Posted by Anne Witton on Thursday, February 2, 2023 Under: Reflections
One way to deepen relationships and encourage people to think about their values and beliefs is to ask good questions. I read a book by Doug Pollock called ‘God Space’ and in it he talked about using ‘Wondering questions’ in our conversations. There’s an excerpt on the Cru website here.
To add to that, I’ve compiled a list of questions to help me understand the worldviews of my friends better and help them explore the basis of their beliefs.
- If there is no ultimate meaning, how do we find meaning for our lives?
- What is justice and how is it meted out?
- What is the basis for ethics and altruism?
- What happens when we die?
- What makes something morally wrong? Is it simply about harm to others or is there more to it (for example, the character of the agent)?
- How did intelligence come to be?
- How did something come from nothing?
- What gives hope in life?
- How does history shape you and your place in it?
- In a couple of generations when everyone who remembers you is dead, what legacy will you leave?
- What happened before the Big Bang?
- Why are humans more important than animals?
- Why eat a chicken but not a chimp?
- What makes one random bunch of atoms any more significant than another?
- How do you explain deep and complex emotions like love, grief, compassion and anger?
- How do you explain the spiritual nature of a moving piece of music, breathtaking vista or artwork?
- How do you personally live with injustice?
- Is forgiveness possible?
- How do you explain the fine-tuning of the universe?
- If the universe had a beginning (which is scientifically undisputed) how do you get life from non-life? What existed before the universe?
- What do you make of the sense of eternity, of something beyond, that has been common to almost every human culture and civilisation throughout history?
- If there is no ultimate meaning and meaning is simply locally created, why do we often live as though there is lasting, overarching significance?
- If the world is random and arbitrary, how does it make any sense to talk of fairness and unfairness?
- Why do you think we should help the poor, weak, vulnerable and marginalised? Why should we make sacrifices to help those who don’t contribute anything to society?
- Do you think that people are really more free sexually or is the current identity politics simply a new way of enslaving people and stopping them flourishing in healthy ways of relating to one another?
- Why do you think that mental health problems and loneliness are at epidemic levels in the West? What would you suggest the answer is?
- Do we have free will? If you take a materialistic / deterministic view of the world, how is freedom possible? If we aren’t free, how can we be morally responsible for our actions?
- Do you think secular humanism is simply a worldview for the affluent and healthy?
- What can put a restraint on hedonism?
- Do you think we have a conscience? What is it? Where does it come from?
- Can science answer every question we could ever ask about the world? If it can’t, how else might we get answers? What other types of knowledge are there apart from scientific knowledge?
- If morality and meaning are personally constructed, how do we gain consensus? Whose opinion arbitrates? How are laws formed? Is morality simply democratic social convention or is there intrinsic right and wrong? (Is there a moral difference between driving through a red traffic light and murder?)
- What do you make of the interplay of rights and responsibilities? What about when they clash?
- If there was a God, would you want to know him?
- What compelling reasons can you give for being other-centred rather than self-centred?
- Why do you think long-term commitment in relationships is decreasing? What are the effects on individuals, family and society? What’s the solution?
- How can a person derive value if they are essentially a random clump of atoms briefly, and often painfully, existing in a meaningless universe?
- Do you think we are generally improving as we make scientific and technological progress? Does our morality track scientific progress? Is it linear? Are we becoming better people than our grandparents and ancestors? Is your view of the future of humanity utopian or dystopian?
- Why do many who don’t believe in God still use language that points to him such as ‘creature’ and ‘gifted’?
For more questions, see The Complete Book of Questions: 1001 Conversation Starters for Any Occasion by Garry Poole.
In : Reflections