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Colors of the Wind

jll7-poca-disneyIn a certain Christian group in Friendster, a certain Jean asked:
…if you are a skeptic or atheist, why you choose
skepticism or atheism? What are the benefits with your choice of being a skeptic or atheist? If you are a believer before, then why backslide from being a christian, your reasons?

The best way to answer Jean’s question is to use one of my favorite Disney characters Pocahontas.

I was (and still am) fascinated by “Pocahontas.” I am referring to the Disney version; naturally this version does not include her having the Christianized name Rebecca and her death for catching smallpox in England and the tragic death of John Rolfe after he returned to Chief Powhatan and delivered him the bad news.

Back to the Disney version of Pocahontas, I adore the song “Colors of the Wind” sung by Judy Khun .

In the song from the movie itself (Not Vanessa Williams’ version) it began with the lyrics, You think I’m an ignorant savage. And you’ve been so many places; I guess it must be so. But still I cannot see, if the savage one is me. Now can there be so much that you don’t know? You don’t know…”

If I was still a Christian, maybe I might say that Pocahontas’ song was addressed to me. You see, too much fanaticism in religion tends to make you too intolerant with other life forms in this planet. Naturally, your tendency is to say that you, as a chosen of God, know what is best for everybody. If people only accept my belief (like Jesus saves) then that person is saved…in my Christian standard of thinking.

Those “ignorant savages” who don’t heed my warning will naturally be condemned to eternal damnation in hell.

Now, have you heard the parable from a Native American… Well…I guess not since this Injun guy is..er anonymous.

Anyway “Anon” (as he calls himself) has a story that tells about a young boy who asked his grandfather about these two wolves inside his mind. These two wolves constantly fight with each other. One wolf represents hate, arrogance, anger, intolerance and superiority. The other wolf represents love, peace, tolerance, understanding, empathy and compassion. The boy asked his grandfather who of the two wolves will win. The Grandfather replied, “The one whom you feed.”

It’s a simple Native American tale. For a Christian who is too hooked on his faith, the story is nothing more but empty babble from an aging Navaho. But for someone who left Fundamental Christianity, it speaks to the heart. That is the problem of fundamental Christianity. Yes, it speaks of love to your neighbors, yet it also speaks damnation, death and destruction to those who don’t follow its rules, doctrines and dogma.

Notice that we can find verses in the Bible that kindle spirits of intolerance toward people of different faith. It is a high priority on Christianity to love its model of a god. The book also contains records of mass murder and crimes against non-Hebrews. Yes, we can read the story of the Good Samaritan yet we can also read the story on how Jesus treated a non-Jewish woman – describing her as sub-human, as a dog.

This kind of mentality lingered till it reached modern Christian fundamentalism. Today, we can see literature from Christian book stores condemning those who practice New Age Religion. Cautioning people as if those who practice New Age are carrying a contagious disease. Rather than knowing why these people have engaged in this new religion, the majority of Christian fundies label these people as deceived fools.

In my Christian years I always thought that I was on the right side. Naturally, all those outside my circle are wrong. So being a Christian, it was my firm belief that everything outside my bubble of influence is from Satan the devil. There is no other choice.

Notice these few examples of how the most famous Christian Evangelists think these days:
Josh McDowell (author of “Evidence That Deserves a Verdict”) said in a Youth for Christ rally in 1994: “Tolerance is the worst roar of all, including tolerance for homosexuals, feminists, and religions that don’t follow Christ.”

The authors of that Christian book series “Left Behind” said that those from other religious faith should all be burn in hell howling and screeching.

Some American soldiers in Vietnam justify the massacre in Mai Lai that butchering babies would purge Vietnam of the commie stain and that they were on God’s side.

Susie Shellenberg explained it on her radio program “Life on the Edge”, “If you are a born-again Christian, you will go to heaven; if you’re following another religion, then by default you will go to hell.”

This is what Fundamental Christianity is all about.

Let us continue:
You think you own whatever land you land on
The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know every rock and trees and creature
Has a life, has a spirit has a name.

If you try to listen closely, the song highlights the animistic qualities of Native American beliefs. It should since “Colors of the Wind” was based on a Native American poem.

Native Americans and their culture suffered badly in the hands of the oppressive white invaders, both ethnically and their beliefs. Just read the accounts of what Fr. Serra did to the Native Americans in California.

Let’s not go farther, we can’t deny what Spanish missionaries did to the natives of Philippine Island. Today, thanks for the brain-washing, Filipinos now are condemning their own past heritage as pagans and uncivilized before Spanish Christianity. This is very sad.

“You think the only people who are people, are the people who look and think like you. But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew.”

Now you know why I left Christianity. The message of the song which Pocahontas sang is my reason why. The meaning is very clear. Intolerance with my fellow humans is a big cause why I am not a Christian anymore. Now that I left Christianity, I can now walk in the footstep of a stranger and learned things I never knew. Contrary to Christian claims, I now saw that there are also splendors outsider the Christian bubble of authority. There are some god-beliefs that are not as harsh as that of the Christians. Hinduism is a good example: Instead of having a jealous God, the Hindu Brahma declared, “I am the same to all mankind. They who honestly serve other gods involuntarily worship me. I am he who partakes of all worship, and I am the reward of all worshipers.”

The Bible teaches that slaves must obey their master yet a simple man named Epicurus, a man to whom no revelation was ever made, a man who has never heard the Jewish god nor has read the Christian Bible have said “Will you not remember that your servants are by nature your brothers, the children of god? In saying that you brought them, you look down on the earth, and into the pit, on the wrenched law of men long dead, but you see not the laws of the gods.”

We find the Bible God speaking on his chosen favorite people to buy bondsmen and bondwomen. Zeno, founder of Stoics, centuries before Christ was born insisted that no man could be the owner of another. Jesus, the Christian Messiah, was silent on that matter.

The same God also ordered his chosen people to kill foreigners who entered His temple yet a pagan named Cicero, who had never read the Bible, declare, “They who say that we should love our fellow citizen but not foreigners destroy the universal brotherhood of mankind, with which benevolence and justice would perish forever.”

Epicurus, another pagan, gave some marvelous guidance for human conduct that says “Live with thy inferiors as thou wouldst have thy superiors live with thee.”

The Bible God ordered his soldiers to spare not even the women, the suckling, the young people and the old folks in war. Seneca, a human being said “The wise man will not pardon any crime that ought to be punished, but he will accomplish, in a nobler way, all that is sought in pardoning. He will spare some and watch over some. Because of their youth, and others on ignorance. His clemency will not fall short in justice, but will fulfill it perfectly.”

Today, Christianity turns its head and accuse these noble pagans as “worldly fools!”

The song “Colors of the Wind” tells the beauty of animism in Native American religion. Here she talks about spirits in Nature that guides humans to their everyday life. There is really no talk of dogmas and doctrines, just an unfettered devotion to the world around you. It’s a simple form of worship.

Which reminds me of another story. A Christian evangelist tried to persuade a Hopi woman to read the Bible and accept Jesus as Savior and God. He handed a copy of the Bible to the woman so she could read it. The Hopi woman politely declined the offer and said, “You said that the Bible is where I can find god, yet if you leave that book outside, the rain, the wind and the Sun and all the elements outdoors will destroy it along with your god. Yet my God is the rain, the wind and the Sun and all the elements outdoors, so why will I need the god inside that book?”

Now that I left Fundamental Christianity, my perspective is much wider and I became happier. The chain is broken and I have stopped feeding the first wolf.

I hope that you have read my message and understand why I left Christianity. I wish that someday you will realize my choice so you may not be deaf to hear the voices of the mountains and not be blind so you can paint the colors of the wind.

Posted in Religion, Society, Stories14 Comments

Gay For A Day

I joined the Filipino Freethinkers at the Pride March last Saturday (Dec. 4) on Tomas Morato in Quezon City. It was my first.

I have a confession to make. I was a homophobic when I was a Christian, but I do not just blame it on my former religious beliefs. They say that Filipinos have this “macho culture,” so to be called a “bakla” is something to be ashamed of. In those times, I never really thought that gays are being discriminated. Who cares? They’re already a plague in our media and fashion industry. But that’s just plain stereotyping: screaming faggots (that what I used to call them) are better off working in beauty parlors and hosting trashy gossip shows anyway.

I was angry with gay people. I don’t know why, but maybe I just took it for granted that these confused perverts are just a product of a sexually deviant, evil society. My homophobia was the result of a culture and religion that already judged them base on some “moral standard.”

In this “macho culture” I was made to believed that only a man – the father, the man of the house, is the symbol of strength. It is the man who gives the rule and demands to be obeyed. He is the provider. Well, this is quite archaic, but that’s how people that were born in the time of the “baby boom” were raised to believed.

So it is a shame in the family to have a gay son or a gay daughter. A homosexual man or woman is a shame, an oddity. He’s a mistake in somewhere…maybe a screw-up in his growth. Men are expected to act as men and women to be women. That’s how society depicts them. I told you, it’s a stereotype.

Gayness is a sickness. Remember an old folk remedy that say to cure a homosexual son, you have to place him head first inside a drum filled with water. Most often, gay people retaliate by saying that if you place them inside a drum with water, they’ll just become mermaids. Funny, but it is just a reflection on how society in the early 70’s and ‘80’s look at homosexuality.

But it’s not only here in the Philippines. Sometimes in its history, society has considered homosexuality a deviant. The term ‘homosexuality was coined by a German psychologist, Karoly Maria Benkert in 1869 and the first attempts to classify homosexuality as a disease were made by the fledgling European sexologist movement in the late 19th century. In 1886 noted sexologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing listed homosexuality along with 200 other case studies of deviant sexual practices in his definitive work, Psychopathia Sexualis. Krafft-Ebing proposed that homosexuality was caused by either “congenital [during birth] inversion” or an “acquired inversion”. In 1952, when the American Psychiatric Association published its first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, homosexuality was included as a disorder. It was removed in 1973.

Now, thanks to modern science, homosexuality was discovered to be a natural behavior that is surprisingly, not only confined to humans. It was documented in over 400 species of animals. A 1999 review by researcher Bruce Bagemihl ( Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity, St. Martin’s Press, 1999) shows that homosexual behavior has been observed in close to 1,500 species of animals and other new researches have found it common to animals like chimpanzees, birds, lizards, hyenas, dolphins, giraffes, bison, sheep and even in insects. According to Bagemihl, “the animal kingdom [does] it with much greater sexual diversity— including homosexual, bisexual and non reproductive sex — than the scientific community and society at large have previously been willing to accept.”

