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Q2, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions 
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Post Q2, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
Q2, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions

April, May & June 2007


This thread is for making FREETHINKER nonfiction book suggestions for 2nd Quarter of 2007 (April, May & June). For those that are new to BookTalk I will briefly explain our book suggestion process.

We read and discuss 2 different nonfiction books concurrently each quarter.

1 book is a "freethought" nonfiction selection
1 book is a general interest nonfiction book


There is a suggestion thread created for each of the above two categories. The thread you are in now is where you make your freethought book suggestions. Books that don't clearly represent and promote freethought should not be added to this thread. Simply use the other suggestion thread.

What constitutes a "freethought" book?

...books about atheism and agnosticism, separation of church and state, skepticism, scientific inquiry, evolution vs. creationism, logic and reason, comparative religion, etc...

So a general philosophy book would not fit in this category, but would do nicely as a general interest nonfiction selection. Please help us select quality books by putting a bit of effort into your suggestions and the placement of your suggestion into the right suggestion thread.

Important

1. Provide the title, author, copied and pasted review or summary, and a link to Amazon where we can read more.

2. Please comment on other people's suggestions. This is probably the most important thing you can do. Don't make a suggestion and then vanish. Be ACTIVE in this thread.

So what FREETHOUGHT nonfiction books would you like to read and discuss for Q2, 2007?

I'd really like to select our Q2, 2007 books early this time. It is in our best interest to give plenty of advance notice so visitors and members have time to order the upcoming books at least 3 weeks before the start of the next reading period. So provide your suggestion now so that they have a chance of appearing on the poll!




Tue Jan 02, 2007 2:55 pm
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Post Re: Q2, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
Ran into this book in a bookstore earlier today. Let me know if this is more appropriate for the general non-fiction suggestion thread. I have to admit, I'm not always sure where the line falls.

Religion and Scientific Naturalism: Overcoming the Conflicts, by David Ray Griffin

Book Description
Articulates a metaphysical position capable of rendering both science and religious experience simultaneously and mutually intelligible.

In this book, David Ray Griffin argues that the perceived conflict between science and religion is based upon a double mistake-the assumption that religion requires supernaturalism and that scientific naturalism requires atheism and materialism.


I'm suggesting this one mostly because I'm interested in what Griffin's suggested reconciliation entails, and because I think that we've been making very partisan suggestions and decisions regarding our group readings lately, and this one seems to be suggesting a third position. If nothing else, it should provide a lot of grist for the discussion mill.




Thu Jan 04, 2007 4:09 pm
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Post Re: Q2, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong

Quote:

From Publishers Weekly
How do humans develop their capacity to make moral decisions? Harvard biologist Hauser (Wild Minds) struggles to answer this and other questions in a study that is by turns fascinating and dull. Drawing on the linguistic theories of Noam Chomsky, Hauser argues that humans have a universal moral grammar, an instinctive, unconscious tool kit for constructing moral systems. For example, although we might not be able to articulate immediately the moral principle underlying the ban on incest, our moral faculty instinctually declares that incest is disgusting and thus impermissible. Hauser's universal moral grammar builds on the 18th-century theories of moral sentiments devised by Adam Smith and others. Hauser also asserts that nurture is as important as nature: "our moral faculty is equipped with a universal set of rules, with each culture setting up particular exceptions to these rules." All societies accept the moral necessity of caring for infants, but Eskimos make the exception of permitting infanticide when resources are scarce. Readers unfamiliar with philosophy will be lost in Hauser's labyrinthine explanations of Kant, Hume and Rawls, and Hauser makes overly large claims for his theory's ability to guide us in making more moral, and more enforceable, laws. (Sept. 1)
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Wed Jan 17, 2007 3:30 pm
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Post Re: Q2, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
I've suggested this book in the past, but two things have changed, and I think it's worth reiterating the suggestion. The first thing (for me, at least) is that I've started reading the book, and it strikes me as just the sort of thing that would make for great discussion. The second is the addition of a Freethinker Book reading to BookTalk, which I think is actually more in line with the theme and import of the book. Without further ado...

