1. In the opening chapter of The Wonder of Children, Michael Gurian reveals how the book grew from a conversation with his daughters during a visit to their dying ninety-six-year-old great-grandmother Laura. What do you think of eleven-year-old Gabrielle’s insight that the soul must be made of light? How does the author support this idea with discoveries from PET (positron-emission tomography) technologies, SPECT scans, MRIs, skin conductance tests, and other findings from neurobiology?
2. Do you think of science and religion as being in opposition to each other? Why or why not? How important do you think it is for science to confirm religious belief?
3. How persuaded are you by the scientific “proof” Michael Gurian presents for the existence of the soul? How have your own views of the soul changed, if at all, from reading The Wonder of Children?
4. How do you think our methods of childrearing would change if, as the author suggests, we stopped thinking of our children as “kids” and started thinking of them as souls? What does Michael Gurian mean when he boldly asserts “God is the child”? If we had positive scientific proof of children’s divine identity, how would that change what childhood means—not only to parents, but to human civilization?
5. One of the central ideas of The Wonder of Children is the unity of soul and body. If the soul and body are one, what happens to the soul when the body dies? If the soul remains alive when the body dies, mustn’t the soul and body be made of different materials? Do you think it is possible to believe both that the soul leaves the body at death and that the soul and the body are one? How does the author resolve that apparent contradiction?
6. What do the concept of soul markings in ancient religions and the recent discovery of the human genome—“the blueprint of human life”—tell us about “the divine map a child is born with”? Do you believe each child has a destiny? How can parents and other caregivers guide children to fulfill their destiny without trapping them in preconceived ideas of who they are or should be?
7. What happens to the souls of children and adults who have been damaged in some way? What retrieval techniques does the author suggest for these “lost souls”? Do you believe there are some lost souls that cannot be retrieved?
8. Discuss whether evil is more the result of nature or nurture. Do you believe that evil is marked on the soul? What does Michael Gurian mean when he writes: “Parents and other caregivers do not create evil in the child….Yet it is also fair to say that we are the creators of the evil in our child”?
9. What connection does the author make between child development theory—as expressed in the writings of Freud, Adler, Montessori, Piaget, and Kohlberg—and the concept of the soul growing over the course of a lifetime? Why is bonding in infancy key to the healthy progress of the soul? What role does the strong extended family play in soul growth? Why is Gurian convinced that nurturing our children’s souls is the most important thing we can do for them—and for society?
10. Do you agree or disagree with Gurian’s assertion that the new sciences are leading us, inevitably, to abandon the monotheistic idea of separation of God and humans in favor of the unitheistic concept that God is us and we are God? Why? How do you envision world religions changing in light of recent and future discoveries of the new sciences? Will these changes inspire a deepening or lessening of faith? In what ways do you think your own religious beliefs will be altered by new scientific discoveries? Which concept of God do you find more comforting—God as a Higher Power, the Supreme Being, or God as indistinguishable from every human being? Why?
11. In what ways is The Wonder of Children a natural outgrowth of the author’s nature-based child-development theories in his bestselling books The Wonder of Boys and The Wonder of Girls? How is the new book similar to and different from those earlier works?