Book review: I Sold My Soul on eBay

by Hemant Mehta

★★★★★

Mehta is “the eBay atheist,” the nonbeliever who auctioned off the opportunity for the winning bidder to send him to church. Since then, Mehta has visited a variety of churches, from the cozy to the mega churches, and written about his experiences.

If you’re looking for comedy, this is not. The subtitle is “Viewing faith through an atheist’s eyes,” and Mehta, who stopped believing as a teenager, never crosses back over the line.

He begins his book by explaining what it is the nonreligious believe. He touches on prayer, suffering, child raising, and points out that atheism is not merely the denial of a supernatural being; it is a lifestyle. Then he narrates his journey from church to church, describing the events, the rituals, the music and more from an outsider’s viewpoint. At the conclusion of the book, Mehta offers suggestions for making the church experience more attractive and how to reach out to unbelievers.

What would it take for Mehta to become a believer? A miracle. A real miracle, not some “God helped me find a roommate” type of miracle. And I suspect Hemant speaks for a great number of atheists.

In a recent forum, someone made the statement that the believer will never understand the atheist’s mind, and the atheist will never understand the believer’s mind. I’m not sure I entirely agree, because many people grow from believers into atheists and vice versa. But the typical Christian suggestion that atheists work to suppress an inherent belief in God is no more true than the atheist idea that Christians are easily deluded. I have met many incredibly intelligent people on both sides of the line. Mehta’s book bridges the gap and breaks down the stereotypes.

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