Books to relearn everything about everything

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Discussion by: Jogre
Hello everyone! I am an ex-preacher recently ‘converted’ to atheism. That means I know nothing about everything. I want to change that. I am frustratingly inept in the most fundamental scientific areas. 

I am the end product of religious segregation and indoctrination and it infuriates me. My science learning comes from the brainwashing private Christian curriculum Accelerated Christian Education and a catholic high school – years ago – that never taught any non-religiously based curricula (e.g. evolution doesn’t exist, but it states a chimp gave birth to a human one day). 
I know about evolution from Richard Dawkins’ amazing books and a few various others. I have recently subscribed to Nature magazine and sit with my computer beside to understand every research paper that interests me. I realized I am hideously uneducated. On the plus side, my family calls me ‘Darwin’ now because of this. They say it derogatorily, but a greater honour I couldn’t think of.
I am looking for books, especially college/university textbooks, on geology, biology, palaeontology, and evolution. I want to relearn everything about everything. I can’t think of a better place to find people who understand this topic better. Any suggestions at all are greatly appreciated.
- J

66 COMMENTS

  1. You have made a giant leap and I salute your bravery. I suggest a visit to a public library and a chat with the librarian. If you don’t mind looking in the childrens’ section you may find some good science primers. Good luck. In United Kingdom you could attend Adult Education classes free at your local college/university. These courses are for retired and unwaged people who want to broaden their minds; they are not aimed at people with learning difficulties! We also have Open University which is a home-study program leading to a qualification.

    Where do you live, out of interest?

  2. In reply to #1 by Pourang:

    http://www.amazon.com/Invertebrate-Palaeontology-Evolution-Euan-Clarkson/dp/0632052384
    Hope it helps.

    This looks very interesting and right on the mark! Thank you very much, helpful indeed.

    In reply to #2 by mjr:

    Where do you live, out of interest?

    I live in Canada, Southern Ontario. We have a continuing education program, for people who just want to learn, at my local university, however it isn’t free unfortunately. I am attending University in the fall for a degree in astrophysics – the only field of science I can attest to understanding well. It took 3 years of downplayed/hidden study with telescope and book alike. Simply owning a telescope was deemed atheistic in nature. I had to justify it as ‘helping me understand god’s creation.’ I now wretch at the justifications I had to make. Interestingly enough, I started questioning god the second I looked through my telescope. It was all down hill from there!

    • J
  3. Read everything about what surrounds you: biology, physics, economics, psychology, sociology, communications, politology. But the key for the beginners is to choose the smallest books you can find. Then, if you find something especially interesting for you, go to Wikipedia and keep on studying.

  4. In reply to #4 by CentralFire:

    But the key for the beginners is to choose the smallest books you can find. Then, if you find something especially interesting for you, go to Wikipedia and keep on studying.

    Noted. I have an interest in every area of science and have acquired almost every book from the science department at the local bookstore. I am looking for the thickest books now. I tend to shy from wikipedia, as occasionally, I have found information inaccurate – notably in astronomy. Thanks for the input.

    • J
  5. In reply to #6 by mmurray:

    Have you looked at the free courses you can find online from places like MIT, Coursera or The Khan Academy ?

    I have now :) Very interesting resources – I found something because of your recommendation. I found the amazing Walter Lewin MIT lectures and Leonard Susskind lectures on Itunes University. It seems that they have a very large amount of information and lectures available for free. Thanks a ton!

    • J
  6. If you are “hideously uneducated” you MUST walk before you run!
    Here are three anthologies/short essays that will serve anyone well:-

    1] Edited by Dawkins: The Oxford book of modern science writing {superb}

    2] Barrow: 100 essential things you didn’t know you didn’t know {boggling}

    3] Hitchens: The portable atheist {plenty of thought down the ages from scientists, philosophers & activists}

    My advice to you is take the broad scope of human thought & don’t just concentrate on science ~ this is very important or you’ll get indigestion & put on another set of blinkers having removed the first set

    I also recommend a few trash crime novels for roughage ~ Elmore Leonard is the man in this regard

  7. In reply to #3 by Jogre:

    I am attending University in the fall for a degree in astrophysics – the only field of science I can attest to understanding well. It took 3 years of downplayed/hidden study with telescope and book alike. Simply owning a telescope was deemed atheistic in nature. I had to justify it as ‘helping me understand god’s creation.’ I now wretch at the justifications I had to make. Interestingly enough, I started questioning god the second I looked through my telescope. It was all down hill from there!

