May 18, 2021 Last Updated 10:53 AM, Apr 15, 2021
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s2smodern

 

Age of Reason, reasoning amidst social reality

 

What is the age of reason? The age of reason was born, when people realized that explaining life, occurrences and natural phenomena could be based on sense, science ad evidence. Reasoning is therefor a condition loose from belief, doctrines and unfounded dogma.

European politics, philosophy, science and communications were radically reoriented during the 18th century and before (1685-1815) as part of a movement referred to by its participants as the Age of Reason, or simply the Enlightenment.

In our modern world, it seems that everything, from business to transportation, is progressing at an ever-accelerating pace. The Human Intelligence Knows No Bounds

What is social reality? Social reality is the condition we live in today, and if documented correctly, the condition and circumstances people lived before. Correct documentation requires evidence-based literature, and not made up stories, like we can find in religious books.

Yet: "The social reality as an expression deals with people’s opinions and beliefs of the present time."

Next to social reality we have the following: Personal reality (this can vary from very personal views on reality till self-determined realities over adapted realities); Shared objective reality (not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.)

 

The age of reason gave sense and universal explanation to life, occurrences and natural phenomena, standing above the different mythical explanations religions in different geographical locations gave.

One other crucial point the age of reason taught us, was that reasoning never came along with punishment, that even wrong reasoning the later rectification and correction of the mistake only resulted in growth and prosperity. Whilst religions aim was to punish the critics, either on earth through countless torture methods, be it physical or psychological, or through invented afterlife threats like hell or limbo, reason was able to admit mistakes and allowed critics and improvement.

Where religion criminalized all opposition and critique under hate crime and blasphemy laws, reason and science kept on walking and developing.

As the years went on social reality changed, and with it its methods.

In 1811 one could be prosecuted for criticizing Christianity under the blasphemy laws, whereas in 2018 one can be prosecuted under hate crime laws for promoting anti-Islamic views, on the same grounds and country. This is where social reality comes in. Social reality is the pool of different influences: The present development of a society, political presence and government, education and the religious / non-religious mindset of the people.

The current Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and police definition of a hate crime is: “Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated

by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.”

At first glance this seems to make sense, without reasoning though. If we start to apply reason on the stage of development we are currently in, we can see something drastically wrong.

  1. The definition of hate crime does not include hate speech, so one can reason that it is not covered.
  2. This definition throws together natural and unnatural terms under the same offence. Whilst sexual orientation is natural, and can be observed in any society, under or with any religion and among any race or political system, religion is an unnatural construct that can be adapted, laid off, changed or mixed even. So how can criticizing, opposing or even verbally attacking (ridiculing) inventions be measured the same as discriminating a race, a gender or a sexual orientation?
  3. The final question is: Why is it a crime to criticize anyway, when on the other hand there is freedom of speech and expression?

The problem is that hate speech has no universal definition. The truth is hate speech to those that hate the truth. To suppress the truth spoken by others they then create the hate crime.

The attack on freedom of expression is inconsistent when it comes to religion. Criticism of Islam is considered to be more offensive than criticism of any other religions, even Judaism, which is astonishing, having laws against anti-Semitism. Islam has created its very own protections under hate speech, they call it Islamophobia. This is a term that was invented by Iranian fundamentalists to silence criticism of Islam. Any negative comments about Islam are usually met with this label, as an effortless way to shut down logical and reasoned arguments. This is particularly in social media, where criticism of Islam frequently results in users being banned.

And again, we can reason, because phobia is an unfounded fear towards something. We just need to view our history and observe the many lives religion has taken, destroyed or ruined.

Being able to criticize all religions is the basis of freedom of expression, especially in a secular society and amidst social reality. We should be free to mock, criticize and even ridicule religion, because it is neither racist, xenophobe nor a sexual discrimination.

 

The Age of Reason is a book written by Thomas Paine. He writes the following: “The most important position is the call for ‘free rational inquiry’ into all subjects, especially religion.” Christopher Hitches often cited Thomas Paine too.

Reasoning amidst social reality is something that needs to start at school level. Children are curious, yet also take for grated what their parents and teachers tell them. Sadly, religion is still taught in schools as if it were real, and not a historical period where people just didn’t know better.

As Atheists and Agnostics, we have the obligation to carry out reason, more than anybody. We cannot defend reason, and then follow or accept religious practices, just because we think it is a social obligation.

Social reality was extremely local in the past, and with that advantage, religion was able to control society, and give no further reason to reason. But with the new age explorers, the internet and the growth of knowledge through education, we have seen that the past social reality isn’t as real as they have sold it to us, ad that what is real is universal and what is not local.

The social reality is that we are diverse, naturally different. Our things in common are happily agreed upon, not through force, threat or punishment, and of course through natural realities.

Our social reality is yet also that we have been shaped and formed to fit, that we are told to be punished or doomed if we don’t believe certain things; and what is most sad, that even the ones that don’t believe still too often accept the belief system as social obligation to keep family, community or friendships in takt.

The truth is, there is no development without sacrifice, struggle or change; and the question is, if a loss can be an enrichment and for the better.

Yet when reasoning stops, or even just stays behind closed doors, humanity loses for the worse.

 

By Thomas Fleckner

 

Remarks: Speech was given at the 6th PATAS anniversary Feb 17, 2018

 

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Thank you for coming to the SOGIE, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Education, event.

