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Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith 
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith
Robert Tulip wrote:
Mutation is random but natural selection is directional, towards increased complexity.


I am not so sure about natural selection as directional toward increased complexity. I think the only direction to natural selection is toward what ever increases survival rate of the most and healthiest young. Increasing complexity is not always the end result of the evolutionary process. The change in color of a moth is not a change toward complexity. In fact, I suspect that complexity is risky for organisms.


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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith
Saffron wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
Mutation is random but natural selection is directional, towards increased complexity.


I am not so sure about natural selection as directional toward increased complexity. I think the only direction to natural selection is toward what ever increases survival rate of the most and healthiest young. Increasing complexity is not always the end result of the evolutionary process. The change in color of a moth is not a change toward complexity. In fact, I suspect that complexity is risky for organisms.


The overall direction of evolution from microbes to humans has seen a steady punctuated increase in complexity of life on earth. Camouflaged moths are more complex than uncamouflaged moths because a feature of their environment has inserted itself into the genome through selective pressure. Yes, complexity can be risky when an isolated ecosystem evolves into high stable complexity such as a rainforest and is then vulnerable to depredation by external factors. However, other things being equal, such as stability of predation and climate, natural living systems do gradually tend to become more complex, containing more varied organisms that are more sensitively attuned to the signals of nature.

Wright describes a steady increase in the complexity of religious thought from animism to polytheism to monotheism. In one sense, monotheism may seem simpler than polytheism because it has just one God instead of many. However, this reading masks an actual increase in complexity, with monotheism subsuming the earlier beliefs into a new synthesis with greater apparent explanatory power.

Where complexity does reduce is with a breakdown of the complex system, as occurred at the ends of geological periods such as the Permian and the Cretaceous. However, these catastrophes are the exception rather than the rule, punctuation marks in the long sentences of evolutionary grammar. Most of the time things are getting more complex.



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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith
Thanks y'all for this fantastic discussion.

I was wondering about this complexity question myself. I know many organisms start to resemble a sort of patchwork amalgamation of traits that lead to better compatibility with their environment, but maybe aren't necessarily more complex. Sometimes an organism starts down a certain path it gets stuck with some of the design elements, even if those elements are no longer quite optimal for their survival. But other traits emerge which compensate for the less-than-optimal structure. Look at the flounder with its eyes on its side. It's kind of a mess, but it does the job.

I think the answer is that natural selection doesn't necessarily move towards greater complexity but towards an enhanced ability to adapt to differing environmental conditions. The brown bear, for example, when it became geographically isolated in a colder environment, had built-in adaptive traits that were expressed in the colder climate. In a relatively short period of time, 20,000 years, it developed white fur and its molar teeth changed substantially so that the bear--now a polar bear--could survive in this colder world it now inhabits.

This web site explains this concept pretty well.

An excerpt:

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Evolution is the time-cost advantage gained through the discovery of state-space paths that account for a greater number of possible states in that space. The emergence of the ability to innovate is the crux of evolution.

Just as entropy implies the dispersal of energy, evolution implies an increase in diversity as a greater number of possible states are occupied or accounted for. This increase in diversity is the essence of evolution. Increased diversity may mean increased complexity, but diversity and complexity are not the same.


http://www.sklatch.net/what-is-life/complexity.html


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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith
My son-in-law, who is an archaeologist, came home today with this comment from a professor/colleague: in the cradle of civilisation, it was necessary to man to be smaller (nutrional economy) run faster and have skin that was not sensitive to the sun and environment, but as he left and moved on, these physical attributes were no longer as vitally necessary, especially in what is now Europe. The focus turned to tools and using the mind.
A rather simplistic, in-a-nutshell comment, but it does have something.


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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith
I hope no one will mind if I suggest that this fine discussion of physical vs. cultural evolution, or the directionality (if any) of evolution be moved to "the parking lot." Sometimes the best conversations end up out there. It might help us to focus on Wright's chapter if we do this whenever we've got onto something that we might not be relating closely to the material. Thanks.

Did anybody find something regarding morality that Wright omitted from his overview? He tells us that in the religion of primitive cultures, there is generally no need for a god to as the source of moral precepts. The society incorporates the rules regarding moral behavior as a matter of course, in order to continue as a functioning social group. So the message is that morality needs no boost from gods, who in any event, judging by their antics, show no interest in moral behavior.

But Wright doesn't mention an area that we would consider important, and that is whether specific cultural practices are moral by our standards. Here I'd be referring to such things as human sacrifice, infanticide, methods of capital punishment, treatment of women, and others. What makes a society work and continue does not necessarily make it a moral one. I'm not saying that such practices are always hallmarks of basic cultures, but surely they sometimes are. These practices are already within the moral circle of the group, so how does it work that those customs become unacceptable over time? It wouldn't seem to be a matter of expanding the moral circle to others outside the group, but of reforming the existing culture.


