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50 Simple Questions for Every Christian Paperback – March 19, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; First Printing (Numerals Begin with 1) edition (March 19, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 161614727X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616147273
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review



With persistent, but gentle, words, Harrison injects logic, science and rational thinking into the discussion of Christian religions, asking only for consideration of facts without the emotional reaction of considering all questions as attacks. . . . well written and well thought out . . . deserves serious consideration by believers and non-believers alike.
-Nick Wynne, author of Florida in the Great Depression: Desperation and Defiance


Every Christian on the planet should read this book. They will be pleasantly surprised by Harrison's respectful tone and sincere desire to enlighten. Far from an attack or a series of arguments, this book explains, in plain English, why some people are skeptical of Christianity. This book is nothing less than a rare opportunity to close the gap between believers and nonbelievers, and to bring more light and tolerance to the world.
-Peter Boghossian, Instructor of Philosophy, Portland State University

Guy P. Harrison's new book is a sober, thoughtful and engaging series of inquiries for us Christians. . . . the kind of challenge we should embrace wholeheartedly.
-Rev. Barry Lynn, author of Piety & Politics and The Right to Religious Liberty



Carl Sagan taught us that we make life significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers. Guy P. Harrison offers fifty such questions for Christians to better know their own religion.
-Cameron M. Smith, PhD, Portland State University anthropologist and author of The Fact of Evolution

Both Christians and skeptics will enjoy this book for different reasons. Recommended for Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens fans as well as fans of apologetics such as Timothy Keller's Reason for God.
-Library Journal


In 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian, Guy P. Harrison balances respectful, critical analysis of myth, dogma and belief with the informative, fun and accessible style that he is renowned for.
-Jake Farr-Wharton, author of Letters to Christian Leaders

“The insight here into a skeptic’s mind compares to theologian Gregory Boyd’s Letters from a Skeptic…. Both Christians and skeptics will enjoy this book for different reasons. Recommended for Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens fans as well as fans of apologetics such as Timothy Keller’s Reason for God.”

-Library Journal
 

“These are some great questions, and those serious about their religion should reasonably ask them at some point.”

-San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review
 

“A creative, witty, and engaging book.... Although (at least ostensibly) written for Christians, I urge atheists to read 50 Simple Questions. While the questions and answers themselves are entertaining, it is Harrison’s approach that is most innovative and important. We skeptics would do well to adopt Harrison’s method of encouraging the religious to question their beliefs, since respect, rather than clearly displayed contempt, is far more likely to win hearts and minds.”

-The American Rationalist


“Carl Sagan taught us that we make life significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers. Harrison offers fifty such questions for Christians to better know their own religion. A thought-provoking, revealing, and friendly book.”

Cameron M. Smith, author of The Fact of Evolution


“A sober, thoughtful, and engaging series of inquiries for us Christians. Answering them or at least responding to whether they are ‘simple’ or the ‘correct’ questions is the kind of challenge we should embrace wholeheartedly.”
 
Rev. Barry Lynn, author of Piety & Politics
 

About the Author

Guy P. Harrison (San Diego, CA) is an award-winning writer and the author of 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian, 50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True, 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God, and Race and Reality: What Everyone Should Know about Our Biological Diversity.

More About the Author

I write about many things but my primary focus is on science and skepticism. I believe that our world could be a little better - and a lot less crazy - if more people simply understood how science works and appreciated the protective value of skeptical thinking in everyday life.


I've held numerous positions in the news industry, including editorial writer, world news editor, sports editor, photographer, page designer, and columnist. I'm a veteran travel writer, having visited and written about more than 25 countries on five continents. I have also had some very rewarding jobs teaching history and science to bright kids. My degree is in history and anthropology (University of South Florida). I've won some big awards for my writing, including the WHO (World Health Organization) Award for Health Reporting and the Commonwealth Media Award for Excellence in Journalism, but doubt anyone really cares about that stuff other than my sweet mother.


What I am most proud of in relation to my work is that my writing has touched many people. I receive messages from around the world and it's always rewarding to learn that my words have inspired one more person to think in new ways and become a good skeptic. This is what all my books to date are about: encouraging readers to turn away from the madness in order to live more sensible and honest lives, both for themselves and for the world.


When I'm not staring at a blank computer screen hoping that words will appear, I'm likely to be running, hiking, reading a science or history book, working out at a gym, or teaching critical life lessons to my children via repeated viewings of Star Trek. When normal people are consumed with thoughts about politics, economics, and the Kardashian family, I'm likely to be daydreaming about time travel, the singularity (nerd rapture) ancient Greece, extremophiles, the possibility of extraterrestrial life, and robots.


