Books for Atheists

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Discussion by: Piecer
I don’t know if there was a same discussion topic in the old RD Forum, but I think I need a book suggestion from you members that can help us understand the basics of atheism and learn modern atheism philosophy
We know there is a huge collection of articles, e-books, websites on the Internet, but I’m asking for the books only.  So, could you please recommend some books in this thread? 

45 COMMENTS

  1. It may be redundant to mention on this site, but the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins is of course a good start, as well as many books explaining the motivation behind being an atheist by authors like Christopher Hitchens (God is not Great), Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett.

    In the philosophy department I recommend Atheism: The Case Against God, by George H. Smith and in the science department Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.

    Also making yourself familiar with the science around evolution and the origin of the universe in general, the content of the Bible, Koran and their historical context will greatly help you understand atheism as well as the invalidity of religion.

    Edit: Comment previously misnamed Daniel Dennett.

  2. Atheism can be approached from various angles. My book list, so far, hopefully reflects this:
     1. Maybe start with Evolution -”Why Evoution is True”.  by Jerry Coyne.
     2.Moving to general religion/ background. “Man Made God” by Barbara G. Walker.
     3.Follow with  masterful”God is not Great”.By Christopher Hitchens.
     4. Now ,of course. ” The God Delusion”. Richard Dawkins.
      5.” the Portable Atheist” essays etc. selected by Christopher Hitchens.
      6.Moving to more advanced Mythology of religion, any of  Acharya S  ( D.M.Murdock)  highly detailed and         
        researched books  especially “Suns of God”.  
      7.Finally the very important classic work by Sir James George Frazer:  “The Golden Bough”
     
         After those  you should be ready to tackle anything!

  3. As mentioned ‘The God Delusion’ by RD is really all you need, it is a good read but goes into too much detail to rebut the god botherers so called evidence. I came to the conclusion that there was no such thing as a god when I was aged 9. ( A long story )   I am well read but 60 years later I have not seen any evidence to change my mind. There is no such thing as a god, full stop, end of  story.  But if you have any evidence to the contrary, I will listen to you.

  4.  Hi piecer,

    there’s a precurser to many of these by Bertrand Russell ‘Why I am not a christian’ which I would recommend as a, now classic, text; in many ways it began the movement which has become ‘new’ atheism.

    If you want diversion as well as education try Mark Twain’s (Samuel Clemens’) post-mortem publications which are a delight. Plenty of dry humour and clear minded humanity there…

  5. I forget which essay it is but the one by Russell where he talks about being unable to prove there is no tea pot orbiting in space is one I think is a must read. People refer to it all the time. When I read it it really clarified for me why I should call myself an atheist rather than an agnostic as I had been doing. BTW, most of Russell’s essays are available for free if you have an iPad or Kindle via the Guttenberg project. 

  6. The best Non-fiction book would be God is NOT Great and the best fictional book would be the bible. As an aside,  you could read Stranger In a Strange Land  if your in to science fiction.

  7. I found Bertrand Russel’s writings very enjoyable, especially Why I am not a Christian. Sam Harris is a master of presenting difficult things in a very clear and concise manner. Harris is the best if you have little time and want to hear thinks in a nutshell. Hitchens and Dawkins are great and legendary too. Additionally,Robert Ingersoll’s lectures and writings are very convincing – I don’t think they have been mentioned here -and are all on the web for free. 
    I must admit, however, despite having read all the above and much more, that I envy people who have been able to shake off the chains of religion fast (some,I read, even from the age of 9),or even never had them at all. For me the process is slow, and I am still only a recovering Catholic, been trying to recover for the last 10 months;although I am now not sure I really ever believed,but there are still a lot of doubts both ways. The claws of Catholicism are still deep in my skin… “Just when I thought I was out…, they pull me back in”
    So, I am still reading and looking for good stuff, as my life’s religious reading record still far outnumbers atheist reading…

  8. The other books I have but which are not already mentioned above:

    Sceptical Essays: Bertrand Russell 1928  (more about Rational Scepticism than Atheism)

    Atheism Explained – From folly to philosophy:  David Ramsey Steele 2008

    The God Virus – How religion infects our lives and culture: Darrel W, Ray  Ed.D. 2009  
    Purchased from RDFRS Store this year, and is a very interesting point of view.

    Sex and God – How religion distorts sexuality: Darrel W. Ray Ed.D. 2012?
    This is on the way to me from RDFRS Store, should be another enlightening read.

  9. Vytas – consider that catholicism is just control through fear and guilt resulting from early indoctrination.  Be yourself, there’s nobody watching or even caring most of the time….  Life can be great.

  10. I’ve read most of the books mentioned here. I’d like to add S. T. Joshi’s two books “God’s Defenders: What They Believe and Why They are Wrong” and “Atheism: A Reader”. 

    “Lectures of Col. R. G. Ingersoll” is free to download from the Apple Bookstore.

