The Other Side of The Story|
[Most Recent Entries]
Below are the 17 most recent journal entries recorded in
The Skeptical Pilgrim's LiveJournal:
|Sunday, July 3rd, 2005|
|Atheists: GET OUT!... of the closet, that is.
For far too long now, most atheists have remained sequestered in a closet of their own making. This self-imposed anonymity goes beyond not advertising their beliefs; it is an active denial of them. This is mainly aimed at avoiding rejection and confrontation in a theist-dominated world.
Here are the problems with that:
- People tend to fear the unknown. As long as we stay invisible, people will view us with suspicion.
- The religious right takes full advantage of our non-presence in society. They spread lies about us, knowing those lies will take root in the minds of a fearful and mistrustful public.
- We are woefully under-represented in government. Our actual numbers are highly underestimated and our elected leaders feel they can ignore us. We have no sympathy with the voting public because they don't see us; they don't know us. It's very easy to turn a blind eye to people you don't know.
These problems are magnified now because like it or not, we're in the midst of a culture war. We have a president and a congress trying to ram Christianity down everyone's throats. Staying in the closet now is a very poor choice. It's nothing less than an invitation to be marginalized. It's acceptance of second-class citizen status.
Coming out can change all of that by altering the public's perception of atheists. Nearly everybody knows somebody who is an atheist but in most cases, they don't realize it. If they only did realize that these family members, friends and associates were atheists, the negative stereotypes would be replaced by reality. There would suddenly be a human face on atheism.http://atheistsout.us/ Current Mood: full
|Thursday, February 10th, 2005|
|The Christian and the Bear
Quote of the Moment:"Just as in real life, nature doesn't care about our belief or non-belief. The bear has a warm meal."
- Don Burris
One fair spring morning, a devout Christian decided to take a walk through a nearby wood. Upon entering, he began walking along a narrow dirt path through the lush, green forest admiring all of the things that God had created.
"Wow", he thought to himself while taking in the beauty that surrounded him. "What majestic trees!” Then, a faint rustling sound came from somewhere close by. The Christian turned to look but could see nothing and continued walking. His eyes followed a small stream that flowed beside the path. “What a lovely little stream!”, he thought and off to the left, the rustling sound grew louder. The Christian walked a bit faster down the path. Looking up, the Christian said out loud, “What a beautiful sky. God is indeed a very wonderful creator!" Suddenly, a huge grizzly bear emerged from the dense shrubbery and upon seeing the man, started to chase him. The Christian ran along the path for all he was worth, but the bear was almost upon him. The Christian looked back over his shoulder and saw that the bear was only a few yards behind him. The man then tripped over a large rock and fell to the ground beside a small wooden sign attached to a post. The bear, having slowed its pace, lumbered up to the Christian and began to sniff his clothing. The man, laying face down, closed his eyes and prayed in desperation "Heavenly Father, I ask you to please save me from this bear!"
As the Christian continued to beseech God, the grizzly let out a ferocious roar and ripped four deep gashes across the man’s back. The Christian screamed in agony while the bear continued tearing and ripping him into bloody shreds of warm flesh. The man, while still being mauled, reached out a feeble hand and touched the signpost just before losing consciousness.
When the bear had eaten all it could, it lumbered off in the direction from which it came, leaving the Christian's remains to decompose and rot.
Inscribed upon the sign were these words:
Matthew 21:22 - "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." Current Mood: predatory
|Monday, January 31st, 2005|
|A Princess Tale
I will take a break from atheism for now. There is life beyond atheism and I intend to explore, appreciate, and write about them here for the next couple of weeks. Life is too short to spend your time worshipping man’s invention… ooops that sounds like atheism again. ;)
I had a dream. I thought I would finally forget about her since it’s been quite some time since we last communicated. But the dream changed all that. The dream awakened me at almost 4:00 AM and I spent the first couple of minutes thinking about her and reminiscing our short but meaningful uhhm… “relationship” (I cannot think of a better term, forgive me, your majesty).
Yes, she is a princess
. A royal blooded “bratinella” princess. The song being played at the background reminds me of her since she is particularly fond of watching the Korean telenovela Lover’s in Paris and one of the last stories she told me before we lost contact is her attending Kitchie Nadal’s show to watch her perform. I have never encountered a lady who tells stories in astounding detail
as her. I can still vividly remember hearing her tell me her (mis)adventures in shopping malls, her wacky antics in her school, her funny escapades with her friends, the boredom she felt in the “royal gatherings” she attended with her mother queen, her hobbies, favorites shows, food, books, you name it, she talked about it. I am (or one of?) the willing victim(s?) of listening to these stories. I have to admit that listening is one of my unfortunate weaknesses. Even up to now, I struggle with my impatience to listen to someone, especially when the topic is of no interest to me. But this princess narrates things in such an adorable manner that I find myself listening to every bit of her stories up to the last minuscule detail.
One of the unforgettable moments that I had with her was when she bestowed “knighthood”
to me. She gave me Sir “Killian”
as my name of honor for being there for her, like a brother. To be honest, I really like the name.
She taught me to appreciate and see beauty in the mundane. She successfully unleashed the child within me and played with him. She caused smiles to be drawn in my face more than any other person in a day.
Perhaps since she is a princess, she may be just unaware of the evil that permeates this world. Perhaps her royal family has protected her from the harshness of reality that most things for her seem beautiful. But I believe there is time to learn these things. Nevertheless, people like her would make you view things in a new light. That is, amidst the darkness of the void, there is still a tiny sparkle of light – a glimmer of hope, no matter how insignificant it is. The overpowering vastness of the darkness makes one appreciate this faint light all the more, for without this domineering blackness, the light will just be inevitably ignored, neglected, and unappreciated. Perhaps, there is hope for humanity after all.
I do not know exactly what happened. It seems to me that she finally decided to throw me off her royal court. Perhaps, I have done something to offend her majesty. Perhaps, I scared her by my “exaggerated” tales (I can convince someone that I am a “serial killer” if I want to, lolz). Or perhaps I have already outlived my purpose that her majesty finally saw fit to let me go. I do not know for sure. Whatever the reason is, I can humbly say that it was a great honor and experience to be in your royal service, your majesty.
Your majesty, if I may be so bold as to speak this in your absence, I would like to offer you my deepest gratitude for all the joys that I, as to be honored to have been graciously given an opportune to be introduced to her majesty, had experience in your presence. It is with great elation that I unflinchingly proclaim (and I ask for her majesty’s pardon beforehand for this insolence) that you shall forever occupy a space in my heart. Special, you are and forever you shall be. Lamentably, it is ill-fated for this honored knight-errant of yours to part ways with you. Lastly, may her majesty, in her graciousness and cordial patience, permit me to proceed further, I obsequiously ask that you forgive any transgressions that this errant servant has committed in your presence, more so in your absence.
Regrettably, I have to bid you farewell… Current Mood: melancholy
|Tuesday, January 11th, 2005|
|God's ways are not man's ways... Enough already!
Quote of the Moment: According to Deuteronomy 22:20-24, even if a girl is raped, she merits the death penalty if she was engaged and no one heard her scream. In Deut. 22:28-29, we learn that a virgin who is not engaged and then raped, even if she doesn't scream, is not executed, but compelled to marry her rapist (and her father gets paid for his daughter's sexual services). And this is perfectly moral. Why you ask? Because God is perfectly good you silly! Your puny little mind cannot possibly comprehend the grandiose of goodness and intelligence of the one true God
‘It's simply a feeling I have within, that we really cannot rely on human wisdom to reason God away, because "the foolishness of God is wiser than men" (1 Cor. 1:25) and "as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts" (Isa. 55:9).’
- from a commenter whose name I purposely withheld
I find this simply an admission that they don’t know the answers to the questions that the skeptics are asking. It also tacitly shows that they are merely basing things on unfounded presuppositions and preconceived biases their religion fed on them and are merely taking its word for it. Statements like these are subtle admission that religious claims cannot not stand on their own merits. That, under the scrutiny of reason, their beliefs will crumble and be exposed as nothing but falsehoods and baseless assumptions. This "mystery maneuver" is a fundamental concession to the atheist. In effect, it admits that religious belief ultimately has irrational consequences. There is no argument in this. Admitting that something is nonintellectual removes it from the realm of discussion. As former evangelical pastor Dan Barker says, “Yes, reason is limited: it is limited to the facts. If you ignore the facts you are left with nothing but hypotheses or wishful thinking“. Lastly, what’s the point then of Apologetics? Isn’t apologetics an attempt to show and prove that Christianity, along with its claims, is compatible and does not contradict with reason, logic, and science?
If God wants us to take things on faith, how are we supposed to come to the correct conclusion? Why are we punished if we do not?
Galileo even said, “I do not feel obliged to believe that same God who endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect had intended for us to forgo their use.” Christians can learn something from this statement of Galileo. Current Mood: annoyed
|Testimonials are not only for Friendster
Quote of the Moment:Well, if God really endorses Christian testimonies even though they don't apply to everyone, then He is a rather disingenuous fellow, for He is encouraging his followers to proclaim something to be true for all people, when it really isn't. It's sort of like those companies who create pills for stopping hair loss. They know that the pills don't work for everyone, so they include the fine print stating the risks and exclusions. Shouldn't God be at least as forthcoming?
- Emery Lee
Testimonies do not prove anything. Every religious (and non-religious) group has their own share of testimonies to tell. When someone testifies for Christianity, they will be all too glad to accept it and shove it to unbelievers as proof that their religion (or relationship as some may argue) is correct. But when you present them testimonies from former devoted Christians turned atheists like Dan Barker, Chris Ashton, Ken Daniels, Kendall Hobbs etc. or several testimonies of ex-Christians who found spiritual fulfillment and meaning from other religions they would simply say that they “obviously” were never a “true” Christian in the first place (whatever their definitions of true anyway). Even if a person was not a Christian but eventually found religion X to be the most spiritually enriching experience with God, these people are all too adamant to take that as evidence against them. Same goes with miracles and answered prayers - every religion has lots of them but Christians would like to claim that theirs is the only genuine one and others are all nothing but “deceptions” of Satan.