Modern thinking has transformed most Filipino family to accept homosexuality as normal, but society is still cruel. Gay people are still being discriminated. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals are still being marginalized by society. They have no legal recourse when they are the victim of public or private sector discrimination, whether at school, in the workplace, or health care settings since sexual orientation is not included in the Philippine civil rights code. What’s worst, the Philippines did not sign the United Nations declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity, which condemns violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatization, and prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Also, do you remember the issue concerning The Ladlad Party List? The Philippine Commission on Elections (COMELEC) denied the Filipino LGBT political party Ang Ladlad’s petition to be allowed to run in the May 2010 elections, on the grounds of “immorality”.

Religion
If you’re going to look at it closely, both Christianity and Islam connect homosexuality with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. That’s why we have the word “sodomy” which literally means the act of “unnatural” sex. Sodom and Gomorrah are that twin city in the Book of Genesis that becomes the synonymous with carnal banality and moral blasphemy. It now use by Christian as a metaphors for vice and homosexual deviation.

Conservative Christians blames homosexuality as the sin of those ill-fated cities. That’s why God destroyed them by raining down burning sulfur on both cities. According to an article by David J. Stewart (Jesus Is Lord.com), “God destroyed Sodom because of fornication and homosexuality.” In the Christian website GotQuestion.org, it stated that, “homosexuality was the reason God poured fiery sulfur on the cities, completely destroying them and all of their inhabitants.” In Stand to Reason, Gregory Koukl said, “The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of many things, but foremost among them was the sin of homosexuality. In this section of Leviticus, God gives directives not just for ritual purity, but commands to be observed by every Jew, and even by every visitor.

Homosexuality was wrong for the Jews. It was wrong for gentiles who visited the Jews (“aliens”). It was even an abomination that defiled the land when practiced by pagans who inhabited Canaan long before the Jews came. Homosexuality is a defiling sin, regardless who practices it. It has no place before God among any people, in any age, then or now.”

In the Christian New Testament, the Apostle Paul considers homosexuality as a punishment given by God to those who fail to worship Him properly (Romans 1:21, 26-27) and here he was specific even to lesbianism. So I guess Fundamentalist Christians are wrong when they say that gayness is a personal choice.

In Islam, homosexuality and sodomy (Al-Fahishah) are considered synonymous. It is stated in 7:80-83 that it is sinful and perverted deviation from the norm that even jinns didn’t dare to commit. Many Hadiths discuss liwat (sexual intercourse between males). Ibn al-Jawzi records Muhammad as cursing sodomites in several hadith, and recommending the death penalty for both the active and passive partners in same-sex acts. Two examples are:
“When a man mounts another man, the throne of God shakes.”
“Kill the one that is doing it and also kill the one that it is being done to.”
(in reference to the active and passive partners in gay sexual intercourse)

There is at least one mention of lesbian behavior mentioned in the Hadith: “Sihaq (lesbian sexual activity) of women is zina (illegitimate sexual intercourse) among them.”
Different Islamic schools deals with homosexuality differently. The Hanafite school (currently seen mainly in South and Eastern Asia) teaches that no physical punishment is warranted. The Hanabalites, (widely followed in the Arab world) teach that severe punishment is warranted.
The Sha’fi school of thought (also seen in the Arab world) requires a minimum of 4 adult male witnesses before a person can be found guilty of a homosexual act.

The al-Fatiha Foundation estimates that 4,000 homosexuals have been executed in Iran since their revolution in 1979. 10 public executions of homosexuals have been performed in Afghanistan by the Taliban army.

Bigotry Continues
Religious bigotry continue, surprisingly even in a modern society. The Christian TV show The 700 Club on its December 24, 1973 telecast, Pat Robertson urge the US Government to discriminate homosexuals on the same basis that they discriminate “kidnappers, murderers and thieves” because of the homosexual agenda to “destroy all Christians.” Roman Catholic priest, Fr. Enrique Rueda emphasized that homosexuals should never be considered anything less than human.” Dr. Paul Cameron, an anti-gay propagandist even link gay to mass-murder and child molestation in his brochure entitled “Murder, Violence and Homosexuality.”

Death is the worst. Hate crime against homosexual are violent. On March 14, 2007, in Wahneta, Florida, 25-year-old Ryan Keith Skipper was found dead from 20 stab wounds and a slit throat. His body had been dumped on a dark, rural road less than 2 miles from his home.

And who can forget the story of Matthew Shepard? He was a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming who was tortured and murdered on the night of October 6–7, and died at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 12 from severe head injuries. The worst of the story was the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, led by a certain Fred Phelps, picketed at Shepard’s funeral as well as the trial of his assailants, displaying signs with slogans such as “Matt Shepard rots in Hell”, “AIDS Kills Fags Dead” and “God Hates Fags”.

Homosexuality is not the disease. Gayness doesn’t kill; it’s those hate crimes fueled by religious and cultural bigotry that do. As I now understand them – their real issues, the discriminations, the personal suffering…of both mental and physical harm that bigotry and prejudice have been doing , I got rid myself for this homophobia and I now say to myself in that Pride March that I was gay even for a day.

Posted in Religion, Society11 Comments

How Jesus Stole Christmas

According to newly retired bishop Teodoro Bacani Santa Claus is stealing the true spirit of Christmas. He said Filipinos should remember that Christmas is meant to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

What?

Jesus wasn’t born on December 25, so why will it be his birthday?

According to Robert A. Sungenis , in the year 532 the monk Dionysius the Little stated that Christ was born on December 25, 1 BC. Other Catholic apologists connect Jesus’ death at Passover to his birthday. This view was first suggested by French scholar Louis Duchesne in the early 20th century and was fully developed by American Thomas Talley (Louis Duchesne, Origines du culte Chrétien, 5th ed. (Paris: Thorin et Fontemoing, 1925), pp. 275–279; and Talley, Origins.) According to this theory, somewhere in 200 C.E. Tertullian of Carthage reported the calculation that the 14th of Nisan (the day of the crucifixion according to the Gospel of John) in the year Jesus died was equivalent to March 25 in the Roman (solar) calendar. March 25 is of course, nine months before December 25. This was later recognized as the Feast of the Annunciation—the commemoration of Jesus’ conception. Thus, Jesus was believed to have been conceived and crucified on the same day of the year. Exactly nine months later, Jesus was born, on December 25.

Nevertheless they are Catholic apologetics. Most Christians don’t even agree with Roman Catholics that Jesus was born on December 25. For them, it was a way for Roman Catholics to connect pagan tradition to Christianity.

The Bible is silent over the issue of Jesus’ birthday. The only Gospels who recorded Jesus birth were Matthew and Luke, yet they did not give any specific date.

So when was it?

The Gospel of Matthew claimed that Jesus was born in Bethlehem during the reign of King Herod the Great (ca. 73 BCE – 4 BCE). You can find it on Matthew 2:1. Anyway, according to the Jewish historian Josephus Flavius Herod died after a lunar eclipse. That eclipse was said to occurred somewhere between 4BCE to 1 BCE. If that’s the case, then Jesus was born within those dates, according to Matthew.

The Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:1-3) said that on the time of Jesus’ birth, there was a world-wide census ordered by Ceasar Augustus (27 BCE – 14 CE). Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was then governor of Syria in that time (which is mentioned by Luke in Gamaliel’s speech recorded in Acts 5:37). Quirintus was governor from 6 to 7CE.

Now, Matthew said it was between 4 to 1 BCE while Luke says it is between 6 to 7 CE – That’s almost ten years apart!

And what month was Jesus born?

Reading the nativity stories from Matthew and Luke it is impossible to imagine that it took place in December. The Hebrew’s “Tevet” the ninth month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar which corresponded to November–December is subjected to windy cold weather and chilling rains. Reading the Old Testament can give us some evidence that the weather is chilly (Jeremiah 36:22) and rainy (Ezra 10:9, 13). So how can shepherds heard their sheep in a cold, rainy evening and do you think the Wise Men can see a bright star in a cloudy night?

Pagan Origin?

According to Werner Keller’s book The Bible as History, “December 25 is referred to in documents as Christmas Day in A.D. 324 for the first time. Under the Roman emperor Justinian [A.D. 527-565] it was recognized as an official holiday. An old Roman festival played a a major part in the choice of this particular day. December 25 in ancient Rome was the ‘Dies Natali Invictus,’ ‘the birthday of the unconquered,’ the day of the winter solstice and at the same time, in Rome, the last day of the Saturnalia, which had long since degenerated into a week of unbridled carnival…”(p. 331)

G.J. Whitrow said that the first mention of Christmas day in the Roman calendar was in 354 CE. December 25 was chosen to be the birthday of Jesus Christ to exorcise the festival of the solar solstice (Time in History pp. 69-70).

What ever the reason, that was the time when Rome has found the practical use of Christianity and started replacing paganism. Well, it’s really more like “just changing its clothes.” Most pagan traditions were copied by Christians and used them as their own. Tertullian (160 – 230 CE), one of the early Christian leader, even complained that too many fellow-Christians had copied the Pagan practice of adorning their houses with lamps and with wreathes of laurel at Christmas time.

Happy Birtday Mithras

Before Christians started celebrating Jesus “birthday” on December 25, another god was celebrating it on the same date. Mithras precedes the Christian Jesus by at least 600 years and his festival was celebrated every December 25.

Mithraism became very popular in Rome, especially to Roman soldiers. Roman worship of Mithras began sometime during the early Roman empire, perhaps during the late first century of the Common Era (hereafter CE), and flourished from the second through the fourth centuries CE. At the time of Emperor Hadrian (76 – 138 BCE), Mithraism was an important religion to the Romans.

According to the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, Mithraism was emphatically a soldier religion: Mithra, its hero, was especially a divinity of fidelity, manliness, and bravery; the stress it laid on good fellowship and brotherliness, its exclusion of women, and the secret bond amongst its members have suggested the idea that Mithraism was Masonry amongst the Roman soldiery (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10402a.htm).

Mithra is said to be the god of light and justice. Independently of the Zoroastrian reform, Mithra retained his place as foremost deity in the north-west of the Iranian highlands. After the conquest of Babylon this Persian cult came into contact with Chaldean astrology and with the national worship of Marduk. Mithra became the divinity of the Sun.

Here Comes The Sun.

December 25 also correspond to the Feast of the Natalis Solis Invicti – the Roman Sun festival.

In 274 CE, the Roman emperor Aurelian (215-275) adopted the Sun as the Supreme God of the Roman Empire and called it the Unconquered Sun – Sol Invictus.

The Philocalian calendar of 354 AD gives a festival of “Natalis Invicti” on 25 Dec. As the Sun travel south it reaches its lowest point in the sky. That’s winter solstice and it occur between December 21- 22. The ancient believed that the Sun dies in that time since they always notice that it “stop moving.” By December 25 the Sun will be returning northward thus it is again reborn – that’s the time when Romans celebrate the feast of Sol Invictus.

According to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, article on Constantine the Great:
“Besides, the Sol Invictus had been adopted by the Christians in a Christian sense, as demonstrated in the Christ as Apollo-Helios in a mausoleum (c. 250) discovered beneath St. Peter’s in the Vatican.”

