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50 Reasons People Give For Believing In A God Paperback – Apr 30 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (April 30 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591025672
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591025672
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 1.8 x 22.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #52,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"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.”

-Free Inquiry

About the Author

GUY P. HARRISON (San Diego, CA) is an award-winning journalist and the author of Think50 Simple Questions for Every Christian50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True50 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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This is the one book I keep going back to. I would encourage everyone to pick it up and give it a chance. It might not change a religious person's mind, but it certainly opens people up to the real world (a world with multiple religions, not just one) It's an especially fun read for atheists and skeptics who have heard many of these "reasons" before.
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If a person is to initiate a life that includes the all important spiritual journey, one must first have a list of the right questions with which to ask oneself. This book is that list of questions. Did I come up with every single answer that the author did? Of course not, but neither should you. Each person's life, whether he/she allows oneself to admit it, is a singular spiritual journey through the unique series of events that are presented over their personal lifetime. While most people spend most of their time asking 'what is happening', the important question that should be asked is 'why is it happening'. This book's questions will give you a series of 'whys' that should be asked over and over again. I highly recommend for all those who have the courage to step off the 'cliff of organized religion' and want to find out the ultimate 'why';...........that is "Why am I here?".
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This is one book I would highly recommend reading for atheist and theist alike.
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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xb393c5b8) out of 5 stars 142 reviews
294 of 304 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb37904c8) out of 5 stars Fifty ways to leave your savior? Oct. 25 2008
By Erik Olson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In 2007 I left evangelical Christianity after twenty-four years of deep involvement. Early that year I'd read a number of the "new atheist" books on the market with the intent of challenging and strengthening my walk with God. Instead, I ended up realizing I was on the wrong track, that what I'd heard and saw in church all those years didn't gel with my experiences away from the pulpit. Many of the reasons why I parted from my faith are in this excellent and necessary book.

"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.
167 of 181 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb37dad68) out of 5 stars Page 167: "Faith Is Like Kryptonite To The Scientific Mind" June 21 2008
By The Spinozanator - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Harrison is an anthropologist. He studies Man's cultures, including the thousands of religions that have been invented. Yes, he is of the mind that Man made it all up without even knowing it, but he does not discriminate, insult, or otherwise abuse believers. He likes them and frequently attends religious services with them. Harrison has made it a habit to ask believers why they believe in their god or gods. In this book he has compiled essays built around the fifty most common answers to that question.

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."

88 of 96 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb37dacb4) out of 5 stars A Standout for Tone and Content July 27 2008
By Mark J. O'Leary - Published on Amazon.com
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We are living in a golden age for books about freethought, atheism, agnosticism and the like. Guy Harrison's book stands out for a couple of reasons.

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.
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb37db234) out of 5 stars Life changing book! Absolutely Awesome! Dec 3 2010
By CuJoe - Published on Amazon.com
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I have to confess that when I finished reading this book, I felt this inner freedom and joy. I actually started crying and I felt like this is what I've been looking for all my life. It was a weird feeling that is hard to explain and put in words. It was like seeing a born again Christian when they claim they feel the "holy ghost"...which I honestly tried, but never experienced in my life. I think this book has a passive tone and it should be read by all, especially those that have a passionate thirst for wonder, reason, and what I feel is common sense. I heard about this book one morning while listening to NPR, and I am so glad I decided to buy it. I usually carry the book in my car...it's like a bible to me. I also bought Dan Barker's "Godless"...which was also an awesome book.

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.
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb37db4b0) out of 5 stars This Book Changed My Life Jan. 6 2010
By Styles - Published on Amazon.com
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I don't think I can say much more about the book than what's already been said, I just wanted to thank Guy for helping me see the light (or lack thereof?) and recommend it to others who are seeking a deeper sense of truth.

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".