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Ch. 3 - Why Good Things Happen 
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Why Good Things Happen
Saint Gasoline: Now, we know what it is to exist, to be true, to be real, and so on, but something totally outside of these meanings can't even be said to exist, to be true, or to be real.

Do we know what it means to exist? I don't think that's the case at all. Try providing a non-dogmatic, non-circular explanation of existence. It's more difficult than you might imagine.

What could we possibly mean when we say that something supernatural "exists"?

It would mean that, in reference to the characteristics we posit for a natural world -- and in naturalism, specifically, I understand that to mean every causal, material thing -- something exists which either does not have those characteristics, or which has some characteristics not included within the definition of natural. If you define existence in strictly natural terms -- eg. to exist is to be material -- then you're logically going to exclude supernatural existants from the picture. The question, though, is why we ought to define existence that way. From a pragmatic point of view, we may be able to argue that it is more useful in furthering our current goals to do so, but I haven't seen any argument that would lead me to believe that we have solid, evidential grounds for limiting existence to materialism. That correlation, ultimately, is taken on faith.

It is in this sense that reality as we know it is all that reality can be--because these words like reality and truth and so on are formulated from this perspective, and there is no way they could be applicable from without it.

If that were so, then it would also be impractical, and perhaps impossible, to talk about infinity, even as a mathematical concept.

Me: If reality is what we sense, then the content of the paranoid delusion must also be reality, no?
Now we are just getting bogged down in subtleties.

I don't think that's a subtlety at all. In fact, it looks to me as though we were initially discussing subtleties, and I brought in a very practical reason for doubting the correspondence between reality and sensory evidence.

I think that ultimately this issue boils down to what we mean by "reality", "existence", and so on.

But you do recognize, don't you, that the terms "reality" and "existence" have historically been meant in ways that include non-material existence -- in fact, you might go so far as to say that, were it not for the question of non-material existence, we likely wouldn't have need of those terms at all. Rorty, in particular, objects to the use of the term reality as needlessly trying pragmatists to the dichotomies of traditional Western dualism.

Could it be that God does exist--but only in the way something imaged or thought exists?

I'd say that our epistemic position makes that a necessary conclusion. The validity of religion, then -- provided that we're not prepared to admit so-called revealed religion into our discussion -- depends on the correspondence between the imagined god and a possibly actual God existing independently of our image of god. If there is no such God, then we have to admit that our image of god is, in many ways, idle. But so far no one has given me good reason to deny the possibility of such a God.

...how is it possible to see God's existence as "necessary"?

Have I argued the necessity of God's existence? I'd be pretty surprised if anyone could point to any thread on BookTalk (save one) where I've talked about the necessity of God's existence.

Now, the obvious theistic response to this is to argue that it is silly to demand evidence for God, because things that exist immaterially or supernaturally do not produce empirical evidence. However, as I've noted, this response assumes that there is such a realm as the supernatural or immaterial, and that it makes sense to speak of something "existing" or "being" in such a realm, even though these words are bound up with our human conception of existence.

That statement itself doesn't assume either of those things, and it could be taken as entirely hypothetical. It makes the same amount of sense to say, if there were some supernatural existant, then we would have no reason to expect it to produce empirical evidence. Given that such a statement is logically true -- and given our definitions, I'd say it is -- then we'd be unable to draw a conclusion either way.

As for whether or not the terms "existing" and "being" are tied up with our "human conception of existence", whatever that may be, let's assume, for the moment, that limitation. Does that prevent us from expanding what we mean by those terms in order to embrace the existence of the supernatural? It seems to me like you're attempting to argue that the very terms by which we talk about existence render us incapable of conceiving of the supernatural. Frankly, given that people have been using just those terms to talk about and believe in the supernatural for the better part of human history, I don't see why we should take that contention seriously.

I don't see how one could argue against the fact that it is indeed plausible to doubt the existence of God given the complete lack of evidence.

