Archive | August, 2010

Announcing FF’s new blog editors

No, he is not your new editor. You are blessed.

Greetings, denizens of the Filipino Freethinkers. I have added this new post to announce that a handful of our fellow members have been appointed by admin to be blog editors.

There hasn’t been an official announcement yet – Red’s been pretty busy lately- but I’ve been given the green light to go public with this news.

Aside from me, there are seven more members who have been promoted to editor – I had originally intended to announce their names in this post, but I figured it be best if they made the announcement for themselves. As editors, our responsibility will include the management of any new posts that are being submitted to the blog’s front page for proofreading.

Just so you don’t get the wrong idea and think we’re some sort of thought police, I should clarify that the role of an editor (at least to my understanding) isn’t to stifle or to censor your works. The Filipino Freethinkers blog stands for the free exchanging of ideas after all, and to be frank, a lot of our you guys submit some truly interesting posts.

Regardless of their style, theme, or topic, and whether we agree or disagree with them, your articles share the common thread that they invoke critical thinking. They challenge us to rethink our own perspectives, and force us (intellectually speaking) to always be on our toes, never giving in to complacency or conformism.

But let’s face it – ever so occasionally, in the heat of the passion of creating our next article, even the best of us mistakes. It’s nothing serious; perhaps a misplaced pronoun or two, or a dangling participle, or an abruptly cut off sentence, or maybe even a couple of misplaced commas or apostrophes.

And like a small blemish or wayward scratch, these seemingly small grammatical slips add up, and may distract some readers from the real gem that lies underneath them. And that is where the editors come in.

We’re not here to take anything away from the article. Quite the contrary, our job is to pick away at these blemishes and grime, adding a mirror polish to an already good read so it can be better appreciated by our visitors.

We may be ruthless grammar nazis, but we are your ruthless grammar nazis

Our job is to ensure that the author’s message is sent to the readers as clearly and as coherently as possible. To this end, we will try our damned best to clean up said articles without altering their content, or the writing style its author worked so hard to use as a voice.

The second (and quite admittedly, the more enjoyable) aspect of our job as editors is comment monitoring. Basically, we will also handle any spam troll or inappropriate comments found in the blog, and will deal with it accordingly.

Once again, this job isn’t something the editors can handle alone, and we encourage all readers to report any said spam or trolling to us (in my case, via PM at the forums). Please remember to enclose the name of said offender so we can more effectively zero in on comment, and to purge it with extreme prejudice.

Suffer not the troll to post!

As for the specifics, troll spams are basically posts that have nothing to do with the post, and are posted usually to advertise a product (porn sites, electronics shops, penis enlargement drugs, etc.).

Inappropriate comments are, if I were to use the FFF rules as a basis, include threats of violence, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic posts with the intention of offending other members.

Being a freethinker’s site, we welcome debates, but also understand that given the nature of our discussions, things can and will become heated in a very short amount of time. You’re welcome to attack the enemy’s argument – stab at its lack of structure, bludgeon its poor logic, or eviscerate its premise for its sheer insanity. Demand evidence and supporting data. That’s what critical thinking is all about after all.
On the other hand resorting to racial, sexual or cultural slurs or threats of violence is hitting below the belt. Anybody who resorts to these to attack their opponent will prompt us to call upon the Space Marine illustrated above to politely (but firmly) banhammer the living snot out of the poor sod.

That said, we will try to be fair with our moderation, and so long as you play by the rules, regardless of how disagreeable your assertion may be (and so long as you keep it civil), you have nothing to worry about.

Posted in Others6 Comments

Our Rotten Culture

Until lately, I’ve tried to convince myself that this country is still worth fighting for, that the supreme sacrifice of our noble heroes from GOMBURZA to Ninoy were not in vain; that pride for my race and people is a badge I would continue to wear. Yet, as I’ve come to terms with the realities that continue to hound and slap me on the face in a day to day basis since my inception into the world of local politics and demagoguery; that after experiencing and witnessing countless, recurring and palpable incompetent, idiotic, indifferent, fraudulent and deceptive practices of every conceivable bureaucratic nonsense in almost every branch, department, agency and political unit of our government, there is very little room for me to doubt that this country is ROTTEN and DESPICABLE!

