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Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion Hardcover – November 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199740011
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199740017
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #180,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Everyone knows, deep down, that there is a conflict between reason and faith-between having good reasons for what one believes and having bad ones. This conflict finds its most poignant expression in the lives of men and women who have lost their belief in God despite their best efforts to maintain it. Faith No More offers a fascinating look at these lives, and at the myriad ways in which thoughtful people can come to their senses."
--Sam Harris, author of the New York Times bestsellers The Moral Landscape, Letter to a Christian Nation, and The End of Faith


"With Faith No More Philip Zuckerman has given us a fascinating look at how individual contemporary Americans raised in various religions awakened out of a belief in the supernatural. His care in not rounding all these up into any facile overarching theories is itself almost supernatural, and yet in this careful reporting of their stories he manages to offer a great deal of insight. It is a wonderfully informative and provocative study and should be read by everyone interested in the real experience of religion and irreligion."
--Jennifer Michael Hecht, author of Doubt: A History


"Faith No More helps us understand the diverse routes people take to irreligiosity and the dilemmas they face in a culture that often condemns them. Far from being kneejerk atheists, it turns out that the most secular Americans have actually spent a lot of time wrestling with their faith. Documenting their journeys and placing them in sociological context, this book establishes Phil Zuckerman as one of the most sophisticated analysts of secularity today." --Arlene Stein, Professor of Sociology, Rutgers University


"This could-be-dry content proves immensely engaging becuase of Zuckerman's jargin-free exposition and his seamless incorporation of interview material rendered apparently verbatim-verbal tics("like,""you know," etc) and all-in the manner of a good documentart film."--Ray Olson, Booklist


"Zuckerman's writing is engaging and straightforward, which makes for enjoyable reading...[Faith No More] is laudable for its rich interview data, readability, and insight into the lived experiences of American apostates."--Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion


"This is an absorbing book that puts flesh on the bones of recent identifiable trends in American nonbelief and, in turn, profoundly questions the assumption of a 'spiritual turn' in Western societies. Moreover, it provides distinctive insights into the complexities of belief, nonbelief, doubt and scepticism."--Social Forces


"Zuckerman here builds on his previous work which examined 'Society without God,' that is, Nordic countries which rank amongst the least religious places in the world. In this book he combines qualitative interviews and rich descriptions to produce an interesting and well written book."--Catholic Books Review


"The interview data are valuable for research on irreligion in America. The book will probably be enjoyed most by readers who, like Zuckerman's subjects, have lost their religion. These readers are likely to feel encouraged that they are not alone, that it takes courage to do what they have done, and that life can be good without religion."--Sociology of Religion


About the Author


Phil Zuckerman is Professor of Sociology at Pitzer College. He is the author of Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us about Contentment, Atheism and Secularity, and Invitation to the Sociology of Religion.

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Customer Reviews

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They have beliefs like everyone else.
F. Ramos
It can be a sad process or a joyous one--or both.
A Customer
As accessible a book as you will ever read.
Book Shark

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Book Shark TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 17, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion by Phil Zuckerman

"Faith No More" is a social study of why people have rejected religion. Social scientist Phil Zuckerman conducts a series of in-depth interviews from apostates of all walks of life and makes some interesting predictions. The book is composed of the following ten chapters: 1. Mother Was an Exorcist, 2. Stopped Making Sense, 3. Misfortune, 4. To Be Mormon, or Not to Be, 5. Sex and Secularity, 6. Others, 7. Jail, Food Stamps, and Atheism, 8. The Apostate Worldview, 9. All in the Family?, and 10. How and Why People Reject Religion.

