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After hundreds of years, the time has come to admit that the debate about the existence of God can never be resolved to either side's satisfaction. But the discussion need not end there. We are still left with the important issue of the value of religion. And this is a debate that religion can win.
Bruce Sheiman's "An Atheist Defends Religion: Why Humanity is Better Off with Religion than without It" offers a distinctive response to the numerous books by unbelievers -- from the perspective of an unbeliever. But unlike other atheists who embrace their rejection of God as an intellectual triumph, Sheiman asserts that religion provides a combination of psychological, moral, communal, existential, aesthetic, and even physical-health benefits that no other institution can replicate.
"An Atheist Defends Religion" does not shy away from the controversial topics that ignite argument between atheists and people of faith, and takes on topics such as fundamentalist violence, militant atheism, faith and reason, and religion and science.
Sheiman ultimately redefines the core question of the debate: It is not whether God exists but whether the world is a better place because people believe God exists. This book makes a strong statement about the positive role of religion in the contemporary world, and what is lost in a purely secular conception of the world.
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An Atheist Defends Religion is a robust response to the numerous recent books by unbelievers - but with a twist. The author, Bruce Sheiman, is an atheist. But unlike most atheists who embrace their rejection of God as a sign of intellectual triumph, he asserts that such disbelief is maladaptive and that some form of religious belief is the overwhelmingly preferable option.
An Atheist Defends Religion provides a more thoughtful interpretation of the theism-atheism debate than has hitherto been offered. This book is not for the dogmatic minority on either side of the religion debate; rather, it is intended for the "moderate majority" of religious America. Reaching beyond the God question, this book explains how religion provides a combination of psychological, moral, emotional, existential, communal, and even physical-health benefits that no other institution can replicate.
This book records the soul searching of an atheist who wants to believe in God - an "aspiring theist." As an atheist sympathetic to religious aspirations, Mr. Sheiman approaches his subject with greater impartiality, sensitivity and perceptiveness than any partisan religious or secular observer. An Atheist Defends Religion reveals that, in its most profound simplicity, religion is about our relationship to the highest values we are able to envision. The author explains how we achieve our fullest humanity only in religion.
In the end, An Atheist Defends Religion cogently explains that the most rational and definitive argument for dismissing atheism is not to be found in the interminable debate over the existence of God, but in elucidating the enduring value of religion itself. An Atheist Defends Religion persuasively shows that atheism is an impoverished belief system, and that, individually and collectively, we are much better off with religion than without it.From the Author:
The questions that come up time and again are: Am I really an atheist? And how can an atheist defend religion? As I hope is clear in the book, I defend religion as a cultural institution, just as I might defend the global capitalist system or the value of science to humanity.
For me, the core idea of religion is belief in a Transcendent Spiritual Reality that exists apart from the material world we experience day-to-day. In accepting that my here-and-now existence is all there is, in either Western or Eastern traditions I qualify as an unbeliever.
While I aspire to believe in God, I have found that belief is not something that we can turn on and off at will. Thus, as much as I want to, I do not believe that my life was created by a Transcendent Spiritual Reality and I do not believe that my life force survives my death in any viable form.
For the majority of the world, human dignity is predicated on human divinity. I do not personally believe that. But there's something in me that wants to. And at a minimum, if I cannot embrace the existence of God (no matter how hard I try), I can have regard for the belief in God. In my view, it is no longer only an issue of the veracity of religion, but an issue of the value of religion itself.
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