It is plausible. I'm not arguing against that at all. What I'm arguing against is the contention that it is necessarily more reasonable to deny God's existence.

I would consider myself a sort of agnostic atheist in that regard--I agree that we cannot know for certain whether God exists, but I do not agree with the further agnostic claim that this lack of certainty should make it impossible to choose a side.

And on a personal level, I think that's fine. But the entire point of the tangent was to draw an analogy between science and the agnostic who reserves judgement.

However, once we note that claims of nonexistence are NOT justified with evidence, but with a lack of evidence, it becomes clear that agnosticism entails an epistemic standard of infallibility in regards to claims of nonexistence.

I doubt that's a standard that an agnostic would apply to a purely naturalistic question -- eg. what is the chemical composition of milk -- so I see no reason why they would also apply it to a supernatural question. In the case of a chemical analysis, I think the agnostic would be entirely comfortable allowing for the fallibility of sensory evidence. Where their agnosticism comes into play is the point of determining what sort of method allows for knowledge, and the agnostic's point of view is that our own limitations make sense perception the best choice, so much so that they exclude all other forms. I still don't understand how that would imply a standard of infallibility.

It looks to me like part of the problem may be that of expecting a personal criteria to stand as a consensible criteria. In the case of proving that a person has an elephant sitting on their head, the proper question would be, can you provide evidence from sensory perception to demonstrate to me that there is an elephant sitting on your head, and if the person cannot, then the proper response is, then you cannot convince me that it is so. But the agnostic cannot expect the delusional man to accept the same criteria, for the simple reason that the choice of criteria is ultimately a personal matter. You can justify a particular choice with reason, but there are always, at base, premises that the person must either affirm or deny before reason can operate.




Thu Sep 21, 2006 1:25 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Why Good Things Happen
Quote:
I doubt that's a standard that an agnostic would apply to a purely naturalistic question -- eg. what is the chemical composition of milk -- so I see no reason why they would also apply it to a supernatural question. In the case of a chemical analysis, I think the agnostic would be entirely comfortable allowing for the fallibility of sensory evidence. Where their agnosticism comes into play is the point of determining what sort of method allows for knowledge, and the agnostic's point of view is that our own limitations make sense perception the best choice, so much so that they exclude all other forms. I still don't understand how that would imply a standard of infallibility.


I don't think you understand the nature of my point, then. If we allow the possibility of "supernatual" realms or evidence that can never been known, then there is no such thing as a purely naturalistic question. For instance, in my example with the elephant, normally we would say that we are justified in saying an elephant is not on top of someone's head if there is no evidence of such a thing. However, if someone responds that the evidence is somehow hidden or unknowable, and that given this the lack of evidence accords with the theory, most people would recognize that this assertion is patently ridiculous and unwarranted.

Surely an agnostic would have to grant this point--if a theist can say, "You can't argue that God does not exist from the lack of evidence because given the hidden and unknowable nature of the evidence we wouldn't expect to find any", then supposedly someone could use this justification for anything, simply arguing that the evidence is somehow unknowable or hidden. In essence, this makes it impossible to say that something does not exist, and the only reason it does so is because it sets too high an epistemic standard by allowing people to grant, without sufficient reason, that there is such a thing as "unknowable evidence" or that this sort of thing even makes sense.

Quote:
If that were so, then it would also be impractical, and perhaps impossible, to talk about infinity, even as a mathematical concept.


The concept of infinity is not something that is "unknowable" or "beyond our reality", though. It is something that we can infer and discourse about based upon principles of logic and so on. This is in no way comparable to something "supernatural". For instance, most of the more obscure mathematical entities and rules are products of a large conglomeration of basic inferences and logical deductions. The fact that it is difficult to understand does not mean that it is utterly incomprehensible.

Quote:
Do we know what it means to exist? I don't think that's the case at all. Try providing a non-dogmatic, non-circular explanation of existence. It's more difficult than you might imagine.