I am certain many of my bleeding heart compatriots and the ultra-nationalists, jingoist types will denounce me for expressing such a cruel, unpatriotic and sweeping statement; that Pinoy Pride-bashing—which I doubt if it still has something left to bash—is the last thing we need to recover from the recent shame and condemnation from the international community as a result of last Monday’s hostage fiasco. It’s really comically absurd to hear Filipinos furiously react to racist slurs and criticisms from foreigners particularly from personalities like Adam Carolla, Claire Danes, Jay Leno, Alec Baldwin, Jimmy Kimmel to name a few, and the TV show Desperate Housewives where Teri Hatcher blurted a line about Filipino nurses, as well as the not so distant incident in Hong Kong where a sign was reportedly placed not allowing dogs and Filipinos vis-à-vis in some building or place—where it instantly became mass hysteria to demand for redress and apology while we fail to take note of our own racial insensitive jokes and insults about other people with darker skin color like Africans or Blacks and our very own Aetas by calling them all sorts of nasty pejoratives. This is not to mention how we paint racial stereotypes about other races like Indians, Chinese and Japanese—calling them ‘beho’, ‘bombay’, ‘singkit’ and ‘sakang’. What about our pejorative collective labeling of ‘igorot’ the indigenous people of the cordilleras? What about our discriminatory attitude toward gays, people with physical defects, deformities and disabilities, the ugly, the short, the fat, etc.—often the butt of jokes? Such is our penchant for double standard hypocrisy. We are sensitive to racial slurs against us by other races yet we are desensitized by our own against others. We demand for diplomatic and public redress for every grievance we hold against any foreign nation, state or entity yet we do nothing to improve ourselves.

I have therefore come to the conclusion that we are not inferior because of our skin color, we are inferior because of our culture. I am attacking this inferior culture of hypocrisy, unabashed arrogance for excuse or ‘palusot’; of cosmetic reparation instead of concrete solutions; of putting up rosy and gaudy facades to hide the glaring dystopia; of religious fatalism and passivity instead of educated rational and scientific approach to problems…

The incompetence and stupidity that we continue to witness from time to time from our government officials and personnel (this encompasses the executive, congress, judiciary, military, police and local governments) has cultural roots. It is us—the people—the possessors of knowledge, ideas, and practices—who put them there in the first place are solely to blame for every shame, criticism, condemnation, insult, racial slur and bigotry that we receive from other nations and peoples around the world. It is our own undoing. We can’t blame the people of Hong Kong for venting their ire to the whole Filipino nation for our government’s incompetence in addressing hostage situations that often involve foreigners. (I hope people can still remember what happened to the botched military rescue operation of kidnapped American missionary couple Gracia and Martin Burnham from the Abu Sayyaf where Martin was killed by friendly fire from soldiers of the Philippine army.) Perhaps, we would feel and do the same if our own citizens were taken hostages and killed too in China due to the incompetence of their police and government. Mind you, it was no ‘isolated incident’ as our officials so desperately would like to pass it off. How many more ‘isolated incidents’ of hostage rescue fiascos, bus accidents, sinking ships, kidnappings, massacres and murder of journalists, etc., do we have to count in order for our geniuses in the government to acknowledge their incompetence and stupidity? How many million more Filipinos have to leave and immigrate to foreign countries to become slaves only later to come home abused and murdered in order for the government to act and put up a sensible economic system that would create and generate jobs in this country? We can’t blame other countries for treating us the way they do—a nation of servants and whores—because our very own government is selling and pimping us for the dollars we earn to feed its burgeoning useless and corrupt bureaucracy!

We were led to believe in a delusion that we were a great nation and a chosen people of God, the so-called new Jerusalem—fed by the antiquated, revisionist educational system and the theocratic irrational machinations and mysticisms of the Catholic Church together in cahoots with the other organized Christian denominations that stunted our people’s minds. We became desensitize and dogmatically blind to our own defects and inferiorities. Morally and intellectually stagnated, complacent of our colonial and pluralistic cultural heritage, we refused to submit ourselves to the onslaught of political, social and cultural paradigm shifts that shook the world for decades, to focus on ourselves and improve our culture. As a result, our educational system has degenerated, mass-producing a half-baked educated populace that could not rise to the demands of a highly-sophisticated global economy and community—the same populace that feed and unwittingly perpetuate incompetent, corrupt and stupid politicians in the government. And now the domino has fallen.

The incident is now a wake up call to our nation that we need to improve our ways of thinking and attitudes. It is a glaring amplification of the condition of our culture—a backward, retarded, dysfunctional and inferior one. Notwithstanding the notable accomplishments of countless individual Filipinos in their respective fields and expertise throughout the world and within, our country has remained poor, staggering and left behind in a growing economically competitive and developing Asian region. We’ve been through almost every kind of political upheaval, revolutions, coups, rebellion, wars and insurgency yet our political system has remained stagnant, feudal, oligarchic, rent-seeking, booty-driven and predatory. A nation so obsessed with freedom yet it spits on freedom.

