Saturday, April 26, 2014

Facing Islam

I have read something about a comment on atheism and Islam. Someone was asking if why some atheists seem to be silent on Islamic issues. What? I don't think so... everyday I see a lot of anti-Islamic quotes and photos in my Facebook wall from different atheists/humanist organization that I have liked so far. But OK, let us concentrate here in the Philippines.

According to the post, attacking Islam is a test of a real atheist. What? It will be quite unfair to judge someone's atheism just because he doesn't engage with Islam. Remember that an atheist is not duty bound to debate or argue about religion. Some atheists prefer a normal, quiet life, yet still they are atheist because they don't believe in the existence of god or gods. 

OK, so let's make the list shorter. Now, why those Filipino atheists who are active in debates seems to ignore Islam?

Here in Manila, if you want to engage a debate with some Muslim, then go to Rizal Park every Sunday evening. Join me in stirring up the hornet's nest of the Balik-Islam and confront their religious belief, their Holy Book and their god. For some atheist, what I'm doing is considered suicide. Nah! Muslims can be civil in a discussion. Try it sometimes.

But be careful, there are fanatics out there.

Now, going back... why do some Filipino atheists seem to ignore Islam? There are a few reasons.

1. Some find debating a Muslim a futile cause. Have a life! You just can't win on a person who already closed his head and have thrown away the keys.

2. You didn't become an atheist just to get hurt. Sorry, but bad publicity and stereotyping have made its toll. Some atheists have already imagined a Muslim as a fanatic bomb-hiding, knife back-stabbing bunch of fanatic loonies. You don't want to debate with such characters, do you? 

Frankly, I won't advise debating them alone. Yes, there are those Muslims that are well educated and will talk to you in an educated manner, but there are those who are not and might hurt you physically ( I have my share of experience). 

3. The majority of atheists living in Luzon has no idea about Islam. You don't see Muslim often here in Manila (unless you're going to buy some pirated DVD in Quiapo or some Chinese bootlegs in Greenhills). They seem to be quite ignorant on the issues surrounding Islam; like the Qur'an, Allah and Muhammad. They are more familiar with Christians.

4. Tribal Issues: Filipinos are quite tribal. Folks here in Manila seem to ignore issues far away in Mindanao. Therefore, they don't talk about it. That is also true here in Philippine atheism. That is why some don't care about the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

An Atheist in Easter.

Since I was a kid, I was a Catholic  (Only  when  was in my senior high school years I became a Born-Again Christian) yet I never experience those Catholic Lenten activities, especially Easter.  Yesterday, thanks to Philip Reyes, I was able to experience the whole shebang.

This is a personal experience, so I what I’m going to give you here are only my opinions. 

We began with this church near Remedios and gosh! I think I just heard the worlds’s worst children’s  choir ever!  We start calling it “Bugbog Children’s Choir”  hahaha! Anyway, I think it’s a practice for the presentation that they will perform at the Easter Virgil celebration.  Most churches are close that day and some were open,  but all the lights were out. Philip said it is a tradition. 
Tradition, rituals… yes, that’s what I see in all that festivity. 

More rituals were held during the Paschal Vigil and I think that’s not just an ordinary Mass. Catholic mass usually takes only an hour, but yesterday that was almost 4 hours with 8 readings. There were also those some women yesterday that were baptized in the Catholic Church. They say that they converted to Catholic to get married. I dunno.

All in all, I noticed that the church were not fully packed. Also, it seems most Roman Catholics are only going to their church when there are occasions like Christmas and Easter or a disaster/tragedy recently happened.This is quite noticeable in the ritual called “Pagsalubong” (The Meeting) where the statues of Mary and the newly risen Christ were paraded in the street to re-enact a certain biblical event. Now, this is a tradition. People flock to see this. Obviously, the whole spectacle is not spiritually uplifting. Really! If people are so moved at that ritual, then  they should not notice those little girls chatting near the microphone.  All I saw were people flashing their cameras, cell phones and tables,  taking shots (obviously for Facebook and Instagram) but solemnity and holiness are out of the picture.

Maybe that’s it. I never felt moved by the rituals, yet some people seem to be worst compare to my lost of faith. Something just seems to be missing and I think it’s the conviction and faith of the pious.
















video

Friday, April 18, 2014

Jesus Who?


If you entered a Christian chat room or if you engage a talk to any Christian, the first thing he will do is to make sure you accept Jesus as your personal Savior.

Jesus who?

Oh, come on you gotta be kidding me?

Most of the readers may think that I am fooling around if I say that I do not really know whom this Jesus H. Christ is. In the first place, this Jesus is so popular like the Marlboro Man and the Beatles, it is quite impossible to say that you do not know who this Jesus is.

N. Geisler even wrote some chapters on his fundy book, “When Skeptics Ask” devoted to this Jesus character and even compares Jesus to other religious or philosophical people. Therefore, this Jesus person is that important huh. Talk about being a big shot!

Most Christians that I have chatted on the Internet asked me what is it like to live without Jesus Christ in my life and they always insisted that Jesus has already done something special in my life;  Now here’s my answer, NOTHING, NADA, ZIP and lots of it. That statement can really piss off any Christian.

And to top it all, Christians still insist that he is a god. So how can I say something like that? Maybe Christians who are reading my blog might say that I’m just being unfair, biased and they will never tolerate someone that trash talks their Savior.

Oh come on, I’m just saying facts here.

So you think Jesus is really that important huh? OK, let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about Jesus.

HERE’S THE FACTS! This Jesus fellow never really contributed much to society in general.  On the whole, Jesus said little that was worthwhile. He introduced nothing new to ethics. He instituted no social programs. Being a god, he is supposed to be "omniscient," he could have shared some useful technology or medicine to the Hebrews, yet he appeared ignorant of such things. Let’s put this statement in a more specific manner.

