Archive | July, 2010

Give the Gift of Life

Want to help save someone’s life without any pain on your part, cost, or even an ounce of effort? Just by signing your name and ticking a box may allow another human being a new lease on life thanks to your decision. Too good to be true? Not so. Interested to learn more? then read on…

Every year, thousands of people die from the lack of suitable organ replacements. The under-supply has even led to more unsavory, underground practices in the black-market trade for organs. A few years ago, there was an expose on a ring of human organ harvesters operating in third world countries preying on those desperate enough to sell a kidney while still alive. But such is the unfortunate result of sheer desperation. When it comes to survival, people may be driven to desperate deeds.

My father couldn’t have kidney transplant and had to endure the painful hemo-dialysis treatments until the day he died. Every other day, he had to endure having a thick needles being inserted into his fore-arm. These needles are many times thicker than a regular hypodermic needle for the volume of blood needed to circulate in and out a dialysis machine. This is the almost daily torture being endured by many patients suffering from kidney failure throughout the country. Many other families share the same problems or worse. Though some organs may be obtained through a living donor, most others like a heart may only be obtained from a deceased donor.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Common sense tells us that there are more people dying every day with a few good organs intact than there are patients who actually need organ transplants. Its a simple numbers game. After those people die, those viable organs are no longer of any use to the owner but they are just left to decompose instead of being donated to a needy patient in need of a lifeline. Such is the cruel irony of wasted potential. Who would appreciate your gift more? a needy patient… or worms? Unless you’re into the practice of ancient Egyptian burial rites and prefer to have your internal organs all nicely pickled in their own little canopic jars awaiting physical rebirth, then there is nothing stopping you from making the right choice.

When you die, you no longer need your body parts so if there is a worthwhile cause that may benefit from it, why hesitate? And who better to understand this fact than people who have no superstitious baggage about needing their bodies intact for some magical resurrection in the future. And you have no worries about your “immortal soul” feeling some sort of pain feedback when your physical body is “desecrated” (in any case, your body will be quite literally violated anyway during the embalming process. Having watched the entire procedure done to the body of a loved one, I can tell you in all honesty that no matter how respectful the morticians do it, it is still not a “gentle” process having to work through the rather cumbersome rigor mortis.). And that is why I whole-heartedly implore atheists, skeptics, freethinkers and everyone else everywhere to participate in the local organ donation program. So stop watching horror movies like “The Eye” or worse…. “Repo! the Genetic Opera” that’ll give you the heebie-jeebies about organ transplants and start signing up!

Now here’s the tricky part – you can’t tell people that it’s OK to donate your body to a worthwhile cause after you’re dead. Ghostly apparitions and “messages from beyond” aside, you have to let people know ahead of time that its OK with you… while you’re still alive. I know its an awkward conversation to discuss with your family but think of the life you’re possibly saving. That’s why Operation HOPE (Human Organ Preservation Effort), an advocacy campaign launch by the National Kidney Institute is helping raise awareness to the general public. Hopefully, this will encourage people to talk about it and lessen the social taboos regarding conversation about death.

Without your family knowing that you support the program, chances are, when the times comes, your family would be in too much grief or would be hesitant to give away parts of their loved one’s body without specific permission from you, the original owner. You make a last-will-and-testament to tell people what you want them to do with the possessions you’ve left behind, but what about your most intimate possession… your own body? This is where the Organ Donation Card comes in…

We already have the RA 7170, the Organ Donation Act of 199l that formalizes one’s intent to donate one’s organs via an organ donor card. So how does this work?

  1. You talk to your immediate family (or the people who can act as your legal guardian during emergencies) about it and even encourage them to participate as well. You will need witnesses to confirm your intent to join the program. These are the people who will inform the doctors that you are an organ donor when the time comes.
  2. If you have a driver’s license, don’t forget to check the organ donation tick-box at the back. If not, you can get an organ donation card, sign your name and two other witnesses, preferably immediate family members. Indicate which parts you wish to donate or you can opt to donate everything. (Unfortunately, there is no check-box for opting to donate your schlong. So no matter how proud you are of yours and are hoping to give some poor schmuck some measure of joy by being the proud owner of a penile implant, tough luck there is no demand for dong donations…yet :))
  3. In the absence of a national organ donation registry (which hopefully they will establish in the future), carry this card in your wallet or in any place easily accessible.

It’s that simple. Just prepare the card and don’t give it any more thought. After you pass away, your death may yet give the gift of life to someone else. In a way, it’s a win-win situation. Just like an expectant mother who takes better care of her body because two lives are depending on it, think of it as an additional incentive to live healthier because your body may outlast even you 🙂

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For more information, visit these links:

Want to find out who else are proud supporters of Operation HOPE? Chances are, your favorite celebrities are already one of them:  Why are all these stars asking you to carry this card?

FAQ’s on Operation Hope:

The National Kidney Institute’s Operation Hope website

Want to help save a life while you’re still alive? Consider donating blood too.

Posted in Society5 Comments

Church and Contraceptives: Stripping off the Rationalizations

Pope Paul VI wrote Humanae Vitae "On the Regulation of Birth" in 1968

A few days ago the CBCP issued a statement exhorting the proposed bills on sex education and reproductive health, saying that “the foundation of the moral society is a central religious truth” and that “to disregard moral and religious truths…is to be defenseless to the onslaught of corruption.”

At first I thought about refuting those claims by challenging the following:

  1. the credibility of the CBCP as guardian of morality considering the scandals within the clergy’s own ranks
  2. the unspoken assumption that the pope from whom the church gets its dogma is a true recipient and infallible interpreter of divine revelation
  3. the unspoken assumption that their particular brand of deity/Lawgiver exists

But then I realized that others have already done that so I moved on to another part of the CBCP statement and found the following assertions:

a. The failures (sic) rates of contraceptives against sexually transmitted diseases are high.

b. Oral contraceptive pills are classified as Group I carcinogenic, i.e., “there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity.”

c. With its very liberal sex education programs and its aggressive attitude in pushing contraceptives and condoms for safe sex, the United States still has the highest teen birth rate, 93.0 per 1000, and one of the highest rates of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) among teens in the industrialized world.

Again I considered countering these assertions or at least putting them into proper perspective but I figured that my fellow freethinkers could do a better job and so I started a thread in the FF forum and I am very greatful for their insights.

The debate on contraception has become convoluted with all these talks of morality, STDs, and poverty that we’ve digressed from the real issue: More than 40 years ago a pope wrote in an encyclical deemed infallible that ‎”an act of mutual love which impairs the capacity to transmit life which God the Creator, through specific laws, has built into it, frustrates His design which constitutes the norm of marriage, and contradicts the will of the Author of life. Hence to use this divine gift while depriving it, even if only partially, of its meaning and purpose, is equally repugnant to the nature of man and of woman, and is consequently in opposition to the plan of God and His holy will.”

Now unless someone comes up with a sophisticated interpretation, I guess the bottom line here is that sex must be kept open for procreation. Lest we muddle the issue with arguments on contraceptive pills that have an abortifacient effect no matter how improbable, let us narrow it down by using condoms as a concrete example, particularly the use of condoms between married couples versus natural family planning. Since the CBCP condemns the former but approves the latter, one is compelled to ask if it isn’t against Humanae Vitae to have sex during the wife’s infertile period considering they are using this “divine gift while depriving it…of its meaning and purpose”. I couldn’t have said it better than fellow freethinker Igme:

What is the difference between ejaculating sperm in latex and ejaculating it in a uterus in its monthly off switch? The intent is the same!

In both cases, the intent is to enjoy the divine gift of sex while depriving it of its procreational purpose. Again, it would be interesting to hear those elaborate arguments that would tell me I’m interpreting Humanae Vitae literally (and incorrectly), because it seems that those statements about condoms being ineffective in preventing the spread of STDs and contraceptives promoting immorality are all just rationalizations to protect the claim that a pope is infallible once he speaks ex-cathedra, which was the case when he wrote the encyclical.

