I'm gonna try this one more time...lol! Sorry for messaging everyone in the group. Guess I'm not used to the format :/
I found this site because I am starting a face to face book club with my friend and I googled some ideas and found myself here. I considered choosing whatever this group's current read was, but it looks like that's not how it works. So...any suggestions? She's a solid atheist and I'm an agnostic with an affection for my "culturally Christian" background. (Don't know if these details would help with the suggestions.) Thanks to anyone whose willing to help me out! :)
Hey Leslie! First, welcome!
Yeah, I absolutely loved the idea of a TA book club when this group was formed. And it seemed like lots of others liked the idea enough to join up pretty quickly. But then when it came down to reading and discussing a book, not that many participated and it died out. Then, not too long ago actually, someone else tried to restart it and I had high hopes for that venture as well. But again, it didn't last. Not sure how, if there is a way, to get things going to the point where TA members will read and participate in a group discussion about a book! Would be awesome though!
As for a book suggestion for you... Is there a subject that you'd like to cover? Evolution. Physics and Cosmology. The Bible. Cognitive Science. Critical Thinking. Arguments For/Against God. If you let me know I can certainly give you some suggestions that will be more helpful to you rather than just spitting out some titles that might not be even in the ballpark. :)
Awesome, thank you! I bet it's difficult to stay accountable with the reading when life gets busy and you don't have to face anyone when it comes to the internet. I'm hoping that because we will be meeting face to face we will HAVE to be accountable for the reading.
For the first book, I would like to choose something high interest, along the lines of God is not Great (Except that I've already read that one)...maybe social commentary in light of atheism/agnosticism...something politically relevant...Arguments For/Against God sounds interesting. Really, ANY of the above you mentioned as long as it is "accessible." I don't think she is much of a reader so I want to ease us in, and science is NOT my strong suit, so that will have to come later... :)
I'm sure you're right about things being different, about there being more accountability when it's more personal as opposed to being on the internet. I hope it goes well for you!
On to the book suggestions then... I'm going to provide you with links to purchase whichever and however many of the books you decide to go with. The links are to the books in the Think Atheist Radio Show Bookstore (The TA Radio Show is TA's official podcast featuring professional philosophers, scientists, and others discussing their work, ideas, and books) but the bookstore is powered by Amazon. You're buying the books from Amazon, not TA, but when you buy them using the provided links Amazon gives TA a tiny slice of the profits and that goes to support the community and all our projects! So you can support us with the book purchases you were going to make anyway and it costs you nothing. :)
Regarding arguments for and against the existence of gods, you might go with John Shook's The God Debates. It's certainly accessible while still presenting a critical examination of many of the common arguments in a non-aggressive way.
On sociology and social commentary, you could do Phil Zuckerman's Society Without God. He's a sociologist and the book is about how the healthiest societies on the planet according to any of numerous indicators are all also the least religious. It speaks a great deal to the notion that you have to have religion/believe in god in order to be moral but also for a society to be healthy.
If you want something on cosmology then I'd suggest Lawrence Krauss's new release, A Universe From Nothing. It's eminently readable (very accessible) and explains why we don't need to look to any supernatural source for the existence of the universe.
If something on The Bible might interest you then you could go with Bart Ehrman's most recent (though he has another book coming out in a few weeks) book Forged: Writing In the Name of God– Why The Bible's Author's Are Not Who We Think They Are. Ehrman, as we've certainly come to expect from his books, lucidly lays out the case– and the scholarly consensus of at least 150 years– that most of the books of the New Testament were not authored by the people to whom they attributed.
Then there's cognitive science: if you wanted something to read in that arena I might suggest Michael Shermer's The Believing Brain. Shermer explains how our evolved habit is to form a belief on shaky (or no) grounds and then defend it from the presupposition that it's true rather than only forming a belief as the result of careful and critical inquiry.
And, finally, if you wanted something on critical thinking, you can't go wrong with Christopher DiCarlo's How To Become A Really Good Pain in the Ass. He walks you through a short and absolutely accessible history of the notion of skepticism, discusses the need for and importance of skepticism, and then proceeds to apply the principles discussed in the first part to some of the important questions that occupy us; questions like What can I know?, Why am I here?, How should I behave?, and What is to come of me (after I die)?