Where would you find a nation who proudly proclaims itself to the world as a bastion of democracy in Asia yet when the constitutional democratic process of transfer of power through electoral suffrage had arrived, a significant number of the electorate would sell their conscience and political right for a measly sum or favor either out of fear or for outright need? For the past 24 years, we have only managed to march on streets as a mob to oust one klepto-dictator only to replace it with a bungling plunderer and an avaricious, hubris-driven, power-grabbing midget who shamelessly manipulated and rigged an election. Ironically, the forces that our people sought to destroy and drive away decades ago are now back and restored to their seats of power—perhaps, just waiting and conspiring for the perfect moment for them to grab and seize to fully restore themselves to their former glory and political power. How distorted could be our sense of history?

Like most government institutions, the institution that was mandated to implement and oversee this democratic process (COMELEC) is itself spurious. It has never been the people’s ally but rather a complicit tool and co-conspirator to the designs of the power-obsessed oligarchs, plunderers and scrupulous criminals that walk from our corridors of power down to the grassroots colonies of the disenfranchised clueless ignorant village folks. I am privy to almost every sinister secret election fraud committed since I grew up and was raised in a politically active environment. Yet, it seemed every crime was committed with impunity and buried under the rubbles of apathy and indifference. We allowed this to happen. We committed mistakes, regretted them, only later to commit them again with appalling disconnect to the errors and horrors of the past. Despite of these experiences and knowledge, we allowed these things to become ingrained in our psyche to become what we call culture. We failed to discard the bad ones and retain the good ones and instead did the opposite.

If Rizal were alive today, he would be horrified to witness the country he yearned and fought for ruined by its failure to grasp his teachings and ideology—drowning in a cultural quagmire. Whether we can lift ourselves up from this bog of moral bankruptcy or not, a significant damage has already been done to our image and status as a nation. It would take generations more, if ever, granting our people and culture would improve to cast off ourselves of the stigma that mars us as a nation and as a people. It’s high time that this nation should stop supplicating the air it exhales and polishing the tiled floors and wooden pews of the church with their knees through pointless praying and instead start working, learning and educating itself.

Posted in Others39 Comments

Evolution discussed in the CBCP website

Whenever I visit the CBCP website I often find inspiration that would stimulate me to write an article for Filipino Freethinkers. Their infallible wisdom on matters of which they supposedly have no experience (e.g., sex, marriage, contraceptives, pregnancy and childbirth) never ceases to amaze me. This time, however, I wasn’t only inspired but also rather intrigued when I saw an old news article discussing the views of theology professor Robert John Russell on evolution in relation to atheism, and I couldn’t believe they actually posted it on their site.

Here are some excerpts:

He said if people want to “attack evolution they should do it in an intelligent way, not in an embarrassing way” by putting forth arguments that the scientific community addressed years ago.

Intelligent design, which accepts that life has evolved over eons but asserts that it is so complex that its development must have been guided by a supreme being or intelligent agent, or any other kind of interventionist theology “is really unethical” from a pastoral point of view, he said.

Proponents of intelligent design and creationism offer “a kind of fool’s gold” claiming they are the only ones who can keep God’s role in explaining the origins of life since “those nasty atheists have co-opted it” with the theory of evolution, he said.

While the Catholic Church claims that evolution doesn’t contradict the Bible, a quick look at the details of such claim exposes that what they are referring to may actually be intelligent design:

Citing various addresses from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, before and after his election as Pope, the Austrian cardinal explained that “there are many proofs in favor of evolution.”

Nevertheless, he stressed, “though this theory enriches our knowledge of life, it doesn’t respond to the great philosophical question: Where does everything come from and how did this everything take a path until coming to be man?”

Therefore, Cardinal Schönborn contended, the key is discovering “that a preceding idea exists, that man is not the fruit of chaos, but that he ‘has been thought of,’ ‘wanted’ and ‘loved'” by the Creator.

Going back to the CBCP news article on Russell, we see how he effectively criticizes intelligent design:

Unfortunately, he said, intelligent design and creationist proponents are not addressing the real problem evolution poses, which is how to explain the existence of suffering, disease, death and extinction before the historical event of the creation and fall of man.

The fall represents the first act of disobedience of Adam and Eve whereby humankind lost its primal innocence and happiness and entered into its present condition of sin and suffering.

