50 Reasons People Give For Believing In A God Paperback – Apr 30 2008
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"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 for Scientific American, author of Why Darwin Matters
“There's an excellent American publishing house, Prometheus Books, which specializes in agnostic and atheist subjects. I've just finished reading Fifty Reasons People Give for Believing in a God, by Guy P. Harrison. In this thought-provoking book, Harrison makes a powerful case against religion without the need for name-calling, contempt or condescension.
-The Herald, Glasgow, Scotland
“Harrison has hit the right mix. He does not coddle or kowtow to believers, but he has a pleasant way of writing. One can almost imagine that he is smiling as he writes—not a sardonic smile but a real, life-affirming, comfortable-with-who-I-am smile. His joyful embrace of the natural world and humanity in all its triumphs along with low points and his admission that he does not understand everything he encounters makes this author’s atheism a very happy state of being.”
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
A must read for everyone. I would consider this book the best of its kind in a decade.
The book is well organized and easy to reference.
The chapter headings are:
1. My god is obvious.
2. Almost everybody on Earth is religious.
3. Faith is a good thing.
4. Archaeological discoveries prove that my god exists.
5. Only my god can make me feel significant.
6. Atheism is just another religion.
7. Evolution is bad.
8. Our world is too beautiful to be an accident.
9. My god created the universe.
10. Believing in my god makes me happy.
11. Better safe than sorry.
12. A sacred book proves my god is real.
13. Divine justice proves my god is real.
14. My god answers prayers.
15. I would rather worship my god than the devil.
16. My god heals sick people.
17. Anything is better than being an atheist.
18. My god made the human body.
19. My god sacrificed his only son for me.
20. Atheists are jerks who think they know everything.
21. I don't lose anything by believing in my god.
22. I didn't come from a monkey.
23. I don't want to go to hell.
24. I feel my god when I pray.
25. I need my god to protect me.
26. I want eternal life.
27. Without my god we would have no sense of right and wrong.
28. My god makes me feel like I am part of something bigger than myself.
29. My religion makes more sense than all the others.
30. My god changes lives.
31.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"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.
Being labeled as an atheist in our American society isn't always peachy...I know I get judged alot. I tell people that I am a realist before an atheist. My wife told me that she feels sorry for me...probably because she thinks I'm not going to be there in heaven with her. I sure hope that future generations will part from this primitive way of thinking...but we can only hope. I think that our worst enemies is ourselves, our minds, and our ignorance. Are we truly the most intelligent animals on earth? Sometimes we don't act that way. I wonder what the rest of the animal kingdom thinks of us humans...especially when they see us talking to imaginary gods, and killing each other to please these gods. If all living things were created by some intelligent designer, why are humans the ONLY species that are required to believe, praise, worship, obey, and be judged by this creator? I use to feel that being human was more of a curse than a gift. I now look up at the night sky and think of how AWESOME it is to be a part of a greater thing- the universe, life, and existence. This book honestly changed my life, and I am so glad that I decided to challege what I thought was "the truth".
"LEARN as if you're going to live forever and LIVE as if you're going to die tomorrow"- Soulfly.
I read Guy's book over a year ago after hearing him on Point of Inquiry. I'd been a Christian for over 30 years and read numerous books on apologetics and Intelligent Design. Looking to challenge my faith a bit, I turned to "50 Reasons" for an alternative point of view.
50 Reasons was the first book I'd read on the subject of atheism. By the end of chapter 1 I was already formulating my Amazon rebuttal - Guy's logic was obviously flawed. Midway through the book I stopped rebutting and started seeing the logic in what he had to say. His arguments were easy to understand and often difficult to refute. By the end I was still very much a believer, but reading Guy's book was a definate turning point.
Fast forward a year and I'm now agnostic. I'll admit the transition was very difficult, but I now feel a strong sense of having discovered the REAL truth, which I value more than any comforting delusion.
Still, I'd agree with others that Guy's book lacked information specific to Christianity. Perhaps we need "50 Reasons People Give for Believing in Jesus".
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