What does it mean to be

Let's find out

My name is Stefani. I’m completing a PhD studying the relationship between religion and science at the University of Oxford in England.

I began having panic attacks about dying and the meaning of life when I was four years old. I’ve been looking for answers ever since. In some cases, I think I’ve found them.

Today, I use my experience researching religion to help people understand themselves and the world.

Stefani Ruper

Bonus Episode: Finding Meaning in Coronavirus

Here are the notes for the coronavirus bonus episode of Naked Humanity. I have taken a pause from our regular programming to respond to the flood of people asking me to talk about coronavirus. In the beginning of this episode I briefly address anxiety and coping...

#57: What Makes Things with Funny with Alex Farrow

Here are the notes for episode #57 of Naked Humanity. Alex Farrow is both a philosophy teacher AND a really extraordinary stand up comedian (I’ve seen his show live!) so this is a heck of a podcast. Alex and I chat about what he learned teaching philosophy to high...

#56x: If I were Emperor for a Day…

Here are the notes for episode #56 of Naked Humanity. A listener wrote in and asked me: Stefani, if you were Emperor of the World for a day, what would you do? I sat down and put some thought into the question, and came up with a list of four things involving...

Existential Crisis

Once, long ago, humans lived in small tribes where everybody believed in the same spiritual story. This became more complicated over time, but until about 1500 pretty much everybody enacted religion with shared beliefs, unity, and authority.

Come the 1500s, however, Christianity began splintering.  And Europeans cast their gazes across the seas. They realised: no one anywhere in the world has the same beliefs.

Today, we live in a world in which truth has collapsed, no one agrees on anything of any importance, and are in a culture-wide existential crisis. This world is also rife with anger, anxiety, and despair. People often hate religion, or hate science, or both. We are splintering.

This is no coincidence.


The book is currently being written alongside several articles, podcast episodes, and the final chapters of a dissertation. It will likely be published in 2022. Many excerpts and related philosophical ramblings will be published on this website as they are completed. You can find those under the tag “Existential Crisis.”


Have you ever wondered why people today are always so angry, so afraid, so anxious?  While there are various answers to these questions—and many of them very important—in this book I argue that a key component to these problems is the amount of what I call existential ambiguity we are forced to live with every day. Modern humans in the West have to live with the greatest amount of uncertainty—and specifically uncertainty about life’s biggest, most pressing questions, such as what is a good life? How do we be moral? Is there a soul? Does God exist? What happens when we die?—that has ever existed in the history of the human species. This has enormous consequences for the ways in which we feel, live, and relate to one another. We can collapse into fear and nihilism, or we can use this as an opportunity to create new and beautiful things. 

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The Destructive Side of Science

Just before his death in 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus argued that the Earth revolves around the Sun in a book called On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres. This moment is often heralded as the birth of modern science. Now, theories and experiments that we would...

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How Scientists Stole the Philosopher’s Job

Neil de Grasse Tyson’s most recent book Astrophysics for People in a Hurry has been on the New York Times bestseller list for twenty-five weeks. You might think this achievement means there is something new or exciting about the book, but there isn’t, really. What...

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What does it mean to be human?

Why do we struggle to listen to one another?

What do we need to save us from ourselves?