Tag Archive | "belief"

FF Podcast (Audio): Michael Shermer (Conversations for a Cause)


Conversations for a Cause: Michael Shermer

Conversations for a Cause is a series of interviews with celebrity freethinkers, part of an online donation drive to support ongoing Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) relief and rehabilitation efforts.

This week, we talk with author and founder of The Skeptics Society, Michael Shermer. We discuss whether God is dying, atheism vs skepticism, and why smart people believe in strange things.

You may also download the podcast file here.




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A Conversation with Michael Shermer


Conversations for a Cause is a series of interviews with celebrity freethinkers, part of an online donation drive to support ongoing Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) relief and rehabilitation efforts.

This week, we talk with author and founder of The Skeptics Society, Michael Shermer. We discuss whether God is dying, atheism vs skepticism, and why smart people believe in strange things.

You may also download the video file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

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A Conversation with Richard Carrier


This week, we talk with the historian and philosopher, Richard Carrier. We talk to him about the evidence for Jesus’ historical existence (or lack thereof), whether God enjoys being gang banged, and Atheism Plus.

His book, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt, will be out June 2014.

Watch his lecture, “Is Philosophy Stupid?” from Skepticon 6.

Conversations for a Cause is a series of interviews with celebrity freethinkers, part of an online donation drive to support ongoing Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) relief and rehabilitation efforts.

You may also download the video files here: Part 1 and Part 2.

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Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

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FF Podcast (Audio) 025: Do Believers Give More to Charity?


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This week we talk about believers giving more to charity than atheists. Then, we discuss what encourages charity and altruism.

You may also download the podcast file here.




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Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

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FF Podcast (Audio) 008: The Palatino Bill Predicament


In our very professional podcast that is also a video, Red, Pepe and Margie talk about Kabataan Party-List Rep. Mong Palatino’s withdrawal of HB 6330, or the “Religious Freedom in Government Offices Act.”

You may also download the podcast file here.



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Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

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Bound by Belief: Are Catholics Obliged to Obey?


And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

– Matthew 16:19

A reader of my post on primacy of conscience had an issue with my use of the word “bound” when I implicitly concluded that Catholics are bound to obey the Church. His main objection was that together with my use of “prison” in the title, “bound” implied that the Church took away the freedom of Catholics to make up their own minds. He concluded that because a Catholic can refuse to obey the Church on certain things, he is not bound.

I’ll explain here that my usage of the term is accurate and the objection is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of obligations.

Bound by Duty

One of the synonyms of “obligated” or “obliged” is “duty bound.” Also, “bound” has several dictionary definitions, but I used (and use) the following one in bold:

bound 3 (bound)

v.

Past tense and past participle of bind.

adj.

1. Confined by bonds; tied: bound and gagged hostages.

2. Being under legal or moral obligation: bound by my promise.

The reader’s objection is probably due to his thinking that I meant “bound” in the first sense: confined and tied like gagged hostages. This is not what I meant, but I am aware of this connotation, which is an added bonus. But even without this there are several valid reasons to use “bound” instead of the alternatives.

Bound by Church Law

First, the Church itself is fond of using this term, and in the way that I meant it (obligation). Here are two examples taken from my post on primacy alone:

The Church’s Magisterium also teaches the faithful specific particular precepts and requires that they consider them in conscience as morally binding.

– Pope John Paul II

Above the pope as an expression of the binding claim of church authority, stands one’s own conscience, which has to be obeyed first of all, if need be against the demands of church authority.

– Pope Benedict XVI

And don’t forget the bible verse I quoted to start this post, one of the pillars of Church authority. The expressions “bind” and “loose” were common in Jewish legal lexicon:

The phrase “to bind” and “to loose” was often used by the Jews. It meant to prohibit and to permit. To bind a thing was to forbid it; to loose it, to allow it to be done… When Jesus gave this power to the apostles, he meant that whatsoever they forbade in the church should have divine authority; whatever they permitted, or commanded, should also have divine authority – that is, should be bound or loosed in heaven, or meet the approbation of God.

The Catholic Church, which has “what is claimed to be the oldest continuously functioning internal legal system in Western Europe”, sees this as Jesus giving them the authority to enforce God’s laws, laws written in the Code of Canon Law.

