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Harris speech (transcript) on atheism 
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Post Re: Harris speech (transcript) on atheism
Quote:
Dexter wrote:

But don't you think this claim is amenable to evidence? One study may not be enough, but either it's true or it's not.

And if it's not true, you still may wish to play Mozart for your children. And being rational does not mean you can't appreciate art for it's own sake.


It is not really about one study. There is a book called 'The Mozart Effect' and I found it interesting and plausible.

But the fact of Mozart himself, being such a genius, when music is such a mathematical phenomenon - is my evidence for 'something extra' in humanity.

I use Mozart as an example, rather than Leonardo Da Vinci, because - music is so scientific, as it were.


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Tue Jan 11, 2011 3:57 am
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Post Re: Harris speech (transcript) on atheism
I remember seeing (or reading, can't remember which) an interview with the late poet James Dickey. He had begun to delve into subjects that were a bit fantastical and you could say came from the less rational parts of his mind. Some readers and critics had complained about this direction, telling him, "Oh come off it." He replied to them, "I don't want to come off it; I want to go with it." So it seems to me that not just poets but others as well--religious people and artists, for instance--make this choice of "going with it." I have objections to this in particular instances, but it does appear to offer a rewarding way of experiencing life.

"Rational" has come to mean something so restricted that it can't possibly be sufficient for human being. I would argue that, once," rational" or "reason" was more inclusive of our emotional range, more equivalent to the full scope of our perceptions. Sometimes, with the insistence on rationality, I get the feeling that the kind of perception or knowing typically reflected in poetry is excluded. The same could apply to all of art, I suppose, but in my mind especially to poetry.


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Tue Jan 11, 2011 9:32 am
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Post Re: Harris speech (transcript) on atheism
Oh, thankyou DWill. It is just that I have this...insight, sort of feeling...

Which won't do will it? I need to rationalise all of my reasons!!!

Right, well, when I am up at the pub....with an empty glass in front of me, as all too often happens....

If I ping, flick my finger on the side of the glass...that causes a resonance...which vibrates and resonates...with all of the other glasses behind the bar.....

If I listen to conversations, evesdrop...that same kind of resonance occurs.

We are vibrations....we are all made of vibrations!! (Help me here...TORY BOY..Robert Tulip....you know what I'm getting at....even though we disagree terminally, on a political level)....

I was watching a Science TV Programme last night... it was about Temperature...it said, there was no such thing as heat...it was about particles vibrating - faster....or more slowly....

But wait....we can't achieve absolute zero.....!!!!

Come on you Scientific Bods.......what is all this about vibrations?

I think it is a way of visualising morphic resonance.....when...maybe...we all begin to start questioning the status quo...at the same time....

Robert Tulip....over to you.


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Tue Jan 11, 2011 11:48 am
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Post Re: Harris speech (transcript) on atheism
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I believe in 'The Mozart Effect'. That playing Mozart to little children affects their brain waves, and makes them cleverer, because the sound waves alter the vibration of the neurons in their brans. I don't know why, but I believe it.


Then you believe it even though experiments show it has no lasting effect. Not to say I didn't play Mozart for my son...

You seem to think of our cognitive functions differently. The small fraction of our reasoning that we focus on, the 'conscience', is just that, a small fraction. We're thinking in the background without realizing it. I refer to this background thinking no differently. You may call it instinct, or not. There are also many predispositions we have as residue from our evolutionary heritage. Biases and lusts and loves. I see these as rational as well! I understand that you may see them as altogether different. But there is a 'free-floating' rationale in love of our children, or desire of a mate, or tendency to believe false patterns. This free-floating rationale ties in to game theory, and has helped the human race arrive at today.

Even music may have such a free-floating rationale, where it served a social adhesion purpose in ritual, or perhaps not. I enjoy music and think it's a wonder of life. But to me, understanding something and also enjoying the majesty of it are not mutually exclusive. To some people, that seems to be the case. Where they say "I am only a big flesh-bag of chemical reactions". Such reductionism is what you need to avoid. Enjoy the beauty of life, but don't view with disdain the things you have come to understand.

I do not think there is some "something extra" to humanity that is beyond understanding. To me, that's robbery. To you, perhaps it serves as an anchor to keep the mystery and beauty of the world in place. But really, there is enough that even though we understand it, it is still beautiful and mysterious. I understand what Pi is, but the next number in the sequence is always a mystery to me. I understand my son, but his next action is always a mystery to me(at least at this age).



