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The Good Intentions of Religious Conservatives

“Name me a moral action made by a believer that could not be made by a non-believer.” This was the late Christopher Hitchens’ storied moral challenge against theists who claimed that it is impossible for atheists to be moral without gods. Hitchens turned this around by showing how ethics is prior to religion. He continued, “If I were to ask, could you name a wicked action made by someone attributable only to their religious faith? There isn’t a person here who would hesitate for a second.”

In a debate between David Wolpe and Hitchens, Wolpe countered the moral challenge by presenting a personal example. Wolpe recounted a story about his father, “When I think of the most powerful and intimate moments that I had with my father, it was when he put his hands on my head and blessed me on a Friday night.” Such an action is definitely unavailable to the logically consistent atheist. Hitchens dismissed this response, saying that he was not convinced that this was truly a moral action.

Even as an atheist, it is apparent to me that Hitchens’ skepticism was misplaced. You don’t need to believe in a supernatural deity to accept that mystical activities could possibly be conducive to well-being, if only for the false consolation that things are going to be okay. This is not to say that there is any evidence for the supernatural any more than there is evidence that placebos are universal cures. This is also not to say that the comfort produced by delusion is even worth the opportunity cost of being mistaken about the nature of reality. It is sufficient to show from this example that even delusion can be compatible with ethical motivations.



In the middle of the culture wars, it is easy to get lost in the absolutist narrative (I’m often guilty of such thoughts): conservative Christians are backwards Puritanical parrots, atheists and liberals are the height of pure rationality. The opposite view that Christians are the sole keepers of moral truth and liberals are mindless instruments of Satan is also a popular belief. Obviously, such black and white views are seldom accurate for any argument. By embracing such unconditional beliefs, we lose sight of the fact that we share a common human nature, regardless of our views.


The religious meme

It’s a common little jab by pro-RH activists against Catholic bishops that they are against the RH bill because they want more children—children that they can indoctrinate. This, however, is an unfair accusation. The Roman Catholic hierarchy has been more or less consistent about its sex negative stance for ages. This opposition to liberal views of sexuality comes from their own idea that sex was created by God for the purpose of procreation. Anything that falls short of God’s purpose is the privation (or the prevention of achievement) of the intrinsically good nature of creation. And anything that falls short of nature is evil. Having more children to indoctrinate is a bonus, but it does not come into their reasoning at all.

There can be, however, a naturalistic explanation for how the Church came to be so adamantly against contraception. We can appeal to the idea that the proliferation of cultural ideas, like religion, can follow a Darwinian analogue to genes called, “memes.”

Genes are selfish hereditary units. If they weren’t selfish, they wouldn’t be passed on. But this self-interestedness at the gene level need not be consciously held by the organisms they build. Animals, human or not, can exhibit altruistic motives, even though these behaviors are ultimately determined by selfish genes. Similar to genes, memes are selected for in cultures such that the ones that survive are those that exhibit characteristics that are conducive to virus-like proliferation in the minds of conscious beings.

To extend the Darwinian analogy to religion, the religions that dominate are predicted to have certain traits that are conducive to self-preservation—such as child-indoctrination and zealous opposition to change. Consider the Shakers, who prohibited any sort of procreation. They practically don’t exist anymore. Now, the Roman Catholic Church may have despicably self-preservationist doctrines (as in their protocol for shielding rapist employees) but this does not necessarily contradict with any benevolent motive. As in the selfishness of genes, the self-preservationism of religious memes need not manifest in persons as conscious malice. But, the road to hell, after all, is paved with good intentions.


Questioning motives

It is important to understand that apparently evil actions can have thoroughly good intentions because the assumption of malice tends to be the root of misunderstanding and conflict. Relevant to this is a psychological effect called, “the moralization gap,” described by the psychologist Steven Pinker in The Better Angels of Our Nature. It is a self-serving bias where injured parties tend to see hurts, no matter how small, as undeserved, permanent, and egregious, while offending parties see hurts, no matter how bad, as justified, temporary, and exaggerated. This is a consistent bias in human psychology that makes any sort of dialogue difficult. Parties on the opposing sides of disputes tend to hold distorted accounts of their own experiences.

Since this is a bias built into our brains by evolution, we must be constantly aware whenever it pops up so we can avoid such things. It is best to adhere to the principle of charity and steer clear of assuming malevolence in the motives of people.

