|Title||50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a god|
|Author(s)||Guy P. Harrison (www.guypharrison.com)|
|Description||Many books that challenge religious beliefs from 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. Guy P. Harrison argues that this is an ineffective way of trying to encourage people to develop critical thinking about religion. He concisely presents fifty commonly heard reasons people give for believing in a god and raises legitimate questions regarding these reasons, showing there is much room for doubt.
From religion as the foundation of morality to the authority of sacred books, the compelling religious testimony of influential people, near-death experiences, theories from intelligent design, and much more, Harrison respectfully describes each rationale for belief and politely shows the deficiencies any good skeptic would point out. He also offers something in return—a hopeful and optimistic view of science, the universe, and humanity without the divisiveness, prejudice, and hatred caused by conflicting religious doctrines.
Drawing on his experiences as a nonbeliever and his extensive travels around the world, Harrison makes poignant arguments that are sure to inspire thought-provoking discussions. Whether you're a believer, a complete skeptic, or somewhere in between, you'll find his review of traditional and more recent arguments for the existence of gods refreshing, approachable, and enlightening.
|Dedication||"For Natasha, Jared, and Marissa. May your minds be curious and free forever."|
|ISBN||978-1-59102-567-2 (ebook: 978-1-61592-004-4)|
|Book Dimensions||Width: 6.0″ (6 1/16″)|
|Depth: 0.81″ (13/16″)|
|Contents||Acknowledgements, Introduction, fifty (50) chapters|
|Book Design||Nicole Sommer-Lecht|
|Published||April 30, 2008|
|Publisher||Prometheus Books (www.prometheusbooks.com)|
|Copyright||© 2008 by Guy P. Harrison|
|Printed in||United States of America on acid-free paper|
|Book Format||Paperback, Kindle|
|Quoted Reviews||"Guy P. Harrison has written a persuasive and frequently humorous book about an important topic. . . . This thoughtful work should be read by religious practitioners, political leaders, and the general public and should be taught as a foundation for explaining the role of religion in society. I recommend it heartily." — Nick Wynne, PhD, Executive Director of the Florida Historical Society
"Deep wisdom and patient explanations fill this excellent book. The author—a journalist with worldwide experience and thorough scientific knowledge—doesn't ridicule supernatural beliefs. He seems fond of believers. But he quietly employs logic to show that invisible gods, devils, heavens, hells, miracles, and the like belong in the superstitious pasts and cannot be taken seriously by educated modern people." — James A. Haught, Author of 'Honest Doubt, 2,000 Years of Disbelief, Holy Horrors, and Holy Hatred,' and editor of West Virginia's largest newspaper, the 'Charleston Gazette'
"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, and author of 'Why Darwin Matters'
"Guy P. Harrison does a splendid job of critically examining the many reasons people offer in support of their religious beliefs. He shares the exhilaration of moving beyond religion, but Harrison doesn't bully or condescend. Rather, he approaches the reader gently. Reading Harrison's book is like having an amiable chat with a wise old friend." — Cameron M. Smith and Charles Sullivan, Authors of 'The Top 10 Myths about Evolution'
"Religion is as universal as language, which hints at a biological basis. Why did our ancestors evolve an attraction to the supernatural? The fundamental question is not whether this attraction is rational or not—which is the subject of a dozen recent provocative books—but what exactly faith delivers to those who possess it. The present book treats this question respectfully, listening to the answer of the believers themselves, which seems an excellent place to start." — Frans de Waal, Leading primatologist, author of 'Our Inner Ape'
|Best Seller's List||--|
|Other||Guy P. Harrison is a graduate of the University of South Florida with degrees in history and anthropology. He currently lives in the Cayman Islands, where he is a columnist and travel writer for a national newspaper. He has won several international awards for his writing and photography.|
|Library of Congress
|II. Title: Fifty reasons people give for believing in a god|
|LC Control Number||2007051814|
|LC Call Number||BL626.3.H37 2008|
|DDC Call Number||212—dc22|
"Faith sounds a lot like cheating. It's jumping ahead to the conclusion before you have a right to, before it has been earned by discovery and thinking. Maybe gods really do exist, but shouldn't we wait until we discover convincing evidence before we say we know?" (Ch.3 "Faith is a good thing", Harrison, p.31)
"Faith cannot be argued away if a believer will not first consider its underlying weakness." (Ch.3 "Faith is a good thing", Harrison, p.35)
"Believers might consider the possibility that every minute spent thinking about and talking to gods up in the sky is a minute wasted down here." (Ch.5 "Only my god can make me feel significant", Harrison, p.47)
"When someone goes down the path of belief they risk picking up a lot more than a god along the way." (Ch.7 "Evolution is bad", Harrison, p.59)
