds.wordpress.com

Posted in Religion, Science281 Comments

A Universe From Nothing

A Universe From Nothing

19-dark_matterI remember talking to innerminds during the first FF Davao Meet-up, and he was explaining his stance of being a Deist. He said something along the lines of: if the Big Bang is the beginning of the Universe, all the matter still had to come from somewhere, and he refers to the source as the Creator. He said a lot more than that, of course, which I will no longer elaborate so I won’t misrepresent him further. But in reply, I recommended that he watch one of the videos from Atheists Alliance International 2009 Conference, where a physicist talked about Cosmology and particularly interesting was his discussion about the net Energy of the Universe. Here’s Dr. Lawrence Krauss and his talk entitled “A Universe From Nothing”.

Btw, the rest of the AAI 2009 Conference talks are available in this youtube playlist.

Posted in Science17 Comments

L2MF Post #04: Happy Holidays!

Dear Dad,

Happy Holidays!

In this letter, I will take a break from reading the Bible and from discussing a particular doctrine from organized religion, and be a nice Recovering Christian. As you know, this is the Christmas season and this is the “most wonderful time of the year.”

Friends and relatives have greeted me “Merry Christmas” since last week. Well, I see nothing wrong about that. You know that I had exposure to both Roman Catholicism (which celebrates Christmas) and to Mum’s “Non-Trinitarian, Restorationist Christian religion” (which does not celebrate Christmas). In return for their cheerful greeting, I say, “Happy Holidays.”

You may ask, why not say “Merry Christmas”? Well, “Happy Holidays” sounds neutral and is much more inclusive. You know that not everyone in this country is a Roman Catholic. There are other Christian groups who celebrate the holiday, while there are those who don’t. I have atheist, agnostic and humanist friends who also celebrate the holiday.

On another note, I say “Happy Holidays” because it not only covers Christmas Day (Dec. 25) but also Yule/Winter Solstice (Dec. 21), Rizal Day (Dec. 30), and New Year’s Day (Jan. 01).

(J) The Freethinking Geek

I wish you all a peaceful, prosperous, and a well-connected holiday season.

Posted in Personal, Society1 Comment

The True True Meaning of Christmas

800px-Saturn_during_EquinoxI was supposed to deliver a reflection at the Unitarian Universalist meeting tonight, but I had to cancel at the last minute. I was asked to send a short piece that would be read at the service instead. Here it is:

***

I have always loved Christmas. When I was a kid, this was like a bonus birthday, a time when I could ask for another expensive gift. When I was a teen, Simbang Gabi gave me an excuse to go out past curfew with friends and, of course, see a lot of pretty girls, especially in prestigious churches like those in Alabang. And even when I lost belief in the Christ, who Christians assert to be the reason for the season, I never lost my love for the holidays. This is because I know, and have always known, the true meaning of Christmas.

But it is not the same meaning preached by the bishops and priests. I read of a bishop who wrote an article about how Christmas is supposed to be about worship, not courtship. Nor is it supposed to be about commercialism or consumerism or anything material. Even your loved ones — your friends, your family, your special someone — have to take a backseat to the true event which allegedly inspired the celebrated day. After all, they argue, can there be Christmas without Christ?

Yes, there can. And for centuries before it was even called “Christmas,” there has. It was called Saturnalia. It was one of the most popular Roman festivals. But if it was so popular, how come only a few know about it today?

We have the Church to thank for this. They wanted to compete with the pagans celebrating Saturnalia, so they invented a celebration of their own to coincide with it. This is how Christ’s birthday was born. This is interesting for two reasons. First, they had to make an exception for Jesus — it was considered pagan to celebrate birthdays at that time. Second, they didn’t even know when Jesus was born (they still don’t). Eventually, after centuries of conditioning — not to mention the Crusades and Inquisition — Christmas came to replace Saturnalia as the default December celebration.

So for the early Catholic Church, Christmas meant competing with the pagans. But what did it mean for the pagans who invented it?

Saturnalia was introduced to raise the spirits of soldiers and citizens after a bad beating in battle. Students took a break from school, people gave and got presents, everyone had good food and drinks and the celebration that went with it. Everyone — even the slaves. Many described it as the best of days. And although the festival still involved rituals offered to Saturn (the god of sowing), it was clear to everyone why it was a wonderful time.

And this, I believe is the true reason for the season. A lot of bad things may happen in a year, but at the end of it, you get a chance to celebrate life by giving and receving, eating and drinking, and most importantly sharing the experience with people, in this world — right here, right now. The bishops and priests want to make it about an event that happened thousands of years ago — it might not have happened at all. And they want to make it about receiving rewards in a place that’s worlds away from this — a world that might not exist at all.