Positives:
1. As accessible a book as you will ever read.
2. Fascinating social study that focuses on why people reject their religion.
3. Thought-provoking questions.
4. Mr. Zuckerman treats his topics with utmost care and respect.
5. An interesting look at the impact religion has on people. Good stuff!
6. The differences between men and women regarding religion.
7. Factors that contribute to the loss of religious beliefs.
8. Interesting interviews and surprising responses.
9. A look at various religious beliefs.
10. The impact of religious beliefs and sexuality...interesting insight.
11. Find out which academic discipline has the highest rate of atheism and why.
12. Find out what factors contribute most to our beliefs.
13. Are atheists more immoral than theists?
14. Interviewees provide wisdom, "When I was a Christian, I remember being motivated by what I thought God wanted...now, I feel like I am good because I've made the decision to be good."
15. The section of "Morality After Religion" is by far the most intellectually rewarding part of this entire book. Kudos.
16.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By F. Ramos on January 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Phil Zuckerman did well in writing this book. Granted that it is not new or unique in its claims, it is good to see that some more research is being done on issues such as conversion and apostasy. This book gives a glimpse into the beliefs and journeys of "ordinary" atheists which is really needed since polemic atheists like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, etc are simply not representative of the vast majority of atheists' attitudes, beliefs, and intensity. This book is a decent place to start for those who are interested in what triggers apostasy and what has made some who subscribed to one belief system abandon and switch for another. He interviews 87 people total in this qualitative study (about half were raised in California and the rest are from other parts of the country or other parts of the world). Christian apostates are the main focus in the book, though others are mentioned. For many, atheism and agnosticism became their new belief system (I would argue "religion") since just as they left a few beliefs and behaviors they also gained quite a few to substitute or replace them. Its good for some to know that atheists and agnostics do not live empty lives that are void of content. They have beliefs like everyone else. In fact, atheists are simply not qualitatively different than theists.

This book is mainly about atheists and agnostics and how or why they ceased believing certain things they used to. It is clear that most of the abandonment of previous beliefs had very little to do with rigorous analysis of the best scientific and philosophical arguments and research.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By mich on December 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
To be honest, this is the book that I wish I would have written. As a recent apostate, I have had the idea of interviewing people of different faiths who subsequently left their church. The author does a good job of presenting the results of his interviews, and as a sociologist, tries to answer the question of why people leave their religion, and what impact that has on them. I think that this is a must read for clergy, lay people and non church goers alike.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James H. Sullivan on December 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For anyone interested in the sociology or religion, this book is a must. Zuckerman explores why people lose faith or belief in the supernatural. In a time when increasing numbers of us are making this move this book helps us understand what is going on and why.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Patti Simmons on February 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book in the New Book section at the library this week. It was a very personally affirming and satisfying read. My journey out of faith was multi-faceted, and included almost every "why" included in the book. I would echo other reviews in saying that it could have been a bit more "meaty", it felt like a personal study rather than a very academic one. But I'm ok with that. It made for an easy and pleasant read, and there are plenty of intellectually heavy books about the subject out there.
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By Stumbo on July 6, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading the individual stories on why people left their religion. Great insights were provided in what can make people more likely to reject religion.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is an easy read, it really held my attention all the way through and I surprised myself by getting through it in little more than a day. That's perhaps not surprisings as I'm an atheist apostate myself and so this topic was fairly close to my heart.

Essentially, Zuckerman has spent the last few years interviewing apostates in depth and trying to understand their decision to leave their respective religions. And in this book, he distils some of the the main reasons they give for their loss of faith, looks at their individual processes of 'de-programming' and some of the consequences they faced.

The author acknowledges that there is still a lot of study and research needed in this area before its possible to make firmer conclusions, but his book advances some very interesting ideas, raises many tantalizing questions and points to some areas of future research. Some people might find his sample group of 87 a little small, however, what he lacks in numbers he makes up for in depth. Personally, I found it fascinating to read about other people's journeys - in their own words - from devoutly religious to agnostic/atheist and compare them with my own experience.

My only quibble is that I wish the author had gone into a few of the issues broached in more detail, in particular the mixing of politics and religion which, it is now widely recognized, has been so corrosive to organized religion in the US. I would have also liked a bit more in depth discussion about the relationship between sex and religion, and perhaps he could have talked a little bit more about the 'nones' and the decline of institutionalize religion in the West.

Those things aside, however, I highly recommend this book.
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