    J

    You know of Belgian Catholic priest and astronomer Georges Lemaître ??

  8. Hello! I am studying wildlife conservation & biology – your new ‘bible’ should be a big book called LIFE the science of biology by David Sadava and others. There are many revised editions all great I have the 8th edition which is amazing.
    Enjoy :)

  9. There is a book series (also as e-books) called “Very short introductions” that covers a wide range of topics (natural history, the cell, mathematics, …). I have read a few of them and found some of them helpful.

    Wikipedia suggested by others is also a great resource.

    One very nice source of knowledge is khan academy, a large collection of short videos about many scientific topics (khanacademy.org).

    Good Luck and joyful learning!

  10. You know, simply having read the things you mention you are probably now more educated than the majority. Most people don’t even pick up a book voluntarily let alone research papers.

    I am curious, how does your family fit into this? How did they handle your deconversion and do you now attempt to educate them about science?

  11. I loved “The Age of Wonder” by Richard Holmes. It’s a beautifully written account of the history of scientific ideas in the eighteenth century. Its subtitle is ” How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science” and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

  12. Best of luck, Jogre. You’re on a tremendous path of new discovery now and the best part is that, by definition, it can never end (as compared to the religious perspective which believes it has already figured everything out). Others here have given great suggestions for science and general knowledge – perhaps you could also consider a couple psychology books, to help you understand how the mind tricks itself into believing things (and not just in the religious realm but in daily life). One suggestion is Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman, which may lead you onto other volumes.

  13. I love Bill Bryson – A Short History of Everything. It’s more of an amusing yet enlightening walk on the shores of the History of Science (Holy Allegorical Batman!). I’ve got it as an audio book :) It’s like listening to a cross between David Attenborough and Stephen Fry. Completely non-threatening, and very accessible.

    Stephen Hawking – A Brief History of Time is ace too, but it can be a hard read, sometimes a bit too technical.

    The good thing is, you won’t short of interesting material. There are 1,000′s of lectures, presentations and videos on youtube well worth a watch.

    I’ll start with a fun one, for kicks.

    Secret Universe – The Hidden Life Of the Cell

    What’s certain, is that if you start from zero scientific education, it’s gonna be a fun ride!

  14. I’ve found if I want to get the basics of a particular topic, exam revision guides are very good for an overview. Letts ‘AS’ / ‘A’ Level in a week, books are very good for this purpose.

    As a biochemistry undergrad we use Lehninger’s principles of biochemistry as a core text, this contains a lot of really detailed stuff. There is also good explanations of thermodynamics contained within, which as you’ll find out in astrophysics is very important to understand,

    Takorigins is always a must, this site covers a lot of ground and has counters to probably all creationist claims, they also give citations which allows you to independently research.

    My girlfriend showed me a core text from her Conservation Biology degree, so that might be worth a look too: “Primate Adaptation and Evolution” by Fleagle.

    Congratulations on moving forward and enjoy your astrophysics degree, you seem very motivated and that can only stand you in good stead!

  15. Start with children’s books. I have a feeling your less scientifically literate than I am and I’ve had college level biology and have always accepted Evolution. Kid’s books give good general overviews of topics. Then build upon that with more complex information. You may also want to spend a day in your local museums. Become a member for free entrance. Keep in mind that religion can be disputed without science. If you’re trying to build up knowledge to best deal with challenges, there are plenty of Utube videos, podcasts like the Atheist Experience, etc. that will help you out.

    Again, I wish there was a section here on “asking a scientist” or learning about science section with links.

  16. In reply to #5 by Jogre:

    I tend to shy from wikipedia, as occasionally, I have found information inaccurate – notably in astronomy.

    There is much more to science than endeavoring to understanding it. You can also advance it. It benefits the rest of us if you fix inaccuracies in Wikipedia. That might also help you test whether your own knowledge is accurate. As you’ve experienced, testing and possibly expanding on or invalidating one’s own knowledge is an essential skill.

  17. Congrats! Go read Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos”, and Jim Al Khalili´s “Blackholes, womholes and time machines”, and of course, Richard Dawkins’s “Evolution, the greatest show on earth”.

    Also look for the TV show “How the universe works” It’s amazing.

  18. Thank you all for your wonderful recommendations and great advice. I figured I would be a little more detailed in regards to my learning capabilities, as a number have recommended me to read some lower-level science books. Prepare for a long post.

    I have a selectively eidetic memory – if I am actually paying attention (which doesn’t happen outside of science now) I can remember every single word on the page, page layout, pictures, graphs, just as if I see it in a picture. I have a very good memory. Using larger texts slower allows me to fast track understanding. I still enjoy reading the basic science books even if they are geared for kids.