The truth is, most people on either side, religious conservative or liberal, have well-meaning intentions and do not go out of their way to maliciously provoke. That is, both sides see an end that would be good for all parties concerned. The problem stems from competing notions of what “good” is.


Competing notions of good

Conservatives, such as Manny Pacquiao, Miriam Quiambao, and Toni Gonzaga, are learning more and more that moral indignation is no longer the sole turf of the religious. From seeing the horrors of sectarian violence and the petty tyranny of religious self-appointed censors, people are growing more and more skeptical of religion’s purported monopoly on moral claims.

What liberals can fail to see, however, is that religious conservatives truly believe that they have everyone’s best interests at heart. Whether it’s closing down sacrilegious art installations or protesting blasphemous pop stars, religious conservatives honestly think that they are preventing future harm on all people—the fires of hell that will welcome all sinners. However detached from reality this motivation is, it does not diminish in any way the sense of urgency religious conservatives feel about the escalation of irreverence in the social zeitgeist. Theirs is an earnest and well-intentioned concern that liberals simply must accept and deal with.



The change in social values led by liberals is denounced by religious conservatives as moral relativism—the idea that there are no objective moral truths, only subjective moral preferences. However, liberals are just as morally motivated as their conservative opponents. It is just that liberals tend to view “bad” in light of the suffering experienced by conscious beings. This view of ethics is just as objective as the conservatives’ natural moral law, even though it is open to revision and correction as we learn more about human nature. Compare this with how medicine is an objective exercise despite the definition of health constantly changing as the years go by.

In contrast, conservatives tend to detach suffering in this world from the meaning of “moral.” They see morality as prescribed actions that lead toward the accomplishment of what they believe is their god’s desire. This is how they can find the “perversion” of the sanctity (God’s “natural” purpose) of sex and marriage more abhorrent (and more worthy of their time) than abject poverty and maternal deaths.


More noble than the “middle ground”

I see, in this state of affairs, an impasse. It is very difficult to argue ethics when either side comes from such completely different premises—the conservatives’ duty to God versus the liberals’ concern for earthly suffering. There is, however, hope for those who despise the notion that homosexuals do not deserve equal rights and that mothers do not have the right to raise the kind of family they want. It is this: conservatives always lose. It is only a matter of time. Our change in attitude towards slavery and the rights of women and homosexuals, clearly points to the possibility and reality of moral progress, as hard as religious conservatism may fight the rising tide.

In the meantime, we must be sympathetic to the motivations of all parties: we all mean well. We all want to make the world a better place. It is just that we mean very different and incompatible things by “better.” There is, in the understanding of this fact, a place higher and more noble than the so-called “middle ground” built by flawed notions of “tolerance” and “respect”. Acknowledging where each side is coming from without tritely asserting that everyone is right in their own way is, to me, the real meaning of respect.

Hindu Prayer Image Credit: Lauren Pursecki

Posted in Philosophy, Religion, ScienceComments (9)

God is Not a Fundamentalist: He laughs when proven wrong

Let’s say you’re having a conversation with someone. Perhaps with a friend who has a different perspective from yours. As a thoughtful and considerate person, you want to understand your friend’s perspective. You dissect it, analyze each part,  and in the process you ask questions whose answers can potentially dissolve the ground on which the perspective stands. But just like any one of us who has been so attached to our initial perspectives, your friend will attempt to escape this belief-threatening situation by uttering this effective conversation stopper: “I’m entitled to an opinion.” Along with “This is what God said…” and “Science proved it…”, this is one of those rhetorical abracadabras that when uttered will effectively close the cave of further investigation.

John Jackson aptly illustrates this so elegantly in this fictional dialogue between Tom and Jerry:

Tom: I believe X works.
Jerry: There’s no evidence to support the fact that X works.
Tom: Well, I believe that X works.
Jerry: X has been tested in scientific trials and was not found to work.
Tom: I’m entitled to my opinion.

In the non-fiction realm, this rhetorical abracadabra is currently being used by Manny Pacquiao.

The Christian Post Reporter recently featured Mr Pacquiao’s interview with the National Conservative Examiner. Reacting to US President Barack Obama’s support of extending State-sanctioned marriage to same-sex couples, Mr Pacquiao allegedly used Leviticus 20:13 as the basis of his objection. He allegedly reiterated the two elements in that verse. The rule: prohibition against men having sex with other men; and the punishment: they should be put to death. I say allegedly because according to this ABS-CBN news report, Mr Pacquiao denied saying what the Christian Post Reporter attributed to him. He even claimed that he has never read Leviticus. He defended himself, saying that he is not condemning gay people, but he is just voicing out his opinion: “Sinabi ko lang ang opinion ko na against the law of God ang same-sex marriage (I just said my opinion that same-sex marriage is against the law of God).”

