We are the largest, most active group of freethinkers in the Philippines. We practice and promote reason, science, secularism, and, of course, freethinking.

Visit our website at http://www.filipinofreethinkers.org.

Posts I Like
Posts tagged "Jong Atmosfera"

By Jong Atmosfera

In what seemed like an effort to show an appreciation of the separation of Church and State and to give an answer to Fr. Joaquin Bernas’s explanation that “public money is neither Catholic, nor Protestant, nor Muslim or what have you and may be appropriated by Congress for the public good without violating the Constitution,” Antipolo Bishop Gabriel V. Reyes defended the stand of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on the RH bill by saying that their opposition to contraceptives, which the RH bill seeks to fund and promote, is not based on faith or revelation, but on “natural law.”

In a statement, Reyes asserted that:

“By studying through correct reasoning the nature of the human person, we arrive at this teaching regarding contraception. All human beings, Catholic or not, are obliged to act according to right reason. By the efforts of the Church to go against the RH Bill, the Church is not imposing her religious beliefs on others. She is trying to stop a bill which is against natural law, a law which all human beings, Catholic or not, should follow. The RH Bill, judged from the principles of natural law, is against the good of the human person and the common good.”

But what exactly is this “natural law” the bishops keep bandying about? Is it the physical laws of the universe that are observable in nature?

The term “natural law” is actually a misnomer, quickly misleading those hearing it for the first time…

Read the full article on the Filipino Freethinkers website

By Jong Atmosfera

Whether or not the RH bill is made into law, Filipinos have the right to use contraception. More precisely, they have the Hohfeldian privilege-right, which means they have no duty not to use contraception because there is no law prohibiting them from doing so. According to the Hohfeldian system for describing the form of rights, to say that one has a privilege to do something is to say that one has no duty not to do it.

This is what some of the opponents of the RH bill, including Sen. Tito Sotto, are saying. They also point out that free contraceptives are already being distributed by the government so there is really no need for an RH law.

But such distribution is only happening because the current administration supports it. Moreover, as Karen Davila said in an interview with Sen. Sotto last August 16, in many cities where the mayor or governor is a member of the Opus Dei or Pro-Life, they impose their religious beliefs on their constituents by pulling out all the contraceptives from the barangay hall.

To which Sotto replied, “That’s looking at it on the other side of the fence, Karen. Look at it on the other side…you are removing the freedom of choice of the mayor and the governor and the next president.” He argued that if the next president is against contraception, you will remove his freedom of choice if RH is already made into law.

Read the full article on the Filipino Freethinkers website

By Jong Atmosfera

I’m sorry to hear about Sen. Tito Sotto’s son.

Unfortunately, Sen. Sotto himself turned his own personal tragedy into fair game. He did so by putting it up to public debate, when he used his son’s death as an example for his plagiarized argument on the health hazards of contraceptives, which his wife allegedly used but still got pregnant. And when he was challenged by former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral to produce the death certificate showing the cause of death, Sotto described her as “callous and insensitive” and even said that he is “ready to declare war.”

Well, Mr. Sotto brought this war upon himself and his family. For no matter how tragic it is to lose his son, such tragedy could easily be matched by the tragedies of the children, husbands, and parents of the 11 mothers who die every day due to maternal complications, the same mothers whose names and death certificates Sotto laughingly asked for, and who could have been saved had they received proper information and assistance for which the RH bill seeks to provide.…

Read the full article on the Filipino Freethinkers website.

By Jong Atmosfera

An anti-Reproductive Health bill group composed of members of the Catholic laity is seeking accreditation from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to run under the party-list name Ang Prolife. While the separation of Church and State prohibits the registration of religious denominations and sects as political parties, the prohibition does not extend to organizations with religious affiliations or to political parties which derive their principles from religious beliefs.

In a Supreme Court decision on the petition for disqualification filed against Ang Buhay Hayaang Yumabong, a party-list group backed by the Catholic charismatic movement El Shaddai, the court remanded the case to the Comelec with the directive to immediately conduct summary evidentiary hearings under the following guidelines for screening party-list participants:

[I]n view of the objections directed against the registration of Ang Buhay Hayaang Yumabong, which is allegedly a religious group, the Court notes the express constitutional provision that the religious sector may not be represented in the party-list system.  The extent of the constitutional proscription is demonstrated by the following discussion during the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission:

“MR. OPLE.  x x x

In the event that a certain religious sect with nationwide and even international networks of members and supporters, in order to circumvent this prohibition, decides to form its own political party in emulation of those parties I had mentioned earlier as deriving their inspiration and philosophies from well-established religious faiths, will that also not fall within this prohibition?