According to Christian legend, Jesus was born in the time when Palestine was under the rule of Rome. At those times, slavery prevails and very common. I was just wondering. What did Jesus say or did to abolish slavery? What’s worst, Jesus encouraged the beating of slaves. (Luke 12:47). He never denounced servitude, but quite the contrary, incorporated the master-slave relationship into many of his parables.

Also, what did Jesus did to bring about something in the issue of International Relation  Surely, Christian says that Jesus was God, so is it impossible for a god to talk to the Roman authorities and knock some senses in their heads? Well, today the United Nations is capable of putting conquering states at bay. I wonder why a god could not accomplish this feat.

Jesus did nothing to alleviate poverty. Rather than sell some expensive ointment to help the poor, Jesus wasted it on himself, saying, "Ye have the poor with you always" (Mark 14:3-7).

Does Jesus do something to champion woman emancipation, women’s right and intolerance toward other culture? No women were chosen as his apostles or invited to the Last Supper. In Mark 7:27 ("But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. "). Imagine! Jesus equated non-Jews with dogs. It looks like Jesus teaches intolerance towards other religion and culture. Now just imagine what kind of a person will instruct his followers to kill in front of him those who don’t want him to be king  (Luke 19:27). By relating this incident, Jesus is implicitly condoning executions!

Christian believers say that Jesus turned water into wine, have healed the sick and resurrected the dead. Wow! Great feats of miracles! But when did this god-man turned health contagious? Did Jesus eradicate leprosy? Scientists, which are not gods, have eradicated smallpox. So what disease did this god-man have wiped out when he was on earth? What he taught to his disciples was that sickness were caused by demons possessing our body or you need God’s forgiveness to be cured of your illness instead of teaching people that diseases are caused by tiny life forms called “germs”, and proper hygiene can lessen the chances of having a disease. Christians say that Jesus made the blind to see and the lame walk again. Has he taught the Hebrews how to cure polio or glaucoma? Has he taught the Israelites how to cure different ailments using simple medicinal herbs?

How about teaching the Hebrews of turning dirty desert water into drinkable table water or a new agricultural technology that will make fig trees bear fruits even if it’s not fig season? All I have read so far in the Gospel is that Jesus knows how to curse fig trees. Does short time miracles really the only solution this god-man knows?

Now for Christians, Jesus is the sacrifice God uses to take away the sins of the world. Hmmmm.. According to Jewish belief, you need to kill an animal to serve as a burnt offering for your sins. Does this mean Jesus is as good as a sacrificial goat? Besides, after Jesus was offered as a sacrifice like a temple animal to please God wrath to humanity, still sin is around every corner. Nothing really changed that much.

Christians will tell you that Jesus was sent to us so we may have everlasting life. That is why it is very important to know Jesus. Yet the same Bible said to us that, “As the cloud is consumed and vanishes away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more” - JOB 7:9 and "Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal....all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?" - Eccle. 3:19-21 NIV.

You will have a perfect idea about Jesus’ credibility after reading most of his self- prophecies concerning his eminent return or second-coming as Christians called it. In Matthew 24:27-34 Jesus gave his disciples a complete picture of his return. According to Jesus “…This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled”. Now, when Jesus spoke of this prophesy, he was talking to his disciples, right. Therefore, when he said “this generation,” he was not speaking of generation circa 2014. He was speaking of their generation! Jesus strongly stated this prophecy would be fulfilled in the lifetime of his generation. Now, nearly 2,000 years have passed still no sign of his second coming. Used primarily to frighten the wits of Christians into compliance, this prophecy now exposes a gigantic falsehood. The Son of man has not come as he predicted. Generation after generation has passed away and the prophet of Nazareth stands convicted as an imposter. It is more specific than most predictions and so provides a good test of the reality of Christ's pretenses.

Again by flipping the pages of the New Testament we see JOHN 5:25 ("I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live...."). Another false prophecy by Jesus! "And now is" shows that this was to occur at that time. (Also see: MATT. 16:18, Matt. 10:23, Mark 9:1) Christian apologetic attempts to apply the word "generation" to the Jewish people and that Jesus was speaking about the “last days” on those other chapters and verses. However, modern scholars said that this “prophecy” is said to happen about 80-90 CE.

In Mark 14:62, Jesus told the chief priests, “ Ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand power and coming in the clouds of heaven”. Yet the chief priests have been dead for 2000 years or more, never lived to see Jesus coming from the cloud of heaven.

Now in a last ditch effort, a Christian might try to convince me about Jesus based on his moral teachings. According to Mr. Norman Geisler, Jesus moral was superior compare to Buddha, Lao Tse and Socrates. A certain person even tried to persuade me on liking this Jesus character because he claims Jesus taught us the Golden Rule. But Whoa! Wait a minute there. The Golden Rule is a universal rule and people like Confucius have already taught us that rule 3000 years before Jesus.

But does Jesus really have a superior moral standard?

1. "While he was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him; so he went in and sat at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not at first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, `Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of extortion and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also?...woe to you Pharisees! for you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God; these you ought to have done...'" (Luke 11:37-44 RSV).

Now this is an example of blatant rudeness! Imagine talking like this to someone in his house after he invited you to dine with him. Even if it were true, common decency dictated a more refined approach.

2. "So the devils besought him saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out they went into the herd of swine; and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters" (Matt. 8:31.32).

What had the owner or owners done to have their property destroyed by Jesus? What had the animals done to deserve such treatment? What happened to animal rights, huh?

3. "Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. And if any man ask you, why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him. And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them. And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt?" (Luke 19:30-33).

Are we to believe this isn't stealing? Imagine seeing an unfamiliar person driving your car away while claiming the lord needed it.