 

Scientists identified a type of chimpanzee in West Africa as the source of HIV infection in humans. It was found that the chimpanzee virus called simian immunodeficiency virus or SIV, was transmitted to humans and mutated into what we know as HIV, when humans hunted these chimpanzees for meat, coming into contact with the infected blood. Over decades, the virus slowly spread across Africa and later into other parts of the world.

The earliest known case of infection with HIV-1 in a human was detected in a blood sample collected in 1959 from a man in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In 1982 public health officials began to use the term "acquired immunodeficiency syndrome," or AIDS, to describe the occurrences of the infections.

Around that time, I personally remember condom dispensers popping up. Condoms had become for than just a contraception.

In 1983, scientists discovered the virus that causes AIDS, the name that we know as HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).

Freddie Mercury died of AIDS in 1991, and just one year later the first combination drug therapies for HIV were introduced.

In the year 2000 the World Health Organization estimated that between 15% and 20% of new HIV infections worldwide are the result of blood transfusions.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported the first five known cases of HIV in Los Angeles in June of 1981. The previously healthy gay men had contracted pneumonia and two died.

Yet claims that HIV / AIDS is a gay sickness or comes from gays is a myth. According to the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Deseaces, Worldwide, more than 80 percent of all adult HIV infections have resulted from heterosexual intercourse.

Worldwide, there were about 2.1 million new cases of HIV in 2013. About 35 million people are living with HIV around the world. In 2013, there were about 1.5 million deaths in persons with AIDS, and nearly 39 million people with AIDS have died worldwide since the epidemic began.

Sadly, AIDS stigma exists around the world in a variety of ways, including ostracism, rejection, discrimination and avoidance of HIV infected people.

The topic of religion and AIDS has become highly controversial in the past twenty years, primarily because some religious authorities have publicly declared their opposition to the use of condoms (eg. Catholic Church), and that prayer can cure HIV/AIDS (eg. The Synagogue Church Of All Nations).

There are many misconceptions about HIV and AIDS. Three of the most common are that AIDS can spread through casual contact, that sexual intercourse with a virgin will cure AIDS,and that HIV can infect only gay men and drug users.

We as lgbtBUS want to help spread awareness and help people gain knowledge, specially in areas where sexual education lacks. There are too many people dying of ignorance.

As for today, we have a free HIV testing and more lectures about sexuality, gender identification and HIV/AIDS.

Finally, I would like to thank our President Regie Pasion, for having organized this event with the support of the Marikina Banrangay and City Hall.

And let me close by saying: 

In a telegram the actor Rock Hudson sent to a September 1985 Hollywood AIDS benefit, Commitment to Life, which he was too ill to attend in person.

Hudson said: "I am not happy that I am sick. I am not happy that I have AIDS. But if that is helping others, I can at least know that my own misfortune has had some positive worth."

Again, thank you for participating in our event, and don't forget to take the free HIV test during this event.

 

By Thomas Fleckner, of lgbtBUS (29 August 2015)

 

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Good evening

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to introduce A-Rose.

A-Rose is neither an organization nor a community. It is a formation of specialized peoples, coming from totally different backgrounds, educations and experiences. What we have in common though, is our nature, of belonging to the LGBT community, as we go forward through Scientific evidences explaining how and why we live. Our flexibility and mobility empowers us to fit into any organization or community that deals with LGBT. The aim of A-Rose is to educate, enlighten and support by reasoning. In many societies, children, women and LGBT members are weakened, due to the lack of knowledge sharing, suppression and religious dogma.

Have you ever questioned the certain politicians? I presume yes, in most of the cases. Have you ever questioned a school? Also here I guess yes will be the answer.

But have you ever questioned religion or faith? And here I can say, based on a life of experience; hardly or no.

The reason for this is that living in the world where exploitation has been observed everywhere (and together with those theocratic ideologies of religion.) We grow up with it, it’s out of our reach, and only few seem to have the privilege to be connected to the divine being. When something good happens people their god, yet when something bad happens, then it’s declared as belonging to a godly plan. But criticism is not just only wanted. These bullying ideas playing with the psychology of humans, making them fear and love the ruling class at the same time. When we suffer, we are sick or poor, we are told, given a prospection of hope, that we will have a good life after death. All these peoples claiming this have never died, to come back, showing us the truth of such. This culture of mockery tell people that having resources makes one evil, that these resources are not for all, and we should be thankful and happy for what we have and just to survive according to whose ridiculous plans they are referring. But when we look at the them, insultingly well maintained and built, next to unfinished poor houses; when we see them over-fed and living with perks and luxuries. Now, time to analyze what their real motive is. The worse of all is that this wealth is a wealth grown on exploitation, donations after giving false promises and hopes and the so called tithing. Interestingly the bible quotes in Timothy 6:10 - For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. Bankers' best guesses about the Vatican's wealth put it at $10 billion to $15 billion. The Vatican has huge investments in banking, insurance, chemicals, steel, construction, real estate, and gains income from church tax and its members, all tax free. Rome’s weekly L'Espresso newspaper called it "the biggest tax evader in Italy.

