Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Atheist Books - The 4th Segment

Finally returning to my atheist book list. I'm a little behind, the first one listed here is from way back in June when I originally read it, lol. Either way, here is a small review and impression I got from 3 more books you'd be likely to find on the Atheist shelf of Barnes and Noble.

Atheist Universe

Written by David Mills, Atheist Universe is one of those montage type pieces. Looking back I don't remember much from it ... so it must not have been that eventful. Actually this book is one of those more militant ones, where the subtitle is "The thinking person's answer to Christian Fundamentalism." This book takes the layman's scientific approach, talking about how the Bible and science don't match, and how intelligent design is stupidity at it's best. The author focuses on Christian doctrines and takes some of the shallower approaches to deeper theological problems and claims. It is an easy read, entertaining, but pretty shallow. It is probably a nice book for someone 'new' to atheism looking for an overview of the New Atheist culture. It also offers a nice overview of the debate about God. But if you're looking for something deeper then this probably is not it.

Letter to a Christian Nation

My first Sam Harris read, and definitely one of the smallest of the atheist books I have. LTACN also is essentially a short overview of the New Atheist arguments, and highlights many of the arguments made by Sam Harris and the other four horsemen. It is specifically written to America, hence the title, but is it probably the best 'little' piece out of the books I've read so far. Harris gives his arguments cleanly and succinctly, doesn't pause to ramble, and covers his argument in less than a 100 pages. My version was also updated with a more recent afterword. Harris is probably the most unique one out of the four horsemen, he not only takes a different approach than Hitchens or Dawkins, but he differs with the others more than they do amongst each other. Dennet probably would be the second most different. Dawkins and Hitchens (also the two most famous and public [marketing] happen to be most similar ... possibly due to marketing schemes.

The Greatest Show on Earth

Richard Dawkins said he should have written this one years and years ago, but here it is now. This one came out more recently and is focused on giving the evidences for religion. So far this is my first and only Dawkins book I've read (now I just have to read one by Dennet) and I enjoyed his personal and humorous writing style. He lays out the whole case for evolution, starting with the simplest definitions and working up to teaching us about the inner workings in biology. Reading this book will make you feel like you took a small credit class on evolution. With that said, however, I did find 'Why Evolution is True' by Coyne to be a better book on why evolution is true and why creationism just doesn't work. I still recommend this one, but if you had to choose I would recommend reading Coyne's instead. Even Dawkins refers his readers to Coyne's book on several occassions within his own work.

I actually have some more books, but I need to finish one of the three I'm reading now so that I'll have another three to post. I have been taking time off from books, especially atheist books, for months now and I'm starting to get a craving to read again, so maybe I will. I hope some of you readers appreciate the little reviews I put up, I hope some of you find good books and podcasts from the things I post.


  1. LTACN is a great book. See the debate between Sam Harris and William Lane Craig?

  2. I haven't listened to that debate actually. I enjoyed the book, it was an afternoon read. I kind of like 'atheist culture' so books like that are really fun to read.

  3. Yeah, I found 'The God Delusion' somewhat boring. Dawkins doesn't really make any interesting points that haven't been said before by the likes of Hume and Russell. It's funny that Hume was able to so thoroughly demolish the teleological argument without evolution and even before William Paley's Natural Theology.

    I thought the Harris vs. WLC debate was good. The best part is when Craig claims Harris' foundation of morals is nothing but semantics, when Craig himself subscribes to divine command theory, which reduces to an arbitrary, circular tautology. You gotta check it out - it's priceless.


  4. Listen to you with all your philosophy babble. I'll enjoy God Delusion when I get to it, but I'm sure it will be the ''eh, nothing new'' feeling. Kerry Walter in "Atheism a guide for the perplexed" (which I'm reading now and enjoying a lot) says that the new atheism isn't bad, but it is intellectually shallow when compared to the atheism of the Victorian age or the 17th century. I think he's probably right and I need to read more from those old philosophers.

  5. Yeah, I'd read Hume and then Russell.

    Which 17th century atheists are you talking about? Spinoza and Hobbes weren't really atheists in the strictest sense. Although, in my opinion, deists and pantheists are really de-facto atheists.

    Nowadays, I don't really read much philosophy anymore - more science. Just read The Grand Design and probably will move on to Why Evolution is True.

  6. Yeah, ''those people.'' I don't know much about all those philosophers of those days. And yeah, I recognize that many great thinkers were actually deists or pantheists more than agnostics or atheists, but they seem to have had a lot of good atheistic thoughts, and that intrigues me.

    I also have the Grand Design, WEisT was a good book, definitely a favorite. Good luck in your book huntings.