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Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile 
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile
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It's a fairly common rhetorical device among atheists attempting to discredit religious belief -- reducing it to its most ridiculous terms, that is. The easiest way to discredit the idea of God, in some people's eyes, is to pretend that all conceptions of God are essentially analagous to Superman or the Great and Powerful Oz.


It is not hard to get to those ridiculous terms IMO.

But this is how the majority of people look at god, judging from the three most prevalent faiths. How SHOULD we look at god then? Would these faiths be lacking if we re-defined god according to some other terms? I do not take the fringe faiths into account when I ridicule religion based on an imaginary being...just those that are making an impact on our daily lives. A negative impact IMO.

I am not sure who you know or have met, but MY experience tells me that a majority of people do look at god as a superman. But I thought personal experience did'nt count. You confuse me sometimes Mad!

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Edited by: misterpessimistic  at: 5/2/06 3:19 pm



Tue May 02, 2006 2:16 pm
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Post discussing god
Tobiahsgirl: But in my (and my husband's) experience of "ordinary" (as distinguished from a liberal minority) Christians, ranging from mainstream Methodists to True Believers in The Rapture, I would definitely describe their deity as a tribal god.

Then this may all boil down to a difference in experience. Granted, I've seen a lot of images and quotes from hell and brimstone evangelicals, but they are, as I've said, more vocal than moderate Christians. Most of the Christians I've actually met, however, tend to be more moderate, regardless of how they'd describe themselves. And it may be that your experience is more comprehensive than mine. Then again, it may be that your experience is more specialized as well.

There is a huge percentage of Americans who worship this vengeful, ugly deity (who worship evil, in the words of Bruce Bawer), and who are fighting the teaching of evolution, banning books in libraries, standing by the roadside with pictures of bloody fetuses, and joyfully awaiting the world blowing up.

Again, this contradicts both my experience and my study. Anti-evolutionary activists, to take up one of the examples you've named, tend to be rather isolated people who go through a great deal of effort to stir up entire communities. In the case of Kanawha county West Virginia, for example, much of the protest, and later violence, was attributable mostly to a cultural and political divide that was agitated primarily by one disgruntled board of education member. Close scrutiny of the situation (and I'm drawing on the National Education Association's case study for my information here) really only points us to one or two people who can be described as proactive religious conservatives in this case, though their influence on the community makes it seem as though Kanawha must have been seething with Christian fundamentalist zealots.

misterpessimistic: But this is how the majority of people look at god, judging from the three most prevalent faiths. How SHOULD we look at god then?

I don't presume to tell you how you should look at the concept of God. I just don't like the turn that conversations take when certain people make assumptions about other people's conception of God without taking the time to learn the personal circumstances of their belief. And as I've said before, I think it's potentially fallicious to presume to know how the majority of people, even within such well known belief systems as Christianity, Judaism and Islam, perceive their respective deities.

But I thought personal experience did'nt count. You confuse me sometimes Mad!

I confuse a lot of people. Must be my haircut.

I never said that personal experience didn't count. It just can't be taken as the sole criteria for determing the truth of the matter. At the same time, I'm critical of the easy acceptance of the way in which any belief system, religious or otherwise, is presented in the media, even when the believers themselves are making that presentation. Someone else make a comment that I think is relavant here: do you think most of the "send money" tele-evangalists are firm believers? How much of their fervor is an image produced in order to make a certain gain? So why should we take their presentation of their religion at face value? In that regard, personal experience is likely a more valid guide than media representation.




Tue May 02, 2006 7:51 pm
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Post Re: discussing god
Now that I'm ready to post I am a bit overwhelmed with the size of some of these threads. I wonder if newcomers to BookTalk ever run into this problem. There are 86 posts in this thread alone, so maybe I'll first post some of my thoughts and then go back and read everyone elses comments over the next few days. I'd like to read each and every post, but it would take an hour tonight. ::44




Tue May 02, 2006 9:54 pm
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Post Re: discussing god
On p 39, Harris raises a legitimate concern about presidents being elected in the USA without having to, "know anything in particular before setting to work." I have often heard people complain that adults should have to apply for a license before having children. However, I have never, until Harris, heard the same sort of sentiment leveled at presidential candidates. In fact, most often I have heard people favorably talk about the fact that anyone can become president.




Wed May 03, 2006 2:32 pm
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Post Re: discussing god
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In fact, most often I have heard people favorably talk about the fact that anyone can become president.

