Thursday, November 28, 2013


On occasion I have observed the actual rotation of the earth’s axis.  I’ve done this by sitting quietly and watching the movement of a shadow cast by an object, such as the railing of the deck on the south side of my home, as the sun makes its way across the sky on a cloudless afternoon.  If I look carefully, I can even watch the slow, steady movement of the shadow.  I always find the experience just a little saddening.  It’s a little reminder of the inexorable passage of time and of the fact that my participation will come to a close at some point.  

But in another sense that melancholic feeling is good because it means that life continues to be an enjoyable, exciting experience for me and I regret that at some point it will have to end.  And that brings me to the point of this essay.  A friend recently asked me what, as a secularist, I thought of exit strategies.  Exit strategies?  Yup, that was what he was asking about.  He and his wife have discussed whether it might ever make sense to “leave before the show is over,” so to speak.  A heavy conversation without a doubt.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Albert Einstein was famous for using thought experiments to explore ideas in theoretical physics.  He would describe a situation that, while not possible to create given current technology, was nevertheless theoretically possible.  A famous example of his concerned trains flashing lights while passing each other at close to the speed of light.  Not possible practically but we can easily imagine the situation in our minds.

So here’s a thought experiment for Christians:  What would happen if you no longer believed in God?  How would that affect the way you conducted your life?

Friday, November 22, 2013


I need some help.  I attended Christian schools from first grade through college and was immersed in Christian beliefs throughout my early life.  Even so, at this point in my personal journey I am embarrassed to say that I simply do not understand the rationale, the logic behind the very fundamentals of the Christian message.  None of it, really.  As a child I never questioned it, but now it no longer makes sense to me.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Sometimes disagreements occur simply because individuals have different meanings for the same terms.  Then they can wind up talking past each other and get frustrated just trying to understand what the other person is saying.  And in responding to comments to some of the ideas I have expressed in my blog, I have used a number of terms that often get thrown around in discussions about religious and secular beliefs.  So I think it might be helpful to clarify what I mean by those terms.  This isn’t just a “housekeeping” essay, though; I do have a few points to make along the way.  And as I have indicated before, I’m always “open game” for any comments, so long as you keep it civil.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


On one early fall day of my senior year at Battle Creek Academy, I was beginning to panic.  Mr. Young, the principal who also taught our senior religion class, had decided to poll each of us in the class as to when we thought the Second Coming would happen.  By my senior year I had become a closet agnostic, and I was trying to figure out how I was going to respond when my turn came.  Most of my classmates estimated that the time was very short, perhaps months or a few years at the most.  One girl only wished that it would be postponed until after she had gotten married, since she knew that there would be no marriage (read, “sex”) in heaven.  Another classmate hoped that it would not happen until after the World Series was over.  No one was suggesting that it could be even decades off.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


For almost 30 years my license plate has read “SKEPTC,” but that’s only because when I first applied for it I was limited to six letters and so left out the “I.”  I have a photography blog that I’ve named Skeptic Photo, and of course I have this Skeptic Reflections blog.  But worse, one of my good friends, who happens to be Catholic, told me that I am one of the most evangelical of all his friends, not in a religious sense, of course, but in a “freedom from religion” sense, if you will.  Further, I confess that I have done more than simply admit my secularism; I have done it with the hope that others might agree with my point of view.  In short, I confess to being a secular evangelist.  But why?

Friday, November 8, 2013


As any observant Christian might have guessed, my favorite disciple by far is Thomas.  He is distinguished from his colleagues by the fact that he openly questioned whether Jesus had actually risen from the dead.  The account is found in John 20:24-29.  In short, Thomas stated that unless he saw and felt the mark of the nails on Jesus’s hands where he was nailed to the cross and felt the wound in Jesus’s side where he was speared, he would not believe that Jesus had risen from the tomb.  A week later Jesus appeared to the disciples, including Thomas, and offered to let Thomas feel the wounds for himself.  Only then did Thomas proclaim his belief in Jesus’s resurrection and divinity.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Nearly all organized religions have divisions devoted to doing good works.  Because of my background, I’m most familiar with Christian groups, but I believe the same is true for other faiths, as well.  In Christian faiths, at least, a primary rationale for such good works is based on Christ’s teachings, particularly his admonition to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  But what about secular groups?  They don’t treat Christ’s teachings as an obligation of faith.  Nor are they concerned that a failure to live up to such an obligation could jeopardize their chances for salvation.  So how do secularists compare in terms of their commitment to altruistic activities?

Sunday, November 3, 2013


When I was 12 years old, my mother, ever a devout Seventh-day Adventist, nearly joined a cult.  The cult was predicting the destruction of the Adventist church and the slaying of most of its members by angels of God in a three-day period.  This was to be followed immediately by the miraculous transportation of the cult members, then to be numbering 144,000, to the Holy Land, where they would live in perfect peace in anticipation of the Second Coming of Christ.  To join the cult, we would need to sell all of our earthly belongings, turn the proceeds over to the cult, and move to a commune in Waco, Texas.  Yes, weird but true, and here’s the story.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


A major argument that my Christian friends make is that Christianity is responsible for the moral and ethical standards we have in place.  They often admit that it is sometimes difficult to reconcile much of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament vision of a jealous and at times vindictive God, with the Good News of the New Testament.  Instead, they focus on Christ’s teaching, his vision of love, forgiveness, respect, and acceptance, and argue that our system of ethics and morality is in large part the consequence of that vision.  I disagree.