Biology as Ideology, by Richard C. Lewontin

The book presents the Massey Lecture series presented by Lewontin in 1990, as well as a chapter adapted from a 1992 article contributed by Lewontin to the New York Times Review of books. Lewontin's topic is the practice of science, how that practice shapes popular ideology, and how the economic forces behind scientific research often effect what is researched and how the results of that research is presented.

I'm suggesting it, and suggesting it specifically as a Freethinker's selection, specifically because I suspect that a lot of Lewontin's arguments and the information he presents will be eye-opening to the BookTalk audience -- though not unwelcome. Freethought is a knife that ought to cut both ways; that is, we should never feel content with freethought as a way of addressing other people's beliefs, but should also feel duty-bound to reassess our own beliefs by the same light. In this case, Lewontin -- himself an evolutionary biologists and geneticist -- throws into perspective our assumptions about genetic influence, and focusses in particular on the assumptions underlying the Human Genome Project.

The book is succinct and widely available and affordable, so choosing it will not serve as any impediment to the forum's discussion. It's readible, and presents a case that is not widely known or embraced by the popular media. Definitely a book worth checking out, even if it doesn't get picked, and I would definitely be willing to revisit it if it does.




Mon Jan 29, 2007 10:12 pm
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Post God: The Failed Hypothesis.
I am mostly suggesting this, well, because I want to see Mad jump up and down again about another book that talks about how god does not exist.

I am bastard, therefore I know it.

God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist

Quote:
Editorial Reviews

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."

Sam Harris, author of the New York Times bestsellers, The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation
"Marshalling converging arguments from physics, astronomy, biology, and philosophy, Stenger has delivered a masterful blow in defense of reason. God: The Failed Hypothesis is a potent, readable, and well-timed assault upon religious delusion. It should be widely read."



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I'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - Asana Boditharta (former booktalk troll)

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

What is all this shit about Angels? Have you heard this? 3 out of 4 people believe in Angels. Are you F****** STUPID? Has everybody lost their mind? - George Carlin

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Tue Jan 30, 2007 4:01 pm
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Post Re: God: The Failed Hypothesis.
Eh, I'm done jumping up and down. I would hope that it's possible to read something other than anti-religious polemic as part of a Freethinker selection, but I'm not holding my breath. And as I'm spending less time contributing to the forums, I don't feel as invested in what gets picked.

Plus, every time you guys pick a book that I'm completely not interested in (as opposed to mildly interested in, perhaps), it frees up more time for me to read books that I'm completely interested in. So have at it.




Wed Jan 31, 2007 5:03 pm
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Post Re: God: The Failed Hypothesis.
Please list those books you are not interested in!!

:)

Mr. P.


I'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - Asana Boditharta (former booktalk troll)

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

What is all this shit about Angels? Have you heard this? 3 out of 4 people believe in Angels. Are you F****** STUPID? Has everybody lost their mind? - George Carlin

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Wed Jan 31, 2007 8:26 pm
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Post Re: God: The Failed Hypothesis.
The list of books I am interested in would be much shorter. But it would still be too long to list here. I guess you're just going to have to guess which choices would piss me off the most.

To help narrow it down, though, I will say that I finished "Biology as Ideology" yesterday, and can vouch that the book offers up consistently interesting points. It actually touches on a number of topics that are germaine to what we talked about in the discussion over "The Omnivore's Dilemma" -- for example, biological copywrite -- without serving as retread.

So if you want to pick a book that will annoy me, choose something else.




Thu Feb 01, 2007 9:51 pm
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Post Re: God: The Failed Hypothesis.
To be honest, I miss having Mad around. Intelligent, thoughtful and substantial dialogue with someone whose point of view is different than mine can be stimulating and enlightening. It's been a bit slow on the forum recently. I'm just saying, maybe that's due to Mad's absence. Conversation with people who agree with you can be dull. Conversation with someone who can develop a solid opposing position can be invigorating.