That is just so cool of you to give me all of these suggestions! I must say, I am especially drawn to How to Become A Really Good Pain in the Ass. The way you describe it reminds me of Sophie's World (one of my all time favorites!). And of course the title..haha...how can I resist? I will let you know which one I choose tomorrow because we are getting together to decide then. Regarding the purchase of the books, can I buy them via your site for my kindle? I haven't decided if I'm buying hard copy or electronic yet, but just in case, I'm curious.
Hopefully we'll be successful enough we will read them all!!
It's my pleasure! I read a ton, both for enjoyment and because (full disclosure. LOL) I'm the producer of the Radio Show and so publishers send me books for me to read so that Greg, the host, and I can prepare for the interviews. Of course, I'm lucky because nearly every single book I read for the show is also a book I would have read for enjoyment! Plus, I usually get them anywhere from weeks to months before they're released to the public at large so that's cool. :)
You'll really enjoy DiCarlo's book if that's the way you decide to go! Then, of course, I think you'll enjoy them all, no matter which you pick! LOL. Do let me know which you ultimately decide on! I'm curious.
You should certainly be able to purchase the book for your Kindle through that same link, yes. But if you find you have difficulty you can also just use this link for your purchases. You'll notice the URL says "thinkatheistradio" in it. This will tell Amazon that we directed you to Amazon and we'll still get the support we'd get if you ordered through the bookstore proper. And you can use that link to buy absolutely anything from Amazon, from books to movies to socks, cell phones, and teddy bears! Anything you buy with that link will help support the community. :)
I want to read How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass too. I just heard an interview with him on a podcast. Christopher Di Carlo is the author.
We interviewed him on the TA Radio Show also. Super nice guy. The book is great.
I love to read. I run several online book clubs and one local book club. I prefer fiction. I've also been invited to and participated in many local and online book clubs. People are so unreliable. Most rarely read the book much less show up to discuss it. Many times they just say how they didn't like what someone else picked or compare homes, children, husbands, and rings. Oh well. I read for the fun of it and just keep on going. Someday I'll be part of a book club that actually has decided members. I just know it. LOL
A non fiction book I'm reading right now, that might interest you is Acts of Faith by Eboo Patel. He started an interfaith initiative that is open to those of us with no faith at all, working together for world stewardship and peace. This is his story about how he was raised in the Muslim religion in America and came to this way of life and thinking.
I like fiction, but I LOVE non-fiction...just always have! But I'm definitely open to fiction recommendations too :) Yep, no surprise that people are unreliable. I'm a high school English teacher (a detail I don't like sharing because then people analyze my posts for grammar lol), but I know quite a lot about people's resistance to reading even when they really "want" to. Those kinds of attitudes you described are definitely deal-breakers. That's one of the reasons why my friend and I haven't opened the club to anyone else because we know we can count on each other (life long friends), but we're not so sure of others.
The book you suggested sounds great! It's definitely relevant to things I've been considering lately. I just went to a "talk" from Cornel West on Friday (I think he's a professor of theology at Princeton), but he was so inspiring in ways that I feel I need in my very atheist/agnostic home. It kind of sounds like the book you suggested might continue in a similar vein. In fact, I told my husband that I need to reconcile my agnosticism with social responsibility (something he doesn't feel is lacking in his life). Looks like that book will deal with that. Thank you again! :)
I just found this site too, hoping that there would be a book that several atheists were reading and that I could read along and join the discussion. However, I don't see that going on here. Maybe I will try to start one here. My favorite atheist books are The God Virus by Daryl Ray and The Religion Virus by Craig James.
I am currently taking history class that is taking up my reading time, but when I am done in May, I think I will return and try to start a real book club here.
Hey Rudy, welcome. I really hope you do try to fire up the book club again once class is over in May!
Regarding Sean Faircloth's book, you might be interested to hear Sean discussing the book with us on TA's very own podcast. If you're interested, here's the link. :)
And, listen, if you're considering buying the book, doing so through TA's Amazon bookstore supports TA. You could really help us out. And at no cost to you! Here's the link to the book in the bookstore if you can help us out. :)
Nelson, my group decided on God is not Great, even though that was the ONLY one on the list I gave them that I had already read...lol Oh well! It's fun reading it again and even though there is no official book club happening at the moment on this site, everyone has probably read it and I'm sure I can pose any questions I have a many people will respond...so that's a plus!