Coming out atheist

Marissa Torres Langseth: Defriended on Facebook for her belief

By Cristina DC Pastor

When I called Marissa Torres Langseth on a late Sunday morning, she said she was not ready for an interview yet as she just got back from Sunday service.

“You’re kidding, right?” I shot back laughing.

She laughed too at what sounded like discordant reasoning, but explained it was to accompany her husband Jerry, a Protestant, to his church. Married for 16 years, they respect one another’s religious beliefs even if in Marissa’s case, she does not have one.

Born and baptized a Catholic, Marissa is a militant atheist, the founder and chairperson of the Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society (PATAS), a Facebook community with members around the world. “No religion, no gods” is her motto.

She “came out” after 9/11, but explained she’s been questioning the existence of god since she discovered science as a Grade 5 student in Cebu. She is also a member of the national organization American Atheists as well as the local New York City Atheists Society, which made the news because of its objection to a cross sign honoring the 9/11 victims. She organized the first Atheists and Agnostics Convention in Southeast Asia – held in the Philippines in May – and was one of the speakers together with New York anthropologist David Orenstein known for his views on “non-theism and secularist activism.”

“I was a skeptic as early as Grade 5,” she told The FilAm. “I had a lot of questions: Where did I come from, if there is a god why do people get sick, why am I poor, and my mother would come up with all sorts of answers – “You came from a bamboo that split open” was one of them — just to shut me up.” Because Marissa was friendly, vivacious and was always at the top 5 of her class, people thought that she was just this booksmart kid who was curious about science.

She continued to look for guidance even when she left the Philippines in 1986 to work as a nurse in Saudi Arabia and later the U.S. in 1990.

In New York, she worked three jobs and pursued higher education and yet would find time to seek answers to her interminable questions. She joined religious organizations, but they did not satisfy her curiosity and thirst for answers. She said they were only interested in her monetary contributions. “Religion is about control and money.

Now an adult nurse practitioner, Marissa founded PATAS on Feb. 14, 2011 to provide a venue for Filipinos who may have questions about religion, especially the one they grew up with. “Patas,” which means equal, seeks to educate people about being an atheist and being a humanist. “I want to form an organization that will tell the world that atheism is not bad,” she said.

In the following interview, Marissa explains atheism further.

TF: How many members do you have in PATAS?
MTL: On Facebook, we have 2,366 members, Americans, Filipinos and from other nationalities. In the Philippines, we have 343 verified members, meaning they submitted certain requirements like a valid ID, and they were confirmed.

TF: By becoming an atheist, did it answer all the questions that you have? Naliwanagan ka ba?
MTL: Naliwanagan ako lalo. I learned that atheists do not believe in a god or that there is a supreme being above us. There is no devil, no fairy, no superman, there’s only humanity and nature, meaning trees, the moon, the stars, etc.

TF: Why did you form PATAS?
MTL: I wanted to form an organization for the public understanding of atheism and agnosticism in the Philippines. It serves to educate society and eliminate myths and misconceptions, and speak against discrimination of the non-religious. In the Philippines, especially, you cannot question authority, you go with the flow. Walang tanong tanong.

Our objective is to free people from some obnoxious beliefs. We want people to believe in themselves, that they are what they are because of themselves and not because there is a god and that god provides.

TF: Tell me about your search.
MTL: I’ve been looking for some answers. It did not come to me overnight. I was in Saudi Arabia before coming to the U.S. and I saw how the Moslems lived. I began to question again. I asked why there was religious indoctrination and brainwashing, and why you cannot talk about your own religion.

In the U.S. I joined the American Humanist Association. Many of them are free thinkers but don’t call themselves atheists. It’s a broad spectrum of people who believe in the human potential. I think that’s more like what we are.

TF: Your thoughts on the separation of Church and State?
MTL: That’s the best thing that can happen. That’s inviolable, that’s in the Philippine Constitution. The church should mind its own business. In the Philippines, the CBCP is nakikialam, and the politicians invoke the church as a way of control.

TF: Is there a stigma to being a Filipino atheist?
MTL: When I came out on Facebook as an atheist, a lot of my nurses friend, my friends from college, defriended me.

TF: Has your family now converted?
MTL: My three sisters are now atheists. I have sisters in Connecticut; San Diego, Calif.; and Wisconsin. We’re not here to convert, we’re here to open minds. My mother, who is 80 years old, goes to church almost everyday kahit may bagyo. We try to educate.

With husband Jerry. They married in a Protestant church in 1996.

TF: You married a Protestant. Were you married in his church?
MTL: Yes, we were married in Protestant church in 1996 in Queensboro Hill in Queens. We met in 1994 but I was not a full-fledged atheist yet. Still a skeptic. We respect one another’s beliefs. He allows me to attend my meetings in New York once in three to four months, but he will not go to church without me. Not trying to convert me, he knows I’m very independent.

TF: What else should we know about you?
MTL: I am an evolutionary leader, I understand atheism and my religion is to do good. I am a normal woman, I love Louis Vuitton, Coach, I used to buy Chanel and Prada, but now I want to give more to my organization.



52 Comments

  1. M. Matthews wrote:

    With due respect. Some of us wonder she goes to church with her husband in the first place. Is this as a duty as a good wife or has she decided to accompany her husband to church?

    • Rogie wrote:

      Very simple. Her husband is also her friend. If a good friend of mine were Muslim or Buddhist, I’d accompany her or him to a place of worship (as far as it would allow me to enter). I’m probably far more critical of Catholicism than the interviewee is, but I go with relatives (if we’re friends) when they request my presence at their rituals. And they also respect my insistence on excluding religion from our conversations. Most people, even atheists, aren’t as dogmatic about their beliefs as the more (in)famous fundamentalists are.

