If you're looking for clear-cut answers to difficult questions about God--or for your guy to score a quick knock-out of a toughened sparring partner--then this book is not for you.
But if you're open to an authentic, no-holds barred, respectful dialogue about one of life's most important issues, then take up and read. There are no straw men here.
Sparked by a chance meeting between two book-club acquaintances and their discussion of Kurt Vonnegut's obituary, this dialogue between long-time Christian Jim Sire and forthright atheist Carl Peraino developed through extended email exchanges exploring minds and brains, science and morality, faith and reason, God and violence, doubt and rhetoric.
You'll find much to ponder, weigh and explore in this lively, down-to-earth book. A study guide is included if you wish to delve deeper into any of the issues raised.
Part One: Slipping into Dialogue
1. Mozart, Bach and Vonnegut: Signals of Transcendence
2. Signals Disallowed
3. Vonnegut: Humanist or Nihilist
4. Almost Human, Sometimes Smarter
5. Animal Morality
Part Two: From Morality to Worldview: The Argument Morphs
6. Morality, the Divine and Everything Else
7. An Objective Foundation for Morality
8. Scientists and Religious Commitment
9. A Colloquy on Morality
Part Three: The Theological Dimension: God in the Dock
10. Good and Evil and the Character of God
11. God Almighty
12. God, His Human Creation and Heavenly Bliss
13. God and Human Free Will
14. Speculation: What If? It Seems to Me . . .
15. Carl's Sabbath: A Personal Reflection
Part Four: Intelligent or Unintelligent Design
16. Scientists and Intelligent Design
17. Intelligent Design
18. Unintelligent Design
19. Passionately Antireligious
20. Jim's Sabbath: A Dizzy Dream
Part Five: Our Age: Sacred or Secular?
21. Remembering Secularism
22. Secularism Is Not Dead
23. In Defense of Novak
Part Six: Doctorow: The Power of Doubt
24. A Highly Evolved and Beautifully Stated Religious Point of View
25. An Unbridgeable Gulf
26. Doctorow Reconsidered
27. Doctorow: Pro and Con
28. Battling the Antitechnological Spirits
29. Computers Don't Forgive
30. Case Closed!
Part Seven: The God Question Once Again
32. Getting God Off the Hook
32. A Colloquy on the God Hypothesis
33. The Scandal of the Particular
34. A Believer's Crutch
Part Eight: Rats and Humans: Minds and Brains
35. Rat to Rat, Kindness Takes Hold
36. Chimps Too Are Kind
37. Show Me Kindness
38. Minds Emerge from Brains
39. Dualism Is Not Dead
40. Subtle Distinctions
Part Nine: The Source of Our Deepest Differences
41. A Change of Focus
42. A Way Forward
43. Carl and Jim in Ancient Greece
44. A Final Colloquy: On Faith and Reason
Part the Last: Winding Down
45. Enough Is Enough
46. Sure Is!
Afterword: Agreeing to Disagree