In that statement, Mr Pacquiao used the two powerful rhetorical abracadabras at the same time: “God” and “I’m entitled to my opinion.”  These two are actually the same thing: God is simply the non-secular version of the other. Using both devices in a sentence has the effect of attracting support from both the religious and the secular camp. Who would be against what the creator, owner, and master of the universe says? And who would be against someone exercising their right to speak? The secular version is of course subject to more argumentation than God. Hence, if you really want to stop someone from further questioning you, use “God” immediately. Miriam Quiambao did this after she was told that her truth was just one of the many truth-claims out there. She salvaged her perspective from being weighed by other perspectives by using the God argument. By elevating her opinion to the Heavens, her opinion transformed into an absolute, irrevocable, eternal, and infallible Truth to which everyone should bow. In the secular world, God is oftentimes replaced by science, so that whenever someone says that this is the truth because “Science says so…” one is often bullied into a corner and forced to give up further inquiry.

One of the consequences of further dissecting the claims of those who already uttered these rhetorical abracadabras is being accused of being disrespectful. “Why aren’t you respecting my/God’s/science’s opinion?” “Why are you not respecting my culture?” When the “respect me card” is thrown onto the table, any further challenges would be considered rude, cruel, and as we call it in our language, bastos. The situation will become very emotionally charged. The only way out of it is to calm the sea of emotions by just sailing away from the conversation. Sometimes this is called the “live and let live” strategy, to each-his-own-therefore-shut-up.  But in the face of opinions — whether they are from gods, mortals, and scientists — should we just shut up? Sometimes we should. Sometimes we shouldn’t. The times that we should are probably during our private conversations when the interest of maintaining peace by shutting up outweighs the interest of further dissecting someone’s opinion or belief. Most of the time the latter interest outweighs the former.

Opinions are rarely without purpose. We don’t just happen to speak something; we are speaking because we want something: for other people to believe us. Mr Pacquiao, Ms Quiambao, and everyone who says something controversial are not simply sharing their thoughts, they want people to believe them. And believing is not a simple act. When you believe in something, you let it have a very powerful influence over your life. Indeed, we couldn’t live our lives without any belief of any kind; we may not be able to function at all without them. However, the importance of believing in something doesn’t preclude the importance of evaluation. The process of evaluation allows us to exercise our power to accept or reject opinions and claims. It is through this process that we give our consent to a claim for it to have an influence over us. Those who suggest that we believe and then evaluate later is like a salesman who wants us to pay him for a product that we have never seen. More importantly, without exercising this power, we give up one of the qualities that make us human: the faculty of reason.

God and reason

Speakers of any kind shouldn’t demand listeners to immediately believe what they have said. They should encourage listeners to challenge and weigh their opinions. And  instead of demanding blind faith, they should urge their listeners to fully investigate their claims.  They should be humble enough to inform their listeners that they could be wrong. In the Buddhist tradition, the historical Buddha warned against people blindly believing in him, saying:

“Don’t blindly believe what I say. Don’t believe me because others convince you of my words. Don’t believe anything you see, read, or hear from others, whether of authority, religious teachers or texts. Don’t rely on logic alone, nor speculation. Don’t infer or be deceived by appearances. Do not give up your authority and follow blindly the will of others. This way will lead to only delusion.”

Even the God in the Bible allows people to question him. In Moral Clarity: A Guide for Grown-Up Idealists, Susan Neiman offers an elegant analysis of the implication of Abraham’s act of bargaining with God, who is hell bent on destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. (NB: Neiman argues that Sodom and Gomorrah was not destroyed because of homosexuality but because of their grave inhospitality: they wanted to gang rape Lot’s guest but were denied. And hospitality was a great deal during those days. As Neiman said, “…kindness to strangers forms the framework of civilization”).

The story goes like this…

Upon learning that God will destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham bargained with God. He asked God whether he will still destroy the city even if there are X number of innocent people there. Abraham was able to convince God to forego his plan if there are at least ten innocent people in the city. In this bargaining, “Abraham dares to remind the King of Kings that He’s about to trespass on moral law.”  Neiman further adds, “If [Abraham] can make God stop and think…none of us is ever exempt.” Arguing and reasoning with God is not something that God forbids.

