I have been getting a lot of books from my family since I had "the talk" with them. I would like to respond with books of my own but given that they are less open to contradictory ideas it is difficult to find material which isn't overtly antagonistic towards their current worldview and which would end up not being read.

I would like to compile a list of books which are more accessible to theists. I haven't read nearly enough books to make such a list on my own so I ask for your help. I would love to have my family read John Loftus' Why I Became an Atheist but I would have to direct them to skip much of the beginning that deals with philosophy as they would find that quite unpalatable. In fact I gave it to my father to read but he only read the first chapter or so. Perhaps that is all I can hope for from him.

Are there any good books which are appropriate for the less educated, less receptive theist? If you list any books here I will compile them into a list.


Books recommended for fundamentalists

  • God's Problem - Bart D. Ehrman
  • Jesus, Interrupted - Bart D. Ehrman
  • Misquoting Jesus - Bart D. Ehrman
  • How to Think About Weird Things - Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughn
  • The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark - Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan
  • Why Christianity Must Change or Die - John Shelby Spong
  • Beyond the Firmament: Understanding Science and the Theology of Creation - Gordon J. Glover

Other suggested books and videos

  • Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity - John W. Loftus
  • Darwin and Evolution for Kids - Kristan Lawson
  • The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster - Bobby Henderson
  • The Portable Atheist - Christopher Hitchens
  • Godless - Dan Barker
  • God, the failed hypothesis - Victor J. Stenger and Christopher Hitchens
  • The Bible Against Itself - Randel McCraw Helms
  • Parenting Beyond Belief - Dale McGowan
  • The Ancestors Tale - Richard Dawkins
  • Avoiding Jesus - Michael Green
  • The End of Faith - Sam Harris
  • god is not Great - Christoper Hitchens
  • The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  • Letter to a Christian Nation - Sam Harris
  • The Origins of Species - Charles Darwin
  • Letting go of gOd (audio/video) - Julia Sweeney
  • The Greatest Show On Earth - Richard Dawkins
  • Flim-Flam! - James Randi

Tags: atheism, books, education, family

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Have you posted this in the Nexus Book Club? That might be another good place to ask for book ideas.

Unfortunately, I don't have any suggestions to offer, but I will be watching your discussion here in hopes that other people do.
I wasn't sure where to post this question. Should I repost it there? Is there already a list somewhere?
This is a fine place to post it. Not everyone visits the groups. Some people in groups don't visit the forum, so you might reach even more people by posting your question in the Book Club group.
I don't know of any lists.
I haven't read any of Bart Ehrman's books but they seem like they might work. I'll have to check them out. I was strongly considering Letter to a Christian Nation when I read it but I decided it might be too abrasive. I may reread it and give it another try. Thanks for the great list.
avoiding jesus
cool, thanks...
Books on critical thinking might be a gentler way to go. "How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age" by Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughn was one that really pulled me out of the woo world and into my own age of reason. It's been many years since I've read it, but from what I recall it started me thinking about things like coincidences/random chance, plus how leaders manipulate followers and some of the psychology involved. It's an easy read and doesn't antagonize like Hitchens et al might do.

I second the Bart Ehrman books as well. He's a biblical scholar and knows his stuff. "Misquoting Jesus" is also an easy read, it would be a good place to start for those who haven't put much critical thought into anything bible.

Also, for a more advanced curiousity, Carl Sagan's "Demon Haunted World" and James Randi's "Flim Flam."

Hope that helps!
I'd say find the most receptive person out of the group of people you would like to reach and focus on them.
They might be receptive to John Shelby Spong's books, like WHY CHRISTIANITY MUST CHANGE OR DIE. It's not an atheist book, but because Spong is a retired bishop who still calls himself christian, they might actually read it. He doesn't believe in the virgin birth, resurrection stuff and points out that believers are expected to leave their brains at the door. It was a good transition book for me. It helped me to see that my questions and doubts were valid concerns, not just a lack of faith.
It's not a book, but I recommend Julia Sweeney's "Letting Go of God". There's a DVD of her monologue available now, and she makes an often difficult subject funny and accessible. It might be easier for your relatives to handle, and it'll only take a couple of hours of their time, much of which they'll probably spend laughing.
Yeah, the audiobook was the first thing I listened to, I was just thinking that the DVD might hold their attention more than an audiobook. But, as you say, sometimes it doesn't matter what you do. Morton's demon.

Funny observation about accepting advice from strangers! It certainly seems that that is the case.
I think Julia Sweeney is hilarious. However, if memory serves she was a Catholic as opposed to a Christian which generally means that her perspective would not be compelling to a protestant. I personally don't related to anecdotes from Catholics and I know my family wouldn't either.

Perhaps this is another distinction that must be made.
Yes, that is a good point. If your family's church is one that doesn't believe that Catholics are Christians, then it would make sense that it's harder for them to relate to Catholics. That's an idea, that Catholics aren't Christians, that still astonishes me, it's amazing how big the differences are between protestant churches.

Oh well, I guess even Julia Sweeney isn't entirely accessible!

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