As I said later in my post, that's pretty much the heart of the problem. An atheist may say he does not believe God exists, but he may be totally fine with saying that God exists in the way that an idea or a thought exists--as something "immaterial" without any causal impact on the world, not unlike the way we could speak of the content of a delusion as "existing" even though it is not "real".

However, I think you can still see my point. Regardless of whether it is difficut to define these concepts from our own perspective, it stands to reason that speaking of them from outside of it would be rather meaningless and absurd. To say that something "exists" outside of our reality is not quite the same thing as saying, "This cat exists" or "Greg's love for Yolanda exists"--we wouldn't even have the faintest idea what it could mean in that sense.

Quote:
Does that prevent us from expanding what we mean by those terms in order to embrace the existence of the supernatural? It seems to me like you're attempting to argue that the very terms by which we talk about existence render us incapable of conceiving of the supernatural. Frankly, given that people have been using just those terms to talk about and believe in the supernatural for the better part of human history, I don't see why we should take that contention seriously.


The fact that people have talked about and believed in the supernatural is no evidence against my position. People will often speak of themselves as "seeing" something supernatural, but it seems clear to me that if something can be sensed, it is foolish to call that "supernatural". To me, it is a logical contradiction to say that you can sense or know about the supernatural. Those theologians with a better understanding of this concept admit that they do not understand it, that it is absurd and unknowable--and that is all they say about it. But then it would make no sense to say such a realm exists, because we wouldn't even know what that means when we say it. We might as well be saying nothing.




Thu Sep 21, 2006 9:15 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Why Good Things Happen
Saint Gasoline: However, if someone responds that the evidence is somehow hidden or unknowable, and that given this the lack of evidence accords with the theory, most people would recognize that this assertion is patently ridiculous and unwarranted.

If they made that assertion with no rationale to support it, then yes, I think we'd be right to suspect it. But as it happens, in the case of supernatural phenomenon as we've defined it, it logically follows that it would produce no empirical evidence.

Surely an agnostic would have to grant this point--if a theist can say, "You can't argue that God does not exist from the lack of evidence because given the hidden and unknowable nature of the evidence we wouldn't expect to find any", then supposedly someone could use this justification for anything, simply arguing that the evidence is somehow unknowable or hidden.

I think that's a limitation that the pure agnostic would be willing to accept. The agnostic position is essentially a position on which sorts of knowledge are available to us and which are not. And that's where it ends, really. The train of thought that takes you from agnosticism to atheism is not, that I can tell, implicit in agnosticism, and I can't see why it would be so objectionable to suggest that there is another premise at work in that transition.

In essence, this makes it impossible to say that something does not exist, and the only reason it does so is because it sets too high an epistemic standard by allowing people to grant, without sufficient reason, that there is such a thing as "unknowable evidence" or that this sort of thing even makes sense.

Why shouldn't there be unknowable evidence? Consider the position of a completely sightless animal. What would be his evidence for the existence of color? He'd have none, because his epistemic position provides no way of knowing the evidence necessary for that knowledge. Color, from his standpoint, would be a form of "unknowable evidence."

Frankly, I see no reason to suppose that our epistemic apparatus is so comprehensive that there is no possibility of evidence that is unknowable to us. In a very real sense, the natural world is determined precisely by the extent of our epistemic apparatus.

Me: If that were so, then it would also be impractical, and perhaps impossible, to talk about infinity, even as a mathematical concept.
Gasoline: The concept of infinity is not something that is "unknowable" or "beyond our reality", though. It is something that we can infer and discourse about based upon principles of logic and so on.

Not as an actual thing; rather we infer it as a concept, something imagined. We may be able to derive it based on the nature of our number set, but it's important to remember that the number set is an imaginative construction, not an artifact found in nature, and not something which produces evidence. Numbers themselves are not things; they're attributes of descriptions, and the descriptions themselves are not implicit in the thing being described. As such, infinity can produce no natural evidence, because the number set from which it is derived is not itself a natural existant. (This, incidentally, is a point that both Russell and Whitehead explain at length.)

