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Top 10 Atheism Books
The following books are a great
start for anyone interested in learning more about
atheism. This list is not in any specific order
- all 10 books are educational, entertaining and
effective at communicating the atheist position.
Atheist web sites are welcome to link directly to
this Top 10 Atheism Books list. If you're new to BookTalk.org please visit our FORUMS and join the book discussions.
by Richard Dawkins
Discover magazine recently called
Richard Dawkins "Darwin's Rottweiler"
for his fierce and effective defense of evolution.
Prospect magazine voted him among the top three
public intellectuals in the world (along with Umberto
Eco and Noam Chomsky). Now Dawkins turns his considerable
intellect on religion, denouncing its faulty logic
and the suffering it causes. He critiques God in
all his forms, from the sex-obsessed tyrant of the
Old Testament to the more benign (but still illogical)
Celestial Watchmaker favored by some Enlightenment
thinkers. He eviscerates the major arguments for
religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability
of a supreme being. He shows how religion fuels
war, foments bigotry, and abuses children, buttressing
his points with historical and contemporary evidence.
In so doing, he makes a compelling case that belief
in God is not just irrational, but potentially deadly.
Dawkins has fashioned an impassioned, rigorous rebuttal
to religion, to be embraced by anyone who sputters
at the inconsistencies and cruelties that riddle
the Bible, bristles at the inanity of "intelligent
design," or agonizes over fundamentalism in
the Middle Eastor Middle America.
Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian
by David Mills
Clear, concise, and persuasive, Atheist
Universe details exactly why God is unnecessary
to explain the universe and life's diversity, organization,
and beauty. The author thoroughly rebuts every argument
that claims to "prove" God's existence - arguments
based on logic, common sense, philosophy, ethics,
history and science.
Atheist Universe avoids the esoteric language
and logic used by philosophers and presents its
scientific evidence in simple lay terms, making
it a richly entertaining and easy-to-read introduction
to atheism. A comprehensive primer, it addresses
all the historical and scientific questions, including:
Is there proof that God does not exist? What
evidence is there of Jesus's resurrection? Can creation
science reconcile scripture with the latest scientific
Atheist Universe also answers ethical issues
such as: What is the meaning of life without God?
It's a spellbinding inquiry that ultimately arrives
at a controversial and well-documented conclusion.
the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
by Daniel Dennett
A century and a half after Darwin
rattled religionists with his revolutionary theory
of human origins, one of his disciples has intensified
the challenge to faith by advancing an evolutionary
account of religion itself. Weaving together research
in anthropology, genetics, and psychology, Dennett
argues that religion first emerged not as a divine
gift but rather as a thoroughly natural adaptation
for enhancing the reproductive success of the species.
Even more provocatively, Dennett further argues
that religion--like language--has subsequently evolved
so as to ensure its own survival in the ceaseless
winnowing of cultural mutations. The pious in most
faiths will likely protest that this approach gives
only the husk, not the spirit, of religion, but
Dennett insists that his study will ultimately benefit
society by exposing the myths that empower fanatical
terrorists. Remarkably bold, Dennett's agenda includes
plans for preventing overzealous parents from instilling
their faith in their children and for deploying
the technology of mass advertising to foster religious
doubt. A book certain to spark heated controversy.
is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
by Christopher Hitchens
*Starred Review* God is getting bad
press lately. Sam Harris' The End of Faith(2005)
and Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion (2006) have
questioned the existence of any spiritual being
and met with enormous success. Now, noted, often
acerbic journalist Hitchens enters the fray. As
his subtitle indicates, his premise is simple. Not
only does religion poison everything, which he argues
by explaining several ways in which religion is
immoral, but the world would be better off without
religion. Replace religious faith with inquiry,
open-mindedness, and the pursuit of ideas, he exhorts.
Closely reading major religious texts, Hitchens
points to numerous examples of atrocities and mayhem
in them. Religious faith, he asserts, is both result
and cause of dangerous sexual repression. What's
more, it is grounded in nothing more than wish fulfillment.
Hence, he believes that religion is man-made, and
an ethical life can be lived without its stamp of
approval. With such chapter titles as "Religion
Kills" and "Is Religion Child Abuse?" Hitchens intends
to provoke, but he is not mean-spirited and humorless.
Indeed, he is effortlessly witty and entertaining
as well as utterly rational. Believers will be disturbed
and may even charge him with blasphemy (he questions
not only the virgin birth but the very existence
of Jesus), and he may not change many minds, but
he offers the open-minded plenty to think about.