Once we strip off these rationalizations, the real issue becomes clear. Condoms vs. rhythm. Both make sex possible while denying God’s procreational design. So why ban the former but not the latter? I think the answer on condoms is simple: it’s forbidden in Humanae Vitae. However, I’m not so sure why the Church allows rhythm, but I hope my assumption is wrong that they’re simply concerned they might start losing followers once they took away too much of a married couple’s carnal pleasures.

Posted in Religion58 Comments

FF Top Ten: July 25, 2010

Hello, and welcome to another segment of the Filipino Freethinkers’ weekly news updates! It has been a very busy week on the net, compounded by a mix of some truly interesting, and truly depressing news.

The tech geeks among you will probably have heard of the prototype touch pad that has been unveiled in India recently. At just $35 dollars, it’s definitely going to be a serious competitor for the likes of the iPad. Its inventors explained that the device was intended to be used for the education market, so if Dick Gordon’s still serious about using the Kindle for classrooms, you might want to give him a ring.

In other good news, we also have historian Ambeth Ocampo’s ongoing series of talks over at the Ayala Museum. The second talk just concluded this Saturday, but you can still catch up for his August and September lectures.

There’s also the matter of Phil Plait’s upcoming show on Discovery Channel, Bad Universe. I have no details yet, but based on the trailer that was recently taken down by youtube (Booo!), it will cover some of the more prominent theories on how the universe can destroy earth (killer asteroids, alien invasions, etc.) Doubly awesome is that the format will use copious amounts of Mythbusters-style explosions.

As for the bad news, Desmond Tutu has recently announced his plans for retirement. I’m not a very big fan of religion, as many of you know, but I have come to respect Tutu for his progressive thinking and tolerance. It saddens me that he is stepping down at a time when the religious community need people like him the most.

There was also the matter of the three near-simultaneous earthquakes that recently rocked Southern Philippines, and the passing of pinoy comedian Redford White. In any case, just click on the links below for more details, and be sure to visit the News Thread at the forums for further updates.

Oh yeah, and before I forget: Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty is launching this July 27.

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Friendly Atheist interviews Burn-a-Koran-Day founder (via The Friendly Atheist) Link

Desmond Tutu announces retirement (via The Daily Beast) Link

How to Convert an Atheist (via Greta Christina’s blog) Link

Three intensity 7 earthquakes rock Philippines, Moleman wanted for questioning (via The Hindu Business Line) Link

WBC trolls San Diego Comi-Con. Where’s your Batman now? (via Comics Alliance) Link

India’s $35 iPad contender (via BBC) Link

New Discovery Channel show: Bad Universe (via Discover Magazine) Link

How Sexism Hurts Men (via The Blowfish Blog) Part 1 Link, Part 2 Link

Ambeth Ocampo does Ayala (via The Philippine Star) Link

R.I.P., Redford White (via Yahoo News) Link

Posted in Others1 Comment

Reverse Revelations

Reverse Revelations

I’ve been cleaning out my old notebooks, cutting out used pages, and sorting out which ones were good enough to still be used again. In the process, I came across my Christian Living Education notebook from grade school, in which I found the following failures of education written in my handwriting:

Q: Why can one who rarely talks have a longer life?
A: He/she doesn’t get into much trouble or problems because he/she does not comment/gossip too much.

There’s some truth in this, but we aren’t taught to value the quality of life. All we’re taught to seek is a long life, however devoid of integrity or meaning. This kind of education creates sheep who bleat, not people who speak.

Q: What lesson may be learned from this story?
A: That whatever pain we may experience in doing it, we must obey God.

Uhh.. just plain NO. To quote Penn Jillette:

“If god told you to kill your child and you said yes, then you are dangerous and stay away from me.”

Q: Why should we listen to the advice of our parents?
A: They have gone through many experiences so they know what I should do.

This too has some truth in it, and I’m lucky enough to have parents who are quite exceptional at raising children. But this should not apply to parents who have tendencies to neglect and/or abuse their children. Bantay Bata is there for a reason, and if children are discouraged from using it when the need arises, then we have a problem.

Q: What other values does wisdom beget?
A: Sincerity, obedience, acceptance, and responsibility.

I would say yes, no, kind of, and yes.

Wisdom begets autonomy, not obedience. Sadly, disobedience is generally frowned upon in our society, even when the reasons for it are legitimate. You don’t really need obedience if both your requests for cooperation and the people you are addressing are sensible. If you can’t motivate people, that’s your problem, not theirs. You have to learn how to make them motivated and making something illegal is hardly ever the best solution.

Acceptance is tricky. You first have to know what things are inside and outside of your control. As Epictetus once taught, suffering arises from trying to control what is uncontrollable, or from neglecting what is within our power.

Lesson 4: God loves me because…

1. he created me in his own image & likeness.
2. I love him.
3. I am one of his children.
4. I respect him.
5. he can trust me.
6. he loves all of his creations.
7. I am the crowning glory of his creation.
8. he is merciful.

This is just an epic fail on so many levels.

1) So God is a narcissist. What. A. Prick.
2) So God’s love is conditional (and, as I would see it, pretty shallow).
3) Uhh.. what isn’t?
4) Same as #2. Actually, this whole exercise just seems to emphasize this point, doesn’t it? XD
5) Once upon a time, perhaps. Now, I don’t think so. XD
6) If by “love” you mean allow to suffer needlessly despite one’s omnipotence, sure, why not?
7) I find this statement to be fairly accurate. Good job.
8.) If by “merciful” you mean genocidal, sure.

I am a Claretian

1. I am a lover of God’s Word (Biblical)
2. I am a lover of The Holy Eucharist
3. I am a lover of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Wow. If only I had known about No True Scotsman back then. I am a Claretian because I happened to pay for education at Claret. Period. I don’t think anything else follows from there. As for the three items:

1) Ahh, God’s word. Funny how it’s always people writing and talking, right?
2) Mmm.. cannibalism.
3) Joseph may have gotten sloppy seconds thanks to the Holy Spirit, but if every previous Claretian happens to be a lover of the Blessed Virgin Mary, then FUCK ME!

TL;DR – We need more secular education. Don’t pray in my school and I won’t think in your church.

Posted in Personal, Religion0 Comments

L2MF Post #06: How to Establish a Religious Corporation

Dear Dad,

It’s been a while since I last wrote a letter. I have been busy for the past five months. The good thing about it is that I have found a job that gave me the opportunity to learn and to earn a living. In the second half of 2009, I was without what you would call a regular job. It was a time when I had to gain more knowledge, to hone my skills, and to gain perspective. The job market was not in a good condition and I was feeling desperate, even depressed.

One fine Sunday morning, while I was attending church, it occurred to me, “Even in a bad economy, these churches still thrive. They offer hope to people who feel that there’s no hope in sight and that only God can help them.” I also recalled that when I was in the United States, I saw at least two churches in every town that I passed through during my road trips. “Hmm… What worked for fast food restaurants, coffee shops and supermarkets also worked for churches. Those churches must have had a lot of property and tax-free earnings.”, I thought. As I was churning a lot of ideas in my mind, I had an “Aha!” moment. “If I can’t find a job, I might as well establish a business… *cough, cough* No, a church. Then, I’ll journey to the West and propagate the bu.. *cough, cough* gospel and gain ca… *cough,cough* converts.” I then did some research on how some Christian churches and denominations were founded. After hours of research, I found out that it is possible to establish a church by forming a religious corporation.

I have come up with a how-to guide for establishing a religious corporation. The procedures may vary depending on the would-be entre… *cough, cough* executive minister.