  2. Marisaa wrote:

    LOVE has no religion…my husband and I respect each other and we are still happily married..I can waste one hour in the church for my husband..

  3. M. Matthews wrote:

    Yes, indeed, if you are going to church with your husband on you free will. That is ok by me, but if you go there because, he demand it from you then its not ok Ms. Marissa.

  4. Ariel wrote:

    I respect Marissa’s personal views but let me just repeat this saying, “There are no atheists in their deathbeds”.
    Meaning, the prospect of death, for some reason, really forces people – including hardened murderers – to evaluate their own beliefs. It is just a shame for people to ‘find God’ in the last minutes or hours of their existence, when they could have been having a rich and rewarding life the entire time.

    • Norm wrote:

      “There are no atheists in their deathbeds.”. – Ariel, billions of people have died even before humans invented gods and religions! Atheists die everyday in secular societies like Scandinavia and Japan.

      • Ariel wrote:

        Norm, Even primitive, cave-man societies had ideas of “god”. They all do not agree, just like we do today. But there has ALWAYS been a SENSE that there is someTHING or someONE who is ABOVE us all.

        You are CORRECT. Atheists are DYING everyday. They dont have to.

    • JimF wrote:

      Read James Boswell’s account of his encounter with the notorious infidel philosopher, David Hume, on his deathbed. Boswell (who is best remembered today as Dr. Johnson’s chronicler) was, as a believing Christian, astounded by Hume’s calm in facing death. See:

      http://digital.nls.uk/scotlandspages/timeline/17762.html

  5. Ariel wrote:

    Here is an analogy: Criminals do not acknowledge or respect laws, and think they are not subject to them. But in the end, they are still judged by, and punished under the laws – whether they acknowledge them or not. Similarly,we may or may not acknowledge the authority and power of a Higher Being. That is OUR choice. But what if in the end, that Higher Being really exists, and as He promised and warned – we will spend ETERNITY being tormented in Hell for NON-belief? Is that a GAMBLE we are willing to take? Just because we do NOT acknowledge His existence or power does not mean it will stop existing. It is NOT for God to PROVE TO US His existence, it is for us to trust Him – that is why it is called FAITH.

    Anyway, good luck. Hopefully, LUCK can save you.

    • Marissa wrote:

      Thanks for your concern, but why worship a malevolent god? I live my life very well and follow constitutional laws, why worry? are you good only because you think a sky daddy is watching over you> then I feel sorry for you. Faith is not wanting to know the truth… I see death all the time in the ER and nursing home and did an experimentation with some of them including my father in law to give me a clue about afterlife..I have not received any to date. There is no luck except winning the lotto…life is how you make it..- Ms M

      • Ariel wrote:

        Just because God punishes harshly, does not make him a malevolent God. While He exacts extreme sentencing (eternal burning of the soul, etc…), He also provides forgiveness (complete wiping out of one’s sins) to those who REPENT and claim Him as their savior. I, too, follow the man-made laws but that only keeps me out of trouble here in this physical world. This, however, is just part of the JOURNEY. The final DESTINATION is what really counts. And I dont want to bet on the ‘wrong horse’ with my eternity. Too much at stake.

        I also have seen death – horrible death – in combat as a former US Marine Corps medic and still do now as a physician. I am interested to know what experiments you have been conducting. Maybe, you and your father-in-law can convince me – altho I doubt it. – Dr A. MD

      • Ariel wrote:

        How is God malevolent? He punishes those who do evil, just like our justice system does. Is our justice system malevolent then? But unlike our justice system, God also forgives. ‘Doing good’ is much easier when you feel and know about a God who is ALIVE and active in our lives.

        Btw, i – too – have seen death, horrible death, as a US Marine combat medic, and still see now as a physician. I am interested to learn about the ‘experiments’ on patients you and your uncle perform.

        – Dr. A, MD

    • DeepSpace9 wrote:

      What if it turns out different. That this higher being wants people to think, to reason, to understand the universe that it have created, instead of blindly believing words from preachers and holy books.

      What if this thing wants people who do not submit to fear of eternal damnation? What if this thing want people to treat others without prejudice, hate, and bigotry? Ever wonder that?

      Why worry about the “what ifs” of death? Is it not enough to know that you live in the here and now, to do the very best you can to enjoy it and try not do harm?

      Because maybe, this is all we have, a one time existence and awareness. One thing I do know, no one who has ever existed, however evil deserves an eternal damnation.

      We people as individuals are limited in what we can think and learn, in what we can experience, in what we can feel, in our time in this universe. If this “god” that is supposed to be omniscient does not understand this concept, it is undeserving of respect. And so I am not afraid of your religious hell,

      • Ariel wrote:

        DeepSpace9, It should not “turn out different”. The Big Guy is CLEAR what He wants people to do, to think, whom to believe, what to fear, what to enjoy. Why second guess? When you bought your first laptop, did you just wing it? Or did you follow directions, step by boring step? When you make lasagna, do you second guess the recipe? No. You follow the recipe because you TRUST who wrote the recipe, and TRUST who wrote the laptop instructions. I am not a big “Jesus Freak”, as you would say,…or some big Bible scholar. But I am just a simple guy who follows instructions, like directions from a satnav,… WHY would I second guess a SatNav, or baking directions on the back of a cardboard box? They are all THERE FOR A REASON. If “someTHING” OR “SOMEone”….WHO HAS SURVIVED 2000 YEARS, revered by billions, instructs me how to LIVE? WHY would i second guess Him? Doesnt make sense. He MAY be wrong. YOU may be right. It is POSSIBLE but NOT PROBABLE. CHANCES are tho, you are wrong. And He is right. WHY? It is called credentials. Think about it.