Bound by Civil Law

To this day the term is still used not only in Church law but in civil law as well, although in a different sense. Instead of forbidding, “binding” implies obligations [emphasis mine]:

What then are legal obligations? They are legal requirements with which law’s subjects are bound to conform. An obligatory act or omission is something the law renders non-optional. Since people plainly can violate their legal obligations, “non-optional” does not mean that they are physically compelled to perform, nor even that law leaves them without any eligible alternative. On the contrary, people often calculate whether or not to perform their legal duties.

This shows us that although binding obligations are non-optional, it does not mean physical coercion or absence of alternatives is necessary. The reader’s objection to my usage of bound is based on the misunderstanding that binding necessitates removal of all alternatives. On the contrary, a person can be bound and still have alternatives.

Bound by Belief

Consider theft. A buyer is bound by legal obligation to pay the seller the right amount. This obligation is binding; it’s non-optional. This does not mean the buyer is not free to ignore the obligation. He can try to pay less, pay more, pay with something else, or not pay at all, which leads to certain sanctions. But there are sanctions precisely because there is a prior binding obligation to pay.

In the same way, Catholics are bound to believe the Church. Again, being bound does not mean the Catholic is not free to ignore the obligation: he is free to dissent. But like theft, doing so involves sanctions — heresy, exclusion from communion, etc. — precisely because there is a binding obligation.

So being bound to believe (or obey) does not necessarily mean a Catholic cannot dissent (or disobey). Catholics are free to disobey, but they are not free to disobey without consequences. It is in this sense that they are bound. Thus, my original usage of the term is valid. But so is the connotation of the word: being tied and gagged like hostages.

When hostages are physically prevented from escape, their freedom is obviously limited. But what if the hostages are not physically tied? What if the kidnapper threatens the hostage with something else (killing the hostage, killing a loved one, torture, blackmail, etc.)? The hostage may not be physically prevented from trying to escape (in the sense that he can attempt it) but the effect is just the same.

Now consider clerical child abuse. A child who is raped by a priest is not physically prevented from telling the authorities. Nor is the child’s family. But through Crimen Solicitationis, which details a Church policy to silence victims and coverup abuses, threats of excommunication and eternal damnation were used to silence the victims and their families. They were gagged into silence because they were bound to believe.

Because to many believers, eternal damnation is the worst possible fate — far worse than kidnapping or torture or death. I brought this up because the sanctions for doubting dogmatic teachings are similar to those used to silence the victims of clerical child abuse.

The problem with such sanctions when it comes to religious belief is it puts the believer’s motivation into question. Surely, it is possible that a believer obeys the Church completely out of their own volition. But when threats of eternal damnation and rewards of eternal life are at stake, can you really say that a believer is not bound to believe?

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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

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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.
============================================

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

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Just My Remarks on Pastor Orlaer’s Comments (Part 2)


In my last post I discussed the difference between belief, trust and faith, but before I go on, I would like to dive deeper into the subject.

We now know that belief encompasses anything that we accept as true – yet it doesn’t follow that before we arrive at a certain belief system we accept it without any evidence. As I have already said, not all beliefs are categorized as “faith”.

To illustrate this, maybe you guys have any idea on those people who are into NWO or “New World Order”. Conspiracy theorists believe on things like secret societies, that the September 11 attacks in 2001 were either intentionally allowed to happen, or that the moon landing never happened, but they believe such things not on faith but on what they believe as evidences. They have “reason” to believe. Their “evidences” are: big, contemporary newsworthy events which may suit their “theory”; some so-called “anomalies; and of course big organizations. But whatever wacky ideas that come to their mind, it is still “evidence”.

Evidence is anything that increases the estimate of the probability of the truthfulness of the proposition.

I believe that the Sun is going to rise in the East and will set in the West tomorrow and that there is an “invisible” thing we called wind. Is that faith?

Nah…Knowing these things rely on evidence. We use data to predict an outcome of something – like the rising or setting of the Sun for example. Unless something beyond natural event happened tomorrow, we expect the Sun to rise in the East and set in the West based on and limited by repeatable, objective experience.

Pastor Vince: That’s right, you cannot see it. But you can see other things being moved by it. You can see the clouds being pushed by it, etc… But the question is, can you see the wind? Molecules??? You felt the matter, but not the molecules my friend.

In the issue of the wind for example, we can feel it but we can’t see it. But again, that is not faith. The reason that we can “feel” the wind is a proof that it exists. When we talk about feeling in an empirical context, we don’t assume its existence because we have the “conviction” it exists…nope, we’re not talking about being euphoric.

We don’t see air because the molecules that make up air (nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor, carbon dioxide, argon) just don’t happen to absorb light in the wavelengths our eyes can see.

