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Old 08-28-2013, 10:40 AM
 
Location: North Carolina
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I don't think this a topic currently, maybe I'm wrong but I don't see one. Any who can we get a book list going ,a sort of "Every atheist must read" list. I know I'm definitely more interested in reading on the subject but I don't know who to read. So if anyone has read some great books out there by any renouned ( or unknown) Atheist and would like to share your "must read" list that'd be great!

I wanted to throw this one out there for parents in particular, I bought it after my parents and in-laws were trying to introduce Christianity to my daughter during sleep overs. I began putting the book in her night bag telling them if they must read to her that this would be her bedtime story.Conversion attempts have stopped.

-Raising Freethinkers
A practical guide for parenting beyond belief
By Dale McGowan, Molleen Matsumura, Amanda Metskas, and Dan Devor
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:40 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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FWIW I'm currently reading The Happy Atheist by PZ Meyers. It's one of those "I collected my blog posts and here's a book" things, but I recommend it for light reading because PZ has a good sense of humor. Also, it is helping me to better understand the New Atheist mindset, which at times can be a bit strident and hectoring for my taste. But I think the book has helped me to see some of the more ridiculous (read: ridicule-worthy) aspects of theism and I think a bit of a light bulb went on for me: New Atheism's open disdain and opposition to religion is really a way (probably, the only way) of breaking down taboos that give theism a free ride that allows it to never be questioned, to never be taxed, to be exempt from competing in the normal marketplace of ideas, to have the bar set incredibly low on the validity of its claims. New Atheism may not be everyone's cup of tea and is really not mine, but at least it makes a little more sense to me now.
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:46 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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I also like The New Atheism, subtitle: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason, by Victor Stenger. It is less in-your-face than The Happy Atheist but it is also a more serious and systematic coverage of the basics of atheism in general and New Atheism in particular. It actually is a pretty good primer for anyone relatively new to unbelief, or for the wavering believer looking for some firm ground to stand on.

It took me a long time to get truly comfortable with science and reason after decades of anti-science and anti-reason fundamentalist indoctrination which left me nearly as suspicious of science as of religion. While I am still not so naive as to regard science as the answer to everything and the savior of all (not in our time; it still is not holistically applied with the laws of unintended consequences in mind), I wish I had read this book carefully a few years ago, it would have brought my thinking along better.
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:50 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Finally, The Religion Virus by Craig James does a good job of explaining the evolution of religion from the perspective of memetics. It's particularly interesting to me in its treatment of the progression from animistic to polytheistic to monotheistic belief-systems. It could use some editing (it goes on at too much length IMO about the wonders of memetic theory, and just could have been written more tightly) but it clarified a lot of my thinking about the evolution and history of religion and what more can you ask of a book. I love it, warts and all.
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Old 08-28-2013, 12:05 PM
 
Location: CA
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Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris. It's short, but it was one of the first books I had read written by an atheist.

Losing My Religion by William Lobdell. Lobdell was a writer (still?) for the L.A. Times (religious section). As he investigated the Catholic priest child molestation scandal, it made him question the establishment he believed in. It's an interesting perspective.
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Old 08-28-2013, 12:20 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mommabear2 View Post
Losing My Religion by William Lobdell. Lobdell was a writer (still?) for the L.A. Times (religious section). As he investigated the Catholic priest child molestation scandal, it made him question the establishment he believed in. It's an interesting perspective.
In a similar vein, Why I Believed by former missionary Kenneth Daniels is excellent, particularly good reading for doubting fundamentalists. It's hard enough for a fundie layperson to deconvert, but imagine a missionary. I felt for the guy every step of his journey. If he can do it, so can anyone.
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Old 08-28-2013, 12:26 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
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For kids:
'The Magic of Reality' by Richard Dawkins.
This is his attempt to explain many of his ideas in 'The God Delusion' to kids - I bought it to give to my son but read it myself first. I wouldn't attempt to give it to a child less than probably about 12. It deals with many concepts too complex for younger readers I think. Great at describing evolution in a simple way (obviously Dawkins strong point) as well as our current explanation of the universe and our place in it. I think it is worth a read for adults too.

It's the only book I can think of that personally I'd give to kids which explodes the god or creation myths - actually done in a subtle way by comparing the variety of myths out there. But actually, I think if you just focus on the scientific explanations, you can just leave out god, and they can make up their own minds about how the two fit together (or not as the case may be).

I have any number of great science books I'd recommend for kids. They are encyclopedias rather than reading books. Here are just three;

National Geographic - The Science Book.
Everything you ever need to know about science is in here.

Two good evolution books:
Evolution Revolution. From Darwin to DNA by Robert Winston
and
Evolution (Eyewitness guide) a Dorling Kindersley book (also comes with a nice poster and CD)



For adults anything by Dawkins is a good read.
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Old 08-28-2013, 01:22 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruithne View Post
For kids:
'The Magic of Reality' by Richard Dawkins.
This is his attempt to explain many of his ideas in 'The God Delusion' to kids - I bought it to give to my son but read it myself first. I wouldn't attempt to give it to a child less than probably about 12. It deals with many concepts too complex for younger readers I think. Great at describing evolution in a simple way (obviously Dawkins strong point) as well as our current explanation of the universe and our place in it. I think it is worth a read for adults too.

It's the only book I can think of that personally I'd give to kids which explodes the god or creation myths - actually done in a subtle way by comparing the variety of myths out there. But actually, I think if you just focus on the scientific explanations, you can just leave out god, and they can make up their own minds about how the two fit together (or not as the case may be).
Thanks Cruithne, I will probably get The Magic of Reality for my grandsons.
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Old 08-28-2013, 05:39 PM
 
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A couple that I have read in the last few years are:

Age of Reason - Thomas Paine
Though Paine was specifically advocating deism, this book is a classic that applies equally well to atheism. It is a well written, sometimes harsh, defense of reason and castigation of blind faith. It is especially interesting to read in conjunction with Paine's revolutionary writings and should be a part of everyone's American History studies as well.

Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism - Susan Jacoby
This book delves into the role of freethinkers, atheists, and other non-conformists in the shaping of America. From Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Pain to Robert Ingersoll and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, this book covers the influences that those advertising America as a Christian Nation wish to ignore. It really exposes that idea as wishful thinking, and gives one a scope for how much America has been shaped by unbelief.

Doubt: A History
- Jennifer Michal Hecht
A fascinating look at reason and unbelief through the ages. It is an attempt to examine the traditions of doubt, in the same way one might trace religious thought, and shows that unbelievers, skeptics, and doubters have as much history and continuity as any religion. It is a really big book, but absolutely fascinating.

Of these I think Doubt is the best one, if you can only read one. It is fascinating to see how much modern skeptics, agnostics and atheists owe to Greek and Buddhist philosophers, to Jewish and Muslim rationalists, and to non-conformist thinkers. Most of the arguments we advance all the time on this board are hundreds, if not thousands of years old, and still have not received a satisfactory answer.


-NoCapo
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Old 08-28-2013, 07:31 PM
 
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As a non-atheist, these noted books will put me to the grindstone since I read extensively. The books will be a journey. I wonder what I will find. I think I will be a stranger in a strange land and I think it will be a fascinating intellectual exercise in my religio-historical mind.
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