On the linguistic and theological errors of Sen. Miriam Santiago: meaning of “multiply”, God’s authorship of Scriptures, and the divinity of Christ

Senator Santiago clashed with Cong. Manny Pacquiao on the meaning of biblical verses (ABS-CBN).  An INC member posted the news as a comment in my blog, so here is my response:

Submitted on 2011/05/18 at 1:49 pm | In reply to benjie.


By quoting Sen. Santiago, I assume you as an INC believe her arguments. The good senator knows grammar well but she does not know what she is saying. The phrase “Go forth and multiply” I cannot find in my Bible (NAB). (Can you find it in your Bible?) The verses I found are these:

“God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.28 God blessed them, saying: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.” (Gen 1:27-28)

The good senator knows grammar and high-sounding words, but she does know the meaning of simple word like “multiply”. Multiply does not mean to work with other men as stewards of the earth. There is another word for that: cooperation. Rather, the word “multiply” means to grow in number until humans “fill the earth”. The necessary condition for “multiplying” is to be “fertile”. A woman is considered “fertile” if it can grow a male seed planted on it into a baby. Otherwise, the woman is considered “barren”, as a way to compare a woman’s womb to a land where not even a grass grows. For example, Sarah and Elizabeth were barren because they have grown old and they did not have any child (until God blessed their womb and they gave birth to Isaac and John). Thus, contraception, the means to make a woman effectively infertile through pills and condoms, is against the commandment of God to be fertile and to multiply.

According to Sen. Santiago the Bible was not written by God and not even by any of the eyewitnesses to God since…. it was written at least 70 years after the death of Christ? This is a theological error. This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”69 “For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.”70 106 God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. “To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more.”71 107 The inspired books teach the truth. “Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures.”72 108 Still, the Christian faith is not a “religion of the book”. Christianity is the religion of the “Word” of God, “not a written and mute word, but incarnate and living”.73 If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, “open (our) minds to understand the Scriptures.”74

The Ten Commandments were written by God: “When the LORD had finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the commandments, the stone tablets inscribed by God’s own finger.” (Ex 31:18)

I may be mistaken, but I assume Sen. Santiago is Catholic and not INC. If she is Catholic, she needs spiritual care (and maybe psychiatric care, too). As a spiritual work of mercy, she needs to be taught that Christ is God and his apostles saw him. The Bible says no one has seen God, but the verse does not stop there: “No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, 12 who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.” (Jn 1:18) “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (Jn 14:9)

About Quirino M. Sugon Jr
Theoretical Physicist in Manila Observatory

6 Responses to On the linguistic and theological errors of Sen. Miriam Santiago: meaning of “multiply”, God’s authorship of Scriptures, and the divinity of Christ

  1. Arvin says:

    Poor Sen. Miriam Santiago! She is even proud of being an extreme opposite of an intellectually honest person. She’s a long time politician of the Philippines. Being dishonest is being nuisance in the government. Therefore she is a nuisance. To be exact, she is a long time nuisance. Tsk tsk tsk…

  2. Wants To Be Anonymous says:

    Greetings my friend,

    I see that your batting average is increasing so don’t let your guard down.

    Lest you cast the first stone, please remember and ponder the following as well:

    * You quoted, or more technically, copied and pasted since quoting puts things into some context, and that context is somehow missing in your post (keep your guard up!) — so, you copied and pasted a key verse from the first story of creation from the book of genesis, however, it is important that you holistically look at both the first and second stories of creation, okay? So some of your statements need polishing and beefing up to be consistent when held up against teachings based on both accounts, her statements about stewardship, while not complete, is not entirely false.

    * The first set of stone tablets, the ones written by finger of god, were destroyed, smashed into pieces by Moses. It is the second set, the joint effort between God and devoted humans that have been preserved an passed (figuratively, apart from conspiracy theorists, I am not sure if anyone knows where the tablets really are today) on to this day

    * Being Catholic does not mean you have to stop thinking critically, on the contrary, many wise / holy / saintly persons encourage critical thinking, not just of the world but of the catholic faith, how else do you think would the summa theologica be written? Or, more recently, the articles spawned by the second vatican council?

    * On the other hand, isn’t that senator miriam santiago interpreting the bible figuratively when she makes those statements about seeing god and needing some psychiatric care, perhaps the good senator needs some too, since that statement about the bible being written after christ died on the cross is not specific enough, she should have said the new testament part of the bible, perhaps if she spent less time doing her hair and doing research instead (or maybe she needs to do her hair to straighten her thoughts out better)

  3. Beongi says:

    Wow! What a put-down! You can say what you want about the Senator. But she gets elected every time she runs.

  4. jose says:

    your sanctimonious fundamentalism makes me sick. your pride is like lucifer’s and even the devil can quote scriptures for its own purposes like what you’re doing…. you’re no better than the fundamentalist islamic Taliban in interpreting the holy scriptures…

  5. St.Scholastica says:

    This interpretation of God’s intent for mankind to pro-create, is also the beginnings of the institution of marriage as an institution of God, and as being between a man and woman.

    Marriage was created by God as a means of grace and with the sole purpose of pro-creating.
    This also determines the purpose of the marital act (sex) as a means for mankind to achieve this purpose, and God made this pleasurable so as to enhance the feelings of love and commitment between a married couple.
    This is also why in the Catholic Church, when one of the parties in a marriage refuses to have children, this is a basis for annulment, meaning the marriage is considered null and void because one member if not both, never intended to adhere to the principles of this union).

    The marital act was never intended for the unmarried (which is why fornication is a mortal sin), and was never intended with anyone other than one’s spouse (which is why adultery and lust for a neighbor’s spouse is also a mortal sin).

    Bottom line, the marital act (sex) was always intended by God only for those who are married (of course in the Catholic Church, and those Christian denominations that the RCC recognize), and only for pro-creating. Children were always intended by God to be born within this sacramental life not outside of it. It is man’s fallen nature and concupiscence that perpetrates a life outside these intentions.

    This bill is the beginning of introducing abortion to the country (as we all already know most contraceptives are abortifacients), and this bill will also slowly pave the way for homosexual unions being legitimized and recognized.

    Very slippery slope we are treading on if we start re-interpreting God’s intent.
    Re-interpreting scripture to suit evil intent will be done by the devil himself, as the Senator herself quoted.

  6. I am glad I stumbled upon your post. Your reasons are good foundation to dissect her argument for RH bill. It is sad that she would want something like this to happen, especially when the need is not to stop the growth of the population but to end corruption.

    May God bless you as you continue to write more insights on this blog.

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