Science that Promotes Secularism

Posted by Javan Poblador | Posted on June 5, 2020

Science that Promotes Secularism

by Junelie Anthony Velonta
Dumaguete City

 


Science is a gateway to many amazing things. From the days of the ancient Greeks when science was irremovable from rhetoric to the modern world combatting the Corona Virus pandemic, science has helped and is continuing to help us understand the world. For the young and hopeful looking above at night, science tells them that the twinkling stars are like our own Sun, shining from a distance that the human mind cannot fathom. And for those in the latter years of their lives, science helps them alleviate the pains brought about by disease and aging. Science carried humanity to modern times, to the moon and back.

But science can also affect personal beliefs. For many, fascination and appreciation of the sciences became their gateway to secularism. It is an almost natural progression. After all, science benefitted humanity the greatest when world religions did not persecute and radical political ideologists did not exploit the scientists of the past. Thus, it is not hard to see why many teach an appreciation of the sciences with the ultimate goal of inculcating secularism to any who are open enough to listen. 

Appreciation, however, doesn’t always come with understanding. Those who appreciate but do not fully understand may be swayed by deliberately misleading information. By inserting a few scientific truths, the rest of the information attached to the truth becomes “fact” by virtue of association. With appreciation, but without critical thinking, this becomes the case for many. It could be argued that the ultimate goal of teaching the appreciation of science is strictly secularism alone, and after that is achieved the individual is free to do what they want.  Yes, they become secular. Then what?

While the pursuit of secularism isn’t an empty goal, it shouldn’t be the ultimate end. It should also be recognized that while teaching an appreciation of science could lead to secularism, the actions of the educated individual should also measure up not just to secular standards, but also by other standards necessary for a modern secular society. This does not mean that people should stop using science to introduce secularism. Rather, the approach must be revised. Instead of teaching people to APPRECIATE science, they should instead be taught how to DO science. A difference in verbs could change the end result significantly.

It is in this approach that the Philippine Science High School System (PSHSS) succeeds significantly. From the very first year of education, an emphasis on critical thinking is drilled into the students. Virtues needed for a competent scientist are inculcated into the students, together with an education that emphasizes the pursuit of justice, compassion, prudence, integrity, and humility. Such pursuits are labeled by the PSHS Scholar’s Pledge as Humanist Values. In line with the said humanist values, the science that the scholars of the PSHSS do are focused on aiding and empowering the Filipino people. Common among the regional campuses of the PSHSS are programs that educate or aid Filipinos in various sectors, from students to the working class. Just recently, the PSHSS launched the PisAYUDA campaign, a combined faculty, staff, and student effort. PisAYUDA aims to extend scientific help to various sectors of Philippine society, with an emphasis on helping medical frontline workers. Indeed, the end result of such education shows promise.

However, such education is both pricey and time-consuming. Graduates of the PSHSS do indeed have victories in their fields, but their values and victories cannot be directly taught to the common people. Six years isn’t short enough time for earning adults. The education does show results, but it is not ready for mass implementation.

There is a more efficient way to do this, however. Dr. Romulo Davide, dubbed as the Father of Plant Nematology in the Philippines, continues to successfully lead a program that turns corn farmers into scientists and businessfolk. FSTP, the initials for the Farmer-Scientist Training Program, aims to equip farmers with scientific knowledge and skills that enable them not only to reinforce their crop yield but also to earn through businesses derived from their harvest. Prospective farmer-scientists are trained by FSTP personnel in scientific techniques to farming, emphasizing being critical not only of the products that they use but also of the results of their hard work. This results in easily replicable and favorable yields. As the farmer-scientists gain both knowledge and experience, the FSTP program encourages them to teach what they have learned to their communities, helping advance the farming community. Many success stories have been sourced from the FSTP—a testament to its viability and potential.

Common between the approaches of the PSHSS and the FSTP is their approach to teaching science. Not only are their approaches focused on critical thinking, but it is intertwined with values that help build and empower the communities. These values, central to both secularism and humanism, are taught even before those being subjected to the training become secular. By giving them these values, they are given the tools available for secular thought. The need to “convert” them is almost eliminated, as people liberate themselves through the tools they are equipped with.  In comparison, while the results of teaching the appreciation of science do put forth secularism before everything else, teaching how to do science equips the trainees with the tools not necessarily available with appreciation alone. Such results could easily be replicated in almost any field, as long as the core goals remain the same. After all, as the old Sineskwela song goes:

“Tayo’y likas na scientist.”

Other good reads...

New Paypal address : Donate@Hapihumanist.org (is in pesos)

Our new paypal address is : DONATE@HAPIHUMANIST.org It is based in the Philippines for easy access of the Philippine staff for our monthly and episodic events. Please be careful, the new HAPI paypal is in PESOS only,  with equivalent rate of 45 pesos for one USD. You may click the yellow DONATE button on the […]

Why You Should Support Senate Bill No. 1373

child marriage

Why You Should Support Senate Bill No. 1373 by Joshua Villalobos Bacolod City   Why You Should Support Senate Bill No. 1373 On Sunday, TV news magazine program Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho featured a 13-year old girl married to a 48-year old grown-up man in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.  To paint it visually, the “marriage” is between […]

Another Fine Addition : PRO Ruben Tulud

Ruben Tulud, Egyptologist and Poet  January 26, 2016 HAPI is attracting the best of the best. Indeed, water seeks its own level. Mr Tulud has been known to me since 2010, doing some quiet but noble work. I have known him better when we went to Baguio as a team in 2013. He was the […]

Chickens Came from South-East Asia

𝑫𝒊𝒅 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒌𝒏𝒐𝒘? 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐤𝐞𝐧𝐬 𝐜𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐒𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐡-𝐄𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐀𝐬𝐢𝐚 Whether it is as a specialized source of protein or the centerpiece of a complicated dish, chicken is present in the diets of many. Chicken has become so widespread that it has permeated language, cultural, geological, and even economic barriers. But before the bird crossed paved roads, it […]

HAPI Founder is new In-Sight Journal advisor

HAPI Founder is new In-Sight Journal advisor

In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, a Canada-based publication that operates in public interests rather than for profitable gains, has named the Founder and Chairperson Emeritus of Humanist Alliance Philippines, International (HAPI), Marissa Torres-Langseth, as new member of its Advisory Board, effective May 20th of 2018.   Publishing interviews, articles, and issues since the fall of 2012, […]

Youth: The Core of Humanism

Youth: The Core of Humanism by Donna Darantinao Dumaguete City   “I did not start too young.”  It must be a popular belief that the youth is the key to the progression of this ever-changing world. From the tips of pens of martyrs and fallen heroes, they have always seen the future generation as the […]

Keeping the Ball Rolling

keep the ball rolling

Keeping the Ball Rolling by Donna T. Darantinao Dumaguete City   Travels. Food trips. Escapades. Night outs. Classes in person. We all know that the pandemic has prevented a lot of group activities we have planned even before 2020 arrived at our feet. It is similar to an entire meal being put to waste because […]

About The Author

Junelie Anthony Velonta

He was born on June 19, 1998 in Dumaguete City. By a coincidence of the day of his birth, he was trained starting at a young age to appreciate both the hard sciences and the softer humanities, like Jose Rizal before him. He graduated from Philippine Science High School–Central Visayas Campus last 2015, and is now pursuing a degree in Physics in Silliman University. To this day, he aims to unite his passion for the sciences, history, language, and literature.

HAPI scholar

Member, HAPI-Dumaguete

Scroll to Top