    I went to seminary where I did in fact take a few science courses. These courses were not helpful in any decent way; in a creationist nonsense ideal. My favourite book as a child was an evolutionary book on dinosaurs – given to me by my ex-atheist mother – and I used to sit there and believe it! But my father gave me creationist material instead, and as a child, you believe childish things – creationism.

    In reply to #14 by Mister T:

    I am curious, how does your family fit into this? How did they handle your deconversion and do you now attempt to educate them about science?

    Well, the only person who knows I am an atheist is my ‘saint’ of a mother. My father is currently AWOL because, in his dreams, god told him that if my mother didn’t agree with his terms (no more working outside the home – no friends who aren’t Christians) he was going to divorce her. I am not kidding you. This stuff ACTUALLY happens.

    The family went mad when I told them I was dropping out of seminary and studying science at a real university. After a year of retaking high school credits they are relatively calmed down except for my father and grandmother. She believes on the basis of revelation that there is only one galaxy and a couple planets.

    I educate them constantly about science – especially genetics – and they are visibly shaken and mad. It is quite a situation here. If I did come out as an atheist to the rest of the family, I believe they would say (we knew it!) now don’t contaminate our family. I know my father would leave (you aren’t allowed to let sin live in your house – atheism = biggest sin), my grandmother would probably have a heart attack. When she converted god said to her that all her grandchildren would preach the word. A sticky situation to say the least.

    Despite impending details, I have NEVER BEEN HAPPIER. AT ALL. When someone tells you the ‘Love of God is better than anything else in the world’ I can personally attest that this is %100 false. Thinking, reason, atheism, and science make me happier than when I would ‘weep for Jesus’ and ‘preach the good news’.

  19. In reply to #3 by Jogre:

    I am actually going through the telescope problem now. I had to fight to get one, and my parents have warned me that if I discuss it with my friends or get my siblings too involved, they’ll confiscate it. But I was an atheist before I got the telescope, though my parents still don’t know.

    Thanks for putting this post- I’ll be taking the advice, too.

  20. Good luck Jogre. The Brian Cox series, Wonders of Life, is a fantastic programme.Try BBC iPlayer or the DVD will probably be out soon. Dawkin’s ‘Magic of Reality’ is a very nice book.

    • In reply to #29 by BigChris:

      Good luck Jogre. The Brian Cox series, Wonders of Life, is a fantastic programme.Try BBC iPlayer or the DVD will probably be out soon. Dawkin’s ‘Magic of Reality’ is a very nice book.

      Yes I have these two. Wonders of Life explains the evolution of life with a backdrop of physics and chemistry which helps you to understand the process more fully.

  21. You are so brimming with enthusiasm for truth and knowledge, it’s wonderful to witness! Plenty help has already been offered so I will just second Dawkins, Cox, Bryson, Hawking, all wonderful. Good luck with your studies. Well done so far!

  22. Hi there! Hope this helps:

    The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan (basically anything by Sagan, actually)
    Science Under Siege (basically a collection of essays and papers by various scientists)
    A great Podcast if interested: The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe
    Scientific Paranormal Investigation – by Ben Radford (A pretty fun book about the process and proper application of the scientific method)

    I was raised religious, and was given a very small view and allowable understanding of science at a young age. I have since changed from that dark place and ever since the world has been so fascinating and rich. Good luck. It’s super fun and incredibly fascinating from here on in.

    -E

  23. Hi Jogre,

    I’m a geologist. Our course material featured the Invertebrate Palaeontology and Evolution text listed on here. To be honest though it depends on what level of detail you are after. That book is quite intense.
    I think that to alot of people who have never studied palaeontology they imagine it as a fair amount of evolutionary theory and a sprinkling of fossils. They cannot quite imagine just how large the fossil record is – perhaps having only confronted museum exhibits. Dinosaur evolution, for example, took a semester just to overview with hour after hour learning about slight differences in skull shape (plus major ones, such as the number, shape, size and location of holes etc – have a look at dinosaur skulls, the holes are an adaptation to reduce weight – bloomin big things that they were). Ah, it was a long time ago and now I just drill holes in the ground (deep holes admittedly). I remember working in the North Sea alongside paleo-biologists. The chalk sections there are extremely thick and the only way to navigate through them to control your well inclination and azimuth (to hit the reservoir target at the correct angle and location to follow its bedding plane etc) is through identifying the many different layers of differing micro fossil assemblages.