This is in no way comparable to something "supernatural".

It is in precisely the sense that it is a) not a natural existant, b) incapable of producing evidence, and c) known to us only because we have derived it from axioms of our own construction.

However, I think you can still see my point. Regardless of whether it is difficut to define these concepts from our own perspective, it stands to reason that speaking of them from outside of it would be rather meaningless and absurd.

That may be so. But I think it's crucial that you recognize how much hangs in the balance. Because the fact of the matter is that so much of what we take for granted, and not just the supernatural, was achieved by, and is maintained by, acting as though such a point of view were possible. The very idea of a worldview supposes a view beyond the limits of our own immediate sense perceptions.

To me, it is a logical contradiction to say that you can sense or know about the supernatural.

It is so far as you assume that sensation is always relative to the natural world. Medieval man certainly didn't hold that to be true, and it's a fair bet that other cultures have held views related to the medieval.




Thu Sep 21, 2006 10:07 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Why Good Things Happen
Quote:
I think that's a limitation that the pure agnostic would be willing to accept. The agnostic position is essentially a position on which sorts of knowledge are available to us and which are not. And that's where it ends, really. The train of thought that takes you from agnosticism to atheism is not, that I can tell, implicit in agnosticism, and I can't see why it would be so objectionable to suggest that there is another premise at work in that transition.


The fact that it is indeed possible to say that something does not exist, and the fact that we rule out the possibility of the thing existing but being unknowable, should lead us to reject all claims about existing "unknowable" things. If we don't rule out this possibility, then anyone who tells us that there are elephants on our heads but which produce unknowable evidence of their existence would be unassailable--we couldn't tell him he was ful of it. However, it should be clear that there is no reason to suppose this kind of "unknowable" evidence is a possibility. We feel it is reasonable to deny the existence of an elephant on our heads even if someone comes along and says this hypothesis is compatible with our observations because the elephant produces unknowable evidence--so then why shouldn't we also deny the existence of a supernatural realm? I feel it is reasonable to deny the existence of such a realm given the lack of evidence (for the same reason I deny the elephant is on my head), and it doesn't seem clear to me that saying the evidence is "unknowable" in the case of this realm is any different than making this claim in regards to the elephant on my head. It is quite reasonable to reject this unwarranted assumption.

And, as I've said elsewhere, I think the concept of an "unknowable reality" doesn't even make sense.

Quote:
Why shouldn't there be unknowable evidence? Consider the position of a completely sightless animal. What would be his evidence for the existence of color? He'd have none, because his epistemic position provides no way of knowing the evidence necessary for that knowledge. Color, from his standpoint, would be a form of "unknowable evidence."


Exactly! But let's carry this metaphor further. Let's say no one can see color at all. Color would be something "unknowable". Now, this is all fine and dandy, but it only proves your point because we are coming at this from a color-sensing perspective. If none of us could see or conceive of color though, then color wouldn't exist! It is in this sense that reality is in part "made" by our perspectives. "Color" would be unknowable if we could no longer see it, and by virtue of this fact it would no longer exist. "Color" is something that we add to our realities, and this is what I mean when I say we need to speak of "reality" and "existence" from our own perspective. It makes no sense for blind creatures to talk about the existence of colors--colors really do not exist unless there is someone there to see them.

Quote:
It is in precisely the sense that it is a) not a natural existant, b) incapable of producing evidence, and c) known to us only because we have derived it from axioms of our own construction.


Again, I must insist that the concept of supernatural entities is not comparable to infinity in any way relevant to this discussion. I don't think that you can say that infinity is not a natural existent, for instance, because for me "natural" doesn't necessarily mean physical. One can be a naturalist and believe in the truths of mathematics--they just tend to believe that these concepts aren't "real".

