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Plea for book suggestion.

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Patness

Plea for book suggestion.

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Hey everyone; I'm new here, and in a reversal of format I'm here to request a rather general book.I'm in a position where I'd like to buy a book for someone that might do a good job of explaining my atheism. The first problem is that I have not been inspired to atheism by a book. I became an atheist (and computer scientist, from fundie Christian roots) through my contact with others online, and through reading blogs like Stupid Evil Bastard and Pharyngula.Background: Last Christmas (2005) my family was pressing the idea that "they just can't see" meaning or morality without the Bible. I and my girlfriend (both atheist, and girlfriend coming from a strongly atheist family and culture in New Zealand) were present, and I said "well, I'm an atheist and I have no problem seeing meaning in life". This generated a lot of heat that put me on a (calm) defensive. I was unappreciative of their need to "save" me, however.This Christmas, despite needing plenty little things as a student (stainless steel dishes, canisters of compressed air, small tools, extra towels, socks, etc) my mother, who is a former teacher, bought me a $70 leather-bound Bible. She got one for each of my older brothers as well. In each she left a personalized message for each of us. Mine reads "Because God loves you even more than I do, this is so you can get to know Him".Now, I entered the church voluntarily (as voluntary as these things come when you're 9 years old and amidst a tremendous personal crisis). Did catechism, did communion, then gradually became disinterested in the whole business. I cannot think of a more insensitive and insulting "gift".However, I understand she meant the best by it. I want to get her a book that describes reasons for atheism, to help her understand I'm not some godless heathen (though I am admittedly amoral for entirely social reasons). My mother is capable of reason (however rarely she chooses to exercise it firmly).I really can't say much about the type of book I'm looking for, although if I can leave her with food for thought she'll be less quick to judge me and my S/O. Books that ask a lot of interesting (and serious) questions about God and the world are likely to keep her attention for some time, and at least open her to some ideas (if that's possible at all) that may not agree with her theology. Good hard reasoning is a must. The more informal the better, but it must be sound. Any ideas what I'm after? I've been recommended Carl Sagan's "Demon-Haunted World", which seems to do well by you all. Any additional suggestions?
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Chris OConnor

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Re: Plea for book suggestion.

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Welcome to BookTalk, Patness. I've a few thoughts running through my head as I read and think about your situation. First of all I cannot help but wonder if you'll ever come back to this thread to check our replies. Quite often we see questions of this nature and no follow-up. I'm going to assume you won't be a hit-n-run, but only time will tell.I've been in your situation numerous times and I feel for you. Will one book do the trick? Probably not. While your mother is quick to thrust the Bible in your face will she be receptive to a book countering her Christian views? From experience you're never going to solve this one. I hate to have such a negative attitude, but I've been there and tried every conceivable approach to getting someone to understand and consider the atheist worldview. Nothing works. Once someone is brainwashed they are almost a write off.Then again here we are as evidence that one can be a theist one day and over time move towards atheism. But was it "one book" that did the trick? Rarely. You became an atheist because of tons of factors working together on an already receptive mind. Moving from theism to atheism is growth. It is in no means a lateral move or shift in opinion. For your mother to be even remotely capable of this growth she must first humble herself and accept that she might not know everything. She would have to actually consider the possibility that her faith might be misplaced. Is this something you can see happening? My journey towards a life free from mystical and irrational beliefs started at 6 years old. Watching my own mother die a slow and painful death as cancer ate away her vital organs made me question the concept of a loving God. How could such a God allow my mom to go through such obvious agony? All the answers the Catholic priest and other duped theists gave me were weak and unsophisticated, even for my 6-year old mind. I saw through them. Even though I was too young to directly question the existence of God I was a clear enough thinker to see that the way these theists defined God was inaccurate. The God they believed in wasn't the God that actually existed. So the process of questioning and searching began.I'm not going to go into any further detail here about the remainder of the journey, especially since it's still underway, but let it suffice to say that I learned at a young age that human beings are gullible and naive and will believe just about anything given to them in pretty packaging - like your mom's leather Bible.So my opinion is that your mother will not react the way you wish her to react. You give her a book and she'll read either none of it at all or just the back cover. But still....give it to her. The point will be loud and clear. She wants to indoctrinate you and expects your mind to be open enough to her message, so why shouldn't you have the right to share your position with her? Make a deal with her. Remember, this is your own mother so the effort is probably worth it. Get your mom to agree that you will read and discuss the Bible with her if she reads and discusses a book about atheism with you. Most likely she will blow you off and this idea will die before it even starts, but still the point should be clear. You are open to her efforts to "teach" you and she should respect you enough to listen to your message.Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism by David Mills is as good of a book as any to start with. But again I just don't think any one book will do the trick.Ahh...maybe start with Leviticus, now that I think about it. The atrocities in Leviticus are probably something she has never even been exposed to. Start there if she insists on starting with the Bible.
Patness

