Sunday, June 13, 2010

My First Filipino Freethinkers Meetup

Starbucks, Shangri La
Philippine Independence Day.
June 12, 2010 1:00

I was nervous yet kinda eager. I took the LRT from Legarda to Araneta Center, and then the MRT from Araneta to Shaw Blvd, where Shangri La is just a few steps away. I got there 30 minutes late (1:30PM). Entering those rolling doors which I thought I can only see on TV, I felt anxious. Before looking for any passerby to ask where Starbucks by the Cinema is, I saw one. While trying to get closer, I saw a cinema nearby as I took the escalator. Here it is. Starbucks, Shang.

Looking for the Filipino Freethinkers, I saw a group of heads forming a circle. Approaching while pretending to just pass by, I peek and try hard to not show my face and moved on. Perhaps they are not those guys. A sudden squeak of my shoes as a reflex, I unconsciously saw the ff sign. That's the time they hand a sticky paper and a pen for me to write my name.

Seated on an armed sofa, I recognized Sir Philip, one of those who I met in a Pinoy Atheist Meetup in another Starbucks in another mall, was at my side, quiet. I wrote my nickname, T... O... B... Y... "Toby," A man tagged "Red" on his shirt greeted me. Probably he is the one named Ryan in Facebook. Thinking about the will be discussion, I found out they haven't started yet.

Sir Red told me to explain my views and how I turned to be one of my kind. I told the group about me from the godliness of my childhood to the stronger being that I've become in my twilight years as a teenager. Occasionally, Sir John Paraiso, one of the great atheists in the Philippines, interrupts when I spit some stuff I think and I do. They were relevant, if not funny! Discussion started with some Islamic stuff. From the proposed Mosque in 9/11 site to their costume being banned in France. After that, since it is Independence Day, we talked about Nationalism: Is it necessarily a good thing? Where should Nationalism come from? Is it right to be proud of the achievements of your 'neighbors-by-chance'? Sir John left due to his sleepless hours and stayed out of the circle. It took some time before he returned and introduced the "17 year old boy" who is now 18: Joshua Lipana, an objectivist. Another known atheist I hear in the atheist community, its just that I haven't realized it that time.

As we progressed our talk, an interesting topic was next: Ethics of Sex between friends. Survey says I'm a minority in the freethinking community, speaking about my virginity. Most agreed that it is okay to have sex just for fun. We proceeded to the appropriateness of preaching atheism. After some debate on what preaching means, there was no closure. But the talk of Joshua was next: Anti-environmentalism. It was substantive if only there was a specified kind of environmentalism he considers harmful. Considering only those environmentalist on the extreme side as environmentalism itself is unfair. Though it was chaotic, I learned some ideas, how other atheists think. The discussion ended with at short story lecture. Fortunately, I can still recall the lessons of Literature from my previous semester, that's why, I can relate. I do hope I can make a great short story someday. Two flashes of shots, we had our family portrait for that meet-up. The formal phase has ended.

I learned that we are not yet to go home. We are to have dinner together. Before we went. I was able to socialize with some of them. I learned about this Joseph, who is an atheist computer programmer, and this other man, (I won't mention his name for privacy purposes) who cheats his wife with us. I mean, his born-again wife doesn't know about his philosophical views. We had dinner at the food court, well some of us went to some other place. We ate, got to know some and chat some stuff. I got acquainted with an intern doctor from Davao, a young physicist and a guy who tells me to be careful about theology because it could bring me back to Catholicism. I talked with Joshua and Sir Red. Most of that time, the topic was on Joshua's objectivism, Capitalism vs. Socialism, continuation of the anti-environmentalism, and quantum weirdness including that computer which operates in another universe, something out of nothing beginning of the universe and that double slit experiment which I used to counter objectivism.

What a day and night. Sir Philip and I went to the MRT to go to North Edsa. The two of us had done our summary of the day at Starbucks, Trinoma. We got coffee then split up.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Way to Truth

Truth. A common word. Something that is guaranteed when you talk to well brought up children. Something that is unlikely to come out when a politician speaks. That intangible thing everybody deserves to know. Truth, unlike morality, for me, is absolute. There is no such thing as relatively true. For when something is true, it is true whether you believe it or not. Of course, the fallacy of equivocation must not be committed when speaking about truth. A quote from a famous investigation and lawyer show years ago states: "Truth is relative, pick one that works." Well of course, the one that works is the only truth for a truth that doesn't work doesn't deserve to be called a truth.