    If you send me an email though I will photograph a few pages from Invertebrate Palaeontology and Evolution for you when I get home in a few days (I’m at the wellsite at the moment).

    A book I still enjoy as a basic text is Earth, by Press and Siever.

    I have an edition of the 1985 version, which is now out of print and so costs around $100. Geology changes though so a more modern version would be both cheaper and of benefit. Though I haven’t read it it looks like the standard text might be Understanding Earth, by Press, Siever and Grotzinger.

    http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Earth-Frank-Press/dp/0716796171/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1361161476&sr=1-3&keywords=earth+press+and+siever

    my email is gryphaea at yah oo dot co dot uk

    And yes, I know the email address is weird. All I can say is never choose your email address straight after a palaeontology lecture on bivalve molluscs.

  24. Bravo to you Jogre. The list of books recommended here looks pretty good to me too, and I’ll be sure to check out a few of them. But one of the most delightful popular science books I’ve read in years, and which I’ve given to several friends as a present, is Niel deGrasse Tyson’s “Death by Black Hole.” If you are studying astrophysics, his name will surely be known to you. He’s head of the Planetarium and Science Center at the Museum of Natural History in New York. He’s also on television even more then Brian Cox and there are a zillion videos of him. Enjoy. Reading is like a banquet that is never depleted while your hunger never goes away.

  25. As Major Tom also recommends – read Bill Bryson’s “A Short History Of Nearly Everything”. Then I would suggest Ben Goldacre’s “Bad Science”. It’s not facts in themselves that are important – it’s understanding how science works and how society is duped by pseudoscience.

  26. If you do not want to loose your atheistic worldview I suggest you NOT to study molecular biology, anything about cell, protheosynthesis, DNA, RNA etc. because protheosynthesis was the subject that absolutely destroyed my agnostic worldview and led me to the faith in the Creator. BTW I am going to be a university student of genetics since September this year.

  27. Back in my student days I read this invaluable book! … and upset set some “arty” lecturers by applying it to some of their “hero’s” works which they recommended for study (- as showing why their band-waggons were better than other people’s).

    Straight and Crooked Thinking, first published in 1930 and revised in 1953,[1] is a book by Robert H. Thouless which describes, assesses and critically analyses flaws in reasoning and argument. Thouless describes it as a practical manual, rather than a theoretical one.

    There are good examples of flawed “reasoning” on the link!

  28. Robert Kubik,
    I was wondering about protheosynthesis. Since it had such a huge impact on your world view, I figured you might be able to explain it to me and shed some light on why it had such an impact on your belief system. Any insight would be welcome.
    Thanks in advance.

    In reply to #36 by Robert Kubik:

    If you do not want to loose your atheistic worldview I suggest you NOT to study molecular biology, anything about cell, protheosynthesis, DNA, RNA etc. because protheosynthesis was the subject that absolutely destroyed my agnostic worldview and led me to the faith in the Creator. BTW I am going to be a university student of genetics since September this year.

  29. In reply to #38 by crookedshoes:

    Robert Kubik,
    I was wondering about protheosynthesis. Since it had such a huge impact on your world view, I figured you might be able to explain it to me and shed some light on why it had such an impact on your belief system. Any insight would be welcome.
    Thanks in advance.

    Me too, Robert- how will your (de)conversion affect your studies?

    In reply to #36 by Robert Kubik:

    If you do not want to loose your atheistic worldview I suggest you NOT to study molecular biology, anything about cell, protheosynthesis, DNA, RNA etc. because protheosynthesis was the subject that absolutely destroyed my agnostic worldview and led me to the faith in the Creator. BTW I am going to be a university student of genetics since September this year.

  30. In reply to #36 by Robert Kubik:

    protheosynthesis was the subject that absolutely destroyed my agnostic worldview and led me to the faith in the Creator.

    A comment which proves at least something wasn’t ‘intelligently designed’. I look forward to an article in a peer reviewed journal that demonstrates the role of a cosmic santa claus in this area of biology.

  31. Check out Richard’s Royal Institution Christmas Lectures entitled GROWING UP IN THE UNIVERSE. I believe they are available from the RD.net store on DVD and probably for free online in various places. They offer a superb general overview of science concepts (especially evolutionary biology of course) intended for a young audience, but not in the least ‘dumbed down’ for kids.

    For very readable summaries of the key points of critical thinking and skepticism (HOW to think better, rather than information in specific fields.) I recommend Michael Shermer’s books. I especially liked WHY PEOPLE BELIEVE STRANGE THINGS.