In He Who Sits in Heaven Shall Laugh: Divine Humor in Talmudic Literature, Hershey Friedman contends that “God is open to suggestions from mortals and is even willing to change His mind when proven ‘wrong’.” This is far from the infallibility of the word of God that is being promoted by those who are taking the Bible as if it is the last word about anything under the sun. When God is proven wrong, Friedman concludes, “[He] laughs when He realizes that mortals refuse to accept Him as the final authority on religious matters.” Friedman based his conclusion from this Jewish parable:

“Rabbi Nathan met Elijah the Prophet and asked him: What was God doing at that time [when His Heavenly voice was disregarded]? Elijah answered: He laughed and said: My children have triumphed over me. My children have triumphed over me.”

This a demonstration of the humility of God. Despite being considered as perfect, God still considers his words not final and irrevocable. And despite His omniscience, Friedman says, “God but laughs when bested by His children.” This characteristic of God is far from the arrogance of those who proclaim that they are simply reiterating what God allegedly said. He wants his children to practice their faculty of reasoning. And yes, I dare add, that He, just like the historical Buddha, would surely want His children not to blindly believe what He says. Neither does he want His children to believe him because others convinced them of His words. God didn’t create His children to be an echo.


No opinion is immune to criticism, to questioning, and to further investigation. Every opinion needs to be weighed against the feather of critical thinking. Every opinion, no matter where it comes from, needs to be challenged. Challenging, questioning, and criticizing an opinion are activities that weigh the validity of the opinion. They are expressions of the innate capacity of humans to reason. But sometimes, these activities are considered as a disrespectful act. It isn’t clear however whether it’s the opinion that is being disrespected or the one giving the opinion. Conflating the opinion giver and the opinion is always seductive. We see this conflation in the article published on the website of CBCP for Life, entitled Superficial idea of beauty may be seen in natural born men’s desire to be beauty titlists. Reacting to the criticisms received by Miriam Quiambao, writer Nicole Bautista was quoted as saying:

“I think Miriam Quiambao doesn’t deserve the flak she’s getting because one, she’s been diplomatic about it, and two, if everyone got blasted for saying something that somebody else disagreed with then no one should talk at all… It’s true that there is a limit to freedom of expression, that is when this freedom oversteps others’ rights, but Miriam Quiambao’s statement does not do this.”

This was further supported by a quote from a homeschooling mom named Stef Patag:

“Let’s face it, anti-Catholicism/anti-Christianity is the last acceptable prejudice. Tolerance is only real when it goes both ways. The LGBT crowd have their own beliefs, let Miriam have hers.”

It isn’t clear which “flak” Ms Bautista was referring to. I hope that she means  the ad hominem attacks Ms Quiambao received after she twitted “Homosexuality is not a sin but it is a lie from the devil. Do not be deceived. God loves gays and wants them to know the truth.” Ad hominems are of course a no-no in the traditional rules of argumentation. But if Ms Bautista also wants people to just shut up and blindly accept Ms Quiambao’s statement, then she is contradicting her position about freedom of expression.

Freedom of expression doesn’t include freedom from criticism. Restricting criticism is actually a violation of freedom of speech.  Indeed it takes courage to speak what you believe in public, but that courage shouldn’t stop when you’ve already said what you want to say. The speaker should also have the courage to accept the reaction that her expression will generate; and that courage should also include the humility and modesty to accept that her perspective is just one among the many.  Saying that your perspective is the absolute truth because it comes from God is nothing but arrogance. And even if it comes from God it still needs to be challenged, evaluated, and weighed,  just like how Abraham of the Bible challenged God’s initial decision.

Criticizing Ms Quiambao’s belief is not even equivalent to removing her right to believe what she wants to believe. This is even far from the religious persecution that Ms Patag implied in what she said. This criticism is not even a sign of disrespect for Ms Quiambao.