I have read and heard many testimonies from people who converted to that religion. Personal conversion stories comprises of how it change his/her life for the better and how happier and joyous he/she is now after discovering this particular religion or religious experience. From them I can only conclude that the real explanation for people becoming Christian (or religious at large) is grounded in emotion, not reason. And that is a poor guide in knowing the truth. Current Mood: awake
|My Thoughts on the Christians’ View of Unbelievers
Quote of the Moment:“I am treated as evil by people who claim that they are being oppressed because they are not allowed to force me to practice what they do.”
- D. Dale Gulledge
I was able to meet a certain Christian guy through a common friend online. I would call him Ronald. Ronald and I have been interacting mainly through Yahoo Messenger. Our conversation ranges from the online store he is envisioning to build to our personal businesses (we belong to a similar business industry). From our conversations and from hints from our common friend, I was able to deduce that Ronald is a Christian. Somewhat of an evangelical Christian or Catholic Charismatic, I am not certain even up to now. He was a very nice fellow.
Things were going well between the two of us until, during the last time that we chatted, my atheism was brought up. My being a former Born Again Pentecostal Christian was also disclosed. He remained nice and polite and to that I am grateful. Unsurprisingly though and very typical of most Christians, he went on to say (though not directly), that I am “in denial”. I took this as to imply that deep down inside me, I actually believe that God (his God that is) exist but I am simply rejecting him and that though, I know it in my heart that he exist, I am simply being dishonest with myself and insincerely declaring that the Christian God does not exist although at the back of my mind I know that he does. I have good reasons to assume this because of my reasonably wide experience in debating and discussing with Christians in various Message Boards and Online Forums. In my experience, when a Christian tells you that you are in denial, that is actually what it means and later this will be verified by Christians who commented in our e-mail exchange (He showed our private conversation to his fellow Christians in the Yahoo e-group he belong to. After that he sent me one comment from one of them to which I have written a reply. Some of the comments expressed regarding my reply are the ones I will be addressing here).
This belief system stems mainly from the first few chapters of the epistle of Paul to the Romans. To quote Romans 1: 18 – 19:
</i>“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them”</i>
Paul is saying here that unbelievers really know the truth but merely “suppresses” it. That’s why they are without excuse (Romans 1:20), “For even though they KNEW God, they did not honor him as God (verse 21). Their hearts are darkened etc. And Christians nowadays actually believe this and take Paul’s word for it!
In the last few verses, we will see that the reason unbelievers reject God, according to Paul, is because they want to indulge in immorality and wickedness (verse 26:32). There are actually Christians who believe that atheists have a secret lifestyle of participating in orgy and act of lasciviousness. And need I mention the (in)famous Evil Atheist Conspiracy? I find this laughable but some Christians really do believe in these.
Contextually though, Paul does not have the atheists in mind when he wrote those words (for atheists are very rare during that era) but rather, the pagans who worship and believe in other God/s. Paul believes that these pagans know in their hearts that Yahweh is the true God but are simply in denial. Paul knew better what other people are thinking and actually believe more than these people are so as to accuse them of these. Sadly, nothing changed much since then. Modern-day Pauls abound even up to now as Christians who commented on my reply will themselves show. I have left the punctuations and sentence construction of the comments unchanged. Moreover, I have only highlighted the part of the comments that are relevant to the topic at hand.
Our first commenter wrote the following and implicated that I am “angry with God” because of a supposedly “negative event” that made me reject God: ‘by the the way he carries the conversation, he must have read some atheistic philosopies. a person's original anger with God may be emotional because of some negative event that makes one reject God.’ then there is a conflict between a person's emotion and intellect. emotion says "God is not good, so i have to stop believing in Him". intellect says "but God does exist".’
First, if a person is angry with God then he is not an atheist, no matter how he claims otherwise. A person having such case is a theist or more specifically an “angry theist”. To be angry at something presupposes that you believe in the existence of that thing. The only possible quality of anger that an atheist can have about God is only comparable to anger one can have on an evil antagonist beating the crap out of the lead character in the initial part of a Hollywood movie. It’s nothing personal.
Second, this person had it backwards. I would really like there to be a God who loves and accepts me unconditionally, that would be a powerful thing. I would really like there to be an objective meaning in life. I would really like there to have an afterlife where I can spend more time with my love ones who passed away. But my intellect says that there are none. My rational mind tells me that truth is independent of what I want, what I desire, and what I wish. I had enough of wishful thinking.
Lastly it is not "God is not good, so I[sic] have to stop believing in Him" but rather “God is said to be all-good. The Christian God is not good. Therefore either the Christian God is not all good or he does not exist”. Christians do have the propensity to make atheist look like irrational individuals
He further added:“then in order to make meaning with what he feels, he has to resolve the conflict between his intellect and emotion. then he reads atheistic philosophies and reprograms his intellect according to atheistic way of thinking. once the intellect is rewired/reprogramed to atheistic frame of mind, atheistic way of reasoning, atheistic philosophical beliefs, then he thinks his feelings of rejecting God is rational and justified.”
“Reprogrammed” my intellect? This commenter talks as if I deliberately chose to become an atheist when in fact to become an atheist never even crossed my mind during my Christian days. The act of concluding something is not a choice of belief. It is a logical result of a reasoning process, not simply a "decision." If my being an atheist is simply the end product of my deliberate “reprogramming” then, at the back of my mind, I still believe in God, I am merely suppressing it. If that’s the case then I am not an atheist and calling myself one is simply plain dishonest. I would then be a “theist”, whether I like it or not, since I still hold theistic beliefs. By declaring outrageous claims such as this, Christians are, though arguable not intentionally, implicating that not only atheists are irrational, they are also simply dishonest or people who unconsciously trap themselves in self delusion.
Another comment warns Ronald to be careful of me: “you must also be very vigilant. you see, he has much questions and whether they are sincere or not, they will cause much seeds of doubt in your minds and hearts.”
If Christianity is really true then no matter how I subject it to objective rational scrutiny then it will stand. If the truth of Christianity is self-evident as most apologists would like us to believe, then a Christian has nothing to worry about my attempt to examine and evaluate it. In fact, doing so would only make the Christian truth shine more powerfully than before. A belief that does not survive doubt is not worth having. I can only nod with Bruce Calvert when he said, “Believing is easier than thinking. Hence so many more believers than thinkers.”
The person commented further: “that is why you have to make sure that you are vigilant and that you are all watching how he does things. since he is not yet a believer, he might do things differently, in that he will do things with a worldly point of view. you have to be very very careful because he is quite aggresive with his faith in not believing.”
I can see a mark here of close mindedness. These people had already assumed that what they believe is true and no matter how much I argue, they have already decided beforehand to be wary of me and be “vigilant” and to reject every thing I say. As if my mission in life is to led believers “astray” when all I am doing is answering their questions and speaking out my opinion and perspective of things which the commenter takes to be “quite aggressive”.
This is what I like about freethought and atheism and that is so utterly lacking, if not, absent in Christianity. It allows me to think for myself. Atheists don’t go around huddling in a corner trying to pep talk one another to be “vigilant” lest a Christian plants seeds of doubts in our heart and minds. In fact, the principles of freethought encourage us to question all things, even our atheism. I have atheist friends who encourage me to discuss issues with the opposing party, to weigh their evidence and see if it holds, and to continually challenge even our sincerely held beliefs. And I tell everyone else to do the same. I myself constantly engage in introspection and dialectic and I assure you it is a wonderful and enlightening experience albeit a difficult and challenging practice.
The last statement is an obvious straw, “he is quite aggressive with his faith in not believing.” Christians are so hard pressed to prove their God’s existence that they often times downplay science, reason and logic and build straw man arguments like ridiculously claiming that atheism is faith or science is a religion and vice versa. I can only guess that he got this idea from misinformed Christian apologists and evangelical ministers.
This comment from a self-confessed former atheist is interesting: “The more I read the email, the more I realized that this person has no more need of information. What he needs is transformation. Remember what he said? He said that he has enough Christians harassing him. What do these harassing Christians have in common? They have all addressed his intellect and not his heart.”
It is not true that I “need [sic] no more of information”. The reason I reject Christianity is not because of blind stubbornness in the face of the evidence. But rather it is a simple dismissal of the “evidence” of Christianity after evaluating it and found it lacking. If the evidence for Christianity is as reasonable as Christians would like to believe it to be, then I will have no choice but to accept it. When the mind is convinced, the heart will follow. Enlightenment follows wholehearted change. I hold values and principles that I know intellectually to be right and I have strong emotional affirmation for them.
Even Christians, I believe, follow the same principle. A Christian already convinced with their mind that the Bible is the word of God and the other holy books of other religion are wrong will hold this belief dearly in their hearts. The only difference then lies with our standard of what counts as evidence. Each person has a different level of being convinced. Even we, atheists, have varying degree of being convinced. My genetics, the environment I grew up in, and all other aspects that shaped my thinking processes all contributed to my natural tendency to believe or disbelieve something.
This comment from the same person made me shook my head: “Most atheists have built very very very strong intellectual walls and it is next to impossible to break these walls. Why? Because these intellectual walls are merely smokescreens.”
It is very sad that this person has been fed misinformation about what an atheist really is. This person seems to think that atheists are close minded individuals who simply won’t budge even if faced with evidence contrary to his/her views and that atheists really do believe deep down in their heart that God exist but are simply rejecting him and all he stands for. With this kind of image this person has on an atheist, I doubt that this person really is a former atheist. It seems to me that he is merely basing his conception of what an atheist is based on his experience, as he professes that he used to be one, and then hastily conclude that all atheists must have been like him. Such dubious jump hardly characterize a rational thinking atheist, or in this case, an allegedly former one. After hearing this guy’s smokescreen hypothesis about the atheists, he strikes me more as a former “angry theist” rather than a former atheist since he seems to believe that there is a God during his “atheist” days but was simply on a constant barrage of “intellectual smokescreens” to conceal what he truly believes. But I have no ample evidence for this and I do not know the person personally so I will just have faith that he was indeed one. I personally cannot even relate to his portrait of an atheist and I will surmise that he will think that I am lying.