4. "Verily, I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecution, and in the world to come eternal life" (Mark 10:29-30).

This teaching is not only immoral, but erroneous as well. Jesus is saying that the reward for giving up your wealth and following him is far greater wealth; So that means people should do right in order to obtain personal gain, not because it is the right act to do. Self-aggrandizement is not a decent basis for morality.

5. "Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees which were of Jerusalem, saying, `Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.' But he answered and said unto them, `Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?'" (Matt. 15:1-3).

The statement “Why do ye also" is admittance by Jesus that his disciples were violating a commandment of God. He doesn't deny they are breaking God's law; he simply says that his critics are guilty of the same offense.

6. "then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat;..." (Matt. 25:41-42) and "when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee hencefoward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away" (Matt. 21:18-19).

Here Jesus failed to show the mercy his believers claim he has. An eternal curse resulting from disappointed hunger is hardly the reaction of a divinely merciful being equal to God. Killing a tree for lacking fruit isn't indicative of a reasonably merciful and composed individual.

7. "the Son of man has come eating and drinking; and you say, `Behold, a glutton and a drundard..." (Luke 7:34 RSV).

If this comment is true, and there is little evidence to the contrary, the Jesus' character is, indeed, substandard.

8. "There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands..." (Mark 10:29-30).

Promising one's followers immense riches are actually a form of bribery.

9. "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33) and "Jesus said unto him, `If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me'" (Matt. 19:21) and (Mark 10:21, Luke 3:11, 11:41, 12:35, 18:22) yet on Mark 2:15 it is said that "And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house".

Jesus has a house while telling others to surrender their wealth.

10. Jesus said, "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true" (John 5:31) and later stated, "I am one that bear witness of myself..." (John 8:18). The logical conclusion to be drawn from combining these two statements is that Jesus disproved his own honesty.

11. Jesus told us to "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you" but ignored his own advice by repeatedly denouncing his opposition. Matt. 23:17 ("Ye fools and blind"), Matt. 12:34 ("O generation of vipers"), and Matt. 23:17 ("...hypocrites...ye are like unto whited sepulchers....") These are excellent examples of hypocrisy.

12. "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26). "I am come to set man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household" (Matt. 10:35-36). When one of his disciples requested time off for his father's funeral, Jesus rebuked him by saying "Let the dead bury their dead" (Matt. 8:22). Jesus never used the word "family" and he never married or fathered children. To his own mother, he said, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" (John 2:4).


So what kind of family value does this Jesus taught us?

13. Jesus said that whoever calls somebody a "fool" shall be in danger of hell fire (Matt. 5:22), yet he called people "fools" himself (Matt. 23:17).

14. He appeared to suffer from a dictator's "paranoia" when he said, "He that is not with me is against me" (Matt. 12:30).


And here are some more of Jesus so called “superior moral teaching”.
• Marrying a divorced woman is adultery (Matt. 5:32).
• Don't plan for the future (Matt. 6:34)
• Don't work to obtain food (John 6:27)
• Don’t save money (Matt. 6:19-20)
• Take the money from those who have no savings and give it to rich investors (Luke 19:23-26)
• If someone asks you for anything, give it to them without question (Matt. 5:42)
• If you lose a lawsuit, give more than the judgment (Matt. 5:40)

(Source: Biblical Errancy by Dennis McKinsey)

So when a Christian told me things about Jesus, and by comparing what history and Biblical mythology have to say about this person, I always ask the Christian back, “Jesus who?”

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Atheists and Sin

Misconception: Atheists are sinners. they should repent to the Lord Jesus. the Bible is clear that...

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, - Romans 3:23

As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; - Romans 3:10

Therefore, even atheists sin.

Fact: Like anyone else, an atheist is not a perfect person. We all commit mistakes. Remember that atheism is not about refusing to acknowledge that we err.

But because atheists do not believe in any god or gods, they do not accept the concept of sin just like they do not accept the concept of karma. The concept of sin is pointless to an atheist.  Sin is defined as the transgression of God’s law. Since an atheist doesn’t believe in God, then the concept of sin is without meaning.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Be Blessed

 "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." - Matthew 19:21

Yeah right...



As my Facebook friend, Ms. Maria Teresa Lopez would say, "Two great examples of Christian evangelists who are walking and laughing on their way to the banks to deposit the hard-earned $$$$$$$$$ that millions of credulous believers give them. "


The Ontological Argument: Pulling a rabbit out of a philosopher's hat.

I thought Christians are not using this argument anymore.

Anyway...

On the 13th of July 1087 after finishing his breakfast, Anselm (1093-1109) Bishop of Canterbury, claimed that God sends him an argument in a vision and it goes like this:

That God Really Exists Therefore, Lord, you who give knowledge of the faith, give me as much knowledge as you know to be fitting for me, because you are as we believe and that which we believe. And indeed we believe you are something greater than which cannot be thought. Or is there no such kind of thing, for "the fool said in his heart, 'there is no God'"

(Ps. 13:1, 52:1)? But certainly that same fool, having heard what I just said, "something greater than which cannot be thought," understands what he heard, and what he understands is in his thought, even if he does not think it exists. For it is one thing for something to exist in a person's thought and quite another for the person to think that I thing exists. For when a painter thinks ahead to what he will paint, he has that picture in his thought, but he does not yet think it exists, because he has not done it yet. Once he has painted it he has it in his thought and thinks it exists because he has done it. Thus even the fool is compelled to grant that something greater than which cannot be thought exists in thought, because he understands what he hears, and whatever is understood exists in thought. And certainly that greater than which cannot be understood cannot exist only in thought, for if it exists only in thought it could also be thought of as existing in reality as well, which is greater. If, therefore, that than which greater cannot be thought exists in thought alone, then that than which greater cannot be thought turns out to be that than which something greater actually can be thought, but that is obviously impossible. Therefore something than which greater cannot be thought undoubtedly exists both in thought and in reality.

