Synopses & Reviews
At the beginning of the twentieth century, social scientists predicted that belief in God would decrease by the end of the century because of the secularization of society, but nothing could be further from the truth. Recent polls show that 96% of Americans believe in God. Despite Nietzche's claim that God is dead, He has never been more alive for millions of believers who stand steadfast in their convictions. Why is this? Why are people turning to religion in greater numbers than ever before? Why do people believe in God at all?
In How We Believe, Michael Shermer presents the results of an exhaustive empirical study in which he asked 10,000 Americans how and why they believe and about details of their faith. How We Believe offers fresh and startling insights into age-old questions and examines:
• What it means to believe in God
• "Proofs" of God and what they tell us about religious faith
• The relationship between science and religion
• How humans, as the storytelling animal, came to become Homo religious
• How to find the sacred in the age of science
This edition includes a new introduction by the author that brings readers up to date on recent studies on prayer and healing, on the changing religious attitudes and beliefs of Americans, and on the controversial debate about the relationship of science and religion that continues to grab headlines. Shermer also addresses his critics, both believers and atheists, on why belief or disbelief in God is not a question of evidence but of faith. Yet having been a believer and studied the history of science, Shermer is open-minded and inclusive throughout the book. He is most interested in knowing how and why, not in showing right or wrong.
Thought provoking, comprehensive, and well researched, How We Believe is certain to spark lively debate among believers and nonbelievers alike.
"Michael Shermer‘s latest contribution is an insightful tour de force that will no doubt provoke virtually everyone who reads it."
—Donald Johanson, Director, Institute of Human Origins, author of From Lucy to Language
"Those who enjoyed Michael Shermer's acclaimed Why People Believe Weird Things will welcome the extension of his critical but balanced study of the belief in God . . . Insightful, intriguing, and enlightening."
"This book will convince and delight all who are not chronically averse to opening their minds and thinking for themselves."
—Richard Dawkins, author of Unweaving the Rainbow
"Well-researched, comprehensive, and persuasive. How We Believe is especially notable in stressing the great power of narration as the vehicle of complex thought . . . . The humanistic, evolutionary explanation may in fact be ready to break out of the intellectually remote domain in which it has been developed and too long hemmed-in."
—Edward O. Wilson, Pulitzer Prize winner, author of Consilience,
Research Professor and Honorary Curator in Entomology, Harvard University
"[How We Believe] is unusually useful . . . . It sheds unique light on the interior life of a well-informed atheist today, and may foreshadow a new spirit of amity and mutual inquiry."
—Washington Post Book World
"[Shermer] brilliantly explores our propensity to be story-telling animals."
"[Shermer's] discussion ranges eloquently and learnedly over broad areas of philosophy, theology, and science. In the end, whatever the reader's own thinking, she will probably discover that she has learned a lot about the opinions other people have on 'the God Question' and why they hold those opinions."
"Although Shermer's arguments will probably not be decisive for debates between 0nonbelievers and believers, both will be able to appreciate this readable and generally fair-minded treatment of a subject that often provokes contentious dispute."
"Anyone interested in contemporary discussions on science and religion will find this book immensely helpful."
—Science Book & Film
Recent polls show that 96% of Americans believe in God. Why are people turning to religion in greater numbers than ever before? In How We Believe
, Michael Shermer presents the results of an exhaustive empirical study in which he asked 10,000 Americans how and why they believe and about details of their faith. The result offers fresh and startling insights into age-old questions.
About the Author
Michael Shermer is the author of The Believing Brain, Why People Believe Weird Things, The Science of Good and Evil, The Mind Of The Market, Why Darwin Matters, Science Friction, How We Believe and other books on the evolution of human beliefs and behavior. He is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, the editor of Skeptic.com, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and an adjunct professor at Claremont Graduate University. He lives in Southern California.