Christians have an atheist stereotype inculcated in them by their evangelical culture that by attacking this false caricature they are really convinced that they are actually demolishing atheism. If one really wishes to understand atheists, the best thing to do is to talk to one and not to take the straw man misrepresentations that most evangelical authors and apologists are propagating to its adherents.
Same commenter made an interesting claim: “To be honest with you, I believe that I could have answered 90% of his questions and arguments with facts that would leave him stumped. The reason why I will not is because if I dwell in the intellect, he will just make more and more questions, more and more smokescreens.”
He could “have answered 90% of my [sic] questions and arguments with facts that would leave me [sic] stumped”? The last person who made me “stumped” was a friend of mine named pinoy_infidel by explaining to me the complicated details of evolution in a very simple manner. If he could do just that, I would have had admired him. I will really appreciate it if he could show me things that I haven’t seen before or make me realize things that I haven’t realized before. He could have provided me, and other skeptics, a template to follow, guidelines if you will, that would eventually lead us to conclude that Christianity is true.
Furthermore he needs to throw away his preconceived bias of what an atheist is supposedly like which he so anxiously want to impose on others. Not all atheists are dishonest smokescreen thrower as he once was and as he would like to believe. Until he removes this from his belief framework, it would be very hard for him, in my opinion, to respect other atheists who happen to hold views differently from him. How can you respect someone’s view if you believe his/her views to be deeply rooted from intellectual dishonesty? You have already discredited the person even before hearing his views though it is worth noting that views do not necessarily have to be sincerely held for it to be true (A person who half-heartedly declares that the Philippines exists though he believes deep in his heart that it doesn’t does not in any way affect the truth that the Philippines does exist).Let me remind you to ask him if he’s willing to accept the Lord provided his questions were answered. Because I have a feeling that this man is just asking questions for the sake of arguing because he has intellectual pride and likes the feeling of being intellectually superior.
Now he has the feeling that I have "intellectual pride" and I just like being "intellectually superior". These statements further add to my suspicion that this person was not an informed atheist in the first place. As for the question if I would be willing to accept the Lord provided my questions were answered, if it is adequately answered, then why wouldn't I? It is one thing to prove that God exist. It is another thing to prove that this God is worthy my worship. If those two will be satisfied then only an idiot would refuse to acknowledge that truth. Unfortunately, if you challenge Christians with a similar question, "What would it take to convince you that you are wrong?", they would answer "nothing". I have not yet encountered a Christian who answered otherwise. They are simply so sure of their truth...
You now see what we atheists have to contend with. Atheists have been misrepresented so much that I really understand why atheists tend to be so emotional when accuse of this kind of stereotyping. This one came from an atheist I have come across in one of the forums I’ve been too:“Always implicit in posts like these is the old Christian canard that honestly informed skepticism is simply an oxymoron and that any kind of intellectual skepticism is always a smokescreen. These arrogant jackasses always assume it's because the apostate in question has personal issues with the Almighty and that the intellectual skepticism is just an excuse. It's tactically implied that even the most loud-mouthed apostates deep down inside know that the biblical God is real, know that the Bible is inspired, and know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God/God incarnate.
What I want to ask these Christians who make such a charge of what I call "spiritual dishonesty" is this: How the HELL do you know? Is it so utterly inconcievable to you that someone could honestly reject the faith in an informed style? Oh sure..yes..ex-Mormons who see flaws in the Book of Mormon you would commend for their honestly..or if a JW saw the errors of his way and renounced his/her faith..you would applaud..but if someone like a born-again Christian renounces his/her faith..it's always because of a smokescreen..that person got tired of not getting their way..they don't want to ass-smooch Christ the same way that you do and just so spiritually perfect as you do. How can you be so self-righteous and walk around like that with your nose up in their air?
It irritates me to no end just how arrogant these Evangelicals/fundamentalists are. I just wish these fundamentalists/Evangelicals would go to the same hell they're trying to save us from!”
Though I find this person words to be sharp, I can only sympathize and empathize with this person.
Some people who commented in our conversation found me to be uhhm… angry. I’ll say impatient is the more appropriate term. But the reasons for my seemingly angry and even arrogant stance (as other may say) are not all due to reasons that these Christians would like to believe. Let me illustrate. Imagine yourself to be a Greek historian scholar who has spent numerous hours, days, months, and even years of studying Greek history in all its rich details and intricacies. Now somebody would come along, with a degree in Computer Science and then tries to argue that the Greeks never existed. Wouldn't you find it hard to suppress your impatience?
I am in no way saying here that I be regarded as an expert in New Testament Scholarship, ANE literature, Historicity of Jesus, Science, Philosophy, Logic among others. But I can say that I have looked fairly deep to the claims of and case for Christianity and the logical/philosophical arguments for theism. In the end, I found the evidence to weigh heavily in favor of atheism. What I am saying is that, if your evidence is only as good as Lee Strobel’s Case For Christ and Case For Faith, or Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict and More than a Carpenter, or C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity and The Great Divorce, or Gleason Archer’s Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, or Peter Ankberg’s Ready With an Answer, or D. James Kennedy Why I Believe, then you will not go very far in convincing me. This is not even mentioning the several apologetics website I went into. These resources are the last inch of the rope I desperately clung into in my attempt to salvage my already then wavering faith.
With these said, when someone will just suddenly tell and accuse me that I am wrong, or that I simply did not looked and considered the evidence, or that I actually know that deep down Christianity is true but I am merely in denial, feigning ignorance and being stubborn to accept it, or that I am simply angry at God because of some “tragedy” that happened to me in the past and my so-called intellectual “smokescreens” are nothing but my defense mechanisms to hide that fact, or I am just an evil person and have chosen to serve evil, or I simply do not want to acknowledge and submit to a higher being because I want to indulge in my immoral lifestyle and do whatever I want, and with no evidence or good arguments to back it up, I, like most humans, take offense and get hurt from this baseless and fallacious accusations. By accusing me of these things, they are failing to address me. They are not talking to me but to their misunderstanding of me. These people are presuming to know better than I do, what I’ve gone through, how carefully I weighed and considered the evidence of both sides, the painful soul searching I have gone through before arriving to my conclusion, and what I honestly think and believe. These Christians who preach of not judging others lest they be judge are guilty of the very thing more than any other.
Why can’t these people just accept the true and ultimate reason why I left Christianity: The absurdity, illogicalness and lack of evidence of their religion. If I may borrow the sentiments from the quote above, “Is it so utterly inconceivable to you that someone could honestly reject your faith in an informed style?”
If you feel that you have far better to say to than these people are, then do not assume that I will dismiss them out of hand. It is important to me that I can honestly say that my mind has always remained open. I will be willing to listen and hear you out if you will be willing to do the same. You might be surprise on how open minded “true” atheists really are. You might be surprised that we are willing to accept if we are wrong and change/modify our beliefs accordingly in light of the evidence. If the discussion will not be a two way street I would have to politely and respectfully decline your offer of discussion.
The most important and most valuable thing I have learned when I left Christianity is not the philosophical justification of atheism. It is not the scientific advances of evolution since Charles Darwin’s conception of the theory of Natural Selection. It is not the fundamentals of logic and critical thinking nor information on recent advances on biblical criticism and biblical scholarship. Even though it took me 8 years to realize it, the value of this lesson was not lessened in anyway. I learned that overall atheists were not all like what we, Christians, said they were. They weren't leading secret lives of immoral lifestyle but rather most of them are as, kind, caring, and compassionate as some Christians of exemplary character are. They are not at all a bunch of dishonest people who knows the truth but purposely choose to disobey and rebel against it. They are not a bunch of depressed, empty individuals yearning for the redemptive gospel of Christ but are simply in denial because they do not want to acknowledge a Divine authority higher than themselves. Rather they got along just fine, without the spiritual emptiness, veiled hatred of God, hidden anger, intellectual dishonesty and rebellion we Christians accused them of. They are sincere in their beliefs as much, as we, Christians are sincere with ours.
Having been a nonbeliever for a year now, I can say the same for myself. There are no intellectual smokescreens which clandestinely covers a hidden belief in God. Behind the intellectual arguments and reasoning there is only me, trying to think, trying to learn, trying to grow and trying to live life the best I can. Unfortunately, Christians find it hard to believe that there isn't more to it than that. We, atheists, are still thought of as being members of cosmic insurgence, stubbornly indulging and adamantly remaining in our self-delusion, hatred, anger and rebellion, deserving of the most horrible of all punishments. Current Mood: contemplative
|Thursday, January 6th, 2005|
|The Problem of Good for Theists
Quote of the Moment:If "good" means "what God wills" then to say "God is good" can mean only "God wills what he wills." Which is equally true of you or me or Judas or Satan.
- C.S. Lewis
The problem of evil is one of the most used arguments by atheist to logically infer that God, the theistic God (an all powerful, all knowing, and all good being), does not exist. When an atheist presents this argument to the theist, the most commonly retort would be throwing the counter question “on which standard do you judge good and evil?” In a recent discussion I have been having, a certain theist even claimed that atheists, when presented with this question “are trapped in their vain reasons”.
The counter question, however, apparently does not solve the problem of evil. What it aims to accomplish is to point out that since atheist do not have a universal objective standard from which they derived their concept of good or evil, it therefore follows that they have no right to complain about the worldly evil and suffering since they themselves do not even know the extent of what evil is to eliminate. The relativistic morality of the atheist, they say, would yield varying opinions on what evil is to be eliminated. Additionally, they argue that two moral relativist atheist can even have contradictory concept of what evil is, that is, what is evil for one may be good to another and vice versa. How can the atheist then complain of the suffering in the world when they themselves cannot even agree on what evil to vanquish?