  6. Marissa wrote:

    There is no hell, no heaven, no gods,no demons, no superman, nor fairies..only a natural world…and NO Santa Claus either…(which I discovered very early in life.)
    ****
    Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.I am not afraid — Marcus Aurelius

    • Ariel wrote:

      I hear YOUR statement, Marcus Aurelius’s and God’s (in the Bible). Among the three of you, I know of only ONE who has performed miracles, who has an entire RELIGION followed by more than a BILLION people from ALL OVER the world, whose Word has endured 2000 years, and who has COME BACK from the dead.

      Now, WHOM shall we believe? You, Marky Mark, or The One who has power over LIFE and DEATH?

      • Mike M. wrote:

        It is prudent to believe an entity that has ‘power over life and death’ if such a thing EXISTS.

        Alas, there is no mutually reinforcing evidence that validates the claim that the being posited in the Judeo-Christian bible is real.

        What we do have are centuries of creative conjectures, ornate traditions, emotional diatribes, flowery religious rhetoric, and a plethora of interpretations by various people who took it upon themselves to call themselves worthy of interpreting what was written by people of ages past – people who, in the absence of the level of understanding that we have today of the different branches of science and natural laws, resorted to their subjective musings in order to understand the world around them. They felt the need to associate everyday curiosities and occurrences (e.g. lightning, disease, disasters, good/ill fortunes, life, and death) with something that they can relate with. For the sake of cognitive closure, ancient men (and even people of this modern age) resorted to agenticity: They insinuated that there is *someone* responsible for these occurrences. Effectively, our predecessors have anthropomorphized various facets of nature and the universe and have created what we now collectively refer to as gods.

        I find it sad that there are people who voluntarily choose to defend indoctrinated outdated beliefs and refuse to accept that outside their personal belief system, there is a bigger, more beautiful and more interesting world of diverse beliefs, cultures, and wonders.

        Fear not the purported eternal torment that Christians say await you in the Christian hell, as it is only as real as the Norsemen’s Helheim, the eternal abode of those who die of old age or disease, and those not killed in battle.

      • Marissa wrote:

        Please do your own experimentation…this is a challenge to you and your god or gods…you’re an MD ? good…now talk to your dying patients and ask them to give you a clue/signal after they die or ask them to call you at their “afterlife” or better still, email and CC to marissa@patas.co , so we have a concrete proof…let me know..thanks..Ms M

  7. Troy Moslemi wrote:

    I could not follow a spouse to church, and I believe that marriage means respect of a spouse’s personal convictions. I respect her need to go to church, and she respects my wish not to. That being said, I am different than Melissa in that I was raised as a chlild by an atheist mother to be .. . . an atheist child. My father was a muslim but did not ever participate in activities and never went to a mosque. My experience is different from Melissa’s in that I was never raised to believe.

    • ariel wrote:

      You just proved my point that, “in deathbeds (whether your own or a loved one’s), there are no atheists”.

      How do we “know” the Jews are right? I personally do not know if the Buddhists are right, or the Catholics, or the Christian Scientists. I can only speak from my OWN experience: I was born Catholic, “shopped around for a religion during college, became “Born Again” 25-27 years ago but no earth-shaking religiosity…UNTIL 2 1/2 years ago when I experienced a very serious personal crisis. I was DESPERATE – like someone said. Not for my eternal existence. I couldnt care less, I have lived a VERY FULL life until then. I was desperate at THAT PARTICULAR TIME. So, I turned to the “God of the Bible”, listened to the words He said, TRUSTED that He will take care of things,…and BOOM! Everything He said He will do for me,…and to my enemies…HAPPENED. It is STILL happening. I am a scientist (with a bachelor, all the way up to doctorate degree in SCIENCE) and I subject anyTHING and anyONE to experiments…i made graphs, tables, spreadsheets, kept a diary,.etc…. let me tell you, if you OBSERVE and RECORD closely enough,…you will see that Whomever it Is that CLAIMS He is God…is alive, listening, watching, and moving. I was scared $#!Tless !!! I am a vindictive guy (sorry) having been traumatized in combat (and real life), but when “the God” entity says “vengeance is Mine”,…you better believe it. I have seen, and still seeing the horrible things He does to people who would not believe….and the blessings He gives to those who do. Just TRY it. SEE the lives of unbelievers, and the lives of BELIEVERS…and see the difference. I am not convicting you, i was once like you,…but just inviting you to EXPERIMENT. The ‘Big Guy’ is for real. Cheers.

      • Ariel wrote:

        Btw, I don’t care if the God Entity is Jewish, female, Mexican, Martian, etc… I dont care if He created us, made us evolve, grew us from sapplings, or seeds, or took us from inside a bamboo tree (like Marissa’s mom told her). I dont care. All I know is: if I tell Him my problems and ask for help, and TRUST that He will…He WILL come thru. I discovered the problem WHY people LOSE TRUST – we “pray” and we order Him to make OUR SOLUTIONS that we devised come true. It does not work THAT WAY. He is not our personal Genie. Or magician. Or Miracle Worker. He does not work FOR us. We work FOR HIM. You do not ORDER your Boss what to do,…if you want something,..you bring it to hiim, let him figure out how to fix it,…and WAIT for it to GET FIXED. THAT, my friends, is the SECRET!