But evolution demonstrates that suffering and death are not the consequence of the fall, but were part of life “far before humanity came onto the scene and is in fact a part of how we got here,” he said.

How to account for the problem of why God would allow all his creatures to suffer is “the really hard challenge of evolution,” he said.

That seems to be a very solid argument against the existence of a loving creator put forth in a very clear and concise manner, and the fact that it can be found in the CBCP website makes it all the more interesting. Russell continues:

One response is that pain and suffering are a consequence of freedom, he said.

But while the father of a child lets her be free to run, fall and scrape her knee, if she were to pick up a gun and start playing with it, “I’d take that gun away,” he said.

How then does the heavenly Father allow the extent and horrendousness of suffering seen throughout the world and in history? he asked.

At this point one would expect Russell to say that the concept of a heavenly Father is simply irreconcilable with evolution, but then he surprises us:

The brutality Darwin witnesses in his studies of nature along with the tragic death of his 11-year-old daughter were two major circumstances that drove the Anglican scientist to abandon his faith in God, Russell said.

“But this doesn’t mean that his theories are atheistic,” he emphasized.

Almost everyone sees the same cruel world Darwin saw, but he “was tempted and his faith was challenged like mine is and yours is” in the face of seemingly inexplicable evil, he said.

“But we all have the same choice: to see (life) as meaningful or meaningless,” said Russell.

How could Russell, who was able to eloquently frame the problem of evil and suffering by posing implicative questions, propose that it still all boils down to our ‘choice’? Well it may be because he is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and the founder and director of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences that he cannot state outright his position, much less his apparent skepticism, on the Christian teaching of an all-powerful and loving god. More importantly, Russell only said that we have the choice “to see life as meaningful or meaningless”; he didn’t really indicate that such meaning was dependent on the existence of God.

Posted in Religion5 Comments

Consequences of Nonsense #2

If symptoms persist, consult your doctor.

Posted in Entertainment, Humor, Religion0 Comments

Christianity’s Hypocrisy

There are many written articles about Christianity. Some praise it while others curse it. Due to the fact that “history is written by those who won”, we find a very few article that criticize this religion.

One of the best I have read so far was Bertrand Russell’s “Why I am not a Christian”, but the essay was more about refutation against supernaturalism. Now thanks to the advent of “New Atheism,” there are more commentaries that disparaged Christianity on its merits.

Ask a typical Filipino in the street about Christianity and he will tell you a lot of good things about it. Who can blame them? That information was forced-fed into his mind – that’s how four hundred years of Spanish rule messing up our brains.

And what does a typical Filipino really knows? Most of his information was derived from Christian missionaries, priests and TV Christian evangelists.

According to its paid apologists, Christianity has a superior worldview compared to other religions out there. It is a religion (or a lifestyle, because Christian don’t want to call Christianity a religion) of peace…of love…of doing good to others.

Yep! Peace with a price.

Christianity is a religion of blood lust!

It is a religion whose foundation is the worship of a man condemned to die in a cross.

Hmmmmm…Christian apologists always reason out that Christ death is for our own salvation from sin. So, it’s about a god who would be appeased with the sight and sacrifice of gore, blood and guts. Such a tragic used of adoration.

And what peace are we talking about? Throughout its history, Christianity is soaked by the blood of its innocent victims. Inside its “holy book” we can read stories of how a certain deity orders its “chosen people” to slaughter and plunder their neighbor. Women, children and old folks were not spared. And as Christianity “light the world”, Crusades, inquisitions, holy wars and witch hunts literally burned a lot of communities. Just read your history books. And just imagine how many innocent lives were prematurely ended, burned like firewood in the name of Jehovah. This is what Christianity meant by “love thy neighbors”.

Some say Christianity brought progress. Really? So know most countries that were influenced by Christian missionaries were turned into “banana republics”. There are strings attached to these so-called “progress”, and that’s the eradication of a nation’s culture, thanks to these “missionaries” and the interest of those people behind them.

I find Christianity odious, the fact that it was founded by a liar named Saul of Tarsus. Saul (who was later called Paul) founded this religion by mixing together some old Middle Eastern religious belief and Greek philosophies. Then placing an obscure Jewish persona and viola! He created a cult whose main belief is a cooked-up prophecy about the end of Roman rule in Palestine.

And what were Paul’s issues?

The guy was a hysterical fundy who found pleasure in hating the world. His taste for humiliation, his sexual impotence, his hatred to himself. The man is a perverted masochist!

