1 of 5
1
Good resources for understanding atheism
Posted: 27 December 2013 03:07 PM   [ Ignore ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  254
Joined  2013-12-20

I was wondering if there are any good resources out there for getting a better understanding of atheism?

I used to be a practicing Christian, but I find I don’t really believe the story anymore and don’t find any other religion appealing. I got about halfway through Richard Dawkins The God Delusion a few years ago but found it a little overwhelming at that point. I also enjoy some of the books of Tom Harpur, who while he approaches the subject from a religious background, has done a lot to demystify Christianity I think, The Pagan Christ being a good example.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 December 2013 05:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4127
Joined  2008-08-14
Fuzzy Logic - 27 December 2013 03:07 PM

I was wondering if there are any good resources out there for getting a better understanding of atheism?

I used to be a practicing Christian, but I find I don’t really believe the story anymore and don’t find any other religion appealing. I got about halfway through Richard Dawkins The God Delusion a few years ago but found it a little overwhelming at that point. I also enjoy some of the books of Tom Harpur, who while he approaches the subject from a religious background, has done a lot to demystify Christianity I think, The Pagan Christ being a good example.

I have a feeling you will always be looking for answers in that department Fuzzy.(by the books you are reading.)
There’s nothing to understand about atheism.  You’re not going to find any understanding of atheism in books or forums etc..

It sounds like you are searching for some template of “belief” or doctrine that you can call your own.(that’s my observation)
Atheism is the exact opposite of that. 
My definition of atheism says-“Stop reading books by modern day “sages” who make a living off of people’s uncertainty and curiosity about faith and believing. People’s endless quests(like your’s) sells books for the likes of Pinker and Dawkins.  That’s all!

If you are an atheist you’ll know it. You may not remain an atheist.  You might go back to looking for “answers”.
Some people are hard wired for it.(for either-atheism or looking for answers)
In these books, and on here in this forum, you’ll see plenty of discussion about the meaning of atheism. It’s all bunk!
It’s good for erudition and whatnot I suppose. But after that, it’s all bunk. Atheists don’t really care about any of that discussion.
Just go with the dictionary definition of Atheism-you’ll have a perfect understanding of it then.

[ Edited: 27 December 2013 06:01 PM by VYAZMA ]
 Signature 

Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 December 2013 06:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4615
Joined  2007-10-05

I second what Vyazma said. Atheism is simply the lack of belief in gods. Not much you can add to that.

Now if you want to discuss why people are atheists, we may have an interesting thread, but there are plenty of those in the archives.

 Signature 

“In the beginning, God created the universe. This has made many people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”
Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 December 2013 01:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2233
Joined  2012-10-27
VYAZMA - 27 December 2013 05:58 PM
Fuzzy Logic - 27 December 2013 03:07 PM

I was wondering if there are any good resources out there for getting a better understanding of atheism?

I used to be a practicing Christian, but I find I don’t really believe the story anymore and don’t find any other religion appealing. I got about halfway through Richard Dawkins The God Delusion a few years ago but found it a little overwhelming at that point. I also enjoy some of the books of Tom Harpur, who while he approaches the subject from a religious background, has done a lot to demystify Christianity I think, The Pagan Christ being a good example.

I have a feeling you will always be looking for answers in that department Fuzzy.(by the books you are reading.)
There’s nothing to understand about atheism.  You’re not going to find any understanding of atheism in books or forums etc..

It sounds like you are searching for some template of “belief” or doctrine that you can call your own.(that’s my observation)
Atheism is the exact opposite of that. 
My definition of atheism says-“Stop reading books by modern day “sages” who make a living off of people’s uncertainty and curiosity about faith and believing. People’s endless quests(like your’s) sells books for the likes of Pinker and Dawkins.  That’s all!

If you are an atheist you’ll know it. You may not remain an atheist.  You might go back to looking for “answers”.
Some people are hard wired for it.(for either-atheism or looking for answers)
In these books, and on here in this forum, you’ll see plenty of discussion about the meaning of atheism. It’s all bunk!
It’s good for erudition and whatnot I suppose. But after that, it’s all bunk. Atheists don’t really care about any of that discussion.
Just go with the dictionary definition of Atheism-you’ll have a perfect understanding of it then.

I agree that there is nothing to learn about atheism itself.  Atheism truly is as simple as a lack of belief in any god.there is nothing more to it.