The truth was, by the early part of the 10th century, most Christian theologians defend their religion in matters of faith. The Arabs were beginning to translate most of Aristotle's work making them available to Jewish and Christians. Induction and systematic testing have entered religious thoughts. Reason has an influence medieval theology.

Because of these developments, Anselm claimed that it is possible to affirm God's existence through reason as he was noted in saying, "It seems to me a case of negligence if, after becoming firm in our faith, we do not strive to understand what we believe."

In Proslogion 2 Anselm wrote his argument. The argument can be summarized as:

(1) On the assumption that God is the greatest object of thought. Nothing can be greater than that. Even the fool understands this.

(2) Now a God who exists in the real world is greater than a God who only exists in the mind.

(3) Since it exists in the mind of the fool and God is that which nothing greater can be conceive must also exist outside his mind. Therefore,  God exists!

Since even fools (or atheists) agrees with the definition that Anselm gave about God, he will be facing a contradiction (reductio ad absurdum) If it is possible to think of a being that is nothing greater can be conceived, does it follow that it will be greater to exist outside of the mind rather than just inside the mind?

The ontological argument is an attempt to prove God exists by definition.

There are other versions of this argument.

Rene Descartes stated the argument in a slightly different way. Descartes wrote in the Fifth Meditation:
But if the mere fact that I can produce from my thought the idea of something that entails everything which I clearly and distinctly perceive to belong to that thing really does belong to it, is not this a possible basis for another argument to prove the existence of God? Certainly, the idea of God, or a supremely perfect being, is one that I find within me just as surely as the idea of any shape or number. And my understanding that it belongs to his nature that he always exists is no less clear and distinct than is the case when I prove of any shape or number that some property belongs to its nature

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz in the early eighteenth century, attempted to fill what he took to be a shortcoming in Descartes' view. According to Leibniz, God is at least possible since the concept of Him as the infinite implies no contradiction. If  He is possible then He must exist because the concept of Him involves existence.

Ok…ok…nose bleed?

The ontological is really this simple: God is the perfect conceivable being. Now since God is perfect it will be some sort of a defect if it doesn’t exist, right? That will be a contradiction. If the most perfect conceivable being doesn’t exist, we’ll be able to conceive of a more perfect being, namely the one who does exist. It follows that the most perfect conceivable being must actually exist. VIOLA! God just pop out of the philosopher’s magic hat!

The ontological argument is an A Priori argument. That means the argument comes purely from reasoning. No experience necessary.

Anselm’s argument was parodied by another monk in the name of Gaunilo of Marmoutiers (1033-1109) who said that the argument is an example of a reductio ad ansurdum – an argument that could be only valid once proved by means of an actual experience.

He used an imaginary island which he called the fable Isles of the Blessed, as Gaulino wrote on “On Behalf of the Fool.”

For example, they say there is in the ocean somewhere an island which, due to the difficulty (or rather the impossibility) of finding what does not actually exist, is called "the lost island." And they say that this island has all manner of riches and delights, even more of them than the Isles of the Blest, and having no owner or inhabitant it is superior in the abundance of its riches to all other lands which are inhabited by men. If someone should tell me that such is the case, I will find it easy to understand what he says, since there is nothing difficult about it. But suppose he then adds, as if he were stating a logical consequence, "Well then, you can no longer doubt that this island more excellent than all other lands really exists somewhere, since you do not doubt that it is in your mind; and since it is more excellent to exist not only in the mind but in reality as well, this island must necessarily exist, because if it didn't, any other island really existing would be more excellent than it, and thus that island now thought of you as more excellent will not be such." If, I say, someone tries to convince me though this argument that the island really exists and there should be no more doubt about it, I will either think he is joking or I will have a hard time deciding who is the bigger fool, me if I believe him or him if he thinks he has proved its existence without having first convinced me that this excellence is something undoubtedly existing in reality and not just something false or uncertain existing in my mind.

Anselm replied that the argument is not intended to finite ideas,  but only to the strictly infinite. In short, the ontological argument is applied only to God.

But suppose Gaulino’s island is some kind of a God island, a super island where all other islands came from… Come on guys, we’re just rationalizing here. That what philosophy is all about.

Anyway, given that Gaulino’s Isles of the Bless is the most perfect island that which no greater island can be conceived, does that follow that this island must exist in real life to be more perfect?

Is Existence a Property?

Base on Alselm’s argument (and the other derivatives of the Ontological argument), existence is a property and is part of the intrinsic greatness of God.

What does that mean?

Let us ponder a little. Is existence a property of an object?

Is it true to say that my dream house will be more perfect if it exist compare than if it does not?

Well, for God not to exist means an imperfection to the idea of God since perfection is a part of God’s definition.

It really doesn’t make any sense? Existence is taken as fact by perfection and imperfection. If something exists, it then acquires properties whether it is perfect or imperfect and if something doesn’t exist or loses its existence it is not an imperfection of anything.

You must have experience knowledge of something first before we can talk about its properties. Simple put it; Exist first before you have a property!

Immanuel Kant chose to criticize the Ontological Argument on the grounds that it treated existence as though it were a characteristic of an object. He believed existence was not a characteristic of anything. According to Kant, to say that a thing exists is not to attribute existence to that thing, but to say that the concept of that thing is exemplified in the world.

Also, there is the problem on the Fallacy of Equivocation. The guy who is using this argument is just switching the meaning of some terms in the course of the argument. In this case, the magic word is “greater than” or “perfect”.

Let see, is the word “perfect” (or greater than) here means “…compare to the most perfect thing to be imagined or is the word “perfect” (or greater than) here means that an existing God is perfect (or greater than) a purely imaginative God?