  11. OH,thanks,I have considered that  and totally agree with you. Childhood indoctrination is  an extremely powerful thing and key in every religion. If religions were told to keep their hands off children until at least until, say,  14,they’d  probably have no chance  with them  later. Although exceptions occur.

  12. For an philosophical perspective AC Grayling is good. ‘Ideas that matter’ gives brief, thoughtful and very readable insights into a wide range of subjects including religions, atheism, science, political ideas and the arts.

  13. I started out with Bertrand Russell’s “Why I am not a Christian”, and went through most of the George H. Smith books (Atheism: the Case Against God, Atheism, Ayn Rand and Other Heresies and Why Atheism?) and of course absorbed Hitchen’s God is Not Great and Dawkin’s God Delusion.

    Before any of those I became an atheist by simply reading up on mythology. No one had yet demonstrated why any one myth is more valid than the other or indeed why any one is valid at all.

  14. I noticed the absence of Victor J. Stenger in this list of suggestions. One recent title: “The New Atheism”covers much of the current state of  “the movement” and an earlier title: “God: The Failed Hypothesis” goes into many old and new arguments against the existence of God. I also agree strongly with the recommendation of George H. Smith’s “Atheism: The Case Against God” as well as most of the recommendations made by others.

  15. Lots of excellent recommendations here with several that I don’t know and look forward to exploring. A writer that I’ve only recently got to know and who I think excellent is the ex-priest  and polymath Joseph Mccabe (1867-1955). His books debunking so many aspects of religion are beautifully written and well argued. Inevitably some of the scientific ideas he refers to are completely out of date (a universe full of ether, for example) but this doesn’t, I feel, detract from his uncomromisingly rational approach. I’ve just read his ‘The Religion of Sir Oliver Lodge’ which I thoroughly enjoyed. His adaptation of the Apostles Creed as he imagines Lodge reciting it is very amusing. His books can be got on Amazon and The Internet Archive although downloads from the latter on my Kindle came out quite garbled. 

  16. My Recommendations are The God Delusion, Why I’m Not a Christian, Letter to a Christian Nation,  The Moral Landscape, The End of Faith, The Atheist Bible, Breaking The Spell, The Portable Atheist and The Good Book.  However I would say that there isn’t really such a thing as ‘modern atheism philosophy’.  Atheism does not contain a philosophy.  It has no content.  It’s simply a word which describes those who don’t believe in a god. 

  17. I would recommend you to start with the books which make the supernatal claims in the first place ie the Bible, Torah, Quran.  Then, in no particular order, the rebuttals ie The God Delusion, Why I’m Not a Christian, Letter to a Christian Nation,  The Moral Landscape, The End of Faith, The Atheist Bible, Breaking The Spell, The Portable Atheist, God is Not Great and The Good Book.  However I would say that there isn’t really such a thing as ‘modern atheism philosophy’.  Atheism does not contain a philosophy.  It has no content.  It’s simply a word which describes those who don’t believe in a god. 
    Although it isn’t a book I also highly recommend New Humanist Magazine.

  18. I think this is missing the point. Atheism doesn’t really need a book, or a guide, or even much time. Because that is the down side. When you are an atheist, you don’t get to take off religious holidays. But you do save loads of time not having to go pray somewhere. No books, no guides, no methods. Just be you.

  19. As I mentioned above, I got and just finished  ‘Sex and God – How religion distorts sexuality.’
    It is very good, and complements ‘The God Virus.’ There are lots of on-line References to back all the explanations – I recommend it to all reading this. Both these books have enlightened me about my own experiences, and I’m a life-long non-theist.

  20. I don’t think there is a book for that. Best book is your mind,think for yourself. When you evaluate what religion teaches you,you will finally reach to a conclusion “Existence of god is highly improbably” and then welcome to atheism

  21. I think the point is that even as non-believer one needs to research and discover WHY. Then one is better prepared to rebut the (sometimes) complex arguments of religious apologists. Knowledge is indeed power.

  22. Ha! You must be my doppelgänger, Martyn! Perhaps you were forced to attend the same Sunday school and when Noah’s Ark came up you thought “hang on, this is not possible”?

    PS- my cousin spells his name that way…

  23. Atheism is a one liner – simply not believing in god(s) and the supernatural.  Not worth a book.  However,  if you need convincing that gods don’t exist and religion is man made for the fiscal enrichment of a few,  try the Old Testament.   It’s tough going but if it doesn’t convince you that religions are man made (or at least you want no part of them),  then I’m not sure any others will.  In any event,  you really should start with the Old Testament. 

  24. A book I read over 20 years ago that pretty much caused the lightbulb to go on permanently was
    Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand faces.It made me realize that the religion I grew up in was just another mythology in a verry large sea of mythology.

  25. I have just finished reading, “The greatest show on Earth”, by Richard Dawkins – which I recommend.

    My son has just lent me his copy of, “The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster”, by Bobby Henderson – which he recommends.

    Maybe you will find I have been converted to be a follower of this deity in a week or two!!??

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