Mankind seems to have a universal sense of morality and a desire to understand what is actually real.
Our conclusions by which we live is called our "worldview."
Before Pilate, Jesus said he came "into the world to bear witness to the truth," and "everyone who is of the truth hears my voice."
Pilate, probably in sarcasm, responded, "What is truth?"
Webster's dictionary defines truth: "Truth is that which conforms to fact or reality."
Atheism and Christianity base their worldview claims on truth: reality or facts.
The book discussion group I proposed in a recent letter to the editor in the Daily Press would, at its outset, limit itself to these two worldviews.
The two books chosen are The New York Times' best sellers.
The first is Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion."
Dawkins' arguments are passionately stated and poetically expressed but are rooted in reason and evidence, wrote Steven Pinker, author of "How the mind works."
The second book is Timothy Keller's "The Reason for God."
Keller mines material from literary classics, philosophy, anthropology, etc. to make an intellectually compelling case for God, according to Publishers Weekly.
Later in the group, other worldviews could be discussed and compared including the Gnosticism espoused by a recent column in the Daily Press by Sean Davis.
The following are excerpts from each book:
From "The God Delusion," Dawkins writes:
"I suspect that there are lots of people out there who have been brought up in some religion or other, are unhappy in it, don't believe it, or are worried about the evils that are done in its name : this book is for you. It is intended to raise consciousness : to the fact that to be an atheist is a realistic aspiration, and a brave and splendid one. You can be an atheist who is happy, balanced, moral and intellectually fulfilled. That is the first of my consciousness-raising messages."
By contrast, Keller writes:
"Three generations ago most people inherited rather than chose their religious faith. : Today : people are opting instead for a non-religious life, for a non-institutional, personally constructed spirituality, or for orthodox, high commitment religious groups that expect members to have a conversion experience. Therefore the population is growing both more religious and less religious at once : even as believers should learn to look for reasons behind their faith, skeptics must learn to look for a type of faith hidden within their reasoning : you cannot doubt belief A except from a position of faith in belief B."
Each author gives his best.
I personally am in Keller's tribe, a high-commitment Christian agreeing and learning from his thinking.
Dawkins is a renewed challenge for me; I came to faith in Jesus Christ while doing graduate work at Penn State University under the leadership of Dr. Jefferies, a confirmed atheist.
Our book discussions will be civil and thoughtful, and anyone is welcome.
I will be at McDonalds at 4 p.m. Sundays.
Books are available from me - I am the old guy with the white beard, shaved head and bib overalls sitting at the round table in the southwest corner.