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50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a…

50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God

by Guy P. Harrison

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Author Guy Harrison surveyed people in societies all over the world, asking them why they believed in their god(s), then compiled here the fifty most frequent responses. Harrison acknowledges and considers each reason respectfully, then follows up by providing his own reasoned counter-arguments demonstrating why each is illogical, irrational, bad science or victim to cognitive dissonance. A great resource for skeptics, and perhaps even for believers willing to examine and apply critical thinking to their own ideologies. ( )
  ryner | Oct 19, 2015 |
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. ( )
  Devil_llama | 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 editionscalculated
Sommer-Lecht, NicoleCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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. 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 is a unique approach to skepticism regarding that presents fifty commonly heard reasons people often give for believing in a God and then he 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 gods or religious belief in intelligent people, in the end there are no unassailable reasons for believing in a god. [retrieved 8/11/2016 from Amazon.com]
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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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