Oh and molecules don’t exist?
Actually you can see a molecule. Since molecules move too fast and our eye can only see around 100 frames per second, if you saw a molecule it would be just a blur, maybe a sphere. But thanks to specialized microscopes, we can even see atoms. Also there is this device called scanning tunneling microscope (STM) that can be used to see a molecule (neat stuff eh?).

There are other evidences of the existence on molecules. Just pick up your physics and chemistry text book (do you have a copy Pastor Vince?).

If you hit a crystal with a beam of rays, the rays diffract into patterns which can be used to tell exactly where the atoms in the crystal are located. This technique, which was proposed by Sir William Bragg in the late 1800’s, only works if matter is made of atoms.

Botanist Robert Brown noticed that tiny objects like pollen grains shook and moved erratically when viewed under a microscope. Nearly seventy years later, Albert Einstein explained this “Brownian motion” as the result of bombardment by molecules. Einstein found his main clue to the size of molecules: how far the suspended particles move should depend on the number of molecules it takes to make one “mole”. Each time a fluid molecule bounced into a suspended particle, the particle would be moved a little, so after many bounces the particle might wind up in a quite different place. Einstein found that, if one mole equals so many molecules, the suspended particles would wander, on average, so far in one minute. If a mole only equals one fourth as many molecules so that each fluid molecule is four times as massive, the fluid molecules would hit hard enough for the suspended particles to wander, overall, twice as far in one minute.

Avogadro’s number is the number of molecules in one mole of any compound. There are dozens of different experimental methods for measuring Avogadro’s number. All give the same result. The fact that Avogadro’s number seems to be independent of any particular method implies that it actually has meaning- and so is strong circumstantial evidence that molecules actually exist.

Pastor Vince seems to forget, because of science, we can now see the wind.

Pascal’s Bad Bet

Pastor Vince: As for me, I would rather believe in God. For if I die and then there is no God, I will lose nothing. But if I believe that there is no God, then when I die I found out that there is God, then I lose everything.

Let’s talk about Pascal’s Wager.
Now, isn’t it funny that Christian evangelists like Pastor Vince always use Pascal’s Wager? Doesn’t he know Pascal’s wager was intended for Roman Catholic use? (Come on…give me something original.)

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) lived in a time when religious belief in Europe was simple; whether you’re a Roman Catholic or a non-believer. There were only two choices. In today’s Christianity for example, the wager can’t be that useful…let me explain.

How many dogma and doctrines does Christianity have today? Some Christians believe in the trinity while others don’t. Some believe in a human Christ, Biblical inerrancy, additional gospels (from the Gnostics)…whatever! Now what if Roman Catholicism turns out to be right and Born-Again Christianity is wrong. What will happen? What if “Sorianistas” are right or the Iglesia Ni Cristo is right? This is becoming a very bad bet.
Speaking of which, I’m just wondering…why would an omni-being punish those who don’t believe its existence? Does non-belief suck the very life-force of this “God being”? Does lack of worship weaken this “God”? It is really quite odd for a perfect, omni-being to require a need of worshippers and believers.

It seems this so-called “God” will wither and dry-out if people stop believing in its existence. So! It appears this God needs me that I need Him.

Enjoy it till it lasts

Pastor Vince: Do you think your life is wasted when you enjoy something doing it? Do you believe that your life is wasted for trying to prove that there is no God? I am pretty sure that you will answer that your life is not wasted for you have already judged my life that I already have wasted it.

But then again, going back to my question. Do you think your life is wasted when you enjoy the things you are doing and that it is with a purpose?

So according to Pastor Vince, if a person enjoys something, that won’t waste his life. Hmmmm…eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die eh?

Let me tell you a story of a person who enjoyed his youthful life going to sleazy bars and “beer houses” to have fun. Sure, don’t tell me he’s not enjoying every minute of it. Drinking all night long to drown his problems and his mundane existence with whiskey and beer.

Now that he’s 75 years old…what happened? What did he achieve?

The same reason can be heard on kids who waste their time “enjoying” leisure with their friends instead of going to school…(Have you heard the Nonoy Zuniga song “Sa Panaginip Lang”?)

Pastor Vince: Well, as a Christian myself, I don’t think that it is a waste of life to believe in God, just as you believe that there is no GOd. I enjoy exercising my faith with a purpose and with the hope of second life while you enjoy searching and reasoning that there is no GOd with the hope that there is no second life. What life have been wasted then? I simply believe that I have made a better preparation of what it is to come or “if there will be no second life at all.” It’s not a waste of life my friend.

