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50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a…
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50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God

by Guy P. Harrison

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I read Harrison's book for an online book club some time ago, and found it to be, for the most part, exactly what I was expecting. Admittedly, I am a Christian (in an very, very heterodox, liberal sense), but I don't think that renders me a "biased" reader.

There's one major problem with Harrison's approach. He writes with a wrong-headed attitude - he expects to be convinced definitively one way or another of the existence of God with scientific evidence. Any intellectually honest Christian will admit to you that God is not something you reach by reasoning or logic; rather, it is the process of an existential, Kierkegaardian leap of faith in something beyond and above one's self. Therefore, all he really refutes is the religion of the fundamentalist, which isn't really religion at all - it's just a set of unquestioned dogma.

I get the firm impression that Mr. Harrison isn't familiar with more intellectually complex and honest forms of religion and their various theologies. Nowhere does he discuss Paul Tillich or Reinhold Niebuhr or Dietrich Bonhoeffer or any other theologians who appreciate the complexity and ecumenical natures of their faith. Harrison doesn't try to appreciate any of this. He wants scientific proof, when any one of the above would have told you flat out that science cannot prove the basic tenets of Christianity. So it seems that this entire book was written attempting to get an answer that he already had. Essentially, both writing it and reading it were a waste of time. ( )
3 vote kant1066 | Oct 14, 2011 |
I read it cover to cover and it was fascinating, but it also makes a great reference book. It's the kind of book you'd buy just so you can highlight all the great bits and then lend it out to all your friends, even your religious friends. The book explains things pretty thoroughly but isn't overwhelming. I would love to buy this book just so I can highlight my favorite bits and write little notes in the margins. But I'm a total nerd. ( )
  Cyanide_Cola | May 10, 2011 |
In spite of the insistence of the author that he has tried to respect religious people and that his book shouldn't offend those who are religiously liberal, it became obvious that most of the religious people I knew, no matter how liberal, would be offended by the end of the first page. This is not a problem for me, and is in fact a plus, since anyone who manages to write a book about why arguments for God fail without offending religious people has usually done an extemely poor job. Overall, the author does a pretty good job, though some of his arguments miss the mark, because he uses the weakest arguments on a couple of the reasons given. ( )
  quantum_flapdoodle | Apr 16, 2011 |
I suppose this could also be called "50 reasons atheists give for NOT believing in gods." This would make an interesting addition to a philosophy of religion course, if for no other reason than to spark excellent debates. Harrison often repeats himself and makes blanket assumptions and statements. For the most part, however, he does an excellent job of parsing out explanations for belief in religion. Clearly, most of his examples are for a western (and American) audience, but he has examples that show how other cultures use the same reasons/excuses for their beliefs and actions--many of which we would find criminal or silly here.
For anyone who enjoys discussing and debating religion, or for any atheist looking for clear explanations of why they are so, this is a great book to dip into. ( )
  kaelirenee | Dec 14, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Guy P. Harrisonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sommer-Lecht, NicoleCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Lists fifty popular reasons people believe in a god and discusses their validity, including divine justice, beliefs on creationism, and fear of the afterlife.

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