He’s also a misogynist. He loathed women and found them repulsive. This tent seller also abhorred intelligence and is seen frequently preaching loathing of knowledge, philosophy and science. He scoffed at knowledge…well that’s obvious, his audience were neither learned nor intellectuals, but ordinary townsfolk – simpletons whose lives were surrounded by superstitious beliefs to make it more exciting compare to the realities of their mundane lives. Now…Paul was said to be educated by the Pharisees…So? Pharisees are as ignorant to science and philosophy as a modern-day Christian pastor.

His preaching was centered to a man called Jesus. Who is this man? Christians claimed he is the Son of God that came down from Earth to save us from sin. Now…accepting without admitting that the story was true, what did Jesus really accomplish?

As a Man-God it seems Jesus has accomplished nothing. He didn’t give us anything new in ethics. Most of his teachings were already taught by other philosophers and teachers ahead of his time. His moral ideas are unsystematic and are notoriously obscure. His ethics were not prescribe base on human happiness and well being but instead backed by brute sanctions of threats and punishments.

He never tackled critical moral problems in his time: Issues such as slavery and discrimination against women. He never even talked about basic human rights.

He seems to be ignorant with hygiene and healthcare issues. Gosh! He even promotes folklore remedies and erroneous ideas about the cause of diseases.

He didn’t invent anything that can ease the work of a Jewish peasant. As a son of a carpenter, he didn’t even contributed any major breakthrough in carpentry and wood-working.

This Jesus person also has this temperament of a boiling tea-kettle. He curses other life forms just because of some physical discomfort and he whipped and scourged legitimate entrepreneurs while promised salvation on con-men.

If we were to strip Jesus of his so-called “divinity”, what will be left is a mediocre preacher who held erroneous beliefs, a pretentious fraud, or at worst, a hot-headed madcap.

From Paul to Jesus, we now have Christianity…with the help of forgers, confidence men, lunatics, despots and power-hungry “vicars of Christ” Christianity flourished from an obscure Jewish cult to a mega-religion. Stories of a so-called “Son of God” were invented, recopied – and as these scribes add, subtract, and omit on its parchments the Christian “good news” was created.

Now thanks to modern secular laws, Christianity’s corrupting power was clipped. There are no more killing and mayhem in the name of Jesus. No more smokes from burning bodies…but still we have book burning activities, thanks to Paul!

Today, we find Christians in a non-ending feud with other Christians for the title crown “Who is the true Christian” and as Christians throw mud at each other their pastors and priests are running happily in the bank, depositing money called “tithes” that their witless adherents voluntarily gave so God would save their pitiful souls. Will the money bore God’s name? I doubt it. Wait till the Reverend signs a check and see if the signatory will be Yahweh.

We now have a multi-billion industry. From selling salvation to preaching obscure teaching from an ancient book – re-interpreted to fit a timelier flavor. We also have Christian “apologists” who earns million on books about resurrected flawed philosophies – ALL TAX FREE!!!

When Nietzsche declared God is dead and Voltaire announced that the Bible will cease to exist, they were right. God is dead, and what we are just seeing now is his corpse, attached in strings like a puppet being pulled by Christian evangelists. And when these Christian proudly publicized that they converted Voltaire’s garage into a Bible publishing house…well they’re not publishing the Bible as God’s word but only its empty shell that were already been diluted by their self interpretation to safe guard their own doctrines and interest.

This is what Christianity is all about. It is an empty temple ruled by the rotting carcass of a dead Canaanite deity named Yahweh and his bastard son. A book – compiled by power hungry priests – that was re-interpreted many times by fakers whose vested interest is to accumulate dollars and power.

It seems the religion itself is baldy in need of salvation more than its adherents.

Pinoy Atheist

Posted in Personal, Religion, Society6 Comments

Sunday Meetup: August 22 at Shangri-la Starbucks

RSVP on Facebook

Date: Sunday, August 22, 2010
Time: 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Location: Starbucks (near cinemas) at Shangrila EDSA Plaza Mall

Discussion topics aren’t set in stone. They’re like the ten commandments that way!

1.  “Don’t Be a Dick
2. Culture wars
3. ???
4. Profit!

* Newbies are welcome.
* Discuss anything with fellow freethinkers.
* Look for the FF sign (or the group of smart, sexy people).
* There is no required age, religion, philosophy, or IQ level.
* Discussions are informal yet intelligent (most of the time).
* You don’t have to talk; you can just sit in and listen.
* You don’t have to buy anything from Starbucks.