Drug addiction also has the same effect. You enjoy being a “junkie”. You enjoy all the euphoria while speed-balling or injecting or snuffing Methamphetamine on your system. Something like belief in a so-called “promise of an after-life in heaven” can do. So, to say that it is not a waste of time to prepare for an after-life with God is the same excuse a blotter user would say when he’s “high”.

Posted in ReligionComments (2)

My Definition of God


God refers to a supreme being or a divine being.
Whether supreme beings or divine beings exist does not matter to me.
I live according to my own sense of right or wrong,
learning from experiences of past successes and past mistakes,
and any reward or punishment I may gain
are the results of the consequences of my acts,
and not because I prayed for a blessing or angered some god.

If a miracle were to happen in my life,
I would take it as a significant coincidence
rather than a sign of God’s existence.
For I know that miracles happen everyday,
to people of different faiths and values,
regardless of whether they pray.

If a great disaster were to mess me up
and make me believe in utter hell,
I would not blame God for it
or assume that his wrath is upon me.
I would not ask for his help and guidance,
nor would I believe that he would give it.
Instead, I will believe in myself,
in my strength to overcome this darkness,
and understand the weaknesses in me
that allowed it to happen in the first place.
I will aim to learn from this experience,
and strive to forgive myself
and the others who may have helped caused it.
And if I do not have the strength to forgive them,
I will keep in mind that bitterness
is a heavy thing to carry.

God, if he exists,
will not be bothered by what I do,
will not be collecting on my prayers,
will not be offended by my blasphemies.
But somehow, I cannot help but feel
that if he exists, he will
be somewhat proud of me.

Posted in PersonalComments (138)

He believes in miracles


he_believes_in_miracles_image2My friend is not a very religious person, but he prays before every meal and goes to mass every Sunday with his family. He is aware of and has great respect for my lack of faith, and we occasionally find ourselves discussing and debating on religion. Some of our discussions revolve around our contrasting views of Jesus Christ – he firmly believes in him and his preachings, while I take him to be nothing more than a compelling historical figure. Other discussions are about our similar negative views on the overly-structural methods of the Catholic Church in propagating their faith. Sometimes, our minds repel, while in other times, they are in sync. He is always open to the thought-provoking ideas I lay on the table and tries to judge them without bias.

During one of these discussions, he narrated to me a story about his grandfather. This story had a great impact on him, and he admits himself that it has strongly solidified his belief in God. He told me that a long time ago, his grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. He has consulted with several doctors, all of which were consistent with the cancer diagnosis. He was told to have surgery. On the day of the surgery, he managed to escape from the hospital to go to a nearby church to pray. Eventually, he was found by his family and/or hospital personnel and was brought back to the hospital. After a series of medical tests, they found his cancer to have completely vanished. So he never had that surgery and went home cancer free.

My friend told me that he sometimes thinks his grandfather to be overly-religious, but softens his judgment because he knows what his grandfather had been through. That reminded me of my overly-religious mother, who initially was not a very religious person. But there was a time when she was going through a difficult crisis, and with the help of Opus Dei and its teachings, she was able to cope with it and actually managed to resolve the crisis. It may not be as life-changing as the cure of cancer, but it was very significant for her. Now, she is a devout Catholic, and a supernumerary in Opus Dei. These two individuals have had significant experiences in their lives which they attribute to their faith. We cannot just easily tell them that they must resort to reason, that their belief in God is wrong, when their lives are changed by it.

I am in no position to confirm or disprove the validity of my friend’s story. I did suggest certain other possibilities such as: a non-threatening easily curable disease that mimics the signs and symptoms of that specific cancer but cannot be easily detected by medical practitioners of that time and may have been cured medically by some chemical component of the medicines he was taking or cured naturally by his immune system sometime within the duration after his last medical test prior to his escape and the time he was tested after he was found. Yes, that was a very long sentence. The point is, it may just be a coincidence. However, it was a pretty compelling coincidence that I, myself, could not fault his grandfather, who is by all means a normal human being with human thoughts and emotions, to immediately assume it as some divine miracle.

