I can be an atheist and an activist at the same time, right? The problem here is that some Filipino "atheists" thinks that atheism is such a "wow group” and the other problem is that some people always insist that what is there in America and Europe is the same here in the Philippines.
You debate a believer if that believer insists that you are wrong. I don't see anything wrong about that. Let say that I am active with secularism - then a believer will say that it is wrong - Ok, let us prepare the tables and the microphones. However, the main problem here is that we’re living in a different country and culture. This is not England or the United State in which majority of philosophers and scientists lives. This is not the same as those countries in which they have inventors and innovators. My gulay! This is the Philippines – a country that is predominantly populated with gullible believers. A country which makes a Pope’s visit a 5-days holiday. A country whose majority still believes in the existence of the Boogy Man, of manananggals and enkantos, of mangkukulam and aswangs. A country in which government offices has religious, Catholic altars and science is something not to be taken seriously. We are facing a different situation here.
There was this article from the Guardian (I am guessing that this is a British site) who suggested that atheists should abstract from debates and focus on something else. Ok… the article even ask, “once you no longer believe the claims of religion, what do you believe?” That is a nice question, provided that we already reach that point. Sadly, that is not address to a country like the Philippines. Why? Ok, now is there any atheist book written in Tagalog? How about books that discuss the questions we have on religious claims? Is there any such book written in the Filipino language? Now, in the USA and Europe, there are volumes and volumes of books that discuss atheism, non-belief and religious criticism. From what – since the time of Humes and Paine? That is also more that a century, right? Now, how many American and European authors have already written books about atheism? How about here in the Philippines? Have we even started discussing it on public, like school debates, public debates – whatever.
How about groups, organizations? How many Filipino atheist groups do we have? Other than the most visible Filipino Freethinkers, what else? In the Unites State, they have more than a dozen groups – FFRF, American Atheists, American Secular Union, Secular Student Alliance…
Is there any Filipino group that has already answered the tough questions like “How Can You Be Good Without God?” “If there’s No God, Where Did We Came From?” “What Is The Meaning of Life?” and so on. Do we have our own Filipino version of Neil deGrasse Tyson, Sam Harris, Dan Barker or even Richard Dawkins?
I think comparing to that of the United State and Europe, here in the Philippines we still have a lot to do and debates is one of them. We never really did any considerable debates here and when I say debates, I’m not talking about those rants and brouhaha about social groups like Facebook. I’m talking about scholarly arguments that was done in a university and presented by professors, educators and scholars.
The atheist community here in the Philippines is not making enough "noise" to be heard. There is still no significant breakthrough. We still have a lot of work to do before we can put the “atheist label” inside the closet again.
[ As my friend Philip Reyes said, "Not noise but not doing their job. If they are doing their job then people will take notice." ]