Greatest Conceivable Thing?

Remember when Anselm created this argument,  he was thinking of the Western God concept. You know the omni-all God of the Christian lore. But what will happen if we asked those Asian philosophers who believes that perfection is inconceivable? In Zen Buddhism for example, as soon as God was given a name he ceases to being God. Now what if the greatest conceivable thing is the one that cannot be conceived?

How about if the greatest conceivable thing is a God that can create the Universe in a blink of an eye compared to a God that took six days to create a universe? There are a lot of “perfect gods” we can produce with our mind.

In a different argument against Anselm, David Hume used the difference between the relation of ideas (abstract ideas, logic and mathematics) and matters of facts (what exist in the world inductively known through experience). Hume argued that questions regarding the existence of God are matters of facts that require empirical evidence.  All assertions about existence of things are matter of facts - and it must be empirically demonstrated.

As Arthur Schopenhauer wrote in his The Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, “…without prejudice, this famous ontological proof is really a charming joke.”

I think he’s right.


There Goes My Rights...

Pinoy Atheist: So what will happen if the Philippines becomes an Islamic State? Will it endanger my basic human rights?

Muslim: No. Everything will be normal. No one will force you to be a Muslim. We respect your human rights.

Pinoy Atheist: Ah... OK. So is it true that when you leave Islam and changed to another religion, you will get the death penalty?

Muslim: Yes. According to sharia law, If you change religion, we will kill you.

There goes my basic human rights down the drain. 


*****

["2171. Narrated 'Abdullah: The Prophet said, "The blood of a Muslim, who confesses that Lâ ilâha ill-Allâh (there is no god but Allâh), cannot be shed except in three cases: 1. Life for life (in cases of intentional murders without right i.e., in Al-Qis̩âs̩ – Law of Equality in punishment); 2. A married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse; and 3. The one who turns renegade from Islâm (apostate) and leaves the group of Muslims. [9:17-O.B]"

— Sahih al-Bukhari, 9:83:17 see also Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:260, Sahih al-Bukhari, 9:84:57 ]

vs.

[Article 18. UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance. ]

Sunday, April 13, 2014

I'm just being reasonable.

The problem with some believers when confronting atheism is that they rely too much to misconceptions. Surely, if you dismantle a misconception you are not accomplishing anything. 

Now here is a good example:
You often hear atheists say that that they are the guardian of reason; this is true as far as it goes. But this illusion of being a guardian comes from the misconception that reason is confined only on empirical evidence. Human truth such as beauty, joy, romanticism, love etc. are all evident in each of us and yet intangible. But for the atheist, intangibility is tantamount to inexistence ergo unreason. The atheist takes empirical truth and treat it as human truth, for he has no imagination. They see the dinosaur turning into a bird or the seed turning into a plant and yet they cannot see how extraordinary this is, they are too close to see the big picture. As a great man once said “If you don’t think it extraordinary for a pumpkin to become pumpkin then you hadn’t even began philosophy”. For the philosophy of the atheist is narrow at best, they demonstrate empirical nature and do not find God, The theist find God and demonstrate nature. For to look for God in nature is incomplete, to find God in our universe is to also take in to account human truths. They assert that matter only exists and yet they cannot imagine a universe such as theirs, for if they did, they wouldn’t be atheist.

Ok… so the first thing we notice here is that the author thinks that atheists claims to be “guardian of reason.” No, we don’t guard reason, we just use it better.

Maybe the best thing we have to do here is to define what reason is and how atheists use it.
I think the author of this Christian article defined reason, as a rational motive in believing in the existence or non-existence of something. Further reading suggests that the author thinks that the word reason is synonymous with the word truth, is it?

All of us use reason... that is because it justifies our belief. We reason,  because we think. Ancient people believe that the Sun revolves around the Earth and to prove this, they will reason out that the Sun always rise to the East and set in the West. Most Christians still believe that planet Earth is flat, that it is just 6,000 years old and their reason is that the Bible (which is the inerrant word of God) said so. That is reasoning, but is it true?

Being Reasonable or Being Rational?
Not all reason is good reasoning. Hey, anyone can draw, right? However, an artist is very different compared to an ordinary Joe. That is the same with reasoning. Everyone can reason out, but it takes more than that to arrive at an objective truth - that includes the disciplines of science and logic, as well as critical thinking.

Faith is also reasoning. Well, some atheists do separate reason from faith, but based on our working definition of the word “reason,” faith can also serve as a cause to believe in the existence of something intangible. However, just because faith is also a kind of reason does not mean that it is proven true.

We use reason to justify our belief system, yet it does not constitute a truth-value. That is where rationality sets-in. Faith-based reasoning is motivated by emotion while rationality is more objective. Hmmmm…A Christias believed  God exist because, well because he may not have eternal life, or God might strike him dead or curse him to go to Hell if he don’t or because he loves Jesus, the Roman Catholic Church, the communion of the Saint and so on. Yet atheists like me does not believe that God exists because the probability of its existence is improbable. We get our conclusion using science (not too much in philosophy though. In philosophy, even Humpty-Dumpty can exist), by dealing with data and logical arguments, not because of fear or love or hate, whatever.

Now the author thinks that joy, love, beauty, and romanticism as human truth, yet it cannot explain the existence of something intangible. Joy, love, beauty, and romanticism are examples of abstract human thought, and these are too subjective to give a good example of something as true. Human emotions are not used in critical thinking. The existences of a god are epistemological and metaphysical concerns not an emotional one.

Empiricism Do Not Enter!
Why this allergic reaction to the word “empirical?”