"This charge by believers that understanding and accepting evolution incites immorality, crime, or anarchy is nonsensical." (Ch.7 "Evolution is bad", Harrison, p.60)
"What immediately stands out about his ranking [top ten happiest nations on earth] is that the happiest country in the world [Denmark] is also one of the least religious countries in the world." (Ch.10 "Believing in my god makes me happy", Harrison, p.80)
"If we are lucky, we get about three billion heartbeats and then we are gone. Time is not something we should squander. Time spent carrying on one-way conversations with gods who may not exist is time that might be spent with family, writing letters to friends, exercising, and doing positive things for society. The fewer distractions we have in our lives the more we can get done." (Ch.11 "Better safe than sorry", Harrison, p.86-87)
"Those who say they could not live in a world without their god's perfect justice might consider the fact that they already are living in a world without perfect justice. If there is some kind of divine justice at work here on this planet, then it must be very different from the human concept of justice. Look around; life is not fair. What could be more obvious?" (Ch.13 "Divine justice proves my god is real", Harrison, p.102)
"If stories of faith healings prove that a particular god is real, then it means many other gods must be real too because numerous gods have been credited with miraculous healings since the beginnings of civilization." (Ch.16 "My god heals sick people", Harrison, p.127)
"Over the last few thousand years religion has directly motivated far more hatred and violence than atheism." (Ch.17 "Anything is better than being an atheist", Harrison, p.132)
"I think believers sometimes mistakenly feel that they are backed into a corner when their claims are challenged. They see their choice as either stubbornly clinging to the claim that it really does come from a god or admitting that they are fools." (Ch.28 "My god makes me feel I am part of something big", Harrison, p.210-211)
"People who are confident that they belong to the one belief system that is superior to all others must ask themselves how it is that they know this. Most likely, it is a conviction that depends upon a lack of knowledge about other religions. Sensible believers who consider this are likely to realize that they must look elsewhere to justify their belief. A declaration of religious superiority is nothing more than evidence of ignorance." (Ch.29 "My religion makes more sense than all the others", Harrison, p.219-220)
"Sometimes I think believers are under the impression that skepticism and critical thinking are contagious." (Ch.33 "Miracles prove my god is real", Harrison, p.236)
"At best, we might call religion a complex part of human culture that includes the potential for both good and bad. It is beautiful and hideous. Those who insist on denying that religion is often repulsive are dishonest." (Ch.34 "Religion is beautiful", Harrison, p.245)
"Hatred. Settlements. Intifada. Walls. Tanks. Suicide bombers. Children throwing rocks. Segregation. Prejudice. Babies dying. And all the while, both sides point to the God of Abraham to justify their actions. God is love? Through the eyes of a nonbeliever, all of this bears a remarkable resemblance to insanity." (Ch.36 "Ancient prophecies prove my god exists", Harrison, p.255)
"Anyone with a clear head and a good heart can see that hating Jews because they are Jews is immoral. But how many people also admit that it is wrong for some Jews to isolate themselves from the rest of humankind in the name of loyalty to a god?" (Ch.36 "Ancient prophecies prove my god exists", Harrison, p.257)
"A religion can bring some people together, but with a tragically high price. Each religion builds its base by pulling people away from the rest of humankind. Striving to create airtight subsets of our species is not productive or safe in the long run. Coming together as a species and recognizing our own future is probably the most important step we will—or will not—make this century. We have very serious challenges confronting us. Environmental problems are intensifying. Severe water shortages are projected for the Middle East. The ability of nations and small groups of people to make or obtain weapons of mass destruction is going to keep rising. The crisis of extreme poverty in the developing world still has not been solved. We need real unity, not the kind of shortsighted, limited and corrosive unity that religions generate. We need a unity that is based on the reality of who we really are: one people sharing one planet. In the light of that truth, religions seem no better than false walls standing before progress, prosperity, and peace." (Ch.39 "Religion brings people together", Harrison, p.279)
"Any believer who claims that religion is necessary for a nations' social well-being needs to explain why nearly every measure of social well-being point to exactly the opposite conclusion. Why do the most religious societies have the most problems? Why do societies with the highest ratios of atheists have the least problems? This is a very important question that believers are obligated to think about if not answer." (Ch.42 "Society would fall apart without religion", Harrison, p.300)