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50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God

Guy P. Harrison (Prometheus: Jun 5, 2008), 354 pages.

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. Guy P. Harrison argues that this is an ineffective way of trying to encourage people to develop critical thinking about religion. In this unique approach, Harrison concisely presents fifty commonly heard reasons that people often give for believing in a god. Then he raises legitimate questions regarding these reasons, showing in each case that 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 then politely shows the deficiencies that 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. ~ Product Description


"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

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 past, and cannot be taken seriously by educated modern people." ~ James A. Haught

Table of Contents

    • Acknowledgments     7
    • Introduction     13
    • My god is obvious     17
    • Almost everybody on Earth is religious     23
    • Faith is a good thing     27
    • Archaeological discoveries prove that my god exists     37
    • Only my god can make me feel significant     45
    • Atheism is just another religion     49
    • Evolution is bad     57
    • Our world is too beautiful to be an accident     65
    • My god created the universe     71
    • Believing in my god makes me happy     77
    • Better safe than sorry     85
    • A sacred book proves my god is real     91
    • Divine justice proves my god is real     101
    • My god answers prayers     107
    • I would rather worship my god than the devil     117
    • My god heals sick people     123
    • Anything is better than being an atheist     131
    • My god made the human body     139
    • My god sacrificed his only son for me     147
    • Atheists are jerks who think they know everything     153
    • I don’t lose anything by believing in my god     161
    • I didn’t come from a monkey     169
    • I don’t want to go to hell     175
    • I feel my god when Ipray     179
    • I need my god to protect me     183
    • I want eternal life     191
    • Without my god we would have no sense of right and wrong     197
    • My god makes me feel like I am part of something bigger than myself     207
    • My religion makes more sense than all the others     213
    • My god changes lives     221
    • Intelligent design proves my god is real     225
    • Millions of people can’t be wrong about my religion     231
    • Miracles prove my god is real     235
    • Religion is beautiful     241
    • Some very smart people believe in my god     247
    • Ancient prophecies prove my god exists     251
    • No one has ever disproved the existence of my god     263
    • People have gone to heaven and returned     267
    • Religion brings people together     273
    • My god inspires people     281
    • Science can’t explain everything     287
    • Society would fall apart without religion     295
    • My religion is so old, it must be true     303
    • Someone I trust told me that my god is real     309
    • Atheism is a negative and empty philosophy     315
    • Believing in a god doesn’t hurt anyone     325
    • The earth is perfectly tuned to support life     331
    • Believing is natural so my god must be real     337
    • The end is near     343
    • I am afraid of not believing     349