In the Philippines the Catholic Church is a huge stockholder, and together with the millions of Peso, they collect from the church goers at every mass, enormous construction are erecting throughout the country. The churches live from the masses (funny that the church service is also called mass), and the messes are poor or in the lower part of society. The money these peoples donate could fill their stomachs better, but because of false claims, the churches exploit their members, supporting poverty more than helping peoples out of it. The Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) shows that the Church and affiliate Catholic groups are, in fact, the top stockholders in companies such as the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), Philex Mining Corporation (PX), San Miguel Corporation (SMC), Ayala Corporation (AC), and Phinma Corporation (PHN), among others. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila, for example, is the 4th largest owner of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) with more than 300 million shares. He is also a shareholder of Philex Mining Corporation (PX).

It is a huge business concept, running hand in hand with politics and culture.

The graphic shows the dividing of the three main categories: Economy, Politics and Culture.


The weaker an economy, the more influence can religion take on the peoples direct. Poverty and low paid jobs make peoples venerable and weak. Religion gives them hope, promises and a heaven. But they have to pay, pay from their little money. It also influences politics, as it can offer the church as a propaganda tool, manipulating the members who to vote for. The more developed a country the less influence the church has, leaving its stakes on the culture only and having no say in politics, due to the clear separation of church and state.

Collecting their tax free money works best out of a depending situation. As the owner of real estate, the tenant must pay rent. To have voters and support, politicians cooperate best, as the churches can reach the masses in their both interest.

The Philippine churches have two ways to influence and gain power.

In Poblacions, a Spanish set up from the colonial time, is a community where the church owns land and real estate. Rents and leasing amounts go straight into their pockets, and all tax free.


But even without a Poblacion, the church affiliates with politicians, offering scholarships to students and run food feeding programs. The church is use as a propaganda tool, to support the local politicians, like the mayor.


Millions of Filipinos who go to Church, every Sunday or other day, are donating their hard-earned cash that the Church now owns for this:

Table: Stock Investments of Catholic Church and affiliate Catholic Groups

Diocese / Church Foundation

Company

# Shares Owned

Rank in Top 100

Total Investment Value

ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MANILA

Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)

222,843,681

4th

PHP12.724 Billion

ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MLA (REAL CASA DE MISERICORDIA)

Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)

41,408,841

8th

PHP2.364 Billion

ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MANILA (HOSPITAL DE SAN JUAN DE DIOS)

Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)

22,072,182

13th

PHP1.26 Billion

ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MLA (HOSPICIO DE SAN JOSE)

Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)

6,016,624

15th

PHP343.55 Million

ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MLA (HOSP DE SA JUAN DE DIOS)

Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)

4,285,572

17th

PHP244.71 Million

ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MLA (MAYORDOMIA DELA CATEDRAL)

Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)

2,664,266

21st

PHP152.13 Million

ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MLA (ST. PAUL`S HOSPITAL)

Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)

1,772,418

26th

PHP101.21 Million

CARMEL OF THE DIVINE INFANT JESUS OF PRAGUE, INC.

Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)

726,819

49th

PHP41.50 Million

EL SUPERIOR DE LA CORPORACION FILIPINA DE PADRES AGUSTINOS RECOLETOS

Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)

551,382

60th

PHP31.48 Million

ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF JARO

Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)

491,385

64th

PHP28.06 Million

EL SUPERIOR DE LA CORPORACION FILIPINA DE PADRES AGUSTINOS RECOLETOS

San Miguel Corp (SMC)

2,370,000

31st

PHP260.70 Million

SUPERIOR DE LA CORPORACION ARCHICOFRADIA DE N.P.J.N DE RECOLETOS

San Miguel Corp (SMC)

1,234,603

75th

PHP135.81 Million

CARMEL OF THE DIVINE INFANT JESUS OF PRAGUE, INC.

San Miguel Corp (SMC)

957,516

79th

PHP105.33 Million

ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF TUGUEGARAO

San Miguel Corp (SMC)

856,639

81st

PHP94.23 Million

REAL MONASTERIO DE LA PURISIMA CONCEPCION DE NUESTRA MADRE SANTA CLARA DE MANILA

San Miguel Corp (SMC)

809,834

83rd

PHP89.08 Million

SUPERIOR DE LA CORPORACION DE PADRES RECOLETOS POR BECAS Y VOCACIONES

San Miguel Corp (SMC)

621,702

89th

PHP68.39 Million

CARMEL OF ST THERESE OF THE CHILD JESUS

San Miguel Corp (SMC)

592,956

91st

PHP65.23 Million

THE DISCALCED CARMELITE NUNS OF CEBU

San Miguel Corp (SMC)

451,864

95th

PHP49.71 Million

ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF NUEVA SEGOVIA DE VIGAN

San Miguel Corp (SMC)

428,067

98th

PHP47.09 Million

ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MANILA

Philex Mining Corp (PX)

3,221,135

15th

PHP66.68 Million

RELIGIOUS OF THE VIRGIN MARY - B

Philex Mining Corp (PX)

3,125,777

16th

PHP64.70 Million

RELIGIOUS OF THE VIRGIN MARY-A

Philex Mining Corp (PX)

1,091,027

69th

PHP22.58 Million

ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF TUGUEGARAO

Ayala Corporation (AC)

24,015

73rd

PHP9.29 Million

KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS FRATERNAL ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILS, INC.