        You bring The God Entity your PROBLEM – not the SOLUTION. Why? Because, according to my experiments, MY SOLUTIONS are frequently wrong – which always becomes obvious in the end. His solutions are, not only correct, but MUCH MUCH MORE ELEGANT and powerful. Try it. Dont take my word for it.

        I have seen This God Entity do this over and over. There is a pattern, there is a formula. It is reproducible. try it. It is cool.

        Dr A.

    • Ariel wrote:

      Troy, You were raised to believe. To NOT believe is a belief – in nothing. God Bless. God has found you – here.

  8. Kim Cosmos wrote:

    It is not for me to prove the existence of god. God does not need my trust, I need my trust. Maybe i will go to hell – that is Pasxal’s wager. Or if the buddhists are right maybe I will return a s a slug. Or maybe the flying spaghetti monster will feed me beer and pizza on the pirate party island. So many choices – all silly. You see? Pascal assumed there was only 1 religion to gamble on.
    For a summary see the devil on youtube here
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsooUNctJfI

    My mother was disgusted that ny grandmother prayed when her husband was dting. She was still an athiest – just desperate. People will do crazy thing to avoid death eternal [eg praying] that does not mean they are religous – just desperate. Unfortunately the Jews were right. So the rest of us will be in hell regardless of our prayers.

    So…. good luck on your death bed conversion lottery – I hope you get the right religion

  9. Marissa wrote:

    @Ariel- kindly read your bible thoroughly without cherry picking.. different interpretations of the words of gods, show inconsistencies and contradictories…I thought he is powerful, omniscient and omnipresent? where was he during the floods in Manila and other atrocities..was he busy giving out medals in the olympics?

    For those Fil-Ams who want to come out as atheists or agnostics..we welcome you at http://www.facebook.com/groups/Patas.co/ or go to http://www.patas.co

    PATAS means equality…we want equality in all aspects of life..FREEDOM FROM and OF religion is the ultimate freedom..WE are only responsible for ourselves..we do not need an outside intelligence to guide us…we are gods..Ms M

    • Ariel wrote:

      Marissa, I am the biggest critic of the Bible. I still debate my pastor. But just because I do not understand things does not mean they are wrong. God said “lean not on your own understanding”. I am not defending a particular religion, or ANY religion. That is just organized worship. A concert is organized worship. A car show is organized worship. I only talk about my belief of a LIVING and INTERACTIVE God through my own recent personal experiences. Me and a member of my family was thoroughly abused. Instead of fighting back, I trusted God to give us justice (not easy for me to not do anything because I do have ‘connections’ who could have done considerable damage). After giving my adversary to God,…I sat back and – VERY RELUCTANTLY – “turned the other cheek” (again, very difficult to do as I have military and weapons training. LOTs of training). Then God came through with His promise that “good things happen to those who love Him” – me and my relative got blessed, still getting blessed, like you wont believe. And the Bad Guy and his wife? They are STILL getting spanked – 2 1/2 years later – worse than I could ever have conjured. Vengeance, indeed is His. I’ve been an evil person, done unspeakable things…but God can, and will, kick some gluteus…if you cross Him. I’m just saying. I will leave the discussion. I have said enough. I just pray you guys WATCH your step. He is a forgiving God, and a wonderful, loving Father. I have SEEN it. But I have also seen the DEVASTATION He will not hesitate to do. He makes Dick Cheney look like a Girl Scout. God Bless.

  10. M. Matthews wrote:

    Greeting Ms. Marissa, we wonder why waste an hours in church every week? I wonder why you did not respond to my questions directly? I happened to be married to a Filipina and I go to church because, I want to.

    Is your husband compel you to go to church with? You said that he will not go without you. so, you must compel to go because of it.

    I don’t see why you need to waste your time in church (a place you may not want to be in) in the first place.

    • Marissa wrote:

      Matthews, NO not at all…nobody compels me to go to church…I thought, it was clear enough..that my husband goes to church only when I also want to …which simply means, he cannot go alone on his own…he wants my company, but does NOT in any way force me to go to church.,We go to church only once in a blue moon, once in 3-4 months, just to give his donation…thx

      • Ariel wrote:

        It is not a donation – you can never OUTGIVE God. He OWNS everything. It is called TITHING. The Bible instructs us to give to first 10 % of our earnings to church. If you give LESS THAN 10%, you are “stealing from God”. He does NOT NEED the money. He wants your BELIEF, TRUST and COMPLIANCE. That’s all. But He also promises, that if you follow, He will bless your remaining 90%. I have seen THIS happen, as well. But if you KEEP His 10%, or parts of it, He will TAKE more from you. It doesnt sound fair….but really, are we powerful enough to argue?

  11. Ariel wrote:

    Kim, You are right. Gid does not need your trust – YOU do. Whether you believe something or not, does NOY have any effect over it. People BELIEVED the world was flat. It DID NOT change the FACT that it was round. Whether you and I believe a God exists does NOT CHANGE His existence. Criminals do not respect the law. The law does NOT go away FOR THEM. The law CONTINUES TO EXIST…and it JUDGES them in the end. Whether we DENY God’s existence or not does not make Him go away. He is large and He is in- charge. I hope a flying spaghetti monster feeds you beer and pizza – sounds yummy!!! 🙂 But the one book TRUSTED by billions does not talk about THAT. I think I would wager my soul on something more largely accepted by the majority – IN SCIENCE, after all – it is all ABOUT NUMBERS. Thank you. But I do not need LUCK on my deathbed – He has already come through with MANY of His promises while I am alive. So, i KNOW He will come through with that “heaven promise thingie” when I die. i CANT WAIT. !!!! Do your experiment. Dont trust MY word. He is HERE…and ALIVE.

