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How We Believe: Sceince, Skepticism, and the Search For God Price: $14.95 Write a review | No reviews for this product.
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From Scientific American: Shermer marches bravely into the arena where theists, atheists and agnostics argue their views, usually without convincing anyone not on their side. As editor of Skeptic and director of the Skeptics Society and a man (trained in psychology) who has been successfully a theist, an atheist and an agnostic, he might seem to the religious to have a bias against their convictions. But he says his ""primary focus in addressing readers is not whether they believe or disbelieve, but how and why they have made their particular belief choice.""

From Publisher's Weekly: Shermer, who teaches critical thinking at Occidental College and is perhaps best known as the director of the Skeptics Society and publisher of Skeptic magazine, approaches religion not primarily as a delusion to be debunked but as a phenomenon to be explained. Shermer wonders why religious belief, traditional theistic belief in particular, remains widespread in contemporary America, confounding expectations that progress in science and technology should bring a corresponding decline in faith. One way to discover why people believe is to ask them, and Shermer has compiled original survey data to support his analysis. One noteworthy finding is that, although theists tend to explain their own faith in rational terms (e.g., observing design in nature or a pattern of God's activity in daily life), they explain the theistic beliefs of ""most other people"" primarily in emotional or pragmatic terms (e.g., faith brings comfort and hope). Shermer maintains that while believers' first-person awareness is misleading, their third-person perspective gets it right: religion can be explained quite adequately in functional terms. He reviews a range of theories from anthropology, evolutionary psychology and cognitive science that analyze religion as a means to social harmony or psychological stability. Although Shermer's arguments will probably not be decisive for debates between nonbelievers and believers (who generally agree that religion has strong pragmatic benefits), both will be able to appreciate this readable and generally fair-minded treatment of a subject that often provokes contentious dispute.

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