Ayala Corporation Preferred Shares - A (ACPA)

60,000

2nd

PHP31.80 Million

ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF TAGBILARAN

Ayala Corporation Preferred Shares - B (ACPR)

10,000

64th

PHP1.02 Million

DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY OF ST. VINCENT DE PAUL

PHINMA Corp. (PHN)

159,575

19th

PHP2.12 Million

ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE OF JUAN DE DIOS

PHINMA Corp. (PHN)

153,880

20th

PHP2.05 Million

RELIGIOUS OF THE VIRGIN MARY

PHINMA Corp. (PHN)

58,975

52nd

PHP784,368

ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MANILA

Concrete Aggregates Corp (CA)

78,846

9th

PHP3.47 Million

ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MLA (REAL CASA DE MISERICORDIA)

Concrete Aggregates Corp (CA)

13,067

18th

PHP574,948

ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MANILA (HOSPITAL DE SAN JUAN DE DIOS)

Concrete Aggregates Corp (CA)

8,317

24th

PHP365,948

ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MLA (HOSPICIO DE SAN JOSE)

Concrete Aggregates Corp (CA)

1,898

66th

PHP83,512

ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MLA (MAYORDOMIA DELA CATEDRAL)

Concrete Aggregates Corp (CA)

841

97th

PHP37,004

ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MANILA

ISM Communications (ISM)

38,399

48th

PHP126,333

SOCIETY OF THE DIVINE WORD

Filipino Fund Inc. (FFI)

6,000

24th

PHP48,000

ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF BANGUED

Filipino Fund Inc. (FFI)

1,500

49th

PHP12,000

CATHOLIC WOMENS LEAGUE

Benguet Corp. - A (BC)

215

53rd

PHP4,107

CORPORACION DE PADRES DOMINICOS

EEI

75,000

75th

PHP256,500

* Rank in Top 100 – rank in the Top 100 Stockholders of the Company, a report submitted by the company to the PSE
** Total Investment Value – peso value of total shares owned, as of May 27, 2011 closing prices

Source: Company reports submitted to the Philippine Stock Exchange

 

As a member of the LGBT community we may come to the point asking ourselves if we are correctly positioned in this world. LGBT's have been the target of discrimination, rejection and hate crimes since hundreds and thousands of years. The main reason for this can be found in the religions that were invented by men, long ago, for the purpose of control and power by indoctrinating peoples, focusing on children, as they are the most venerable and formable in society. Religions come with huge claims that evidently have not been proven true, even after thousands of years.

They are basically “man made”, favoring men, declaring women and homosexuals as less valuable. The term evolution is not used, as in the eyes of the Religions; all was created by a god. Religion has also invented the word “sin”, stated illogically, that we were created by a perfect god, in his image, yet in total “imperfection” and “sin”, and then were demanded to become “well” and “heal”, in the set way of each different religion. Homosexuality is declared as unnatural, but homosexual behavior has been observed in more than 1,500 animal species, making it evidently not behavior or choice, but a natural fact in living beings. Religion was set up in times where peoples had no clue about Atoms, laws of Physics and the Universe. It was a way to explain natural phenomenon’s as acts of a god, to punish, threaten or reward peoples. Not believing in that the earth was flat, or the sun is turning around the earth, denying god or being Homosexual lead to torture and death for millions. Yet because of the long and strong developed strategy, building on the weaknesses of human beings, it has survived until now. Nowadays we can observe a strong decline of religion in many regions of the world, as more peoples are getting awareness, are better educated and realize that life can't be built on unproven promises and claims. Finally the criminal acts performed by religion (Discrimination and criminalization of homosexuals, ridiculous demands, suppression of women, violence against children, child abuse, castration of homosexuals, the support of totalitarian regimes, religious based wars and the killing and torture of opponents), the exposure of such in modern times, make more people doubt and reject the so called sacred world of religion.

Atheism, Agnosticism and Secularism are still words not often used by individuals, as they are unaware, left in the dark about its existence and sometimes feel insecure about them. Basically we can start of saying that these definitions deal with truth, based on evidence, resulted from reasoning, science and universally valid observation concluding into facts. Unknown or undiscovered issues will never be claimed by an Atheist as true, because it's not faith or belief based as in religion, placing claims without evidence, just to satisfy own needs or activate tools, to influence peoples’ brains to then be followed. Atheism does not serve the purpose of comfort, as reality is not always comfortable. It does not exploit its followers with the tools of fear, hate and a regulated definition of love. Atheism is not a religion, therefore not a narrow minded system. Atheism does not follow the instructions of man made invented deities. It goes with the natural and colorful world, follows humanity without

Restrictions and does not swap mythology and unproven claims with reality. It does not threaten peoples with a heaven or a hell. It encourages peoples to always ask questions, reason and conclude with a free mind. Atheism rejects self- crowned and religious authorities.

Atheism has also a long history and is defined in a broad sense as the rejection of belief and thus the existence of divine beings.

Atheism is a mind-set, that all of us are born into. Divine beings and deities are introduced to us more or less forcefully during youngest childhood, and depending on our geographical location, we are confronted and indoctrinated with the god of that location. Seeing and experiencing our surrounding, in majority following the same mind programming, we are at first left with little choice to question or deny such.

Yet if a person starts questioning, either through own conclusions or realizations, by meeting an active Atheist or reading about it, he or she might start taking the road of skepticism and curiosity. The first step towards Atheism is skepticism and curiosity, going along with asking questions and deferring between a claim and reality.

 

Secularism and Agnosticm may be found or defined in that transition period.

