Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. Have you ever wondered where the idea of God itself came from? Much has been written about humans being “created in the image of God”, but sometimes it seems as if God has been “created in the image of humans.” Discuss.
2. When you hear someone say the word “God”, or make claims about what God has done, or will do, does it ever make you uncomfortable, even angry? Share your feelings when it comes to the “God talk” in your world.
3. What do you think are the most common images for God and what do they say about our understanding of the divine? Is God male? White? Possessed of human emotions like jealousy and anger? Have these images changed for you since childhood?
4. Quantum entanglement has been called the most important discovery in physics. In chapter 2, it is explained and contrasted with Newtonian physics. But what does this have to do with God? Does what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance” have theological implications? Why is God compared with a “luminous web” and what does it have to do with the common good?
5. Chapter 3 is entitled, “Sin as the Illusion That We Are Hole Alone.” What does the author mean by this, and how is it different from the way we usually think of sin?
6. How do you define “faith?” Is it a belief system based on the doctrines of a religious institution that you agree to accept without doubt? Or is it a form of trust in the uncertain journey of life? Discuss the relationship between faith and certainty and between trust and uncertainty. What does faith look like in your life?
7. Prayer is both expected of all religious people and one of the biggest stumbling blocks for those who question the way we pray—or even why we pray. What are the different kinds of prayer mentioned in chapter 5, and what defines prayer for you? If you pray, how does it change things?
8. We’ve all heard of chaos theory, and yet we have seldom thought of it in religious terms. Yet if we live in a cosmic field and there is no separation, every action and reaction chains out into infinity and we can make the world better or worse with every move we make. Think of your life as the sum total of the decisions you have made and discuss how everything would have been different if you had decided or acted differently. This is both frightening and powerful. Discuss.
9. The idea of God has been centered in a distant deity, far removed from everyday life. But what if there is no difference between the sacred and the profane? What if holiness is found in the utterly ordinary, a present reality that masks a daily miracle? What if when it comes to God, we stopped looking up and started looking around? Have we been taught to look for the holy, the sacred, in all the wrong places? Discuss those moments when you experienced a mystical union, a new way of seeing and feeling that changed everything.
10. When John Lennon sang “Imagine,” some people saw it as the ballad of an atheist. Study the lyrics carefully and see if you agree. Is Lennon questioning the existence of God, or what we have turned God into? Does he ask that we imagine no God, or just no religion? What’s the difference? In what ways does our view of God determine our view of religion, adding to the fires of nationalism, rising inequality, and sectarian violence? Would we be better off without religion, or could we change our understanding of God in ways that revolutionize religion? Discuss this and any other ideas or insights you gained from the book. What was your favorite story, and why?