Any one with money and the backing of one of the two major parties, at least ::80 The legal requirements and reality are not exactly on the same page in this day and age.

Quote:
Now that I'm ready to post I am a bit overwhelmed with the size of some of these threads. I wonder if newcomers to BookTalk ever run into this problem.

I wouldn't be surprised if thread length intimidates some new comers. What baffled me at first when I decided to join was post length, especially back and forth quoting and response. It is hard to maintain continuaty of discussion sometimes and that is challenging. You really need to read through all five pages to fully appreciate the discussion in many cases and this is unlike the current dimension of instant gratification, shortened l33t speak, and the general ideology of cramming as much information into a single page above the fold of the net. I appreciate the need to slow down and read everything here at BookTalk and attempt a well thought out post in response to someone else's views, opinions, thoughts, and arguements.

Any ways... ;) post away and read the threads when you get a chance. This is the only excessively long thread in the End of Faith forum currently, so fear not!




Wed May 03, 2006 3:23 pm
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Post Re: discussing god
And really, so much of what goes on in this thread is tangental to the book itself, that it wouldn't really help to read through the entire thread before posting your thoughts about the book. The discussion may have taken Harris' arguments as a springboard, but they depart rather quickly from the book itself.




Wed May 03, 2006 6:24 pm
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Post Re: discussing god
Tobiahsgirl: I think the best reliable evidence of individual religious belief is to look at the society we live in.

Any interpretive view of society that ignores the methods by which is makes its decisions is bound to distort the view of the individual. In the case of referendums, for example, that there is a majority voting for one view or another may not serve as reliable evidence that the result of that vote actually reflects the beliefs or opinions of the majority of constituents. That's because voting is purely voluntary.

Look at what I've suggested in previous posts. I'm saying that fundamentalists may seem more numerous than they actually are because they tend to be more vocal and active. That means, when there's voting referendum, you can expect most fervent fundamentalists to take part in that vote. Moderates, almost by definition, are less likely to vote. In part, this is due to the narrative of potential persecution that hardline conservative fundamentalists construct around themselves -- they tell themselves on a nearly daily basis that they're always on the precipice of being outnumbered and outgunned by homosexuals, militant minorities, depraved liberals and so forth, and the fear this generates motivates them to be more pro-active. As a result, they come out looking like a very numerous group, but that's mostly because the more moderate elements tend to be less visible unless you know them on a personal basis or make it a point to seek them out.

It's necessary to draw a dinstinction between society as it is, and society as it presents itself. And the fact of our culture is that it has a nasty habit of only presenting the most extreme aspects of society. That's why hell-and-brimstone tele-evangelists are a more familiar trope than moderate clerics concentrating primarily on a congregation that they live among -- the extremes seek out their visibility. And it's easy to mistake that familiarity for evidence of an actual numerical proportion.

All those individual beliefs add up to something; they do not exist on another plane or in a black hole.

To really add up, there'd have to be anough identity between individual beliefs that we could treat them each as an easily consensibly unit. That's rarely possible with any sort of belief, be it religious or secular.

We are the richest nation in the world; we have no national health care and we are dealing with disasters through charitable contributions. We don't have enough housing or provide many of our children with access to a good education. Many people in Maine are hungry some of the time. This is the best evidence to me of the nature of my fellow citizens' "religious" beliefs.

Why would you pinpoint all of that as evidence as to the "religious" beliefs of the American population? That seems to me like a leap in logic. I'd say those things are evidence of our civic beliefs. Civic belief may be conditioned by religious belief, but to infer all of that from the statistics you've named is a huge step. More explanation would be necessary to satisfy me that the connection was as direct as all that.




Mon May 08, 2006 5:36 pm
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Post Re: discussing god
Gandhi said if you think religion has nothing to do with politics, you know nothing about either subject. Even the people I know and have known who appear to be "Sunday morning Christians" definitely infect their "civic" beliefs with their "religious" beliefs. They may live with the illusion that somehow they are separate, but they constantly reveal the god they believe in through their speech, their actions. I see the woman who repeats her secondhand religion ("I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for my salvation . . .") as being perfectly consistent in repeating her secondhand political opinions, which reflect her Calvinist, judgmental, self-righteous upbringing. ("People who are not like me, not good, church-going Christians, do not deserve health care.")

Even in the censored (that is, the canonical) gospels, Jesus comes across pretty clearly as a lyrical radical. So what does the woman with the secondhand ideas believe in? Certainly not the historical Jesus, nor the Living Christ (see Thich Naht Hanh), but a figure calculated by Constantine to bring together diverse peoples and consolidate his power. Christianity, as soon as it became a state religion, was identical with political power.