  12. Atheism is stupidity. They believe that their belief system does not need any proof at all; this is delusion. Claims of knowledge are always supported by evidence unless you’re delusional. This is the reason God called the atheist a fool.

    • Ariel wrote:

      I am just really scared at what God can do. Read what God did to this famous non-believer – Madalyn http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madalyn_Murray_O'Hair . Is God a vindictive God? You better believe it! DONT MESS WITH THE DUDE. He will spank you, and spank you HARD!

      • Marissa wrote:

        your vindictive god is no god..he/she /it is a thug…not worthy of any praise..at any rate,,there is none..all gods are imaginary…TRY being true to yourself and remove your delusions of grandeur just for once..Life is brighter and healthier without a god..People will do more in this life because there are no do overs…Try to research the Scandinavian countries, Japan etc..they are progressive and benevolent..IT IS indeed difficult for most Filipinos to shed 333 years of Spanish mental slavery..FEAR and early indoctrination are the reasons why most Filipinos remain theistic or RC..there is no god, no Vishnu, no Allah, no Horus, no Zeus, no Isis, no JC, no devils, no fairies, no superman, no batman…all are imaginary…all are fairy tales..the proof, comic books and the bible.

      • Ariel wrote:

        For once, I AGREE with you. God IS vindictive. VERY. He burns down cities, nations, drowns millions, burns non-believers FOREVER. And i have seen Him do this in real life. I see the people He punishes…and the people He blesses. You are either WITH Him, or against Him. I dont always agree with Him, and the Bible. But since He has BIGGER GUNS than I have, …..

      • This is no proof that God does not exist. You are angry of something that does not exist – this is delusional! Who is this vindictive god? Where do you get this notion of good and evil when everything is happening BY THE PRODUCT OF BRAIN CHEMICAL REACTIONS? The protests of atheism about an “evil god” proves they’re delusional or in great denial. Can they be angry to Zeus? Santa Clause? or Buddha? Atheism is delusion because they’re angry to an imaginary being. There is no God? How do you know?

    • Atheism is *not* a belief. It’s the lack of it. Atheists lack the belief in any god. Saying it is is like saying bald is a hair color. No proof that your god *doesn’t* exist? Shouldn’t that be the other way around? The burden of proof is not on the atheists. If you want to convince them your god exist, you should be the ones giving them something concrete that supports such god’s existence, and then you would have the right to call them stupid or ridiculous when they still insist on the contrary. You’re making an argument from ignorance, a fallacious argument where something is said to be true because it has not been proven false yet. O_o

      • Ariel wrote:

        Atheism IS belief- a belief that there is NO God. The burden of proof is not on God, either. He owes mere humans like you and I no explanations – THAT is the pure essence of the concept of FAITH. And yet, God STILL left, and continues to leave to this day, countless PROOF of His existence, and power. Do you or anyone here have an EXPLANATION how the Red Sea parted so Moses and his people could escape Egypt? Do the best and brightest in the Army Corps of Engineers have an idea HOW that could be replicated? I have done inorganic, organic and biochemistry, I STILL do not know how one can turn WATER INTO WINE. I have seen the best “magic” acts in Las Vegas and New York, I have yet to see some COME BACK from the DEAD, like Jesus did. God PERFORMS miracles daily in our lives. We just need to pay closer attention to be amazed.

  13. Tony Belza wrote:

    I don’t ever remember believing in god. I was born an Atheist and will die an Atheist. Now tell me,why should I believe in god when rational,logical and critical thinking prove that god does not exist.
    I created/founded SAPI ( Samahang Ateistang Pilipino) for the sole purpose of being with people of like minds. We are not even on Facebook,we are here for camaraderie. We have our get together every 3rd Sunday of the month. Last Sunday (Aug. 19) we had our get together,we had lots of fun. Pot luck was the name of the game.

  14. Ariel wrote:

    Marissa, I will not EXPERIMENT on my patients. That is unethical and ILLEGAL. As a nurse, you must be aware of the Hippocratic Oath. I hope you find proof as a BLESSING, and not as an EMAIL from the dead. The dead do not email, nor make phone calls, or text. The Bible does not promise a “magic, freak show”. The dead are “asleep” and should not be disturbed. God will come back and raise the saved from the dead and give them new bodies. Not MY words, His promise. I will pray for you and your friends – not to offend or upset you, but so you find fullness and happiness in God’s love and mercy.

  15. Marissa wrote:

    FEAR and early indoctrination are the reasons why most Filipinos are still religious,..You are afraid to do the experiment, because it will prove you wrong…NOBODY comes back after death,,,and there is no PROOF of an afterlife up to now. Your god has no proof for 2k years..delusion of grandeur is indeed dangerous, the reason why we had the Spanish inquisition..religion is to control, to delude, to divide..The names of gods depend on your geographical location, it simply means..there is no god…Two hands working are better than a thousand clasped together in prayers (anonymous)…I am not at all offended nor upset, but asserting the truth..god is imaginary..by common sense alone there is no god..I rest my case.

    • Ariel wrote:

      If you tell me the details, parameters, methodology, and metrics of the ‘experiment’, I might consider doing it – assuming of course it is legal and ethical.