  1. Have some prior knowledge. In order to establish a church, you must first have a foundation, a body of knowledge to work with. You can gain this knowledge by joining other religions. Learn about their doctrines or dogmas. Read the Bible and other holy texts. You may have to doubt and jump ship from time to time in your quest for the true church.
  2. Do an intensive study of the Bible. This is best done in isolation. Have a pen, a notebook or two, and at least two different versions of the Bible. The more versions, the better, for you might need to refer to more than one interpretation in the future. Read and understand the book/s from cover to cover, for that will give you an edge over your would-be rivals.
  3. Look for Biblical prophecies that coincide with the events of the time (e.g. wars and rumors of wars, natural disasters, widespread poverty, advancement of knowledge). Reading Isaiah, the four Gospels, and the Book of Revelation would be a good start. This step will help your church appear to be based on the Bible.
  4. Go out and preach. Over the course of a few days, you may have gained divine inspiration and you are certain that God has commissioned you to preach the gospel. Start preaching to a small audience, say, to your family, friends and community. Organize a small religious meeting. Make sure that what you preach has a strong Biblical foundation so that you can win converts. You may also train some of your converts to become ministers in your fledgling church.
  5. Register the church as a corporation sole. In order to avoid problems in the future, have the church registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a corporation sole, with you as the chief bishop, pastor, executive minister, rabbi or any other designation as a presiding church elder. (NOTE: In the Title XIII, Chapter II of the Corporation Code of the Philippines, a religious corporation is classified as a special corporation.) The registration should coincide with a historic event, something that would change the world (e.g. The Great War). Once you are in the SEC, conduct yourself with firmness of purpose. The officer who is in charge of your case may ask you if you are certain about your course of action. Respond with a steely conviction, knowing that you are doing God’s work.
  6. Strengthen and expand the church. Since you are doing God’s work here on Earth, you will have to edify the faith of your followers and fellow church workers. You will certainly encounter detractors, critics, skeptics, you name it. View the religious persecution as an opportunity to unite the flock. Tell your disciples that this is part of being in the church chosen by God, that they are sharing the same hardships that Jesus Christ had experienced. Keep on doing the work that God has assigned to you. You may have to travel to town after town, establishing congregation after congregation so that church membership will increase.
  7. Expand further. Once you have established congregations and built houses of worship in towns and cities, you may have to tap your pioneer spirit and journey beyond your native land. Don’t be afraid to establish the church in other lands, for it is God’s will that the gospel may be heard by more people worldwide. Preaching to expatriates would be a good start.
  8. Attract attention. Your church has grown and is still expanding. It’s about time that you become known. Don’t fight the critics and detractors, but rather use them for your purposes. The tree that bears a lot of fruit is a good target for stone throwers. Always occupy the moral high ground and lead a decent way of life. Let the people see your church members as different from the rest of society. Maintain unity in the church so that it would become a force to reckon with. Let everyone see the church as someone to be courted, especially when the elections are near.
  9. Use all available media. The 21st century is a great time to propagate the church, thanks to developments in information and communications technology (ICT). Use print media, radio, television, and even the Internet to spread the gospel.
  10. Do what other corporations do. There are corporations that not only do well in their core businesses but also go to other avenues of growth. You may establish schools, hospitals, media companies, and other ventures. Your flock is also a good source of human capital. Discourage church members from joining labor unions, for big name tycoons would prefer to hire them over union workers. Another thing that your religious corporation can do is to have corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. Extend help to communities affected by calamities. Conduct medical and dental missions, community cleanups, and other worthy projects. Your church may also participate in environmental programs such as the Earth Hour. (Yes Dad, it’s good to be green these days.)

This how-to guide is a product of months of research and observation. It was conceived during a time when I did not have a regular job. Now that I am back on track in my career, I may not be able to use this guide. Maybe in the future, someone will find this guide useful.

On a final note, I am not of the religious kind, for my spirituality is personal, meditative and nondenominational. If I would be a member of a religious corporation, I don’t want to be an executive minister or a Sunday school president. I would rather become the Chairman of the Bored.

(J) The Freethinking Geek

Posted in Personal, Religion8 Comments

The Most Advanced Ancient Book of All Time?

According to Christians…the Bible is advance…advance in what????

Let’s look at their claims:

“It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in…” (Isaiah 40:22)

And again…

(Amos 9:6) “The One who builds His upper chambers in the heavens And has founded His vaulted dome over the earth, He who calls for the waters of the sea And pours them out on the face of the earth, The LORD is His name.” (NASB)

Now is the Earth a dome?

In Isaiah 40:22 for example, the word “circle” doesn’t mean a spherical Earth. The word “chug” refers to a circle…a flat circle. Notice the word “tent” or “dome” in those verses. As specified in Amos 9:6, this vaulted dome or “raki’a” (See: Genesis 1:6-8) is what the ancient Hebrew believe to cover the entire world. It is said that this solid vault or dome held the Sun, the moon and the stars (Gen.1:14-19; Psalms 19:4, 6) and it also provided the boundaries to the divine (Job 22:14 and Proverbs 8:27)

It also separated the water “above” from the water “below”. In fact according to these ancient Hebrews the blue color of the sky was attributed to the chaotic waters above the dome. This solid dome has windows and trap doors in which it release the rain and snow when opened (Gen. 7:11, Isa. 24: 18 and Mal. 3:10)

According to rabbinic traditions, in Nachmanides Commentary on Torah (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman 1194-1270) “Let the expanses become fixed; for although the heavens were created on the first day, they were still in fluid form, and they become solidified only on the second day when the Divine said “Yehee Raqiyaa.” (Also see: Nachmanides (Raban), Commentary on the Torah, vol. 1, pp. 33, 36.)

This is clearly not scientific foreknowledge.

Now here’s something real funny.

According from a certain site owned by a certain Eliseo Soriano…the Bible have the forknowledge regarding the use of crying. Now can that only be found in the pages of the Bible? My papaya naman! It is ancient folk wisdom that crying is good for our health. It isn’t new. Practitioner’s of folk wisdom have routinely encouraged people to allow themselves to cry comforting the suffering soul that ‘ a good cry will help you feel better’.

For example:
The ancient Hawaiians assert there are two chemical reactions within the human body that can accomplish Reconnection with Source Oneness. The first is the “sacred tear” beneath our sadness and hopelessness. Beneath that tear lies the second chemical reaction, said to be more powerful than all the healing agents known to humankind. It comes “out of the blue” with the power of a jackhammer, shattering the seriousness of the entire human estate. A power instantly freeing and balancing to all the body’s chemistry. This is the power of laughter. When it comes in this manner, it comes through the “na’au” (gut level) and will pierce the hopelessness of any situation or attitude. It is not a power to be taken lightly, for the ancient Hawaiians say it holds the chemistry of immortality and will instantly heal any terminal disease. It’s said to be the “laughter of God” which shatters the ridiculousness of hopelessness.

Let’s talk about history:

One of the best weapons used by Christians to confirm the Bible story is Hezekiah’s Tunnel. According to them the discovery of the tunnel built by King Hezekiah authenticates the passages written in the book of Kings. 2 Kings 20:20 states that Hezekiah, “Made the Pool and the conduit and brought water into the city” and in 2 Chronicles 32:30 that he closed the upper outlet of the waters of Gihon and directed them down to the West side of the City of David. This refers to the tunnel which connects the ‘Spring of Gihon’, through the rock to the reservoir called the Pool of Siloam.

“And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made a pool, and a conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?” 2 Kings 20:20

“And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem, He took counsel with his princes and his mighty men to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city: and they did help him. So there was gathered much people together, who stopped all the fountains, and the brook that ran through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water?” 2 Chronicles 32:2-4

“This same Hezekiah also stopped the upper watercourse of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all his works.” 2 Chronicles 32:30

It was discovered in 1838 when it was explored by the American traveller, Edward Robinson, and his missionary friend Eli Smith.

Let me get this straight, just because something was discovered by archeologists means the whole Bible is literally true. Let me share to you this quote:

In summary, the Bible is not a book of history, yet it contains history and culture, which is more or less borne out by archeology. It’s a book of teachings, and it’s the ideal way to learn the patterns of history. And if we understand that the reason why we’re learning history is to learn lessons, then we have to pay extra special attention to what is going on in the Bible.

Christians are well delighted when archeological proof confirms parts of their beliefs. However, since parts of the Bible are historically true still does not make that the rest of the Bible is true as well. The Bible is still not an accurate history book. It tells about some stories about people and events that might happen in the past and were confirmed by archeologists, but still, the fact of the matter, the Bible should not be in use as historical actuality and that the stories in the Bible are NOT metaphors from which facts can be dig out by the reader.