Secularism is the principle of separation between government and state from religious institutions. In one sense, secularism may assert the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, and the right to freedom from governmental imposition of religion upon the people within a state that is neutral on matters of belief. In this respect, policy decisions pertaining to topics like abortion, contraception, embryonic stem cell research, same-sex marriage, and sex education are prominently focused.

Agnosticism defines those truth values of proven and recognized claims. Claims about the existence of any deity, but also other religious and metaphysical claims are unknown until proven otherwise. Agnosticism can be explained in different ways, and is sometimes used to indicate doubt or a skeptical approach to questions. In some senses, agnosticism is the stage finding out the difference between belief and knowledge, rather than being satisfied about any religious claim or belief.

After feeling enlightened and reasoned enough, coming to conclusions after looking at all angles and corners of supernatural claims, resulting into the universal truth based world, an Agnostic will then conclude to Atheism.

One of the main barriers to make an approach towards Atheism is that, next to the issue that many people’s don't know about it, it seems not to be reachable, as it is mostly promoted by highly educated and elite peoples. Yet Atheism is for everybody, in every social layer or education level. It must be known that Atheism has no restrictions regarding humanity; in fact it's just even falling back to our natural being, inspiring our intelligent mind, aiming towards a suppressed, discrimination and doctrine free world.

Well, we are tolerating the ideologies of Religion. So, do they should also tolerate LGBT people, who are making up the society, together with the women and children…to the toiling masses who suffer exploitation based on socio-economic, socio-political, and socio-cultural milieu.

Let’s all stand to fight for our rights! Let’s all unite to make our history to emancipate ourselves the way we should be!

 

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This speech was delivered by Thomas Fleckner at the First Asian Humanist convention in Cebu, The Philippines, on June 21 2013:

 

Being a humanist is actually more unsubtle and visible in our daily life than being an atheist. The reason why we don’t deal with and think about religion as atheists is because we are also humanists, or at least we care for our fellow humans.

Organized religion is responsible for many evils in the world, a lot of which come down to human behavior and the mindset of large organizations, but many of which are made far worse by the indoctrination, brainwash and influence of religion itself, be it through politics or direct action towards its members.

Supporting gay rights, being a feminist, being against the drug war, being for social support systems and changing the way the world treats the poor, all of these things are because we live our lives from a humanistic perspective, maybe even without thinking about it, for we often primarily point out the etymology of Atheism. Yet looking at these points, Atheism is the logical consequence when following Humanism, because religion does not support gay rights and women’s rights as equal rights for example.

And again, we would rather call ourselves Atheists than Humanists. So why do many choose to define themselves as parts of the Atheist movement, rather than the humanist movement?

This question or observation may be a small issue for some people, because of where some people dwell in, and I take into account the country where they stay in, where being an Atheist is often not accepted. Atheists face serious discrimination, people in my local Atheist groups fear they may lose their jobs if they come out. And what many Atheists face from their families, even families who aren’t extremely religious, is painful and can lead to lifelong disputes. Illogical statements, placing Atheism equal with Satanism is just one of the many stereotypical examples.

As a longtime participant in the gay rights movement, I have been taught that self-definition is incredibly important; it matters a great deal that you should be able to label yourself as gay or straight, male or female, Atheist or Agnostic. But when those labels automatically mean that you are going to be treated badly, it becomes an important political act to stand up and insist that you do not deserve the unequal treatment just because you are identified with a different label. I am an Atheist because I don’t believe in gods, and reject religion, and I also reject the unequal handling of my fellow humans. When I call myself an Atheist, and the consequence is being treated badly or unequally, that is where the abuse of Humanism comes in.

The desire to hold on to Atheism rather than use the word Humanism isn’t from a fundamental difference of goals and beliefs, but from a difference of self-definition. Some would prefer Atheism, because it’s more confrontational and embraces certain position that has a political touch, and it is more transparent in its opposition against beliefs represented by religion, as one of the root causes of many social injustices. Humanism is more than just secular, it is anti-religion.

Beyond that, Atheists are committed to pursue equality for themselves, a public acknowledgment of their existence, and a political voice for the godless. It’s not that Humanism doesn’t support equality for Atheists, but it is not the focus of Humanism.

With this, many have come to the point of combining both words and call it Atheist Humanist, knowing that Humanism, Secular Humanism, and Atheism have huge overlapping.

There is a difference between a self-defined Humanist doing something good for mankind and a self-defined Atheist doing it, simply because of the massive amount of stigma associated with Atheism by proving that Atheists care about other people and want to make the world a better place. One may daresay that Atheism is a way to bring the philosophy of Humanism more strongly to the fight for Atheist equality, and Atheism to support Humanism.

The problem with using the word Humanism as a single label is that religions would claim to follow Humanism too, even if that word only indicates the care and relationship with mankind and not with a god. Atheism is the political movement and Humanism is the daily life with each other. We could conclude that Humanism is the replacement of a god, when it comes to care, love, humanitarian acts, sacrifice or rewarding.

The dwellers within the eclipsed peninsula of Scandinavia are unsung evidences that one can be morally principled without religion so long as you have empathy, ethics, and conscience as a human being. For instance, killing people is an immoral act that lack of religion can hardly be attributed to; as it is incontestably obvious that killing people is not someone with high intellectual capacity can do. In a nutshell, people who recrudesce to becoming "good" do not have to seek religion, scout for divine intervention, and ask for forgiveness but to manage to overhaul their moral values, get out of the vacuum that reeks no purpose, comprehend that the consequences of their actions may or may not harm an individual, and set foot in the positive view of human life.