I still don't buy the idea that there aren't a lot of fundamentalists out there. And if you think it is only a handful of "extremists" who are interested in constitutional amendments outlawing abortion, enforcing school prayer, defining marriage, etc., you don't know how I wish I could agree with you.

I just wanted to add that regarding the death with dignity referendum (put out for referendum by a state representative who is one of the most decent, humane politicians I've ever met), the opposition came from the Catholic church (French, and relatively benign), and Hospice (which however good a group it is, has an aggressive agenda) which persuaded clergy such as my "liberal" Episcopal priest to speak out against death with dignity. Neither of these groups could be remotely considered "fundamentalist," yet their religious agendas sought to impose their beliefs upon the public at large.

Edited by: Tobiahsgirl at: 5/10/06 7:54 am



Tue May 09, 2006 4:27 pm
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Post religion and politics
Tobiahsgirl: Gandhi said if you think religion has nothing to do with politics, you know nothing about either subject.

I haven't said that they have nothing to do with one another. What I've said is that it's not always clear precisely what they have to do with one another. People vote in contradiction to their religious beliefs on a regular basis. It isn't always clear what relationship a person's religion has to their political views, and attempts to draw a direct correlation are often fallacies waiting to happen.

They may live with the illusion that somehow they are separate, but they constantly reveal the god they believe in through their speech, their actions.

And I don't see why they shouldn't, really. If your religious beliefs are holistic -- that is, if you think they have some bearing on the whole of life -- then why would you draw a hard and fast distinction between your political beliefs and your religious beliefs.

The question of primacy also arises. I have no doubt that the decision to align one's self with one religious group rather than another is influenced by one's political and civic view of the world. To broaden the applicability of Ghandi's quote, if you think that politics has nothing to do about religion...

So what does the woman with the secondhand ideas believe in?

I think it's funny how you seem to want to imply some sort of perjorative with the phrase "secondhand ideas". As far as I can tell, about a dozen "firsthand ideas" appear every decade, and usually as the result of a lifelong devotion to a particular question. Even those people aren't drawing their ideas up out of the ether; they're buiding on ideas and views of the world that they've received from the cultures and communities into which they've been born. Everyone is dealing with variations on ideas that they've gotten secondhand. Damn one such person and you damn us all.

Certainly not the historical Jesus, nor the Living Christ (see Thich Naht Hanh), but a figure calculated by Constantine to bring together diverse peoples and consolidate his power.

Constantine was no singlehandedly responsible for the consolidation of the church, nor did he produce the impulse to do so by some miraculous act of parthogenesis. The early church was in an almost constant state of persecution, and solidarity was the key to the survival of both the institution and its members. To that end, there were efforts to consolidate the church for a period of centuries. The view that the Church took the form it did as a matter of conspiratorial caluculation is a conspiracy theorist's simplification of the actual historical process. Recognizing that it took its ultimate form as a matter of organic development (occasioned by deliberate attempts to influence that development) doesn't mean that you have to agree with it, of course, but don't satisfy yourself with the distortion.

Christianity, as soon as it became a state religion, was identical with political power.

To some degree, yes. Christianity wouldn't really become the nexus of political power until around the 8th or 9th century, and again, this was not the result of a decree but rather of an organic development and the attempt to hold together a society in crisis. I've discussed that development elsewhere in these threads, though, so I won't go into it here.

I still don't buy the idea that there aren't a lot of fundamentalists out there.

There are probably a great many of them, yes. I'm just skeptical of the idea that they form any thing close to a majority -- neither a majority of American citizens, nor a majority of practicing Protestants. If they really were a majority, then they probably wouldn't need to be so forceful, so vocal. They could whisper, and know that the majority would agree with whatever it was they had whispered.

Neither of these groups could be remotely considered "fundamentalist," yet their religious agendas sought to impose their beliefs upon the public at large.

I do see that as a problem, at least to whatever degree we hope to maintain our secular guarantee of tolerance. And I think that a large part of the problem is the absence of any recognition of a third answer. Religious institutions have made a major mistake by attempting to identify their own authority over their voluntary constituents with the compulsory authority of the government. The result has been a weaking of religious authority even within it's own proper sphere. More and more, they religious institution has been compelled to identify its own agendas with political agendas, else its own consituency senses a moral disparity. The only real answer I can think of is to begin the slow process of drawing reasonable distinctions between law and morality, and between the rightful spheres of religious authority and civic authority.

