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  • 4/17/2004

1-Stages of Faith:

The Psychology of Human Development
James W. Fowler

Now in paperback--the classic most cited in the field of psychology of religion that explores the developmental stages of faith and the reasons we find life worth living.

From the Publisher
Groundbreaking study shows how human life is progressively centered around a basic set of meanings and values that shape the faith people live by.

About the Author
James W. Fowler is widely regarded, along with his associate Lawrence Kohlberg and his contemporaries Carol Gilligan and Daniel J. Levinson, as a seminal figure in the field of developmental psychology. He has taught at
HarvardUniversity andBostonCollege and is currently the head of the Center for Ethics in Public Policy and the Professions at EmoryUniversity.

2-Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning

Viktor E. Frankl

Viktor Frankl, author of the smash bestsellerMan's Search for Meaning, offers a more straightforward alternative to traditional Freudian psychoanalysis: one's problems may be rooted in a failure to find a meaning in life beyond one's interior world. The basis for his interpretation, however, is not so straightforward. It lies in Frankl's existential analysis, plumbing for the reasons that people have repressed their consciences, their love, their creativity. By legitimizing a spiritual aspect of the human mind, Frankl has separated us definitively from the animal kingdom, but it is still up to each of us to rise to our human potential.

3-How We Believe, Second Edition:

Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God
Michael Shermer

One hundred years ago social scientists predicted that belief in God would decrease by the year 2000. "In fact ... the opposite is has occurred," Shermer writes in his introduction. "Never in history have so many, and such a high percentage of the population, believed in God. Not only is God not dead as Nietzche proclaimed, but he has never been more alive."

Why do so many believe in the existence of something so inexplicable? That's exactly what Shermer answers in this comprehensive, intelligent, and highly readable discussion about the nature of faith. "People believe in God because the evidence of their senses tell them so," claims Shermer, who is the publisher of Skeptics magazine. Having been a believer and a student of the history of science, Shermer (now an agnostic) is more interested in knowing why and how people believe in God rather than trying to prove who's right or wrong. As a result, this book is not only even-handed and thorough, it is also destined to become a timeless contribution to spirituality as well as science.--Gail Hudson--This text refers to theHardcover edition.

From Publishers 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.

About the Author
Michael Shermer is the publisher of Skeptic magazine, the director of the Skeptics Society, and the host of the Skeptics Lecture Series at the California Institute of Technology. He is the author of the bestselling Why People Believe Weird Things (W. H. Freeman and Company, 1997) and teaches the history of science, technology, and evolutionary thought in the Cultural Studies Program atOccidentalCollege inLos Angeles. He is the host of the "Science Talk" edition of Airtalk, which airs weekly on KPCC in Pasadena, the PBS affiliate station for southernCalifornia.

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