From this they will hastily conclude that an atheist is deriving his concept of good and evil from an objective standard somewhere after all, regardless of how much he denies it. And this standard is no other than the theistic God. How they arrive to this dubious conclusion eludes me.
I will not delve into the error of reasoning of the “problem-of-evil-counter-question” in this essay. Nor will I attempt to show that atheist do have sound moral standard from which they based their actions. That would be for another writing. The purpose of this essay is to show that the objective standard, which theists like to tout to be God, is actually problematic and poses more questions than it answers.
What is good? Some theist says that good is whatever God decrees to be good. In short, goodness is dependent on God and outside of God, moral standard does not exist. If what is good is simply what God says is good then theoretically, God can decree that raping babies to be good and we cannot argue otherwise.
“Theoretically, yes, but God did not decree it to be such”, a theist may argue. But that misses the point. The point is goodness then is whatever God arbitrarily says to be good period. Secondly, the mere fact that the theist “complained” about such act as not being decreed by God anyway implies that he is using some standard to which he is judging this theoretical instance of God decreeing something to be immoral. From whence did the mentioned theist’s standard come? “Of course from the REAL God who did not decree such act to be moral!” But the question is would you believe that raping a child to be morally good if God so set it to be the standard? God once caused parents to eat the flesh of their children (Leviticus 26:13, 29, Jeremiah 19:6-9). Do you accept these as morally good? “Well God did it so it is just and good”. All I can say is I wouldn’t trust people, who believe that eating the flesh of children can be just and good, to be my moral guide.
But some theists are smarter and simply cannot accept that “good is what God wills”. Rather they argue that the standard of goodness is independent of God. God does not define moral standard of behavior but God simply learned what they are and communicates it to us. This sounds more reasonable but it is not free from problems. The curious question will be, if moral standard of goodness exist independently of God then where did this standard come from? Can it be also acquired and understood through common sense and reason? Furthermore, to say that God “learned” this objective moral standard connotes that there is a point that God did not know what this standard is. There is then a point where God was not all knowing. Another implication of this would be that there is a point then when God was not “good” since God has yet to learn what good is.
The last is similar to the what-is-good-is-dependent-on-God argument but with slight variations. Some theist believes that goodness is part of God’s nature. God is essentially good, therefore the morality standard God is decreeing to us are all good. Aside from the fact that this is obviously circular reasoning, it is only right to ask how adherents to this argument knew that God’s nature is indeed “good”. From what standard did they judge this to be so? From God? Then we are back to the circle.
The theists’ objective standard of goodness that they would like to shove on everyone is fraught with problems and poses more questions than answers. This is the problem of good for the theist. They themselves do not have an adequate answer to the question: ”What is good?” Current Mood: calm
|Wednesday, December 8th, 2004|
Quote of the moment:
"It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand."
- Mark Twain
I would just published the sequel of my Friends entry next week. It is our finals and I have to take care of my college projects lest I fail (again) my Assembly Language subject. In the mean time, I would like to share to you the letter that I would like to hand out to those pesky preachers of "God" telling me that "God loves me and He'll torture me to hell..."
You asked me to consider Christianity as the answer for my life. I have done that. I consider it untrue, repugnant, and harmful.
You expect me to believe Jesus was born of a virgin impregnated by a ghost? Do you believe all the crazy tales of ancient religions? Julius Caesar was reportedly born of a virgin; Roman historian Seutonius said Augustus bodily rose to heaven when he died; and Buddha was supposedly born speaking. You don't believe all that, do you? Why do you expect me to swallow the fables of Christianity?
I find it incredible that you ask me to believe that the earth was created in six literal days; women come from a man's rib; a snake, a donkey, and a burning bush spoke human language; the entire world was flooded, covering the mountains to drown evil; all animal species, millions of them, rode on one boat; language variations stem from the tower of Babel; Moses had a magic wand; the Nile turned to blood; a stick turned into a snake; witches, wizards, and sorcerers really exist; food rained from the sky for 40 years; people were cured by the sight of a brass serpent; the sun stood still to help Joshua win a battle, and it went backward for King Hezekiah; men survived unaided in a fiery furnace; a detached hand floated in the air and wrote on a wall; men followed a star which directed them to a particular house; Jesus walked on water unaided; fish and bread magically multiplied to feed the hungry; water instantly turned into wine; mental illness is caused by demons; a “devil” with wings exists who causes evil; people were healed by stepping into a pool agitated by angels; disembodied voiced spoke from the sky; Jesus vanished and later materialized from thin air; people were healed by Peter's shadow; angels broke people out of jail; a fiery lake of eternal torment awaits unbelievers under the earth ... while there is life-after-death in a city which is 1,500 miles cubed, with mansions and food, for Christians only.
If you believe these stories, then you are the one with the problem, not me. These myths violate natural law, contradict science, and fail to correspond with reality or logic. If you can't see that, then you can't separate truth from fantasy. It doesn't matter how many people accept delusions inflicted by “holy” men; a widely held lie is still a lie. If you are so gullible, then you are like the child who believes the older brother who says there is a monster in the hallway. But there is nothing to be afraid of; go turn on the light and look for yourself.
If Christianity were simply untrue I would not be too concerned. Santa is untrue, but it is a harmless myth which people outgrow. But Christianity, besides being false, is also abhorrent. It amazes me that you claim to love the god of the bible, a hateful, arrogant, sexist, cruel being who can't tolerate criticism. I would not want to live in the same neighborhood with such a creature!
The biblical god is a macho male warrior. Though he said “Thou shalt not kill,” he ordered death for all opposition, wholesale drowning and mass exterminations; punishes offspring to the fourth generation (Ex. 20:5); ordered pregnant women and children to be ripped up (Hos. 13:16); demands animal and human blood to appease his angry vanity; is partial to one race of people; judges women to be inferior to men; is a sadist who created a hell to torture unbelievers; created evil (Is. 45:7); discriminated against the handicapped (Lev. 21:18-23); ordered virgins to be kept as spoils of war (Num. 31:15-18, Deut. 21:11-14); spread dung on people's faces (Mal. 2:3); sent bears to devour 42 children who teased a prophet (II Kings 2:23-24); punishes people with snakes, dogs, dragons, drunkenness, swords, arrows, axes, fire, famine, and infanticide; and said fathers should eat their sons (Ez. 5:10). Is that nice? Would you want to live next door to such a person?
And Jesus is a chip off the old block. He said, “I and my father are one,” and he upheld “every jot and tittle” of the Old Testament law. Mt. 5:18 He preached the same old judgment: vengeance and death, wrath and distress, hell and torture for all nonconformists. He believed in demons, angels and spirits. He never denounced the subjugation of slaves or women. Women were excluded as disciples and as guests at his heavenly table. Except for hell he introduced nothing new to ethics or philosophy. He was disrespectful of his mother and brothers; he said we should hate our parents and desert our families. Mt. 10:35-36, Lk. 14:26 (So much for “Christian family life.”) He denounced anger, but was often angry himself. Mt. 5:22, Mk. 3:5 He called people “fools” (Mt. 23:17,19), “serpents,” and “white sepulchers,” though he warned that such language puts you in danger of hellfire. Mt. 5:22 He said “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth. I came not to send peace, but a sword." Mt. 10:34 (So much for “Peace on Earth.”) He irrationally cursed and withered a fig tree for being barren out of season. Mt. 21:19 He mandated burning unbelievers. Jn. 15:6 (The Church has complied with relish.) He stole a horse. Lk. 19:30-33 He told people to cut off hands, feet, eyes and sexual organs. Mt. 5:29-30, 19:12 You want me to accept Jesus, but I think I'll pick my own friend, thank you.
One of Jesus's many contradictions was saying good works should be seen, and not seen. Mt. 5:16, 6:1-4 One of his mistakes was saying that the mustard plant has the smallest seed. Mt. 13:31-32 The writers of Matthew and Luke could not even get his genealogy straight, contradicting the Old Testament, and giving Jesus two discrepant lines through Joseph, his non-father!
I also find Christianity to be morally repugnant. The concepts of original sin, depravity, substitutionary forgiveness, intolerance, eternal punishment, and humble worship are all beneath the dignity of intelligent human beings and conflict with the values of kindness and reason. They are barbaric ideas for primitive cultures cowering in fear and ignorance.
Finally, Christianity is harmful. More people have been killed in the name of a god than for any other reason. The Church has a shameful, bloody history of Crusades, Inquisitions, witch-burnings, heresy trials, American colonial intolerance, disrespect of indigenous traditions (such as American Indians), support of slavery, and oppression of women. Modern “fruits” of religion include the Jonestown massacre, the callous fraud of “faith healers,” recent wars and ethnic cleansing, and fighting in Northern Ireland. Religion also poses a danger to mental health, damaging self-respect, personal responsibility, and clarity of thought.
Do you see why I do not respect the biblical message? It is an insulting bag of nonsense. You have every right to torment yourself with such insanity — but leave me out of it. I have better things to do with my life.
I have Dan Barker to thank for this. Man that feels good.
Current Mood: indescribable
|Saturday, December 4th, 2004|
|Friends Part 1
Quote of the Moment:"If some good evidence for life after death were announced, I'd be eager to examine it; but it would have to be real scientific data, not mere anecdote. As with the face on Mars and alien abductions, better the hard truth, I say, than the comforting fantasy. And in the final tolling it often turns out that the facts are more comforting than the fantasy."
From the book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science As A Candle In The Dark by Carl Sagan
I was musing one night then a vision looms my thoughts. I saw myself standing near the entrance of AMA Computer College, the one along the side of Head Zone. Then I saw a commotion near the ruined stairs in front of me. People are flocking in a circular manner. Some people I recognized to be AMA students. Some of them I knew, some of them I knew not. They seem to be staring something in their center downwards. I hurriedly went to the place of ruckus and then saw what these people are gazing at. There lies the dead body of my friend. The only atheist friend I ever had. I saw fresh blood at the sides of her mouth, the left side containing more than the other. There are also marks of blood and blood stains along her arms. I frantically push the crowd that’s blocking me from getting near her. I knelt down and held her in my arms. I stared at her face for a moment then slowly brushed her hair. Tears flowed down from my face then I uttered her name. I uttered her online name a few times. Then finally, I called her by her real name. Then I bowed down my head. As I looked deeply into her, it was my conviction that the wondrous life we spent together was ending forever. She is gone.
