Book Club Questions

Unraveling the Seven Riddles of the Universe

Hamilton Books an imprint of Roman & Littlefield

Alexander R Mazziotti MD, PhD


1.  Why do you think that Vitalism was still so entrenched in DuBois Reymond’s time and how farfetched, at that time, was the idea of life utilizing electricity in the workings of the heart and other muscles? Discuss the effects of DuBois-Reymond’s marriage on his life and work.


2. Which of the many scientific advances presented since the time of DuBois-Reymond’s life did you find most interesting and did you gain any new insights into the advance?


3.  The four major theories regarding the origin of life are time evolution, the Panspermia Hypothesis, MegaDNA viruses or Hydrothermal vents. Which of these four do you believe is most likely?


4. Religion in one form or another has existed since the beginning of mankind. Whitehead stated:  “The final principle of religion is that there is a wisdom in the nature of things, from which flow our direction of practice and our possibility of the theoretical analysis of fact.” Discuss the validity of this statement and of the reasons given in the book to support it.


5.  Discuss the limitations of free will in your life and does knowledge and education help with the exercising of your free will?


6. Concerning the second tier riddles, do you believe that wars will ever be eliminated?  Which of the second tier riddles have the best chance of successful solutions? Do you believe that your view of the global seven tier riddles influences how you respond to the second tier riddles?


7. How does the book’s view of the teleology of evolution differ from intelligent design and why is teleology necessary if the scientific interpretations of evolution are valid?


8. The author states that one might lose some justification for pursuing a meaningful moral life by dissociating ethics and morality from religion. Discuss your opinion on this idea. Also,  in your opinion, if one leads a truly moral life, yet removes morality from religion, is that person more ‘religious’ than someone who claims to be a religious believer and yet overall leads an immoral existence?


9. The book states:  “Whitehead, however, points out that for some situations a poet or an artist or just a mother can sometimes capture keen insights into notions not fully obtainable by rational arguments. Whitehead states: “Yet mothers can ponder many things in their hearts which their lips cannot express. These many things, which are thus known, constitute the ultimate religious evidence, beyond which there is no appeal.”” Why can emotions along with rationality sometimes penetrate reality further than purely logical analysis? Give examples from your life where you have had mystical types of experiences such as a sudden awareness of universal intelligence on walking in a beautiful garden at sunrise.


10.  Comment on this statement: “The ultimate evil in the temporal world,” Whitehead says, “is deeper than any specific evil. It lies in the fact that the past fades, that time is a ‘perpetual perishing.’” Is God, as process theory claims, not responsible for the Evil in the world?


11. As a Christian, DeWitt Hyde’s goal was to lay the framework of fundamental universal social principles consistent with and acceptable to all major religions. He bases this on the qualities of human character consistent with Judeo-Christian values, which form the foundation of modern law, from the justice seen in the Old Testament, to the goal of a Christlike character going beyond the law’s requirements with extraordinary compassion and empathy. Do you believe this is possible and how well do Eastern religions fit into this approach?


12. As the book discusses, traditional religious participation is in a steep decline. In regards to the suggestions made in the book, how can religious and moral education be revitalized?


13. Beliefs about life after death have existed since recorded history began. Discuss Whitehead’s and DeWitt Hyde’s views on this issue and their similarities.


14. Do you personally believe that an afterlife exists and how would you envision such a life? Have you ever had a dream where a dead parent or relative speaks to you about an important matter in your life? What do you think of such personal experiences and of the many books about near death experiences?


15. Discuss the notion of wisdom and to what extent does wisdom demand a more global view of our goals? How would you score yourself on your own wisdom through the years?