So let us talk about the tunnel, According to Bible scholars, the book of Kings and Chronicles was written possibly between 450 and 435 BCE. There are even some suggestions that these books were written hundred of years after the events took place (See: I Chronicles 9:1-3). The said tunnel was already been constructed before 701 BCE during the reign of Hezekiah. That means the tunnel already existed when both books were being wrote. Obviously the story was already known by the writers and they just incorporated it on their narratives.

I can think of a lot of historical facts that were incorporated in fiction. For example Cold Mountain by Fraszier is historically accurate as to the civil war events but the tale is fiction. There are others like Les Miserables, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Noli Me Tagere and Floeante and Laura. The settings are true facts but don’t tell me that Crisostomo Ibarra and Maria Clara are real persons.

Pinoy Atheist

Posted in Religion, Science30 Comments

The Bible in a Skeptic’s Eye (Part 2)

In our continuing series, we will now look on the development of the New Testament Cannon.

According to most Bible scholars we have a better idea on how the New Testament took shape. Edgar Johnson Goodspeed (1871-1962) theorized that the surviving Pauline letters were first collected after the publication of the Books of Acts, about 95 CE and the Epistle of the Ephesians was compiled as an encyclical or “covering letter” to head this collection, being paraphrased from several of the authentic letter. This theory was widely accepted among New Testament scholars.

Basing on this theory, the original nucleus of the New Testament was the epistle of Paul, to which was added the “catholic” epistles written by James, Peter, John and Jude and the Pastoral Epistle, a supplement to the Pauline collection dating from 100 -105 CE. The Gospel was added later…they were gathered together into a “four fold evangel” about 150 CE. The whole New Testament was known as the Evangelion (Evangel) and the Apostolos (Apostle).

The first generation of the Church fathers such as Ignatius (35-107), Papias (60-130) and Justin (100-165) were more concern with the Old Testament compare to the New Testament. In fact, a definitive list of the canonical book for the New Testament came from a heretic named Marcion (d. 160).

Marcion, a shipping magnate in the Black Sea port of Sinope, traveled to Rome in about 139CE. He taught that many of the Christian literature were corrupted by Jewish ideas and that the Jewish God of the Old Testament was strict and had condemned all humanity. According to Marcion, Jesus Christ who was absolutely unrelated to the Jewish God will released Christians from this god’s clutches.

Marcion compiled only the letters of Paul (Galatians, I and ii Corithians, I and ii Thessalonians, Colossians, Philemon and Philippians) and a “purified” version of Luke’s gospel. If it’s not for Marcion, the Christian Church never would have possessed a “New Testament”.
By 95CE, there are still evidence of apocryptic books being included in the New Testament. The Codex Sinaiticus includes the book Shepherd of Hermas and the Gospel of Barnabas. The Codex Alexandrinus contains the Epistle of Clement, which was said to be written by Clement, Bishop of Rome to the Corinthian church.

The Muratorian Fragment, discovered in Milan by L.A.Muratori and was published in 1740 – was said to be written in 200CE and have rejected most of the apocryptic book, yet it also rejected I and ii Peter, Hebrews, James and iii John. It also included the Apocalypse of Peter, a book that tells the story of how Peter was granted a vision of heaven and hell.

According to Papias (c 60-130) Bishop of Hierapolis, Mark got his information from Peter himself. Papias also said that the authority of the gospel of Matthew and Mark was base on a certain John the Presbyter.

Clement of Alexandria (150-215 CE) said that the earliest gospels were those with Jesus’ family tree.

Irenaeus (c.130-200) Bishop of Lyons, gave the first historically documented list of the four gospels and its authors in 180CE. In all the many available gospels in that time, he chooses only 4 which according to him, “As there are four winds, there should be four Gospel.”

Irenaeus believed that Matthew published his gospel among the Hebrews in their own tongue, when Peter and Paul were preaching the Gospel in Rome and founding the church there. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, himself handed down to us in writing the substance of Peter’s preaching. Luke, the follower of Paul, set down in the book the gospel preached by his teacher. Then John, the disciple of the Lord, who learned on his breast himself, produced his gospel when he was living in Ephesus in Asia.

Irenaeus was also the first to give a chronological sequence of the writing of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. He also drew up a list of writing he considered as canonical. His list consist of 22 books which includes The Shepherd of Hermans but he left out Philemon, ii Peter, ii and iii of John, Hebrews, Jude and Revelations.

But even with Irenaeus’ list, Origen (185-254) who in 230 CE defined what he believed to be the cannon of the scripture for the New Testament included the four Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, Paul’s 13 Epistles, I Peter, I John and Revelation. He also stated that the first gospel was written in Hebrew by Matthew.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) stated that Mark copied and abbreviated Matthew.

The truth in this matter is that Mark is the first Gospel, with Matthew and Luke borrowing passages both from that Gospel and from at least one other common source, lost to history, termed by scholars ‘Q’ (from German: Quelle, meaning “source”).

In the Festal Letter of Athanasius (c. 296-373) Bishop of Alexandria to the Egyptian Churches in 367 he said that there are only 27 books considered as canonical. Athanasius list was confirmed by a council under Pope Damasus.

Pope Damasus (304-384 CE) proclaimed the list of the canonical books in the New Testament which was identical to the modern Bible we have now in 374 CE. Over a period of time, at the Council of Laodicea (363) the bishop agreed to the list and his cannon was later been approved by the Council of Rome in 383 and was reconfirmed at the Council of Carthage in 393, 397, and 419 CE.

However, some churches disagreed. The Book of Revelation for example, was not considered divinely inspired until the 8th century. In the Codex Claromontanus, a 6th century manuscript, the Book of Hebrews was omitted while the Epistle of Barnabas was included and placed between the Epistle of Jude and the Book of Revelation.

Even today, some Christian church, with very old roots, has different set of New Testament books. The East-Syrian Nestoriam Church has cannon of only 22 books. The Ethiopian Church has 38 books which includes the Shepherd or Hermas, i and ii Clement and the Apostolic Constitution.

Posted in Religion1 Comment

The Bible in a Skeptic’s Eye (Part 1)

How can a document, tampered with by kings, tyrants, fools and scholars be the “true” and “inspired” word of God?

According to Christians, the Bible is the inspired word of God and for some it is even inerrant. However, looking at its history, we find that the book has been repeatedly revised and re-written.

Today, in this series, we are going to explore the history of this book.

We begin with the Old Testament.
There are no “autograph’s of the Old Testament that survived. The text we now possessed was transmitted to us by generation of scribes and there are ample evidence of how these scribes both wittingly and unwittingly altered the documents they were copying. There is no reason to suppose that the documents in our Old Testament, at least in the period before they regarded as sacrosanct, did not suffer from the usual type of scribal corruption.

The Old Testament was written during the course of more than one millennium, approximately in the period of 1200-100 BCE. Nine volumes from Genesis to Kings were written in 561 BCE in the time of the Jewish captivity and were edited about 400 BCE. The first five books were separated and canonized to become the written Torah, the four remaining were canonized (with an additional two) two centuries later.

In the development of Israel’s history, the Tanack gradually took form and reached completion in the late Persian period. The first move toward canonization can be seen in Deuteronomy. The Deuteronomist stated that their law was completed and that nothing can be added or removed (Deut. 4:2; 12:32) and that God made the law binding on all generation (Duet. 27:4-8). Scholars suggested that the Book of Deuteronomy was formed in the late 7th century BCE, a product of the religious reforms carried out under king Josiah, with later additions from the period after the fall of Judah to the Babylonian empire in 586 BCE.

The Book of the Law was found in the temple of Jerusalem and was ratified as a divine law of the land (2Kings 23:3)…well that was according to legend. M. L. de Wette suggested that King Josiah had Deuteronomy created as a type of “pious fraud” to further his agenda of religious reform. In that time, the study of the Law eventually becomes more vital than offering and sacrifices. Yahweh, the god introduced by the Jahwist writers (The Jahwist, also referred to as the Jehovist, Yahwist, or simply as J, is one of the four major sources of the Torah postulated by the Documentary Hypothesis (DH). It is the oldest source, whose narratives make up half of Genesis and the first half of Exodus, plus fragments of Numbers) becomes the creator of heaven and earth and the only god in existence.