But I disagree that there is no use in reading what others say about living an atheistic life. Neither Dawkins nor Pinker are teaching atheism but are writing about how it has and can affect our lives, how it has and can affect the rest of the population and what it might mean. They discuss what happens to people who are atheists .  But you can live a purely atheistic life without reading any writer on atheism. Most people like to read about it for intellectual stimulation, for good ideas about the atheist world view and for assurance that we are not alone in our lack of belief.

The problem comes if you are looking for a holy grail of non-belief. There is none. Read for intellectual stimulation and for the pleasure of the company of like minds. There is nothing magical about writers on atheism. They do not have “the answer.”  There is no ” inside track.” You can find comfort and answers from them, just not the false comfort and pat answers of religion.  Your comfort and answers will come from understanding the atheist world view. Well-written books may help you do that. If some seem to be unhelpful, put them aside. Every book on atheism is not going to have a positive effect on you—maybe not even most. Many books on atheism are frustrating and overwhelming. Eventually, most atheists get tired of reading about atheism. It is usually at the point when they understand and acceot its ramifications. Many times you can get a better undertanding of atheistic world view from books that do not talk about atheism directly.  This has been my experience. I seldom read books or articles that talk about atheism directly. The best ones are those that talk about other thiings, assuming you will get the point on your own, from an oblique angle.

Lois

[ Edited: 28 December 2013 01:11 AM by Lois ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 December 2013 07:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2884
Joined  2011-08-15

I was wondering if there are any good resources out there for getting a better understanding of atheism?

I used to be a practicing Christian, but I find I don’t really believe the story anymore and don’t find any other religion appealing. I got about halfway through Richard Dawkins The God Delusion a few years ago but found it a little overwhelming at that point. I also enjoy some of the books of Tom Harpur, who while he approaches the subject from a religious background, has done a lot to demystify Christianity I think, The Pagan Christ being a good example.


There are many books on the market today that demystify xtianity, and if you became an atheist when you discovered the many inconsistencies in your particular belief you may find tons of literature to sustain your disbelief. But if you’re seeking info on the “philosophy” of atheism look no further, because it isn’t a philosophy, just a statement of disbelief. many of us eliminated the supernatural in our lives as Lois stated “obliquely” either via observation or study. If you want to chose the latter path there are many monographs and books on biblical history and interpretation out there e.g. The Jesus society, Crossan, Price, Carrier and Erhman to name a few. You might also read books about free thought, e.g. Susan Jacoby. the question to be answered is why don’t you believe anymore. You didn’t mention it in your post.


Cap’t Jack

 Signature 

One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.

Thomas Paine

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 December 2013 10:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5165
Joined  2010-06-16

If you feel a loss of a life guide that goes along with most religions, then go to books on nonsecular philosophy starting with Plato and Socrates.  You might even look into courses your local (non-secular) university offers in this area.  Even if you can’t take any of them, see what books they use, especially in critical thinking and ethics courses, and pick up copies.  I think these may give you what you are looking for.

Occam

 Signature 

Succinctness, clarity’s core.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 December 2013 10:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  427
Joined  2013-02-16

I greatly preferred Hitchens’ God is not Great to Dawkins’ The God Delusion. Hitchens was quite simply a far more stylish and amusing writer. I saw Dawkins give a lecture in person a few weeks ago, and to my disappointment he rather fulfilled his critics’ characterisation of him as brittle and aloof.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 December 2013 11:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2233
Joined  2012-10-27
jomper - 28 December 2013 10:58 AM

I greatly preferred Hitchens’ God is not Great to Dawkins’ The God Delusion. Hitchens was quite simply a far more stylish and amusing writer. I saw Dawkins give a lecture in person a few weeks ago, and to my disappointment he rather fulfilled his critics’ characterisation of him as brittle and aloof.

I agree with you in principle.  Dawkins can be brittle and aloof, but he is also brilliant. It’s a matter of personality. Dawkins is a scholar and an academic. A scholarly and academic approach does not appeal to everyone.  But he has managed to acquire a large following and that is no small task. Hitchens, on the other hand, was more accessible and fun. But he also made enemies with his aggressive and polemical approach. The point is to find authors you like and disregard the ones you don’t like, but keep the door open a crack just in case you have misinterpreted their approach and there is something to be gained in taking another look at what they have to say.

Lois

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 December 2013 11:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  427
Joined  2013-02-16
Lois - 28 December 2013 11:17 AM
jomper - 28 December 2013 10:58 AM

I greatly preferred Hitchens’ God is not Great to Dawkins’ The God Delusion. Hitchens was quite simply a far more stylish and amusing writer. I saw Dawkins give a lecture in person a few weeks ago, and to my disappointment he rather fulfilled his critics’ characterisation of him as brittle and aloof.