The concept of infinity is derived from basic axioms--axioms that can be "tested" in a very basic way by seeing if they accord with the empirical world--but the fact that it is not physical and doesn't produce physical evidence of its existence doesn't mean it is "supernatural". It only means that it is natural, but not physical. It isn't something that mathematicians go about saying cannot be comprehended or discoursed about, however--they frequently do discourse about it and the fact that it is implied from the rules of mathematics proves that it can be comprehended and isn't "unknowable". I really don't think this is a good example of something "supernatural".




Fri Sep 22, 2006 11:52 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Why Good Things Happen
Saint Gasoline: The fact that it is indeed possible to say that something does not exist, and the fact that we rule out the possibility of the thing existing but being unknowable, should lead us to reject all claims about existing "unknowable" things.

Who's "we"? And how did we decide that those were facts? It doesn't look to me at all that we, as a species, are capable of knowing that something does not exist, however much we may say it. And we as a culture certainly haven't ruled out the possibility of an unknowable existant -- for that matter, we as two lone conversants haven't agreed on that. It looks to me as though you're treating your own premises as though they were easily consensible, despite a situation in which they have failed to find broad consensus.

If we don't rule out this possibility, then anyone who tells us that there are elephants on our heads but which produce unknowable evidence of their existence would be unassailable--we couldn't tell him he was full of it.

Honestly, I don't really understand your motive here. Why are we so interested in telling him that he's full of it?

There may be more, but there are in particular two uses of epistemology. One is personal: that is, it allows a basis for establishing a personal worldview and for determining what is and is not a valid criteria for personal knowledge of a thing. If that's the use we put epistemology to, then it should be immaterial to us whether or not someone else believes they have an elephant on their head. What really matters is whether or not we as individuals believe it. The other use is social: that is, it allows a basis for establishing knowledge as a form of social control or power, whereby we can reject certain claims by reference to a certain criteria of knowledge, and in doing so, further certain claims without having to give much consideration to objections that cannot be justified by the same criteria. It looks to me like telling someone that they're full of it is an example of the social use of knowledge. And of the two uses, I'd say that's both the less important one, and the one that warrants the most suspicion.

We feel it is reasonable to deny the existence of an elephant on our heads even if someone comes along and says this hypothesis is compatible with our observations because the elephant produces unknowable evidence--so then why shouldn't we also deny the existence of a supernatural realm?

On a personal level, I have no problem with that. If you look back through my posts, I think you'll see as much. But even if we maintain that on the personal level, I think it's prudent and rational to recognize that the epistemic criteria we set for ourselves may ultimately suffer from some defect, particularly when we take those criteria as an effective commentary on ontology -- that is, when we say something of the order of, what I can't know probably doesn't exist. Recognizing that fallibility doesn't necessitate that we change our epistemic assumptions. It simply makes us more felxible should we ever find good reason to change our minds.

I feel it is reasonable to deny the existence of such a realm...

And, again, I'm fine with that. I haven't tried to argue you out of that. What I'm questioning is any attempt to hold other people to the same standards, to direct them towards the same conclusions, particularly when you've failed, so far, to given any clear reason for why they should settle on the same personal epistemic criteria. And in doing so, I have argued for the possibility of other criteria.

And, as I've said elsewhere, I think the concept of an "unknowable reality" doesn't even make sense.

And that, as I see it, is a strategy for forcing a consensus. The question is why such a consensus is so imperative that it's worth attempting to negate the epistemic conclusions others have drawn.

Me: Why shouldn't there be unknowable evidence? Consider the position of a completely sightless animal. What would be his evidence for the existence of color? He'd have none, because his epistemic position provides no way of knowing the evidence necessary for that knowledge. Color, from his standpoint, would be a form of "unknowable evidence."
Gasoline: If none of us could see or conceive of color though, then color wouldn't exist!