The second step toward canonization was recorded in the Ezra tradition. During the festival, Ezra read publicly from “the Book of the Law” and instructed the people in the law (Neh. 7:73; 8:18).

The contents of the prophetic cannon appeared to be established between the forth and second centuries in two general groupings: The former Prophets and the Latter Prophets. The Former Prophets were recognized as a Deuteronomic history (Joshua, Judges, i-ii Samuel). The Book of Kings (1 and 2Kings) was written in 600 BCE.

The Hagiographa or Writings are an amorphous literary collection with an obscure history. The Psalms were attributed with King David. The wisdom writings were attributed primarily to Solomon.

The earliest mention of the collection of the Hagiographa were found in the prologue to Ben Sira’s word that he called “other books of our fathers”.

Until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, most of our OT documents and actual manuscript evidence for the text of the OT was relatively late.

The Cairo Genizah for example was dated within the 7th and 6th century CE but some so-called “earliest” fragments were dated to the 9th and 10th century.

The Cambridge Codex XIII, a complete Old Testament was made in early as the middle of the 9th century. The Cairo Karaite manuscript of the Prophets may be of the late 9th century.

The3 Aleppo Sephardic Codex was dated in the early 10th century. The Pentateuch Codex (4445) that is now housed in the British Museum is also of the 10th century. The St. Petersberg Prophet Codex is dated 916 CE and the six manuscripts in the Firkowitsch collection at Leningrad belong to the 10th century. The Codex Urbinus 2, now in Vatican, which contains the whole Old Testament, is also dated to the 10th century. The famous Codex L from Old Cairo was dated 1008.

The earliest printed Hebrew scripture were just portions and was also printed in the late 15th century. Example, the Psalms at Bologna in 1477, the Pentateuch at Bologna in 1482, the Megilloth also in Bologna in 1482 and the Pentateuch in Faro in 1487.

The first complete Hebrew Bible to be printed was issued at Soncino in 1488, the second was on naples in 1492 to 1493 and the third at Brescia in 1492. The first great Rabbinic Bible was printed by Daniel Bomberg at Venice in 1516 to 1517. The text was prepared by Felix Pratensis. The second Rabbinic Bible was compiled by Jacob ben Hayyim, a Masorah, in 1524-1525 at Venice. Paul Kahle edited the text of the 3rd edition of Kittel’s Biblia Hebraica (Stuttgarst 1937) and used a purer Ben Asher text base on the Leninggrad manuscript.

Posted in Religion2 Comments

Nouthanasis: The Eternal Now

Nouthanasis: The Eternal Now

the birth of Another, the apathy of Otherness —

this altercation of the unconscious Self,

born of the irrational Yet:

the vague paradigm of Nothingness

 

as it unfolds, this phenomenon of alterity

embodied subjectivity of the ephemereal Doom

utterances coalesce with infinity;

impending Dread : anxious metanoia of Becoming

 

the All revolves, in this orbit of anamnesis

poignant reverie of what Was, and yet to Be

this-being-I, caught in the transitional flux ; between act and potency

the dynamic interpolation of mind and will; pervading Absence

 

— ,God; ? (It not is if what not is Be if what not is become of yet! )

 

I elude this context of  preconceptual knowing;

this frailty that succumbs to the Appearance

the unified multiplicity of understanding the Cogent:

derivatives of a preexistent Nous: language

 

and, as horizons, concrescence of reaching the Beyond

dissolution in the complexity of the Cogent, the face of its pull

all understanding converges in the evolution of mind

ideas converge in the Becoming;

 

but, not shall it Be for Yet it not is, what is yet not to Be

is not Shall, in the Be of the end and all of what is Yet —

to cry in the miscontextual co-promise; this Belonging

a failure of the messianic, redemptive fulfilment of what is bound to Become,

 

but is not Yet, 

— as faith dies, only to be reborn in the ashes of reason.

Posted in Personal, Poetry, Politics, Religion, Science, Society3 Comments

Another ADD Atheist Bashing…Grow up.

Amateur (or should I say “immature) and defenders of certain Christian cults have a peculiar way of confronting the issues posted by atheists. Instead of proving atheism as an irrational position, they cater more on emotions and rely mostly on insults. Maybe they think that by doing those things atheism will just go away.

After their “sugo” posted two articles to confront his problems toward atheism, which failed miserably to prove his points, it’s the members (suckers) time to salvage what their “sugo” have failed to accomplish.

Meet josepherdon, a typical guy who fits the profile of a fanatic. To save his “sugo” for further embarrassment, he created a “blog” to discredit Filipino freethinkers and non-believers.

It’s quite obvious.The intellects talk about ideas while dull minds castigate people, which remind me of Philippine celebrity gossips in sleazy tabloids. Anyway, since this dullard is a master of abusive, profane and obscene slanders, it also reflects his state of mind.

I wasn’t planning to give any critique to this dolt’s article (that’s why it took a year or so before I’ve answered his rants), but as they say, “Evil triumphs when good men do nothing”.

Excuse me my dear readers if I didn’t gave any link to his blog. You see, I don’t intend to give him some free exchange link.

I understand this pathetic jerk for making his accusations and insults. Remember, he wanted desperately to please his cult master. Charles “Tex” Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Larry Layton have already done the same and look what it resulted so far.

You won’t really learn anything on something that was written from sheer hate. That’s a fact! So I am certain that I will not find even a morsel of enlightenment in his posts. But at least I’m offering the blogging world my free service by personally correcting some of josepherdon’s deliberate misinformation.

Ignorance in the Meaning of Religion

Atheism is a religion. Atheism requires faith. Atheism also requires a strong conviction.

Atheists deny that Atheism is a religion but it is clearly being displayed by Atheists in different Religious forums that Atheism is indeed their religion.

So he still define atheism as a religion. That’s means josepherdon still doesn’t even understand what religion means. Religion is suppose to be the “ultimate concern on our life”. Now, atheism is not a religion since it’s not saying anything that is ultimate regarding concerns on someone’s life. The rule is quite simple; atheism is about not believing in a supernatural being which people calls god or gods.

Let us continue…

Ignorance in the Meaning of “Faith”.

Most of the Atheists believes that their existence was not based on Creation. They strongly opposed it.Christians have faith. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)

Faith to things hoped for and the things that not seen.

Atheists also have faith. Atheists also believe in things that are not seen. Atheists also believe in things that are not yet scientifically proven.

Aw….I’m too tired of explaining faith in my blog. Now let see…if I don’t believe in Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy, is that faith @ Mr. Joseph Perdon. Go figure it out…or maybe too much heavy metal rock music banging or squeeky anime on your brains eh?

Please naman po, tutal 30 years old na po kayo, eh pakilawakan po ng konti ang pang-unawa mo po.

I have this inkling that josepherdon doesn’t have any science background in his studies. Whether he made it on college or not – well, it seems he was not really been exposed to a lot of science subject, especially in biology and physics ( o baka naman natutulog sa library).

Now here’s some samples:

Ignorance in the Theory of Evolution

Missing Links in Theory of Evolution.
These links are yet to be found.No Scientific evidences of their existence.They believe that the link exists out there, it’s just they cannot find them.They treats Theory of Evolution as their doctrine of faithin spite of growing number of scientists are abandoning the theory.

Also considering the great minds of the science communityDID NOT even believed that the humanity came from apes. Sadly, Atheists are taking the Theory of Evolution really seriously.
What missing link? Evolutionist now adays are not looking to any “missing links”. My gulay naman @ Mr. Perdon, you’re so 1880’s hahaha!

Maybe you’re talking about transitional fossils? The term “missing link” po eh ginagamit ng mga taong naniniwala sa tinatawag na the great chain of being, a pre-evolutionary concept now abandoned. Transitional fossils are the fossils of transitional forms of life representing an evolutionary bridge between two recognized groups and I’m proud to say that the discoveries of these trasitional fossils have just proved Darwin’s theory is correct.