Anyway, that's a damn big subject, and I won't drag on about it.




Wed May 10, 2006 1:20 pm
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Post Re: religion and politics
Alan Jones, Journey Into Christ:

One of our problems is that very few of us have developed any distinctive personal life. Everything about us seems secondhand, even our emotions. In many cases we have to rely on secondhand information in order to function. I accept the word of a physician, a scientist, a farmer on trust [my note: skepticism is not amiss in these cases, either]. I do not like to do this. I have to because they possess vital knowledge of living of which I am ignorant. Secondhand information concerning the state of my kidneys, the effects of cholesterol, and the raising of chickens, I can live with. But when it comes to questions of meaning, purpose, and death, secondhand information will not do. I cannot survive on a secondhand faith in a secondhand God. There has to be a personal word, a unique confrontation, if I am to come alive.

There is a huge difference [me now] between unique ideas and actually experiencing life for yourself, thinking things out for yourself, instead of just swallowing propaganda, including religious propaganda. I must constantly remember on this forum that apparently other people have not had religious experiences, so "No one can make clear to another who has never had a certain feeling, in what the quality or worth of it consists" (William James).




Thu May 11, 2006 7:30 am
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Post Re: religion and politics
Tobiahsgirl: There is a huge difference between unique ideas and actually experiencing life for yourself, thinking things out for yourself, instead of just swallowing propaganda, including religious propaganda. I must constantly remember on this forum that apparently other people have not had religious experiences...

Most people in general, and throughout history, have not had a relevatory religious experience, and probably never will. Moreover, most religious experiences take place in a cultural context that shapes both the form and content of that experience, which means that even first hand religious experiences are built on the accretion of cultural material gained at second hand . So unless you want to bar the majority of people from religion altogether, it has to be accepted that religion comes, in large part, at second hand.




Thu May 11, 2006 4:07 pm
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Post Re: religion and politics
Though I believe that most people (let's confine "people" here to churchgoers) have not had revelatory religious experience, I do not think that is because such experience is impossible or unlikely. In many aboriginal societies, such experiences were common and part of one's life path. Rather, most people fear what they may see when they peer into the abyss (thank you, Brother Void) and go to church for social contact (the number one reason cited when a minister I knew polled his congregation), comfort, ritual, etc.

Even at my former Episcopal church, there were women who had had revelatory religious experiences, and I now attend a church where I'm guessing -- from the atmosphere created by the participants -- a number of the women have had firsthand experience of what they call God. Though these experiences may take on cultural shapes from our brain patterns (though I would certainly have expected to see the Buddha in my vision, not the Christ), it is not for anyone to say that makes them secondhand experiences.

To finish the quote from William James: "One must have musical ears to know the value of a symphony; one must have been in love one's self to understand a lover's state of mind. Lacking the heart or ear, we cannot interpret the musician or the lover justly, and are even likely to consider him weak-minded or absurd. The mystic finds that most of us accord to his experiences an equally incompetent treatment." [my emphasis]

And on the numbers of fundamentalists in the U.S., Apocalypse by Charles B. Strozier, published in 1994: ". . . the survey data suggest that some 40 percent of the American public believes in the Bible as the 'actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word.' That would approach 100 million people. . . . Nearly a third of all Americans firmly believe in the rapture. As Garry Wills puts it: 'It seems careless of scholars to keep misplacing such a large body of people.' "

I have never suggested that fundamentalists form a majority of the American public, but I think the numbers cited above are significant and without question deeply influence the cultural and political life of our society. Everywhere my husband or I go in Maine, we come into contact with evidence of this belief system, whether it's visiting dull neighbors with their Frank Peretti novels and books explaining "the end times," our state senator who is a religious fanatic, fellow students who scoff at "evolution" and believe that late-term abortion is a common practice, etc., etc. I really want to know if people in this discussion are spending their lives cleaning up after other people, caring for unwanted/abused children, visiting said dull neighbors, and generally coming into contact with regular folks.

Edited by: Tobiahsgirl at: 5/12/06 7:51 am



Thu May 11, 2006 5:02 pm
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Post Re: religion and politics
Tobiahsgirl: In many aboriginal societies, such experiences were common and part of one's life path.

