Tag Archive | "non-belief"

Atheist Spring


Red Tani’s guesting on Bottomline with Boy Abunda was the first time in my memory that atheism was covered in the Philippine mainstream media. Atheists in the Philippines are considered a minority, and although there are no surveys conducted as to how many atheists there are in the Philippines, we surely are growing. There are presently around 5000 atheists scattered across various groups on social media. The actual number could be higher as most of them in social media are from the younger generations.

Numbers aside, Filipino atheists, being a minority, are still a misunderstood group of people. We usually suffer discrimination and prejudice, assumed to be anti-Christ, immoral, or worse. But atheists as a demographic are also like any group where there is diversity. We also have different mindsets and ways of thinking. There are even positive and negative atheists. On issues like euthanasia or divorce, we also have differing ideas.

Being an atheist is a choice; unlike religion, you are not recruited into atheism. You can’t become an atheist by being baptized or converted. Being an ex-Christian, I discovered atheism by myself; I did not even know that the word “atheist” existed to convey my nonbelief until later. But what lead me to atheism may be comparable to other atheists. Like Red, I was very pious before, studying the bible, going to church every Sunday, while at the same time learning other fields of study like philosophy, sociology, and science. I became an atheist rather gradually. There was no “Aha!” moment. But being a skeptic really influenced my change to nonbelief. I also suffered discord with my relatives and friends, even losing some along the way. Since I didn’t believe in god and treated the bible just like any other book, some questioned the basis of my morality. To quote Michael Martin in the article on Atheism from Microsoft Encarta 2006:

“Over time, several misunderstandings of atheism have arisen: that atheists are immoral, that morality cannot be justified without belief in God, and that life has no purpose without belief in God. Yet there is no evidence that atheists are any less moral than believers. Many systems of morality have been developed that do not presuppose the existence of a supernatural being. Moreover, the purpose of human life may be based on secular goals, such as the betterment of humankind.”

As a social person, I also looked for other like-minded individuals. Even during the reign of Friendster in social media, I was already a member of internet forums, but being a seafarer, I only recently attended one of the meetups of my chosen group: which was very different from my past experiences attending religious masses. Although I consider an hour-long mass boring, meetups, which can last for hours, are very enjoyable. In fact we run out of time during most meetups, so we continue our discussions into post-meetups which can last up to late at night. We also have Wii parties, protest actions, etc., which I can say are truly fun. And being freethinkers, attendance is always voluntary.

What makes me proud as an atheist is that we are mostly the opposite of what is assumed of us. We are mostly fun-loving and law-abiding citizens. We abhor violence and corruption. And we also have the diversity and plurality of any group. The airing of that Bottomline episode, I hope, will usher an era where atheists are accepted and misconceptions corrected. As one call center’s slogan says: “The future is friendly”.

Photo c/o Frank III Manuel

Posted in Personal, Religion, SocietyComments (2)

I did not choose to stop believing


I did not choose to stop believing
I did not choose to leave behind
The Faith that’s been deceiving
My quiet innocent Mind

I did not want to be so different
I did not want to cause a mess
But I can’t stop my mind from thinking
That I can’t believe in just a guess

If God is Truth then what is Truth?
Is it Inconsistency?
Should He be real just because
The Bible makes good Fantasy?

It’s not that I don’t want Him there
If He is, He’s been good to me
But just because you *feel* He’s there
Can’t mean you *must* claim Him to be

In my youth, if I could choose
I would have chosen The Fantasy
So I could belong with everyone
And they’d be very good to me

But now I find it somewhat strange
That I am the different one
In this nation of believers
Against Common Sense, Faith has won

I would not choose to stop believing
If it had been up to me
But if God exists, I’m glad He’s decided
That I don’t deserve The Fantasy

Posted in Poetry, ReligionComments (2)

Judging Religion


I believe that religion or the concept of religion was created by humans who needed answers for the unknown. Eventually, Science came along and provided logical and consistent answers. Science, after all, is the search for truth, is it not? Yet, many religions claim to be “the truth” as well, as many humans insist on the supernatural, claiming proof from ambigious documents written by humans at a time when Science was still young (or perhaps nonexistent). Why???

Some people who have their faith and are very happy with it see me as someone who’s lost and searching for my way to the truth. “Don’t worry, someday you’ll find it,” they say with compassion. How nice of them. No really, I appreciated that. They do care about me. However, how do they know for sure that they’re not the ones who are lost and I’m not the one who’s enlightened?

But as much as they care about me, I do care about them as well. Whether their religion is the truth or not, they are happy with it. They are not some accident of nature that came from creatures like apes, but beings made by God and given purpose by God. It gives them meaning, it gives them strength, it gives them hope, especially – most especially – at times when things would seem hopeless. Their religion, fake or not, is their savior. So who am I to judge religion? Who am I to insist that they think like me? If I take them away from religion, am I really saving them?

Each and everyone of us are differently built, not only physically, but also psychologically. And I believe that some people just really need religion in their lives. My mom would have fallen apart a long time ago if she hadn’t found Opus Dei. And even though part of me wants to strangle the Opus Dei out of her, I know deep down that she would be lost without it.

* Posted in 2009 in my (private) blog. My opinions now differs a bit from this.

Posted in ReligionComments (0)

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)

As if the Bible really matters.


bibleInfo003
One day, I came across one message from a certain Christian which says, “Christianity doesn’t back out. Because our warrant is the Bible: the propositional word from God. It answers man’s deepest questions like “the finality of life,” the purpose of man, etc.. “
Is this a statement of belief or what?

I think this is pure egoism in the part of the writer. What do you think?
Well, as expected, Christians always rely in egocenticism. (Have you read Norman Geisler’s book? Talk about being too egoistic).

Is the Bible the only book capable of going to the deepest human concerns? There are other choices. Back in early 20th century, a European Ambassador asked a Japanese diplomat how Japanese children learn about morality without reading the Bible. The Japanese diplomat answered, “The Japanese children read the Code of Bushido.” The point is that answers to the questions regarding life purpose, morality, etc., is not monopolized by the Christian holy book. The Buddhist dharma for instance teaches its adherence how to resist and control desire and to look for higher wisdom and the importance of self reliance. The Tao-Te-Kung teaches absolute virtue. The Hindus teaches religious tolerance and the Avedas of the Persians teaches man about the fight between good and evil and eternal reward for the righteous and damnation to the evil doers.

For nonbelievers, reading works from different philosophers are good alternatives. There are many nonbelievers which have lived lives with purpose and have contributed to the benefit of humanity. People like Robert Ingresoll, Clarence Darrow, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Margaret Sanger and allot of others are but few examples. Their lives are inspirations to many nonbelievers.

Now as for the Holy Bible, I did not say that this book has nothing to answer about the questions on morality and virtue, I just say that there are better books to choose for.

We have better choices…

Posted in ReligionComments (7)

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

Posted in SocietyComments (33)


Facebook.com/Freethinkers