MR. MONSOD.  If the evidence shows that the intention is to go around the prohibition, then certainly the Comelec can pierce through the legal fiction.”

The following discussion is also pertinent:

“MR. VILLACORTA.  When the Commissioner proposed “EXCEPT RELIGIOUS GROUPS,” he is not, of course, prohibiting priests, imams or pastors who may be elected by, say, the indigenous community sector to represent their group.

REV. RIGOS.  Not at all, but I am objecting to anybody who represents the Iglesia ni Kristo, the Catholic Church, the Protestant Church et cetera.”

Furthermore, the Constitution provides that “religious denominations and sects shall not be registered.” The prohibition was explained by a member of the Constitutional Commission in this wise: “[T]he prohibition is on any religious organization registering as a political party.  I do not see any prohibition here against a priest running as a candidate.  That is not prohibited here; it is the registration of a religious sect as a political party.”

And the rest is history. With a Comelec that denied accreditation to the LGBT group Ang Ladlad based on “moral grounds” by quoting passages from the Bible and the Koran, it is no surprise that it did not choose to “pierce through the legal fiction” and instead dismissed the petition to disqualify Ang Buhay Hayaang Yumabong. And it should also not come as a surprise if Ang Prolife can ”go around the prohibition” and its application for party-list accreditation easily passes approval.

But all hope is not lost to the vanguards of secularism…

Read the full article on the Filipino Freethinkers website.

By Jong Atmosfera

Marriage is a right, or more specifically, a privilege. According to the Hohfeldian system for describing the form of rights, to say that one has a privilege-right to do something is to say that one has no duty not to do it. Do gay couples have the right to marry? No – not in this country, or at least not yet.  While there is nothing in our Constitution that prohibits same-sex marriage, our Family Code requires that the contracting parties must be a man and a woman.

And this is why same-sex marriage advocates would be wasting their time if they try to convince the bishops of their so-called rights. Aside from the fact that the Church hierarchy could never go against its own doctrine, the fight should be brought where it belongs – in congress – to lobby our legislators into amending the Family Code by giving same-sex couples the right to marry…

Read the full article on the Filipino Freethinkers website.

By Jong Atmosfera

Every conscious thing we do or choice we make is somehow motivated by the pursuit of pleasure or the avoidance of pain. The only variables are the kinds of things that bring varying degrees of pleasure and pain to each individual, the premises on which expectations of pleasure or pain are based, and the ability to delay gratification.

For example, many nature lovers go to work instead of spending the entire week at the beach because the former guarantees some future comfort that outweighs the immediate fun the latter brings. Some smokers quit because they’ve decided that the pleasure they get from cigarettes cannot compensate for the pain of a present or potential respiratory illness. Most people do not normally steal because the initial gain will be quickly neutralized if they get caught (or their conscience takes the fun out of taking things that don’t belong to them). And if they believe in an afterlife, getting away won’t even matter.

Which brings us to a common theistic argument against naturalism-based morality: If there is no eternal punishment, there is no ultimate justice and evil people like Hitler and Stalin can get away with atrocities. But there are many answers to this…

Read the full article on the Filipino Freethinkers website.

by Jong Atmosphera

In The Bottomline episode aired last February 4, Red Tani agreed with Boy Abunda that no one actually wins in debates on the existence of God. And I concur because the god concept has too many facets lumped together and discussions often shift from one facet to another.

For example, in order to prove the existence of God (or at least the high probability thereof), apologists like William Lane Craig put forth logical arguments like First Cause and Fine-Tuning. Even granting that these are based on correct premises and sound reasoning, they only support the deistic concept of a generic creator that does not necessarily intervene in the affairs of the universe, while God with a capital “G” is a proper noun referring to the Judeo-Christian god who gave specific instructions on how to live our lives.

As such, I think what’s more important than the God/creator question is whether we have immortal souls, and especially if the welfare of our souls depends so much on us believing in God’s existence. Can the apologists offer evidence or even philosophical arguments for Heaven and Hell (as well as the entrance rules) that are at least as challenging to refute as the cosmological and teleological arguments?

