Friday, May 6, 2011

Atheist Books - The 5th Segment

I will cut into the TBM email and make another post about atheist books I've read. I may soon make a post about books not found in the atheist section of your nearest Barnes and Noble, such as The Grand Design, in another post briefly covering some of the books I've read that support a naturalistic view of the world and where God is seemingly pointless or at least not necessary, as put forward in The Grand Design.


For now listen to epic music and here's some more books.

God and His Demons

By Michael Parenti, this was a good book and I enjoyed it a lot. It began feeling like another rehashed 'new atheist' book and very similar to Hitchens' God is Not Great, but then it changed drastically when he went into all the historical accounts in recent history of how religion does bad in the world. And he has tons of examples. And he just keeps the punches rollin' page after page. And he hits hard. He spends about 3 pages on Mother Theresa, then Gandhi, then the Dalai Lama, and just digs up dirt on everyone with nearly EVERY sentence having a note or reference attached to it. By the end I was sad it was over.

Parenti is careful to point out at the beginnings of several chapters that he believes in 3 things that he wishes his readers to understand: he doesn't believe his points disprove God's existence, he thinks moderate religion is okay and is the norm, and he doesn't wish to attack sacred cows. But he assaults everything else. This book is heavily enlightening and gives tons of references if you wish to go read the books, studies, or articles he did in putting it together. I highly recommend this read to everyone.

The End of Faith

By Sam Harris, many people think this book is what triggered the sudden rush of devotedly atheist books over the last 6 years or so. The End of Faith was surprisingly good and I think it shows Harris is a thinker. He makes many philosophical points and uses his understanding of psychology/neuroscience to further his arguments. True to his bias one of his longest chapters is purely on Islam, which he detests more than any other religion so far as I can tell. Towards the end he brings up how eastern religion is much more intellectual than western religion (such as an understanding of consciousness), especially the Abrahamic ones, and how Buddhism is more empirical, especially with meditative practices. His views on this upset many atheists but I think he has points as the book, Destructive Emotions gives plenty of scientific evidence for the benefits of meditation and how yogis really do have some peculiar abilities in controlling their bodies.

What is Secular Humanism?

This tiny little book was okay. It's more of a pamphlet than anything, and seems similar to a religious tract you'd be given by missionaries. However, it was useful in how Kurtz explains exactly what secular humanism is by definition and meaning, and gives a brief and shallow history of the philosophy. Atheistic while promoting humanistic morals, the little thing was fun, but not worth the price, and makes me view Kurtz like some evangelist.

I've recently been reading a book about Victorian atheism and it is quite good. Besides this I've also been reading another book on atheism by Walter Kerry, which is surprisingly deep in it's approach which is nice. Most likely I will be posting more books in the next couple weeks. And, as promised, I will post non-atheist atheistic books at some point too.


  1. The fact that dirt can be dug up on Mother Theresa, Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama isn't too much of a surprise, Penn and Teller dedicated and episode of their show, Bullshit, to how those three characters don't deserve their saintly reputation (A great TV show that I would recommend for any skeptic or atheist, plus being postmormon makes you appreciate the gratuitous profanity and nudity all the more). Plus Hitchens wrote an entire book about Mother Theresa called The Missionary Position.


  2. Lam - Yeah, Parenti used 5-7 sources for Mother Theresa and about a third of the examples were from Hitchens' book. Gandhi wasn't much of a surprise either, he is not the 'pacifist' everyone promotes him as. The Dalai Lama himself is pretty good, but still there are issues with statements and then his childhood growing up in a caste system with essentially slaves under his control. Parenti more attacked specific types of Buddhism rather than the Dalai Lama actually. I think he meant to prove that Buddhism isn't as peaceful and kind a religion as people make it out to be and I honestly did not have any idea of some of the things he brought up.

  3. I wonder if you've ever read a satirical book about atheism? I would suggest a new one called Atheists love God. I found it enlightening in the way it explores religious history and quirks with a wit and sarcasm. I think atheists writers can be bit too serious sometimes. This book is definitely a lighter side of things. Its a more Seth MacFarlane or Rocky Jervais type atheist text.

  4. The only one I have lined up is the Atheist Camel Chronicles, which I guess is just more funny rather than satirical. I generally read non-fiction that teaches me things, but if you think this book is really good I'll add it to my wish list.