The date for Christmas may also bear a relation to the sun worship. According to the scholiast on the Syriac bishop Jacob Bar-Salibi, writing in the 12th century:
“It was a custom of the Pagans to celebrate on the same 25 December the birthday of the Sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity. In these solemnities and revelries the Christians also took part. Accordingly when the doctors of the Church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnised on that day.” (Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries, Ramsay MacMullen. Yale:1997, p. 155)

So with this kind of a rap sheet about Christmas, I think Jesus and Bacani have a lot of explaining to do.

Posted in Religion5 Comments

Is this Necessary?

When we talk about any form of cosmological argument whether it’s from Thomas Aquinas or something as sophisticated as Dr. Craig’s Kalam Argument, the issue about “necessary” will always enter the picture.
So let us just talk about what most theists meant when they use the word “necessary.”

A Brute Fact?
I’ve notice that whenever God believers talk about the cosmological argument they always start the conversation that God as a necessary Being is a brute fact. That prompts Prof. Richard Dawkins to say, “They make the entirely unwarranted assumption that God himself is immune to the regress” (The God Delusion, p 101). That means before everything else, I have to accept the fact that God exist.

Getting a little bit technical, that means God is a necessary truth – if you conceive of it as false, you’ll end up contradicting yourself, because its truth is built right into the concept that composed it. To know that it is true, you don’t have to know anything but the meaning of those concepts; you don’t have to know any other facts about the world. So it is either God exist or the whole universe is unexplainable. This has something to do with the Principle of Sufficient Reason. According to this principle, nothing can exist without a sufficient reason for its existence.

This is an advance form of Anselm’s ontological argument. According to Norman Malcolm what we have to accept in talking about God is the following: (1) Either God’s existence is logically impossible or (2) it is logically necessary for God to exist. But we can’t select the first option since God is the greatest conceivable being we can think of. For God not to exist is a defect which contradicts the concept of God’s very nature. (Not a very good selection to choose eh?) So when we apply the Principle of Sufficient Reason, then VIOLA! God exist!

And what is the “sufficient reason?”

Bertrand Russell explained that the contingency argument rest on a misconception of what an explanation is and does and singularity on what it is that makes phenomena “intelligible.”

Suppose we have been asked to explain why Benigno Aquino III won the 2010 election. Do we have to look for his genealogy or to go back to Prehistoric Philippines to answer this? We can always answer things like his popularity on his rivals or the fact that because of his famous mom and dad, he became too popular to most Filipino voters. We can think of different reasons (causes and effects) but what matter is that we understand the reason. As stated by Russell, in order to explain a phenomenon or to make it intelligible, we don’t need to posit a necessary being.

God believers says that the Principle of Sufficient Reason can’t be wrong since it has been a part of the scientific worldview for a long time in the sense that scientists are committed not only in figuring out the way the world is but also the reason why it is that way. That’s true…but science is controlled by rules of discourse. In science necessarily entails objectivity whose propositions are constructed from data.

Going back on the issue, the facts of the matter in the issue of “necessary” is that there really aren’t any established reason to say that the existence of anything (including God) as necessary. Can you tell me one?

Necessary truths are not established on the basis of sense-experience. They are either intuitively analytic or deduced from intuitively acceptable premises. Logical and mathematical truths are generally regarded as the paradigms of necessary truths. It is a difference between “matters of logic” from “matters of facts”.

Want to know the difference?

OK…It is matters of logic to say that a triangle is an angle with 3-sides…Now to say that it doesn’t you are contradicting yourself. But it is a question of fact which logic alone cannot settle whether there’s a giant triangle standing in the middle of EDSA near Cubao’s Farmer’s Plaza on October 27, 2010 at exactly 7:30 AM.

Necessary truth can only be applied to statements because logic applies only on statements. So to accept that God is the most perfect, conceivable being I can imagine is a necessary truth and to say that it doesn’t exist will lead me to a contradiction. But to say that this “most perfect, conceivable being I can imagine” is here, talking to me right now and He’s wearing a pink boxer short…well…we’ll have a problem with that.

Ciao!

Posted in Religion10 Comments

Kumakalam Nanaman

In my recent article regarding the Kalam Argument on the existence of God, I have a…well…a reaction from a certain Christian reader. Ok…let me address his comments and at least the said comments can serve as an update on how Filipino Christian apologists approached the Kalam argument (as I have said in the last article, we all need an upgrade).

Christian: on Premise 1, William Lane Craig has already answered the atheist’s question. (Link: Question 106: Is God Actually Infinite?)

Is that the answer of premise 1? Let see…

(1) Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence.

I don’t even see any question to this premise.

I think what the premise is saying is that everything that came to existence has a cause.
Now going back to the issue, it seems the Christian taught that I was talking about the infinite existence of God. The issue here is if actual infinity cannot exist and God is infinite then how did He have lived through an infinite number of hours. I’m not talking about God but on the infinite “hours” that God have lived His life in another dimension.

Well, the best response here that a Christian can used is that God is outside time.

So again, that brings us to the problem of a God that is outside time.

Another response is that God’s time is different from the time in our universe. God’s time is different than our way of viewing things. It is much larger. Really?

So how can we be certain of this “God time?” Well, Dr. Craig calls this a “God’s metaphysical time.” (For more about Craig’s metaphysical time see this link.

According to Dr. Craig, metaphysical time is tensed, dynamic, and non-relative. There is an ever changing fact of the matter about which events are future, which present, and which past. Future events become present, present events become past, and past events sink further and further into the past. Now does this metaphysical time have a beginning? Yes according to Dr. Craig and the very first event in metaphysical time must be a timeless person.

If I’m going to accept this God could have created this metaphysical time long before creating the space-time of our universe, it follows that there could have been something temporally prior to the earliest point in space-time, and Dr. Craig’s argument for creation ex nihilo would then be false.

Anyway, according to Dr. Craig, “denying that God is actually infinite in the quantitative sense in no way implies that God is finite. This inference does not follow, since the quantitative sense of infinity may be simply inapplicable to God.” In short, only finite things are under that rule (pwera ang diyos).

So here’s the problem. Actual infinite cannot exist, yet an absolute infinite time can exist (that’s the time when God created the metaphysical time of course)..weh?

Those who started the Kalam argument feels that time is finite…for example, al-Kindi felt that time was finite because an actual infinite is impossible and time is a quantitative thing that must be finite in measure (1979, 25). Saadia also felt that the concept of infinite time is reduced to absurdity because of the problem of regressing an actual infinite (Craig, 1979, 39).

So that’s it…time is finite, yet God existed for an “infinite time”…oh well…

The Christian may not have been updated after all when he said: “God is outside our universe. He is also not subjected to time.” For WLC, God is “timeless, spaceless”(http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5180), which is different from the Christian’s response.
Moreover, I wonder where the Christian got the idea when he said,“God created this ‘place’ on his own being.” Actually he was led into it by the previous answer of the atheist, because he himself gave the wrong answer to the atheist.

Additional:
On timeless and spaceless:
“For as the cause of space and time, this entity must transcend space and time and therefore exist atemporally and non-spatially, at least sans the universe. This transcendent cause must therefore be changeless and immaterial, since timelessness entails changelessness, and changelessness implies immateriality. Such a cause must be beginningless and uncaused, at least in the sense of lacking any antecedent causal conditions. Ockham’s Razor will shave away further causes, since we should not multiply causes beyond necessity. This entity must be unimaginably powerful, since it created the universe out of nothing.” —WLC (http://www.euroleadershipresources.org)/resource.php?ID=51)

What are the problems to such claims? According to John R. Lucas, “To say that God is outside time, as many theologians do, is to deny, in effect, that God is a person.” (Concepts of Person and Christian Ethics by Stanley Rudman p. 154) He continues, “if I will try to resolve the problem of God’s omniscience by making him timeless, I may create a worse problem by denying to Him the essence of what it means to be a person.”
Ah OK…so a timeless and space less God is not a person. I can’t make a relationship with a non-person, can you?

The western Christian God is a personal god. He is a deity who judge people. This god in not a mere impersonal being – he thinks, imagine, act, he has emotion – he can be jealous, happy, sad and angry (a lot)

Being outside time.
The guy to be blamed here is the pagan philosopher Plotinus (204-207 CE). Plotinus took the idea from Plato who took it from guys like Parmenides. So, if you guys want a God who is quite beyond intellectual discourses, you can always rely on Plotinus to do the job right (Yep, Plotinus is also the guy who invented the Trinity Doctrine).

Now, since God is considered immutable (cannot and does not change) it was deem to be compatible on being timeless (again…thanks to the Neo-Platonists). Immutability and being eternal are Greek ideas of a perfect god.

If you believe that God is a person, well…you might encounter some problems.

A timeless being cannot think since mental events and successions of thought use up time. He doesn’t have any intelligence since thinking and planning requires time. Also, a timeless being is a block of stone since time is necessary for movement. In relation with space, a being who is timeless and space-less will be trapped in his own attributes.

On Premise 2:
With the introductory statement:
Pinoy Atheist just dumped Physics’ own definition of the universe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universe). I wonder how he could even start discussing about the universe with an atheist-physicist, if he could not even agree with the physicist in the definition of the universe.

With Pinoy Atheist’s question:
“Now if the universe is not included (or the same as) everything, then how can its beginning (the universe) the same with the beginning of everything?” he should ask a physicist, because that is physics’ claim.
Defining the Universe.

The Christian seems to define the word universe base on a physicist’s definition…now, how can we define the word “universe?”

According to his own source, the Wikipedia, it defines the universe as commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all physical matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space, although this usage may differ with the context. The term universe may be used in slightly different contextual senses, denoting such concepts as the cosmos, the world, or nature.

The word universe was derived from the Old French word Univers, which in turn derives from the Latin word universum.The Latin word was used by Cicero and later Latin authors in many of the same senses as the modern English word is used. The Latin word derives from the poetic contraction Unvorsum — first used by Lucretius in Book IV (line 262) of his De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things) — which connects un, uni (the combining form of unus’, or “one”) with vorsum, versum (a noun made from the perfect passive participle of vertere, meaning “something rotated, rolled, changed”). Lucretius used the word in the sense “everything rolled into one, everything combined into one”.

So what’s the difference between everything and the universe?

Well just look at your dictionary folks. Everything means, “All things or all of a group of things.”

Now again…is the universe included with everything or is it separate? If ‘universe’ is defined as the same as ‘everything’ (or vice versa) then a set should not be considered a number of itself. Now if the universe is not a member of itself, its beginning is not the same with the other beginning. Simple rule huh? And of course I don’t need to bother a physicist about it.

