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 God or religious belief in intelligent people, in the end there are no unassailable reasons for believing in a God.
Fifty ways to leave your savior?
By Erik Olson "Seeker Reviews" - October 25, 2008
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... read more
Page 167: "Faith Is Like Kryptonite To The Scientific Mind"
By The Spinozanator "Spinozanator" - June 21, 2008
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... read more
A Standout for Tone and Content
By Mark J. O'Leary "Rogue librarian" - July 27, 2008
We are living in a golden age for books about freethought, atheism, agnosticism and the like. Guy Harrison's book stands out for a couple of reasons.
The minor characteristic that makes this book a standout is its organization. You can dip into it anywhere, no need to read it straight through. Each chapter deals with one of the fifty questions, but the content in #50 is not built on anything in #5. Each discussion is a discreet stand-alone.
The advantage of this may not be immediately apparent. Because it deals with some of our most deeply cherished beliefs, this is a book to be pondered and considered carefully. It's not a good idea to whip through it on the beach between naps. The ability to read a single chapter and digest it for a while, and consider the relative strength of the argument, is the way to get the most out of the book.
But the major characteristic upon which this book is recommended is its tone. Having had the opportunity to compare... read more