      You are entitled to your own opinion. If YOU are correct, in death I will just be dead. No Heaven, No hell. I will just be rotting with worms underground. But what if I, the Bible and God are correct? Denial, non-repentance, and non-acknowledgement of the existence of God is punishable by ETERNAL damnation, torment and burning in Hell. Is tHAT something worth risking?

      • “Denial, non-repentance, and non-acknowledgement of the existence of God is punishable by ETERNAL damnation, torment and burning in Hell. Is tHAT something worth risking?”

        That’s a serious threat coming from a supposed all-loving and unconditionally-loving god. O_o

        There’s a lot of logical problems about a god that’s supposed to be all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving yet provides no concrete evidence to help some of us who doubt his/her/its existence.

        Questioning everything is something we are encouraged to do in order to understand our objective reality, because when we question reality, reality responds back with answers. If your god is real, and we question this god, we would be able to get an answer that he *is* real and there would be a good reason to have “belief” in that god, right? But instead we encounter more questions, more logical fallacies, and more doubts. Faith being “unquestionable” is itself… questionable, and suspicious.

      • Ariel wrote:

        I agree with you, Angelo (male form of angel, btw. Do angels NOT exist, too?). Eternal damnation and burning in the lakes of Hell IS a serious threat. I could not think of anything MORE SERIOUS than one’s soul burning non-stop, day-in, day-out in Hell. Forever. And EVERYONE is destined for Hell, as “all have fallen short”. Whether we like it or not, believe it or not, happy with it or not, you, I and everybody else are caught in a huge, elaborate inter-stellar, possibly even inter-galactic tug-o-war between two duelling Spiritual Superpowers (we are caught between a struggle of ‘principalities’). If you will, it is like we are innocent by-standers in a war between Aliens vs Predators. One side wants to destroy us forever, one wants to save us from destruction. Whether we BELIEVE they exist or not does not change the fact that we will either GET DESTROYED OR SAVED. Like I said before, if YOU and all atheists are CORRECT – and I am wrong – then, when I die, I will just rot underfoot.But what IF I am CORRECT, and the Bible is correct – and atheists are wrong? – then, when you die, you will be burned, tormented, tortured forever in Hell. I have no problem with YOU being correct. Rotting is ok. I wont feel it. But, would YOU be ok with ME and God being correct? And find out TOO LATE and not have the CHANCE to be saved? Don’t tell me your answer. But I can tell you I personally would be VERY VERY angry at MYSELF for having had countless opportunities to SAVE MYSELF while alive, and not have taken it. That would be one, loooooooooong bad hair day! God Bless, I hope I see you ALL in Heaven.

  16. M. Matthews wrote:

    Miss. Marissa, thanks for telling us like it is; regarding you and your husband going to church, which was not clear to us till now. Best good wishes to both of you, Mike

    Funny things about the posting about you. This is the first time I have so many responses to an article in the fil-am.

  17. Like,I always knew there were no deities but,I couldn’t figure out why ppl wanted me 2 think I was wrong,n’ I struggled with this until the internet came along cuz idiots keep reinforcing the shit cuz they’re all fooled like-o-buncha’ sheep….

  18. ariel wrote:

    We ARE ALL sheep. Most are led to SURE slaughter. The enlightened are led to safety by Our Shepherd. You are NOT being FORCED nor FOOLED. CHOICE is the greatest gift we are given. YOU choose where u want to end up – burnt and tormented forever? or enjoying peace, contentment and happiness for eternity? Dont answer here – the internet nor other Lost Souls will not save you. SEEK the answer in your privacy. ONLY YOU should make your OWN choice for your self. Shouldnt be difficult – it is a no brainer.

    • Mike M. wrote:

      It may elude you that shepherds are tasked to tend, feed, and guard their flocks for the purposes of obtaining milk, meat, and wool. There is no such thing as an ‘enlightened sheep’ in the context that you have brought up as what they are experiencing is a false sense of safety, as even though they are essentially guaranteed (or at the very least, promised) protection from predators such as wolves and lions, they are being fleeced and/or milked regularly by their ‘shepherds’ and eventually slaughtered. Furthermore, not all people consider themselves as sheep – sheep are considered largely as unintelligent creatures that are prone to flee and panic when facing stress. Comparing people (of various colors, creed, personal experiences, and intellectual capacities) to such an animal would be a great disservice to them. It is thus essentially arrogant for anyone to put encompassing labels on any group of people based on their own personal and religious preferences. Also, the rationale you posited materializes and reduces the Christian salvation doctrine to a prized commodity that can be supplied by a deus ex machina, one that can be obtained through blind, unwavering obeisance to the tenets that Christian dogma sponsors. In turn, this exclusive, backward way of thinking turns the doctrine into an endeavor that can be best describes as self-aggrandizing and acquisitional, and this is what makes a lot of hardline Christians seem offensive and arrogant compared to others.

      • ariel wrote:

        I totally agree with everything you said about “sheep”. However, I did not come up with the concept, nor the association – God did. I am sure people are offended “being told” things – but maybe that is WHY pride was ide tified by God as one of the seven DEADLY sins. It causes us to close our eyes and ears and open our mouths. I remember as a young sailor in the US Navy, my chief used to yell at us, “SHIT YOUR MOUTHS AND OPEN YOUR EYES AND EARS!!!”. For someone with a graduate education, it was difficult for me to accept that from a “mere” high school grad. But THAT kept me alive during Desert Storm and (Blackhawk Down) in Somalia. Sometimes, we think we are smart, but opening our eyes and ears is much smarter – specially if the message is thousands of years OLDER than us. Offended? i sure hope so!!!