Pinoy Atheist claimed he dumped Premises 1 & 2. I did not even see any falsification that “The universe began to exist” in his presentation/imaginary discussion. I can’t even trace what he believes about the universe: if it eternal or temporal or what? So how does this dump the idea that “the universe began to exist,” if Pinoy Atheist affirms spontaneous cause of the universe? Did he not just agree with Premise 2?

Now let’s see, did I agree with Premise 2? In syllogism, the axiom or premises are not independent with one another. That means each premise is in relationship with each other. Now let see… In premise one: Everything that exists has a cause must follow premise 2 that the universe began to exist so we can have the conclusion that the universe has a cause.

Let’s review the following syllogism:
(1) Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence.
(2) The universe has a beginning of its existence.

So how did I eliminate those two?

In Premise (1) we found a problem in the word “everything”. 1.) It doesn’t include God. Remember that the Kalam argument is proving the existence of God, right? So why he is already excluded in the argument?
In Premise (2) I am questioning if the universe and “everything” (in premise 1) is the same entity?
So if Premise (1) and Premise (2) has a problem, how can we arrive at the conclusion?

If he says that I agreed to premise two that…”the universe began to exist in spontaneous cause” that violates premise one and that will have an effect with the conclusion. Oh, and why talk about what I believed? The article is not about me.

There are at least 10 possible interpretations of quantum mechanics, including determined and indeterminate. It cannot be conclusively said that quantum mechanics are spontaneous and accidents, not yet! Moreover, physicists are having a hard time proving that quantum mechanics can cause a universe. Probabilistic Causation is not WLC’s own. It is part of Philosophy

Who’s saying the term probabilistic causation is Dr. Craig’s own invention? You can find some references about this on Dr. Craig and Dr. Smith discussion on that matter (Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology By William Lane Craig, Quentin Smith).

Dr. Craig claims that quantum events are caused in a non predetermined manner which he calls probabilistic causality. That means the cause could be accidental, spontaneous – not predetermined.

I’ve already wrote a response to this base on David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779)
According to David Hume, “In such a chain too, or succession of objects, each part is caused by that which preceded it, and causes which succeed it. Where then is the difficulty? But the whole, you say, wants a cause. I answer that the uniting of these parts into a whole, like the uniting of several distinct counties into one kingdom, or several distinct members into one body, is performed merely by an arbitrary act of the mind, and has no influence on the nature of things. Did I show you the particular causes of each individual in a collection of twenty particles of matter, I should think it very unreasonable should you afterwards ask me what was the cause of the whole twenty. This is sufficiently explained in explaining the cause of the parts.”
That means when we speak of causes there must be an explanation for an event. Spontaneous events don’t have any explanation. No explanation, no cause.

Let’s be a little scientific here… According to Quintin Smith, “The wave function of the universe in Hartle and Hawking’s paper gives a probabilistic and noncausal explanation of why our universe exists. More precisely, it provides an unconditional probability for the existence of a universe of our sort (i.e., an expanding [and later contracting] universe with an early inflationary era and with matter that is evenly distributed on large scales). Given only their functional law of nature, there is a high probability that a universe of this sort begins to exist uncaused.” (Philo: A Journal of Philosophy, Volume 1, Issue 1, 1998, pp. 75-94.)

Until next time.

Posted in Religion, Science19 Comments

Faith as a Virtue?

October 25 will be election time again and this time we’re going to elect local candidates that will represent our baranggay. Funny that most of these aspiring candidates include Bible verses or the name of God on their campaign slogans and printed materials as if belief in God is a plus. It was not surprising that when Mrs. Aquino died in August 1, 2009, many reporters and articles (on newspapers, magazines, TV talk shows and the Internet) have pointed out her being faithful. The former President in known to her devotion to the rosary and the Roman Catholic Church.

I won’t criticize her on her personal devotion to God. That’s her business. What I’m after is how the common masses assume that when a person is devoted to God that makes him/her a good leader. As if faith is a positive virtue.

Believers assume everyone (even atheists and agnostics) have this er…faith. They say that non-believer have faith in the books that they read. They also say that we used faith daily in our lives. When we ride a taxi or a plane, we have faith that the driver or the pilot knew what he or she is doing. And so on.

So is this the same faith we used when talking about religious belief?

If you try looking in the dictionary, we see that faith is sometimes expressed to be synonymous with the word ‘trust’. Maybe that’s what some believers meant when they assume that even non-believers have faith. But we’re talking about faith in a religious sense. Trust or confidences about a high degree of belief are used for some certain claims or products. Well…your trust may be ill-based or inadequate. Your confidence from something or someone might be reasonable or unreasonable – but this is not the faith we are talking about. Trust or confidence doesn’t make a worldview. The faith that we are talking about doesn’t require any empirical evidences unlike some advertisements that show us data or statistics perhaps…Nope. This type of faith creates gods.

When our leaders rely in this kind of faith it means we as a nation are wishing for a Divine Providence to fix our problems by using His divine will for us…as if we can’t do it without the aid of a supernatural wishy-washy!

Hey! Believers will still insist that faith can strengthen our will. Just look at what happened in those miners that were trapped for two months in Chile, right?

Really huh? Remember that the will to survive is stronger that the will of God. If those miners surrendered their fate to the will of our Lord, I don’t think there will be any survivors left. Those Bibles and prayers just served as an inspiration to their will to live and even without those religious paraphernalia, the love to family and friends (plus the nature of the cave-in, air pockets, etc.) will also serve the same effect.

But was it an act of faith?

If we will define faith base on how religious believers define it then the answer is no. Even if those miners believed that God will save them, they still acted together to ensure their survival. The will to live is to cling on worldly matter, not on spiritual salvation.

Going back to the Philippine scenario. To believe that God will work a miracle to save your country is a different matter. When people start to believe that religious faith is a very important factor in selecting their leaders that spells trouble. Since God cannot (and doesn’t) speak certain people will claim to do the speaking for Him.

Bishops, priests, pastors and Ayatollah will imposed their doctrines and dogmas, their opinions based on their sacred writings to the rule of the land. Faith is now replaced by theocracy run by these “holy men.” Sacred books and divine knowledge will replace text books and science. Prayers will replace medicine and divine revelation will replace experiments.

The problems of this kind of faith are more than just believing, for this type of faith requires obedience and total control of someone’s life. Since this so-called “Supreme Being” is invisible, men will rely to the visible so-called self-appointed spokespersons of God, giving these “men of God” total power to control his life.

So this is what this faith can offer. It is an invisible shackle that some people are willing to place on themselves. It is a blindfold that believers willingly cover their eyes – a voluntary rejection of knowledge. A nation whose sovereignty wrapped by a thick veil of this faith is trap – it will never prosper and its people will remain ignorant. It will be ensnared in the doctrines of a few Ecclesiastical authorities.

Being a lifetime religious stooge is not a virtue.

Posted in Religion, Society23 Comments

Damaso!!!

Padre Damaso was a portrait – a perfect caricature of Roman Catholicism in the Philippines.

Dámaso Verdolagas was a perfect villain. Cunning, self-righteous hypocrite Damaso was a man of faith who hides a dark, immoral secret. A meddler with little concern to those he hurts.

Padre Damaso was an antagonist, just like today’s bishops (not only in Rizal’s time) – those who use religion not only as a shield, but also as a weapon, protection, citadel, fortress and armor.

It is not a new story, not even in the late 19th century Philippines. The Roman Catholic Church has been using it so-called divine right to meddle in secular affairs. Let us start from the beginning…no, not from Jesus who said to render unto Caesar what is Ceasars’ (Matthew 22:21).

Let us start from the Fathers of the Church. Ambrose (374-397 CE) was once a lawyer and the Governor of Liguria before becoming the Bishop of Milan insisted that the Catholic Church is supreme even to the Emperor. According to him, the emperor is within the church, not above it. Augustine (354-430 CE) wrote The City of God and on its pages he declared the infallible authority of the Catholic Church. According to him, if the state wants to be a part of the City of God, it has to obey the Church.

By the Middle Ages it was a tradition that only if kings walked the ways of righteousness, as the Church interpreted those ways, could they obtain felicity, good harvest and victory over their enemies. In that time, the king (which represents the state) gets his authority from the blessing of the Pope (Catholic Church) who believed to be the direct representative of Jesus here on earth…and that is not enough.

Lothario Conti who would later become Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) declared himself as the half-way between God and man. He imposed that everything in the world is the province of the Pope and that St. Peter has been ordained by Jesus to govern not only the universal church but the entire secular world.

And what did the Catholic Church gained? It acquired lands and riches that were given by kings that became patrons and this gave the Catholic clerics strong control over men.

Ekskommunikado ka!!!

Because of these recent events in the issue of artificial birth control and responsible parenthood, the word excommunication was again resurrected from its forgotten slumber.

Excommunication was the Roman Catholic answer to those who defy their orders…well that was when most people still believe in curses and bad omen. In those times, excommunication is the most horrifying thing that can happen to a person. When a person was excommunicated he is barred from participating in the liturgy in a ministerial capacity and from receiving the Eucharist or the other Sacraments. Well…your chances of going to heaven will be quite slim.

It was believed that social ostracism as form of a discipline can be found in the Bible (Matthew 18:17) but the idea originated in the pagan ritual of divotio. It was first described in detail in a 3th century Syrian document, the Didascalia. In 1078, Pope Gregory VII produced the Quoniam multus which was designed as a rule dealing with excommunicants. In fact, Gregory VII extended the idea and practice of excommunication.

In the Catholic Church, formal excommunication is normally resolved by a statement of repentance, profession of the Creed (if the offense involved heresy), renewal of obedience by the excommunicant and the declaration of the reconciliation itself, during the act of confession.

Here in the Philippines, it is said that all Catholics who participated in the creation of an independent church in the Philippines, in 1902 were excommunicated. Also, Xavier Eubra de Borja was excommunicated by Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of the diocese of Cubao in the Phillipines. de Borja untruthfully claimed to be an ordained priest when he was a layman even offering Mass and hearing confessions.

Canon 1398 provides that, “a person who procures a successful abortion incurs an automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication.” This means that at the very moment that the abortion is successfully accomplished, the woman and all formal conspirators are excommunicated. There are no laws in the Roman Catholic canon that says using artificial contraception can lead a person to be excommunicated.

Dr. Jose Rizal (1861-1896) wrote the Noli to distinguished the true religion from the false, the superstitious from that commercialism that uses the sacred word to extort money, to make us believe in foolish things, of which Catholicism would be ashamed if it had known from them…that is his own words. Well, as we recall our history, Catholicism was used by Spain not just to…er…spread the Good News.

Even today, the Roman Catholic Church still insist that its stand against artificial birth control is a call against the moral implication of these methods. The church is adamant that it is only protecting the state against immorality. But is morality the only issue? How about doctrines…are that also a part of the responsibility?

