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Categorized | Religion

The Pride and Humility of a Freethinker

I believe freethinkers are a proud people in a sense that they often undertake to set themselves up as judges of Truth and Knowledge, laughing at the idea of being shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods. When it comes to morality, for example, freethinkers scoff at some of the Church’s teachings on sex and birth control, calling them outdated and questioning whatever “sacred” authority is asserted on religious matters, even challenging religion itself.

But I also believe that freethinkers are a humble people because while undertaking to set themselves up as judges of Truth and Knowledge, they also acknowledge their own fallibility, that while they might someday arrive at the truth, they may never know if they already got there. For this they have developed tools like science and skepticism to help them get nearer to the truth by weeding out what’s false (much like how Dr. House’s team tries to rule out as many diagnoses as possible so that when House finally gets one of those serendipitous strokes of intuitive insight, the choices will have been narrowed down for him to see the answer as if it’s been sitting right there all along).

Acknowledging one’s own fallibility – and actually doing something to minimize it – is humility in the deepest form because it is practical humility, one expressed in actions rather than words, in unforgiving self-criticism instead of a resigned only God knows attitude.

As for morality, freethinkers also acknowledge man’s primal selfishness and moral biases as influenced by sex, age, income and other factors. And because of this they respect the state laws put up to contain unfair acts of selfishness and harmful expressions of those biases, laws that attempt to bring equal chances of a decent life to unequal people across a mixed society. Now compare this to those who haughtily hold on to their dogma, condemning everyone who disagrees.

It is especially dogmas like the ban on contraception that Freethinkers openly challenge, maybe partly because they are disturbed by the fact that such dogma greatly affecting married women was written and is being enforced by unmarried men. This somehow reminds me of what Michael Shermer said: “…male ownership of females was once moral and is now immoral, not because we have discovered it as such, but because our society has realized that women also seek greater happiness and that they can achieve this more easily without being in bondage to males. But while males no longer own females today, a worldwide group of single men still feels entitled to own every woman’s womb, not even considering that women also seek other things in life and that they can achieve them more easily without having their wombs and their time devoted mostly to child bearing and rearing.

Such pompous sense of entitlement is what often enrages the freethinker, leading him to criticize or even confront those who claim to be in moral authority. One confrontation happened last Saturday when freethinkers attempted to enter the Manila Cathedral where there was an ongoing Pro-Life Philippines affair that was supposedly open to the public. One can say that the freethinkers were arrogant because they had to wear those offensive Damaso shirts, but during the face-off they conducted themselves quite humbly, and real arrogance surprisingly came from the other side. The video says it all.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions in this post do not necessarily represent the position of the Filipino Freethinkers.