But what is respect? Does respect mean acceptance? Let’s do an etymological investigation. Respect comes from the Latin word respectus, which means the “act of looking back at one;” and it is the past participle of respicere, which means to “look back at, regard, consider.” To respect Ms. Quiambao doesn’t meant that we should just accept her words, no matter where she thought they came from. To respect her is to treat her with regard. It is to consider her as your fellow human being who just happened to have a different perspective. To respect her is to allow her to express what she wants to say; but doing this doesn’t mean that you cannot react with civility to what she is saying. And about respecting an opinion? Opinions are not human beings that have rights.  Rights regulate our relationship with one another and our relationship with the State. They were not created (of whoever you think created them – Gods or mortals) so that opinions will have the same status as people. More importantly, opinions are not sentient beings that need respect. What opinions need is evaluation. They need to pass through the critical eye of the needle of reason. Once they have entered that eye, that’s the time that any thinking individual should allow opinions to have the power to weave a story that s/he can believe. When that opinion fails to pass through that eye, let’s hope that those who consider their opinion as the infallible word of God do what their God does when proven wrong: laugh and be willing to change.

God is not a fundamentalist.

Photo credits:

1 – Image by Mort Gerberg,  Conde Nast Collection
2 – Interaksyon
3 – Image by David Hayward, Naked Pastor
5 –

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In Defense of Miriam Quiambao

So former Bb. Pilipinas titlist Miriam Quiambao has been taking a lot of criticism from the pro-LGBT crowd for her anti-gay statements on a tv show and on her twitter. I regret that I too have tweeted some pretty angry messages about her regarding this issue. I should have taken my own advice about not tweeting when angry, because I now wish I could take back what I’ve written about wanting to take a shower after reading this Rappler article.

Miriam Quiambao (Photo taken from .)

(Photo taken from .)

Yes, Ms. Q has shown herself to be a homophobe. But it’s not her fault. Not really. Because she loves God — the one who says that the gay lifestyle is evil — and therefore she has to believe that homosexual behavior is immoral. She obviously doesn’t want to believe this — she says she loves the LGBT folks — but since her god tells her that gay sex is wrong, she clearly doesn’t have a choice. If a Christian saves a bunch of orphans from starvation, do we give them our gratitude for it? Of course not — you give thanks to the Chrisian God. Being a Christian, they didn’t have a choice but to save the orphans. In the same way, we can’t blame Ms. Q for her actions or her opinions. She was doing her duty. Like she said: don’t shoot her, she’s just the messenger.

This brings me to my second point: that getting angry at beauty queens for their opinions is silly. First of all, they’re not supposed to have opinions in the first place. At least not opinions of their own. Oh, I’m pretty sure a lot of of these contestants have their own views, values and opinions, and will stand up for them (I knew a lovely girl who once braved public derision in order to follow her heart, and years later she won the Bb. Pilipinas-International title). It’s just that they have to make it seem like these views come from somewhere that is acceptable, like their parents, their priests, and their gods. That’s why a lot of interview answers at pageants include disclaimers like “This is how my parents raised me”, “The bible says…” and “As a Christian, I was taught to believe…” After all, in this age of female doctors, female lawyers and female heads of state, beauty pageants are here to remind us all not just that a woman’s main role is to be decorative (that swimsuit competition is there so we can judge the size of her boobs, not her IQ) but also that she cannot have an opinion that goes against her society, her parents or her god. How many beauty pageant contestants do you know who espouse something really controversial like, say, insisting that women be not be paraded around like meat for entertainment purposes? Or that a person shouldn’t have to be skinny to be considered beautiful? Why, she’d be laughed off the stage. By taking absolutely no responsibility for her anti-gay views, Ms. Q has proven beyond doubt why she deserved to be crowned Bb. Pilipinas and declared first-runner-up in the Miss Universe pageant.

So yes, I apologize for my angry tweets. In my own defense, it was only because I have very strong opinions against people espousing prejudice and using religion as an excuse for their bigotry. Especially since I don’t agree with most religions and I’m not sure if the wars, witch burnings, child molestations and general oppression of women and gays that arise from them make religions worth having around. Furthermore, I absolutely claim these views as mine and am not blaming my parents or a deity for my views and opinions, but it just goes to show why (among many other reasons, including my unladylike fat hips) I, unlike Ms. Q, am not beauty queen material.

Tania N. Arpa blogs about being a geek in the city in The Entropy Blog. She is also on Twitter.

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Catholic Revolution Against Prejudice (CRAP) Supports Miriam Quiambao

Miriam Quiambao offended many LGBT individuals with her allegedly homophobic statements at a recent episode of Bottomline. She later apologized through Twitter with such tweets as

“Homosexuality is not a sin but it is a lie from the devil.”