The main reason why the Catholic Church is against artificial birth control is found in their doctrines that promotes Natural Law. Artificial birth control methods alter God’s intention – the natural consequences when man and woman form a union. Pope Paul VI in his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae condemned artificial birth control methods as he said the following:

Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means.

But the Bible gives clear and direct guidance on many topics of morality, but not on birth control. In fact, the Bible is clear in that matter that if a fetus died but still unformed, the person that accidentally killed it will not receive the death penalty (Exodus 21:22). The Bible is also specific that life came from the blood (Leviticus 17:11)…so does that follow that a fetus is truly human when he is 18 to 21 days after conception?

Catholics believe that God gave humanity with stewardship to all of what He created. Does it also follow that it is natural for humans to seek all available alternatives?

Today the issue of over-population is turning our survival at a balance and the time has come for Roman Catholics to recognize that traditional dogmas can’t save us. Responsibility doesn’t end on conception, it starts there. Responsibility also includes thinking for your child and your neighbor’s welfare.

We must stop listening to Padre Damaso. All he did was to bring despair and hopelessness to Maria Clara and Ibarra. Personal theologies and doctrines are not solutions. What we must do is to throw Damaso and let the “Pilosopong Tasyo” re-kindle our rationality to save our own patrimony.

Posted in Society12 Comments

What's new with the "New Atheists?"

The “New Atheism”…wow…what’s that?

According to Wikipedia, the New Atheism refers to a 21st century movement in atheism. The term, which first appeared in the November 2006 edition of Wired magazine. It is sometimes pejoratively meant, to a series of six best-selling books by five authors that appeared in the period 2004–2008 (Sam Harris, Daniel C. Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Victor J. Stenger and Christopher Hitchens)

They and other supporters of the New Atheism movement are hard-line critics of religion. They state that atheism, backed by recent scientific advancement, has reached the point where it is time to take a far less accommodating attitude toward religion, superstition, and religion-based fanaticism than had been extended by moderate atheists, secularists, and some secular scientists.

According to CNN, “What the New Atheists share is a belief that religion should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises.”

Christian apologist Robert Morey wrote on his book “The New Atheism and the Erosion of Freedom” said, “The atheists of the old school took a rather relaxed, passive attitude toward God and the Bible. They felt that if people were foolish enough to believe in religion, that was their problem. These atheists did not feel the need to read through the Bible, desperately seeking contradictions or errors. They did not sit up night after night feverishly trying to formulate attacks against religion. They simply ignored religion. Thus modern atheists deny God’s existence because they actually hate God. They hate Him because this God demands they serve Him and fulfill the destiny He has decreed for them. This God gives man a revealed law which dictates what is right and wrong. God thus robs man of the freedom of being and choosing whatever he wants. God is viewed as the enemy that must be destroyed in order for man to reach his full potential. Instead of God being the measure of all things, man must be the measure of all things.”

So…what’s new then?

For centuries atheists, materialists and libertines have been critical with every religious claims and have been exposing errors and other ridiculous avers of certain religious doctrines.

In ancient Greece for example, the poet Diagoras of Melos broke a statue of Hercules and used it as firewood to cook turnips. The Carvaka in the 6th century BCE and Purana Kassapa attacked the Hindu doctrine of Karma. There were also Xun Zi (298-238 BCE) who questioned the uses of prayers and divinations.

Before Harris, Hitchens, Dawkins and Dennett, there were those who have already criticized the Christian religion and its holy book, the Bible.

In 200 CE the pagan philosopher, Celsus challenged the belief on Neoplatonic Christianity. In his treaties “The True World”, Celsus pointed out that Christianity took most of its concepts from pagan sources and plagiarized some of its stories from early Greek ideas. Christianity, according to him was a collection of borrowed and intellectual bankrupt ideas.

In the early part of 11th century, Ibn Najjah hinted the possibility of atheism and Ibn Tufayl showed awareness in evolution.

It was quite ironic that true atheism arguments started with two Roman Catholic priests: Cristovao Ferreira and Jean Meisler. Fr. Ferreira was a former Jesuit who after being tortured by the Japanese in 1614 recanted his faith. In 1636, Ferreira wrote a small book “The Deception Revealed” which he asserted that God did not created the universe. He also stated that religion like Christianity is just an invention of men to hold powers over their fellow men.

Jean Meisler (1664-1729), once the parish priest of Etrepiquy in the Ardennes, secretly wrote volumes of testaments against God, religion, the Bible and Christianity. These testaments were published after his death in 1729 and were titled as “Common Sense”.

According to Meisler, theology is but ignorance of natural causes reduced to a system and it is an insult to human reason. He also believed that faith is irreconcilable with reason and we must prefer reason to it.

Before the coming of the renaissance period, we already have people like Anthony Collins who questioned the prophecies of the Old Testament. Peter Ammet who argued that the resurrection story was a fabrication and Charles Blount who said that heaven, hell and the concept of original sin were just invented by priests to hold over the terror-stricken masses.

Critical examinations of biblical claims were not new. William Winston (1667-1752) and Jean Astruc started it in the early part of 16th century. Astruc established the Documentary Hypothesis that gives us the explanation why Moses did not wrote the first five books of the Bible.

There were books that show Bible errors in the early part of 17th century. Thomas Paine (1737-1809) wrote “the Age of Reason” which he analyzed the Christian belief in God and the Bible. It did not stop there. Abner Kneeland, Kelsey Graves and DeLobique Montimer Bennett wrote books that criticized Christian beliefs.

Abner Kneeland was indicted on three counts of blasphemy in 1834 for publishing that the whole story of Jesus Christ was just a fable and the Bible as a pack of lies created by hypocrites. Kelsey Graves wrote books like The Bible of Bibles, The Biography of Satan and The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors. D.M.Bennett (1818-1882) was the editor of the paper Truth Seeker. He wrote a criticism about Jesus entitled “An Open Letter to Jesus Christ”. He was arrested and imprisoned in 1877.

The American Atheists have already published a book about Bible errors before the term “New Atheism” was coined by Gary Wolf. Dennis McKinsey published the magazine Biblical Errancy in 1983 while in 1990 Farrell Till edited The Skeptical Review. Now we have more in-depth issues and scholarly works in exposing Bible errors – thanks to Mr. John W. Luftus, Dr. Hector Avalos, Shmuel Golding, Gerd Ludermann and John Allegro.

Criticism to the Bible, Christianity, Jesus and God already started somewhere in 200 CE, so…what’s new with the so-called “new atheists?”

Pinoy Atheist

Posted in Others, Religion16 Comments

The Hermit Crab – A Christian/Creationist Nightmare

Remember that issue about the banana as an atheist nightmare. Ray Comfort from “Way of the Master” uses a banana to prove that God exists which turns out to be a big joke.

It just proved that Mr.Comfort just don’t have the idea what a wild banana looks like. It’s interesting that Ray Comfort claimed that the modern banana was created by God. The banana was domesticated thousands of years ago, and the modern banana was created by humans via selective breeding and cultivation. The bright yellow bananas that we know today were discovered as a mutation from the plantain banana by a Jamaican, Jean Francois Poujot, in the year 1836. He found this hybrid mutation growing in his banana tree plantation with a sweet flavor and a yellow color—instead of green or red, and not requiring cooking like the plantain banana.

Now let us talk about the hermit crab (Elassochirus gilli). Hermit crabs (both marine and terrestrial) are members of the Phylum Arthropoda, Subpylum Crustacea, Order Decapoda. Unlike their crab cousins, these hermits have soft abdominal exoskeletons. Now here’s the problem.

Christian/Creationist like Mr. Ray Comfort argues that life came from a “Great Designer” – someone who can design Mr. Comfort’s banana.

And who is this banana designer? Why…it’s Mr. Ray Comfort’s God of course – the God that you can read in the pages of the Christian Bible.

Now according to the Genesis account, this God created all living creatures (Gen. 1:24) and this God is…ehem…perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4), making all his creations perfect. In fact, God pronounced it “very good”.

Let us go back to the hermit crabs situation. Since hermit crabs have soft bellies, they will not survive without having something hard to cover their bodies. That’s why they need empty univalve mollusks shells in order to live.

I have some hermit crabs for pet (both marine and terrestrial) and believe me, without a shell to cover their asses; hermit crabs would die in less than an hour. Some hermit crabs will even kill snails just to get hold of that precious shell.

So what happened?

It seems this “perfect god” forgot to give the poor ol’ hermit crab a shell.

If Christian/Creationist like Ray Comfort and ex-child star Kirk Cameron are right about their God creating every creature living in this planet, then looking at a hermit crab only confirms the notion that this Bible-based god is a dimwit.

What is the purpose of these shells-less creature if having no shell will endanger its survival? Where’s the perfect design on that?

Maybe Mr. Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron can provide us the answer using the power of the Holy Spirit…or…we can accept the fact that this Christian creation story is just a myth. There are no hermit crabs in the Judean desert and the writers of the Genesis myth are ignorant of the existence of such beautiful crustaceans.

Pinoy Atheist

Posted in Science17 Comments

Kumakalam na Kalam ( A Look at the Kalam Argument on the Existence of God)

Majority of Christian Filipinos who are into debates here in Manila are oblivious with William lane Craig’s Kalam argument on the existence of God. These guys need an upgrade!

Therefore, I guess Filipino non-believers as well are also in the dark if they encounter the argument.

So a little bit of FYI.

The idea came from the works of the 6th century Alexandrian philosophical commentator and Christian theologian Joannes Philoponos. His ideas were later developed by medieval Islamic theologians, the Mutakallim and called it ‘Kalam’ which means ‘speech’.

The Kalam argument was brought to Christian attention in a debate between Franciscan theologian John of Fidanza (St. Bonaventure) and Thomas Aquinas over the existence of God.

The basic premises of the Kalam argument are quite simple:

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Let us examine each premises.

Premise 1

Christian apologists insist that the first premise is obvious that it does not need an explanation. William Lane Craig calls this a metaphysical intuition.

Yet…Is God not included in premise 1?

Christian response: Only finite, contingent things need a cause. God is infinite and he is necessary.

Atheist: But according to Christian apologists such as Mr. Craig, actual infinity cannot exist. If God is infinite then He has lived through an infinite number of hours. This would contradict Mr. Craig’s claim that actual infinity does not exist.

Christian: God is outside our universe. He is also not subjected to time.

Atheist: So God is situated in a different place. Do you have any idea of a place that is without space and time? We can’t even call this ‘place’ a place since a place requires a “space”. Now if God created the universe from a timeless “place” that makes his action timeless (without beginning). Therefore, the act of creating the universe is an act of God that has no beginning, right? That’s an example again of an actual infinite…which sadly…according to Christian apologists like Mr. Craig, doesn’t exist.

Speaking of space…God occupy space on this er…place, right? If so, then how and when was this ‘place’ created? Surely, this ‘place’ also has a cause. If you said, God created this ‘place’ from another timeless-space less place then we’re now going into an Ad infinitum.

