Tuesday, September 30, 2014


In a prior essay I criticized the ten commandments as being negative, incomplete, and generally deficient.  Smugly, I claimed that I could do a better job and promised to do just that in a subsequent essay.  Well, not having any training whatsoever in moral philosophy, I found this to be much more difficult than I had imagined.  But a promise is a promise, so here is my layman’s first attempt at outlining a better moral code.

Friday, September 12, 2014


Among my biggest pet peeves has been the practice of Christians to cherry pick scriptural support for their particular point of view.  Not that I am persuaded by arguments that rely on scriptural authority rather than on objective evidence and critical analysis.  But, still, it is frustrating because the Bible is filled with all manner of writings that are inconsistent, not just with other passages, but with prevailing cultural norms.

One of the most common of these is the modern portrayal of God as an omni-benevolent deity eager to welcome us into his heavenly kingdom with open arms.  This is at extreme odds with the Old Testament portrayal of God as a vengeful, bloodthirsty deity who is consumed with anger whenever humans disappoint him by failing to give him their undivided allegiance and devotion or simply by being, well, human.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


A lot of my Christian friends have stated that, like me, they have had periods of religious doubt. “Really?” my cynical side has responded (silently, of course). “Are you just saying that to argue that your faith is intellectually defensible, that you have considered both sides and have chosen the faith side as just as reasonable as the secular side?”  And I do believe that in many cases that is a major motivation for such comments.  Each of us has experienced doubts from time to time about all manner of things and has needed some sort of inquiry or at least reassurance to put certain facts and ideas back into the “belief” column.  That, to my mind, is at a very different level from having a genuine crisis of faith.
But I also recognize that in other cases my cynicism has been unfair.  I know that many of my friends have had times when they have truly doubted their faith.  However, that only raises questions about the nature of their doubt.  How did their experience differ from mine, and why was their outcome different from mine?  Once I moved to the secular side, I never seriously looked back, I never had a crisis of unbelief, if you will.  My Christian friends, on the other hand, have reaffirmed their faith-based world view.

I know this is speculative on my part, but here are some possible differences in the nature of others’ doubts that may account for this difference in outcomes.