Going back to Boy Abunda’s interview with Red Tani, I think it would have been more interesting if the discussion focused on secularism instead of atheism. As Red said, the only difference between believers and nonbelievers is their position on the God question, and this is really not a big deal because most of the day most believers act and make decisions without thinking of God, so belief (or nonbelief) does not necessarily dictate our actions, politics, or morality.

But if there is a specific god we are talking about, like the Roman Catholic god who abhors contraception, divorce, and gay marriage, then the issue is no longer about theism and atheism, but which religion or sect correctly represents God. And here the debate would degenerate into disarray because unlike the discussions on the existence of God where the contenders at least try to stick to the rules of logic in the absence of empirical evidence, different religions would simply attempt to ram their opposing “revealed” doctrines into each other’s throat.

Read the full article on the Filipino Freethinkers website.

by Jong Atmosfera

I’ve been dabbling in macro photography recently and it’s like having a new set of super eyes, one that allows you to appreciate the beauty of flowers and insects by seeing their vibrant colors and intricate eye patterns, like the weevil above and the fly below.

Such beauty compels some people to conclude that there must be an Intelligent Designer, a Loving Creator who creates and sustains life. However, naturalists argue that it is the sun which is the ultimate sustainer of all life on earth. The sun makes the plants grow, and certain animals feed on them, like this bee sucking nectar from a flower.

Other animals prefer animals for food, like this spider waiting on another flower for a bee just like the one above.

This is a colorful jumping spider. Handsome creature, isn’t it?

Does it look as beautiful now when it’s holding a small dragonfly in its jaws, paralyzing it with venom and slowly sucking the life out of it?

There is much debate about whether or not insects and even higher animals are capable of suffering pain from physical injury, e.g., being eaten alive, but even assuming that they don’t does not change the fact that certain lives must be ended in order to sustain other lives. That’s just the law of the jungle, the natural order of things – nature, red in tooth and claw – and it doesn’t look very lovingly designed at all. As Richard Dawkins observed in The Greatest Show On Earth,

If we are going to postulate the creator of the cheetah, he has evidently put every ounce of his designing expertise into the task of designing a superlative killer. But the very same designer has equally evidently strained every nerve to design a gazelle that is superbly equipped to escape from those very same cheetahs. For heaven’s sake, whose side is the designer on? Does the designer’s right hand not know what his left hand is doing? Is he a sadist who enjoys the spectator sport and is forever upping the ante on both sides to increase the thrill of the chase?

Read the full article on the Filipino Freethinkers website.

by Jong Atmosfera

The Philippines won the Guiness record for having the largest Ten Commandments tablet. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering that our country likes claiming to be one of the ‘most Catholic’ in the world. But will the Philippine Catholic hierarchy be happy and proud of this record? Probably not.



That’s because the gigantic Ten Commandments erected in Baguio happens to be the Protestant version, and if we look closely we will find that there is a significant difference from the Catholic version.

Which version should you follow to achieve super brownie points for heaven? —> Read the full article on the Filipino Freethinkers website.

By Jong Atmosfera

I cause the death of animals for my pleasure. Not directly, but ultimately, because the butcher or fisherman would not end the lives of sentient beings if not for consumers like me. And yes, for my pleasure and my pleasure alone; I cannot justify the killings in the name of survival, because I know I can very well afford and survive on a purely plant-based diet that would even result in me having a healthier body and a longer life.

If it’s any consolation, as much as possible I try to eat only those animals that live in the oceans, animals that were not raised in cramped captivity in order to minimize production cost and maximize profit for the growers. My philosophy is that all animals die; what matters is how they live. 

lapu-lapu (grouper), for example, would experience the same gruesome death whether in the jaws of a bigger fish or some other sea predator as it would in a fisherman’s hook, net, or spear so it could end up on my plate. And no matter how it died, it was lucky to have lived free to swim in the ocean, infinitely luckier than the farmed chickens and pigs who were forced to spend all their lives in tight cages and never got to see the sun or breathe fresh air except on their way to the slaughterhouse. Bottom line, by eating fish I am not adding to the overall suffering of sentient beings in the world.

Every once in a while, however, my beloved mom cooks her specialty, which is humba (braised pork legs), and other meat dishes. While I do not crave for meat (I prefer the lighter taste of seafood), I cannot afford to break my mom’s heart by shunning her dish in the hope that such an act would result in fewer animals dying in the long run (by eating animals that were miserably bred in captivity, I take part in perpetuating the inhumane meat industry where animals suffer unimaginably).

Read the full article on the Filipino Freethinkers website.