Book Review: 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God, by Guy P. Harrison

In 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God, Guy P. Harrison asks the basic question, "Why do you believe in a god?" As the title implies, the book discusses 50 reasons that people commonly give when asked this question. It is not limited to a specific religion, but rather looks at how the reasons for belief are often the same for many different religions.

Each chapter in the book addresses one of the 50 reasons, then ends with a short bibliography for further reading. The reasons are things you've probably heard before, such as: Faith is a good thing; Our world is too beautiful to be an accident; Better safe than sorry; Science can't explain everything; and Society would fall apart without religion.

What I like about this book is that Harrison approaches each reason with intelligence and respect. He doesn't belittle people for the reasons they give, but instead systematically examines them. While he often uncovers logical fallacies and inconsistencies, he also acknowledges that some aspects of belief can be beneficial.

As Harrison explains in his introduction, he thinks that there is "a lot of good to be found in the world's religions," but that they also have a darker side that shouldn't be overlooked.

Harrison holds degrees in history and anthropology, and has traveled extensively. It's interesting to read about his experiences with different cultures, yet he typically backs up his anecdotes with more formal studies.

My favorite chapter may be Chapter 28: My god makes me feel like I am part of something bigger than myself. It's a short chapter, yet it takes the idea further than I've considered it in the past. Harrison starts with the answer I expected, talking about how belonging to any team, organization or gang creates a sense of belonging to something bigger. He also talks about the emotional response--the awe--he feels in good science, art or history museums. But then he takes it further, explaining how neuropsychologist Michael Persinger has been able to stimulate the brain to elicit the sensation of another presence--a presence which many subjects described as Muhammad, Jesus or Mary (depending on their religious background).

50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God is an interesting collection of essays that can be read sequentially or at random. I think it could be a great read for anyone interested in exploring the concept of theism.


  1. Wow, this book sounds like a thought-provoking read! I'm always curious about the reasons people believe in a god. It's refreshing that the author approaches the topic with respect and intelligence rather than judgment.

  2. Whoa, it sounds like a really stimulating book! I'm always fascinated by why people believe there is a deity. It's nice that the author takes an intelligent and respectful stance regarding the subject rather than passing judgment.