Christian: God created this ‘place’ on his own being.

Atheist: Hmmmmm…that sounded pantheistic. Anyway if this ‘place’ was created on God’s own being and God is eternal, then this place is eternal…again contradicting the Kalam argument.

Also, if God is immutable (doesn’t change) then this ‘place’ is also immutable…again a contradiction with the Kalam which says everything was created (finite and contingent).

Premise 2

We define ‘universe’ as the aggregate of all existing things – including time and space. Now, if “everything” is the same as the universe it contradicts one of the rules of the set theory that says, “No set should be considered a member of itself.” Yep…Georg Cantor (1845-1918). Now if the universe is not included (or the same as) everything, then how can its beginning (the universe) the same with the beginning of everything?

Christian: We…eh…GOD IS ALL-POWERFUL AND OMNIPOTENT!!! HE IS BEYOND HUMAN RULES AND LOGIC!!! YOUR SET RULES, PHILOSOPHY…WHATEVER WILL NEVER LIMIT GOD’S POWER!! IF HE WANTS BLUE TO BE GREEN OR YELLOW HE CAN DO IT!!! HE CAN DO EVERYTHING, EVEN IF IT’S IMPOSSIBLE FOR US!!! WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND GOD!!!

Atheist: Then Christian apologists like Mr. Craig and Mr. Giesler will be out of the job. Why will these guys spend money publishing books and why will I buy those books if God can’t be explained by human reasoning?

Going back to the subject, scientifically speaking, most Christians seem to be having trouble thinking of something that is “uncaused.” Believers speculate that these ‘uncaused’ events at the quantum level such as the spontaneous decay of a single atom of a heavy isotope are just a case of “just not knowing the cause.” Mr. Craig calls them as “probabilistic causality.” However, accidental causes are spontaneous, and spontaneous causes are not predetermined. According to David Hume (1711-1776) when we speak of ‘cause’, what we mean is an explanation for the event. So how can we explain spontaneous cause? Thus Mr. Craig’s “probabilistic causes are just another word for ‘uncaused cause”.

Now, since premise 1 and premise 2 can be refuted then there is no need to explain the conclusion.

Pinoy Atheist

Posted in Religion15 Comments

Eschatological Claptraps

Why the fascination with the end-times?

Throughout history, self-professed prophets of doom have given us predictions of the coming the end-times. I think religion needs some sort of eschatology to keep the local system on line. Belief about the end of the world is a very effective way of scaring the wits of the masses…or to keep believers waiting while doing mostly nothing…hehehe theology is a very boring subject.

It is not only found in Christianity. For example, there is a Buddhist story that says Buddha will come down to Shangri-La before the end of the age. There is also what Hindus call the Cyclic-Uproar – after the lapse of a hundred thousand years the world will be destroyed and the cycle will be renewed.

The Mayans believed that the world will be destroyed after the period of thirty-four thousand years…Nah! I’m not talking about the calendar that says the world will be destroyed in 2012. I’m talking about what was written on the last page of the Dresden Codex – the Mayan manuscript records of cosmic cycles.

The Vikings on the other hand believe that there will be a time when the gods will go kick each other’s ass. While the gods are killing each other, fire will burn all over the planet and no man will be spared.

In Zoroasterism, Ahura Mazda will someday destroy evil. Before the day of the ultimate world victory, Angra Mainyu (the Destroying Spirit) will make their final desperate stand. There will be wars and world-wide catastrophe. Then the ultimate savior, Saoshyant will arrive (sounds familiar?). The dead will be resurrected and hell will vanish. All the souls in hell will be liberated, released and purified. Then there will be an endless age of peace, purity, perfection and joy.

Here in the Philippines, a group of Rizalista (oh…these guys believed that a certain Felix Melgar is God. When I asked where can I find Mr. Melgar, they told me he’s already dead due to diabetes) predicted that the end time will start on June 2010…while the whole Philippines is busy choosing their president in the 2010 Presidential Election.

There was also this guy…Bionic Wonder Boy AKA Ronald Juaquin Marcos who predicted that a great world war will happened on March 16, 1991.

Notice that these tales seem to promote the same idea; that the old ways will be replaced by the new. With these change, everything that represents the old ways will be erased.

Eschatological Interpretations

When we look closely on these end-times predictions, it mostly represents certain issues. For example…

Early Christianity proclaims that the messianic time will come in their generation. Well Paul expected the Parousia will be arriving on his lifetime and the author that created the Gospel of Mark believed that the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem will be the beginning of the end. These beliefs are in effect the anticipation of the end of Roman rule in Palestine.

Lately, most doomsday prophets predicted (again) that the end time will come in the time when Rome falls. Well the Romans came and went…but the earth keeps on spinning. After the Fall of Rome, there are new reasons to choose from that will start the end of the world. Some thought that the end time started on the time of the Black Death (1348 and 1350).

Communists Scare

The rise of communism in Eastern Europe and South-East Asia became the new eschatological subject. By the 1917’s these prophets of doom were pointing their fingers on “godless communism” as the main culprit of the coming Millennium. Here, a good example…The Christadelphians claim that Daniel’s prophecy foretold the coming of a so-called Russian confederation that will subdue Turkey and incorporate Persia and Rome. Russia will come to agreement with Rome and will bent on world domination. Israel will fight Russia and Jesus will return (What on earth is Wrong with the World? Pp. 11-12 Vol. 28 July 1978 Number 2 – Edited by H.P. Mansfield)

If you were able to read a copy of the Fatima Crusader (Issue 25 Aug. Sept. 1988) you’ll notice that interpretation of the Fatima message usually predicts that Soviet Russia was chosen by God as an instrument of chastisement to punish the whole world.

In May 1917, three Portuguese shepherd children Lucia Dos Santos (now Sister Lucia) and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto saw the Virgin Mary and gave them a message. In that time Portugal was on the verge of totalitarianism after the revolution in 1910 which deposed the Catholic backed royal government of King Manuel II and established the Portuguese First Republic.

The message of the Lady of Fatima is against communism. One of Mary’s revelations at Fatima specially denounced Russia and predicted a worldwide disaster unless people rejected communism and return back to Catholicism.

But what’s the real score?

Well…we should heed the Virgin Mother to abstain from sin and to ignore those clergy or lay people who tell Catholics that they can use contraception and have an abortion and who says you can vote a pro-abortion candidate…heck! I’m just waiting for another Virgin apparition that will tell Filipinos not to support the RH Bill, but I think President P-Noy already took care of that…so no need for the Virgin to come to this country. As the late Carl Sagan noted on his book The Demon Hunted World, “…some of the apparitions have taken on greater import…the Virgin was incensed that a secular government had replaced a government run by the Church…the end of the world was threatened unless conservative political and religious doctrines were adapted forthwith.” (pp 146-147)

So the Berlin wall crashed and Glasnoth was established in Russia without the aid of a “dancing sun”. Soviet communism cease to exist but the world continued to spin…so does end-time predictions.

When the cold war between Russia and America ended, these self-professed prophets began to invert other ways to deliver their message and make it sound credible. They began to point at…anything they can point at.

Herbert W. Armstrong (founder of the Worldwide Church of God and host of the World Tomorrow TV broadcast) for example believed that a so-called Ten nations in Europe (which was symbolized by the beast with ten horns in Revelation) will join together to make war with the United State, Britain and other English-speaking nations…which Armstrong believed to be the remnants of the original ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Well…that was when European Union (EU) only has ten members. Now EU has 27 member states so I guess there isn’t any beast in the Bible that has 27 horns.

So we ran out of “commies” and “ten nations”…what’s next?

We still have solar flares, planetary conjunctions, Mayan calendars and invisible large asteroids.
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Here’s a partial list of “prophets” and their “predictions”.

Saint Clement predicted that the world end would occur at 90 CE.

2nd Century CE: Prophets and Prophetesses of the Montanist movement (A movement created by a certain Montanus , who predicted that the end of times were upon the world) predicted that Jesus would return sometime during their lifetime and establish the New Jerusalem in the city of Pepuza in Asia Minor.

Gerard of Poehlde decided that the millennium had actually started in 306 CE.

A man by the name of Hilary of Poitiers, announced that the end would happen in 365 CE.

The Donatists, a North African Christian sect, predicted the world would end in 380 CE.

Lactantius Firmianus (260 – 340CE), called the “Christian Cicero”, from his Divinae Institutiones: announces that, “The fall and ruin of the world will soon take place” somewhere in 410 CE.

Saint Martin of Tours, a student of Hilary, was convinced that the end would happen sometime before 400 CE.

The antipope Hippolytus and an earlier Christian academic Sextus Julius Africanus had predicted Armageddon at 500 CE.

The theologian Irenaeus predicted the second coming of Jesus in the year 500.

Bishop Gregory of Tours, who died in 594CE, calculated the Time of the End for sometime between 799 and 806.

Lotharingian computists foresaw the End on Friday, March 25, 970

Beatus made the prediction on Easter Eve, predicting the end of the world 793. When that didn’t happened, he wrote in his Commentary on the Apocalypse that the world would end in the year 800 at the latest.

The Christian prophetess Thiota predicted the world would end in 848.

Many Christians in Europe had predicted the end of the world on January 1, 1000.

Various Christian prophets predicted the end of the world in the year 1184.

A Dominican monk named Brother Arnold gained a following when he wrote that the end was about to take place in 1260.

Pope Innocent III predicted the end of the world in the year 1284, 666 years after the founding of Islam.

The friar Petrus Olivi predicted Antichrist’s coming between 1300 and 1340, after which the world would enter the Age of the Holy Spirit, which itself would end around the year 2000 with Gog and the Last Judgement.

John of Toledo predicted the end of the world during 1186.

Joachim of Fiore predicted in 1190 that the Antichrist was already in the world, and that King Richard of England would defeat him. The Millennium would then begin, sometime before 1205. They again re-scheduled the end of the world, this time to the year 1335

Constantine’s reign. Thus, the world end was expected in 1306 CE.

A Frenchman, Jean de Roquetaillade, published a guide to the tribulation. Imprisoned for most of his adult life, he predicted Antichrist in 1366, to be followed in 1369 or 1370 by a millennial Sabbath. Jerusalem, under a Jewish king, would become the center of the world.

Czech archdeacon Militz of Kromeriz claimed the Antichrist was alive and well and would show up no later than 1367, bringing the end of the world with him.

Martinek Hauska, near Prague, led a following of priests to announce the soon Second Coming of Christ. They warned everyone to flee to the mountains because between February 1 and February 14, 1420, god was to destroy every town with Holy Fire, thus beginning the Millennium.

Some mystics in the 15th century predicted that the millennium would begin during 1496.