In man's quest for this noble thing, he was able to develop methods, methods to acquire it. He used his senses. And It worked. Sugar is sweet because he tasted it. The rock is hard because he touched its mass of minerals. The sun is bright because his eyes hid itself from its blazing rays. Indeed, man's intellect was able to cope up with the demands the truth regarding tangible matters require.

Speaking about the rest of the things, what does man do to learn the truth about intangible matters? About his emotions? What can he do to know what happened before he can think? what lies ahead of him?

Well, he doesn't know how. In this matter, he is a lost sheep in the wilderness, waiting for a shepherd to rescue him. And that is what happened a couple of millenniums ago. Cunning people, equipped with their mambo jumbo, were able to use this gap to assure power and wealth for them. They are clever for one thing. They know that no one can disprove their claims for it is so called, supernatural, beyond the realms of nature. Therefore, they can say anything to explain the yet unexplainable like "Where did we come from?" and demand people to pay tithes in exchange of a prosperous life. they can make their own explanations if their prophecies fail. Simple excuses like, "The Sun changed his mind because you repented." can cause applause from the citizens of ancient civilizations. Indeed, what a cleverness they had. Furthermore, they can almost control the people similar to the way sour-graping politicians accuse political surveys nowadays, that is "conditioning the people." In return, royalties pay tribute to ensure peaceful kingdom. It is because they know if they won't please priests / shamans / prophets, they themselves can start a revolution by prophesying such and publicizing it to the masses.

That was some centuries ago. What about now? Look at our society. Of course, such powers of the religious sector has been watered down, but the essence of these events are still living with us today. Blue laws are still there. Churches are not taxed. Religious studies are still present in secular degree programs. What an immaturity the human species is undergoing.

Going back to my point, that is on Truth, how can you assure that you are being true in finding truth? Its very simple actually, if you can, use your senses, if you can't, then think about it! There is really no harm in thinking about the things we cannot grasp. I find it even harder for a reasonable person to not allow others to decide for their lives but have minds that are caged by dogmas, creeds and superstition, indoctrinated, conditioned and imposed on them by parents, elders and institutions. Perhaps it is not new if they'll tell us: "Our creeds and dogmas are true all the time, while those of science change all the time." They've just made a point and you will go back to their superstition! But if you are someone who thinks, you know for a fact that in the quest to arrive at truth, error is inevitable, changes in explanations occur and things must be tested to prove it thoroughly. Then you'll realize that explanations that are always constant are not necessarily the true ones. And if they are indeed the same all the time, you are really reasonable to doubt it. For if such a thing is true, there must be some sort of evidence about it. Then you'll hear another shot from them, "Don't be too arrogant to think about those you cannot grasp, it will be okay, God loves you, Have FAITH." and it sounds great for they will always say it when you are anxious about something. Please! Give me a break. In the first place, how did you come out with those things they know as truth? From scrolls of millenniums ago who used to compete with their counterparts in the ancient world, containing moral deficiencies, but ignored because of so called "correct interpretations"? Or from a reflection of a holy man thinking in his mind whether it is true or not but authenticated anyhow because of his "throne" in the religion? What is this faith you are talking about? They are even proud that it doesn't work the same way with reason, without telling us why so it doesn't.

Ordinary men like me, I tell you, there is no more reason for us to do the same mistakes our ancestors did. If you choose to stay with your old ways, go ahead. Be a slave to the institutions. Let us not forget however the freedom we experience in these days that our fathers did not enjoy. Let us take advantage of this freedom for our own good and for the good of all. Think! Like wishing, it is free. And you are not even taxed to do so.

Freethinking: The Way to Truth.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"GOD is DEAD": An explanation of why I profess it as an Atheist

There are Christians who are ridiculing atheists about the expression, "God is dead". In fact, I had an experience being the sole atheist in an auditorium full of religious audience, priests at the back and a speaker, who is indeed a good one, but happened to criticized atheism for this phrase. With the people laughing about it when he labeled us "Angry Believers," how would I feel? In this regard, I decided to make a post on this issue for open minded Christians to understand how atheists came up to say this expression.