For whatever the scientific explanation behind it, one can still argue that the timing of its occurrence may be the decision of God. Another example would be the parting of the Red Sea. Even if it may have been caused by some natural phenomenon like shifting tectonic plates or unstable magnetic fields, the fact is, it happened at the moment when Moses raised his staff and the Israelites needed an escape route. By their knowledge of seas (they just don’t part) or staffs (they don’t cause seas to part) how else could the Israelites have interpreted it other than as a miracle of God? Whether by lack of knowledge or lack of mental health (let’s say they may have all taken hallucinogenic herbs and may have hallucinated the whole ordeal), the fact is, they believed it to have happened that way, was not presented with enough explanations that disproves that belief, and was greatly and personally affected by its occurrence, and most especially, its timing. The natural phenomenon could have happened on any normal day, but the fact that it happened at that specific time could easily (though not necessarily correctly) be assumed as the will of God. Disclaimer: I do not know if the parting of the Red Sea actually happened. It’s just an example.

My friend believed the story of his grandfather to be true, to have been caused by God, whether miracle or explainable. And he says that I am too mistrusting and over-skeptical to be so vehement in disproving it to the point of trying to come up with some weird disease. Eventually, our discussion ended without any joint conclusion. He stands firm in his belief in God and this so-called miracle, and I still maintain that it may be caused by the weird disease.. or other explainable thing. And then we ate pizza and went to videoke with friends.

Posted in Personal, Religion, SocietyComments (8)

“Malas Daw” (It is about bad luck)


1244According to Philippine tradition, bad luck happens when we displease the gods. It is really an ancient belief. People suffer bad luck when they anger the gods. Therefore, in order for you to rid yourself of bad luck, you have to offer prayers and some food (or even liquor) to the gods to mollify them.

When the Spaniards came to Philippine shores and introduced Christianity, the tradition never ceased. The gods where changed into saints, Jesus and Mother Mary, yet the same belief in luck prevailed. In fact, the Spaniards used this to their advantage. In order to scare the natives, the Spanish friars used the concept of bad luck so the hapless Filipinos gave their lands freely to the Catholic Church. Food offerings were changed to indulgences. Bad luck is changed into hell and eternal damnation. Until the 21st Century, Filipinos still believe in the concept of bad luck. Some even evolved into permanent superstitions in some Philippine traditions. Until now, a lot of Filipinos believe that wearing your wedding gown before the wedding is bad luck. Some still believe that breaking a glass dish will give you 7 years of bad luck.

Jose Rizal blamed the Church – influenced belief as the cause of lethargy in the Filipino. In Rizal’s book “The Indolence of the Filipino”, he said that the belief in bad luck has caused Filipino to tolerate laziness. This laziness was the cause of vices such as gambling, which became prevalent in his time. It seems people just rely on luck to change their lives.

However, Christianity and Catholicism are not the only religious beliefs that influenced the Filipinos in believing bad luck. Indian beliefs also found their way into the Philippines and one of the prevailing beliefs is “karma”. The concept of karma became quite simple in the Filipino version. If you did something bad to other people “makakarma ka”. Unlike the Hindu concept of karma, the Philippine version is immediate. You do not have to wait for an afterlife to feel the karmic effect. It seems to imply that the wheel of karma is about instant justice.

Oh and did I forget about the Chinese influence. Many wealthy people are investing a lot of money to make their houses bad luck free. Chinese feng sui experts are employed to make your house free from some cosmic mishaps just because you placed your furniture in the wrong side of your house. Gosh, as if the universe cares if you will become rich or not.

However, is there really such thing as luck?

Is what is happening in the Philippines right now a punishment of god? Should I blame this god for not giving the Filipinos the good things? Are we having this rice crisis, this energy crisis and this gas crisis because we angered god and now he is just giving us less blessings – more “mala” instead of “oro” and “plata”?

How about global warming and depleted ozone layer? Are we not giving enough animal sacrifices to please the gods?

If the concept of karma is right, then we have an efficient judicial system! However, based on what we see in reality, it seems justice here in the Philippines is quite hard to achieve. Belief in karma offers no real justice. Many cases of human rights violation and inhuman crimes happened here in the Philippines since the time of the late Ferdinand E. Marcos and until now, the victims and their families have not been compensated for their loss. If a rich “sonofabitch” or someone with a high position in government committed the offense, it seems impartiality is in the sticks. So what has karma done so far? Well until now, high government officials who shawl the Philippine coffers still live in fancy homes, dine in expensive places, travel around this world in luxury as the poor Juan dela Cruz eats only one meal of rice and dried fish. Just like other religions, the concept of karma merely proffers a placebo or a reassurance to those who seek fairness in their lives.