    My favorite overview of the evidence for evolution is WHY EVOLUTION IS TRUE by Jerry Coyne. (Apologies to Prof. Dawkins. His THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH is amazing too, of course.)

    Of course, if you’ve already read some Dawkins, you may want more than just beginning material on evolution. Everything Richard has written is very good, but don’t miss THE SELFISH GENE or THE ANCESTOR’S TALE. They are a bit more than primers but still for general audience. For me, each of them involved a lot of re-reading and mental wrangling to finish, but they were more than worth it. Invaluable.

    If you haven’t watched all of Carl Sagan’s COSMOS, or even if it’s been awhile, then you should definitely drop everything else, and start with that. Watch it start to finish before anything else. (Don’t be put off by the rather sleep-inducing first episode where Carl takes a seemingly endless ride in a “Spaceship of the Imagination” through dated special effects to a hypnotic synthesized sound track.) Sagan covers all the big branches of science, but of course astronomy is his wheelhouse and he gives you a good grounding in what was known up to that time.

    Nearly as seminal for me is Jacob Bronowski’s amazing documentary series THE ASCENT OF MAN. COSMOS is more specifically about the history of the sciences, while ASCENT seeks to cover this ground in the context of a larger history of all human thought and culture. I believe there is a book series of ASCENT if you prefer reading to watching, and it follows the text of the documentaries almost exactly.

    Of course both series are several decades out of date now so the most cutting edge stuff is not covered, but they will provide a comprehensive foundation which will put all your other studies into a larger context. I found this really critical to my self-education, and it has enriched all my other reading.

    I understand that Kenneth Clark’s CIVILISATION and David Attenborough’s LIFE ON EARTH are excellent as well.

    Good Luck!

  32. Jogre, I will recommend only one work for you to read, because you have had so many fine suggestions already.

    Jean Meslier was a 17th-18th century priest in Northern France who kept his non-belief secret for much of his ministry. His collection of essays ‘Testament’ is one of the first written works in praise of atheism (and against religion). It can be a little dull at times, but I think it may speak to you across nearly four centuries in a manner you will appreciate. You’ll find it easily on the web, formatted for all sorts of eBook readers.

  33. Jogre,
    You should feel awesome!!! You already know more about detecting bullshit than someone who “is going to ba a genetics student since September”. (Yes, this is a very confusing sentence from post #36).

    Robert Kubik,
    I am still waiting for any discussion about protheosynthesis that you’d like to offer. Anything at all???

  34. I want to thank everyone for even more recommendations! I now have a ton of (used/new) textbooks on order. Thank goodness for Malaysian booksellers shipping to Canada. I thought I would add one to the list that was absent, but came recommended by Michael Shermer of the Skeptics society: Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind by David Buss. Looks incredibly interesting.

    Once again, a hearty thanks from this learning ex-theist. Amazing responses from the greatest group of people.

    • J
  35. In reply to #38 by crookedshoes:

    Robert Kubik, I was wondering about protheosynthesis. Since it had such a huge impact on your world view, I figured you might be able to explain it to me and shed some light on why it had such an impact on your belief system.

    I just read the topic of proteosynthesis in the textbook. Of course there was nothing about God, just explained how the proces of creating proteins works through DNA, RNA etc. How the information written in the languague of DNA is used into creating the proteins. And molecular biology and genetics has become the love of my life. And I realised it is so sofisticated that there must have been design. It is not just a simple chemical molecule able to replicate itself – this poccess is much more complicated. I admit it I believe in the Creator (the emphasis is on word believe) as I have not seen God creating, but can see in everyday life that only someone very intelligent can create something that is so amazing that consists such a komplex system with so much information. Do you want me to explain you the process of proteosynthesis? You can read it in the textbook. I can not suggest any book about this topic in English as I have not read them. But if you find a good English book about molecular biology and genetics that is available on the internet, you can recomend it to me in order to learn specialised English – as a future student I will need to be able to read about this in English fluently.

  36. In reply to #10 by MajorTom:

    You might try “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson for a brief general (layman level) overview.

    seconded (or thirded. too lazy to check)

    very enjoyable book indeed and it does cover pretty much everything (as suggested)

    I can’t really think of any books that improve on Richard’s, mainly because he’s written so many that all deal with the subject of evolution from original perspectives but I would recomend reading Darwin if you haven’t already, it won’t teach you anything you can’t learn elsewhere and as expected, it’s dated and lacks so much of today’s knowledge but it’s a great book to understand what it is so do real science, not just the hypothesis but the decades of work involved in putting it together as well as pre-empting pretty much every criticism that could have been addressed.