Even if you can’t make it for the scheduled meetup you can always catch us for the post-meetup dinner and drinks at the Krocodile Grill in Shangrila Mall.

Posted in Meetup0 Comments

FF Davao Post-Summer Outing (August 14-15, 2010)

Many thanks to Ms. M for the generous treat and the books, and to the rest of the FF Davao guys for the fun weekend.

It was great meeting you all!

Books

And More Books

Singing

And More Singing

Food

And More Food

Sharing

And More Sharing

Catching Some Fresh Sea Air

Raiding our host’s Farm For The Coconuts And The Vinegar 🙂

Even More Food, Italian This Time

Posted in Meetup3 Comments

Consequences of Nonsense

Through Christ, our Lord

Posted in Entertainment, Humor, Religion3 Comments

On Prayer, Purpose, and Prosperity

Even back when I was still a very spiritual person I already had some reservations regarding prayer. Well I did sometimes pray to ask God for things, but deep inside I somehow figured that if God is good and he already knows what’s good – what’s best – for me, I’d rather tell him, “Your will be done” and use prayer as an expression of my overflowing gratitude for all the blessings.

I remember this episode in House, MD where Dr. Cameron was explaining to Dr. House the purpose of prayer:

Cameron: “Do you know why people pray to God?”
House: “I thought you didn’t believe in God.”
Cameron: “I don’t.”
House: “Well, then you better be making a very good point.”
Cameron: “Do you think they pray to Him and praise Him because they want Him to know how great He is? God already knows that.”
House: “Are you comparing me to God? I mean, that’s great, but just so you know, I’ve never made a tree.”
Cameron: “I thank you because it means something to me. To be grateful for what I receive.”
House: “You are the most naive atheist I’ve ever met…. People pray so that God won’t crush them like bugs. I’m not gonna crush you.”

Much as I am generally able to relate more with House’s cynicism than Cameron’s naiveté, as far as prayer goes I’m with Cameron. I guess gratitude comes naturally to some people, and the English poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti even remarked that “the worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank”. It just doesn’t seem very satisfying to thank Blind Luck or Pure Chance for a desirable turn of events; people need to thank someone who willed these events into happening.

This sense of prayerful gratitude is often harmless and nothing more than foolish at worst, but the problem is that the same people who have a strong desire to give thanks to a sentient Being also tend to believe that they can actually influence the will of this Being. And this attitude reeks of arrogance, as explained by fellow freethinker Garrick Bercero in his comments on another post:

I do not deny that most Christians believe that they are being humble in passively accepting the will of a higher power…What I am talking about is that the belief that some people have access to this will is arrogant.

Prayer is inherently arrogant because this is what it says: God built every single galaxy among trillions in the universe… and Christians have a hotline to this God and he cares about what they think and he wants to know their thoughts on what else he can do for them.

Now this arrogance is sometimes compounded with self-absorption when one is being showered with trivial “blessings” while conveniently turning a blind eye to the great miseries existing elsewhere. But what is even more arrogant is the propensity of these grateful believers to assert that all these sufferings are just part of God’s grand design. And if they are divinely justified, that leaves less reason for humans to be dissatisfied with the undesirable states of affairs happening all around the world and somehow eases the pressure to try do something about them.

On a personal level, one of the salient differences between those who believe in an intervening god and those who don’t has something to do with purpose. For the believer, everything that happens – including the unpleasant things – has a purpose set by God. This brings about a cozy sense of security because our lives are in God’s hands and in the end everything will fall into its rightful place. But for the nonbeliever, purpose comes after the fact; we make a purpose for whatever happens to us so that whenever we lose, we do not lose the lesson. More importantly, we take it as our responsibility to fulfill that purpose.

I remember Poch Suzara‘s rants about how the Philippines, being the only Christian nation in Asia, has become the Sick Man of Asia because its people, instead of taking responsibility for the betterment of their lives, keep waiting for a Sky Daddy to do it for them. And I couldn’t agree more. According to Gallup, “a population’s religiosity level is strongly related to its average standard of living”. Let us take a look at the list of the most religious and least religious countries in the world:

The poll indicates that 8 of the 11 countries in which almost all residents (at least 98%) say religion is important in their daily lives are poorer nations in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

“On the opposite end of the spectrum, the 10 least religious countries studied include several with the world’s highest living standards, including Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Hong Kong, and Japan. (Several other countries on this list are former Soviet republics, places where the state suppressed religious expression for decades.)”