You cannot solve the problem if you will deny the problem in the first place. Maybe instead of blaming invisible beings we should concentrate more on finding the real cause of our troubles so we can think of a better and effective solution.

I remember a dialogue from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. While watching Luke Skywaker deflect the training orb’s laser blasts using his light saber while wearing a blast shield, Ben Obi Wan Kenobi complimented Luke that he can do it even if he cannot see the training orb. Han Solo responded that it is just luck. Ben Kenobi answered, “In my experience there is no such thing as luck.” Maybe the old Jedi was right, there is no such thing as luck.

Posted in SocietyComments (2)

Sorry guys, I'm reconverting…


You can forward my message below to both believers and non-believers alike.

There are many kind hearted people, some are educated some aren’t, or they do not care they are living with rational people. Belief in a great many mysteries and things is good but now that I try to think about it, oftentimes I feel most enlightened overall. Of course to them (rationalists) I become foolish and irrational for believing and for being defensive of religion. When I began it (faith), it comes as revelations to me in matters of hopes concerning the true religion. We ask why believe it? Must you ask religion to not be at all special? Of course one must be very polite to likely impart a reason since, this is faith. Perhaps because non-believers think most believing people, of course including us Bible readers, were not well taught in logic, and that we indoctrinated and convinced as many innocent children we’d found. To believe and not ask any question about the matters of God, of our heavenly faith. You and I are brothers. Can’t religion triumph? Prevent it not. Myself included, we’re from this moment questioning not faith, my personal revelations, beliefs, nor God. Every moment is time well spent, I think, to reflect on God, on his mercy. My skepticism’s now past. Returning to religious status, my convictions have changed. I now solemnly arrive to serve at God’s feet. The one true conclusion is such that of mine. A loving, forgiving, personal, and merciful God the almighty, is certainly not absurd.

Or is it?

Posted in Humor, Poetry, Religion, SocietyComments (116)

Belief, non-belief, and homosexuality


I’ve had thoughts such as this one for quite some time now, specifically for few years now. What baffles me is how a lot of our countrymen (and women of course) who are homosexuals seem to let themselves be persecuted by their religion for being such. Of course by religion here I’m referring to Catholicism and Islam, and their denominations. The dilemma, I think, arises when they seek acknowledgment in their respective religions, whereas their religion’s holy scriptures explicitly denounce them outright.

The Bible is littered with verses explicitly condemning homosexuals, even grouping them with thieves, extortioners, and so on:

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them” – Leviticus 20:13

And so many more.

sources:

  • Your very own Bible
  • http://bible.org/article/homosexuality-christian-perspective
  • http://www.bible-knowledge.com/Homosexuality-and-the-Bible.html

The Qur’an is not so explicit with homosexuality and how homosexuals should be treated, as the passages below quickly glance over the topic:

Sura 7:80-84: “And Lot, when he said to his people, ‘Do ye approach an abomination which no one in all the world ever anticipated you in? Verily, ye approach men with lust rather than women- nay, ye are a people who exceed.’

Must ye needs lust after men instead of women ? Nay, but ye are folk who act senselessly.

sources:

  • Your local copy of the Qur’an
  • http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/quran/27/index.htm
  • http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_isla1.htm

Of course, the fact that the Qur’an is quite mum about homosexuality does not mean homosexuals aren’t being mistreated. Au contraire, homosexuals are quite persecuted, based on their sexuality, amidst the more tolerant take of the Qur’an on homosexuals, relative to the Bible (see 3rd source above).

In fact, I could probably go so far as to say that a significant number of homosexuals in the country are quite religious, even fanatical. They appeal to their local churches to be able to take part in fiestas and such. How I wish that they’d reconsider and rethink their position regarding their belief. If only they’d realize that non-belief offers a serenity in mind, heart, and so on regarding their sexuality, which the Bible, the Qur’an, nor their followers can barely provide. One would think that non-believers would immediately acquire the support of a significant number of the homosexual population, given that both 1) were/are being persecuted by a largely religious society 2) holy scriptures both group them together as sinners. Unfortunately that isn’t the case, I’m thinking. It would be a pleasant surprise though if I were proven wrong.

Finally, one could also say that these things happen to homosexual believers, since apart from their sexuality, they’re no different from the average joe who believes in Creation and a stalker god in the sky. If that is so, then all the more reason to let them realize they have a better option or alternative.

Qur’an

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