Tue Jan 11, 2011 11:53 am
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Post Re: Harris speech (transcript) on atheism
Thankyou Interbane, I am not used to people taking me seriously, at face value that is.

I think about Shakespeare saying 'Music has the power to soothe the savage breast'.....now why? What is it about sound? How can sound, even a drum beat...affect our feelings?

But it certainly does....to good, or deleterious effect.

Because, music causes sound waves....vibrations....which resonate within us.

Quote:
Interbane wrote:

You seem to think of our cognitive functions differently.


I certainly seem to perceive them differently.....It is how we picture the World...the stories we tell ourselves....the patterns we make.

Are you saying, Interbane, that you don't make patterns, to try to make sense of life?

Maybe it is part oif being female and being more intuitive....or drawn to the intuitive.....but, I am trying to be more rational and scientific. Sometimes my husband of 45 years... is gobsmacked. And that makes me laugh!!


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Post Re: Harris speech (transcript) on atheism
Well I started an answer not realizing there was a second page on this topic and lost my answer. I was agreeing (I think) with Interbane about "gut instinct"

I had said that on the occasions where I felt I was having a "gut instinct" it was really the coming together of previously ingested bits of either aural or visual information.

I would like to go back and refer to Penelope's posts about left brained and right brained influences and also to the Mozart effect changing brain waves in children. I'm afraid to so so though because then maybe I will lose this.

I think Penelope you said that too much emphasis on one or the other side of the brain would create a "monstrous" individual? This seems a rather extreme thing to say and also one that is not under our control.

My husband is an artist so I would say he is (whichever side of the brain influences that) he is not so good at math. I pay the bills and know where things are filed. I always understand the murder mysteries. Now I definitely could study and practice and become a better artist than I am, but I will never be as good as my husband who himself is not as good as say Leonardo. I guess I don't understand why Penelope you say that dominance of one side of the brain is not preferred. That we should try to "balance" the two sides. Why?

Why if we are both femaie do you consider yourself "intuitive" and I do not consider myself so? What do you mean by patterns? Stories we tell ourselves?

I did not read the text of Sam Harris article but it is interesting to consider the use of the word atheist unnecessary. Which of course it is, except as a quick way of explaining one's position vis a vis "the deity"



Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:13 pm
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Post Re: Harris speech (transcript) on atheism
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lady of shallot:

Why if we are both femaie do you consider yourself "intuitive" and I do not consider myself so? What do you mean by patterns? Stories we tell ourselves?


The patterns reference, is from something that Interbane said to me over a year ago and I was very impressed with the analogy. He said, we make patterns and try to make the chaos of life comprehensible to ourselves - and, I think he suggested that I shouldn't keep trying to make everything make sense, and just accept the World/Life the way it is, unfair and chaotic. Since then I have caught myself trying to make patterns, make the pieces fit....you know. The bit about telling stories, is a reference to the human race's history of telling itself stories, about how the World began - like The Garden of Eden, and the flood etc. We feel powerless and confused, so we have always told ourselves stories to try to make sense of it. This before we made such strides in science and begin to understand a little more.

I really didn't mean to imply that I thought that people who had a more dominant side to their brain were monstrous. I just think that people who only concentrate on the wild, impulsive, imaginative side and don't try to develop the rational, scientific and reasoning side - are like the Taliban - just letting their imaginings take over and not reasoning......(Actually, I think most of the poor souls are just too afraid to appear to think for themselves and disobey).

And I think that the relier scompletely on the rational side, try to create a master race, and destroy all those children born born with what they might consider a defect.....to strengthen the gene pool.....but might not have the imagination to realise what compassionless monsters they would be becoming.

I was wrong......It was just me letting my theories run away with me - as is my wont. I'm always trying to solve the puzzle.....but fortunately, I have a well-developed sense of humour and I am aware of my own ridiculousness.

I keep losing my posts - so I'll post this, then go back and see if I've missed any important points.


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Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:28 pm
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Post Re: Harris speech (transcript) on atheism
WRT - Intuition. Now that it is possible to look at brain activity on a computer, we can see that a woman, generally speaking, uses the artistic side of her brain more that a male, generally speaking. I call it the intuitive side because it is the side where to imagination comes from. Not saying we are all Psychic.

Men, use the rational side, more, and again, generally speaking. I did wonder whether that was why many gifted poets and authors of fiction, have been gay. But best not go there!!!

Have you read the book 'Why Women can't Read Maps and Men Don't Listen'? It is a really amusing book but also explains a lot, using computer print outs of brain activity and such.

It is not just theory....there is proof that a female brain works differently to a male brain.