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Last edited by DWill on Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith
I agree that Wright doesn't mention morals which are important to us, but he has used a huge disclaimer: "Even if religion is largely about morablity today, it doesn't seem to have started out that way."
Granted, it may not have. And religion today is certainly concerned with ethics to the point of believing that if you are not religious, you are not capable of moral or ethical behaviour.
However--Wright spends a lot of time and effort explaining how the environment (literally) has made a huge impact on belief. If you lived dependent on the ocean, you came to believe the ocean was governed by a god who had to be appeased. Okay. So far so good. Wright then goes on to state that religion was not even a word to most pre-historic peoples because it was so intrinsic to their life--every living moment was impermeated with it--that they did not recognize it as a separate entity. Again, so far so good.
He has thus made a catch-all disclaimer and what a huge one! I agree, Dwill, that Wright is neglecting to see the influence that culture itself makes on religion and social identity in connection to religion. Wright even blatantly states that "relation to spirits have no ethical implication." Oh, I heartily agree with that statement, but after all these disclaimers, where is his definition of morality or ethics? In order to claim that they had no influence, he should have defined what it was he thought to have no influence.
I think Wright avoids this as, apart from sparse archaeolgical evidence, it is simply almost impossible for us to discern what constitued moral behaviour in pre-history. We have to take an educated guess.


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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith
oblivion wrote:
where is his definition of morality or ethics? In order to claim that they had no influence, he should have defined what it was he thought to have no influence. I think Wright avoids this as, apart from sparse archaeolgical evidence, it is simply almost impossible for us to discern what constitued moral behaviour in pre-history. We have to take an educated guess.

The first chapter, The Primordial Faith, provides more analysis of the basis of ethics than you suggest here. Primitive culture is defined by the tribe. Religious ethics evolve when the social unit becomes bigger than the tribe. Ethics is not a religious matter for primitive tribes because there is no concept of nature or God or Gods as fundamentally benign, and justice is a human matter. Wright comments that religion evolved in reaction to growing understanding of the world through science (p15). He says of primitive societies that "love and generosity and honesty 'are not preached or buttressed by threat of religious reprisal' in these societies 'because they do not need to be'. When modern societies preach these values, they are worried 'mostly about morality in the larger society outside the sphere of kindred and close friends. Primitive people do not have these worries because they do not conceive of - do not have - the larger society to adjust to." (p26)

Wright sees "a pattern in the change. Religion has got closer to moral and spiritual truth, and for that matter more compatible with scientific truth" (p28). But the problem is that "a hunter-gatherer village is the environment we're built for, the environment natural selection 'designed' the human mind for" (p25). As the economy evolved beyond the clan level, religious ethics emerged to regulate treatment of strangers. Ethical ideas also pointed to the idea expressed by William James, that "there is an unseen order, and that our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto" (p27). The tension is that as religious values evolved, the tribal social basis for their natural acceptance was disappearing, to be replaced by dogmatic faith. The question now is how the ancient tribal sense of community may be married to universal ethical principles.



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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith
Robert Tulip wrote:
The tension is that as religious values evolved, the tribal social basis for their natural acceptance was disappearing, to be replaced by dogmatic faith. The question now is how the ancient tribal sense of community may be married to universal ethical principles.

Granted, Wright does touch upon it, but I would still maintain that we today cannot know to what extent moral thinking/ethics were divorced from religion or, as he does indeed state, were simply not thought of as such being an intregal part of just living. The archaeological evidence is lucky to provide an alter here, an overturned stone there, some preserved bones, etc. But our minds--the way we think and deduce today--is really all we have at hand to even attempt an apothesis on their accepted moral behaviour.
Your first sentence in the quote here I do agree with emphatically. It is much the same today in that children, while they can have no concept of religion/god/spirituality are still eager to accept the idea of tooth fairies, Santa Claus, Easter Bunnies, what have you, which do indeed serve as place holders in the brain, ready to be disposed of when the idea of religion can be understood and readily replaced with gods and spirits. They are taught they have to be good because Santa Claus won't come to them if they are not--we don't waste time with a 3 year old attempting to explain ethical behaviour. Then when religion enters the scene, the conditioning is already there making it easier and more acceptable for the older child to believe in god.