I agree with you in principle.  Dawkins can be brittle and aloof, but he is also brilliant. It’s a matter of personality. Dawkins is a scholar and an academic. A scholarly and academic approach does not appeal to everyone.  But he has managed to acquire a large following and that is no small task. Hitchens, on the other hand, was more accessible and fun. But he also made enemies with his aggressive and polemical approach. The point is to find authors you like and disregard the ones you don’t like, but keep the door open a crack just in case you have misinterpreted their approach and there is something to be gained in taking another look at what they have to say.

Lois

Quite so, and you’re quite right about Dawkins’ achievements. The occasion of the lecture I saw him give, though, was a day in tribute to Alfred Russel Wallace, and Dawkins was the keynote speaker as you might expect. What surprised me about him wasn’t so much his aloof style, but the fact that he wasn’t as effective a lecturer as some the speakers who preceded him: by which I mean, he skipped through slides and rather ran out of time, and wasn’t so good at the Q&A stage either. His central idea was to promote a school of interdisciplinary studies called “Evolutionary Studies”, to embrace aspects of everything from mathematics to sociology, geography, palaeontology and literature: a sort of modern classical education, as he put it. It was interesting. Perhaps the best speaker was the first, the comedian Bill Bailey, who made a documentary about Russel Wallace for the BBC.

Hitchens as I’m sure you know has a significantly duller brother, who I wish was not writing just as much as I wish Christopher still was. Whatever else the elder Hitchens may have been, he was a wonderful teller of anecdotes and I can thoroughly recommend the audiobook of Hitch-22, read by the author. The chapter on the Salman Rushie affair is particularly interesting (Rushdie was a great friend of Hitchens) and you can’t beat hearing it in the man’s own voice. He was certainly courageous in terms of his travels and journalism (submitting to waterboarding for the sake of an article is pretty tough) and confronted death long before cancer so sadly took him. I suppose you’d naturally expect a professional writer to have a more entertaining style than an evolutionary biologist and no doubt he was the most mercurial of the ‘Four Horsemen’.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 December 2013 01:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  254
Joined  2013-12-20
VYAZMA - 27 December 2013 05:58 PM

I have a feeling you will always be looking for answers in that department Fuzzy.(by the books you are reading.)
There’s nothing to understand about atheism.  You’re not going to find any understanding of atheism in books or forums etc..

It sounds like you are searching for some template of “belief” or doctrine that you can call your own.(that’s my observation)
Atheism is the exact opposite of that. 
My definition of atheism says-“Stop reading books by modern day “sages” who make a living off of people’s uncertainty and curiosity about faith and believing. People’s endless quests(like your’s) sells books for the likes of Pinker and Dawkins.  That’s all!

If you are an atheist you’ll know it. You may not remain an atheist.  You might go back to looking for “answers”.
Some people are hard wired for it.(for either-atheism or looking for answers)
In these books, and on here in this forum, you’ll see plenty of discussion about the meaning of atheism. It’s all bunk!
It’s good for erudition and whatnot I suppose. But after that, it’s all bunk. Atheists don’t really care about any of that discussion.
Just go with the dictionary definition of Atheism-you’ll have a perfect understanding of it then.

The concept is simple, but I think the personal implications can be profound, that’s what I’m interested in learning about.

I think Lois touches on some of that in her first post.

Maybe there isn’t really anything available regarding what I’m looking for, but I thought it wasn’t a waste of time asking.

[ Edited: 28 December 2013 01:29 PM by Fuzzy Logic ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 December 2013 04:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4127
Joined  2008-08-14
Fuzzy Logic - 28 December 2013 01:26 PM

The concept is simple, but I think the personal implications can be profound, that’s what I’m interested in learning about.

I think Lois touches on some of that in her first post.

Maybe there isn’t really anything available regarding what I’m looking for, but I thought it wasn’t a waste of time asking.

The personal implications?
Atheism isn’t something you choose.
Therefore weighing implications isn’t relevant.
What’s your angle? Your initial post:
“I used to be a practicing Christian, but I find I don’t really believe the story anymore and don’t find any other religion appealing.”
You can’t go shopping around for atheism like you could for religion. Like weighing the benefits between episcopalian and methodist.
If you are an atheist, you’ll have already sorted out any personal implications long before you realized you were an atheist.

Excuse my seemingly pert response.  I’m responding with complete candor.