    A great short book to read (as he said himelf, revolutions require pocket books, not tomes) is “On Being” by Peter Atkins. Also just hang around this site, there are always great book reviews. In general I find the evile witch that is the internet (Amazon anyway) soon picks up on what you’re into and starts recomending books

  37. I haven’t time to read all the existing responses, so apologies if someone’s already suggested this. You might try Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. It’s pretty basic and when I reread it recently I realised it’s outdated in one or two places (the ones I noticed concerned cosmology and astrophysics; there may be others, I’m no sort of expert on anything scientific), but for all the essentials in one place AND a compelling read I haven’t found better.

    The other suggestion I’d like to make is YouTube; so many great scientists and authors have videos posted there now, and I love them because I can have them playing in the background while I’m doing mundane stuff like housework or whatever. Very often I end up buying the book/s they’re discussing, but even if you don’t do that you’ll still be taking in lots of new information, and doing so very easily.

    I admire your honesty and your resolve; I never believed all the anti-scientific stuff as you did, but through simple unthinking laziness I was horrifically ignorant in scientific matters until just a few years ago. I work to remedy that, but it’s slow going and I now exist in a peculiar state somewhere between frustration and amusement because the less ignorant I become the more ignorant I know myself to be!

  38. Robert Kubik,
    First, I apologize for jumping on you about your english. As soon as I posted my criticism, I had second thoughts. I let it stand, hoping that you’d respond so that I could make sure you understand that your sentence has mixed tenses within it. You cannot say “I am going to be a student since September…” it has jumbled tenses….

    Anyway, i just wanted to tell you that I admire your ability to communicate in English (sometimes I have trouble and english IS my first language).

    I googled protheosythesis and got nothing. I looked it up on google scholar and got a few hits, all from the same slovakian sources. I think you have been hoodwinked. It is not an established hypothesis, it is not a founded study, it is, in fact, not a real subject. It is bullshit.

    I congratulate you on your falling in love with molecular biology and genetics. Perhaps you will stay around Dawkins long enough to continue updating us (me) with your progress in the field and the evolution of your understanding of topics within the field.

    I share your passion for the topic and have earned advanced degrees in the subject (Master’s in Molecular Genetics) and will give you a tip from experience: You have a ton of wonderful learning ahead of you. Pay attention. Learn. Evolve. Do not be afraid to be wrong, but accept and evolve when you are. Growth requires this interplay.

    When you see that your original opinions and ideas are updated and corrected, please drop us (me) a post or start a discussion…. I’d love to watch your world change. You are in for the most incredible ride.

    Good Luck.

    In reply to #47 by Robert Kubik:

    In reply to #38 by crookedshoes:

    Robert Kubik, I was wondering about protheosynthesis. Since it had such a huge impact on your world view, I figured you might be able to explain it to me and shed some light on why it had such an impact on your belief system.

    I just read the topic of proteosynthesis in the textbook. Of course there was nothing about God, just explained how the proces of creating proteins works through DNA, RNA etc. How the information written in the languague of DNA is used into creating the proteins. And molecular biology and genetics has become the love of my life. And I realised it is so sofisticated that there must have been design. It is not just a simple chemical molecule able to replicate itself – this poccess is much more complicated. I admit it I believe in the Creator (the emphasis is on word believe) as I have not seen God creating, but can see in everyday life that only someone very intelligent can create something that is so amazing that consists such a komplex system with so much information. Do you want me to explain you the process of proteosynthesis? You can read it in the textbook. I can not suggest any book about this topic in English as I have not read them. But if you find a good English book about molecular biology and genetics that is available on the internet, you can recomend it to me in order to learn specialised English – as a future student I will need to be able to read about this in English fluently.

  39. I started to respond to this exact post (that has a 119 word opening sentence in paragraph 2!!!) on another thread. I know I shouldn’t feed the trolls and I am not going to indulge in that here. But, Jesus Christ 119 words that say cumulatively say absolutely nothing. A new indoor record.

    Let me try one:

    I am always amazed by the interplay of the preordained sycophant who, in attempts to confound people in areas he clearly does not understand, looks to use concepts and words in ways and with combinations that when taken together or broken down and taken apart add up to a sum total of saying exactly nothing on the topic at hand.

    DAMMIT. I only managed to string together 60.

    Can anyone top me??