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Religion is the only force in the world that lets a person have his prejudice or hatred and feel good about it --S C Hitchcock

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. --André Gide

Reading is a majority skill but a minority art. --Julian Barnes


Last edited by oblivion on Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith
There could be a danger of uncritically accepting a view that "primordial" peoples enjoyed a natural, unforced morality, that they lived in a golden age, and that they were indeed noble savages. Wright holds up for ridicule the Victorian notions about "savages" being not even human in the same sense that we are. Okay, that is all wrong. It's not true that without gods to enforce order, anarchy prevails. But I agree with oblivion that, so far, Wright doesn't give proof that morality in tribal societies is fine, without religion to mess it up. He doesn't give us much idea of what morality is, does he, besides that the tribes are able to function because there are clear rules and little opportunity to get away with something? Is morality then nothing more than social order? I see no reason to think that the ethic of reciprocation, which may be seen as the key to morality, would not operate when gods were uninvolved with morality, but still, I think we need greater ethnographic information about tribal societies than Wright has the time to give us. And I think it is morally relevant whether beliefs about gods or spirits might affect social customs to the extent, say, that people may be sacrificed to propitiate the gods.

As for primitive people not having a word for their religion, this to me may indicate almost a different phase of consciousness than exists when civilization appears. I don't see this as a desireable state. It's bit scary to me.


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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith
DWill wrote:
There could be a danger of uncritically accepting a view that "primordial" peoples enjoyed a natural, unforced morality, that they lived in a golden age, and that they were indeed noble savages. Wright holds up for ridicule the Victorian notions about "savages" being not even human in the same sense that we are. Okay, that is all wrong. It's not true that without gods to enforce order, anarchy prevails. But I agree with oblivion that, so far, Wright doesn't give proof that morality in tribal societies is fine, without religion to mess it up. He doesn't give us much idea of what morality is, does he, besides that the tribes are able to function because there are clear rules and little opportunity to get away with something? Is morality then nothing more than social order? I see no reason to think that the ethic of reciprocation, which may be seen as the key to morality, would not operate when gods were uninvolved with morality, but still, I think we need greater ethnographic information about tribal societies than Wright has the time to give us. And I think it is morally relevant whether beliefs about gods or spirits might affect social customs to the extent, say, that people may be sacrificed to propitiate the gods.

As for primitive people not having a word for their religion, this to me may indicate almost a different phase of consciousness than exists when civilization appears. I don't see this as a desireable state. It's bit scary to me.


The discussion here brings up some rather politically and emotionally loaded terms, especially the distinction between primitive and civilized. The European Enlightenment of the eighteenth century was thoroughly racist in its assumption of a linear scale from savagery to civilization. However, as Wright points out, the vast bulk of human evolution occurred prior to the advent of civilization, so the moral frameworks of tribal societies better reflect our neural evolution. It is reasonable to ask what we have lost through the modern social contract of law, in terms of alienation from our original natural identity that can be seen in communities who have continuity with pre-modern culture.

Wright's point is that in small tribes morality is enforced by people not by Gods. He is not saying primitive morality is better, only that it is separate from the later concept of God as the source of morality. Primitive culture has no need to imagine that God will send you to hell if you are bad, because this idea of hell only evolved when society grew big enough to need to regulate ethical relations of strangers through claims of divine sanctions. Part of the cultural evolution of God is that people in civilized life formulated an idea of a universal ethically good God as a means of coping with the loss of tribal community ethics. Often tribal ethics are arbitrary, capricious, unjust and harmful, so Wright seems to be correct in his assertion that the evolution of God involves a steady growth in moral rationality.

To talk of religion as a 'phase of consciousness' raises Wright's observation that primitive culture does not separate religion and life. The primitive outlook in this sense is rather like the mystic ideal of 'every thought a prayer'. This is fine for the mystic or the primitive but is impractical in the modern world. The modern compartmentalization of religion into a Sunday sing-along, with the separation of church and state, is probably necessary as a way to protect against false religion exercising political influence. However, it is inherently unstable, especially where religions hold to false beliefs and their adherents must practice a deliberate schizophrenia to separate their religious and secular identities.



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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith
Robert Tulip wrote:
Wright's point is that in small tribes morality is enforced by people not by Gods. He is not saying primitive morality is better, only that it is separate from the later concept of God as the source of morality. Primitive culture has no need to imagine that God will send you to hell if you are bad, because this idea of hell only evolved when society grew big enough to need to regulate ethical relations of strangers through claims of divine sanctions.

Yes, I agree that seems to be his main point in this chapter. I still feel that morality is a bit of a problem term as Wright uses it, however, since morality and ethics both are value-laden. Say, rather, that gods are not needed to enforce social order because tribes manage this unaided by gods in large part.
Quote:
Part of the cultural evolution of God is that people in civilized life formulated an idea of a universal ethically good God as a means of coping with the loss of tribal community ethics. Often tribal ethics are arbitrary, capricious, unjust and harmful, so Wright seems to be correct in his assertion that the evolution of God involves a steady growth in moral rationality.