Christians are always shouting this word every time they see it approaching their arguments. What is wrong with empirical proofs? The problem here is that when we talk about something empirical, we are talking about something that we can observe. Remember, the foundation of their God belief relies on something that cannot be observed.  That’s faith. Therefore, they have to do something for this shortfall.

Ideas are not tangible, so does imaginations. I can always imagine a perfect island (like Gaulino) or a perfect universe. However, it is just an imagination- a figment of an over-active mind. That is why empiricism is barred in Christian apologetics – it will be hard for them to justify the existence of an invisible, supernatural, disembodied entity in the scope of empirical evidence. They have to rely on “out of this world proof” or emotional, subjective feeling to defend God’s existence. That’s  why they need faith to justify the existence of the unseen and the unproven. Come on, if God is real, why need the justification of faith? I do not see air, or atoms, or black holes and dark matter yet I do not need faith to justify its existence. I do not see dinosaur turning to birds or seeds turning into pumpkins, yet scientific evidence proves it. Now, if I will believe that a pumpkin will turn into a glass carriage, now that requires faith.

Until next time.

Respect and Silence

Luke Skywalker: "But... I can't get involved with anything like that..."

 Ben "Obi-Wan" Kenobi: "Remember, Luke, the suffering of one man's the suffering of all. Distances are irrelevant to injustice. If not stopped soon enough, evil eventually reaches out to engulf all men, whether they have opposed it or ignored it."

There are atheists out there who prefer to sit on the side bench, and watch the parade go by.These atheists prefer to call themselves as “agnostics." Unlike the true agnostics, these atheists just want to be identified as agnostics simply because they don’t want to be labeled with the “A” word. For them, the term atheist signifies militancy, intolerance or worst.

Reasons for this moderation vary, but the one rationale I always heard is that we (as atheists) should respect other people’s belief – that includes the religious belief.

In his book, The End of Faith, Sam Harris devoted pages on religious moderates. I think he should also include moderate atheists in that chapter. Anyway, just like their god fearing counterparts (the moderate believers), these moderate non-believers believe that atheists and pious people should learn to respect the belief and non-belief of others. 

In other words, mutual respect. Now, is there such a thing called “mutual respect” between a God believer and a “godless” person?

Personally, I find some Christians (Catholic or Protestant) friendly. I have theists’ friends, but that’s it. We prefer to talk about politics or trivial stuffs. Even so, we never talk about religious beliefs.

Now, try opening the Bible and read Psalms 14:1. How about reading Psalm 53: 1-6, Romans 1: 18-32 and Romans 3: 10-18. It that what you call "mutual respect?"

Ah, so as an atheist it is OK for me to respect the idea that I will be burning in hell because I don't believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I am destitute of reason or of the common powers of understanding because I don't believe God exists, or I am corrupt, wicked and vile, right?

I think what these moderate atheists should do is to read some religious scriptures and try to figure out for themselves what these “faiths” have to say about the faithless.

In Islam for example, atheists are known as Kafir. The word Kafir is derived from the Arabic term Kafara which means to "to cover up or hide something." So a kafir is a person who covers up and hides the truth. For those who believe in Islam, the word Kafir is the worst word in the human language. A Kafir, or disbeliever, will be punished for eternity in the fire of hell. 

Try reading the following in the Qur’an so you will know how  these Muslims really look at atheists: 40:35, 83:34, 25:77, 47:4, 6:25, 86:15, 6:111, 23:97, 37:18 and 8:12. Furthermore, take note: A Muslim is not the friend of a kafir - 3:28. Believers should not take kafir as friends in preference to other believers. Those who do this will have none of Allah's protection and will only have themselves as guards. Allah warns you to fear Him for all will return to Him. So, when they say “ respect”, does that mean I cannot even criticize their ideas. That I should just shut my trap and let these God believers proselytize his faith, his archaic philosophy, his twisted science, his wanton disregard to the other person’s ideas? 

Respect huh?

Religiots

People like this prosper because believers allow him to be, otherwise, if these believers really trust their faith, then such con men will not exist in the first place.

One reason why I don't find religious faith rational. Now, this guy proclaimed himself as the "Appointed Son of God." The problem here is why those relidiots believed him? It's not written in their holy scriptures that God will appoint a guy from South-East Asia to be his son. Yet, still they give money to this grifter and believed every word he says.

My gulay!

Maybe that's why atheists think religious people are such dorks.

video


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Atheism a Religion?


If I will get 1 Peso every time I see this claim, I'm already a millionaire :P. Anyways...

According to some Christians (and some atheists?), "Atheism is a religion of the unbelievers." Let’s see if this is right.

They accused atheism of having a set of belief that’s why atheism is a religion. Well… that’s not new.

The Encyclopedia of Religion defines religion this way:
In summary, it may be said that almost every known culture involves the religious in the above sense of a depth dimension in cultural experiences at all levels — a push, whether ill-defined or conscious, toward some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life. When more or less distinct patterns of behaviors are built around this depth dimension in a culture, this structure constitutes religion in its historically recognizable form. Religion is the organization of life around the depth dimensions of experience — varied in form, completeness, and clarity in accordance with the environing culture.

Daniel Dennett defines religions as social systems whose participants avow belief in a supernatural agent or agents whose approval is to be sought. That includes Buddhism and Jainism since both religions still believe in the existence of “devas” and demi-gods. The English word religion clearly derives from the Latin word religio, as do its cognates in other European languages, but the derivation of the Latin noun is uncertain. It is most commonly linked to one of two Latin verbs, religare (to bind or fasten) or relegere (to collect again, to go over again [as in reading]).

Friedrich Schleiermacher defined religion as “feeling of absolute dependence” absolute as contrasted to other, relative feelings of dependence.

