Donald W. Gieschen is the author of this piece and, with the exceptionof the small talk, all of what Don says in the substantive conversations in AnUncommon Conversation is autobiographically true of the author in the sensethat what Don says both accurately relates events in the author’s life andhonestly expresses the authors thoughts on the subjects being talked about.The lunches are fictional. Paul is a fictional character created to be part ofthe conversation. Don is a self-professed atheist. The fictitious friend, Paul, isslightly younger than Don, and is a believer. They were close friends in theiryouth, almost like brothers, and have continued their friendship at a distanceover the past years with letters and occasional visits. Paul, as he is portrayed,is rather easy going. He is married with a family and is here visiting. Heis alone, staying with his son and the son’s family who have just recentlymoved to Phoenix, Arizona. Don lives in near-by Tempe. Paul is curiousand is especially interested in other people and their lives, though not in anuncomfortable nosey way, as you will see. He graduated from the Universityof Michigan. From there he started up and ran a successful consultingbusiness specializing in the field of health-care. Don and Paul both served inthe Navy during World War II. We encounter them conversing over lunchat a local restaurant. Don, who does most of the talking, talks about his lifeand a great deal about his reasons for rejecting any form of religious faith.The conversation then takes up the question of moral values and moralityin what according to Don is a Godless universe. Don’s views on faith and onethics derive from his study and teaching of philosophy, though the areas ofreligion and ethics were not the areas of philosophy in which he concentratedhis study and research or his teaching. The conversation between these twofriends, with daily breaks, spans a five-day period.
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