It is very good for me on BT - as they won't let me go off on one.....(as my husband calls it). I just don't know whether I am good for them though. :(


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Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:42 pm
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Post Re: Harris speech (transcript) on atheism
Penelope wrote:
I shouldn't keep trying to make everything make sense, and just accept the World/Life the way it is, unfair and chaotic.


It's okay to try and make sense of things, but you need to realize that in the process, you're necessarily going to have a compressed view of the way things really are. Some information will be lost. Your understanding may be roughly truthful, but it will never be absolutely truthful. Be content to accept a modicum of doubt, even in the things you're most certain of. But don't let the doubt destroy your confidence. If you accept the fact that you could be wrong, then you are more intellectually honest and are more likely to be correct. Let that fuel your confidence.

Quote:
I guess I don't understand why Penelope you say that dominance of one side of the brain is not preferred. That we should try to "balance" the two sides. Why?


This is one of those cases where I wouldn't be so quick to categorize. There are likely more ways of classifying mental types than 'rational' versus 'artistic'. Quite a few other factors which are just as important yet overlooked. I know many people who are both rational, good at math, and artistic. I also know people who are neither, but have such a high emotional IQ that they are telepathic. Or who are good at none of the above, yet are great athletes.

Perhaps the problem is that when the rational mind isn't held in check by emotion, some immoral actions sometimes manifest. Such a person may not necessarily be emotionless, but they have such powerful beliefs that emotions can't hold them in check. Having a modicum of doubt in all your beliefs is the kryptonite to the inflexible arrogance we often see in people. Inflexible arrogance, especially in an intelligent person, is the worst of all attributes.



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Post Re: Harris speech (transcript) on atheism
One thing on a forum such as this, is we should actually consider the age of the poster (as much as possible) Some qualities, prominent in our early twenties say, are less so in our 70's! You are of course the same person. Just a moderated version of.

There is a beautiful line in Love in the Time of Cholera, which is "they were safe on the other shore" One does find oneself safe on that other shore quite often in older age.

Penelope I don't know that book but I have a friend whose husband was reading "men are from Mars and woman are from Venus" on the beach when a man walked by and said, "your wife made you read that didn't she?" Anyway I can definitely read maps but do agree that men do not listen! But then they say that is because we talk too much.

I must be rather simple minded as many things do not bother me at all, nor do I ever think of them. Beliefs in the thoughts of others, condemnations from others etc. Maybe because all of my adult life I have lived far from family and created my own life without much influence from others/

Penelope said: "I just think that people who only concentrate on the wild, impulsive, imaginative side" based just on this statement, I would think such a person had some serious issues.



Wed Jan 12, 2011 7:56 pm
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Post Re: Harris speech (transcript) on atheism
Quote:
lady of shallot:

One thing on a forum such as this, is we should actually consider the age of the poster (as much as possible) Some qualities, prominent in our early twenties say, are less so in our 70's! You are of course the same person. Just a moderated version of.


I'm 65, but I can honestly say that I have always, since childhood, been interested in spiritual matters. Sounds awful I know. I have become much more interest in scientific matters since reaching my sixties and especially since accessing this website. I have definitely lost my conventional faith in Christianity......which is backside foremost as most people, I think, become more concerned about the state of their souls, the closer to the grave.

No, I definitely rationalise more.....because, on BT, if you say....'I just had this feeling......' you get jumped on. Quite rightly......and Richard Dawkins gives some great warnings about not listening to people who just have revelations....but no scientific backup or research into their theories.

Both my husband and myself (now I sound like the Queen), feel more and more that the World has changed so much....we do feel as though it is not 'our' world anymore. Films and modern books seem incomprehensible to us because we can't understand the characters' motivations.....the cult of the celebrity....the cruelty of modern humour. That's enough. But whereas OH likes to go to the theatre and see Shakespeare and costume drama on TV, and watches comedy shows from the past.....I do like to keep up with technology to the best of my ability....which is odd, because he is the scientist.....

Now that I've said all this folks......I give you permission to keep me up to date, and do tell me if I begin to sound like a reactionary old fart.

However, I can read maps because my husband has insisted I do it when we go on our travels through Europe. But, it is true that I often turn the map upside down so that I am following it in the direction we are travelling. I don't have good, spacial awareness and definitely cannot visualise what is happening when I park the car - when I turn the steering wheel, I can't visualise what is happening to the wheels...I just park parrot fashion, so to speak. This is a typically female brain disfunction, although like you, my daughter has no trouble in this area.

