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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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"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.
More About the Author
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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hinduism has been called the "oldest religion" in the world,Allah in Muslim belief,Yahweh in Jewish belief,Jupiter (mythology), in the religion of ancient Rome,Pangu, in... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Freeyourmind
This guy has many good ideas. It has been a while since I read it but I remember the moderation in it. militant athiests and fundamentalism are blood brothers.Published 22 months ago by Amazon Customer
This book surprised me with its depth and thoughtfulness. It is hard to believe that the author really doesn't believe in God. Read morePublished on April 4, 2013 by Mark Alan McNeil
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I really enjoyed reading this book. This is, I believe, the closest thing to a "neutral" position that we will find in the never-ending atheism-vs.-theism debate. Read morePublished on November 7, 2011 by Clarinerd85
This is my first review here, but this book of Bruce Sheiman is not the first one I have purchased at Amazon.com. Read morePublished on February 4, 2011 by Timo Tiainen
Sheiman gives excellent arguments showing why the "New Atheists" are wrong in claiming that science can explain everything, wrong in claiming that science "disproves" God, and... Read morePublished on January 24, 2011 by PH Bible Student
After reading this book, I must say that I was really impressed with how Mr. Sheiman the author was able to present an insightful and educational look into how religion has played... Read morePublished on December 27, 2010 by V
I cannot say I am either an atheist or a theist. I do accept that I cannot entirely escape belief, as much as I would like to. Read morePublished on March 13, 2010 by Dug Fresh