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Old 04-03-2011, 09:03 AM   #16
kennyc
The Dank Side of the Moon
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Christopher Hichin's " God is not Great" is a fairly new and somewhat-known work....
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Originally Posted by mldavis2 View Post
"Demon Haunted World" by Carl Sagan.
I'd second both of those and recommend

The Evolution of God by Robert Wright.

There is also some interesting work by Daniel Dennet.
Such as: Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

And here he is at TED: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_dennett...ck_warren.html

Dennett is referred to as one of the "Four Horsemen of New Atheism," along with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens.

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Old 04-03-2011, 10:30 AM   #17
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...I don't see much point in books that are hostile to religion. Having read Dawkins and Hitchens I find that they, and Hitchens in particular, put too much blame on religion for the world's woes. Yes, Christianity has caused a lot of death and destruction, but nothing compared to that caused by greed and bigotry.

What I am more interested in is a book that discusses why so many people still believe in religion. ...
You may be interested in The Transcendental Temptation by Paul Kurtz (available as an e-book). Kurtz offers a spirited defense of his atheism and the life of reason, but doesn't treat those who oppose his views with condescension. In fact, he has a proven track record of working together with people of faith in those areas where they share overlapping goals. In The Transcendental Temptation, he examines why people are drawn to unprovable religious ideas that fly in the face of reason.
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Old 04-03-2011, 11:45 AM   #18
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There is also some interesting work by Daniel Dennet.
Such as: Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
Yes, Dennet is a "kinder, gentler" version of the three "H's": Hawkins, Harris, Hitchens.

But I would also like to second the Bertrand Russell mentioned in post 12. It's a great place to start, it's free, and it's not mired in current emotionally charged rhetoric.
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Old 04-03-2011, 09:52 PM   #19
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I am very fond of Why Won't God Heal Amputees?, which provides a very accessible, friendly, throughout argument from the problem of evil for why God doesn't exist. I particularly like its empiricist bent and focus on evidence (not in the narrow sense of scientists in laboratories with lab coats and expensive equipment, but in the sense of what everyday occurrences we would expect to see and not expect to see if God were real, and how those predictions don't match up with reality). The last two chapters are atrocious, though; I really wish they were cut from the book. They are grand proclamations about the meaning of life, the future of humanity, and how to live your live without religion; and rather than being advanced with the care he took to lay out his arguments earlier in the text, they are instead laid down on from on high as if they were the word of God. And the sad thing is that I don't actually disagree with him all that much, but I nevertheless dislike them because the material is extraneous to the main point and poorly justified.

Then there are also books which specialize in attacking the Bible. Two good ones are the Skeptic's Annotated Bible and The Brick Testament. The SAB reprints the text of the Bible and makes marginal notes whenever something worthy of attention, such as sexism, happens to show up in the good book. The Brick Testament, on the other hand, is brilliant in that it adds virtually nothing to the original text; it just illustrates the verses in an unabashedly literal manner and makes them easy to read, and yet that is still enough to get people riled up. Keep in mind that it contains graphic depictions of lego figures having sex and being dismembered, though, if you are offended by that sort of thing.

If you want some more advanced material, this is isn't a book, but there's a great blog which has a bunch of posts grouped together under an "antitheism" tag which you may find interesting (and two more posts that are not under the tag, but still relevant).

Finally, as far as Dawkins goes, I read (listened to, actually) The God Delusion and found it very disappointing. There are several reasons for this, from his choice of argument for "why there almost certainly is no God" (the Ultimate Boeing 747 is not a bad argument, but is rather overhyped), to his lack of a detailed thesis to follow through the book (splitting it into an argument against God half and an argument against religion half doesn't count), to his invocation of Immanuel Kant for the morality chapter (of all people...), to his judgement that "the God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction" without following up with immediate justification for why that is so (he is not necessarily wrong, but he can't just say that without explaining the reasoning to his religious readers), to the focus on biology and cosmology as opposed to the more cultural aspects which he only gets to towards the end of the book. I think the book would most useful to a scientifically inclined kid who had just become an atheist and thus hadn't had time to learn a lot of the standard material criticizing religion. Atheists with more experience will know most of what Dawkins says in the book and find it boring, while religious people will perceive most of it as attacks because he doesn't manage to make a good enough case for it.