I strongly believe that there is no afterlife. But at that moment, I wish there was one. But I also know that reality is not contingent on our wants and desires. Truth is independent of emotions. What mattered most is what is true, not merely what would make us feel better. I may wish all I want for there to be a conscious life in the next, but I know that is not going to happen.
She is forever gone. I held close in me and hugged her tightly. We will never see each other again. I will no longer see her smiles whenever we will meet at the premises of our campus. The way she sarcastically calls me “panget” as I rush to my class knowing that I am thirty minutes late, I will hear no more. The way we make friendly banters inside the student council office and tease each other in the locker area will I no longer again experience. Whenever I would access my Yahoo Messenger, I would just stare sadly on her Yahoo ID in my friends list knowing that I would no longer see the sleeping gray icon beside her nick turned into a smiling yellow smiley. She is now forever offline.
I would no longer have someone who I can share the hardships and pain of being an atheist. Now I fight the battle for atheism alone. Sure there are other atheists I can meet on the net, but still nothing beats an atheist who you knew personally. I am once again a one-man army against the lies and poison of religion. I am firm in my conviction that atheism is right. I can try defending my standpoint alone if I want to. But I also realize that I am human. I have moments of strength and episodes of weakness. To have someone to support you in your times of weakness is a powerful catalyst for one to emerge victorious in the battle.
I will be forever grateful to the wonderful moments we have shared. The warmth of our friendship; the laughter, the jokes, our deep conversations; her stories that she enthusiastically narrated; the anime that we both have seen; the manga we both have read; our adventures and escapades; I will all cherish them for the rest of my brief existence.
When she died, part of me also died.
I lost my friend.
This experience punched a hole and cracked the impregnable wall of my nihilism. This experience told me to cherish each moment. Seize the day and make every second count, every minute special. This experience amplified the faint echo of worthwhile living within.
I still believe that ultimately life is meaningless. But having friends and love ones who you care for and to experience together the battles of life can be very rewarding. As long as they live, I shall also fight hard to live.
I do have friends. But you can count them all by your fingers. There are only a few individuals who I can truly and sincerely call, my friend.
I could easily replace the dead body from my musings with one of them. The following are the friends that gave meaning to my life and my source of strength and endurance to move on. The people that I will shed tears on. The people who have become part of me. Their death would mean my death also.
My Lola Gladys
No she is not old. She is only 16 actually. I call her Lola as a satire for her young age. She is the youngest of my friends.
There are times that I would feel really weary of the battles I am putting myself into. My endless pursuit for truth through research and introspection can sometimes burn me out. Intellectual and emotional fatigue is my nagging unwanted companion. Gladz is my Stress tab.
Her wackiness and sweetness makes me forget the real world for a while. She is like my Peter Pan who takes me to Neverland from time to time. If it is only possible, I would really like just to stay there with her. Away from the troubles of life and away from the cruelty of reality and adulthood. Her “kakulitan”, most of the time, I do not find annoying at all. Her tiny and girlish voice soothes my pain and exhaustion even if it’s just for a while.
She has really made a huge impact in my life that I really would like to return the favor. I want to be her knight in shining armor, destroying every villain that may come her way and protecting her from the brutality that life may throw at her in the future.
But I believe she can handle everything herself. She can manage. I believe in her.
The funny thing is, I have never met her personally. We have only met on the Angeles Yahoo chat room. From there, her Yahoo ID became part of my Friends list. The rest is history.
Lola Gladz is like the childhood friend I wish I had. I did have childhood playmates but none of them ever evolved into deep friendship. I do not treat Yoya as someone younger than me, I treat her as someone as old, or rather, as young as me. I find her very adorable.
She’s like a drug, very addictive.
To be continued... Current Mood: depressed
|Wednesday, November 24th, 2004|
|The Evil Atheist Conspiracy
Quote of the Moment:
I have something to say to the religionist who feels atheists never say anything positive: "You are an intelligent human being. Your life is valuable for its own sake. You are not second-class in the universe, deriving meaning and purpose from some other mind. You are not inherently evil--you are inherently human, possessing the positive rational potential to help make this a world of morality, peace and joy. Trust yourself."
- Dan Barker, former evangelical pastor turned atheist
I have a revelation to make. Yes I admit it. I am a member of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy Theory. Yes Indeed. We are an organization bent in achieving world domination. We, atheists, shall rule the world. Nothing can stop us. Not you, nor the person beside you. Not the CIA, FBI, InterPol, nor the International Association of Terrorists. Not even God.
Yes, in a moment, you shall see black helicopters patrolling places near you. We shall take control of the media, of CNN, Fox TV, and every media your mind is capable of thinking of. We shall spread our atheistic black propaganda and brainwash all people to believe the same way as we do. We shall promote communism as the system of our one world government. Equal share for everyone!
We shall eliminate every person who shall spread the truth of theism. Yes atheism is a lie. We admit that we believe deep in our hearts that there is a God but we are simply rejecting him because we are nothing but a bunch of rebels who simply does not want a higher power to rule over us.
The truth is we believe in the supernatural! We worship Satan. And we are here to promote the salvation of evil! Yes Atheism is a religion! Humanitarian philosophy is a deception that we propagate to catch mankind off guard!
Yes. We are in the process of corrupting the truth of the scripture. Yes the Bible is true! How else can you explain the hundreds of fulfilled prophecies contained therein? But we shall corrupt it nevertheless and promote our dream of a godless society!
Are you trembling with fear now? There is nothing you can do to stop us. WHY
you ask ?Because there is NOTHING to STOP in the first place. All of the above are completely false information. They only exist in the creative imaginative minds of some Fundamentalist Christians.
The word atheist connotes negativity. If you are an atheist like me, living in a god-soaked society, you are looked upon as misguided and a bad person. Most people will not trust you. You are viewed as evil and as a menace to the society. They think that one cannot be moral if one do not have any religious persuasion. I am living in a society where the philosophy, "If it is religious, then it must be good" is widespread. People will think that you are nothing but a close minded stupid individual. Such ignorance!
If you think being a Christian is hard, try being an Atheist. Current Mood: bored
|Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004|
Quote of the Moment:
"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
-- Mahatma Gandhi
I have decided to include thought-provoking and insightful quotes at the start of my every entry from here on. Expect this feature in my future posts...
Now back to regular programming...
I have received an article entitled "Strategies for Dialoguing with Atheists" by Dr. Ron Rhodes from one of the members of Pinoy Atheist Yahoo Groups. A strategy in dialoguing with the likes of me? Interesting...
Let see if Dr. Ron Rhodes (Th.D., Dallas Theological Seminary) has anything new to say.
No one is born an atheist. People choose to become atheists as much
as they choose to become Christians.
Mr. Rhodes clearly misunderstood what atheism is.
Mr Rhodes needs to be educated by Dr. Michael Martin on what atheism is:
In Greek "a" means "without" or "not" and "theos" means "god." From this standpoint an atheist would simply be someone without a belief in God, not necessarily someone who believes that God does not exist. According to its Greek roots, then, atheism is a negative view, characterized by the absence of belief in God.
With this in mind, everyone is born atheist.
And no matter how strenuously some may try to deny it, atheism is a belief system. It requires faith that God does not exist.
How can atheism which is the "absence of belief" in god be a "belief"? This is a strawman prevalent in the Christian circle.
When dialoguing with atheists, it is helpful to point out the logical problems inherent in their belief system.
Atheist do not have logical problems in their belief system since there is no belief to argue on in the first place. But for the sake of continuity we will grant Mr. Rhodes' already disproven assertion for the rest of this paper.
If you succeed in showing an atheist the natural outcome of some of his (or her) main claims and arguments, you are in a much better position to share the gospel with him. Let us consider two prime examples here.
(1) "There is no God." Some atheists categorically state that there
is no God, and all atheists, by definition, believe it. And yet, this
assertion is logically indefensible. A person would have to be
omniscient and omnipresent to be able to say from his own pool of
knowledge that there is no God. Only someone who is capable of being
in all places at the same time--with a perfect knowledge of all that
is in the universe--can make such a statement based on the facts. To
put it another way, a person would have to be God in order to say
there is no God. This point can be forcefully emphasized by asking the atheist if he
has ever visited the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. Mention
that the library presently contains over 70 million items (books,
magazines, journals, etc.). Also point out that hundreds of thousands
of these were written by scholars and specialists in the various
academic fields. Then ask the following question: "What percentage of
the collective knowledge recorded in the volumes in this library
would you say are within your own pool of knowledge and experience?"
The atheist will likely respond, "I don't know. I guess a fraction of
one percent." You can then ask:
In here, Mr Rhodes is attacking the strong atheist standpoint. Indeed there is some truth in his assertion that in order to declare something to be non-existent, omniscience is required. But this is not ALWAYS the case. We can determine whether something is non-existent by simply evaluating the logical consistency of the concept. We can be certain that there are no married bachelors or one cannot exist and not exist at the same time. I have made this assertion without throwing omniscience in the picture. In the same way, an atheist can declare that an omnipotent being cannot exist since the concept is self defeating. Or an omniscient God cannot have freewill thereby an all knowing and freewilled being cannot exist.
If he were to invoke the God's mind is beyond what our limited mind can attain argument, then he had laready admitted that he cannot justify God's existence based on rationality which is his very aim for writing in the essay in the first place. To say that such is to admit that the concept of God cannot stand on its own merits.
"Do you think it is logically
possible that God may exist in the 99.9 percent that is outside your
pool of knowledge and experience?" Even if the atheist refuses to
admit the possibility, you have made your point and he knows it.
I have no problem here since I am acknowledging such possibility. But that is only that a possibility - not a proof of God's existence. Furthermore even if it is granted to be proven, it doesn't necessarily point to the Christian God as being THAT God. It could be just some other apathetic God for all we care.