Despite her apology, many individuals and organizations continue to criticize Quiambao, calling the apology an even worse insult. But one organization has released a statement showing their support for the former beauty queen.*

The statement was written by Jose Shamalan, spokesperson of the Catholic Revolution Against Prejudice (CRAP). “Miriam’s recent tweet [that homosexuality is a lie from the devil] clearly shows that she loves the LGBT community,” said Shamalan. “She’s not prejudiced against Mr. Bemz Benedito or any LGBT person,” he wrote. “How can it be prejudice if her opinion is already formed before she even met Mr. Benedito? Miriam obviously respects and accepts Mr. Benedito. She just doesn’t think it’s right to call him a ‘Miss’.”

Aside from defending Quiambao, Shamalan reiterated her sentiments. “Indeed, homosexuality is not a sin,” said Shamalan. “It is just a transgression against God’s moral law. Although it is OK to react with strong disgust and hatred toward this behavior, homosexuals are not abominations.”

Shamalan also called for tolerance and equality toward LGBTs. “They deserve equal rights to marry someone they choose that is of the opposite sex.”

The CRAP statement closed with a message for the LGBT community. “God’s love is inclusive,” said Shamalan. “The gates of Heaven are wide open to each and every homosexual who changes their ways.”

Image from

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An Open Letter to Miriam Quiambao: Let’s defend every word in the Bible!

The following piece was inspired by this letter.

Dear Miriam Quiambao,


Congratulations on standing up for the truth given by God in the Bible! Literally interpreting the Bible is what we should really do. The word of God is the word of God. Those who believe in God shouldn’t doubt the Bible: each word in the Bible, each punctuation mark, each syllable was written by the owner and creator of the universe, period. I love your zealous and unwavering faith that everything that the Bible says is true and that we should follow it.

I know that we should take the Bible as it is. There’s no doubt that God forbids cross-dressing; Deuteronomy 22:5 says that. Leviticus 18:22 implies that homosexuality is an abomination to God’s eyes as well. But I’m having some problems with other verses in the Bible. Please help me with what to do about them because, just like you, I want to live my life in accordance with the word of God.

1. According to Genesis, God only created men and women. Nothing else, no one in between. Just either men or women. Now, Genesis 1:5 says that God created only evening and morning. There was no mention about afternoon, dusk, dawn, midnight, the blue hour, etc. As a literal follower of the Bible, how should I regard these “other” parts of the day? To borrow your own words, are they the “lies of the devil?” Why do we have these abominations? Is God testing my faith?

2. I’m so confused about what to wear now, Miriam. I feel that I’m such an abomination in the eyes of God. You know why? Detueronomy 22:11. God clearly and literally forbids wearing clothing made of fabric that are combined together, such as wool and linen woven together. I have lots of clothes made of combined fabric. What should I do with them? Should I change my wardrobe and burn all these clothes, just like how God burned Sodom and Gomorrah? Miriam, please promise us, in the name of the Truth contained in the Bible, that you will never ever wear such clothes! Moreover, Deuteronomy 22:12 says that we should place tassels on the four corners of the cloaks we wear. Why didn’t your evening gown during the Ms. Universe pageant in 1999 have any tassels? Was this a flaw in the design? Or was the gown designed by the devil? Oh my God, Miriam, please burn that gown now, as that is not something God wants you to wear! Save your soul, sister!

3. I’m so disturbed by how marriage laws in our country work, Miriam. Clearly, this country will rot in hell. Why? It is not following Deuteronomy 22:13-20. We should include virginity tests for women before they get married. And if it’s proven that these women are not virgins, we should stone them to death just like how Deuteronomy 22:21 recommends! Miriam, please tell me you were a virgin when you married your husband!

4. I want to share the truth of the Bible to my neighbor, Miriam. Here’s the case: The woman’s husband died recently; and they have no children. Deuteronomy 25:5 clearly says that in situations like this, the woman is only allowed to marry her brother-in-law. They are not following this. Should I go to them and share to them this Universal Truth so that they can follow what the Lord wants?

5. Miriam, I wonder how we can implement Deuteronomy 25:13. It says that we shouldn’t have two different weights in our bags. Can you share to me the weights of the contents of your bag?

6. Leviticus 1:14-17 says that the smell of burning dove and pigeon is an aroma pleasing to the Lord. I tried to burn doves and pigeons yesterday as part of my daily routine in pleasing God but my neighbor stopped me. He said this is cruelty to animals. Can you help me pray over my neighbor’s soul so he can finally see the Truth?