I would like to give examples of Humanist driven Atheism in life, from just basic behaviours we may not even think about such till examples of people who have purposely used their Atheism in a Humanistic way to promote, educate or help.

During my stay in Africa, from 2002 till the year 2009, I was confronted with Islam and Christianity in a very extreme way of exercising. One West African country, Nigeria, where Christianity forms the majority of followers, one man stood out of the crowd.

Dr. Tai Solarin was born in 1922, Ikenne, Ogun State, in Western Nigeria. As a native Nigerian, he was educated in a Nigerian missionary school, served in Britain's Royal Air Force during World War II, and finished a bachelor's degree in history and geography at the University of Manchester, Great Britain, in 1952. Tai decided to come back to Nigeria, becoming a Principal of Molusi College from 1952 to 1955. Because Molusi's governing board forced him to open each school day with hymns and prayers, and take his students to church every Sunday, he strongly opposed these rites, leading him to resign from his job finally.

Without applying for a new employment, Tai Solarin started his own school in 1956, named the Mayflower School. Three years later, in 1959, he founded the Mayflower Junior School. Both schools were located in Ikenne, Ogun State, where he was born. His school became a success, and many graduates of the school are recognized as belonging to the best educated in Nigeria. Dr. Tai Solarin passed away at the age of 72 in 1994.

As an atheist and strong critic of irrationality and hypocrisy, Tai Solarin has some clear words for the religion enforced in his country (And please take the freedom to replace the word “Nigeria” with “Philippines” and the “Black man” with the “Asian or Filipino citizen”:

"Nigeria is dying today of religion, outrageous religious beliefs."

“Africans are taught by religion and superstition to fear too many things. Witches, angels, the Devil or Satan, thunder, lightning, nocturnal birds are all objects that generate fear."

"The worst bane of African non development is chronic dependence on the deity to solve all earthly problems."

Dr. Tai Solarin said: "Blacks hold onto their God just as the drunken man holds on to the street lamp post; for physical support only."

"To get the young Africans weaned from their almost congenital reliance on fate," he said, "they must be educated to stand on their feet."

Dr. Tai Solarin writes about his own moral and philosophical ideals, his true humanism: "I believe in man, by 'man' I mean man, woman and child. I believe that my duty to man is total service....outside man I owe none else any duties."

He asserts that "...anything that man wants to do must be done by man himself. Anywhere he wants to go, he must, himself, aggressively propel himself in that direction."

 

These are evidentially humanist ideals, representing secular humanists all over the world.

Tai teaches that prayer is useless, and that it is better to teach people how to solve their problems, and to give them the power and freedom to act. "I do not want to be seen giving alms to the poor," Dr. Tai Solarin once wrote, "I want to be seen teaching the poor how to live creatively by making use of his hands and feet."

Of course always peoples have tried to criticize secular humanism, and atheism in particular, for leaving people unhappy and lost without a moral guidance.

"I maintain great comfort and happiness living as a Humanist and Atheist, as my rewards are real, and come from my fellow humans."

Dr. Tai Solarin has always supported and shown as an example atheist humanitarians who reformed their countries, as Jewaharlal Nehru (first Prime Minister of independent India) and Kemal Ataturk (who led the formation of the secular republic in Turkey).

So, morality has to do with life and it's down to earth consideration. Morals don't come from an outside non-present being, but are formed within the communities.

 

Humanism is sympathy for humankind in itself, without having the urge to rely on a fictional book.

 

The morality of humans is constantly changing, and human morality is getting more humanist than ever.  There was a time in fact when the purpose of human living is to propagate his gene, or race or tribe.  And so the humans of the past are constantly at war with other humans of different groups or race.  So the bible was a guideline for that example. And one of the activities being promoted in order to strengthen the tribe’s survival is promoting heterosexuality, and discouraging behaviors that limit population growth such as masturbation and homosexuality. Raping younger female humans of other tribes is promoted in the bible because such acts can strengthen the growth of their tribe. Slavery and genocide to humans belonging to other kingdoms and tribes are also encouraged in the bible.

Today, the standard of morality is now different from the past. It is because humans have already evolved into a globalized community.

And since the goal of human living is no longer the survival of the tribes, the goal has changed to survival of the human race.  And so the guidelines for human morality are all about protecting the human welfare in general.

Humanist values will protect the human welfare of each person regardless of race, citizenship, gender, age, sexuality, and gender identity.  It also includes promoting and protecting human rights.  Humanism therefore includes women rights, child rights, and minority rights like the protection of LGBT's.

Religion uses Humanism to get a friendlier face, ironing out the just mentioned acts. Many Atheists don't even think about Humanism as their label, but when asking peoples to name words they may think of representing Atheism, they are mostly connected to Humanism.

Examples are: care, protection, communication, secularism...

The same way Atheism rejects gods, Humanism does not require any gods. It is purely the interaction between people. God is simply a fancy add on supporting the greed of former leaders who themselves were incapable of having explanations for many things in the world.