      • Mike M. wrote:

        God, it seems, is the great cop-out when all logic fails to defend one’s stance. The question that arises when a person claims that “I didn’t conceive/say it, God did” is how did that person come to know of this information? Would it be from a personal epiphany of sorts or a second-hand information from a colleague or a figure of authority such as a pastor or an officer? If the message came from an epiphany or a dream, how can a person guarantee that it is indeed a direct communication from his/her version of ‘God’ and not a hallucination or a product of a subconscious desire (realized in a lucid dream)? If it comes from another source, the question that follows would be how credible or reliable is that source when it comes to evaluating the validity of his /her claim? What if the person making such a claim is a Somali Muslim who says that Allah spoke to him in his dream that all non-Muslims have a choice – repent and worship the one true God, Allah, and be received in Paradise, or burn in the fiery furnaces of the Islamic hell along with the other kuffar? How credible is that claim? If you can find within yourself the rationale as to why you find such a person’s pious declarations as ridiculous, then you may understand the reason as to why other people find your claims ridiculous and not worth subscribing to.

      • Ariel wrote:

        Mike M. I like how you think EXACTLY how I do. You or anyone here could NOT be more SUSPICIOUS or SKEPTICAL than I was. I could be a first class A-hole!!! I STILL debate my pastor and presumed Bible scholars about MANY parts of the Bible that are OBVIOUSLY and CLEARLY self-contradictory. They sometimes HAVE answers, but most often, they too are stumped. People who KNOW me agree I am the HARDEST to convince or satisfy. I reallly WISH I can EXPLAIN how ‘the 30-yr old virgin Jewish carpenter’ WALKED on water, or TURNED water into wine, or CAME BACK from the dead. But I could nOT! You were RIGHT!!! I did not and STILL DO NOT subscribe to just any old book, nor parrot the word of a mere human – whether he is a pastor, pope, imam, magician, medium, snake oil salesman, or late night comedian. It was merely a PERSONAL EPIPHANY. Like i said, I had been THE STAUNCHEST anti-Christian Christian….for more than 25 or 27 years. I would have made Moses cry trying to convince me. I used to attend Bible classes just to STUMP or sometimes, filibuster the pastor, or whoever happened to be the biggest God or Bible ‘authority’ present. Often, I make them DOUBT themselves!!!! People have said I would have become one of the greatest lawyers – DEFENSE lawyer, sadly- had I not become a doctor. Someone once said, I was “so good, (I) could get The Devil paroled from the Great Abyss!”. DEBATE is my game, and BLASTING opponents is my fame. The ‘Jesus-freaks’ HATED ME!!!!!

        But HOW the #ell did i BELIEVE? I was a survivor (should have been DEAD or KILLED – physically – at least 7 times that I could count) so, i did NOT easily ask for help – from ANYONE. But when I had a personal crisis 2.5, almost 3 yrs ago now, (oh, wait.Almost 4 yrs ago)…..I felt SO HELPLESS I asked for help – VERY RELUCTANTLY – from an INVISIBLE, often mocked (by me), ‘imaginary’ god-figure, Superman-slash-extra-terrestrial (well, He DID say He is ‘IN this world but NOT OF this world’). The ‘answer’ slowly at first came,…..then VERY CLEARLY…. it was a VERY PERSONAL epiphany. wHATEVER He, She or IT is….wherever the answer is coming from – from behind the cupboard, from Mars, from the cumulus clouds, from the iPhone,….it IS there. IT is listening, and understanding me in different languages, whether spoken, or in thought. “The God unit” IS alive, watching, listening, and apparently just waiting (He only has ‘forever’) for me to stop being an idiot, trying to solve my problems. He is indeed jealous (He said so, I didnt) and ruthless to my enemies (documented in the Bible and other ‘religious’ and historical texts).

        I, too, sometimes question His LOGIC (how can someone be merciful and ruthless at the SAME time??)…but what i CAN NOT question any more is that “Power’s” EXISTENCE. The Big Dude is MOST DEFINITELY out there, or here. Wherever. He IS the real Big Brother but He does not send us to do inane tasks to get higher ratings. He watches and just WAITS for us to ASK for His help. Weird, isn’t He? Egotistic, some might wonder. But, hey. If THAT is His bag, so be it!!! If He wants to HELP me, heck yeah!!!! Help away, Sir-Help-A-Lot!!!Just do NOT command, or order Him HOW to do things. He hates that $#!t. But MOST people DO that. They “pray’ that way. WRONG!!! “Please, make me win the lotto”, “Please give me a hot girlfriend”, “Please give me a rich husband”. He is NOT your genie, NOT your matchmaker. NOT your wingman. NOT your maid, NOT your ‘holla-back-girl’. He IS the Lord of the Universe that is not restricted by TIME and SPACE. He is NOT your private b!tc#. So, you better ask, and ask – NICELY, as Jack Nicholson tells Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men. You address Him like an a-hole, and treat him like Concierge,…and He WILL kick your buh-haynd to the middle of next week!

        That said, God Bless.

        – Doc A.

  19. Ariel wrote:

    BTW, I would like to THANK this blog’s owner – Cristina DC Pastor. Cristina, i am aware you and I disagree on MANY things – including our politics. However, I would like to show you my admiration for YOUR FAIRNESS-for allowing me and people whose views differ from yours, or many of your readers, to EXPRESS our views. You are the epitome of a REAL journalist.

