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Paperback 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God Book

ISBN: 1591025672

ISBN13: 9781591025672

50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God

(Book #1 in the 50 Series)

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Book Overview

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...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Fifty ways to leave your savior?

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.

A must read, even if light on Christian apologetics

Most of what I'd like to say about this engaging and easy-to-read book has already been said in previous comments. I appreciate Harrison's gentle yet penetrating approach, as well as his ability to level the playing field of all religions by referring to the "gods" of each using the same terms: Jesus, Allah, Shiva and Zeus are all "gods" worshipped by people in various cultures. I also commend him for his use of an approachable, non-academic style. Though apologists and sophisticated believers would likely look down on this approach, it's a book I could give to my Christian friends and family without having to worry about their ability to process the theological jargon common to most works of this nature. That's the upside. The downside of treating all religions as equals in the same book is that for certain believers (I think of my Christian friends who are well-versed in apologetics), the meager attention given to biblical prophecies and the Resurrection of Jesus will give them reason to dismiss the book as uninformed about a number of important reasons for believing. For example, on page 260 Harrison discounts fulfilled biblical prophecies by saying the fulfillments are found in the same book (i.e., the Bible) as the prophecies: "What about Jesus? His appearance on Earth was 'prophesized' and then he came, right? Well, not exactly. Where was it predicted and where was it fulfilled? It all happens in the Bible, one book. There are no historical records that verify the events of Jesus's life beyond the Bible. No other sources corroborate the story of his virgin birth and resurrection. The Bible is the only source we have for predictions of Jesus' life so it is not sensible that the same book can be cited as proof that the predictions it makes came true. Suppose I handed you a book and said it was obviously a true story because something is predicted in chapter 1 that later comes true in chapter 25. Based on that alone, would you be convinced that the book is factual? Of course you wouldn't. You would be more likely to conclude that the author wrote in that way in order to make the story work like he or she wanted it to." I am certain that Harrison understands the Bible was written over many centuries by various authors. That being the case, it would have been preferable to state that later biblical authors supported previous authors' prophecies by supplying details to make it appear that the earlier writings were being fulfilled. Otherwise, some readers may think Harrison considers the Bible to have been penned by a single author. Apart from the need to be more precise about the authorship question, Harrison does a good job of presenting other reasons not to accept biblical prophecies as supernatural, particularly their Nostradamus-like vagueness. Left out altogether was any mention of the events surrounding Jesus' Resurrection that convince millions of faithful Christians that something supernatural happened on Easter Sunday morning. This

Excellent and Well Written Book

50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God, by Guy P. Harrison, is one of the newest free thought books to come out on the market. Unlike many others, such as Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion and Christopher Hitchens' God Is Not Great, among others, this book takes a much milder tone. Harrison refrains from insulting, or talking down to believers, and instead tries to clearly explain why each of the fifty reasons for belief in god that he lays out are misguided. Instead of insults, Harrison tries to reason with his reader, and I found his arguments to be very persuasive. Depending on the person, I think this book might actually get through to some believers. The book is exceptionally well written, in my opinion, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this to a religious friend because of the milder tone. As it's been said before, many other atheistic books can be very insulting which can distract the reader from getting the core message. Harrison's book doesn't have this flaw. A few of the reasons covered are the following: My god changes lives, Intelligent Design proves my god is real, some very smart people believe in my god, and many others. As I mentioned, each claim is responded to very eloquently and in an honest and sincere manner. Unfortunately, as some reviews here have shown, no matter how kind someone is in explaining the irrationality of belief some people are just too closed minded to want to understand. For a clear and reasonable response to many reasons people give for believing in god I highly recommend this book.

Page 167: "Faith Is Like Kryptonite To The Scientific Mind"

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." DB
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