Men don't listen, because they cannot do two things at once, as a woman can (because of how her brain works). We can knit, read and watch TV all at the same time. Most men, you will notice, need to switch off the TV or turn down the sound, before the answer the telephone. A woman hardly ever does this. If a man is reading a book, he will not hear you asking him a question, so we think he isn't listening, when in fact, he is just not hearing, because he can only do one thing at once. This is generalising, of course, but if you look at the brain activity patterns......this tendency, and it is only a tendency because of course there are variations, never-the-less, it an be seen quite clearly. Evidence, see!!

In the Men are from Mars book, there is only annecdotal evidence.

See, Richard Dawkins and the BT posters......I am taking your lessons on board.


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Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:11 am
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Post Re: Harris speech (transcript) on atheism
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Anyway I can definitely read maps but do agree that men do not listen! But then they say that is because we talk too much.


I can tell you the truth that most men won't. It's that so much of what a woman says, we don't care about. I know, that's a generalization, but many of my male friends agree. So much of it is trivial banter that I find myself having to try very hard to pay attention. That may sound callous or rude or impolite or... whatever negative thing you want to call it. But it is what it is. I don't know why I don't care about many of the things my woman talks about. At the same time, I've noticed something very interesting. Whenever she talks about the same things around other women, they are all interested! They actually care about such trivial banter! Perhaps the root cause here is that women are wired to care about the nuances in relationships far removed from their own.

Whenever the topic is something that grabs my interest, I am an excellent listener. But I can't go inside my own head and rewire my neurons to change my interests. There are things that simply don't matter to me.



Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:39 am
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Post Re: Harris speech (transcript) on atheism
Interbane:

My husband criticises the books I read...He says, 'Women always want to read about 'feelings''.....and Francois Sagan does that so well!!

But, Yes, you are right....our main concern is about relationships...

You know, my husband Norman, makes all the big decisions, like what to do about the World situation, Global warming...., Economic Policy....

I make all the little decisions....like what we eat, what colour scheme the parlour should have.......the cushions. the sofas.....

The older I get, the more interested I become in sofas...chairs, cushions..... :wink:


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Post Re: Harris speech (transcript) on atheism
Interbane said "I can tell you the truth that most men won't. It's that so much of what a woman says, we don't care about."

Oh Interbane we know that! I like to tell my husband my dreams and as we are such good friends now after 50 yrs of marriage, he listens, but only tolerantly! I also don't care about the intricacies of biking and bike parts and makes and losing the little nuts when you are repairing a bike etc etc etc.

What gives me a laugh though is the great focus and attention a swim suit model while merit when she appears on t.v. Don't you guys realize her conversation would probably be even less interesting than your wives? Guess it doesn't matter, you are not listening to her.

Yesterday Penelope posted about "patterns" in her thinking and today I read an article in the paper written by . . . hm m m he was connected with a university (Harvard?) addressing the same topic esp in reference to the killings in Tucson. But also the bird deaths, fish deaths etc. He said such things are random (nothing is actually random) and that there is no way to forestall such occurrences by say gun laws or other such. He claimed that 1% of the population is seriously mentally ill and 25% have a diagnosable mental condition?!?! Basically I agree with his conclusions but don't agree that all of us try to see a pattern in an occurrence like what happened in Tucson. I do not see nor feel the need to see a "pattern"



Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:22 pm
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Post Re: Harris speech (transcript) on atheism
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lady of shallott wrote:

He said such things are random (nothing is actually random) and that there is no way to forestall such occurrences by say gun laws or other such. He claimed that 1% of the population is seriously mentally ill and 25% have a diagnosable mental condition?!?! Basically I agree with his conclusions but don't agree that all of us try to see a pattern in an occurrence like what happened in Tucson. I do not see nor feel the need to see a "pattern"


I wasn't meaning that sort of pattern of occurences....and I don't think Interbane was either. The patterns I meant were - looking for a sense of direction, a purpose for the suffering in human existence.....so that the plight of people in third world countries, doesn't seem so futile.

The right to bare arms is something else again.....when a person certified with a mental health problem can just walk into a store and buy a gun.....it seems as though something is wrong to me. When you have to queue for hours and fill in loads of forms and take tests to get a driving licence....but you can just go and buy a gun.....doesn't seem to make sense. Sorry!!

But if 25% of the population have mental health problems....shouldn't the ability to buy guns be curtailed? Well, this is from an outsider looking in.....what do I know!!

I thought you might be interested to see this from our National Newspaper in the UK this week:-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/ja ... e-loughner


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Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:48 pm
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Sense 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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