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A Friendly Letter to Skeptics and Atheists: Musings on Why by David G. Myers

By David G. Myers

A pleasant Letter to Skeptics and Atheists is helping readers—both secular and religious—appreciate their universal floor. For these whose pondering has moved from the spiritual thesis to the skeptical antithesis (or vice versa), Myers bargains tips that could a science-respecting Christian synthesis. He exhibits how skeptics and folks of religion can percentage a dedication to cause, proof, and significant considering, whereas additionally embracing a religion that helps human flourishing—by making feel of the universe, giving intending to lifestyles, connecting us in supportive groups, mandating altruism, and providing desire within the face of adversity and demise.

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Additional resources for A Friendly Letter to Skeptics and Atheists: Musings on Why God Is Good and Faith Isn't Evil

Sample text

Actually, say a broad swath of today’s biblical scholars and theologians, that’s a Platonic, not a biblical, idea. ” asks Socrates in Plato’s Phaedo. For Socrates, drinking the hemlock was the soul’s liberation. It was fundamentally not dying. This is quite unlike the implicit psychology of the Old Testament people, whose nephesh (soul) terminates at death. In the Hebrew view, we do not have a nephesh; we are nephesh (living beings). In most of its eight hundred Old Testament occurrences, biblical scholars report, this nephesh is akin to the soul we have in mind when saying “there wasn’t a soul (person) in the room” or “I love you from the depths of my soul” (being).

Is prayer not a made-to-order arena for illusory thinking? If that sounds heretical, it may reassure fellow faith-heads to remember that warnings about false prayer come from believers as well as skeptics. There was no stronger skeptic of false piety than Jesus: “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases . . ” If it is heretical to think too little of the power of our prayers, it is more heretical to think of God as a celestial Santa Claus. Well, then, say some researchers from both the skeptic and believer camps, why not settle the issue empirically?

The neuroscientist Antonio Damasio illustrates this point with the case of one man who lost his ability to experience emotion after surgery for a brain tumor. Although his rational intelligence remained intact (he could think but not feel), his social judgments became dysfunctional, and he lost both his job and his marriage. Other patients, having lost their memories of emotions related to their experiences of success and failure, erred more when assessing risks in a laboratory gambling task. On this task, most people make money, as the emotions generated by their unconscious brain figure things out ahead of their conscious reasoning.

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