This post is a continuation of the Unitarian Universalist re-framing of the discussion questions at the end of Hemant Mehta's I Sold My Soul on eBay: Viewing Faith through an Atheist's Eyes. Hemant is also the author of the Friendly Atheist blog.
The discussion questions for the book's Introduction can be found here:
UU Discussion Questions For "I Sold My Soul on eBay" (Part I)
The discussion questions for Chapter 1 can be found here:
UU Discussion Questions For "I Sold My Soul on eBay" (Part II)
Chapter 2: The Reasons I Lost My Religion
(1) "When I chose to reject the idea of God," Hemant writes, "I was motivated in part by facets of my religion that didn't ring true." Have you identified any religious beliefs you have been taught that no longer ring true? If so, what do you do with those teachings? With Unitarian Universalism's non-creedal history, what options are available for Unitarian Universalists?
(2) In mentioning that he continues to honor many of the principles of Jainism, the author draws a distinction between religious values and religious beliefs. He supports the values while rejecting the beliefs. Do you agree that the values of a religion can legitimately be separated from that religion's belief system? Is this question different for non-creedal covenantal faith communities like Unitarian Universalism?
(3) When Hemant decided to become an atheist, he risked losing his family's support and his friendship within this larger religious community. For many Unitarian Universalists who leave their childhood faiths to join us, do they have similar risks? Are there lifespan differences when the decision to join us is made? Is it different for a teen? Young adult? Older adult? Are the risks associated with joining Unitarian Universalism influenced by the surrounding community's prevailing culture?
(4) After his family moved to Tennessee, Hemant found himself a religious minority in a new school. He states, "Trying to explain my beliefs was a futile, often embarrassing exercise, so I kept my religion to myself." Have you ever felt this way as a Unitarian Universalist? If so, do you feel comfortable sharing with others about it?
(5) The author describes his parents' decision to move back to the Chicago area. The resulting disappointment led Hemant to question God, and he eventually became an atheist. Have you ever found yourself questioning deeply held religious beliefs like this? What were the outcomes of this questioning? Did Unitarian Universalism play a part in this questioning?
(6) Hemant's advice to Christian parents who are concerned that their children might abandon their childhood faith is to make sure they know the deeper reasons behind Christian beliefs. He writes, "Don't rely on reasons such as 'This is what Catholics have always done' or 'The Bible says we should do this.'" How do you feel about his advice? Do you think that Unitarian Universalist parents would have similar concerns about their children? Why or why not? What concerns do you think that Unitarian Universalist parents do have about their children and their future religious path?
(7) The author found that "all religions were trying to answer questions they didn't have the answers to. What was so wrong with not knowing?" How do you feel about this concern as a Unitarian Universalist?
(8) Hemant suggests that belief in God is learned and not innate. He writes, "I think we're born without any knowledge of God and we are taught by our parents or other influential people that God exists." What do you think about this suggestion? Do you believe humans have an innate sense of the divine? Are there ways to find answers to these questions using cross-cultural comparisons or sharing personal histories?