Lindbeck defines religion as, "a kind of cultural and/or linguistic framework or medium that shapes the entirety of life and thought… it is similar to an idiom that makes possible the description of realities, the formulation of beliefs, and the experiencing of inner attitudes, feelings, and sentiments.”
Therefore, in reading these following definitions, we can say that atheism is not a religion since it’s not about anything that is “ultimate” regarding ultimate concerns on someone’s life. The rule is quite simple; atheism is about not believing in a supernatural being which people call a god or gods.

William Alston suggested that the presence of an unspecified number of any of the following characteristics would make a set of cultural practices a religion:
(1) Belief in supernatural beings (gods).
(2) A distinction between sacred and profane objects.
(3) Ritual acts focused on sacred objects.
(4) A moral code believed to be sanctioned by the gods.
(5) Characteristically religious feelings.
(6) Prayer and other forms of communication with gods.
(7) A world view, or a general picture of the world as a whole and the place of the individual therein. .
(8) A more or less total organization of one’s life based on the world view.
(9) A social group bound together by the above.
(Alston 1967, Encyclopedia of Philosophy, vol. 7. New York, 1967. pp. 141–142)

Now that we have some proper definition of what religion is, we can now try to determine if Christians (and some atheists) are right in declaring atheism as a religion.

Atheists do not believe in supernatural beings called “gods”and they do not consider any object as “sacred". The term sacred in this paragraph means, “something declared or believed to be holy; devoted to a deity or some religious ceremony or use”.

They do not have any religious rituals. There are no consensuses in atheism regarding any moral code (some atheists believe in an objective morality while others believe in relative morality.) They do not have any religious feelings and they never do any prayers.

Atheism a worldview?
According to Christian apologist Razi Zacharias, atheism is a worldview (See: Can Man Live Without God p. 17). But what is a worldview anyway? Personally speaking, I think a worldview is how you see the world. It is the concoction of a person’s philosophy, ideas, ideology, knowledge, understanding and conviction in describing the universe. Others think that it’s how a person perceives reality. Whatever way a person describes it, generally speaking a worldview is how a person interprets his universe.
Sigmund Freud defines it as, “ ... an intellectual construction which solves all the problems of our existence uniformly on the basis of one overriding hypothesis, which, accordingly, leaves no question unanswered and in which everything that interests us finds its fixed place.”

James W. Sire, defines world view as
... a set of presuppositions ... which we hold ... about the makeup of our world.

So to put it together, a worldview is the set of beliefs about fundamental aspects of reality that ground and influences a person perceiving, thinking, knowing, and doing. Simple isn’t it?
Worldview includes the following:
• epistemology: beliefs about the nature and sources of knowledge;
• metaphysics: beliefs about the ultimate nature of Reality;
• cosmology: beliefs about the origins and nature of the universe, life, and especially Man;
• teleology: beliefs about the meaning and purpose of the universe, its inanimate elements, and its inhabitants;
• theology: beliefs about the existence and nature of God;
• anthropology: beliefs about the nature and purpose of Man in general and, oneself in particular;
• axiology: beliefs about the nature of value, what is good and bad, what is right and wrong.
(From Hunter Mead's Types and Problems of Philosophy)

We have already had an idea on what a worldview is; now we’re going to see if atheism fits the bill.

According to Christian philosopher Ronald Nash, a worldview consists of five major topics: God, reality, knowledge, morality and humankind. Now does atheist entail any belief about epistemology, ethics or humankind? No, it doesn’t. The problem lies when a god-believer thinks that any worldview that has atheism in it is an "atheistic world view". When a believer thinks a certain philosophy or rationalization exclude his god he automatically place the whole thing in a can and place a large label outside it which spells “ATHEISM”. That’s because most religious believers erred in believing that worldview and doctrine are synonymous, and they really consider atheism as Satan’s doctrine. A good example of this is the Theory of Evolution. Most believers consider evolution is atheistic because it is deemed to be a materialist’s version of how life was created without God (which is unfortunately incorrect since evolution is about the development of life, not the creation of life). Yet there are some believers who are quite comfortable with evolution (mostly the Roman Catholics).

Now let us elaborate the issues.  On the issue of ethics - atheism does not logically necessitate any theory of ethics. In that department, any atheist can believe any theory of ethics, he sure thinks is correct. As they always say, an atheist can even develop his personal moral code. He can be a nihilist, a relativist and objectivist or a mixture of all of those “ism” in the dictionary for all he cares, as long as such theory doesn’t conform to any theological interpretation. Also, atheists vary in the belief of morality. Some non-believers like Sam Harris and Paul Kurtz believe in absolute morals while there are atheists out there that believe in relative morality.

It is also the same with the sense of meaning (teleology). I personally believe that an individual creates his own meaning in life. That is my own belief…but it doesn’t reflect my atheism. Not every atheist that I know agrees to that, and they even say that my outlook in life is more of a Satanist than an atheist. For some, the meaning of life depends on how society perceives it, yet we are atheists.

Another good example is philosophy. Majority of Filipino atheists are Marxist. They are also into dialectic materialism.  But there are also atheists who are into Utilitarianism. We also have existentialists  atheists and into Wittgenstein’s “Ordinary Language Philosophy”. Shucks! I have even meet a non-believer who is totally into some kind of irrational version of rationalism. Speaking of metaphysics, atheists also seem to be diverse in this concern. There are materialist atheists, a spiritual atheist, an ethical atheist, a rationalist atheist, and an objectivist atheist and so on. There are even some who declared themselves as Christian atheists! (Hmmmm…sounds like an oxy-moron? Whatever…)

Personally, I am a little Hegelian when it comes to the Theory of Knowledge. But atheism has nothing to do with my epistemology. I just like how Hegel dismantles Kant’s “ding-an-sich”. When it comes to the philosophical explanation of morality, I believe it came from reasons just like Immanuel Kant.