    I am sure you are aware of OTHER BLOGGERS who threaten TO DELETE or BLOCK posters when their views collide. You do NO such thing. You allow people of DISSENTING opinions to defend their views – whether you agree with them, or not. The media should be a market place of ideas…where the truly intelligent can examine, debate and subscribe to schools of thought. It should not be like FOX (who only defend Republicans), or CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, NYT (who are all Obama robots).

    THIS is true journalism. I am proud to say The FilAm defends and celebrates people’s rights to free expression. May ALL blogs be like yours. Filipinos and Fil-Ams should admire your work.

    -Doc A

  20. ariel wrote:

    Yes, Cristina. It brought back…some ‘memories’. Talking to atheists in their ‘backyard’ (this article), and discussing a good number of them almost by myself reminded me of being behind enemy lines during my military days. But instead of trying to kill the enemies before they kill me, this time – I was being Alive so the do not get killed. It had been a mission of LOVE and not hatred. I KNOW their confusion, frustration, exasperation, desperation because I, too, was there. I REFUSED to believe UNTIL i was pushed so hard against the wall – i HAD NO CHOICE but to HAVE FAITH in someTHing or someONE i despised. Then, i FELT and STILL FEEL the Love. I do not mean to demean anyone. Dont want to blast blasphemers. I just want to one day see EACH and every ‘now former’ non- believer enter Paradise and give them a big hug! Not to gloat and say, “i told ya so!”….but to say,…. “Welcome to your HOME forever! You ready to have fun? have peace? have fulfillment, BE HAPPY? Well, what the heck are you waiting for???! Lets go in and look for all your LOVED ONES and OLD FRIENDS!!!! Woooohooo!!! Oh. and dont forget to bow down and THANK the Big, Glowing, Old Dude on the throne – THIS is His house. And the bearded Jewish carpenter – He BOUGHT your ticket. Cool? LET’S goooooooo!!!! woooohoooo!!!!”.

    – Your Tour Guide, Ariel (employee of ArchAngel GAbRIEL)

  21. Mike M. wrote:

    Ariel: It has been quite a while. I apologize for the delay in the reply as I have been busy lately.

    I find the assertion that ‘there is no one more skeptical than you were’ largely far-fetched as skepticism cannot actually be quantified and thus there is no such thing as a ‘most skeptical person.’ I can vouch that you are simply curious about your own dogma and sought enlightenment from your peers and local congregation. I can also observe that you are primarily strident towards those who do not subscribe to your brand of faith (as demonstrated by the frequency that you have posted in this article, engaging in a myriad of apologetic arguments).

    It seems that the root cause of your stridency stems from your personal experience – you turned to an imaginary agent (the Judeo-Christian God/Jesus Christ- the default entity, as brought about by a cognitive bias secondary to a largely Christian background) at the lowest point in your life to save your wits and to keep your sanity intact, to help you process your problems. If that proved well for you, congratulations. However, this does not rule out the possibility that the epiphany you may have experienced is simply a figment of your own personal imagination. Hence, it is prudent to not try to impose it upon other people and to vilify them in an obviously passive-aggressive fashion (i.e. via use of labels, emotional appeals, and vague imaginary threats) for not towing the line.

    An equally strident atheist would label that form of religious fanaticism as delusional. Being that you are, as you claim you are, a doctor, it may be safe to assume that you understand that a delusion is a belief held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary. There is no mutually corroborating evidence to support the claim that the entities that you believe in are real. All there are are mostly apologetic arguments, individual anecdotes, and documents written by unverifiable authors, which were translated and recopied time and again by far-from-flawless humans over the course of the centuries.

    Furthermore, not all people subscribe to your brand of faith. There are the Muslims who pray to Allah. There are the Hindus who pray to various gods while the Sikhs pray to a single, formless with many names. Each of them can have their own epiphanies, superstitions, and miracles and, unsurprisingly, these would be largely related to their respective belief systems. To assert that one’s personal belief is the right one based on his or her own personal convictions (and that it applies to everyone else) is callous and myopic. It may sound surprising to those who staunchly believe in their respective religious teachings, but there are people who have surpassed their gravest problems without even calling upon any gods or any other imaginary friends.

    Also, belief in something does not necessarily make it real. Consider this psychosocial observation: The more that a person recedes into the shell of the personal reverie that is provided by his or her personal heuristic and religious belief, the more that this person alienates itself from the rest of society. Such a person aligns with like-minded individuals and together, they create a support group that internally validates their fervent fantasies among themselves, making them bolder and more assertive in their own personal diatribes. This is rather alarming, particularly if such a group prescribes to an exclusive, anthropocentric belief that actually approves of various forms of violence and prejudice against race, gender, nationality, or even nonbelievers in its teachings. A person belonging to that group would see their actions as just and in line with the teachings of their belief system and would seek to perpetuate it through recruitment, persuasion, and indoctrination of the children around them, while the rest of society (primarily those who do not belong to the same group) may contest some of the elements of the belief system in question, particularly those that are archaic and detrimental to the well-being of others.

    Christianity is a nice religion when you consider it’s marketable virtues. Then again, so are Islam and Buddhism. Religion (or as some people might want to argue, a personal relationship with Jesus) is not for everyone. Some people live their lives free from such warm, comforting delusions and face the cold reality of life head on.

    I salute you for your service to your country and for all you’ve been through. Still, we differ a lot in the sense that we found our tranquility in largely different areas of interest. My warmest regards to you and to your family.

    – Mike M.

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