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Chat with Bong Faner — Member, Humanist Alliance Philippines, International

2022-12-12

Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2017/10/18

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How did you become a humanist? Was religion in the family?

Faner: I didn’t realize that it started when I started to have doubts about religions and gods in 2000. There is no higher being to help humanity but humans themselves. Prayers don’t really help at all but makes people feel good, making them believe that there is a god that helps them. There is religion in my family, I am the only atheist, but one nephew is an agnostic. Belief range from the extremely pious to passive believers.

Jacobsen: What was a pivotal moment in becoming irreligious?

Faner: In the late 70s and early 80s, Protestant sects or ‘born agains’ were starting to gain foothold in the Philippines and were converting Catholics into these groups. I had cousins who were converted. I started to get curious on why and how these groups were successful in converting people. I found out that their points of contention are that a lot of Catholic doctrines are not Bible-based and were just inventions by Popes and the Catholic hierarchy. In my own research, they were right. But I decided to take it one step further, is there really any evidence about god? I found out that there is really none, and it all comes back to faith — believing in the absence of evidence.

Jacobsen: What is your best argument for humanism?

Faner: History has shown that relying on the supernatural to solve human problems is an exercise in futility. Prayers did not prevent millions of death during the Black Plague. No amount of prayer can prevent natural disasters as earthquakes and hurricanes. ‘Thoughts and prayers’ after a mass shooting have been total failures. Only humans can help its own species. Science, which is a product of human minds, has helped humanity far greater than anything.

Jacobsen: Why are you a humanist in worldview and ethical life stance?

Faner: Due to my belief that humans alone can help themselves.

Jacobsen: How does the humanist life influence your political and social views if at all?

Faner: It doesn’t. I take so many factors in consideration.

Jacobsen: How did you find HAPI?

Faner: During the early years when my non-belief was evolving, I read books and searched the Internet about atheism in the Philippines. Being a very religious country, I never expected a lot of Filipino non-believers. I was wrong. I never expected to find a lot of young, Filipino non-believers. I learned about the existence of the atheist group PATAS, Filipino Freethinkers, and other groups. One of these groups morphed into what has become HAPI.

Jacobsen: Who is a hero within it?

Faner: Marissa Torres Langseth. She was the founder of both PATAS and HAPI. I admire her zeal. I don’t know her personally and based on what I have read, not everybody likes her, but I can’t judge her either way. I still see her as a beacon of hope for freethought in the Philippines.

Jacobsen: Any favourite books relevant to humanism?

Faner: I haven’t read any book exclusive to humanism, but I have read plenty of books about non-belief and evolution. What are your hopes for humanism in the Philippines? I hope that Filipinos will see the light and wean themselves from relying too much on praying for everything from passing an examination in school, to averting natural disasters. I would like to see the day when they would use rational thoughts in solving everyday problems and improving their lives.

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.in-sightpublishing.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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