We now have hundreds or thousand transitional fossils available. Mr. Joseph Perdon, year 2010 na po tayo. There are many example of transitional fossils and all you have to do is to search the Internet (Remember, Google is your friend. Maybe you should use it to do some worth while research instead of looking for heavy metal bands and Japanese anime.).

Now you won’t find “great minds” saying that humans came from apes @ josepherdon. Ganito po yan, apes and humans comes from a common ancestor. Evolution doesn’t say that monkeys became human. It just say that homonids, simians and prosimians came from a common lineage. Great minds already knows the process and it seems that idea that monkeys or ape became humans only came from you and your “sugo’s” mind…which I don’t think to be great.

Now it’s your turn. maybe you can show as an evidence that human came from Adam and Eve for a change @ Mr. Joseph Perdon AKA josepherdon.

Ignorance in Cosmology

Missing Matter and Energy in Big Bang Theory.

There are still a lot of questions in the Big Bang Theory that needs to be answered.But still, Atheists believe them and holds the theory as true. A lot of things in the Big Bang Theory still needs scientific evidences. Like the mystery of the Dark Matter and Dark Energy.

“Every textbook in the planet earth,says that the universe is made out of atoms and sub-atomic particles.Well, all those textbooks are wrong”–theoretical physicist, Michio Kaku
Quote mining eh? OK let see…Dr. Michio Kaku is an American theoretical physicist specializing in string field theory. Do you know what is string field theory? String Field theory…wait…I thought you don’t believe in scientific theories? If you don’t believe in scientific theories they why are you quoting a theoretical physicist? Are you contradicting yourself @ Mr. Perdon? Nasa Bible ba ang String field theory?

Anyway, if you have some idea on what quantum physics is…well you will understand what the String Field Theory is all about. It is like this…it says that the most smallest thing in the universe (quarks, atoms, etc) and the vastness of the very large universe is connected like a string in a musical instrument. That’s String Field Theory in a nutshell for you @ josepherdon. Naiintidihan mo ba? Obviously you can’t understand what I’m talking about.

You know why?

Because you can’t even tell the difference between Big Bang and Dark Matter.

Combined, Dark Matter and Dark Energy make up 96% of the universe.(That’s a VERY BIG percentage for something you don’t have a scientific evidence)The problem is, Atheists have faith about these things.(96% of the Universe [r.e.bigbang theory] is not proven scientifically)

Science has do not directly proven the existence of Dark Matter.They are still guessing about what the Dark Matter and Dark Energy really are.

By the way, they say that the Dark Matter is an invisible matter. Yes, believing Big Bang Theory requires faith.Faith about those unanswered questions and mysteries about the universe(e.g. Dark Energy and Dark Matter)
Are you talking about the candy bar or the sitcom that was created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady?

So what does Dark Matter has to do with the Big Bang? For your information, dark matter is the large invisible matter that composed most of the universe. The term “dark matter” was coined by Fritz Zwicky who discovered evidence for missing mass in galaxies in the 1930s.

Dark Matter is matter that is inferred to exist from gravitational effects on visible matter and background radiation, but is undetectable by emitted or scattered electromagnetic radiation and it is more important on the issue concerning state-of-the-art modeling of structure formation and galaxy evolution, and has measurable effects on the anisotropies observed in the cosmic microwave background.

So where’s the issue concerning the Big Bang?

Like The Theory of Evolution,Growing number of Scientists already abandoned the Big Bang theory just like the well-known scientists that believe that there is a God. If the scientific evidences about Big Bang Theory and Theory Of Evolution are really that great, How come that there are scientists have religion and believes in God? These Atheists are just hiding in the surface of science books which actually Scientists have already given up reading.

Like who? Can you please name names @ josepherdon.
Let see…according to the studies conducted by sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund, 38 persent of natural scientist doesn’t believe in God. In Edward J. Larson and Larry Witham studies they discovered that disbelief in God and immortality among NAS biological scientists was 65.2% and 69.0%, respectively, and among NAS physical scientists it was 79.0% and 76.3%. Most of the rest were agnostics on both issues, with few believers. (See: Victor Stenger’s excellent Has Science Found God? for more details)

Being an Atheist does not make you more intelligent than others

Ah so that’s his problem…Atheists appear more intelligent than him and his “sugo”. So that’s why he’s bitching in the World Wide Web.

Mr. Joseph Perdon. It’s not that atheist like me is more intelligent…nope. We just use our “coconut” more that you used yours. Remember, your mind is like a parachute, it is more useful when it is open.

Hmmmmm…I think josepherdon still has a lot to say…

I have talked, discuss and even debated with some self-centered Atheistang Pinoy and believe me, papansin lang sila. Tinatawag din nila ang mga sarili nila na THINKING PINOYS. As if, naman na sila lang ang nagiisip. They are just people wanting to be different from others. Oo nga naman, karamihan ng mga pinoy ay may religion at naniniwala sa Dios, kapag hindi ka nga naman naniwala sa Dios, instant attention nga naman yun. Pa-kontra-bida effect, pa-others, parang EMO, or talagang Pinoy EMO na nga talaga sila. At kapag naiipit na sila sa mga dahilan nila in denying GOD, they will demand respect. Ay teka,teka, magpapatawa pala muna sila, tapos aasarin ka. Kapag na-realize nilang hindi ka mabilis maasar or bumabalik na sa kanila yung mga pang-aasar nila, tsaka sila hihingi ng respeto sa paniniwala. Kung kakausapin mo sila ng masinsinan at napansin nilang may point ka, they will simply walk away at sasabihin nonsense makipag-usap sayo. “I am more intelligent than you”. Feeling of superiority from others. Pride.Yes, may pride nga ang mga Pinoy EMOs este Pinoy Atheists.

You see, after nilang ipagmalaki ang paniniwala nila, pagkatuwaan ang mga naniniwala sa Dios at naiipit na sila sa takbo ng utak nila, tsaka sila hihingi ng respeto. Believe me, iyan po ang pattern ng usapan ng mga Christians at Atheistang Pinoy. Kahit mapa-saan man yang forum, Friendster or else, they will try to impress you first with their different way of thinking, carabao-english and then asking for respect of their beliefs. Emong-emo di ba

Kakaunti lang naman ang mga Pinoy Atheists, este Freethinkers pala, este Pinoy EMOs pala.Kukunti lang silang naniniwala masyado sa sarili nila eh.Tinanong ko dati yung mga nakausap ko,Willing ba kayong ituro sa mga anak ninyo ang paniniwalang Atheista?Anong klaseng values ang ituturo ninyo sa mga anak ninyo?Willing ba kayong i-share sa mga kabataan at ilayo sa Dios ang mga kabataan?Anong klaseng sosyodad ang handa ninyong i-offer sa mga kababayan ninyo?Sosyodad na hindi naniniwala sa Dios?

Wala ka namang kabutihang mapapala sa pagiging atheista eh. Takbo ng buhay mo wala. Baka nga mayaman ka, baka nga may maganda kang trabaho pero after that wala na. Ang pagtulong sa kapwa tao ng mga atheista is pakitang tao lang, plastic. Bakit? Kung wala ngang Dios, ano ngayon ang difference ng paggawa ng mabuti sa paggawa ng masama? Kung mamamatay kang isang atheista na magnanakaw, pumapatay ng tao, o rapist, may difference ba?
Kung mamamatay kang isang atheista na feeling proud sa sarili?There’s no difference, walang LIFE AFTER DEATH eh.Logic lang naman ang kailangan eh, which is sad to say na wala ang mga atheista.

With the slow rise of Scientology wannabes, Atheists are endangered species.Actually, habang kumakaunti sila, lalong lalaki ulo ng mga yan. Feeling elite.Pa-others lang talaga. Feeling important. Feeling genio.The Big Bang Theory + Theory of Evolution = Existence of Atheists

So in the following statement that was written in the tagalog language (maybe because josepherdon ran out of English words…) he just started spilling his own viscera. Hmmmm….sa makatuwid eh sinuka na nya ang talagang sinisintir nya (He just vomited out his issues).

It’s quite obvious (base on his seethe) that he was crushed on a debate. We can perceive that on his writings. Now what happened here is that when this guy ran out of arguments, he started spewing venom.

