Reading Guide Questions
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
- Name an ethical statement or action, made or performed by a person of
faith, that could not have been made or performed by a nonbeliever.
- Do you agree with the author's assertion in chapter two, "Religion
- Do you think religion's cultural contributions have outweighed the
tribal conflicts it has provoked?
- Do you believe there is a biological or psychological basis for
- Does discussion of personal religious faith belong in the public square?
- Do you believe an atheist could be elected President of the United
- Should political speeches include the phrase, "God bless America"?
- Do you agree with the author's analysis of the central paradox at the
core of religion: That that "the three great monotheisms teach people to
think abjectly of themselves, as miserable and guilty sinners prostrate
before an angry and jealous god..." while also teaching people "to be
extremely self-centered and conceited" by assuring them that "god cares for
them individually" and that "the cosmos was created with them specifically
- Why does heaven hate ham?
- Do you agree that religion causes sexual repression and ignorance that
is harmful to children?
- Do you think secularism can provide moral authority (as religion does
for its adherents)?
- If god exists, why was this book a #1 bestseller and National Book Award
- One prominent anti-atheist argument (see p. 230) holds that atheists are
responsible for some of history's worst atrocities (e.g., Hitler, Stalin,
Pol Pot). How do you respond to this idea? Do you agree with Hitchens'
- A spurious but still popular story goes that on his deathbed, Darwin
recanted the theory of evolution and embraced Christ. Why do you think this
story became popular? Does this say anything about our society?
- Do you think atheism is incompatible with all forms of spirituality--
e.g., with the idea of Karma?
- What do you make of the idea that religion gives people "bad reasons to
behave well"? Does atheism provide us with any "good" reasons to behave
- If it were to be shown conclusively that Moses and Jesus and Mohammed
were mythical figures, and their "books" man-made and not god-made, would
all our moral dilemmas not be exactly what they are now? Or would you
consider this news a personal tragedy?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Twelve Books.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.