Re: Plea for book suggestion.

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I appreciate your reply, Chris. I'm not much of a reader myself (I'm big on discussion and the hours spent in the local Computer Science Undergrad office have earned me a reputation), but it would be silly of me not read and investigate the material that I'm passing onto her. I've made several orders with Chapters to get some books to read on the subject matter, with the oft-opined God Delusion, as well as The Selfish Gene and Demon-Haunted World at the top of the list. I'll take note of your suggestions. Leviticus has some nastiness to it - but for fair shake, Judges and Genesis are broadly contested as well. Even Deuteronomy has some particularly objectionable parts to it (that I've often used as example, rather expecting nobody would kill me when I said they should worship Buddha).However, to say that my mother is not aware of these things would be errant, and poses a problem. She's read her bible cover-to-cover, several times over. It would seem easier to let her pose the arguments for her belief and allow me to dismantle them than to contest her works on the basis of scripture (as though they held some authority). However, being that I'm in a negotiable position, respect would be best earned by playing on her grounds, and allowing her to play on mine.Alonzo Fyfe over at The Atheist Ethicist has recommended to me that I do not send a book, since, as I've mentioned, books have not posed a principal reason for my disbelief. Rather, that I should explain my reasons for disbelief personally. However, this would ask, for equivocation's sake, that she explain her positions on her belief, which hold her on decidedly unequal ground - again, if not for her inability to use the Bible as a rationale for her religious beliefs, then for the fact that she's probably never been without them. I'm not sure what type of problem that would pose in trying to communicate with her.Expect me to bookmark this thread and swing by routinely. Although I typically read practical non-fiction (textbooks more than anything, for reasons only tangentially related to university), I might be able to contribute something here, from time to time. Rest easy.
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Re: Plea for book suggestion.

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One of my most recent revelations about BookTalk is that I've been marketing this community all wrong. And our current talk here about your situation with your mother drives home the point that I really am presenting and marketing this site all wrong.BookTalk.org is more about conversations between people than about reading and discussing books, but you would never guess this from how we portray ourselves. And I'm to blame for this I suppose, but the whole thing has been a learning process over the years. I'm struggled to find out the best way to attract the largest number of our target audience as possible. Soon I'll be making some edits to the site so that visitors that aren't that into books will still feel welcomed and appreciated in the general discussion forums. heck, most of our discussion happens over in the general forums anyway, so this won't be much of a change. All I'll be trying to do is capture more of the visitor traffic. Right now the majority that land on BookTalk make the very inaccurate assumption that we're all about books and nothing else, when the reality is the books are the one consistent theme, but the quality discussions are the glue that hold us all together.So please stick around. BookTalk the forums page and not just this thread. Look around and consider joining in on the other threads too. We have much more to offer than just book discussions.And good luck with the mother situation. If I had an answer I'd share it, but I'm struggling with the same problem with other people right now. I've no clue how to get them to take my atheism seriously or to at least give me the respect I know I deserve.
Patness

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Hahah! You mean bookmark the forums page and not just the thread. Good - because I'd intended to say bookmark the forums page and said thread instead.One good turn, right?
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Chris OConnor

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Re: Plea for book suggestion.

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davmandy

Re: Plea for book suggestion.

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Hi Just as an aside, has anyone run into an alternative to the world "athiest"? Like so often happens with gender-related vocabulary, it contains a hidden bias - that theism is the touchstone against which one's beliefs should be judged.My two cents...
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