He had this feeling (which really bothers him) that atheists are more superior in knowledge, ideas and arguments than his “sugo” and himself. Naturally the guy was hurt and he’s just licking his would like a dog and well…sour-graping.

Mr. Joseph Perdon AKA josepherdon, here’s my advice to you. If you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen. If you don’t have any logical arguments against atheism, then don’t debate. Also don’t dwell too much on fantasies. Please let us at least have a little honesty in our part – you never even tried facing us for a debate, so how can you defeat us? Seriously, you never posted any comment in the Filipino Freethinker Website and forum; you never posted any comment on my blog and even on my shout box. You don’t have any posts on the Pinoy Atheist Group in Friendster, Multiply and Facebook. Are you a phony just like your “sugo”?

Come on…give us the real deal here.

And what do the EMO and the Scientologist have to do with your beatings @ josepherdon? Bakit, wag mo naming sabihin sa akin na natalo ka ng EMO at ng isang scientologist sa debate?

Life after death? Philanthropy? My goodness is this a special pleading? Mr. Joseph Perdon, even without “dios” humans can still be good. Look at me; I can still do good things even if I don’t expect any life after death in heaven. Kaya mo ba yan o baka naman kaya ka gumagawa ng mabuti eh para mapunta ka sa langit?

Look, I know of a story of a man who believes in a “dios” and his followers claims he is a walking Bible encyclopedia yet still manage to raped a guy. Think about it.

Now we non-believers don’t believe in brainwashing and “indoctrination”. We don’t teach something, but strongly encouraged not to question or critically examine what you’ve been taught.

Diba you have indoctrination in your cult…este coordination centers pala @ josepherdon?

Ew….How repulsive…parang may sapilitang ipinapasok sa ulo mo. Only cults do that @ josepherdon.

In the issue of respect…well respect is earned @ josepherdon and it seems you and your “sugo” still have to work harder to attain it.

Oh and another thing, atheism is different with Scientology…wait a minute…don’t tell me you don’t know what Scientology is? Man…(lol)…Scientology is a religion that was created by L. Ron Hubbard that teaches people are immortal spiritual beings who have forgotten their true nature. Maybe you think that Scientology are people that worshipped science…hahahaha! Gosh, your lack of knowledge disturbs me. Mr. Joseph Perdon, John Travolta and Tom Cruise don’t worship science.

So instead of bitching here in the Internet and exposing your dirty underwear, why not work on your arguments and start focusing in reality. I would love to invite you on one of our meet-ups if you want. You could be one of our “special guess”.

Also, before you engage a debate with any member of the Filipino Freethinker or an atheist like me, please review the following subjects: Philosophy (especially logic), science, religion and in your case English Grammar. Review your subject-verb agreement.

And please: THINK FIRST BEFORE YOU WRITE!

Ay my papaya…as they say, to an ignoramus nothing is impossible.

Ciao!

Posted in Humor, Religion, Science, Stories26 Comments

The Christian Freethinker

I mentioned in one of my comments that a “Christian freethinker” is an oxymoron, or loosely a “contradiction in terms”. I realize I should not have made such sweeping statement that might antagonize some liberal or progressive Christians. I am sorry.

Wikipedia defines freethought as “a philosophical viewpoint that holds that opinions should be formed on the basis of science, logic, and reason, and should not be influenced by authority, tradition, or any dogma.” A freethinker is therefore someone who practices freethought.

On the other hand, a Christian, in the broadest sense, is one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ. By this definition, Christianity seems to be incompatible with freethought because the former relies on the “divinely-inspired” authority of religious doctrines to learn about the supposed teachings of Jesus while the latter repudiates such doctrines due to hearsay and circular reasoning, hence my use of the term ‘oxymoron’ to describe “Christian freethinker”.

But upon deeper reflection, I am beginning to believe that there are actually many Christian freethinkers (note the lack of quotes this time) out there. In fact, I used to be one. But it has a lot to do with the timing. Freethought holds that beliefs should be based on reason instead of authority, but most Christians had already acquired their sacred beliefs long before they were capable of rational thought, and so while they would now think critically when presented with new issues or claims, I guess they simply didn’t get the chance to evaluate the quality of the cognitive process by which they originally formed their religious beliefs way back in childhood.

In my personal experience, it was relatively late in life when I encountered cogent arguments against the tenets of my faith. For a long time I merely skirted the Problem of Evil, taking comfort in the belief that God has a purpose for everything, a grand plan that is just beyond our human understanding. My faith was even strengthened after reading Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time because it somehow seemed to imply the necessity of a Creator, offering “scientific support” for my belief. (I felt uneasy at the part where Hawking suggested how the four-dimensional space-time could be finite but with no boundaries – like the two-dimensional surface of the earth – so the universe could have no beginning nor end but simply be, negating the need for a creator. I was later relieved when he said that such wave-function scenario could only happen in imaginary time, and in real time in which we exist, there will always be boundaries.)

At this point, was I what you would call a freethinker? A lot of people would probably say no because I wasn’t a critical thinker. According to The Critical Thinking Community, critical thinking is “the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.” And based on that definition, I surely was not a critical thinker.

But critical thinking is not the same as freethinking. While freethought values science, reason and logic, critical thinking is more concerned with how scientific is the evidence, how rational is the argument, and how logical is the conclusion:

It is believed by some philosophers (notably A.C. Grayling) that a good rationale must be independent of emotions, personal feelings or any kind of instincts. Any process of evaluation or analysis, that may be called rational, is expected to be highly objective, logical and “mechanical”. If these minimum requirements are not satisfied i.e. if a person has been, even slightly, influenced by personal emotions, feelings, instincts or culturally specific, moral codes and norms, then the analysis may be termed irrational, due to the injection of subjective bias.

It is quite evident from modern cognitive science and neuroscience, studying the role of emotion in mental function (including topics ranging from flashes of scientific insight to making future plans), that no human has ever satisfied this criterion, except perhaps a person with no effective feelings, for example an individual with a massively damaged Amygdala.

Freethought is the general process; critical thinking is the quality control. As such, I personally believe that it is actually possible for a Christian to be a freethinker as long as he honestly tries to be rational, regardless of the quality of his rationality.

But once he is presented with a compelling argument against the basis of his faith, he will have to choose between Christianity and freethought. He will either have to remain blind and stubborn – or start reexamining his beliefs. And in my case, it was this image that changed everything:

Once I realized that this “Word of God” is actually just hearsay and might as well be stories concocted by fallible humans with their own personal interests in mind, it was almost immediately that I stopped considering myself a Christian.

To the Christian freethinkers (again, note the lack of quotes), I know it isn’t easy to question one’s faith especially if one believes that questioning will jeopardize one’s immortal soul. But ask yourselves, who are you questioning -God, or just the self-proclaimed human messengers? Once you realize it’s the latter, I bet you wouldn’t think twice about applying critical thinking to every belief you hold sacred. And then you could honestly say that you are, as you always have been, a freethinker, regardless of your beliefs.

Posted in Religion24 Comments

Just My Remarks on Pastor Orlaer’s Comments (Part 3)

We are now on Part 3 of my comments and I’m now going to tackle some of Pastor Vince’s issues using the Christian Bible.

Suffering (A Question on Job’s Theodicy)

There was this site that Pastor Vince recommended that we Freethinkers should read regarding why good people suffer.

After reading it, I noticed that it is quite typical for Christians to use the Book of Job to explain this theological dilemma. The Book of Job seems to be a good case in point why God allows good people to suffer…or does it?

Unfortunately to Pastor Vince and Bro. Tom, the Book of Job fell short in accomplishing such task.

In the first chapter of the said book, we find that Satan has tempted God in an issue regarding Job and his faith. Well…well…well…I thought God cannot be tempted? Now, in the first part of the test, God killed Job’s family…that I think is Test No. 1.

I thought God was omniscient? God perfectly and eternally knows all things which can be known, past, present, and future. So why did he need to give a test to Job? Surely he did not need to test Job’s faith because He already knew the entire outcome.