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A FEW WORDS ABOUT THINKING

One of the biggest mistakes we can make in life is to ignore or reject the possibility that we might be dead wrong about something that is very important to us.

Don't do this!

Question everything. Embrace doubt. Second guess conclusions. Be humble; after all you could be wrong. You might be the first perfect person in all of history and prehistory who is incapable of being fooled by the mistakes, lies and delusions of others. But I doubt it. You might be the first ever to rise above and see through all the deceptive quirks, traps and biases that come standard with a human brain. But I doubt it.

What good is it to hold tight to a position against every challenge if that position is in error? The goal is not to avoid ever changing your mind. The goal is to be right, or as close to it as you can be. If you value wisdom and honesty then you ought to value skepticism. Wisdom is recognizing that you don't know everything and can be fooled just like every other human who has ever lived. Wise people change their minds when evidence demands it. Honest people don't pretend to know things that they don't know.

This fundamental error in thinking crops up most often in politics and religion, of course. These two fertile fields of human thought, passion and silliness encourage if not demand that participants sacrifice their ability to think independently. This treasure is given away freely as rigid lines are drawn and feet set in cement. How can something of such value--the ability and the courage to think freely--be sacrificed by so many people with so little reluctance? Why the haste to become one more zombie in the mob? Why no remorse for the loss of so much humanity?

Please do not undervalue your ability to think independently, to grow intellectually over a lifetime, and to always do your best to move closer to truth and reality. The warmth of mindless membership may be appealing at a glance but it's fool's gold.

Change. Grow. Improve. Think and be fully human.

--Guy P. Harrison


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Think: Why You Should Question Everything (2013), is a fresh and exciting approach to science, skepticism, and critical thinking. My aim is to enlighten and inspire readers of all ages. This book challenges everyone to think like a scientist and embrace the skeptical life. If you want to improve your critical thinking skills, see through most scams at first glance, and learn how your own brain can trip you up, this is the book for you. Think shows you how to better navigate through the maze of biases and traps that are standard features of every human brain. These innate pitfalls threaten to trick us into seeing, hearing, thinking, remembering, and believing things that are not real or true. It will help you trim away the nonsense, deflect bad ideas, and keep both feet firmly planted in reality. It really is in everyone's best interest to question everything. My brand of skepticism is constructive and optimistic. It's a way of life that anyone can embrace. An antidote to nonsense, quackery, and delusion, this accessible guide to critical thinking is the perfect book for anyone seeking a jolt of inspiration. It also includes great illustration by worldclass artist Kevin Hand.



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My book, 50 Popular Beliefs that People Think are True (2013), is a skeptical grand tour of extraordinary claims such as ESP, ghosts, gods, psychics, astrology, UFOs, doomsday prophecies, Roswell, faith healing, Bigfoot, homeopathic medicine, and many more. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says of the book: "What would it take to create a world in which fantasy is not confused for fact and public policy is based on objective reality? I don't know for sure. But a good place to start would be for everyone on Earth to read this book." I'm not preachy or condescending and strive to show how we are all vulnerable to falling for unproven and unlikely claims simply because of the way our brains work. We all believe silly things. What matters is how many and how silly.


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50 Simple Questions for Every Christian (2013) is written in a respectful and conversational style. It's designed to promote constructive dialogue and foster mutual understanding between Christians and non-Christians. I ask basic questions about Christian belief, not to argue but to stimulate deeper thinking about this religion. What is the born-again experience? Why would God want or need to sacrifice his only son for us? Does this sacrifice makes sense in light of the Holy Trinity doctrine? Do miracles really happen? How reliable is the Bible? What is the rapture? Why isn't everyone a Christian? Each question is followed by commentary and analysis that is skeptical and tough but never condescending. Christians will find the book useful as a basis for developing their apologetics, while skeptics should appreciate my rational analysis of religious claims.


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My book Race and Reality: What Everyone Should Know about Our Biological Diversity (2010) is a wide-ranging exploration of the idea of biological races, written for the layperson. I show that these categories are inconsistent and illogical. Groups such as "blacks" and "whites" do exist, but they are cultural groups, rather than something that nature imposed on us. Races change according to time period and culture, for example, and do not represent a sensible and accurate picture of humankind's real biological diversity. Professor of sociology at Stanford University, Dr. David B. Grusky, says the book is, "a tour de force that conveys the current science on racial classification in a rigorous yet readable way. Even those who think they know it all about race and racial classification will come away changed."



-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God (2008) is my skeptical analysis of various religious claims that I have encountered at home and abroad. Each chapter presents a common reason for belief espoused by followers of various religions and then explains why there is reason for doubt. Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, calls the book "engaging and enlightening." I wrote this book in a way that respects believers, if not always their beliefs. I have no interest in winning arguments. I only want to inspire people to think more deeply about what they believe and why.