In a literal sense, it is indeed hilarious. For us, atheists to say something dies is to imply that it once lived. So why do we really say, "God is dead"?

This expression is actually a quotation of Friedrich Nietzsche. He is a, a German Philosopher. He said this since he realized that the God concept no longer provides wisdom. Due to the disorder, people will no longer believe in order because of the realization that it does not exist anymore. Hence, the absoluteness of morality will be rejected leading to Nihilism - a philosophy which is about the absence of meaning.

Personally, when I say, "God is dead", I mean that the role of God in the life of the people, more especially in the search for answers of the questions of life has already ended. To explain our being and the imponderables life offers, we don't need a personal God anymore as far as modern philosophy has reached. In fact, God's existence poses more philosophical problems and inconsistencies in morality and everyday living.

So, that is my explanation. If Christians can use figures of speech and make interpretations of the Bible in a way to suit a situation, making the Bible an elastic writing, why can't atheists use such figures? In fact, it is certain, not just our interpretation of the quotation, and historically proven Nietzsche meant it not literally. His philosophical works prove it. Furthermore, "God is dead" does not end as just a statement. This is the complete quotation:

"God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?"

See? Case resolved. Atheists: Certified Unbelievers.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Why am I an Atheist?

"Toby, why are you an atheist?,"

"What happened to you?"

People wonder. These questions I often encounter when people find out that I am an atheist.

I dodge such questions most of the time. I know they don't really care why. Well, most of them. They might just be surprised to know one existing in this conservative Catholic-dominated country. Or maybe, they have stereotypes in their minds.

"I guess this person has a terrible problem that he interpreted as a way God abandons him."


"Well, he thinks too much. Besides, he is intelligent. Too much of brain cells will make you insane."

These things I read in their eyes. These conclusions are implanted in their brains long before they know an atheist. I do nothing but smile. They might hear my words but not listen. And besides, most people make conclusions before listening to explanations.

But seriously, why?

This time, I'll tell everyone why.

I became an atheist because of my love for humanity.

"Huh? What are you talking about?", your eyes contracted as you read.

It is my love for humanity.

To be a member of any religion has several implications in the way you view others. In my case, I was a Catholic. I used to believe that I am on the side of truth. That, things are judged according to the acts before the intention. That, the substance of Christ is present in the accidents of bread. That, the body has a soul that is destined to be in union with the creator.

I am not to write things to disprove God's existence. 'Cause such arguments are nothing when aimed at faith. For faith knows no arguments.

But here I am now to write what religious beliefs imply to the way one views humanity.

As a Catholic, we were taught that Jesus is God. Well, that's not a problem. So how can we reconcile this with other peoples of different walks of faith? Well, the Catholic Church has become more tolerant since the 2nd Vatican Council. (They lost political and economic power, so they are now compromising.) The Church tells us that God has several ways to save. That, in other things, God saves. But, he does it through Jesus Christ.

So it's not a problem. We include the rest of humanity in our common love.

But, at some time, I thought that when we include the rest but still believe that it's "Jesus" who does the saving, we are still narcissistic in the way we think. It's like telling people, "We love you Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, for we are all God's people, but Jesus is God and he loves you no matter what you believe."

Sweet isn't it? Lets put it in another way, what will you feel if Hindus will tell you, "We love you Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, for we are all God's people, but Vishnu is the care taker and he loves you no matter what you believe."?

Can you see the implication, that liberal and moderate forms of the religions are still not universal in this sense

It is that simple. God loves you no matter what. But it is my Jesus Christ, not the rest.

Some might say, well, God might have entered the world in different forms. Brahma, Yahweh and Allah are one being in different locations. I find this thought uncomfortable. For Christians used to kill the people of Allah in Christ's name. And Muslims are now killing the children of Christ in Allah's name. And Jews, had no doubt tortured other races and had been tortured by Nazis because of their love for Yahweh.

My friends. I hope you will contemplate on this thoughts, not necessarily to be an atheist, but rather, to know what love for humanity is all about. It's not that you love people but implying that they are wrong by believing you are right. It is about loving people by admitting that you might be wrong just as they might be wrong and accepting that faith is not universal and thus, you cannot claim absolute truth.

Greetings to People of all Walks of Life. This is Toby the Atheist, sharing my ideas.