Anabaptist Thomas Müntzer, thinking that he was living at the “end of all ages,” in 1525

Melchior Hoffman predicted that Jesus’ return would happen a millennium and a half after the nominal date of his execution, in 1533. The New Jerusalem was expected to be established in Strasbourg, Germany. He was arrested and died in a Strasbourg jail.

French theologian Pierre d’Ailly predicted the end of the world in 1555.

In 1578, physician Helisaeus Roeslin of Alsace, basing his prediction on a nova that occurred in 1572, predicted the world ending in 1654 in a blaze of fire.

Philip Melanchthon, ally of Martin Luther, claimed that a divine numerical cycle, chiefly utilizing the numbers 7 and 10, would culminate in 1588, which was 10×7, years from Luther’s 1518 defiance of the Pope. It was then that the seventh seal would be opened, Antichrist be would be overthrown, and the Last Judgement would occur.

Martin Luther predicted that the world would end no later than the year 1600.

Dominican monk Tomasso Campanella wrote that the sun would collide with the Earth in 1603.

Eustachius Poyssel used numerology to pinpoint 1623 as the year of the end of the world.

Joseph Mede, whose writings influenced James Ussher and Isaac Newton, claimed that the Antichrist appeared way back in 456, and the end of the world would come in 1660.

The Old Believers in Russia believed that the end of the world would occur in 1669.

Anglican rector Thomas Beverly and notorious witch chaser Cotton Mather predict the end of the world in 1697.

John Napier, the mathematician who discovered logarithms, applies his new mathematics to the Book of Revelations and predicts the end of the world for 1688.

Benjamin Keach, a 17th century Baptist, predicted the end of the world in 1689.

British theologian and mathematician William Whitson predicted a great flood similar to Noah’s for October 13, 1736.

Charles Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism, thought Doomsday would be in 1794.

William Miller predicts Jesus would return in 1844.

Rev. Edward Irving predicted that Jesus will return in 1864.

Joseph Smith declared that Christ will return by the time he’s 85 years old. He never reached his 85th birthday. He was killed in jail together with his brother in 1844.

An unknown “prophet” predicted that Christ will return on March 5, 1888.

Rev. Michael Baxter, editor of the Christian herald, predicted that the Rapture will occur in 1896 and the world will end in 1901.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses predicted the return of Christ in 1914.

In 1917 at Fatima, three small children claimed to see Mary and that they were given three prophesies. According to the prophesy, an era of peace will arrive in 1995. Evil will be paralyzed and will almost vanish from this world. In May 13, 2000, the “secret prophecy” of Fatima was announced. (It seems the Virgin Mother forgot to prophesized those attacks that will happen on September 11, 2001.)

1973 – Sister Agnes Katsuko recieved a message from the Virgin Mary that the world will end in 2000
The Davidians, headed by Victor Houteff waited the return of the Lord Jesus on April 22, 1959, but failed.

1980 Psychic Jeanne Dixon predicted a world holocaust for the 1980s, and the rise of a powerful world leader, born in the Middle-East in 1962.

Edgar C. Whisenant, in his book 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988, gave a three day period in September for the saints to be “caught up with the Lord.” When this failed, he issued another book claiming that he was a year off, and urging everyone to be ready in 1989.

North Carolina prophecy teacher Colin Deal has set dates for the return of Christ for 1982 or 1983, 1988, 1989, and in a March 17, 1989.

Hal Lindsey believed that the world will end in 1988 because of the “Jupiter Effect”.

1988 was the expected time of the Rapture. The Trinity Broadcasting Network believes it will happen on September 11 and 12 while Hart Armstrong, chairman of Christian Communication said that it will occur on September 29 and 30 in the same year.

Elizabeth Clare Prophet predicted the end of the world by nuclear war in 1990.

Larry Wilson, a former Seventh-day Adventist pastor, predicted four massive global earthquakes beginning around 1994 and ending in 1998 with the Second Coming.

Arab- Christian prophet Om Saleem claimed that the antichrist was born November 23, 1933, that his unveiling would come in 1993 and the rapture in 1994.

California evangelist Harold Camping predicted that the world will end in 1994.

George Curle predicts God’s judgment on the antichrist will be in 1999, the Tribulation will follow on 2002 and Christ return and the Millennium in 2005.

Rev. J.S. Malan predicts the Great Tribulation on September 1995 and the Second Coming of Christ will be in 2002.
Dr. James Mckeever (editor of the End Times News Digest) declared that the end time will be somewhere betwen 1997 and the year 2030.
Lee Jang Rim of the South Korean Tani Church predicted the Rapture will happen on October 28, 1992 and the Millennium will begin in 2000
.
Marilyn J. Agee published he so-called Bible-base predictions that the Rapture will occur on May 1998, the end of the age on September 12, 2007, the return of Jesus on April 6, 2008, Armageddon on May 30, 2008 and the Millennium will begin on May 31, 2008.
Samuel Doctorian announced that the Great Tribulation will occur on June 20, 1998.

Monte Kim Miller claimed that the Tribulation will occur in 1999.

Eileen Lakes predicts a pole-shift will happen in 1999.

Robert Blake says that Armageddon will start on September 20, 1999.

H.J. Hoekstra believed that the Rapture will happen on September 27, 1999.

Daniel Adam Millar predicted that on September 6, 2000, the antichrist will proclaim himself God and Armageddon will start on September 13, 1993.

Jack Van Impe says that Armageddon starts in 2001.
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What happens when a “prophetic prediction” fails?

They never ran out of excuses…

William Miller and his followers were so convinced that the second coming of Jesus will occur on March 21, 1843. When that didn’t happened, Miller announced to his disappointed followers that there was just a simple error in calculation the date, so he re-scheduled the Millennium on March 21, 1844.

Riding on Miller’s mistake, Ellen Gould White and her husband James founded the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and declared that the Day of Judgment was being delayed because people are still doing their worship on a Sunday instead of Saturday as declared in the Bible.

Charles Taze Russell and Jonas Wendel have a better excuse. They declared that the second coming will occur in 1874. When nothing happened, Russell claimed that Christ did returned but only in invisible form…Yep…and only those members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses can know it…yeah…whatever. By the way, the Jehovah’s Witnesses keep postponing the end times…1914, 1915 to 1916 and even today the followers of Russell’s church still continues to offer ‘evidence’ that the world is experiencing its final age.

From elaborate excuses to a simple “our prayers were answered”, these self-professed prophets will not stop. Why? Money…Power…you name it!

Hal Lindsey has sold tens of millions of copies of his ‘prophetic’ books including The Late Great Planet Earth. Harold Camping sold thousands of books outlining his predictions. It supplied the needed money to finance the Aum Shinri Kyo (Aum Supreme Truth). Chizuo Matsumoto (AKA Shoko Asahara) wrote books about the coming apocalypse by mixing Hindu and Christian ideas plus some apocalyptic prophecies of Nostradamus and the Buddhist’s concept of ‘mappo’. And it earns over 1.2 million pounds.

Speaking of Nostradamus. A lot of publishers, authors and commentators earned money for re-interpreting Michel de Notredams 1555 and 1558 “Centuries.” But unknown to the gullible public, Nostradamus rhyming quatrains are not prophesies but random poems re-interpreted to fit future history and pre-conceive ideas about the end-time.

It seems quite strange that these charlatans gain their fortune through death and destruction. Why the fascination with death and ‘the end’? Maybe instead of predicting a chaotic future we could start thinking right now for better solutions that will benefit every living thing in this planet. Eschatology offers nothing and what’s worst, end time predictions always fail. If you want change, ACT NOW.

Pinoy Atheist

Posted in Religion3 Comments

Biblical Morality?

I was intrigued by the quote that I saw in the Internet, something that was said by a certain T.B. Wakeman “The word moral does not occur in the Bible, not even the idea.”
What? How can that be?

I grew up as a Christian and believed that the Bible was the foundation of morality…well…I thought it was, but hey, we can find the Ten Commandments in its pages, right? There is also this Jesus fellow who taught me to be good. That can be counted, right?

Since the Bible was inspired by God and every Christians know that God is good they blame the decay of society and the lost of moral values as the result of the decline in Bible reading and the lack of God belief. Tim LaHaye, co-author of the Left Behind series and one of the founders of Moral Majority agrees and said, “…since moral conditions have become worse and worse in direct proportion to humanism’s influence, which has move our country from a biblically based society to an amoral “democratic” society. “
Ok…so let us talk about morality base in the Bible.

Since Christians all agree that God inspired the Bible, let us look at God’s morality first.

According to Christian claims, God is suppose to be a god of love (1 John 4:16; Psalms 145:15-16 and Matthew 5:9), a righteous judge (Genesis 18:25), fair (Ezekiel 18:25) and impartial (Roman 2:11).

However, reading the Bible will also give us a different personality.

1.) That this God is a jealous god.
A perfect, omnipotent being getting jealous?

  • Exodus 20:5, 34:14
  • Deuteronomy 4: 24, 5:9
  • Psalms 79:5, 78:58
  • Joshua 24: 19
  • Ezekiel 16:38, 38:19
  • Zechariah 8:2
  • Nahum 1:2

2.) He orders plunder.
Exodus 3:22Deuteronomy 20:14, and Ezekiel 39:10

3.) He deceives.
O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived….” (Jer. 20:7)

If the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel” (Ezek. 14:9)

Ah, Lord God! Surely thou hast greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace; whereas the sword reaches unto the soul” (Jer. 4:10).

…God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false, so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:9-12).

2 Chron. 18:18-22, 1 Kings 22:20-23 and Jer. 15:18.

4.) He command killing (even innocent women and children).
ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. And five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put 10,000 to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword” (Lev. 26:7-8).

the Lord said to Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel. And Moses said to the judges of Israel. Slay every one his men that were joined to Baal” (Num. 25:4-5).

Vex the Midianites and smite them” (Num. 25:17).

But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breathes. But thou shalt utterly destroy them…as the Lord thy God has commanded thee” (Deut. 20:16-17).

So Joshua smote all the country of the hills…he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded” (Joshua 10:40).

As I listened, god said to the others, ‘Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. Slaughter old men, young men and maidens, women and children….” (Ezek. 9:5-6).

So I guess Thomas Jefferson was right about God when he said, “A being of terrific character – cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust.” In addition, Thomas Paine was correct when he said, “All our ideas of the justice and goodness of God revolt at the impious cruelty of the Bible. It is not a God, just and good, but a devil, under the name of God, that the Bible describes.”

Reflecting from Xenophanes’ quote…if an ancient culture creates a god, it will reflect their standard of morality, the same on how horses and lions will create their gods.

Now let us talk about God’s only begotten son, Jesus.

Many people, and unfortunately even some freethinkers and agnostics, think that Jesus was a great teacher. People like Thomas Paine calls Jesus as such and Robert Ingersoll who was very impress with the so-called “Sermon on the Mount”.

When I was still a Christian, I also thought that this Man-God excel not only as a teacher but also in regards to ethics. I was 12-years old at that time.

