No two freethinkers are exactly alike; a group of freethinkers contains a great diversity of perspectives, so there is no one, official perspective shared among all of them. This makes the freethought community a truly vibrant source of ideas and opinions!
In this light, Meet a Freethinker is our series featuring freethinkers of all backgrounds and perspectives. We want to introduce you guys to the people who make up the proverbial melting pot of this growing movement.
Our next freethinker is Bede Daniel Garcia from the Filipino Freethinkers Davao Chapter. Bede has been a skeptic since secondary school. He is a registered nurse currently working at Davao Doctors Hospital. He is also a Naturalist, and a Secular Humanist
1) How would you define a freethinker?
The basic gist of being a freethinker would simply mean to think outside the boundaries of dogma, religion and tradition — to not accept “truths” simply because they were handed down to us by those in authority. We are always guided by logic, evidence and sound reason.
If we are presented with situations where we are tasked to take sides or to voice our opinions, we take into account facts and evidences. We do not merely go with our gut feeling that is purely based on our biased emotions. On the contrary, we sometimes set aside our emotions to focus on cold hard evidence even though it may sometimes be against our own stand.
This is a freethinker, ever growing and changing. Science, and the world, changes and so must we and our opinions of the things that happen around us.
2) What belief system do you subscribe to?
I am a secular humanist and an avid naturalist. I subscribe to the fact that everything has its own natural and logical explanation. I focus on the things that are truly important in life and the lives of others like relationships, science, and politics, to name a few.
3) What was the funniest or most interesting reaction you got from a person after you told him or her that you were a freethinker?
I get the funniest reactions from people who put together religion and morality. The moment I say I’m an atheist, they would immediately think I’m evil and an antichrist. No amount of explanation can save me from the harsh and vicious verbal attacks (peculiar, because it usually comes from supposedly religious and pious people).
4) In what way has being part of a freethinking community benefited you?
This is when I can shout out loud “At last! I’m not alone in this universe!” It’s difficult to converse with narrow minded individuals, especially if it does not agree with their belief system. I am not saying that all freethinkers are open-minded because I’ve met some that aren’t. But it’s just nice to know that I can have a conversation with a person and not feel persecuted or ostracized.
5) What are your thoughts on euthanasia?
This is a very sensitive subject. Its handling and execution depends on several reasons (prognosis, finances, etc). In my opinion, if the reasons for euthanasia are valid, then I am okay with it. But with regards to its execution on myself, here are my thoughts. I will, in the near future, prepare a written directive to remove the responsibility of “pulling the plug” from my loved ones. I plan on stating in this directive that if my prognosis is poor or my financial state cannot support my hospitalization, then I would hereby donate all working organs to those in need and my body to an educational institution for study. At least, even in death, I can still be useful.
6) What keeps you calm from stress in work?
I cannot really remove stress from work, but I can divert my focus. I sometimes spend my “alone time” helping people and enjoying the company of colleagues and friends.
7) How do you react when patients mainly thank god and the prayer warriors instead of thanking the physicians, the nurses and support staff who provided the expertise, the medicine, the bedside care, and the true and tangible solutions in a difficult time?
Since we live in a predominantly religious country, it is a given that a lot of people would first thank their supernatural deity before thanking us humans. I was once enraged by this notion. It did not make sense to give thanks to something that barely lifted a finger, and to forget those who truly helped. But as I matured, I realized that this was of least importance. Appreciation is a plus in our line of work. So I just give myself a pat on the back and learn not to hunger for recognition in my chosen vocation. I also realized that if I constantly clamored for recognition, wouldn’t I just be like the god that created humans in order for them to worship him? Isn’t that narcissistic?
8) How has freethinking helped you value life more?
When I had a gradual transition from a theist to becoming an atheist and to embracing freethinking, I initially felt lost, thinking that one day, I will be gone and only memories of me will remain. But I had to look at the brighter side of things. I have come to accept that my body is vulnerable to a lot of factors, that time is indeed limited. This has become a catalyst which has pushed me to accomplish things I did not think I could or would do: running a half marathon, completing a triathlon, exercising, and building friendships, relationships, and the like. Life is temporary, so live life.
9) How would you react to comments pertaining to their belief when consoling family members of a patient who just died?
Death of a family member is never easy. It is but human nature to call upon someone in troubled times. As a freethinker, I gather support from loved ones. I hang on to the notion that there are people around me who can help me and that is sufficient for me. For the religious, it is automatic for them to cry in pain to their deity. I, for one, am not militant regarding my atheism. I respect their practices so long as they respect mine. If a family member has just died and a relative cries to their god, then I will respect that. I will, however, remind them that I’m here to help them cope if they wish to talk to someone. Respect begets respect.