50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God
By Guy P. Harrison
(Prometheus Books, Paperback, 9781591025672, 354pp.)
Publication Date: April 30, 2008
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Many books that challenge religious belief from a skeptical point of view take a combative tone that is almost guaranteed to alienate believers or they present complex philosophical or scientific arguments that fail to reach the average reader. This is undoubtably an ineffective way of encouraging people to develop critical thinking about religion.
This unique approach to skepticism presents fifty commonly heard reasons people often give for believing in a God and then raises legitimate questions regarding these reasons, showing in each case that there is much room for doubt. Whether you're a believer, a complete skeptic, or somewhere in between, you'll find this review of traditional and more recent arguments for the existence of God refreshing, approachable, and enlightening.
From religion as the foundation of morality to the authority of sacred books, the compelling religious testimony of influential people, near-death experiences, arguments from Intelligent Design, and much more, Harrison respectfully describes each rationale for belief and then politely shows the deficiencies that any good skeptic would point out.
As a journalist who has traveled widely and interviewed many highly accomplished people, quite a number of whom are believers, the author appreciates the variety of belief and the ways in which people seek to make religion compatible with scientific thought. Nonetheless, he shows that, despite the prevalence of belief in God or religious belief in intelligent people, in the end there are no unassailable reasons for believing in a God.
For skeptics looking for appealing ways to approach their believing friends or believers who are not afraid to consider a skeptical challenge, this book makes for very stimulating reading.
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.
"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.”