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Saturday, July 12, 2003                                                                                       View Comments

Wow!! What a fantastic website!

Wow!! What a fantastic website! I see now why you say that you hardly have time to keep up with it. What an amazing job you've done. I'm most impressed!

Most of my disillusionment with religion and Christianity in particular was born out of putting down the apologetics and picking up various books on science. I began with astronomy and cosmology then moved on to evolution and evolutionary sociology and psychology. Perhaps I'll put together a "favorites" booklist and share it with you.

In any case, after much soul searching and intense study I finally woke up and realized that religion is little more than a mechanism our mind provides for answering difficult, if not imponderable, questions. In other words, we make it up as we go along. The problem is that when it becomes institutionalized we end up with behemoths like Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc.

Anyway, I would still like the opportunity to sit down and chat with you and Sally sometime. There is much I have not written here but one thing is certain, we're on the same page as far as religion goes.

Keep up the good work,

LG :-D LIFE IS GOOD! (even without God's interference.)

RE: Thanks L,

I would like that list of favorites. I am sure it would be a great addition to the site, and I am always looking for new reading material ! !! !!

Apologetics vs Science is something I want to touch on soon. When we go to church we spend a considerable time singing songs confirming various aspects of the "faith" such as "God is real", "Jesus loves us", "mercy", "judgment", etc. It borders on emotional self-hypnosis. Maybe it goes past the border.

Now lets consider a bunch of scientists singing and affirming their faith in gravity singing over and over such things as "what goes up must come down", "the planets keep to their orbits", and so on. You might think they were as insecure about their ideas as the religious seem to be about theirs.

Have a great day!

Dave


Re: Here is the list:

On Cults and Mind Control:

The New Believers by David V. Barrett. An encyclopedic look at cults (religions) with the basic premise being that yesterday’s cult is today’s mainstream religion.

Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History by Philip Jenkins. Along the lines of The New Believers but, as the title suggests, focusing on American cults

The Transcendental Temptation by Paul Kurtz. Exhaustive overview of the lunacy we call religion. Another must read.

Releasing the Bonds by Steven Hassan. A classic on the tactics of cults and mind control.

On Science versus Creationism:

Scientists Confront Creationism
by Laurie R. Godfrey (Editor)
Essays by various scientists.

Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism by Philip Kitcher. Very readable overview of the arguments put forth in the controversy.

The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism by Ronald L. Numbers. Scholarly history of creationism with an emphasis on how the tactics of creationists have changed as science has inexorably chipped away at their arguments.

On Answering Biblical Myths:

Genes, Peoples and Languages by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza. Classic exposition on the dispersion of the human family beginning with the “out-of-Africa” scenario. Refutes the Tower of Babel myth without ever talking about the Bible. Very readable and fascinating stuff!

The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. An archaeological demolition of the Old Testament. Even if you don’t agree with everything presented, it’s a can’t-put-it-down kind of book.

Mapping Human History by Steve Olson. . Has nothing to do with religion, hence it’s power as an unbiased source. Traces the genetic history of humankind from Africa to the Americas over 100,000 years. If genetics is your interest, you’d better read this!

Noah’s Flood by William Ryan and Walter Pitman. Speculative but fascinating examination of the Flood myth of the Old Testament. Whether you agree with this premise or not, it’s far more plausible than the Biblical story.

The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes. Should be read as a companion to Mapping Human History. Speculative but engrossing! Reads like a mystery novel.

On the Cosmos and The Big Bang:

The Anthropic Cosmological Principle by John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler. A scholarly and exhaustive history of the universe. Explores the “why are we here?” question. Requires some background in cosmology. Not an easy read.

The Universe that Discovered Itself by John D. Barrow. Discusses the evolution of knowledge about the universe. Not light reading.

The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins. Who needs God?! A classic argument for a universe without design that will stand the test of time. Brilliant!

The Whole Shebang: A State of the Universe Report by Timothy Ferris. Here’s the easy-read overview you’ve been waiting for. If you don’t want to get in over your head, this is the book for you.

The Inflationary Universe by Alan H. Guth. Cosmic origins without God’s assistance. Not light reading.

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. The undisputed masterpiece of cosmology. Destined to be a classic. If you can only read one book on cosmology, this has to be the one. (The Illustrated Version is great for older children.)

Before the Beginning by Martin Rees. Speculation about the origin and future of the universe based on the best science available today.

On the Origins of Life:

The Fifth Miracle by Paul Davies. How did life begin in the universe - and why here? Speculative but informative.

Vital Dust by Christian de Duve. Good overview that advances the notion that, given the nature of the universe in which we live, life was inevitable. No need for God’s guiding hand.

Stardust by John Gribbin. A brief and easy-to-follow discussion with persuasive arguments for the origins of life sans God.

At Home in the Universe by Stuart Kauffman. Explores the laws of complexity with the aim that life is all but inevitable. Good companion to Stardust.

Our Cosmic Habitat by Martin Rees. Examines why our universe is “biophilic”, that is, favoring the emergence and evolution of life. A solid overview but not too technical.

On Jesus Christ and Early Christianity:

From Jesus to Christ by Paula Fredriksen. How the historical Jesus of Nazareth was transformed into Jesus the Christ. Scholarly.

St. Paul versus St. Peter: A Tale of Two Missions by Michael Goulder. Regarding the schism between the two factions of early Christianity and about how and why the Pauline version won. Interesting.

The Historical Figure of Jesus by E. P. Sanders. The real, historical Jesus was hardly “The King of the Jews” of Christian mythology.

Jesus the Jew by Geza Vermes. Another historical look at Jesus. Once again, the conclusion is that Christians are worshipping a work of fiction.

The Religion of Jesus the Jew by Geza Vermes. The religious movement that may (or may not) have been initiated by Jesus was not the Christianity of today.

Jesus A Life by A. N. Wilson. The religious movement that may (or may not) have been initiated by Jesus was not the Christianity of today.

Paul: The Mind of the Apostle by A. N. Wilson. Paul invented Christianity. A very scholarly work. A good companion to St. Paul versus St. Peter described above.

On The Brain and Why It Makes Us Think We Need Religion:

Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought by Pascal Boyer. A sometimes difficult but always interesting explanation of how and why mankind invented religion. A guidebook (dare I say “bible”) for atheists.

Descartes Error by Antonio R. Damasio. How reason and emotion cannot be separated during the thinking process and how there is no “spirit” or “soul” apart from the body/brain organism.

The Feeling of What Happens by Antonio R. Damasio. A sort of sequel to Descartes Error and a fascinating read.

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. An examination of the survival of humankind and why we don’t need religion to do it. Or, any religion will do, one is as bad as another. This is the standard work and classic in the field of evolutionary psychology.

The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker. The biological evolution of morality and society. Religion is a fabrication and a fiction.

The Origins of Virtue by Matt Ridley. More along the line of The Blank Slate but with a slightly different perspective. A good read.

The Moral Animal by Robert Wright. A scholarly exposition of evolutionary psychology. Once again, religion is found to be obsolete, albeit alive an well.

Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny by Robert Wright. How and why humanity will survive into the foreseeable future in spite of religion.

On Alternatives to Religion:

Paul Kurtz has written a number of excellent books on Humanism, here are three of his best:

The Courage to Become: The Virtues of Humanism. An examination of what it means to live a moral life without religion.

Forbidden Fruit: The Ethics of Humanism. A philosophical inquiry into Humanism

Living Without Religion. A true handbook for living a rich, full, moral life without the need for religion.