    In reply to #49 by bogglingmind:

  40. In reply to #52 by crookedshoes:

    I started to respond to this exact post (that has a 119 word opening sentence in paragraph 2!!!) on another thread. I know I shouldn’t feed the trolls and I am not going to indulge in that here. But, Jesus Christ 119 words that say cumulatively say absolutely nothing. A new indoor record.

    Let me try one:

    I am always amazed by the interplay of the preordained sycophant who, in attempts to confound people in areas he clearly does not understand, looks to use concepts and words in ways and with combinations that when taken together or broken down and taken apart add up to a sum total of saying exactly nothing on the topic at hand.

    DAMMIT. I only managed to string together 60.

    Can anyone top me??

    It looks like your literacy is getting the better of you!

    A trooooooly mind-boggglingggg understanding of atmospheric molecules and sound waves in the quote!!

    It is a good example of the sort of internet stuff for Jogre to avoid – unless needing a reminder!

  41. It is a mark of the intelligent; to know that they do not know. To be ignorant of one’s ignorance is the mark of the truly ignorant!!!

    You are on the right road. Keep learning, reading, thinking….. I admire what you wrote and would like to think that I also try to walk with you on the same road.

    In reply to #50 by soggymoggy:

    I haven’t time to read all the existing responses, so apologies if someone’s already suggested this. You might try Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. It’s pretty basic and when I reread it recently I realised it’s outdated in one or two places (the ones I noticed concerned cosmology and astrophysics; there may be others, I’m no sort of expert on anything scientific), but for all the essentials in one place AND a compelling read I haven’t found better.

    The other suggestion I’d like to make is YouTube; so many great scientists and authors have videos posted there now, and I love them because I can have them playing in the background while I’m doing mundane stuff like housework or whatever. Very often I end up buying the book/s they’re discussing, but even if you don’t do that you’ll still be taking in lots of new information, and doing so very easily.

    I admire your honesty and your resolve; I never believed all the anti-scientific stuff as you did, but through simple unthinking laziness I was horrifically ignorant in scientific matters until just a few years ago. I work to remedy that, but it’s slow going and I now exist in a peculiar state somewhere between frustration and amusement because the less ignorant I become the more ignorant I know myself to be!

  42. In reply to #52 by crookedshoes:

    I started to respond to this exact post (that has a 119 word opening sentence in paragraph 2!!!) on another thread. I know I shouldn’t feed the trolls and I am not going to indulge in that here. But, Jesus Christ 119 words that say cumulatively say absolutely nothing. A new indoor record.
    Let me try one:

    DAMMIT. I only managed to string together 60.

    Can anyone top me??

    In reply to #49 by bogglingmind:

    Thank you Crookedshoes for your response to that hilarious post. I read it while I was at work (in the bible section) and burst out laughing – both at the nonsense he was spouting, and your response. Absolutely great. And I can assure you, that as a en ex-preacher, I can easily top a 119 word opening sentence. Source? Every sermon I have preached for ages.

    In reply to #53 by Alan4discussion:

    It is a good example of the sort of internet stuff for Jogre to avoid – unless needing a reminder!

    Thanks for the reminder! Just reading that nonsense makes me laugh – hard. It’s amazing at what people can find up their behind.

  43. First I would use the google video look up and enter each subject you are interested. There are many lectures on youtube on each one. Or just go to the youtube site and search for what interests you.

    Second any in depth learning in any of these areas is going to require more than just algebra as a math background. You will be rewarded the more math you can acquire. Again Youtube has many videos starting with the most basic math and going up to the most advanced.

    Books

    Biology – Campbell Biology (9th Edition) $100.00 US

    Geology – Essentials of Geology (11th Edition) by Frederick K. Lutgens, $80.00

    Paleontology – Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters by Donald R. Prothero $28.00 (good layman’s introduction not a text book)

    Evolution – Origin of the Species C. Darwin
    also Evolution by Carl T. Bergstrom and Lee Alan Dugatkin

    Campbell is also going to go over evolution a great deal you can’t teach biology without it.

    Astronomy – The Cosmos: Astronomy in the New Millennium Jay M. Pasachoff, Alex Filippenko

    You may want some background books that are not textbooks but will give you information so you can hang the new knowledge on previous “hooks” of information.

    Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin (Jan 6, 2009)

    Coming of Age in the Milky Way Timothy Ferris

    E=mc2: A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation by David Bodanis and Simon Singh

    A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing Lawrence M. Krauss (Author), Richard Dawkins (Afterword)

    ATHEISM

    The God Delusion Richard Dawkins

    God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything Christopher Hitchens

    That should get you started.