Religious experiences, maybe. But when I saw relevatory religous experience, I'm talking specifically about the sort of experiences that define religious -- unique revelation, it's been called. The religious experiences shared by any community of the faithful are conditioned experiences, and the whole import of orthodox ritual is to provide the conditions in which such experiences may take place. For that sort of thing, you don't need to go to aboriginal socities: it happens in modern religious communities all the time. But I would think that these conditioned religious experiences would fall into the category that you've named "second-hand" -- they're the result of immersion in an established orthodoxy with a set of well-delineated symbols and cultural forms.

Though these experiences may take on cultural shapes from our brain patterns (though I would certainly have expected to see the Buddha in my vision, not the Christ), it is not for anyone to say that makes them secondhand experiences.

The more we talk about it, the more I'm beginning to think that this distinction between second-hand and first-hand is somewhat arbitrary. What I've been getting at all along is that the first-hand experience is almost always produced -- or at the very least, conditioned -- by prior experience with a second-hand revelation. I don't see any evidence of anyone having arrived at a first-hand experience without some prior experience with the forms provided by an established orthodoxy. At best, we can infer that it must have happened at some point in pre-history. Even the advent of a new religious form is typically conditioned by familiarity with an established religious authority. Gershom Sholem has written an interesting essay on that subject, printed in his collection "On the Kabbalah and Its Symbols".

As for the number of fundamentalists in the U.S., I've seen numbers as low as 20% of American Christians. The figures vary from survey to survey, and much depends on how you define fundamentalism. The term itself is pretty vague.




Fri May 12, 2006 10:45 am
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Post Re: religion and politics
tobiahsgirl: I believe that most people (let's confine "people" here to churchgoers) have not had revelatory religious experience

How do you define revelatory religious experience? I suppose it might refer to some sort of radical unsettling of identity, social location, cultural compass...a kind of revolutionary restructuring of who I am, to whom or what I belong, and to where I am headed. An ecstatic bursting of ego limitations, shattering fragile notions of self-hood, opening and expanding far beyond familial roles, personal history, social expectation, and traditional patterns. You simply are not the same person after such an experience: your horizons for what is possible and permissable have fundamentally changed.

As far as revelatory, it seems this refers to a message delivered from some transcendent source: a communique with a mysterious force not subject to your intellectual capacities or powers of imagination. A powerful intrusion that supercedes all agendas, alliances, allegiences and already existing plans: forcing a radical change of course and action. An inexcapable clarity and absolutely persuasive perspective which delivers a truth that cannot and will not be denied or ignored. What is revealed makes such a profound impression that evertyhing else pales in importance, and is now evaluated entirely in its relation to the revelation.

Considering the term religious, it becomes far more murky and enigmatic. Does the Mahayana Buddhist notion of pratitya samutpada carry more or less religious significance that the Renewal Jewish idea of tikkun olam? Does Bach's Mass in B Minor present a clearer religious experience than Mahalia Jackson's His Eye Is On the Sparrow? Do we learn more about religion by examining the lives and murders of Catholic Bishop Oscar Romero and Baptist Minister Martin Luther King, Jr.; or by studying prayer techniques in Tibetan Monasteries, Pentecostal homechurches, or urban Hospice wards?

I should hope we would take as much of this diversity of experience as possible into consideration. Mad and yourself are hardly in need of this instruction, although I think Sam Harris may need a little help in this direction.






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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile
RivercOil:

Quote:
But it should be noted that a religion that once conducted a religious crusade no longer kills in the name of their god, which argues against Harris stance that all faith needs to be elimited for the human race to safely progress.


Or has it become just more subtle in it's Crusade? I remember a thread that compared a murderer with a crooked CEO who bilked billions from the stockholders and bankrupted the company. I find the CEO to be more ethically wrong and causing more damage than the murderer of one. I feel the CEO has commited the more egregious crime. The murderer is brutal in his actions, but the cunning thief causes more widespread damage.

Whatever the tactics...it is the ultimate goal that worries me.