In fairness, religion never really promised earthly wealth (or did it?); it assures one, rather, of an afterlife where everything will be all right – forever. Such concept of eternity easily renders insignificant a couple of decades of life on earth. And for such, many people live on prayer, expecting everything to happen according to God’s plan.

I admire the theists who live by the words “Nasa tao ang gawa, nasa Diyos ang awa” (roughly “God helps those who help themselves”). At least they do not look onto God as a sky daddy or fairy godmother. Up to this point they are no different from the nonbelievers. However, they still expect God to be a protector. And this often leads to a certain level of carelessness because one may get overconfident in the “knowledge” that God will always protect him.

When driving, for instance, a devout Catholic may tend to focus more on the prayer he is reciting for protection while his right hand releases the wheel and reaches out to touch the rosary hanging from the rearview mirror and his eyes leaves the road for a few seconds to glance reverently at the crucifix. But the most convenient part of this “divine protection” is the insurance that if he gets into an accident and dies, it is still part of God’s plan, and he will go to heaven.

Now compare that to the nonbeliever who takes his safety as his own responsibility and keeps both eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel and sets precautions for mechanical failure and reckless drivers. When one lives on the assumption that this life is all there is, he tends to take a little more care of it. After all, it seems the sensible thing to do when one doesn’t have much of a prayer for protection.

Posted in Religion10 Comments

What is Karma?

We sometimes hear our friends say when they’re angry with someone, “Ka-karmahin din yan” or “Karmahin ka sana.” But when they tell it that way, they think of it as some sort of curse or bad luck happening on the person concerned. If we put it that way, they are actually saying, “Malasin ka sana.” As if the God they believe in will punish that person for doing them wrong. But that is not the case. For those who don’t believe in God, you know why.

In this world, the wrongdoers don’t always get what they deserve. We might see a few who are punished publicly but that’s it. But why be invested in what is happening to your enemies? For now, let us focus on our Personal karma.

For those unfamiliar with karma, the first thing you have to know is that we are born with karma. The environment you were born into is part of your karma. That is the start of your karma. And for people who believe in reincarnation, your current life is just a continuation of your karma from a previous life or lives. Putting an end to personal karma is a part of the work of Buddhists.

You must realize that you are not alone and there are other people in this world with you. Everybody is creating his/her own karma that affects the rest of us. For example, Person A murders Person B. It is Person A’s karma that led to him being murdered. Then it is the Person B’s karma that leads him to be sent to jail.

Karma means that our actions bring about consequences that affect us in the long run. “You reap what you sow” as they say. Think about it, every move we make will start a chain of events that will keep on going through everybody until it reaches us again. I guess it is similar to Chaos Theory. That’s just my opinion.

Karma is not done by some supernatural force that chooses to give it to you when it wants to although when karma gets you, you won’t be able to escape it. It was just meant to happen that way to you. So what must we do? The only way is to change your bad karma into good karma. If you don’t then you will continue to make bad karma for yourself. Karma will not feel like a single event and it is not totally your fault. It is the result of a combination of many different factors, you and your environment. Karma is neither good nor bad, it is an experience that just does what it is supposed to do in your life. And it is up to you to try to deal with it.

Karma can also be applied to any group. The actions of each member contribute to the karma of the group. You might notice that your Family has its own karma. Higher than that is the karma of your Community. Next to it is the Country karma. Our beloved Philippines is now feeling the effects of the karma produced by the past generations. The last is the karma of the whole planet. So create good karma for others and not just yourself.

If we don’t do something about our own karma, others will continue to suffer as a result of our ignorance. We can find a way out of our ignorance by being better informed of what is going on around us. Learn to anticipate different situations that may come. Make friends with the right kind of people who really know. And lastly, get to know yourself as an individual human being apart from the people around you so you can put your whole trust in yourself. Do something about your life.

What you are experiencing at this moment is your karma, whatever has happened in your past has brought you here to be on this site and read this right now. There are things you just can’t control but the future is not written so use your free will to make the right moves in your life.

Posted in Others59 Comments

Live your Life…

Great things happen because you made them happen

Life is too short, so live it the way you want it

You may not cross again the paths you’ve walked on, so

Create memories with your loved ones, and cherish every moment

Only you have the power to control your life

Nothing else matters anyway

Say whatever you want to say, shout if you want to

Unleash the True YOU, don’t hold back

After all, YOU and only YOU can make yourself HAPPY and CONTENTED and

No One Else.