Again, "morality " might not be a good term to use, and "social cohesion" might be a better one. We'll see as we read to what forces Wright attributes advances in ethics. I don't have the recollection that he focuses on within-culture advances so much as he does the acceptance of other cultures' gods for game-theoretical reasons.


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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith
Robert Tulip wrote:
The modern compartmentalization of religion into a Sunday sing-along, with the separation of church and state, is probably necessary as a way to protect against false religion exercising political influence. However, it is inherently unstable, especially where religions hold to false beliefs and their adherents must practice a deliberate schizophrenia to separate their religious and secular identities.


Whilst I emphatically agree with your summary, Robert, I have to take objection with one small point: whereas the Sunday sing-along may hold true in Western culture, I don't think this applies to some Eastern cultures. I am thinking about Buddhism, especially Zen, in this case. Or Hinduism. Ritual is the key, especially everyday ritual on a daily basis. There is no need for a temple in which to do puja.
However, I do feel that your argument concerning laicism is supported by these very religions. Shinto is the State religion of Japan. A practitioner believes in every object, including some inanimate ones such as rocks, as being kami[i]. [i][i]Amaterasu, the sun goddess and one of the principal Shinto deities, gave hold to the belief that the emperor is the highest deity. Not an unusual belief by any means. The Egyptians, to name one system, certainly had success with this method. But Shinto continues through today. Although a Japanese certainly wouldn't claim, in modern Japan, to believe that the emperor is indeed a deity, the [i]functionality [/i]of this system still has a grip on contemporary Japanese society.[/i]It is certainly emotionally and psychologically easier to carry out a ritual than to actually apply one's beliefs, especially within a complex and demanding society. Separating religion from the rest of people's lives was indeed a method of keeping it alive and kicking.


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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith
Apologies....I couldn't seem to get the italics deleted.


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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith
I am lagging a little behind the lot of you. I will do my best to catch up. My first comment is that I think we need to be careful about the use of the terms moral and ethic. It seems mostly we are using them as synonyms for each other. Wright does not define what he means by moral, but what else could he mean other than "a system of right and good conduct." How could he be anymore specific? As Oblivion has pointed out, we do not know the specifics of what was considered right behavior in early groups of humans. Part of the point of the book is the idea that morality, like the concept of God has eveloved over time to match the development of human thought and understanding and just maybe with this twin evolution our concept/understanding of the divine (this applies even if it turns out there is no divine) and morality gets nearer and nearer to truth.

Indulge me a minute and I will try to illustrate my thinking and to hit on a comment made by DWill (As for primitive people not having a word for their religion, this to me may indicate almost a different phase of consciousness than exists when civilization appears. I don't see this as a desireable state. It's bit scary to me.) and maybe one made by Robert (vast bulk of human evolution occurred prior to the advent of civilization).

Robert: I just want to check in on what did you mean when you used the word civilization in the comment I quoted above? I am assuming you were referring to an advanced level of society that includes agrigulture, towns/cities, trade across long distance, etc.

In a round about way, I believe, what we are all talking about, Wright included, is the development of human thought/brain. I believe that the human being is inseperable from society. It is my idea that society developed as a kind of external organ. It seems to me that society would have to mirror the development of human thinking or conversely the lack of capacity for thought. Practices such as infanticide or leaving a damaged or ill newborn to die makes sense and I would argue even is moral, in the context of early hunter gather bands or tribal societies. Experience would have taught that the baby would most likely die soon or if it lived it would be in pain and distress. With no alternatives at hand to aid the infant what is to be done? It seems to me a deeply human (genetically encoded) instinct to want to relieve suffering. I can also imagine that capital punishment at one time might have fit into the box of moral behavior. If your group is only 15-20 people (a normal size for early bands -- precurser to tribe) and one of the members murders what are you going to do with him/her? What are your alternatives? Is it safe to rely on banishment? As understanding changes and improves infanticide no longer makes sense as a solution. With the invention of jails and prisions captial punishment comes into question.

I almost forgot, I wanted to respond to DW's comment having to do with divisions between social institutions. Boundaries between social intitutions is very western idea and relatively new in the world. When Europeans encountered the native cultures of the new world they were struck by the lack of distinction between the social instituions. The economic, political, personal, and religious were all tangled together. If you read any ethonography of a hunting and gathering group or Native American (either continent) you will see that there is so much overlapping of function of the social institutions that is is difficult split them into the familiar catigories.

One last observation -- someone is missing from Wrights discussion! What happened to the goddess?


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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Primordial Faith
Saffron,
exactly! I think this was what I was trying to get at by complaining a bit that Wright did not define "moral" . Nor religion either for that matter. I think it always help to provide the proverbial "working definition" of terms and concepts used--it certainly would have been useful in this context concerning Wright and his hypothesis.


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BOOK FORUMS FOR ALL BOOKS WE HAVE DISCUSSED
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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