In the issue of truth, some atheists are defending the correspondence theory of truth while others are still into John Dewey’s pragmatism. Hmmmm are there agnostic atheists?

In the concept of cosmology…wow! Here a lot of atheists seem to ride on different boats! A majority believes in a scientific explanation or should I say a more natural explanation of origins. Yet you will be surprised that there are non-believers who believe in Zacharias Sitchin’s “12 planets”. You know the theory that says we were created by intelligent alien life forms from Planet Nebiru! Oh yeah! There are also those who believe that the universe is just a part of other universes – or should I say, multiverse.

And who says all atheists are the same in matters of theology? We say that Buddhists are atheist in some sense just because they don’t believe in an anthropomorphic, personal god. But how about when it comes to other god-concepts? Some Filipino atheists declare themselves as pantheist or deists. Some even say they are atheists because they don’t believe in the Bible. Speaking of god and religion, atheists also differ on the issue of religion and science vs. religion. To some atheists, we must destroy religion, yet there are atheists who are passive in the subject. Some atheists believe religion and science must not mix together yet other believes in NOMA (Non-Overlapping Magistrate).

Now how can I picture this? I can exemplify worldview and atheism to a fruit salad. Let say a banana is a part, an ingredient of a delicious fruit salad, yet a banana is not a fruit salad. That’s the same with atheism. Atheism is about not believing in a god or gods,  right? It may be an influence to some of the subjects that complete a worldview,  but that doesn’t make a whole worldview. It may be a part of an explanation of why an atheist is an objectivist, a rationalist or a relativist. But that doesn’t make atheism a complete justification why he considers that the world operates that way. A worldview must contain the whole element to make it coherent and livable.

Doctrines.
According to Christians, atheism has different doctrines regarding the origin of the thought that there is no God. Therefore, it is considered as a religion. Perhaps they think that the word “doctrine” is synonymous with being religious. Maybe it is best that we first define the meaning of the word “doctrine”.

Simply put it, a doctrine is a belief (or system of beliefs) accepted as authoritative by some group or school. Most dictionaries record two related senses of the term doctrine: according to the first, it is the affirmation of a truth; according to the second, it is a teaching. As the statement of a truth, doctrine has a philosophical cast; as a teaching, it suggests something more practical.

As a statement of truth, philosophical discourse reveals more variation: according to the context, “the doctrine of the equality of man” may be taken either as a precise axiom belonging to a political theory, or as a practical maxim designed to guide political action.

Base in the definition, a doctrine does not automatically connote on being “religious”.  For example, Marxism or we can call it the doctrine of Marxism is not religious. Religious doctrines  tend to be characterized by their practical intent rather than philosophical discourses.

Christianity uses the terms doctrine and dogma to designate the teachings through which salvation is offered to all those who hear and respond. In case you don’t know, dogmas are truth revealed by God (directly and formally), which is presented by the church for belief, as revealed by God, either through a solemn decision of the extraordinary Magisterium (Pope or council) or through the ordinary and general Magisterium of the Church (episcopacy). It must be accepted through faith.

Christian doctrines for example, teach proper action for a believer to enter heaven (salvation). OK, here are some examples of Christian doctrines: The person of Jesus Christ, the doctrine of the Trinity, sin and grace and the concept of Redemption.

So now, you know the difference between doctrine and religious doctrine.

Atheist arguments are not doctrines. Atheists use arguments in expressing their case against theism. Those are not “doctrines”.  Arguments are sequences  of statements such that some of them (the premises) purport to give reason to accept another of them, the conclusion. These may be a certain fact or assertion offered as evidence that something is true. It is also defined as a course of reasoning aimed at demonstrating a truth or falsehood.

Hope I made it clear for everyone.

Ciao!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April's Fools

In a 2010 Psychology Today article by Nigel Barber, Ph.D., “Why Atheism Will Replace Religion.”makes the case that there are “strong correlations between atheism and intelligence” as cultures develop.

According to Dr. Barber, “Belief in God declines in more developed countries and is concentrated in Europe in countries such as Sweden (64% nonbelievers), Denmark (48%), France (44%) and Germany (42%). In contrast, the incidence of atheism in most sub-Saharan countries is below 1%.” (See also, Zuckerman 2007) Dr. Barber continues: “The reasons that churches lose ground in developed countries can be summarized in market terms. First, with better science, and with government safety nets, and smaller families, there is less fear and uncertainty in people's daily lives and hence less of a market for religion. At the same time many alternative products are being offered, such as psychotropic medicines and electronic entertainment that have fewer strings attached and that do not require slavish conformity to unscientific beliefs." (Barber, 2010)

So why are atheists being connected to April Fools Day?

First how April 1 did become known as a Day of Fools? Traditionally, eh no one knows, but some attribute the day to Pope Gregory XIII and his calendar.

Now, since Christians have used this day as a mockery to atheists as their “holiday” well let’s give them what they want. Christians have been labeling atheists as fools because of that verse… Psalms 14:1. You know…"The FOOL saidth in his heart there is No God." Even though the word “fool” in this verse is an English translation of the Hebrew word “nabal” which means morally inferior NOT intellectually inferior.

Contrary to popular Christian belief, there is no real fact that says God-believers are more morally upright than those who don’t believe in God. But still an atheist is a fool.

The New Testament is more blunt. According to the one who wrote the Book of Romans, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.” (Romans 1:20)

In other words, we become fools for not believing, for lacking faith to believe that their invisible God is the creator of the whole universe. This doesn’t signify an immoral person, but a stupid one. Just because someone doesn’t believe his god, he is now considered a dullard. But why give a damn about what the religious fanatics in Jerusalem believe anyway. I am more connected to Athens. Doubt has brought me closer to knowledge than religious faith.