Posted in Poetry2 Comments

Christian vs Non-Believer meet again

Christian vs Non-Believer meet again

Hi, I just thought that the ending was not enough. After some of the reactions, I thought I’d create a new one from my left over material and finish the job.

Episode 6
Episode 6
Episode 7
Episode 7
Episode 8
Episode 8
Episode 9
Episode 9
Episode 10
Episode 10

All images used were taken from Apple Computer, Get A Mac ads. All editting was done by Me

Posted in Humor, Religion20 Comments

Alphabetical Alliterations by a Filipino Freethinker (My Mini-Manifesto)

Assess Authority — Assert Autonomy

Bash Bigotry

Challenge Convention

Doubt Dogma

Examine Everything — Educate Everyone

Fight Fundamentalism — Forfeit Faith

Guide the Gullible

Help Humanity

Improve Intelligence — Investigate Inconsistencies

Justify Judgments

Keep Knowing

Love Learning

Mistrust Mysticism

Negate Norms

Outgrow Obedience

Prevent Persecution — Prosecute the Pope

Question Quackery

Resist Rationalization — Resort to Reason

Support Science — Secularize Society

Trash Theocracy

Understand the Universe

Verify Vigilantly — Venerate Veracity

Withstand Worship — Weed out Wishful Thinking

eXpunge eXtremism

Yield Youth

Zero Zealotry

Posted in Personal, Poetry7 Comments

FF Top Ten: August 8, 2010

It’s been a very sad week for most of us skeptics, given the recent updates that have been coming in regarding Christopher Hitchens’ condition. For those of you reading about this news for the first time, noted skeptical author Christopher Hitchens was recently diagnosed with oesophageal cancer during his book tour for Hitch-22 last June.

The cancer has since spread to his lymph nodes and lungs, and while we’re all remaining optimistic, we’re also being realistic, as is Hitchens, who’s taken the opportunity to lend his trademark rhetoric to contemplating his condition.

As for good news, Proposition 8 has recently been overturned in California. It may be a continent away, but I can only wish that the people in the Commission on Elections can take a cue from some of the sterner words that Judge Vaughn Walker, presiding judge over the case, had to say about Prop 8:

For the reasons stated in the sections that follow, the evidence presented at trial fatally undermines the premises underlying proponents’ proffered rationales for Proposition 8. An initiative measure adopted by the voters deserves great respect. The considered views and opinions of even the most highly qualified scholars and experts seldom outweigh the determinations of the voters. When challenged, however, the voters’ determinations must find at least some support in evidence. This is especially so when those determinations enact into law classifications of persons. Conjecture, speculation and fears are not enough.

Still less will the moral disapprobation of a group or class of citizens suffice,no matter how large the majority that shares that view. The evidence demonstrated beyond serious reckoning that Proposition 8 finds support only in such disapproval. As such, Proposition 8 is beyond the constitutional reach of the voters or their representatives.

Proposition 8 is a symbollic victory for gays in the sense that it has shown that a person’s core civil rights, as enshrined in the constitution, is not something that should be put up to a majority vote.

Speaking of gay news, Greta Christina has an hour-long speech at the recently concluded Secular Students Alliance conference in Ohio. The talk discusses what the atheist movement can learn from the LGBT when it comes to furthering our cause.

In any case, if you find any other interesting news for the week, make sure to post it at the News Thread.

======================================
Iran’s Mahmoud survives IED attack blames the usual suspects (via Yahoo News) Link

Old men in dresses throw hissy fit over Israel gay pride march (via Huffington Post) Link

Sudan punishes suspected gay cross-dressers…with a public spanking? (via news.com.au) Link

Iran’s Ayatollah says music against Islamic Law. I blame you, Justin Bieber (Via Guardian) Link

Porn invades Indonesian parliament – personnel so shocked they let it play for 15 minutes before cutting the feed (via BBC) Link

California overturns Proposition 8 (Via Pam’s House Blend) Link
http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/16935/prop-8-is-overturned

Forsaken Lives: Criminalization of abortion leads to massive human-rights crisis in Philippines (via Pinoy Press) Link
http://www.pinoypress.net/2010/08/02/forsaken-lives-criminalization-of-abortion-leads-to-massive-human-rights-crisis-in-philippines/

Greta Christina: What Atheists Can Learn from the LGBT Movement :: (via SSA conference 2010) Link

The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories (via Wired) Link

Hitchens on cancer diagnosis: ‘Why not me? (via Anderson 360) Link
‘http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2010/08/05/hitchens-on-cancer-diagnosis-why-not-me/

Posted in Others0 Comments

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