I've always had an indescribable need to search for the truth in life. I never really grew up in a religious home, only taught that God was real. Now, as an adult, I am searching for information, history, philosophy, and logical processes to lead me to the most truthful conclusion. If anyone has resources for me to learn and build a repertoire to debate theists, let me know. Right now I'm reading Dawkins' books, and A History of God by Armstrong. I also feel I should familiarize myself with the bible...but which version is the most historically correct? Hope to get to know a grow with you all.
Welcome to Think Atheist Jeremy. I don't know if you know this already, but there are some good debates on Youtube (on the atheist side) if you check out Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens (to name a few). I personally like John Loftus a lot. I don't think he is on Youtube but he has written some books and has a blog.
I don't know which bible is the most historically correct, although I do believe the King James version is one of the more popular ones. From what I understand, Catholics do not use the King James Version. I don't know if twhat they use is more historically accurate than the King James version. They might both be equally inaccurate lol.
My understanding is that serious scholars lean towards either the Revised Standard Version or the New Revised Standard Version.
The New International Version and many newer evangelical versions are egregiously dishonest in places.
Best current translation of the Bible in English is the NRSV.
As for reading suggestions, it depends on where exactly you want to start and what your current level of understanding is now.
Most important is to lay the foundations for why it's important to always be mindful to think rigorously and have the cognitive tools in your toolbox to be able to do so. The suggestions I list move more or less from the popular level to the undergraduate/graduate level. Note: I link at all times to Think Atheist Radio's– Think Atheist's official podcast– Amazon bookstore. Purchasing the books there will cost you no more than if you were to buy them from Amazon directly and the books will ship just as fast, but TA and TA Radio get a tiny slice of Amazon's profits as support for the site and the show. So. If you're going to purchase anything. Help us out! :)
First. Why we must go out of our way to think rigorously if we want to have as many true beliefs as possible and as few false beliefs as possible.
Dean Buonomano- Brain Bugs: How the Brain's Flaws Shape Our Lives
Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simonds- The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us
Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson- Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions and Hurtful Acts
Robert Burton- On Being Certain: Believing You're Right Even When You're Not
Richard Wiseman- Paranormality: Why We See What Isn't There
Daniel Kahneman, Paul Slovic, Amos Tversky- Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases
(The canonical text, surely, when it comes to errors in our intuitive judgment. Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow is the popular level treatment of the subject but you lose much)
Now. How to go about thinking rigorously to overcome the innate failings of our intuitive cognitive systems that would otherwise cause you to believe false things.
Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughn- How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age
Keith Parsons- Rational Episodes: Logic For the Intermittently Reasonable
(An introduction to what is hands down the best technique to ensure rigorous thinking. Strive for this level and, once you attain it and apply it correctly in all things, you'll always have the confidence of knowing that the beliefs you have are likely to be true.)
(Getting deeper now into rigorous thinking but if you read the background in the books suggested just above you won't be out of depth.)
(Considered a bible of sorts for human rationality and judgment under uncertainty. Make sure you get the updated edition.)
Michael Bishop and J.D. Trout- Epistemology and the Psychology of Human Judgment
(If Bayes's Theorem is a technique, here is a global method for judgment under uncertainty. Fantastic.)
Susan Haack- Evidence and Inquiry: A Pragmatist Reconstruction of Epistemology
Reid Hastie and Robyn Dawes- Rational Choice in an Uncertain World: The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making
I can give you lots more suggestions on the arguments for/against theism and on naturalism as an all-encompassing worldview. Just ask. But the suggestions above are really where you ought to start. First lay the groundwork by understanding why it's important to be able to think carefully and rigorously. Then learn the tools to be able to do just that. THEN you can apply those tools to an examination of any question you might come across, including, of course, the question of whether theism is true. This is what will lead you to the conclusions that have the greatest likelihood of being true.
No problem whatsoever. I read a ton so I'm always able to come up with reading suggestions. Happy to do so in fact.
Yeah, the psychology of belief is well represented among the suggestions I gave you, particularly in the first section.
If you want books that are more of an analytical defense of atheism, so that you can explain your objections to theism (and learn what the objections at the highest levels are) then I would suggest...