Customer Reviews

This was a very well written and interesting book.
Jim Davis
Just like his other two '50' books Guy asks questions that are quite effective at guiding the reader to think about christian based ideas in a different way.
Stevie Ray
A skeptical look at Christian beliefs, this is a page-turner of a book, I highly recommend it!
Book Shark

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First about me: I was a dedicated Christian my whole life until fairly recently. After reading Gary Bond's Rethinking God, the Cosmos, and Other Little Things: A Journey from Belief to Reason, my life was changed and I "saw the Light." Now embracing a life of skepticism, I was eager to learn more about my non-belief.

50 Simple Questions for Every Christian was the book I found next. The description and reviews appealed to me. I read it, and I was blown away. Every single "Question" is presented clearly with logical reasons why atheists simply can't believe in that particular aspect of Christianity. I really felt foolish for being a believer, but I understand the power of indoctrination and belief systems.

The main difference between Harrison's arguments and Christian apologetics is that Harrison's simply make sense. The points he makes are factual and logical and rational and really can't be denied. This is contrasted to apologetics which must use circular reasoning to try to make sense of things that don't make sense.

I like the format of the book. He is not out to convert Christians to atheism (although I know he wouldn't mind if this happened). He just wants Christians to understand the many reasons why thinking people are never going to be able to blindly believe in Christianity. He doesn't say Christians are wrong. Many claims of Christians can't be disproven, but such extraordinary claims should require Christians to provide the proof, not vice versa.

This book will be my new Bible. It is easy to reference the various topics.
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64 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Book Shark TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 21, 2013
Format: Paperback
50 Simple Questions for Every Christian by Guy P. Harrison

"50 Simple Questions for Every Christian" is a friendly skeptic's challenge to Christians about their beliefs. In a respectful conversational tone, Guy P. Harrison guides the reader through fifty stimulating questions about Christian beliefs. Harrison's responds to each question in a thought-provoking manner while remaining courteous. This interesting 350-page book is composed of fifty questions that cover the gamut of Christian beliefs.

Positives:
1. Elegant and engaging conversational tone, a Guy Harrison trademark.
2. The most interesting topic of discussion, religion, in the hands of a master thinker. This book covers a wide range of Christian beliefs.
3. A well-researched book that is well referenced and cited.
4. An intellectual treat. Thought-provoking responses to interesting questions while never once being condescending or disrespectful.
5. This book is a challenge for Christians to think deeply about their beliefs. Harrison typically provides common apologetic answers and proceeds to dismantle them with lucid precision.
6. So many great reasons why skeptics walk away unconvinced from basic Christian claims. "Shouldn't the courage to accept reality as it is and not as we would prefer it to be an admirable quality?"
7. Religion and politics. "Asking people about their religion is not rude when they are the ones who made a big deal about it. It's not only appropriate to explore such extraordinary claims by candidates; in a democracy, it's a responsibility."
8. The efficacy of prayers. "The real world looks just like it might look if prayer didn't work and no gods existed."
9. Why everyone is an atheist...
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Erik A. Kruger on April 25, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am an avid reader, and an avid atheist. I read almost everything that is worth reading about skepticism concerning religion (especially, but not exclusively Christianity), and I also try to read some of the best works in apologetics.

In this unassuming, very readable, and honest book, Guy Harrison perhaps inadvertently pulls a fast one.

Not only are his 50 questions simple, direct, and to-the-point, but, honestly, this book should be read primarily for Harrison's excellent answers.

Each chapter is full of the author's characteristic good will mixed with worldly wisdom. As a journalist and traveler, Harrison has been all over the world, and has come into contact with a wide array of people of all sorts of religious sensibility. This comes clear in each chapter, and also shades an important contrast to so many other "atheist" books currently on the market. Completely unlike the in-your-face and often alienating (to believers) tone of the primary bestsellers of the "Four Horsemen" of the "New Atheism" in particular, Harrison comes across as one of the rarest and yet most important of types: He's both a hard-hitting skeptic *and* a genuinely Nice Guy. (Pun intended.)

All of the questions he asks are important ones, and many of his answers are deceptively sophisticated. His text is quite easy to read, but also conveys many subtle yet important ideas which often seem to stump even quite complicated and intelligent apologists and defenders of religion in the broad sense and, in the narrow(er) sense, defenders of the tens of thousands of variants of Christianity.

To take just one question/chapter--not quite at random, since I've been re-reading it--, "Does the Complexity of Life Reveal An Intelligent Designer?
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