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on 12 April 2011
I've long wondered why intelligent people can have such irrational religious beliefs, and after reading this book I now have a better understanding. Thomson and Aukofer offer insightful analogies from different fields to explain why it was inevitable that humans would create gods. I was fascinated to see arguments and examples about why "belief" can be more compelling than "truth," and why some people have trouble distinguishing one from the other. This book will give religious believers and atheists alike something new to think about, and they will better understand not only what they believe, but why they believe as they do.
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on 28 June 2011
This is a really interesting read. The ideas in it aren't exactly new, but they have been explained very well and I definitely recommend it to anyone who may be new to this subject. Not only because it is very easy to read, but because it is a short book which will take only hours to complete. A nice ease into the topic I think. As someone who has been reading this kind of material for years, I found that I breezed through it but I still really enjoyed it, thus I also recommend this to readers who are not new to the topic. The topic being, of course...why us humans are so susceptible to believing in gods etc - and as the book demonstrates....there are several reasons....all equally fascinating.

I recommend it to people of faith and also the non religious...it's important that we understand this topic, whether we choose to believe or not. I also really recommend this to anyone very keen on psychology as it is largely a psychological issue.

A good read.
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on 25 June 2012
I am an atheist and I've read and enjoyed several books on similar topics by Dawkins, Harris, Dennett and Hitchins but this is more like a school essay than a real analysis. The problem with the approach is that it takes huge liberties with the science it quotes; cutting corners, over-generalising, and pointing to the most facile findings as though they were deep insights. It all adds up to a very irritating read. I am not a scientist but even I can tell when someone is over-stating their case. For example, "Once our ancestors, however inadvertently, learned to create the chemistry that augments trust, love, cooperation, and selfishness, there was no turning back. Inevitably, those incredibly powerful chemical reactions supercharged the cognitive mechanisms that permit supernatural belief, and religion was launched." Beyond parody really. Just awful. Also - using the word 'utilise' instead of 'use' to sound more scientific is so annoying after about the 20th time!
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on 13 July 2012
The book is packed with loads of good conclusions, even though some conclusions seem a bit shabby, e.g. the following one on page 95: "Pews were originally placed in European churches in the sixteenth century to prevent dancing". Really? The author doesn't support this claim with any evidence. This is an exception though, most claims are well grounded in evidence. In conclusion, the book is an enjoyable read.
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on 15 June 2013
J. Anderson Thomson Jr Has produced a book which can be read in a day, and will be re-read time and time again. Simple explanations of how the mind works and how the belief in gods by those who need to fill the gaps in knowledge can come about. This is logical, empirically sound and hard to debunk by logic. A must for any thinking person's library.
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on 19 February 2012
This short, readable and eminently sensible book is a welcome antidote to today's ongoing hysterical (or cynical) claims by right-wing politicians and religious leaders that religion is being undermined by "militant secularists". I am not a scientist, however I found Dr Anderson Thomson's arguments easy to follow and, for the most part, convincing. Nevertheless, I feel that his book might have benefited if he had paid greater attention to human beings' unique capacity for language. Perhaps the author regards this as being outside his own expertese, but surely, one of the most striking features of most religious practice is its use of empty words. "God", for example is rarely, if ever, defined, except in terms of what "He" is supposed to do, have done, etc., or in terms of what "He" is not. And, in the same way as the author shows that we are predisposed to believe in causal agents to account for natural phenomena, we are surely also similarly disposed to assume that when someone utters a word, that in itself is evidence that the "something" or "someone" to which the word refers must actually exist. However, just like "militant secularists", gods need be no more than bogeymen: imaginary linguistic devices for frightening children.
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on 4 February 2012
Great book, powerful tool for someone who needs to argue with religious person... Very good reading.
The book is a bit short but there is a lot of reference for someone who needs to explore further.
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on 19 July 2011
Great little easy to read book , ties together various strands and gives a plausible explanation of why we tend to believe in fantasies
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on 30 October 2011
Well this book certainly does what it says in the subtitle (used as the title for this comment)!

I enjoyed reading this book, and whilst much material is not entirely new, it is not as widely known as it should be, and it is helpful to find the material so clearly and concisely articulated in around 100 idea packed pages. Yes, of course there are going to be shortcuts, and generalisations, but the authors include some comprehensive and helpful notes to each chapter at the end of the book, and suggestions for further reading. There is also a lot more background material and supporting sources at the author's website.

I suspect that this is going to be a book that polarises opinion. I think I understand why Richard Dawkins wrote the preface, but it would be a shame if the book were judged by the incusion of his name. The authors have a great story to tell in their own right, and do so lucidly. You don't have to agree with them, but they certainly provide food for thought.

Go read it. And please resist the urge to post comments or responses until you have! You may be surprised...
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on 23 April 2015
A great insight into how our minds work and have the potential to create religion as a byproduct of functions which originally evolved to help us survive

A useful book for those wondering how they came to believe so easily things that are not supported by evidence and reason
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