But by trying to distract us from this world they are merely trying to be consistent with what they have done before. They have stolen the holidays from the pagans, and they want to keep it that way.

Yet people always remember the true meaning of Christmas — of Saturnalia — no matter how much they know about its history. They may attend the Misa de Gallo or pray before Noche Buena, but they instinctively know why they are happy. It may have taken me years to realize this, but I’ve never needed the Savior myths or the Sunday masses to enjoy Christmas. All I needed was to exchange greetings and presents, or even just share a meal or a drink, with people — even just a person — that I truly love.

Posted in Religion23 Comments

FF Davao Meet-up

Twelve freethinkers plus the one holding the camera. Not bad for a first meet-up.

This is Harley’s P90 burger. That patty is almost 2 inches thick, made of pure lean beef, flame-broiled of course. They have a great homemade hot sauce and a nice mustard.

More beer please…

Introductions and journeys…

More food…this is Lydon’s baked scallops:

That is Sam at the center, the owner of Harley Blvd. Motor Cafe.

And Sam was kind enough to let our banner stay on his wall…

What can I say? It was awesome guys. Can’t wait for the next one.

Posted in Announcements, Meetup, Others, Pictures, Stories20 Comments

Eradicate Poverty? Correct the Victim Mindset First

***Something I wrote a long, long time ago.  Just wanted to share this, considering that we’re in the “season of giving” nowadays.

dsc02736

Should I feel guilty because I bought and consumed this drink, which is worth P150, when I could have just given a part of that amount to the poor kid asking for alms on the street? Should I feel guilty that I have the time to spare to drink such expensive drinks when those who’re not so fortunate, have to work to the bone to find something to eat?

I think ads for charity are all too good eliciting that guilt feelings from us, so that we would donate to their foundations or fund-raising events. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with giving to the needy, but if we’re going to eradicate poverty, we should begin with eradicating the mentality of dependence.

And for such a reason, I prefer to give alms to street kids who’re selling flowers, or candies, buying their merchandise and giving an extra tip if they’re courteous than to those who beat at the car window asking for some coins. I prefer that those who’re asking for loans from me to do something reasonable for me in exchange of the money instead. That’s why I don’t want to write out a medical certificate letting an employee have a sick leave more than what should be so that he could have more pay for less work.

As a matter of fact, I’ve never believed in equal distribution of wealth. I find it a devolution of our value of giving rewards based on merit, shifting to a value of giving rewards based on need. I think what we should be propagating is a mindset that one should not get more because he needs more or that he has less than others, but rather, he will get what is due to him because of what work he had done.

But what about the poor? How can they get out of poverty if we will not help? I think in this part, we would all be better off we’re to concentrate on generating more jobs that are parallel to one’s available skills and how one is willing to work to achieve something, instead of using up resources for short-term solutions.

I remembered two guys I had as patients for preemployment medical evaluation. Both of them did not pass the first medical evaluation because of hypertension. The company who wanted to hire them requires that they first have a stable BP before being employed. I informed them about this and the two had different reactions. Patient A was mad that he isn’t qualified for employment. At first, he asked me to write him a favorable medical record so that the company will hire him at the soonest possible time. When I said I will not do that and suggested that he first undergo the treatment regimen that I will give him, he got angrier, did not even bother to listen to the treatment regimen, and told me how he could undergo such treatment if he doesn’t have a salary, that if perhaps I should give him the treatment free for 2 weeks, he might just be able to do it. He even said that perhaps I might be wrong with my diagnosis because BP readings taken by someone who has a stall at the mall reports that his BP is normal. I got frustrated by this but I still remained firm that he has to undergo treatment. He did not come back to the clinic, saying he’ll look for another clinic who’ll make him pass a medical exam.

Patient B showed disappointment at first that he wouldn’t be hired soon. But when I explained to him what he needs to do (lifestyle modifications, medical treatment), he willingly accepted, and listened patiently to what I instructed him to do.I monitored his BP for 2 1/2 weeks, after which the monitoring record showed a stabilization of BP at acceptable level enough for the company to hire him. I haven’t heard from Patient A again.

For me, people who’re like Patient B, who’re willing to do what is necessary to accomplish his goals are those worth helping out. He did not demand for that job simply because he is jobless, but rather, he did what is needed to get that job. Both Patient A and B have the skills, but it’s the attitude that spelled the difference.

And I hope most people would be more like Patient B. These are the people who will not demand things just because they have less, but rather, will work to make themselves worthy of what it is that they ask. This is the kind of attitude that all of us should have and it is the attitude that will get us out of being one of the impoverished nations in the world.

Posted in Personal53 Comments

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