(2) "I don't believe in God because there is so much evil in the
world." Many atheists consider the problem of evil an airtight proof
that God does not exist. They often say something like: "I know there
is no God because if He existed, He never would have let Hitler
murder six million Jews."
A good approach to an argument like this is to say something to this
effect: "Since you brought up this issue, the burden lies on you to
prove that evil actually exists in the world. So let me ask you: by
what criteria do you judge some things to be evil and other things
not to be evil? By what process do you distinguish evil from good?"
The atheist may hedge and say: "I just know that some things are
evil. It's obvious." Don't accept such an evasive answer. Insist that
he tell you how he knows that some things are evil. He must be forced
to face the illogical foundation of his belief system.
I myself do not invoke the Epicurean riddle type of argument to invalidate God's existence. I personally do not believe that the Problem of Evil is a good argument against theism, particularly Christian theism, so I have no problem with this argument.
After he struggles with this a few moments, point out to him that it
is impossible to distinguish evil from good unless one has an
infinite reference point which is absolutely good. Otherwise one is
like a boat at sea on a cloudy night without a compass (i.e., there
would be no way to distinguish north from south without the absolute
reference point of the compass needle).
I do not believe that there is such as thing as absolute good and absolute evil. Good and evil are relative. What is good for one may not be good to the other. Evil Likewise. The socio-economic, geographical, environmental and cultural factor is the compass of one's morality. And in spite of relative nature of morality, I believe the whole community of mankind were able to make some acts to be an all agreeable good and evil which arose from some commonality in socio-economic, geographical, environmental and cultural factors amongst the different social communities of the world. But for the purpose of this rebutal, I would not dealt with it deeply here.
The infinite reference point for distinguishing good from evil can
only be found in the person of God, for God alone can exhaust the
definition of "absolutely good." If God does not exist, then there
are no moral absolutes by which one has the right to judge something
(or someone) as being evil. More specifically, if God does not exist,
there is no ultimate basis to judge the crimes of Hitler. Seen in
this light, the reality of evil actually requires the existence of
God, rather than disproving it.
Mr Rhodes makes the same error that the argument from evil does: it assumes that evil is an object, that it is a thing that can be measured, and that we can view it objectively in an either/or context.
It is reasonable to say that there are things that could be construed as 100% "evil" from a sample population of observers. But does this necessarily mean that there is some transcendent cosmic being of infinite goodness that is somehow guiding these people to judge its evilness? Not only does Mr Rhodes need to prove that there is really indeed "evil" but also he also needs to justify his claim that God (the Christian God particularly) is behind our moral judgment for declaring what is evil or not.
Mr Rhodes assumes too much of what he wishes to prove.
At this point, the atheist may raise the objection that if God does
in fact exist, then why hasn't He dealt with the problem of evil in
the world. You can disarm this objection by pointing out that God is
dealing with the problem of evil, but in a progressive way.
How did you know that Mr. Rhodes? The Bible tells you so? Circular reasoning will not work on an informed atheist.
The false assumption on the part of the atheist is that God's only choice is to
deal with evil all at once in a single act. God, however, is dealing
with the problem of evil throughout all human history. One day in the
future, Christ will return, strip power away from the wicked, and
hold all men and women accountable for the things they did during
their time on earth. Justice will ultimately prevail. Those who enter
eternity without having trusted in Christ for salvation will
understand just how effectively God has dealt with the problem of
Consigning the majority of the planet's population to eternal torture while saving a few number of people, which pale in comparison to those going to hell, is very effective? What kind of a victory is that over evil? I'll say God is a failure and the Devil is the true winner. And where is the justice for punishing finite crimes with infinite punishment? Where is the the justice in torturing people for merely having the wrong belief and holding people equally accountable to the Gospel message once they've heard it, regardless of their situation or background (or lifespan)?
Is this what you call evil effectively dealt? Or is God's moral also relative wherein what we humans commonly view as unfair is fair to him?
If the atheist responds that it shouldn't take all of human history
for an omnipotent God to solve the problem of evil, you might respond
by saying: "Ok. Let's do it your way. Hypothetically speaking, let's
say that at this very moment, God declared that all evil in the world
will now simply cease to exist. Every human being on the planet--
present company included--would simply vanish into oblivion. Would
this solution be preferable to you?"
Not only this assumes that there is an objective evil but it also assumes that evil is imperfection. Is Gandhi evil since he isn't perfect? How about Mother Theresa? Well according to Christian theology they are evil.
The atheist may argue that a better solution must surely be
available. He may even suggest that God could have created man in
such a way that man would never sin, thus avoiding evil altogether.
This idea can be countered by pointing out that such a scenario would
mean that man is no longer man. He would no longer have the capacity
to make choices. This scenario would require that God create robots
who act only in programmed ways.
On the contrary this is possible. God could have just made man just like Him who, in spite of freewill, always chooses not to act evil. Just give humans an ample enough of moral faculty to always do good and avoid evil. By doing this, the choice is not being removed, but the doubts about which choice is correct. Again, Why did God not create free-willed beings who, like him, would freely choose only what is good?
"Though God has free will, he never uses it to sin. He always chooses only what is good. Indeed, some theists claim he is literally incapable of sinning, yet this is not seen as a denial of his free will. So why didn't God create us the same way as him? What about his free will is different from ours - why can he abstain from sin while we cannot?
The difference plainly does not lie in our possessing mortal bodies vulnerable to carnal temptation. Even when God took human form and came to earth as Jesus, he was still able to live a sinless life, or so it is claimed."
- Ebon of Ebon Musings
Unless Mr Rhodes is willing to concede that God deliberately made man imperfect and then blames them for creating them that way?
If the atheist persists and says there must be a better solution to
the problem of evil, suggest a simple test. Give him about five
minutes to formulate a solution to the problem of evil that (1) does
not destroy human freedom, or (2) cause God to violate His nature
(e.g., His attributes of absolute holiness, justice, and mercy) in
some way. After five minutes, ask him what he came up with. Don't
expect much of an answer.
I have already gave a better solution and it only took me less than a minute. Mr Rhodes said "Don't
expect much of an answer". Well, he is in for a surprise.
Your goal, of course, is not simply to tear down the atheist's belief
system. After demonstrating some of the logical impossibilities of
his claims, share with him some of the logical evidence for
redemption in Jesus Christ, and the infinite benefits that it brings.
Perhaps through your witness and prayers his faith in atheism will be
overturned by a newfound faith in Christ.
Agnostic_Pilgrim: Current Mood: pensive
Mr Rhodes had never shown me anything that could demonstrate that my atheism contains logical impossibilities. He claims of "logical evidence for redemption in Jesus Christ". Correct me if I am wrong Mr. Rhodes, but I did not see any trace of it.
|Thursday, November 18th, 2004|
|The Story of the Little Wrinkled Olive Book...
I have been wanting to buy the book "From Socrates to Sarte: A History Of Philosophy" by Samuel Enoch Stumpf ever since I have laid my eyes on this little olive book in National Bookstore here in Nepo Mall. The first time I saw them, there were still two to three copies left (I do not remember exactly). I was about to grab it to the counter until the infamous price tag bared its ugly teeth. It costs a pocket-dehydrating 575 pesos. Why does good but rare books have to be this damn expensive? Add to that the fact that the cover is wrinkled and does not show any sign of being new. The paper is not at all that impressive. It is the usual grayish newspaper-like paper.
I just thought that since there are only very few of us who possess tremedous interest in Philosophy in this financially focused world, I confidently just left it there and deciced to return to it by the time the right amount of money flows in my hands. Then weeks later, I again visited National Bookstore. I do not intend on buying the book yet I am just strolling around and just checking out if there are any fresh books that are worthy of my notice. Then as I went to the area where I previously left the book, there was only one left! Who else in Angeles City is as interested in Philosophy as I am? I then felt a bit nervous about leaving the book but not enough though to persuade me to buy it.
A few weeks later, as most humans have the propensity of, my interest in the book declined. I no longer mind if someone else will procure it ahead of me. My fascination for philosophy did not wither, only my preoccupation to obtain the book. I then just diverted my engrossment on Mr. Stumpf's book by contenting myself with online writings on philosophy and philosophical information from my not-so-new 2003 edition Microsoft Encarta.
Alas! Those random and disorganized information failed to quench my philosophical thirst. Deep within me is a faint yearning for that little wrinkled olive book. Then ladyluck finally took pity on my appetence. Just last week, I finally had the financial means to acquire the book. I am still having second thoughts though whether to buy it or not. Should I settle for the cheaper disorganized source of philosophical information or should I risk losing an insane amount of cash to a book that manifests signs of neglect and is almost worned-out?
Inside the National Bookstore, after being temporarily halt by the temptous revealing-the-Da-Vinci-Code-kind-of-a-book, I hurriedly approached the section, where, as far as I can remember, the book is located. And to my dismay, the book is gone. I was so frustrated that I find myself blaming my prognastication tendecies. I searched frantically on that bookshelf for any signs of that enigmatic olive aura but did not find. Not wanting to go home empty-handed, I just decided to settle for less. I hesitantly pulled the book "Critical Thinking". Understandably unsatisfied, I decided not to go home yet and, with a sigh, browse and skim among the other books there that would hopefully catch my attention. I move to the other bookshelf directly opposite of my direction. I discovered, surprisingly, something I did not expect. The elusive expensive wrinkled olive book.
Now I have the book. But my joy is not yet complete. If only I could find those other philosophically inclined people who bought the same book...
I am on the lookout for people who are worthy enough to be part of the "Deep Thinkers Society". If you, the reader, have this same book and are living reasonably close to the vicinity of Angeles City, drop me a comment.
Indeed, deep thinkers are hard to find.
But worse gets worst, Sir Samuel Enoch Stumpf had collaborated with Mr. James Fieser and had already released a much better and updated version of the book. The title is "Socrates to Sartre and Beyond: A History of Philosophy".