Bible believers say that Jesus’ morality is at its best in the Sermon in the Mount (AKA the Beatitudes). You can see it in Matthew 5:3-11. Well they may be admirable, but it has little value as a moral code. The Beatitudes are unrealistic. If we take away most of its supernatural rewards, what is left are a bunch of Consuelo de bobo (hollow consolations).

The reason behind this is obvious. Jesus is teaching ethics base on the promise of divine rewards and treats of supernatural punishments. He does not teach by the content of his moral code but on his conception of himself and his divinely appointed mission.

How about Jesus’ other moral precepts?

Most of his teachings we re-hashed from other teachers and some were lift from the pages of the Old Testament. The Golden Rule for example was advocated by Confucius (Doctrine of Mean 13) 500 years before Jesus and you can also find it in the Seven Rules of Hillel.

What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor that is the whole Torah … (b.Shabbat 31a)

Isocrates (436–338 BCE), the ancient Greek rhetorician have also said,”Do not do to others what would anger you if gone to you by others.”

Matthew 5:39 can also be found in Leviticus 19:18 and in the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

I am good to people who are good.
I am also good to people who are not good.
Because Virtue is goodness.
I have faith in people who are faithful.
I also have faith in people who are not faithful.
Because Virtue is faithfulness
(Tao Te Ching 49)

In addition, the same teaching is seen in Confucianism, the Buddhist’s Dhammapada and at the Indian Ramayana.

Someone said, “What do you say concerning the principle that injury should be recompensed with kindness?” The Master said, “With what will you then recompense kindness? Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness.” (Confucianism. Analects 14.36)

Conquer the angry one by not getting angry (i.e., by loving-kindness); conquer the wicked by goodness; conquer the stingy by generosity, and the liar by speaking the truth. (Dhammapada 223)

A superior being does not render evil for evil; this is a maxim one should observe; the ornament of virtuous persons is their conduct. One should never harm the wicked or the good or even criminals meriting death. A noble soul will ever exercise compassion even towards those who enjoy injuring others or those of cruel deeds when they are actually committing them–for who is without fault? (Ramayana, Yuddha Kanda 115)

Christian apologist Norman Giesler insisted that Jesus ethics is an ethics of love, but American author Ruth Hurmence Green disagrees – “They told me the Bible was a book about love, but I studied every page of that Bible, and I couldn’t find enough love to fill a salt shaker.”

There are other Bible stories that saturated with obscenities, degeneracy and immorality. Some have questionable moral values and others even promote profanity and corruption.
Here are some samples:

Genesis 19:8
Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.

2 Samuel 13:11-14
11 But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.”
12 “Don’t, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me. Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. 13 What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” 14 But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.

Genesis 34, The defilement of Danah

Genesis 38, The narratives of Judah, Omar and Tamar

Genesis 30: 14-16
14 During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
15 But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?”
“Very well,” Rachel said, “he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.”
16 So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. “You must sleep with me,” she said. “I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he slept with her that night.

Genesis 30: 3-6
3 Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my maidservant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and that through her I too can build a family.”
4 So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her, 5 and she became pregnant and bore him a son. 6 Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.” Because of this she named him Dan.

Genesis 16, The story of Abraham and Sarah and the illicit intimacy with Hagar.

Genesis 30: 25-43, Jacob’s trick Laban.

[Visit The Bible Unmasked for more examples.]

When confronted by these issues, Christian apologists like William Arndt say, “When it speaks of sin, it describes it in its ugliness, so that disgust and horror enters the heart of the readers. Not once for a moment, does it leave the high moral level of stern opposition to unrighteousness in all its form.”
What moral value? Ah OK…Peter called Lot a “righteous man” (2 Peter 2:7) even when Lot was giving his daughter to be raped by a mob. What moral value does it show…that giving your daughter to be rape is a good thing to do…I don’t think so?

There are countries out there that have not even heard of this Christian Bible, and there are those who do not care about it, yet they even have a higher moral value compare to Bible-believing western nations. Japan for example, where honesty and honor are of the highest value, deems the Bible as 重要ではない. Most countries in Asia values cleanliness, respect to the elders and reverence to their parents yet they knew nothing of Yahweh, nor Moses, Jesus or Paul yet compare to the most pious Christian nation, their place are not riddled with crime, vices and corruption.

Ironic isn’t it?

Pinoy Atheist

Posted in Religion2 Comments

Where’s Your Conscience?

It is the traditional teaching of the Roman Catholic church that the conscience is the final judge whether an action is in conformity with objective law or not.

According to Thomas Aquinas, conscience is connected to the rational faculty of man. Now, what if this rational faculty is corrupted? Remember, religious, philosophical and political beliefs, misguided idealism, malicious propaganda and poor education can corrupt a person’s rational faculty.

What happens then? Well, then conscience becomes unreliable. That is why Aquinas becomes the victim of his own theory when he defended the evils of the Inquisition “in good conscience.”

In nature…

Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican who was greatly influenced by the philosophy of Aristotle. Aristotle believes that human are by nature good. Benedict de Spinoza (1634-1677) also believed that men are not conditioned to live by reason alone, but by instinct. Greatly influenced by Spinoza, Giambattista Vico (1688-1744) believed that God’s law were immanent not transcendent. God places these laws in us by instinct. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) and Gottfried Herder (1744-1803) both believed that men are guided by natural law, but unlike Aquinas, they believed that reason (not conscience) is the sole arbiter of truth and falsehood, of good and evil. These ethical theories influenced Thomas Jefferson’s “inalienable rights” which were stated in the United States Declaration of Independence.

However, some believed that nature could not provide the norm and pattern for moral behavior. The Lisbon earthquake of 1747 brought out a moral dilemma regarding natural moral law. Voltaire (1694-1778) asked if nature is good, then there must be no evil. John Stuart Mill suggested that ethical naturalism is blind to the obvious darker side of nature, the side marked by physical disorder and calamities, the aberration of the human heart and the tragedy of history. Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) stated that the natural condition of man is war. Since the main law of nature is self-preservation, it follows that men are obliged to confer all their power and strength upon one man or upon one assembly of men that will reduce all their wills to one will. There must be someone who has the power to enforce contracts and obligation.

Going through Hobbes, John Locke, (1632-1704), like Hobbes, believe that man by nature are equal (not good). But unlike Hobbes, he believe that civil society will prosper with reason. Therefore, instead of conscience, society must set up a known authority to which everyone may appeal and obey. However, this authority should be judge in each own case. Common good is now not based in instinct and nature, but is determined by standing laws, statutes that all are aware of and agreed to.

Natural moral law is definitely a double-edged sword. If a Christian would insist that morality in embedded in nature, what do I have to lose? If that is true, then we don’t need a God to discover morality. If Darwin was right about morality, that it (like cooperation and altruism) evolved to humans (through natural selection) then who needs God.

Speaking of morality, I prefer Mr. David Ramsay Steele’s explanation regarding this issue. His view is that the structure of moral theory is just as objective as the structure of, say, medical theory. Now, practicing morality, like practicing medicine, requires an input of subjective values. In the case of morality, these values derive from empathy from other conscious beings. This empathy is in fact, almost but not quite universal among humans. (Atheism Explained – From Folly to Philosophy p.289).

Posted in Society6 Comments

Let’s talk about our sanity for a change.

If a person believes that he is being guided by invisible elves, chances are you will call him bonkers, but when a group of people began to believe it, we call that religion.

When Richard Dawkins published The God Delusion, many people were shaken. Boy! I never taught it was possible to find that book in some bookstores in Manila.

I remember attending this atheist gathering here in Manila – I do not exactly remember the date, but just for some kicks – I asked one of the waiter on what he thinks about people who doesn’t believed the existence of God. Well…what I got was quite a surprising response: They’re not human.

If a person doesn’t believe in God, people seem to think negatively of him. Instead of contemplating about his reasons for not believing, they seem to concentrate more on some issues…negative issues in the non-believer’s life. Maybe something happened to him or that some of his prayers (or wishes) were not answered. That is why he is now rejecting God.

Christian apologists oftentimes rub more salt into the injury. In the medieval idea, John Chrysostom said that a man who does not fear God does not exist and his nature is somehow not human. Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain said that atheists have an inferior moral and psychological status.

H.C. Rumke placed all atheists in the class of the mentally sick when he said, “Unbelief is an interruption in development.” (The Psychology of Unbelief 1962 p.13)

What?

Alister McGrath even said that atheism is an outcome of anxiety, despair and alienation.

Well that was then…this is now.

Today we have an idea of what kind of madness god belief can do and fortunately, we have history as a backup. Just imagine how many people were killed because of religious wars and the insanity brought by the Inquisition and the Crusade. Golly! That is worse than being delusional. How many more were killed by religious suicide bombers, who believe that their action will bring him and his family to heaven?

Those are extreme cases. Let us focus on a more subtle side of this insanity.

Just go to Luneta Park on a Sunday night and watch these “Attorneys of God” debate their blues away. Believe me it’s better than Jack TV and Comedy Central. Just imagine the confusion…and to think about it, they’re debating a book which all of them read and believe to be the “Word of God.” And they say God is not the author of confusion.

How many religion, denomination or churches insist to be “the true one?” How many founders of these religions declare himself as “Son of God”, “the true messenger of God” or an “Angel of God”? Sheer madness!

I was reading Joseph’s Campbell’s Myth to Live By, and noticed chapter 10 of that book. Campbell wrote that the imagery of schizophrenic fantasy perfectly matches that of a mythological hero’s journey (p.202). Well…as always, Mr. Campbell explained it very well. Now I am applying these ideas in a typical believer’s state of mind. Christians seems to create a world of their own, surrounded by invisible beings like God, angels, devils, Satan and nefelims. This is the same symptom of a person suffering with essential schizophrenia – a withdrawal from the impact of experience of the outside world. When a Christian starts to interpret the world base on his wonderland, now that is paranoid schizophrenia.

Karl Marx once said religion is the opium of society…who can blame him? Drug use is common in some religious practice. Shamans or priests employ the use of plants like Psilocybe cubensis, Amanita muccaria (Fly Agaric) and yep…even Canabis (marijuana) in some of their rituals.

Hallucinogens were also utilized. For example, a priestess breathed gasses that seep out on rocks in the oracle in Delphi that have mild hallucinogenic effects and a priest translated her incoherent “prophecies”.

How about people giving their properties, money and other valuable stuffs on a conman, just because this phony can interpret the Bible very well? There is also this Christian sect that prohibits the use of modern medicine or blood transfusion, even in times of emergency. Just imagine what kind of mentality a parent has who can sacrifice the life of their own child who badly needs the medicine or the blood transfusion…just because their church prevents them.

In addition, Yahweh was diagnosed to be suffering from bipolar disorder…Good grief!

Posted in Politics, Society1 Comment

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