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Sticky: Great Atheist/Freethought/Etc Books
9 years ago  ::  Mar 18, 2009 - 3:38PM #1
Posts: 15

I've gotten some really great book reccomendations about atheism and related topics, so I wanted to start a thread all about good books for everyone to share :)

I'm reading The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality by Andre Comte-Sponville right now, and while I am not finished with it, so far, it seems like a good bit of analysis from a sociological point of view. I feel like he really hits the nail on the head, never decrying anything while still being anything. It helps that I'm a soc major in college, though :)

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2009 - 12:18PM #2
Posts: 9,244

Hello downwithfear,welcome to Beliefnet and ASP! Sorry for the delayed response and hope you're still around. I picked up that book recently at my local atheists meetup group. We have a book exchange. It was a great read, and very accessible not only to atheists/agnostics and free-thinkers, but progressive theists would probably walk away from this with something of value.

I really liked his description of the "oceanic experience" even though he indicated he's never had this experience himself. I've personally felt it on four occasions.... Tried to describe it to others without really being able to convey it --- his portrayal comes very close.

Let's see... Letter to a Christian Nation - by Sam Harris.  I didn't learn anything new from this, but as a long time atheist I wasn't necessarily his target audience. Again, I think this is very accessible to progressive theists. One interesting point he did make that I haven't had time to fully explore yet... That the human experience is all based upon happiness and suffering.

How We Believe - by Michael Shermer.... This is a great one... I haven't completed reading it... will probably purchase it to keep in my reference library because I can see that this is something I'll want to turn to again and again.

Nearly anything by Joseph Campbell.

Tribalism, ethnocentricism, racism, nationalism, and FEAR is the Mind Killer... >:(

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9 years ago  ::  Apr 21, 2009 - 5:24AM #3
Posts: 2,036

Something that was particularly influential on my own thinking about the possibilities of atheistic spirituality is the introduction to Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead.  This is worth reading even if one doesn't intend to read the novel.

Ayn Rand discusses how what are usually thought of as "religious" experiences -- such as "worship", "reverence", the "sacred", and the like -- have possible application to experiences one is capable of having without reference to any deities, because they are at root experiences having to do with one's dedication to a moral ideal, and this need not be related to a deity.

For Rand, this moral ideal is the great potential of human individuals for virtue and creative accomplishments, and the people who are dedicated to achieving this ideal in their own lives are what she calls "man-worshipers".

The man-worshipers, in my sense of the term, are those who see man's highest potential and strive to actualize it. . . . [Man-worshipers are] those dedicated to the exaltation of man's self-esteem and the sacredness of his happiness on earth.

It is largely because of this essay that I sometimes refer to myself as spiritual, even though I'm an atheist.



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9 years ago  ::  Aug 25, 2009 - 11:09PM #4
Posts: 8


Thanks for the recs! I'll be checking out that book pretty soon. Sounds interesting!

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8 years ago  ::  Aug 01, 2010 - 1:18AM #5
Posts: 2,319

Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, Susan Jacoby


Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson, by Jennifer Michael Hecht





"Some people claim that there's a woman to blame. But I know it's my own damn fault."

Jimmy Buffet (Margaritaville)
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8 years ago  ::  Aug 01, 2010 - 1:21AM #6
Posts: 2,319

Of course ...

The Age of Reason, by Thomas Paine

"Some people claim that there's a woman to blame. But I know it's my own damn fault."

Jimmy Buffet (Margaritaville)
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8 years ago  ::  Oct 07, 2010 - 12:55AM #7
Posts: 7

"The God Question" has been a fascination for me for many years. Over that time I've assembled a small library of atheism-related books to gratify my obsession. A list of what I consider to be the more significant ones follows.

Psychology of Religion: Classic and Contemporary - a seven hundred page textbook, but well worth the effort for the wealth of information it contains. Published in 1997, so it's relatively current.


How We Believe

The Portable Atheist

Why I am Not a Christian

Atheism: The Case Against God

The Demon-Haunted World

The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy

The Case Against Christianity

The God Delusion

Atheist Universe


cogito ergo atheos sum

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5 years ago  ::  Apr 27, 2013 - 1:57PM #8
Posts: 595

Human beings by nature are ensconced within their own cultural sense of authority, expecially if they gather themselves as morally and intellectuallu superior to other cultures. This in itself is an egocentric function of both individuals and their collectivities (me and mine). Ask Aryan Rand.

As a student of the Sat Dharma Pundarika Sutra (Lotus Sutra) however, Buddhist atheism appears far more intellectually developed and cultivated in its form of philosophy and observance regarding the true laws of life and reality; the Buddha's Law of eternal wisdom known as the Sad Dharma Pundarika Sutra or (Moyoho Renge Kyo in Sino - Japanese pronounciation). These teachings encompass all phenomena as they truly are.

If people read the text of the link provided and understand it they will come to see that sacred other wolrdly religions are part of a natural evolution of consicousness which brngs forth the truth of what I would call sacred humanism.  Sacred Humanism is Buddhist humanism.  This is because the great principles of Mahayana Buddhism grounded in the philosophyh of the Lotus Sutra reveals the universal nature or Buddha Nature that is inherent in all things that appear in the universe, the universe itself and its most final emergent form of production; that is ourselves.  Life functions itself reveal and display the essential nature of the universe.  From this we can see that Life is the universe and the universe itself is Life. The purpose of manifesting as a human being therefore is to fullfill its true potential.  That potential is to fully awaken consciousness capacitgy to what is called the Buddha wisdom. This is the sacred wisdom that exists at the core of the heart of life, the source of all life's power and the true identity of all living beings.  This source or most fundamental Law of Life has no beginning nor no end and is the basis of the Buddha's enlightenment and the basis for establishing indestructable and eternal happiness.  In this respect the purpose of life is to achieve true happiness.    

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