- Paperback: 354 pages
- Publisher: Prometheus Books (June 5, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1591025672
- ISBN-13: 978-1591025672
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #504,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God Paperback – April 30, 2008
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"Deep wisdom and patient explanations fill this excellent book."
--James A. Haught, author of Honest Doubt and Science in a Nanosecond
"Engaging and enlightening . . . Read this book to explore the many and diverse reasons for belief."
--Michael Shermer, founding publisher of Skeptic magazine
". . . doesn't bully or condescend. Reading Harrison's book is like having an amiable chat with a wise old friend."
--Cameron M. Smith and Charles Sullivan, authors of The Top-Ten Myths of Evolution
About the Author
GUY P. HARRISON (San Diego, CA) is an award-winning journalist and the author of Think, 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. Find him on online at www.guypharrison.com, www.facebook.com/guypharrisonauthor, and on Twitter @Harrisonauthor.
Top Customer Reviews
"50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God" is exactly that. Each chapter's title is a common statement made by a religious person to justify his or her belief, such as "I want eternal life," "some very smart people believe in God," and "atheism is a negative and empty philosophy." The author responds to these and forty-seven other faith-based pronouncements in a reasonable, logical, and easy-to-read manner. The chapters are fairly short, so you won't be overwhelmed by minutiae, and they end with a bibliography and recommended reading list that enables further topical exploration.
Many folks are turned off by the polemic tone displayed by atheist authors such as Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris. I think that their books should be read by everyone, but they are probably too harsh for most people of faith to start with. Guy Harrison rebuts religion and makes his case for atheism in a much more gentle and respectful fashion. Yes, one can tell that Mr. Harrison prefers rationality over faith, and sometimes his frustration with the latter shows. But on the whole his attitude is much easier to swallow than the aforementioned trio, so believers or people on the fence should feel more comfortable exploring atheist thought with this book.
If you've put off reading the "new atheist" books because you didn't want to feel patronized or insulted, then I recommend checking out "50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God." You'll find much food for thought within its pages, and be better prepared to tackle the harder atheist tomes if you so desire. Even so, the material here may still be a bitter pill to swallow, and it may lead you down some difficult trails. But it's a necessary dosage for anyone seeking to understand the fundamentals of atheism or evaluate their current belief system.
His essays are not formally philosophical and are not about splitting theological hairs. Instead, each essay is conversational common sense with statistics about religion thrown in. He does not capitalize god or gods, since he rarely talks about any specific deity, among the thousands that have existed. Several themes recur: He emphasizes that every believer is an atheist about every god other than their own preferred god. Which god a person believes in is almost always an accident of birth. Atheists don't choose to be atheists - they just end up not believing. They are the fourth most plentiful group, after Christians, Muslims, and Hindus - and that only counts the ones out of the closet. The fifth most plentiful group is animism. Various religions make irreconcilable claims that can't all be right, despite the zeal of their believers. This most likely suggests that none of them are true and that humans are good at inventing gods. The countries highest in atheism are the most peaceful and the countries highest in religiosity are the most violent. The same picture shows up in blue versus red states in the US. Although religions are capable of good things, on balance, they are bad for society.
Harrison gives religion some direct hits, usually with a bit of humor:
"...atheism is not a conscious act of turning away from all gods. It is simply the final destination for those who think...you will be pleased to discover that the sky does not fall down on your head...if you still want to pray, you can (the success rate of your prayers is unlikely to change)."
"...it can be a wonderful life without gods...wise choices, hard work, being born somewhere other than an impoverished hellhole, good health, and a little luck can add up to a fine existence for just about anyone."
"...couldn't natural disasters such as tsunamis, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, droughts, and tornados be unintelligent and indifferent events that can strike down anyone anywhere, regardless of which gods are prayed to? ...it matches the reality we see in our world."
A fine addition to the recent surge of non-believer books. This one is a kinder, gentler version, and fun to read - with this disclaimer from the author: "No gods were harmed in the writing of this book."
The minor characteristic that makes this book a standout is its organization. You can dip into it anywhere, no need to read it straight through. Each chapter deals with one of the fifty questions, but the content in #50 is not built on anything in #5. Each discussion is a discreet stand-alone.
The advantage of this may not be immediately apparent. Because it deals with some of our most deeply cherished beliefs, this is a book to be pondered and considered carefully. It's not a good idea to whip through it on the beach between naps. The ability to read a single chapter and digest it for a while, and consider the relative strength of the argument, is the way to get the most out of the book.
But the major characteristic upon which this book is recommended is its tone. Having had the opportunity to compare many such works on atheism and its related -isms, I find the absence of anger or impatience in the author refreshing. He is very kind to believers. One could certainly never say this about another atheist luminary like Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins, both of whom I admire enormously, and both of whom probably have alienated more believers already than they can ever hope to persuade. %0 Reasons is a book that will engage both the freethinker and the theist, without boring the one or insulting the other.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
and if you choose to shut it off, set the book down.