The end run of my response is this: What if you realized you were an atheist?  But found the personal implications were not to your liking.
What then?  Quit atheism? No!  It doesn’t work that way.

 Signature 

Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 December 2013 09:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2233
Joined  2012-10-27
Fuzzy Logic - 28 December 2013 01:26 PM
VYAZMA - 27 December 2013 05:58 PM

I have a feeling you will always be looking for answers in that department Fuzzy.(by the books you are reading.)
There’s nothing to understand about atheism.  You’re not going to find any understanding of atheism in books or forums etc..

It sounds like you are searching for some template of “belief” or doctrine that you can call your own.(that’s my observation)
Atheism is the exact opposite of that. 
My definition of atheism says-“Stop reading books by modern day “sages” who make a living off of people’s uncertainty and curiosity about faith and believing. People’s endless quests(like your’s) sells books for the likes of Pinker and Dawkins.  That’s all!

If you are an atheist you’ll know it. You may not remain an atheist.  You might go back to looking for “answers”.
Some people are hard wired for it.(for either-atheism or looking for answers)
In these books, and on here in this forum, you’ll see plenty of discussion about the meaning of atheism. It’s all bunk!
It’s good for erudition and whatnot I suppose. But after that, it’s all bunk. Atheists don’t really care about any of that discussion.
Just go with the dictionary definition of Atheism-you’ll have a perfect understanding of it then.

The concept is simple, but I think the personal implications can be profound, that’s what I’m interested in learning about.

I think Lois touches on some of that in her first post.

Maybe there isn’t really anything available regarding what I’m looking for, but I thought it wasn’t a waste of time asking.

It’s usually not a waste of time to ask. You never know what you might find. If you don’t find anything you’ve lost nothing.

Lois

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 December 2013 02:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  254
Joined  2013-12-20
VYAZMA - 28 December 2013 04:18 PM

The personal implications?
Atheism isn’t something you choose.
Therefore weighing implications isn’t relevant.
What’s your angle? Your initial post:
“I used to be a practicing Christian, but I find I don’t really believe the story anymore and don’t find any other religion appealing.”
You can’t go shopping around for atheism like you could for religion. Like weighing the benefits between episcopalian and methodist.
If you are an atheist, you’ll have already sorted out any personal implications long before you realized you were an atheist.

Excuse my seemingly pert response.  I’m responding with complete candor.

The end run of my response is this: What if you realized you were an atheist?  But found the personal implications were not to your liking.
What then?  Quit atheism? No!  It doesn’t work that way.

There are profound implications in going from approaching the world from the standpoint that there are external intelligent agencies that control every aspect of lives to one that understands that there really is no objective evidence for that.

And while a person may not consciously choose to become an atheist, there are life choices to make that can lead to that point that a person can make. That what’s happened in my case.

As I’ve already mentioned, the implications of living under the two different modes are profound, in the first(religious) mode, something else is responsible for your actions, in the second(atheist) you are. The implications for how people treat each other and the world around them are profound, especially when you consider some of the challenges we currently face as a species such as climate change and geopolitical instability that often has a religious component.

Angle? This is life, not a game, I’d like to understand it to the best of my ability, and that requires inquiry. I’m not trying to win anything, from my standpoint there’s nothing to win except greater understanding of myself and the natural world.

I’m not shopping for anything, I’m trying to understand the implications of the profound changes in my life and what that means in the highly chaotic circumstances of the world around me. I don’t live in isolation and I understand that although I no longer follow any organized belief system that includes a supreme being, I also understand that my life is still going to be affected by those that do, possibly to the point of catastrophe. I live in Canada where our born again Christian PM doesn’t allow for the possibility of catastrophic climate change for instance. And from my background in the evangelical movement I understand that even if he did understand the implications he may not care due to the belief of many Christians of a looming end time, which many also look forward to. Not a good thing in my opinion.

If the personal implications of being an atheist weren’t to my liking’s then I wouldn’t be an atheist. I don’t see atheism as a lack of something but an admission of the true nature of the universe which is one of uncertainty at a fundamental level. Which opens up the possibility of inquiry to gain a better understanding of that nature. To me the true lack is in accepting comfort over responsibility.

