50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God Paperback – 9 Jul 2008
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"Deep wisdom and patient explanations fill this excellent book. The author--a journalist with worldwide experience and thorough scientific knowledge--doesn't ridicule supernatural beliefs. He seems fond of believers. But he quietly employs logic to show that invisible gods, devils, heavens, hells, miracles and the like belong in the superstitious past, and cannot be taken seriously by educated modern people." -- James A. Haught, author of 2,000 Years of Disbelief and editor of West Virginia's largest newspaper, The Charleston Gazette
"Guy P. Harrison has written a persuasive and frequently humorous book about an important topic . . .This thoughtful work should be read by religious practitioners, political leaders, and the general public and should be taught as a foundation for explaining the role of religion in society. I recommend it heartily." -- Nick Wynne, PhD; Executive director of the Florida Historical Society
"Religion is as universal as language, which hints at a biological basis. Why did our ancestors evolve an attraction to the supernatural? The fundamental question is not whether this attraction is rational or not - which is the subject of a dozen recent provocative books -- but what exactly faith delivers to those who possess it. The present book treats this question respectfully, listening to the answer of the believers themselves, which seems an excellent place to start."
-- Frans de Waal, leading primatologist, author of Our Inner Ape (Riverhead, 2005)
"There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but now Guy Harrison has given us 50 ways to believe in God, or not if you care to read this engaging and enlightening book in light of what it says about the cultural and psychological power of belief. If the number one predictor of which God someone believes in is what culture and time period they happened to have been born in, what does that say about the actual existence (or not) of a deity? Read this book to explore the many and diverse reasons for belief." --Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist Scientific American, author of Why Darwin Matters
About the Author
Guy P. Harrison (Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands) is an award-winning journalist who has published in Free Inquiry magazine among other publications.
Top customer reviews
I'm not sure now, but I think Harrison doesn't claim to be an atheist, but an agnostic veering towards secular humanism. Maybe this is why his book doesn't come across as belligerent, antagonistic and anti-god as some others? There is also nothing to indicate that Harris ever had a strong faith and rejected it which is often, I think, why people seem to get so vitriolic in their attacks on religion - like they were somehow "duped" into believing. I have always been surprised at the number of hostile atheist websites - what are they trying to prove? None of them is going to convince any ardent believer to give up his faith (assuming h/she bothers to read it) any more than reading a biblical, evangelistic website would persuade me to change my beliefs. I agree with Harris when he says that believers' belief is not based on anything rational and reasonable, so why should they be "converted" by something that is? Personally I cannot imagine any point in asking my "born again" daughter to read this book - she would refuse and probably say it was inspired by the devil.
My reason for only awarding the book 4 stars instead of 5 is that I began to find it gets more and more repetitive as it goes along. Although the reasons for belief were different, many of the ways Harrison dealt with them was very similar. And to me, as someone who has looked into various religions and atheism over many years, some of the reasons given were ones I had already thought about and dismissed as puerile. Harris is, at the very least, obsessed with science, and for me there was just too much of it in his refutations. Still, as Amazon don't give you the opportunity to "search inside" this book prior to buying, I thought I would give you a flavour of some of the 50 "reasons"
"Faith is a good thing"
"Our world is too beautiful to be an accident"
"Believing in my god makes me happy"
"A sacred book proves my god is real"
"My god sacrificed his only son for me"
"Without my god we would have no sense of right or wrong"
"Millions Of people can't be wrong"
"No-one has ever disproved the existence of my god"
"My god changes lives"
"The End Is Near"
Finally, if you are a Brit reading this book (as opposed to an American), prepare to be astonished at the level of hostility and discrimination shown to those in the US who are brave enough to declare their non belief! I mean there we have a country which would not vote for an atheist to be President. In the UK of course, we probably wouldn't vote for a right-wing evangelical who talked about his beliefs as part of his/her campaign to be Prime Minister! I glad I live here!
Finally, each chapter is headed by some pithy, witty comment by various people throughout the ages, and I can do no better than to quote one of the author's own, found at the beginning of the Introduction: -
"No gods were harmed in the making of this book" Enjoy!
However whilst I do believe these books are indeed essential given the contest between religious and non-religious outlooks is such an important one, a matter of literally life and death.
It's possible such books will fail to reach the average reader. Neither perhaps would believers find them a comfortable read.
The reason being the vast majority of religious folk believe in something far more basic, traditional, cultural and social than the logic and inventions offered by philosophy and theology.
People trust in their religious beliefs without question, they find comfort and solace in their faith. Most are simply absorbed by the dominate religion within their personal locality. This audience will not be drawn naturally to any book that directly attacks their faith.
Here's why I felt Guy P. Harrison's book is different. Put simply, it's a book that any person of faith can indeed read and appreciate; it's a book that can be handed to a believer by a non-believer without any smugness or arrogance. It's a book that both believers and non-believers will savour equally and find captivating and relevant.
Harrison is certainly uncompromising in his skepticism but is never guilty of being conceited or displaying contempt towards his audience. If you are content within your religious comfort zone but do not necessarily know why then this book will provoke thought, is your religious commitment rational and intrinsically deserving of respect? Is your religion immune from criticism and ridicule?
If you welcome a book that can be read, understood and enjoyed regardless of your religious or non-religious persuasion then this is a book for you. I highly recommend it.
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It is very informative, but also very polite, so it can be read by every believer and non-believer alike.Read more
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