Who Needs God Episode 1: “Atheist 2.0”
Americans are migrating away from religion, particularly Christianity, at an unprecedented rate. Once upon a time, Americans believed religion offered solutions. Today, religion is viewed by many as the problem.
- What kind of faith or religion was a part of your upbringing, if any? What has been your experience as an adult with what you were taught as a child to embrace?
- Do you agree with the idea that when we move away from something, we are in essence moving toward something else? If so, when it comes to faith, what do you feel you are moving away from? And as a result, what do you feel you are moving toward?
- Andy stated that just because something is unsettling doesn’t mean it isn’t true. What about Christianity unsettles you the most? What about atheism unsettles you the most?
- Do you believe the process of walking away from faith or religion is more personal or more intellectual? Explain.
Walking away from something moves us in the direction of something else.
Who Needs God Episode 2: “Gods of the No Testament”
Typically, people who don’t believe in God don’t believe in a particular version of God. But what if they have the wrong version? What if you have the wrong version? If you’ve walked away from faith or religion, it could be that your version of god never existed in the first place.
- Where did your view of God originate?
- Did you inherit any of the following “growing up gods”? If so, which one(s)?
Bodyguard god: prevents bad things from happening
On-demand god: honors fair and selfless requests
Boyfriend god: makes its presence known
Guilt god: controls through guilt and fear
Anti-science god: forces trade of the undeniable for the unreliable
Gap god: becomes the explanation for the unexplainable
- If at any point in life you decided to walk away from faith or religion, would you say that any of these “growing up gods” contributed to that decision?
- To what extent do you associate religion with guilt?
- During this episode, Andy said the choice between God and science is a false alternative and that, “If everything were explained and explainable, it would not explain away God.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
Walking away from a god that never existed doesn’t mean there isn’t one that does.
Who Needs God Episode 3: “The Bible Told Me So”
If the Bible is the foundation of the Christian faith, then as the Bible goes, so goes the legitimacy of Christianity. But what if the Bible shouldn’t hold that much weight in the debate? In this episode, Andy explains that Christianity doesn’t exist because of the Bible any more than you exist because of your birth certificate.
- In the stories you’ve heard from others about their decision to walk away from Christianity, or perhaps in your own story, what have been the reasons? Do any of those reasons stem from what they’ve been told is true about God or the Bible?
- Describe one question or concern you have about something you’ve read or heard about in the Bible. Do you believe it must be resolved in order to further consider Christianity?
- How do you think 1st, 2nd, and 3rd century Christians managed to endure significant hardship and effect change in the political landscape of their time without access to a Bible? What do you think inspired or compelled them forward?
- If debates about Christianity no longer centered around Is the Bible true? but shifted to Who is Jesus?, how might the conversation change?
Christianity doesn’t exist because of the Bible; Christianity exists because of something that happened.
Who Needs God Episode 4: “The God of Jesus”
It’s easy to get caught between doubt and despair when we’ve always assumed God to be bodyguard god, on-demand god, guilt god, etc. If God has lost his appeal because we’ve mixed him up with a gaggle of gods that don’t exist, then how can we know what God is really like?
- What is your reaction to the conclusion that Christianity isn’t rooted in blind faith, but in observable evidence? Do you agree with Andy that Christianity never would have made it out of the first century otherwise?
- Given the evidence for the viability of Christianity as it’s been presented so far in the series, do you think what Jesus had to say about the nature of God is worth considering?
- God is Spirit. In your opinion, is it plausible that God as “spaceless, timeless, and immaterial” could be the “first cause” that science is looking for?
- God is Father. Is it difficult for you to view God as a perfect father? Why or why not? What is one thing in your life that could change if God became that personal to you?
- God is Love. Much like in Andy’s analogy of shade requiring sun in order to exist, do you agree that evil requires good? If so, does that help to explain how God, in his essence, could be love, despite the existence of evil in the world? What are the holes in that idea?
The God of Jesus is Spirit. The God of Jesus is Father. The God of Jesus is Love.
Who Needs God Episode 5: “In-Justice For All”
We all want to rid the world of injustice. But we can only recognize injustice if we know what justice is to begin with. We don’t always agree about what is just. So, who gets to define justice?
- When have you seen injustice in your world? How did it influence the way you see God?
- Do you believe there is an objective standard of “dignity and justice for all”? If so, where do you believe it came from? Do you think it varies from one culture or society to the next?
- During the message, Andy said, “When we reject God because of injustice, we don’t solve injustice. We lose the definition.” Do you agree with that statement? Why or why not?
- Is it easier to regard pain and suffering in the world as an argument against the existence of God or as a reminder of our need for God? Explain.
- Does it make sense why God provided a way to save humanity from its shortcomings instead of choosing to judge humanity for them? Are you glad that God went that route? Why or why not?
When we reject God because of injustice in the world, we don’t solve injustice. We lose the definition.
Who Needs God Episode 6: “I Do”
We all want to be masters of our own destinies. We all want to feel in control of our lives. The idea of autonomy is attractive; it makes life feel ordered and predictable. One of the biggest barriers to belief in God’s existence is that we don’t want to need God. But what if autonomy is an illusion?
- Talk about a time when you admitted you were wrong about something. How difficult was it for you to change your mind? What happened to cause that change?
- “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” Be honest with yourself: how does this quote by Blaise Pascal apply to your belief in or rejection of the existence of God?
- Assume for a moment that God does exist. What is your reaction to that notion, and how does it make you feel? As Andy describes in the episode, can you relate to feeling guilty, accountable, or wrong?
- If unaccountable people make regretful decisions, to whom would you say you are ultimately accountable?
- What if the existence of God brings forgiveness, relationship, and truth? What is attractive or unattractive about each of those ideas?
Humility makes us wiser, smarter, and open to growth. Humility is the way forward.