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An Atheist Defends Religion: Why Humanity is Better Off with Religion Than Without It Paperback – Bargain Price, August 4, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Delving into a huge reservoir of research, Sheiman demonstrates beyond any doubt that religious belief has an overwhelmingly positive impact on health and well-being. Sheiman takes an honest and objective look at this controversial area and offers a rare and refreshing perspective on the enduring benefits of faith." --Harold G. Koenig, M.D., Duke University Medical Center; Director, Center for the Study of Religion, Spirituality and Health

"This book is a timely, engaging, good-spirited, and clearly argued defense of the personal and social value of religion at its highest levels of expression." -- Gary Dorrien, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary; Professor of Religion, Columbia University

"Wrestling with God is great exercise. Bruce Sheiman provides a veritable spiritual workout guide in An Atheist Defends Religion ." -- Gregg Easterbrook, author of Beside Still Waters: Searching for Meaning in an Age of Doubt

"Sheiman presents a trenchant critique of the shrill voices of militant atheism. While many readers may not be entirely comfortable with Sheiman's articulate defense of theism, most will agree that the time has come to affirm the vital significance of both religion and science to humanity and to the planet." -- Owen Gingerich, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and author of God's Universe

From the Publisher

An Atheist Defends Religion is a robust response to the numerous recent books by unbelievers - but with a twist. The author, Bruce Sheiman, is an atheist. But unlike most atheists who embrace their rejection of God as a sign of intellectual triumph, he asserts that such disbelief is maladaptive and that some form of religious belief is the overwhelmingly preferable option.

An Atheist Defends Religion provides a more thoughtful interpretation of the theism-atheism debate than has hitherto been offered. This book is not for the dogmatic minority on either side of the religion debate; rather, it is intended for the "moderate majority" of religious America. Reaching beyond the God question, this book explains how religion provides a combination of psychological, moral, emotional, existential, communal, and even physical-health benefits that no other institution can replicate.

This book records the soul searching of an atheist who wants to believe in God - an "aspiring theist." As an atheist sympathetic to religious aspirations, Mr. Sheiman approaches his subject with greater impartiality, sensitivity and perceptiveness than any partisan religious or secular observer. An Atheist Defends Religion reveals that, in its most profound simplicity, religion is about our relationship to the highest values we are able to envision. The author explains how we achieve our fullest humanity only in religion.

In the end, An Atheist Defends Religion cogently explains that the most rational and definitive argument for dismissing atheism is not to be found in the interminable debate over the existence of God, but in elucidating the enduring value of religion itself. An Atheist Defends Religion persuasively shows that atheism is an impoverished belief system, and that, individually and collectively, we are much better off with religion than without it.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Alpha; Original edition (August 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592578543
  • ASIN: B00740IKHO
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,168,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The author, Bruce Sheiman, is an atheist. But unlike most atheists who embrace their rejection of God as a sign of intellectual triumph, he asserts that such disbelief is maladaptive and that some form of religious belief is the overwhelmingly preferable option. Reaching beyond the God question, this book explains how religion provides a combination of psychological, moral, emotional, existential, communal, and even physical-health benefits that no other institution can replicate.

The question presented is not whether God exists, but whether the world is a better place because people believe God exists. This book, as a consequence, is not a defense of God; rather, it is a defense of the belief in God and of religious belief in general.

Please visit the book's companion website at AnAtheistDefendsReligion.com

This book records the soul searching of an atheist who wants to believe in God - an "aspiring theist." As an atheist sympathetic to religious aspirations, Mr. Sheiman approaches his subject with greater impartiality, sensitivity and perceptiveness than any partisan religious or secular observer.

"An Atheist Defends Religion" provides a more thoughtful interpretation of the theism-atheism debate than has hitherto been offered. This book is not for the dogmatic minority on either side of the religion debate; rather, it is intended for the "moderate majority" of religious America.

Mr. Sheiman holds a B.A. degree (Phi Beta Kappa, Suma Cum Laude) from Fordham University and an M.B.A. degree from Northwestern University.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth A. Root on September 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
Don't take the stars too seriously in this case. I think this book will be useful to some and useless to others.