Fri Feb 02, 2007 10:44 am
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Post Re: God: The Failed Hypothesis.
Well we all have our opinions!

The slowness is not due to Mad's absence. It alwas slows down around this time...but the discussion of the God Delusion has been overall a huge success, and at an average of 25 posts per day, this slow time is actually more active than last by about 10 PPD!!

Niall and Dissident have been enough of a contrast fo me, as we see in the God Delusion.

I must say that this has been the mot enjoyable month I have had since...well...around Nov of 2004!

:)

Mr. P.


I'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - Asana Boditharta (former booktalk troll)

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

What is all this shit about Angels? Have you heard this? 3 out of 4 people believe in Angels. Are you F****** STUPID? Has everybody lost their mind? - George Carlin

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Fri Feb 02, 2007 12:01 pm
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Post Re: God: The Failed Hypothesis.
Why do things get slow this time of year? I use my computer most while hibernating during the winter; it's the summer when I'm rarely online outside of work time. (Of course that would only be significant for people who live in cold weather climates during December



Fri Feb 02, 2007 3:51 pm
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Post Re: Q2, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
Chris: Michael Albert's book doesn't even remotely fit in this category.

I think it does. Albert's book explores his lifetime of political activism, analysis of power, and development of economic theory...all towards his particular (but hardly his alone) vision of the good society; one that protects freedom of thought, speech and the advancement of civil and human rights. It chronicles one person's struggle against political orthodoxy and economic hegemony; as well as the challenges facing those who try to organize meaningful, lasting and effective liberation movements. I think his efforts at supporting independent media outlets, building publishing houses, and creating one of the planet's most popular left/progressive web portals (ZNet) will prove a great topic for freethinkers who think freedom of speech and the flourishing of independent news, analysis and opinion are important topics. I also think his work regarding Participatory Economics (Parecon) will offer ample space for defining what sort of economic system is necessary for the "good society", one that supports freedom, liberty, and protection of human and civil rights. Albert is a secular radical who has spent a lifetime working for the advancement of social justice and personal liberties. I think it fits in well.




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Post Re: Q2, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
D.H.: will prove a great topic for freethinkers who think freedom of speech and the flourishing of independent news, analysis and opinion are important topics.

If we want to discuss, as important topics, issues dealing with freedom of speech and free expression, I heartily encourage us to pick a book that actually focuses on the First Amendment. The book that I suggest above would not be appropriate for a discussion about freedom of speech, since Haiman focuses more specifically on freedom of/from religion, and the establishment clause. Either way, if we want to genuinely discuss these issues, I think it necessary to ground ourselves in a solid foundation.




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Post Re: Q2, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
Any final suggestions should be made soon. :)




Tue Mar 06, 2007 2:41 pm
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Post Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and
Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why

by Bart Ehrman

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From Booklist
The popular perception of the Bible as a divinely perfect book receives scant support from Ehrman, who sees in Holy Writ ample evidence of human fallibility and ecclesiastical politics. Though himself schooled in evangelical literalism, Ehrman has come to regard his earlier faith in the inerrant inspiration of the Bible as misguided, given that the original texts have disappeared and that the extant texts available do not agree with one another. Most of the textual discrepancies, Ehrman acknowledges, matter little, but some do profoundly affect religious doctrine. To assess how ignorant or theologically manipulative scribes may have changed the biblical text, modern scholars have developed procedures for comparing diverging texts. And in language accessible to nonspecialists, Ehrman explains these procedures and their results. He further explains why textual criticism has frequently sparked intense controversy, especially among scripture-alone Protestants. In discounting not only the authenticity of existing manuscripts but also the inspiration of the original writers, Ehrman will deeply divide his readers. Although he addresses a popular audience, he undercuts the very religious attitudes that have made the Bible a popular book. Still, this is a useful overview for biblical history collections. Bryce Christensen
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Tue Mar 06, 2007 3:33 pm
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