Why would God kill the herdsmen, the shepherds, the camel care-takers and Jobs’ sons and daughters? What did they do to deserve being killed? Job was the subject of the test, wasn’t he? These other people had their own lives and families.

Christians will quickly answer this by saying that since God gave us life, he has the right to take it back from us. Really? Is that a moral thing to do? If I gave someone something…like a gift, or blood…could I just demand to take it back? Are Christians telling me that God is such an “Indian giver”…there’s always a string attached to his gifts?

What is shocking on the Book of Job is that the whole story is really not about Job’s fidelity. Nope…the so-called test was not about Job nor his faith; it’s about a conversation between God and Satan. God was just proving to Satan that he was right, so he allowed Satan to inflict harm to Job and his family. Good grief!

Somewhere in the middle of the story, Job was allowed to see God and to ask the reason for his suffering. But instead of giving a clear answer, what this braggart (that Pastor Vince called “God”) did was to boast his inflated ego all over the pages of the book…Wow! Talk about a bigheaded son of a bitch!

So why would I worship such a jerk?

According to Bro. Tom, people suffer because of these five reasons: Adam’s sin, other people’s sin, our own sin, satanic oppression, and God’s chastening hand.

Ok…

Now why am I being punished for Adam’s sin? After all he and his wife were the ones who ate the “apple”, not me. (Note Deuteronomy 24:16 says: The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.)

Why would God harm others for the sin of someone else? Why would God send famine and pestilence to kill innocent children to punish other people?

Why would God send storms or flood to some impoverished community in Bangladesh to punish a sinner living in a large penthouse in Beverly Hills, California?

Oh, and now we must blame Satan? Based on Job’s story Satan needed to get God’s approval first before he could make any damage, right? So why blame the “Yes Man”? It was God’s call, not Satan’s.

So just like these pastors, theologians and parishioners, both Pastor Vince and Bro. Tom are still struggling to find the answer to their own question and by using the Book of Job, the issue on “why do good people suffer” became more problematic than ever.

Who’s Right?

Pastor Vince: Yes, the Bible will be contradicting itself my friend espcially if the one interpreting the Scriptures interprets it all literally and as is without understanding the Bible itself.

I will not explain more of the Bible since it will be a one BIG GIANT topic to discuss. But I can assure you that most if not all of the passages quoted by the article you cited are simply a bunch of misinterpretations.

Who’s making a bunch of misinterpretations?

Ah…the self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit, eh?

Pastor Vince, if I will put you in a police lineup, together with the Roman Catholics, the Mormons, the ADD, the INC and the Pentecostals, all of you guys will claim that you are “right” and everybody else is wrong. All of you are claiming certain knowledge on theological or biblical hermeneutical background.

Just an illustration: Let us look at your Matthew 16:17.
Your interpretation here is that it is telling us that faith is enough to be in heaven…Let me refresh your memory:

Biblical teaching from Ephesians 2:8-10 says:
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Matt 16:17; Eph 1:19;
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. Rom 3:27; Col 1:29;
10 For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.
To summarize this:
Grace (Coming from God) + Faith (coming from man) = Salvation
Totally different from what Catholic Church teaches:
Grace + Faith + Works = Salvation.

Roman Catholics interpret this differently. For them this is proof that Peter was the first Pope. According to the notes on the New American Bible, “[13-20] The Marcan confession of Jesus as Messiah, made by Peter as spokesman for the other disciples (Mark 8:27-29; cf also Luke 9:18-20), was modified significantly here. The confession was of Jesus both as Messiah and as Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). Jesus’ response, drawn principally from material peculiar to Matthew, attributed the confession to a divine revelation granted to Peter alone (Matthew 16:17) making him the rock on which Jesus would build his church (Matthew 16:18) and the disciple whose authority in the church on earth would be confirmed in heaven, i.e., by God (Matthew 16:19)”.

Beside, the Bible also justifies faith with works. Jesus says that we need to do certain actions before we can be in heaven (see: Mt 5:16; Mt 13:3-9; Mt 16:27; Mt 25:34-36; Mark 10:17-25). You should also read James 3:14-26). Based on these passages, Roman Catholics can justify Grace + Faith + Works = Salvation.

Let’s face it: Christians interpret the Bible to fit their agenda. Martin Luther (1483-1541) created Sola fide to free him on his guilt so he could find inner peace. That is why most evangelical Christians teach the same doctrine…it all boils down to Martin Luther…to the Protestant Reformation.

There is really no truth in these so-called “Bible interpretations”. It’s not interpretation but rather justifications of a certain denomination’s doctrine.

Posted in Religion2 Comments

Watch “Two Funerals” at UP Cine Adarna

Filipino Freethinkers — UPD is co-presenting the Cinemalaya 2010 Entry Two Funerals with UP Cineastes’ Studio in partnership with UP Film Institute and in cooperation with Cultural Center of the Philippines and Cinemalaya Foundation, Inc. The screening will be on Tuesday, July 27, 2010, 7:30 PM, at the Cine Adarna at University of the Philippines Diliman (where the past FF Film Fest was held).

Two Funerals is a black comedy involving a mother trying to recover the remains of her daughter after a funeral parlor mix-up also sends her family a stranger’s corpse. It was directed by Gil M. Portes and stars Tessie Tomas, Xian Lim, Jeffrey Quizon, Robert Arevalo, Benjie Felipe, and Mon Confiado. Gil M. Portes won the Director’s Showcase in the Audience Choice portion of the Cinemalaya 2010 Awards. Two Funerals also won for Best Cinematography, Best Screenplay, Special Jury Prize, and for Best Director.

Two Funerals Trailer

Tickets are P80 each. Email [email protected] to reserve tickets and to arrange for picking the tickets up before or at the event itself. Tickets will also be sold at this next FF July 25 Meetup at Shangri-La.

See you at the movies!

Posted in Announcements, Entertainment, Organization1 Comment

What is Abstinence?

We all abstain from doing certain things in life, the difference is just in what individuals choose to abstain from. Depending on what it is, it can be easier for some people to abstain from it than other activities. But, to anybody, abstinence remains a difficult trick to master because of the sacrifices it involves. It takes some self-discipline and commitment from a person, moreso for those who plan to do it long-term. That’s why most people don’t even try to practice self-control but instead easily give in to doing their spur of the moment ideas. It is the exact opposite of over-indulgence. Part of the problem could be that we were born in a time of instant gratification so we are not used to waiting. Another reason I see is that, what is available to us from our environment doesn’t allow much room for making plans outside what is commonly practiced. I keep hearing that it’s hard to be a vegetarian because of the lack of choices in non-meat foods to eat. Atheists practice a form of abstinence too, it is an abstinence from any kind of religious activities.

Abstinence is done by many for religious reasons but it can also be done for other reasons such as for good health or someone’s personal views. The difference when anything is done out of religious tradition is that in traditions, somebody just told them to do it. They don’t even know why they should do it. There are even religions that require people strict adherence to a code of practice. You should feel lucky that we are not in the same situation. Here, in this country, you are allowed to make your own choices of whether to practice abstinence or not. We have been given some free will, after all.

I’m no expert on abstinence, in fact, I don’t really try to abstain from anything except for things that I just can’t bring myself to do. But I’m just trying to give you guys an answer of what I think ‘abstinence’ is all about from my own experience. I’m just now learning about this myself the more I dig deeper.

Abstinence can come from the anywhere. Like from a vegan who refuses to eat meat to a pacifist who will not commit violence even when they are threatened or an ascetic who escapes from a life of pleasure. And don’t forget about those people who wait to have sex until the time is right. Why do these people do these things? Are they so masochistic that they want to torture themselves with self-deprivation? No, they are none of those. But each does have his/her own reasons. I realize that is it not about depriving yourself from eating food like in fasting, nor saying goodbye to sex or any kind of pleasure. It is a way for someone to find out and test the limits of what they will or will not do. It is a stepping away from our excesses and over-indulgent ways to finding out what is really more important in life. It’s about sticking up for what you believe in.

So should any of us practice abstinence? That’s up to you and not for somebody else to decide.

Posted in Others2 Comments

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