Roger Sheiman, "grew up in a religious-neutral, theologically confused household. [...] went to a Jesuit college and learned to do what Jesuits do--question everything, including religion. Self-reflection and critical reasoning were the forces that molded me into an obstinate atheist."

Sheiman would like to believe in God, but can't, yet finds his atheism rather barren. "devoid of depth, value, and meaning." I simply disagree, so these arguments don't move me. The reader who is troubled by such questions would probably do well to pick up this book. To be fair, Sheiman is speaking about society at large more than giving individual advice.

Unlike David G. Myers in A Friendly Letter to Skeptics and Atheists: Musings on Why God Is Good and Faith Isn't Evil, he does not urge atheists and skeptics to practice religion in hopes of becoming religious. He does, however, think that religion is a great force for good in the lives of humanity. At times he is talking about any and all religions, but at other times he exalts Christianity above all others.

I came to atheism by another route: I was religious as a child and became disillusioned. To me, accepting atheism was finding a sanctuary. I share some of the distress of Sheiman and others at militant atheism, as practiced by the belligerent Dawkins, Hitchens, etc., but I am also disheartened by the fact that atheists are attacked merely for being atheists, so I suppose one might argue that one might as well be tactless.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ApologiaPhoenix on June 1, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
What do I think of Bruce Sheiman's book? Let's plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It's hard to know what to think when you see a title of An Atheist Defends Religion. You might think a similar title could be A Jew defends Adolf Hitler or A Christian defends Muslim terrorists. The two seem so antithetical. Why on Earth would an atheist want to defend religion? Isn't religion the bane of the atheist's existence? Unfortunately, if we start thinking out that way, we start thinking out wrong. In fact, we are thinking in a fundamentalist way that Sheiman in his book condemns that has created an us vs. them climate. Ironically, as Sheiman argues, this only makes the situation worse for atheism and in turn for science (Which is not to be equated with atheism either) since generally, for most of the public, if they're asked to choose between religion and science, they'll go with religion.

Sheiman does not hold back in saying he is an atheist in the book, but he also considers himself an aspiring theist. He does not like the worldview presented by atheism. I do appreciate greatly his honesty at this point. Sheiman wants to follow the evidence where it leads and while he would like to believe in God, he says he just cannot bring himself to do it now. I do not know what is holding him back and that could be another conversation some day to have, but I do know that belief is not a lightswitch that you can just turn off and on. We need to have people believe because they think something is more likely than not to be true.

Sheiman also does not see atheism as a form of intellectual triumphalism. I find this to be an excellent point to make as well.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Robert Kiehn on February 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Author Bruce Sheiman wrote an excellent book about the ongoing conflict
between Religion and Science; Religious people and Atheists.

I think the examiner gave a good review of it:

"Subtitled, "Why Humanity is Better Off with Religion Than Without It" this book's title is admittedly provocative, causing a plethora of questions and comments, "What?" "Yeah, right, I bet he defends religion." But don't be tempted to dismiss this book without reading it. In fact, it is worth sharing with someone else in order to stimulate a conversation over the topic of Them vs. Us or "God exists" vs. "God is dead."

A self-proclaimed "aspiring theist" Sheiman presents a compelling argument in response to the militant atheists who proclaim the the rejection of God is a sign of intellectual superiority and will bring about the betterment of society. Instead, the author maintains that religion has been a force for good throughout history, for the individual, family, communities, globally and historically. When commenting on the argument that religion is responsible for many of the world's atrocities, he writes,

"Religion's misdeeds make for provocative history, but the everyday good works of billions of people is the real history of religion, one that parallels the growth and prosperity of humankind. There are countless examples of individuals lifting themselves out of personal misery through faith. In the lives of these individuals, God is not a delusion, God is not a spell that must be broken - God is indeed great."

However, this book is not intended to simply prove that militant atheists are in the wrong. With abundant research, the author takes on the role of mediator, presenting arguments for both sides.
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