7. I’m very troubled by the presence of Lydia’s Lechon in our neighborhood. Leviticus 3:17 clearly says that we must not eat any fat. Can you support my petition against Lydia’s Lechon?

8. Why do people go to dermatologists, Miriam? Isn’t this a clear violation of the word of God? Leviticus 13:2 is clear: We must go to a priest, not a dermatologist.

9. One of my neighbors is poor. I advised the father of the household to sell one of his daughters as a slave so they can have money. He told me that I was insane. I told them God clearly allows this in Exodus 21:7. How much do you think he should sell his daughter for?

10. Miriam, why do people work on the Sabbath day? Exodus 35:2 clearly forbids this. Should we start putting them to death as the Bible recommends?

11. A lot of Filipinas work as domestic helpers in other countries. Most of them are beaten by their employers. Should we condemn their employers or should we just allow them to be beaten up as long as they can get up after a day or two, as what Exodus 21:20-21 wants us to do? It does say, “If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.”

A friend of mine told me that these words should not be taken out of context. I told him, No! These words are the words of God and they apply in every context, at all times, everywhere and every time, as God’s words are eternal. Deuteronomy 26:16 is clear about this: “The Lord your God commands you this day to follow these decrees and laws; carefully observe them with all your heart and with all your soul.” When I told him about that, he told me that God is shit. Oh dear, that comment ended our friendship. And I’m now actually planning the time and place where our entire barangay can stone him to death as recommended by Leviticus 24:16. Would you like to join us in fulfilling what the Lord our God wants us to do? Where can I send the invitation?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Let’s defend every word in the Bible!


Your number 1 fan,


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Why Miriam Quiambao Will Continue to be Ms. Universe in My Eyes

I love Arnold Clavio. I love how he handled his interview with Miriam Qiuambao and Naomi Fontanos (Chairwoman of Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines) on the topic of transgender women being allowed to compete in the Ms. Universe pageant. Clavio kept the mood light, he did not show any bias or transphobia, and he asked the right questions.

I also love Naomi for not letting Miriam get away with her attempt to impose her version of the truth on Naomi. I love Naomi for standing up for transwomen and LGBT people.

But most of all, I love Miriam for embodying what a beauty queen should be. Sure, she does not completely understand the difference between sex and gender. Sure, by saying that womanhood is determined by chromosomes, she has effectively misinformed her more than 250,000 Twitter followers. But I don’t take this against her. It is irresponsible, definitely! But she is a beauty queen, not a gender and sexuality expert. So chill out!

I also love Miriam for using her own masculine childhood experience of playing with soldiers and “going on adventures” and how it did not turn her into a man. And of course, I agree that just because you played with dolls when you were young, it doesn’t mean you will become a woman. I’m not quite sure where she got this line of thinking but hey, beauty queens will be beauty queens. So don’t worry girls, you can do boy stuff and still be a beauty queen when you grow up. Take it from Miriam!

And I just love how she constantly used her faith throughout the discussion. Sure, it was arrogant of her to say that she knew the truth and Naomi didn’t. Hell, she was practically telling Naomi that Naomi’s entire life was a big lie! Sure, she probably doesn’t know that the existence of an absolute truth has been debated by philosophers for so many millennia. But on stage, “Leave it to God” will earn you more beauty queen points than “The truth in a particular context – (is) a statement that is known to be correct —ie. in accord with reality, as corroborated by evidence or related experience.

So do I hate Miriam Quiambao? Of course not! This whole fuss just reinforced my original belief that beauty pageants should just be abolished in the first place. Miss Universe is run by a rude, disrespectful, macho businessman who cares about ticket sales — not gender equality. If it has to do with gender at all, it perpetuates gender stereotypes. It objectifies women and reduces beauty to being young, single, and infertile (read: get older than 27, marry your partner, or get pregnant and you are disqualified).

Do I love Miriam? Of course! Well, maybe not as much as before but I am still a huge fan of her outer beauty. You could say I’ve lost hope in her when I saw how things turned out after I wrote her an open letter. But when the dust has settled, when people start overreacting to other news, when we start getting used to small steps that lead to social change, I will continue to be amazed by Miriam’s statuesque pose. I will still watch Miriam get clobbered by Eugene Domingo in Kimmy Dora Part 2. And yes, Miriam Quiambao will continue to be Ms. Universe in my eyes!

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