Humanism has been hijacked by religion, because they know it can very well stand for its own. But as religion needs the connection of humans it was forced to balance the factors of humanism and a divine. Religions have set up schools, hospitals, old people’s houses and orphanages not for the purpose of humanity but to keep their mission going and being spread to the young to the old. Success, health, and care will be claimed as a work or god, although it is just the result of human actions.

Non-religious institutions of the same nature therefor base results purely on human care, science and hard work. The religious drive is the belief in a reward after life, whereby the Atheists motivation lays in humanity only.

Forgiveness is a human choice, but religions have misused this for their selfish purpose. This is followed by judgment. As the religious know, judgment can in fact only be spoken on earth, yet to escape their own injustice; they push all to a god.

Common vocabulary is: God knows; god forgives; forgive me god; god has forgiven you my son (a priest to a sinner). Politically the religions have escaped judgment by positioning themselves outside of this world. This imaginary construct has made them survive till today. But reality is different, and even not comforting.

If someone’s child is raped, and we should be honest, there is no forgiveness. If you kill my partner, there is no forgiveness. If you kill a gay man or lesbian woman, there is no forgiveness, as you deny nature and the colors of humanity and biological reality.

Religions claim an almighty god, who can do all. But till now that god has not succeeded in terminating what he hates ... Satan, LGBT's, and demons. And of course not, because what does not exist can't be defeated.

Humanism knows that there is good and bad, comfort and discomfort, and it recognizes natural facts as they are. We protect the weak, as we have developed the sense of care and love. The ones doing the opposite are just victims of their society or religion. To define good and bad doesn't require a deity; it requires our common sense, our feeling and instinct even.

 

Humanism in daily life:

 

As a child

When I lived in Belgium, I had a friend in the neighboring street. His name was Sandro. He belonged to a protestant family. His mother gave him away to his grandparents, as she had a new husband and, what came out after a while, was that she had an affair with her eldest son. Sandro told me about this, one day when he slept over. He was witnessing this though the key hole of the bathroom door. He was given nothing, so he had no toys. One day I decided to pack a box with Playmobile toys and carry them to his house. We act upon our feelings, our sympathy towards others, and I certainly didn't do this out of supernatural input.

 

 

As a young adult:

At the end of the 80's, and I was just out being a gay man, I was asked to come to the house of a friend, to help him with is furniture to be moved to another address. Upon arrival, I found nobody at home. As I didn't have a mobile phone at that time, I started throwing small stones at his window. It was a 6 story building, and each apartment had a balcony. As I was concentrating on aiming towards his bedroom window, I noticed the neighbor stepping onto his balcony, with a water can in his hand. The man was very slim, had long hair and was wearing a house gown. Looking from his balcony he spotted me, immediately waving at me, signaling me to come up. Without hesitation I did, and found myself in a dark apartment filled with books and clothes, a messy kitchen and pots with plants all over. “I am looking for my friend Stefan.” I told the man, still being unsure why I even went into his home. “I don't know.” he simply relied, yet kindly asked me to sit down. He swept some books and magazines from the table and brought me a cup of coffee.

“I will die soon. “The man whispered. I was shocked and insecure at the same time. “..... But I have one wish. I want to see the flowers grow for a last time on my balcony.” It was November, and in Germany, the flowers start growing back in March. The man had AIDS in its end phase, and he was so plain in reaching out to me. I looked around the house ... I saw pictures of him during better times, and a wall of remembrance. “These are my dead friends.” he said. They all had died of AIDS. Suddenly outside I heard Stefan's voice. I got up and told the man that I had to go, as I had promised my friend to help him. “I know....” the man said. “I just wanted a flower to be in my home, as I can't go outside anymore, and I don't know if I will make it till March.” The man strokes his hand over my head and smiled. A week later I decided to return to the man. I had bought a big flower in a pot for him. I thought about his words not reaching March, and winter was at the door step. When I arrived, I went to the house and entered the building. When I reached the door of the man’s apartment there was a sign: “Under renovation”

I panicked, and banged on the neighboring door. A woman opened the door, and when I asked about the man living opposite her, she just shook her head. “He died two days ago.” she said. “What happened?” I asked her. She replied that the man was brought to hospital five days ago. She was in the stairway, cleaning the steps as he was carried passed her. He had a smile on his face: “I thought I never would see a new flower till March, but I did.” I now knew he meant flower as an expression for a person. I gave the flower I bought to the woman.

 

 

As a middle-aged adult:

A befriended taxi said: "I was appointed to an address where I should pick up a passenger. When I arrived I horned loudly. After a few minutes of waiting, and I was about to drive away, I instead walked to the door and knocked.

"Just a minute", an elderly voice answered. After a while, the door opened, and a small woman around 90 years appeared.

At her side was a small suitcase. The apartment looked empty, as if no one had lived there for years.


"Would you carry my bag to the car?" she asked me. I put the suitcase in the trunk and then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly to the Taxi. She thanked me, and I told her: "No problem."

"Oh, you're such a good boy.” she said.  As we sat in the taxi, she gave me an address and asked, "Can you take me through the city? It's not the shortest way, but please. I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice." I looked at her through the mirror. Her eyes were shining. "I have no family," she continued in a softer voice. "The doctor says I do not have very long."