This is where your argument gets circular. Because the orthodox theists believes that there is a god who serves as the ultimate observer -- who has the capacity to "sense", in whatever sense that it's reasonable to say that god "senses", all qualities -- to whom, in effect, there is nothing unknowable. That presumably includes qualities which we are, because of our epistemic limitations, incapable of knowing. So to argue that there is no reason to believe in God, because we're capable of knowing all evidence, because there is no reason to suspect the ecistence of evidence we cannot know, because anything we cannot no cannot be known by anything, and therefore cannot exist, presumes a priori that these is no God -- ie. nothing that can know what we cannot know. The theist's argument is, of course, equally circular. It's a divide that apparantly cannot be bridged, and the decision to avow one point of view or another is likely premised on the adoption of propositions which are somewhat arbitrary.

I don't think that you can say that infinity is not a natural existent, for instance, because for me "natural" doesn't necessarily mean physical.

Then we can't make any headway until you've described in what way a thing can be a natural existant without being physical.

One can be a naturalist and believe in the truths of mathematics--they just tend to believe that these concepts aren't "real".

In precisely that sense I'd say that they avoid simultaneous classification as natural and existing. Either they don't exist but we're capable of supposing them in reference to the natural world, or they exist but as artificial constructions rather than natural kinds.

The concept of infinity is derived from basic axioms--axioms that can be "tested" in a very basic way by seeing if they accord with the empirical world--

Not according to mathematics since Russell, as I understand them. Russell demonstrated that mathematics is set which cannot be reduced to a completely consistent axiomatic set. Mathematics cannot, as such, be tested so as to demonstrate its correspondence to the physical world. It's a construction every bit as artificial as human language -- though perhaps more consensible and internally consistent.




Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:13 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Why Good Things Happen
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Who's "we"? And how did we decide that those were facts? It doesn't look to me at all that we, as a species, are capable of knowing that something does not exist, however much we may say it.


We can "know" it in the same way we can "know" that evolution is true, or that non-tautological facts are true. Simply because we don't have complete and certain knowledge doesn't mean that we don't have knowledge at all! I think you are using a much too strong a sense of "know", one that implies an infalliblistic standard that is unreasonable. All of your objections about nonexistence claims could just as well be voiced for existence claims and other basic empirical facts we take to be true.

Quote:
The other use is social: that is, it allows a basis for establishing knowledge as a form of social control or power, whereby we can reject certain claims by reference to a certain criteria of knowledge


It's not meant as a form of social control or a way to create "power" among people at all. The social form of epistemology allows for the accumulation of knowledge, and it provides standards that let us test them for truth value. Unlike you, I don't think there is any reason to suppose these standards are completely arbitrary and a matter of invidual preference.

Quote:
And that, as I see it, is a strategy for forcing a consensus. The question is why such a consensus is so imperative that it's worth attempting to negate the epistemic conclusions others have drawn.


I don't see why my motives matter, or why I must demonstrate that this is imperative. For instance, if I were expounding on the theory of evolution to a creationist, for him to say that the question is really "Why such a consensus is so imperative that it's worth attempting to negate the conclusions others have drawn" is to evade the simple fact that the creationist's views are just simply wrong. It is worth attempting to negate belief in the supernatural realm for the simple reason that it is incomprehensible, unable to be validated, and absolutely warrantless as a hypothesis.

Quote:
So to argue that there is no reason to believe in God, because we're capable of knowing all evidence, because there is no reason to suspect the ecistence of evidence we cannot know, because anything we cannot no cannot be known by anything, and therefore cannot exist, presumes a priori that these is no God


I disagree with your assessment of my argument as circular. I am not "assuming" that there is no God--I'm demonstrating that there is no such thing by arguing that the concept itself is nonsensical, and that because our idea of "reality" can only encompass what would make sense to us, it is downright silly to say something supernatural "exists" or is "real". I'm not asking anyone to assume anything a priori. What I'm showing is that the alternative position that admits the existence of such a realm wouldn't even be stating anything meaningful, and therefore we couldn't say such a realm exists.




Sun Sep 24, 2006 10:35 pm
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BOOK FORUMS FOR ALL BOOKS WE HAVE DISCUSSED
King Henry IV, Part 1 - by William ShakespeareAtheist Mind, Humanist Heart - by Lex Bayer and John FigdorSense 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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