Posted by: rohlfsen1 | February 25, 2009

Finding Faith on Earth: A Debate of the Rarest Kind

Hey everyone!

We know that you all have plenty to do in the next few days with the paper proposal and all, but we thought we would get a jump start on our presentation for Monday. Included are some comprehension and discussion questions to guide your reading of John Haught’s God and the New Atheism: A Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens. Do not feel obligated to write any answers down, but please keep the questions in mind as you read and feel free to jot down any thoughts you may have concerning the discussion questions to help in class Monday.

Comprehension Questions: (for #3-7, simply think about both the theistic and atheistic responses to each chapter question…)

1) How does Haught compare the New Atheism to Buddhism?

2) What are the major differences between the “Old Atheism” and the “New Atheism”?

3) What is the role of theology in the world today? Does it really matter?

4) Can God be treated as a hypothesis?

5) What are the reasons for “belief” in the world? What is this “belief”?

6) What is the relationship between morality and God?

7) Does a personal God pose a threat to science? Is God personal?

8) What are the Christian responses to the New Atheism?

Discussion Questions:

1) What do you think of Haught’s method in writing God and the New Atheism: A Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens? What are his intentions and does he succeed in his goals? Do you see any contradictions, inconsistencies, unanswered questions, etc? Was he convincing?

2) What role do “rules of conduct” play in religion and in societies? Consider the following quote on page 65: “Conduct is a by-product of religion – an inevitable by-product, but not the main point. Every great religious teacher has revolted against the presentation of religion as a mere sanction of rules of conduct…. The insistence upon rules of conduct marks the ebb of religious fervor.” (by Alfred North Whitehead)

3) How do theists and the new atheists view/understand/define concepts like “faith”, “belief”, “truth”, etc? How do their understandings align and differ? How does difference in understanding create an obstacle for dialogue between the two groups? What implications does this have?

4) How does the theist – New Atheist debate change if we defend God from a Christian perspective, rather than from a strictly theist perspective? (Note how Haught attempts to use both perspectives in his book…)

5) Have there been times in your faith life when you doubted or questioned the authenticity of your faith and/or relationship with God? How did you resolve those questions, or have you resolved those questions?

Thanks and see you Monday!

Gabriel, Ryan, Rachel, Jenna, and Rae

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