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

Once you perceive the irrevocable truth, you can no longer justify the irrational denial. - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Fri May 19, 2006 3:06 pm
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Oliver Twist - by Charles DickensSense and Goodness Without God - by Richard CarrierFrankenstein - by Mary ShelleyThe Big Questions - by Simon BlackburnScience Was Born of Christianity - by Stacy TrasancosThe Happiness Hypothesis - by Jonathan HaidtA Game of Thrones - by George R. R. MartinTempesta's Dream - by Vincent LoCocoWhy Nations Fail - by Daron Acemoglu and James RobinsonThe Drowning Girl - Caitlin R. KiernanThe Consolations of the Forest - by Sylvain TessonThe Complete Heretic's Guide to Western Religion: The Mormons - by David FitzgeraldA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - by James JoyceThe Divine Comedy - by Dante AlighieriThe Magic of Reality - by Richard DawkinsDubliners - by James JoyceMy Name Is Red - by Orhan PamukThe World Until Yesterday - by Jared DiamondThe Man Who Was Thursday - by by G. K. ChestertonThe Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven PinkerLord Jim by Joseph ConradThe Hobbit by J. R. R. TolkienThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsAtlas Shrugged by Ayn RandThinking, Fast and Slow - by Daniel KahnemanThe Righteous Mind - by Jonathan HaidtWorld War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max BrooksMoby Dick: or, the Whale by Herman MelvilleA Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer EganLost Memory of Skin: A Novel by Russell BanksThe Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. KuhnHobbes: Leviathan by Thomas HobbesThe House of the Spirits - by Isabel AllendeArguably: Essays by Christopher HitchensThe Falls: A Novel (P.S.) by Joyce Carol OatesChrist in Egypt by D.M. MurdockThe Glass Bead Game: A Novel by Hermann HesseA Devil's Chaplain by Richard DawkinsThe Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph CampbellThe Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor DostoyevskyThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainThe Moral Landscape by Sam HarrisThe Decameron by Giovanni BoccaccioThe Road by Cormac McCarthyThe Grand Design by Stephen HawkingThe Evolution of God by Robert WrightThe Tin Drum by Gunter GrassGood Omens by Neil GaimanPredictably Irrational by Dan ArielyThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki MurakamiALONE: Orphaned on the Ocean by Richard Logan & Tere Duperrault FassbenderDon Quixote by Miguel De CervantesMusicophilia by Oliver SacksDiary of a Madman and Other Stories by Nikolai GogolThe Passion of the Western Mind by Richard TarnasThe Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le GuinThe Genius of the Beast by Howard BloomAlice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll Empire of Illusion by Chris HedgesThe Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner The Extended Phenotype by Richard DawkinsSmoke and Mirrors by Neil GaimanThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsWhen Good Thinking Goes Bad by Todd C. RinioloHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiAmerican Gods: A Novel by Neil GaimanPrimates and Philosophers by Frans de WaalThe Enormous Room by E.E. CummingsThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeGod Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher HitchensThe Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama Paradise Lost by John Milton Bad Money by Kevin PhillipsThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettGodless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists by Dan BarkerThe Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienThe Limits of Power by Andrew BacevichLolita by Vladimir NabokovOrlando by Virginia Woolf On Being Certain by Robert A. Burton50 reasons people give for believing in a god by Guy P. HarrisonWalden: Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David ThoreauExile and the Kingdom by Albert CamusOur Inner Ape by Frans de WaalYour Inner Fish by Neil ShubinNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthyThe Age of American Unreason by Susan JacobyTen Theories of Human Nature by Leslie Stevenson & David HabermanHeart of Darkness by Joseph ConradThe Stuff of Thought by Stephen PinkerA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe Lucifer Effect by Philip ZimbardoResponsibility and Judgment by Hannah ArendtInterventions by Noam ChomskyGodless in America by George A. RickerReligious Expression and the American Constitution by Franklyn S. HaimanDeep Economy by Phil McKibbenThe God Delusion by Richard DawkinsThe Third Chimpanzee by Jared DiamondThe Woman in the Dunes by Abe KoboEvolution vs. Creationism by Eugenie C. ScottThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanI, Claudius by Robert GravesBreaking The Spell by Daniel C. DennettA Peace to End All Peace by David FromkinThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe End of Faith by Sam HarrisEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonValue and Virtue in a Godless Universe by Erik J. WielenbergThe March by E. L DoctorowThe Ethical Brain by Michael GazzanigaFreethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan JacobyCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared DiamondThe Battle for God by Karen ArmstrongThe Future of Life by Edward O. WilsonWhat is Good? by A. C. GraylingCivilization and Its Enemies by Lee HarrisPale Blue Dot by Carl SaganHow We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God by Michael ShermerLooking for Spinoza by Antonio DamasioLies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al FrankenThe Red Queen by Matt RidleyThe Blank Slate by Stephen PinkerUnweaving the Rainbow by Richard DawkinsAtheism: A Reader edited by S.T. JoshiGlobal Brain by Howard BloomThe Lucifer Principle by Howard BloomGuns, Germs and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Demon-Haunted World by Carl SaganBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownFuture Shock by Alvin Toffler

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