Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More Atheist Books! - Part 3

Before I get into my next book post I want to inform everyone that a few people including myself have organized and begun a Godless Coffee of the Happy Valley down here. I didn't start it so I won't take the credit, but I have been pushing to get more people into it. It is a branch of Atheists of Utah and is styled after Godless Coffee at Mestizo's in SLC on Thursday nights. This group is still organizing itself but we've met at 7-9ish two Tuesdays. Unfortunately the group is still secret to help BYU students to be a part of it without feeling threatened. We may take that secrecy down though at some point, and we may rename the group Atheists of the Happy Valley. Like Godless Coffee it is mainly a bunch of people getting together to bullshit.

I hope by now that people realize I have decent tastes. Given my fine selection of pictures I post, podcasts I explain, and books I give miniature reviews, I hope I have garnered some respect in at least being able to give you a good expectation of what to expect from a book or podcast. That is my main goal, to show some of my story in relation to them, but mainly in hopes of giving you something to look into if it tweaks your interest. So on to more of the books I read last May.

Atheism: A Brief Insight ended up being a lot better than I expected. These brief insight books are small, about 170 pages long each, and expensive. However, they have all been really good so far. I read one on Consciousness based off of Oxford textbooks, and now have one on Judaism. The brief insight on atheism was written by Baggini who did the books like "Do you think what you think you think?" and "The pig that wants to be eaten." It gives a grand overview of atheism in general. What atheism is, which is very basic, so he says a lot of things of what it isn't. He gives the history a note but mentions that you could write a whole book on that (Doubt: A History by Hecht), and he talks about many other things.

His address of ethics was very good, and what impressed me most was when he compared the ethics of atheism to the ethics of religion and how both fall short of what ethics 'should' be. First time I really realized that no system is perfect, just that atheism is more difficult. He addresses the new atheism that is spreading as well. Very good book, about atheism from an atheist, but a neutral read for a wide audience. Barnes and Noble carries these books and sometimes they are on the bargain shelves for half price, often when I get them.

Victor Stengar wrote God: The Failed Hypothesis, this is where I became solidified in the idea that specific claims for specific gods can be refuted. Also he highlights some the cases where religion is on the run in trying to define god. He willingly admits that you cannot disprove all gods, and especially so for a deism deity, so the book focuses around the cliched Judeo-Christian God. Being an old-timer he gives examples of what God was in his younger days and held by many still today and refutes things through physics an such.

Stengar is one of those 'almost' Four Horsemen and Dawkins refers to him a lot. The book was enjoyable to read, but not a favorite. I also read it fast and I think it deserves a second read, or a re-cover of the material and some of the points. If you're looking for some good science and how it applies to many ideas people have about god then this is a good book and not a long read at all.

One of my top atheist books. Why Evolution Is True by Coyne was on my Amazon list for about a year before I finally bought and I wish I had long ago. This book is only about 220 pages long, similar to The Greatest Show On Earth by Dawkins, but far better. Coyne gives me the impression that he teaches the things he talks about in his book and the book really is a fun read. He devotes chapters to many evidences for evolution, such as bad design in humans - like our appendices becoming obsolete, or the laryngeal nerve taking a weird course through our body, or the even weirder one for giraffes. He devotes a large portion of a chapter to the evolution of whales. He explains the vocabulary of the field very clearly, it is just a good book.

He is atheist, and throws out some arguments against creationists. I will later get to the Dawkins Greatest Show book, but honestly this was a better read. Once I started this one I was reading it every other day in the JFSB for two weeks alongside the other books I was reading. For anyone who wishes to know more about the evidences for evolution in general, this is definitely the prize winner for me. After reading this book I lost most respect for proponents of creationism. After studying about how much lying creationist's big figures do I lost the rest of my respect. Between this book, Dawkins, and my Encyclopedia of Evolution put together by a former creationist (still Christian though) I think creationists are the worst kind of 'liars for Jesus.'

I hope this continuation of some helpful books is ... well, helpful. These three were all very enjoyable to read, and not too long and boring. If any of these three sound interesting I recommend getting them.

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