John Loftus- Why I Became an Atheist 2nd Edition
John Loftus (Ed.)- The Christian Delusion
John Loftus (Ed.)- The End of Christianity
Matthew McCormick- Atheism and the Case Against Christ (forthcoming June 2012)
John Shook- The God Debates
Michael Martin- The Case Against Christianity
Michael Martin- Atheism: A Philosophical Justification
Andrea Weisberger- Suffering Belief
Richard Gale- On the Nature and Existence of God
Colin Howson- Objecting to God
Robin Le Poidevin- Arguing for Atheism
Gregory Dawes- Theism and Explanation
Nick Trakkakis- The God Beyond Belief
Nicholas Everitt- The Non-Existence of God
Graham Oppy- Arguing About Gods
Herman Philipse- God in the Age of Science?
J.L. Schellenberg- The Wisdom to Doubt
Michael Martin and Ricki Monnier (Eds.)- The Improbability of God
Michael Martin and Ricki Monnier (Eds.)- The Impossibility of God
Jordan Howard Sobel- Logic and Theism
Again, these go from the level where what is required is no more than a high school education, through the two Martin and Monnier titles that feature quite a bit of symbolic logic, up to the positively beastly Logic and Theism of Sobel which, at nearly 700 pages, requires some familiarity with modal logic and such. Also. Some of these are quite expensive as they're issued by university presses. Don't let that stop you. They can almost certainly be found in your local university library. And if they don't have a copy themselves, they can usually get it through inter-library loan.
"the most historically correct" bible. Brilliant! I haven't laughed like that in a while. Thanks. That's akin to asking which Dr. Seuss book or Harry Potter novel is more historically correct. I know of no discernible or at least valuable truths to be found within that tome unless they are well hidden amongst the iron-age superstitions, delusions, outright fabrications and distortions of history that make up the majority of that wholly inaccurate "holy" book.
Just remember; God loves you, and he'll kill you if you don't believe that.
Hi Jeremy. I can recommend Demon Haunted World and God is not Great. Also for familiarising yourself with the bible for the purpose of debate you cannot beat Nonstampcollector on youtube!
The truth in life is everything that is and everything that has been. In a constantly changing world (universe), the truth changes with it. And as long as life and intelligence evolves, the truth will continue to change. Some, from Socrates and Constantine I to Martin Luther and Mao, have sought to install their own versions of the truth. But there will never be an absolute truth as long as any degree of awareness has the ability to make change. So I suggest you go to DQ, buy a cup cone, and enjoy the sunset.
I find this sums it up for me:
I believe in time, matter, and energy, which make up the whole of the world.
I believe in reason, evidence and the human mind, the only tools we have; they are the product of natural forces in a majestic but impersonal universe, grander and richer than we can imagine, a source of endless opportunities for discovery.
I believe in the power of doubt; I do not seek out reassurances, but embrace the question, and strive to challenge my own beliefs.
I accept human mortality.
We have but one life, brief and full of struggle, leavened with love and community, learning and exploration, beauty and the creation of new life, new art, and new ideas.
I rejoice in this life that I have, and in the grandeur of a world that preceded me, and an earth that will abide without me
I'm always glad to meet a fellow seeker. It sounds like you're reading from good sources. The #1 book for debating theists is, of course, the Bible: but be prepared for a LOT of boring and redundant material -- especially in the Old Testament.
Christopher Hitchens compiled a book of essays by influential freethinkers. It's called "God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything". It's a really great collection that will provide a strong foundation for freethought.
Morality is the Bible's biggest weakness. Be on the lookout, while you read the Bible, for examples of immorality. I'd even use a highlighter to emphasize them. It will come in handy when you want to recall those examples for debates. Actually, there's lots of digital Bibles online that makes research VERY easy.
Finally, I'd like to refer you to a slam-dunk argument against God and the Bible . . . I've used variations of it on this site and it has proven effective against the occasional believers who frequent T|A. Check out the latest version here.
I believe the Hitchens book you are referring to (collected essays) is The Portable Atheist Essential Readings for the Non Believer. It was published the same year as god is not Great, which is entirely authored by Hitchens. Hitchens deliberately broke the rule of capitalizing the first word of the title, for some reason. ;) god is not Great is more of a new-asshole-tearing indictment of religion as an institution than it is an argument against the existence of god.
Well, I don't know much about different versions of the Bible. The Catholic bible has more books in it; such as Tobit, Judith, 1st & 2 nd Maccabees, and Ecclesiasticus (all OT), which were left out of the Protestant bible. Possibly these books were left out because they are not in the Jewish version of the OT? There are other "Apocrypha" books as well that are not included in either type of Bible....like the Gospel of Thomas, and Mary Magdalene.