And did I mention that the book is no longer olive? It is no longer wrinkled too. (At least, if the Amazon people will deliver it right).
Now if only I have learned of this earlier, I could have spent my 575 pesos on a better deal. Sometimes, I am amazed of my own stupidty. Current Mood: drained
|Tuesday, November 16th, 2004|
|An E-mail Story
A Christian e-mailed me the following:
you know whwt?.. kapag dumating na yung time na malapit ka na mamatay dun mo lang mare2alize na hindi tama kung ano ka ngayn.. laging nasa huli ang pagsisisi sa mga taong wlang takot kay God.. and GOD trully existing.. maybe may mga bagay na naga2wa si God for me na di mo nararamdaman dahil close na yung mind mo na He didn't exist. naisip ko and I ask God bakit hinahayaan nya kayong maging ganyn.. and i
realize maybe God has a plan for you, a very big plan.. just wait for it.. God Bless.. I'll pray for you tonight.
Begging the question:
"...naisip ko and I ask God bakit hinahayaan nya kayong maging ganyn"
"...i realize maybe God has a plan for you, a very big plan.. just wait for it.."
"...and GOD trully existing"
Argumentum ad baculum:
kapag dumating na yung time na malapit ka na mamatay dun mo lang mare2alize na hindi tama kung ano ka ngayn.. laging nasa huli ang pagsisisi sa mga taong wlang takot kay God..
Argumentum ad hominem:
...sa mga taong wlang takot kay God
"...dahil close na yung mind mo"
Appeal to emotion and desire:
"...maybe may mga bagay na naga2wa si God for me na di mo nararamdaman"
Then I typed my response...
"Actually, the reason I am an atheist is because I have opened my mind. If I did not opened my mind, then I would still be doubtlessly a Christian. There are many things in Christianity that goes against reason and evidence. It is up to you to believe in the existence of the Christian god even at the face of evidence. But as for me, I will be honest to myself and accept the truth no matter how it hurts. Where the evidence leads, there I will go.
I have heard every arguments and evidence allegedly proving the existence of god. But all of them did not stand the scrutiny of reason and rationality. Why should I believe something that is unproven, illogical, and irrational? I am rejecting Christianity (and every other theistic religions) not because I have closed my mind, but because there is no evidence or any good reason for me to justify rational belief in it.
Let me throw back the towel at you. Are you willing to investigate and study the "other side"? Or will you simply dismiss them because of your Christian and theistic bias even without hearing them? Are you honest enough to weigh the evidence and seek the truth wherever it might lead you? Are you so convince that you are right that you are unable to imagine that you could be wrong? I did an honest search and found atheism to be true. I am still learning and the more I study the more confident I am of where I stand.
Are you willing to open your mind?
Also note that I am not an atheist because I hate god. I do not hate god. What if I tell you that you hate Santa Clause because you do not believe he exist? It is stupid right? Similarly, I am not rebelling against god. How can I revolt on someone I do not even believe to be existing? That is absurd.
Anyway thanks for taking the time to write to me. You are always welcome to ask me questions. I can feel that you are sincere in your beliefs. I hope you would also realize that I am also sincere in my beliefs."
Needless to say, I did not send this reply. If you are smart enough, you would have figured out why.
Current Mood: calm
|Wednesday, November 10th, 2004|
|The God that Got Away...
This is what you call another boring day. Not much excitement except for a few e-mail exchanges between me and insanity_is_beauty of the Pinoy Atheist Yahoo groups. It is simply a debate about the e-mail subject Refuting God (obviously taken from Dan Barker's book) where I argued that the subject title is questionable since they are not refuting god himself but only the defective arguments for his existence. By this, I do not mean that since they are not refuting god, only the theists' arguments, this necessarily mean that there is a god who is not known to mankind. But rather, I merely point out a possible existence of a god who is unknown to us, at least at present. I am a weak atheist in the sense that I believe that a "god" that simply did not want to provide evidence of its existence cannot be ruled out.
Then why bother believing in that kind of god? Exactly. There's no point in believing in a god who does not even care about us. Why should we care back? Another thing is that such a god is unproven and remains only a possibility not a fact, at least according to the present evidence and knowledge that I acquired so far. Believing in something even in the face of evidence that goes against it is irrational. That's why even though there is a possibility that this kind of god exists, an atheist is justified in disbelieving it. The atheist is contented to accept it as possibility and he/she stops from there, at least until further evidence would arise to support it.
Another thing, even if this god is to be proven to be existing, he is not worthy of worship anyway. Unless I be given a good reason to fall on my knees on this deity, no worship will be served. I cannot force myself to love someone without me feeling any love for this someone. Same thing goes for worship. I cannot worship someone if I cannot find it in my heart to get down on my knees and genuinely worship a deity with all sincerity and wholeheartedly.
Of course I can be coerced to worship a god if I am going to be threatened to eternal torture in the lake of fire. But this god can only make me go as far as to make me physically worship him but he will not be able to force my heart to worship him. Unless of course if he would give me a good reason (that will make me fall in love with him and bow to him in awe and reverence) to do so or if he so decide to eliminate my free will. But that is another story. Current Mood: thoughtful
|Tuesday, November 9th, 2004|
|Striking the Demon Possession Phenomenon
I was not able to write an entry yesterday because the jeepneys here in Magalang and Angeles City went on a strike due to the increasing gasoline price. Experience tells me that conducting a strike will not make the price any lower than we would hope for. They can complain all they want but things are not going to change. This is the unfortunate reality here in my region.
Pinoy_Infidel of the Pinoy Atheist yahoo groups provided me a link on the various attempts to explain the demon possession phenomena. You can feast yourselves here. Melissa Bromwell made an excellent paper providing naturalistic explanations of demon "possession". Unfortunately, she did not include any sources on information about where she found cases where demon possessed individuals are seen levitating, body parts morphing into another form, among others. I have only heard these symptoms from other people but I have actually never personally witnessed any of these occurring on "demon possessed" individuals whom I had seen and handled myself during my "exorcism" days (as Granma Gladyz enthusiastically put it).
As I examined the empirical and observable evidence of this alleged demon possessions, I came to a conclusion that these occurances are most likely a case of Dissociative Identity Disorder or Multiple Personality Disorder. Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) is a psychiatric disorder characterized by having at least one "alter" personality that controls behavior. The "alters" are said to occur spontaneously and involuntarily, and function more or less independently of each other. The unity of consciousness, by which we identify our selves, is said to be absent in MPD. Another symptom of MPD is significant amnesia which can't be explained by ordinary forgetfulness. DID explains adequately why the subject seems to have another spirit with a distinct personality dwelling within him/her. After the takeover (the so-called demon possession), the individual with this psychiatric disorder does not remember anything that transpired during the "possession" period. More information can be found here.
In some cases, the subject usually claims to have previous experiences which usually did not really occur. This can include memory of experiences as simple as walking in the park to traumatic experiences of previously being raped in childhood, murdering other people, being kidnapped and even as bizaare as talking to demons, ghost, monsters etc. in the past, travelling into another dimension, being abducted by aliens and among the like. What is surprising is that, one can narrate this so called experiences in full details. These are symptoms of False Memory Syndrome. A false memory is a memory which is a distortion of an actual experience, or a confabulation (a fantasy that has unconsciously replaced fact in memory), of an imagined one. You can find more details here.
Other cases were simply products of or a combination of confirmation bias (a type of selective thinking whereby one tends to notice and to look for what confirms one's beliefs, and to ignore, not look for, or undervalue the relevance of what contradicts one's beliefs.), self deception (the process or fact of misleading ourselves to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid.), communal reinforcement (the process by which a claim becomes a strong belief through repeated assertion by members of a community.), mesmerism (role-playing with the mesmerizer making suggestions and his clients becoming absolutely mesmerized by him) and even hypnosis.
As a conclusion, there are scientific explanations that can explain this so-called demon possessions. An informed and experienced skeptic will realize that this is simply an oversimplification of the explanation behind this phenomenon. I have not yet exhausted every possible avenues that will shed this issue in a new light. But I believe, to an extent, this will suffice. I have also provided some links for anyone wishing to venture further investigation. On final note, if the levitation and other seemingly miraculous characteristics mentioned by Melissa Bromwell would be verified to be genuine, then there could be something more on this "demon possession" than meets the eye. Current Mood: contemplative
|Friday, November 5th, 2004|
I feel considerably better now. My immune system was complaining yesterday about me not sending some support. I then decided to eat calamansi (yes you read right - eat) and drink two glasses of calamansi juice just this morning. My phlegms are still pesky but I think my internal warriors can handle them.
Euri sent me an e-mail yesterday. One of the topics she raised up is the alleged demon possession and exorcism that occurred in a retreat called Encounter God Retreat that took place last October 29, 2004 in the Jesus Is Lord Church at San Fernando, Pampanga. You can read about the details that occurred in the said retreat here. The link is a blog entry of one of the retreat's participants.
During my Born Again Christian days, I myself had personally witnessed such phenomenon - twice. My first encounter occurred when I was in high school during my Philippine Military Training that was held in Clark Field Pampanga. The event was participated by various schools from Masantol, Macabebe and if I am not mistaken, Apalit. It happened the day before we were supposed to leave the place. Several lady students from the different school participants were, allow me to say, possessed. It is a mass possession and oddly only ladies were possessed. The male population was spared. I did hear news that a few males were also possessed but they are unconfirmed and I myself had not seen one.