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Old 04-04-2011, 11:30 AM   #20
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You could also try A C Grayling - another Brit but less bombastic than Dawkins and Hitchens but no less thorough in hit atheism.
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Old 04-04-2011, 02:28 PM   #21
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What I am more interested in is a book that discusses why so many people still believe in religion. I recall reading an article some time ago that suggested that this believe actually was part of our evolution.
Are you familiar with Leary's The Politics of Ecstasy? There's no ebook version, but it does go over "why do we have religions; what do they do for people."
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Science is the systematic attempt to record and measure the energy process and the sequence of energy transformations we call life. The goal is to answer the basic questions in terms of objective, observed, public data. Religion is the systematic attempt to provide answers to the same questions subjectively, in terms of direct, incontrovertible, personal experience.
A religion is a set of the same answers (or very similar answers) to the 7 basic spiritual questions.
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Old 04-05-2011, 05:34 AM   #22
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What I am more interested in is a book that discusses why so many people still believe in religion. I recall reading an article some time ago that suggested that this believe actually was part of our evolution.
What might be called the evolutionary cognitive science of religion 1s fascinating - though there is no agreement about the cognitive foundations of religious belief. A few of things I could recommend are:

Bringing Ritual to Mind by Robert N. McCauley and E. Thomas Lawson
The Naturalness of Religious Ideas by Pascal Boyer
Faces in the Clouds by Stuart Guthrie

All of these are respected, but contested, theorists in religious studies.
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Old 12-02-2011, 07:43 AM   #23
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The Greatest show on earth

I'd agree with Hidari about God is not great by Hitchens.
I agree with almost every word that Dawkins utters, if i were not an atheist he would be my god.... Hitchens however i find a little controversial but he makes some very interesting points and asks some thought provoking questions such as his analysis of the question - would you feel safer if approached on the street by a group or religous people or a group of non religious?

Also - its not strictly on religion/god but Dawkins book 'The greatest show on Earth' is brilliant. I almost overlooked it but it was fascinating even though i had not previously been intereted in the subject.

Shaun
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:48 AM   #24
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"Demon Haunted World" by Carl Sagan.
Yes. That was the book that, when I read it in high school, started me on the road to skepticism. I have it as a paperback, but I can't find an eBook of it. Or really anything by Sagan. I lost my paperback copy of Contact a few years ago and I'd like to re-read it.
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Old 12-02-2011, 11:00 AM   #25
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Amazon has it, and many more by him:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?ur...k%3ACarl+Sagan
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Old 12-02-2011, 12:47 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Hamlet53 View Post
What I am more interested in is a book that discusses why so many people still believe in religion. I recall reading an article some time ago that suggested that this believe actually was part of our evolution. That belief in supernatural reward and punishment in this life, and perhaps even more important in an imagined limitless afterlife (there's and oxymoron for you ), helped coerce our evolutionary ancestors into behaviors that had rewards for species survival. I would be interested in a book that provided an expanded discussion of that idea.
Karen Armstrong has written several books about religion. A Battle for God explores the rise of fundamentalism and A History of God is a more general explanation of mankind and religion. I believe that she is a RC nun. She writes well and I find her books interesting. I'm a lifelong atheist and don't understand the attraction of religion. I read her books to see where religious folks were coming from.
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Old 12-02-2011, 01:18 PM   #27
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You all have already recommended so many of what I would have mentioned. Good stuf.

The Believing Brain- Michael Shermer - many other good books, this is like his magnum opus though.

Good without God- Greg Epstein

God the failed hypothesis- Victor Stenger - Many other good books too, The New Atheism

The grand design- Stephen Hawkings

Godless- Dan Barker

Film-Flam- James Randi

Breaking the spell- Daniel Dennet

The christian delusion- John Loftus

Atheist Universe- David Mills

Bad Science- Ben Goldacre

Nonsense on Stilts- Massimo Paglucci

The Religion Virus- Craig James
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Old 12-02-2011, 06:27 PM   #28
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Amazon has it, and many more by him:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?ur...k%3ACarl+Sagan
Thanks, I just checked and there are a lot of Carl Sagan ebooks now. I see they all have publication dates of July 2011, so the last time I checked for his name must have been before then.

Still no "Contact," though.
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Old 12-03-2011, 06:54 AM   #29
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The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever edited by Christopher Hitchens.

http://www.amazon.com/Portable-Athei...=AG56TWVU5XWC2
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:03 AM   #30
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I began to wonder what the point of a book for atheists would be. I can't think of any reason. I'm pretty sure true believers wouldn't pick up the book so they could see if their faith makes sense or is in any way logical. An atheists has already decided. Why would someone bother reading a book about being an atheist?
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