[ Edited: 29 December 2013 03:31 PM by Fuzzy Logic ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 December 2013 02:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  189
Joined  2010-10-09

Tom Harpur’s “The Pagan Christ” demonstrates pretty clearly that the story of Christ is merely a reworking of several much older dying-and-resurrecting-god myths, but Harpur seemingly can’t quite bring himself to accept the obvious conclusion; that the Christian mythology is therefore no more (or less) meaningful than the Norse, Greek, Zoroastrian, Celtic, Egyptian, or any other (he’s a former Anglican minister, after all). Fundamentalists have (predictably) uniformly condemned Harpur and his entire thesis, which probably means he’s uncomfortably close something real.

As far as atheism goes - I’m a bit hesitant here - but one book that might help you in your search, Fuzzy, is “Atheist Universe”, by David Mills (Ulysses Press, Berkeley, CA, 2006). Dorion Sagan, son of Carl, wrote the Foreword, and Richard Dawkins, no less, called it “an admirable work”, but I’m afraid I can’t recommend it unreservedly. Mills is, I think, a journalist, not a scientist, and it shows. While he does a thorough and competent shredding job of Fundamentalist Christianity, the book is seriously marred by some rather painfully obvious errors in high-school level science; Mills also frequently confuses scientific inferences with established facts, and dodges entirely some of the really big questions, such as “what happened before the Big Bang?” He also comes across as just a tiny bit smug and condescending.

With those caveats, “Atheist Universe” is readable, lively, and makes a strong (but perhaps not watertight) case for atheism. The real strength of the book, for me, lies in the many sidebar quotations from sources as diverse as Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Kurt Vonnegut Jr, Bertrand Russell and Katherine Hepburn - atheists all.

Theflyingsorcerer.

.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 December 2013 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  254
Joined  2013-12-20
Theflyingsorcerer - 29 December 2013 02:53 PM

Tom Harpur’s “The Pagan Christ” demonstrates pretty clearly that the story of Christ is merely a reworking of several much older dying-and-resurrecting-god myths, but Harpur seemingly can’t quite bring himself to accept the obvious conclusion; that the Christian mythology is therefore no more (or less) meaningful than the Norse, Greek, Zoroastrian, Celtic, Egyptian, or any other (he’s a former Anglican minister, after all). Fundamentalists have (predictably) uniformly condemned Harpur and his entire thesis, which probably means he’s uncomfortably close something real.

As far as atheism goes - I’m a bit hesitant here - but one book that might help you in your search, Fuzzy, is “Atheist Universe”, by David Mills (Ulysses Press, Berkeley, CA, 2006). Dorion Sagan, son of Carl, wrote the Foreword, and Richard Dawkins, no less, called it “an admirable work”, but I’m afraid I can’t recommend it unreservedly. Mills is, I think, a journalist, not a scientist, and it shows. While he does a thorough and competent shredding job of Fundamentalist Christianity, the book is seriously marred by some rather painfully obvious errors in high-school level science; Mills also frequently confuses scientific inferences with established facts, and dodges entirely some of the really big questions, such as “what happened before the Big Bang?” He also comes across as just a tiny bit smug and condescending.

With those caveats, “Atheist Universe” is readable, lively, and makes a strong (but perhaps not watertight) case for atheism. The real strength of the book, for me, lies in the many sidebar quotations from sources as diverse as Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Kurt Vonnegut Jr, Bertrand Russell and Katherine Hepburn - atheists all.

Theflyingsorcerer.

.

I think Tom Harpur is struggling to find a way to be a Christian without a Christ which seems like a serious challenge to me.

I’ll give Atheist Universe a go.

I’m probably going to answer a lot of my questions on my own, which I think is what some have been pointing out here. Science is a very powerful tool to understanding the universe, and I find that things like Quantum Theory and thermodynamics provide me with a sense of place and understanding that religion never did. Which would probably have been obvious to me if I wasn’t brought up in the situation I was.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 December 2013 03:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  189
Joined  2010-10-09
Fuzzy Logic - 29 December 2013 03:14 PM

I’m probably going to answer a lot of my questions on my own, which I think is what some have been pointing out here.

I’m 100% with you there, Fuzzy. If you pursue your questing honestly and intelligently, answers will come to you. Only problem is, more often than not each answer brings in its train only more questions….. But ultimately you’ll have to trust your own judgement, your own observations, and, dare I say it, quite often your own intuition.

In your questing you’re likely to meet a great many people, from all over the belief/non-belief spectrum, who’ll tell you, no, no, human judgement is fallible so you can’t trust your own judgement (always, it seems, with the subtext “trust mine instead!”) - all I can say is, listen to what they have to say, thank them - then decide for yourself. When you’re down to the wire, your own judgement is really all you have.

TFS

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 5
1