  44. In reply to #51 by crookedshoes:

    Don`t worry for jumping on me about my English. I did not understand you were criticising my English :-)
    And talking about protheosythesis it IS a real subject -the proces of replication, translation and transciption of DNA is called proteosynthesis in my language as the result of it are proteins.
    Sorry, I feel like an idiot when communicating in English.

  45. I see. So, why does transcription and translation… with replication thrown in there… (what we refer to as the central dogma) lead to your conversion to belief?

    You do understand that the central dogma actually underscores and explains the mechanisms for evolution?

    As for your ability to communicate in English; you are doing a great job. Most of the time I feel like an idiot when I am trying to communicate in English as well!!! Keep trying.

    In reply to #59 by Robert Kubik:

    In reply to #51 by crookedshoes:

    Don`t worry for jumping on me about my English. I did not understand you were criticising my English :-)
    And talking about protheosythesis it IS a real subject -the proces of replication, translation and transciption of DNA is called proteosynthesis in my language as the result of it are proteins.
    Sorry, I feel like an idiot when communicating in English.

  46. Hi jogre, you have come to the right place the members here are very knowledgeable and funny at times. I myself know little about science, but like you I have an interest in it and have bought a few Richard Dawkins books. ‘The magic of reality’ was the first one its great for starters. Then ‘ the greatest show on earth’ and ‘the god delusion’ I like astronomy books too, my advise to you would be to treat science like high school, and pick one subject from it that you have an interest with and learn about that subject, but only if you enjoy it.

  47. Awesome! Did you know there is a Facebook page called Science is Awesome? It’s really entertaining and interesting and funny.
    In University I did a degree in Pharmacy… Our first year was Health Sciences (also done by dentistry, medical, physiotherapy and nutrition students)… This is the text book list devised by my previous University… Copy and paste the link…
    http://books.unibooks.co.nz/2013%20Health%20Sciences.pdf

    Another book list-
    http://listverse.com/2012/07/02/10-great-popular-science-books/

    .
    Good book not about science:
    Sophie’s World – I loved this book when I read it but it does get a bit confusing – a history if western philosophy told through a story involving a girl called Sophie.

    Hope this helps.

  48. Hello Jogre. I admire your strength and determination. You have taken tremendous step that required a lot of courage. Congratulations!

    Along with the books that people have recommended, I would also recommend a visit to the TED web site. There you will find talks (on video that you can download) by experts in the topics in which you are interested. They are usually short . . . 20 – 30 minutes so they are neither time-consuming or boring. The URL is http://www.ted.com

  49. In reply to #60 by crookedshoes:

    I see. So, why does transcription and translation… with replication thrown in there… (what we refer to as the central dogma) lead to your conversion to belief?You do understand that the central dogma actually underscores and explains the mechanisms for evolution

    I just could not imagine how something so compicated came into existence. I accept that biological evolution might be possible (but statistics say it is very unlikely to get so many spieces just in 4 billion years by mutation) but chemical evolution is just impossible.
    Time is helpful when we talk about biological evolution, but time is not helpfull for chemical evolution.
    There are more than hundred complex nano components of the cell that must be at the right place. Otherwise the cell would not survive and would not be able to replicate. So all the components had to come in the existence at the same time at the same place. How stable are molecules needed for RNA? How long can they exist? How long can ribose exist before it falls apart? How long can thymin exist? How long can enzymes exist until they fall apart? etc. So if the organism is not able to replicate itself, time is not helpfull. Creation of life requires all the molecules comming into existence in one place in a very short time. And all the molecules need different chemical environment so it is impossible.
    That is why I believe in the Creator.

  50. In reply to #28 by astrophysics:

    In reply to #3 by Jogre:

    I am actually going through the telescope problem now. I had to fight to get one, and my parents have warned me that if I discuss it with my friends or get my siblings too involved, they’ll confiscate it. But I was an atheist before I got the telescope, though my parents still don’t know.

    I don’t suppose it would help to tell them you want to use it to observe the local wildlife, and let them conclude that you actually mean that cute neighbor girl, the one who leaves her curtains open….

  51. Is anyone willing/able to compose a RDF original article containing all the links and references from this thread?

    It would make a wonderful permanent resource on this site, a one-stop-shop of guidance for others whose education has been neglected, or who just didn’t pay attention to that science stuff at school, but have now become curious.

    Meanwhile, this thread is perhaps a good place for anyone to add more links and references as they find them. I know there are more all over the comments on this site, it would be great to have them collected.

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