Since I was then a Born Again Christian, I interpreted the event as a mass demonic possession. I prayed cryingly and asked God for forgiveness for all the sins I committed. For it was taught to us in my then church that Christians will not be able to cast out demons if they still have unconfessed sins. After doing just that, I now went to areas where there are "demonically possessed" individuals. Some of them, I was able to cast out by uttering words like "I am casting you out you demonic spirit in this person's body, In Jesus Name" and "By the blood of Jesus I am commanding you to come out in Jesus name". But no they were not "freed" instantly. I would have to repeat those words over and over again before it became "successful". After successfully casting the demon out of one person, I will then seek out other places where there are "possessed" individual. Some "demons" are so stubborn that I found myself shouting at them, "I AM CASTING YOU OUT IN JESUS NAME". It was so loud that other people are now staring at me with puzzled look. I felt embarrassed but I knew I was doing this for the glory of God so I subdued my embarrassment. I believe then that the embarrassment I am feeling was the work of a demon to prevent me from setting this people free by the power of Jesus Christ. I even remember myself speaking in tongues while casting out the demon on one certain lady. Strangely, all become well after sometime. Although I managed to pray over and "cast out" demons from a few individuals, some of them became alright without me intervening. From as far as I can remember, there were only four of us who were Born Again Christians - three students and one teacher. How were the others freed without us praying over for them? Perhaps the others were also active while I am doing my "casting out" work but that is very unlikely. I haven't seen the other two touring around the place and casting out demons. And my classmates did not tell me anything about them loitering around driving out demons. The other one, the teacher, were with me for a certain amount of time. Besides, there's too many of them even for the four of us. It would take us roughly a whole day to complete the work. Not to mention that there are stubborn "demons" who refuses to come out that easily thus takes along time to kick out of the person's body. How were the others freed? Perhaps our prayers was too powerful that we no longer needed to go to them to drive the demons out of them?
The other one claims to be an agent of Satan and he is the boyfriend of the blogger from the link I provided. To make the story short, I took him to our worship center in our place then the pastor started explaining some Bible stuff relating to his condition. As he was listening, his teeth were gnashing. He then suddenly jerked off and started to babble unintelligible words (which he later told me to be a demonic language. Well it does sound like a language in fairness). Then after a while I started shouting the same "I AM CASTING YOU OUT IN JESUS NAME" that I was shouting in my previous experience coupled with speaking in tongues. After a while, the guy started vomiting some sticky and a bit greenish phlegmatic kind of substance. He also vomited, which I later found out to be just rice, a darkish substance. The blackness may be blood but I do not know for sure. I did not check because I really don't care back then. All I know is that God did something miraculous that day and he used me to accomplish just that.
Before, I am interpreting these things as proof of the supernatural. My ignorance of brain functioning, psychology and science had led me not to question these things. But now things have changed. It is one of my wish that churches who claims to have genuine demonic possession experiences, would allow serious and proficient scientists and experts in the field to investigate these occurrences. But it is very unfortunate that most former "demon possessed" individuals take this as an insult and refuses to be objectively investigated. They were so convinced of their experiences that they would not give scientific investigation a chance. The other things is, I do not know if there is even a research organization who is willing to seriously investigate such phenomena. Perhaps no established body is interested - at least here in the Philippines.
So I made my own personal research. On Monday, I will add an entry about it. I cannot possibly exhaust everything on single sitting. I have a major exam on Assembly Language later at 5:30. See you then. Current Mood: Much better than yesterday...
|Thursday, November 4th, 2004|
|Phlegm, Ghost, and, Skepticism
Finally, I have my very own online journal. As much as I wish I could celebrate this momentous day, my sickness is precluding me from doing it. I can feel the warm sensation of phlegm in my throat. The internal part of my nose too is not spared. As with most sickness, this shall heal over time. Taking medicine is darn too expensive so I am relying on my white blood cells and my body's ever evolving immune system to take care of my condition. Work hard my internal warriors... I would not be sending any medicinal S.W.A.T. team to back you up.
"If the evidence I cite arouses in you a knee-jerk reaction of disbelief, if you assume a priori that the evidence cannot possibly be valid if it doesn't fit with your personal beliefs, if you think that there MUST be something wrong with the methods of the researchers responsible for the evidence, then I will suggest that you are NOT a genuine skeptic, and instead fall under the oh-so dreaded titles of 'cynic' and 'debunker', or more pointedly, 'believer.'" - Michael Goodspeed
I have been hearing a lot of ghost and paranormal stories lately. GMA 7 had been very active in taking advantage of the halloween season to boost their ratings. Eyewitness, Jessica Soho Reports, and the other late night documentary shows of the said TV station, had dealt with topics tackling the supernatural. Being an atheist, I am eyeing these reports with skepticism. I do not believe in the supernatural. But recently, I have been hearing supernatural accounts which, although inconclusive, I believe merits further investigation.
Jhay De Los Reyes, an agnostic theist friend of mine, relayed an interesting story. It was October 30. It was around 4:00 AM and he was half asleep and half conscious. He was consciously dreaming that he was explaining his multilevel marketing business to his former instructor. Then all of a sudden, his dream shifted to a vision of a little boy. As he was dreaming of this boy, he suddenly felt a mild shaking on his arms. Then as he open his eyes, he saw a shadowy infant-like figure staring straightly into his face. The creature(?) was making a vibrating sound as he/she/it stares at Jhay's shocked and horrified face. Although in great fear, he still, said he, managed to think: "What is this creature?", "Is this real?", "Is this what they call the 'Tyanak' (a monster in Filipino folklore that has an infant-like form)", "What the heck is this creature doing here?", "What does he/she/it want from me", "How was he/she/it able to enter our house, much more inside my room (Jhay told me that, to his knowledge, there is no possible entry point by which the creature can enter. Their door houses are all locked and all their windows are protected by screens.)". He was staring at the creature face to face for roughly ten seconds. After that, it just slowly vanished into thin air.
I have not personally seen any supernatural beings. But Jhay's story made me think hard. My naturalism and bias on the supernatural is challenged. He is a trustworthy, honest and intelligent friend of mine. I do not think he is lying. I find that harder to believe than the ghost account itself. Although, as we were discussing his experience, he admitted that there is still a possibility that all he had seen may just be an illusion created by his brain during that vulnerable and sleepy moment of his.
Before this strange occurence, he had also experienced, a couple of months ago, a similar experience. It was late evening, I think it was past twelve. We were both online, both chatting in MIRC (#angeles channel in Undernet) and doing our routine online activities. Then suddenly he sent me a PM (Private Message) saying that he thinks he just saw something move just outside the window. Before that, he said, he had heard some weird sound. He thought at first that it may just have come from the music he is playing in the background. But when he turned it off, it is still there. I remember him sending me a message which goes along the line of, "I wish I haven't turned my music off!". I asked him what does it look like. Then he sent me a reply saying that it was a gorilla like creature about 4 feet tall. I told him to go outside and check it out but he was too afraid to do it. I tried persuading him to do just that but he refused. I even remember teasing him about still believing in those paranormal stuff despite his age. Needless to say, the creature did not stay long and finally disappeared - and all is well again.
Aside from these accounts, my sister also told me of her recent "ghost experience" in Baguio. She did not see any ghost, only heard it, along with her classmates. The sound was the usual "haaaaaahr" we have been hearing from Filipino horror movies and television shows. Just a couple of days ago, my uncle (a born again pastor), was also telling me that my sister had an encounter with a ghost. My sister witnessed our faucet suddenly dripping water without anyone operating it. I don't know though if this is true because he was grinning as he narrate to me this story while staring at my sister. He was teasing her. Furthermore, he told me of another experience a few nights ago. That night when I was not yet home, he turned off the lights of my room before entering into his room. Afterward, when he came out, the lights of my room was on and yet nobody else was around to turn it on. I do not know if he was telling me a true story or if he was merely trying to scare me off. He wasn't serious and had been grinning the whole time when he told me this story. Perhaps he was trying to scare me off because I am no longer attending our worship services (our house is also a born again church) and other church activities - nobody knows my atheism except my sister.
My mom also told me of her share of paranormal experiences. She even claimed to have seen a "headless" white lady during her teens. She had told me many other personal paranormal experiences. Stories about ghost apparitions and manifestations, kapre's (a giant creature who smokes a large tobacco), duwende's (dwarfs), etc.
Just a couple of days ago, I was watching GMA 7 and saw OUT!'s TV commercial. I do not know exactly what the show is all about but, judging from the commercial, I believe it is a show about investigating ghost related stuff and the paranormal. What intrigued me is that the show's host himself was, shall I say, possessed by some spirit. And the commercial seems to be projecting that this is unplanned and not really intended to be part of the show. Days later, I tuned in to 24 Oras, GMA 7's primetime news program and one of their news is about the OUT!'s host possession experience. I think the guy's name is JM and the news reported that he is really bothered by the possession occurence while taping the show.
Another show, again from GMA 7, featured an apparition of a ghost "accidentally" caught on tape. During the show's taping, the cameraman and the crew where just following a certain psychic guy as he try to detect any presence of spirits in the place. They didn't find anything so they said. But when they reviewed the recorded footage, to prepare it for editing, they found out that the camera had caught an image of a lady. They did not see it while filming since their focus is on the psychic. But when the cameraman shifted his camera from another direction, the "ghost" was caught on tape from a direction near the intended direction of the cameraman. The cameraman did not see it since he wasn't looking at it when he changed the camera's direction.
The bizarre occurences on these shows all took place just as we were nearing the Halloween and All Souls Day. Now that those holidays are done, we no longer hear this kind of stuff as much. Hmmmm, something fishy eh? Are these really genuine paranormal accounts or shameless attempt to take advantage of the halloween mood to raise the TV station's ratings?
The following statements by Dan Barker embodies my sentiments on these supernatural claims.
* "Most scientists disagree that there is strong evidence for 'parascientific' claims. When carefully examined with rigid controls, they are generally exposed as misinterpretations or outright fraud. Even if they were legitimate, mysterious phenomena could have perfectly natural explanations. In such cases, skeptics prefer to withhold judgment rather than jump to superstitious conclusions."
I am a skeptic. A skeptic is defined as one who is yet undecided as to what is true; one who is looking or inquiring for what is true; an inquirer after facts or reasons. Right now, I do not believe in the supernatural, at least not to the point of conviction. But I believe that the evidence of these phenomena, both anecdotal and observational is compelling enough so as to warrant further investigations by open-minded skeptics and serious scientists.
* From Chapter 17 of the book Losing Faith In Faith: From Preacher To Atheist by Dan Barker Current Mood: sick