 

When I heard that, I just had to turn off the meter. “So let's go.” I said

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as a secretary. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived as a couple. Sometimes she asked me to drive slowly staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

After two hours she said: "I'm tired. It is time “We drove silently to the address she had given me. It was a low building, and two nurses came to the taxi. They were worried and watched every move. The woman was clearly expected.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase and placed it in front of the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

"How much do I owe you?" she asked me.

"Nothing," I said.

"But you must earn their livelihood," she replied.

"There are other passengers," I responded.


Without thinking a moment, I leaned over to her and gave her a warm hug. She squeezed me tightly. "You have given an old woman a little moment of joy," she said. "Thank you."

I slowly walked towards my taxi. Behind me, a door shut. The sound of a complete life.

The taxi driver didn't get any more passengers that day, but he was happy, having done something important in life, being human, being real, being rewarding.

 

Only certain countries are lucky and privileged to be secular. But be it so, many countries are slowly changing towards less religiousness and the real separation of religion and state (church and state), needed in a secular system.

As Atheism has, up till recent times, been more a movement of individuals, nowadays it has risen to an organized form, and being accepted by smaller to even large groups in society, forming, if not as majority, an influential minority. As self-conscious humans, “I think, thus I am”, many of us still prefer to live in illusions that comfort us, thus being a slave of religion and it's gods and representatives, rather than to face truth and it’s not often pleasing consequences, but gaining the ultimate of freedom in mind, and a non-restricted life, following the basic universal human rules and rights, rules that don't require any religion or superstition.

As thinking humans we tend to doubt, but also tend to be lazy, choosing rather to follow the main stream, without asking questions, or getting into inner or outer troubles, but if we are just one certain step ahead, open enough to see the beauty in truth, rather than the never reachable beauty of the supernatural, superstition and the illusion, we will realize that fear or hope, planted into our infantile brains as children, are just a product of human imagination and invention.

As Atheists, and when have come out with it, our life style is not restricted to being “good without a god” and to oppose religion. There are several topics we should be facing and standing for, in open debates, or when being challenged by the religious, starting inside the circle of our friends and acquaintances and family. Next to the classical push towards the separation of church (religion) and state, we should know about the rights of believers and non-believes within the educational system, the ethical section, the gender and LGBT identity, the concept of life and death, and the most important right for knowledge without restrictions and direction. Opinion must be formed within ourselves and not be pre-defined from outside. Up till now, religious issues dealt with critically, especially from politics, are still a too often seen taboo.

As Atheists and Humanists, we should encourage the dialog with all age groups in society, and especially the young peoples, who are often forcefully pushed into a religion, without them knowing about the alternative of reason through Atheism. Atheists should find and seek dialog with intellectuals, different social groups, NGO's and politicians.

Atheists should understand our global world, and not be restricted to nationalism, but face globalism, which mainly shows through immigration and our ability to travel and meet travelers. Our backgrounds are different, and so it is no longer enough to know the circle we originated from, but we should know where others have come from.

Atheism comes with many aspects, and next to the most hated and loved topic about the acceptance and rejection of gods and superstitions, Atheism stands for secularism, humanity, gender and LGBT equality and an uninfluenced access to knowledge. Most peoples, religious included will agree on most points, and so it's often just the embracing of a goddess and its political and social role in society that diverts.

As Atheists, we should present ourselves as a role model without a goddess, someone else can observe as happy living peoples, including their ups and downs.

Atheists don't fear a god, to not commit a crime, but Atheists don't commit a crime because we don't want that crime to be committed to us. We don't love an imaginary figure, as there is no need to do so, but there is the need to share love between all humans living. We must show the lies and the suffering religion has caused, and should not fear confrontation, as our confrontation is verbal, and not violent. Atheists should also point out, that thousands of year’s religious influence has failed humanity, by turning peoples head away from the few claimed miracles, but face them to the millions of deaths and sufferings caused by these organizations and its doctrines.

Religious lobbyists are yet still too many in politics and the private sector, having built up wealth, by having the privilege of being allowed to pile up tax free money, over hundreds and even thousands of years. We have the duty voice all this injustice out.

Blasphemy is an absurd installment, because as where the religious feel discriminated or insulted, the non-religious may feel the same, when religious representatives badly mouth about Atheists, LGBT's and women. The invention of blasphemy, and it's punishment behind it, is non-democratic and inhumane, just protecting the religious organization, but not all humans in general.

With all this said, it is very important for humans to have non-religious organizations and presentations they can approach. All Atheists and Agnostics occupied in such, should give their best part, be it even small, to make Atheism visible in society, and not invisible. Invisible Atheism is what the religious body likes to see. This stands for equality for LGBT's and women. Atheists are not Anti-Christ’s, not a sin and not a blasphemy, as all this vocabulary are religious inventions, and not universal terms, and even conditions. Being present and active, will force the press to write and broadcast about Atheism, although some Medias are restricted by their influence of religions, as they are even sometimes shareholders in those companies. But there are enough independent Media companies around, and the Internet is the most used and free Media. Having good functioning networks, enable Atheists to share and give up to date information.

If Atheism can leave the path of being stated a demonic opposition to religion, but just reflect what it is; the respectful dealing with humans, the acceptance of all couloirs like gender and sexual orientation, and the usage of truth and reason for a broad education without barriers, then doctrines, brain washing and religious lies will on the longer run have less and no more chance.

By Thomas Fleckner

 

 

 

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