End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of
by Sam Harris
An impassioned plea for reason in a world divided
This important and timely book delivers
a startling analysis of the clash of faith and reason
in today's world. Harris offers a vivid historical
tour of mankind's willingness to suspend reason
in favor of religious beliefs, even when those beliefs
are used to justify harmful behavior and sometimes-heinous
crimes. He asserts that in the shadow of weapons
of mass destruction, we can no longer tolerate views
that pit one true god against another. Most controversially,
he argues that we cannot afford moderate lip service
to religion - an accommodation that only blinds us
to the real perils of fundamentalism. While warning
against the encroachment of organized religion into
world politics, Harris also draws on new evidence
from neuroscience and insights from philosophy to
explore spirituality as a biological, brain-based
need. He calls on us to invoke that need in taking
a secular humanistic approach to solving the problems
of this world.
Natalie Angier wrote in the New York Times:
"The End of Faith articulates the dangers and absurdities
of organized religion so fiercely and so fearlessly
that I felt relieved as I read it, vindicated... Harris
writes what a sizable number of us think, but few
are willing to say."
to a Christian Nation
by Sam Harris
"Thousands of people have written
to tell me that I am wrong not to believe in God.
The most hostile of these communications have come
from Christians. This is ironic, as Christians generally
imagine that no faith imparts the virtues of love
and forgiveness more effectively than their own.
The truth is that many who claim to be transformed
by Christ's love are deeply, even murderously, intolerant
of criticism. While we may want to ascribe this
to human nature, it is clear that such hatred draws
considerable support from the Bible. How do I know
this? The most disturbed of my correspondents always
cite chapter and verse."
So begins Letter to a Christian Nation...
Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist
by Dan Barker
From the Back Cover
Losing Faith In Faith records
Dan Barker's dramatic journey form devout soul-winner
to one of America's most prominent freethinkers.
After 19 years of preaching following his "calling"
at age 15--including work as a missionary, ordained
minister, associate pastor, touring evangelist,
Christian songwriter and performer--Dan Barker "lost
faith in faith." Today Barker, Public Relations
Director of the Freedom From Religion Foundation,
Inc., frequently represents freethought on the talkshow
circuit and at personal appearances around the country.
In Losing Faith In Faith, Barker explains
why he left the ministry. He also offers a definitive,
compelling analysis of why he rejects belief in
a god and the claims of religion. He explores the
fallacies, inconsistencies, and harm of Christian
doctrine and theistic dogma. In its place, he issues
an appealing and compassionate invocation of freethought,
reason, and humanism. Losing Faith in Faith is both a challenge to believers and an arsenal
The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God
Does Not Exist
by Victor J. Stenger
Richard Dawkins, Author of the New York Times best-seller The God Delusion
"Darwin chased God out of his old
haunts in biology, and he scurried for safety down
the rabbit hole of physics. The laws and constants
of the universe, we were told, are too good to be
true: a set-up, carefully tuned to allow the eventual
evolution of life. It needed a good physicist to
show us the fallacy, and Victor Stenger lucidly
does so. The faithful won't change their minds,
of course (that is what faith means) but Victor
Stenger drives a pack of energetic ferrets down
the last major bolt hole and God is running out
of refuges in which to hide. I learned an enormous
amount from this splendid book."
The Case Against God
by George Smith
Is theism a reasonable and rational
position, or can a better case be made for atheism
and against faith in the existence of gods? The
goal of George Smith's books is to demonstrate that
irrational beliefs are in fact harmful and that
theism and religion are prime examples of irrationality.
The conclusion, then, is that both must be abandoned
and new ways of thinking about the world adopted
in their place.
I am Not a Christian: And Other Essays on Religion
and Related Subjects
by Bertrand Russell
Dedicated as few men have been to
the life of reason, Bertrand Russell has always
been concerned with the basic questions to which
religion also addresses itself -- questions about
man's place in the universe and the nature of the
good life, questions that involve life after death,
morality, freedom, education, and sexual ethics.
He brings to his treatment of these questions the
same courage, scrupulous logic, and lofty wisdom
for which his other work as philosopher, writer,
and teacher has been famous. These qualities make
the essays included in this book perhaps the most
graceful and moving presentation of the freethinker's
position since the days of Hume and Voltaire.
"I am as firmly convinced that religions do harm
as I am that they are untrue," Russell declares
in his Preface, and his reasoned opposition to any
system or dogma which he feels may shackle man's
mind runs through all the essays in this book, whether
they were written as early as 1899 or as late as
The book has been edited, with Lord Russell's full
approval and cooperation, by Professor Paul Edwards
of the Philosophy Department of New York University.
In an Appendix, Professor Edwards contributes a
full account of the highly controversial "Bertrand
Russell Case" of 1940, in which Russell was judicially
declared "unfit" to teach philosophy at the College
of the City of New York.
Whether the reader shares or rejects Bertrand Russell's
views, he will find this book an invigorating challenge
to set notions, a masterly statement of a philosophical
position, and a pure joy to read.
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