No two freethinkers are exactly alike; a group of freethinkers contains a great diversity of perspectives, so there is no one, official perspective shared among all of them. This makes the freethought community a truly vibrant source of ideas and opinions!
In this light, Meet a Freethinker is our series featuring freethinkers of all backgrounds and perspectives. We want to introduce you guys to the people who make up the proverbial melting pot of this growing movement.
Our next freethinker is Miam Tan-Fabian. Miam is a freelance consultant, researcher-statistician, and writer with a B.S. Biology background. She also homeschools her son and manages her husband’s band.
The textbook answer is that freethinking is the practice of basing your thoughts and thought processes on reason, logic, and empirical data while standing up against any kind of dogma. By dogma, I mean not just religious dogma, but even political or ideological dogma, or any opinion that someone asserts as beyond reproof, criticism, or dissent.
Let me give an example: If a mom had a child getting sick, rather than say, “Bahala na ang Diyos”, she can go to the nearest rural health center which offers free medical and health-related services; have the child checked and given a prescription; buy generic medicine; or if the treatment is costly, ask for support from PCSO.
2) What belief system do you subscribe to?
Right now, what seems to describe my current state and one that I am comfortable with is agnosticism. I am not really sure about whether there is a god or gods, and I am presently unwilling to make a claim for either his/her/its existence or non-existence, so it’s really more of a stance rather than strictly a belief system.
3) What was the funniest or most interesting reaction you got from a person after you told him or her that you were a freethinker?
We were having an after class/course party with the MBA students that my boss was teaching at that time. Seated to my right side was one conservative female MBA student who is also a member of one of these popular evangelical megachurches. Across her was a male MBA student who did not see any contradiction with drinking and professing to be Christian (which I thought was refreshing). Ironically though, while the night was progressing, he was turning a rather rosy lobster pink, was unnaturally chatty, and was friendlier than I ever remembered him in class.
In the middle of the conversation, when the gal found out I was a freethinker and asked what I had against Christian belief, I said, “Nothing except that the burden of proof lies with you since you are the one making the claim”. Between my statement and the seemingly inebriated guy across us saying, “Being born again is simply a relationship,” while quickly downing the next shot of beer, wine, gin, or whatnot (I lost track of what he was drinking and how much of each), the girl had nothing to say. I felt a little bad for her though.
4) In what way has being part of a freethinking community benefited you?
I feel accepted, validated, and empowered in this community of like-minded and tolerant people, many of whom I consider as genuine friends. We can no longer fit in mainstream organized religious organizations but at the same time, we could not find quite the right group to join and commit to. We wanted relationships but not the dogma. We also loved anime, manga, Star Trek, Star Wars, gaming, geekery and nerdy stuff and people who could appreciate that.
Moreover, I feel that whatever I do is significant in helping create a society that values and respects everyone’s belief or even unbelief, that bases its decisions on fact and not because someone powerful, rich, and/or popular says it’s so. This is the kind of society which I would like to present to my son and to future generations. And even if I will never see the fruits of our work in my lifetime, inching to the realization of that secular society keeps me optimistic.
5) Why did you decide to homeschool your son?
How long have you got? 🙂 There are many reasons but the main one is that traditional schooling has failed us, me, my husband, and most importantly, my son Sil in several ways. His first school was not able to teach him to read in one year despite being reading ready, was unable to manage him, and finally admited they couldn’t.
His second school fared even worse. The school looked more like a prison than a school. Despite the low teacher to student ratio, his teacher miscorrected a Math exam which Sil should have perfected. That same teacher too had the most atrocious grammar and writing skills so I could not trust her with teaching English to Sil. The final straw was when a teacher left Sil and his classmate in his classroom’s comfort room. Sil, finding a hose, wet himself and his classmate, his teacher, his classmates, and flooded his classroom.
6) Where do you get your materials for homeschooling, considering that a lot of homeschooling materials are produced by religious groups?
Unfortunately, as far as I know, all homeschooling organizations and institutions in the country are sectarian. This means that there is bound to be some religious propaganda in the materials they recommend. The good news is that we can still choose which of these religious lessons to teach, can decide on the treatment (tell the child it is only a good story), or teach alongside the lessons other alternatives. For example, rather than just teach one creation story (the Bible-based one), we taught Sil 5-6 other creation stories. He preferred the more violent Norse and Native American creation stories over the biblical account.
It has been very challenging to say the least, and there are plenty of days when I just want to tear all my hair by the roots and just give up, but when I see my son grow, develop, and mature while we as parents learn alongside him, I am convinced that I am doing the right thing.