THE SHORT: Suppose you could recommend just a few resources to a friend who’s inclined toward supernatural beliefs but is willing to seriously consider a skeptical viewpoint. What would you suggest that’s likely to “hook” him or her and motivate further exploration?
THE LONG: To make that a bit more concrete I’ll personalize it: Several friends (and relatives) of mine are smart, ambitious, good-hearted people leading busy, successful lives. In many ways they’re reasonable and intellectually open, but religion is important to them (most are Christian). I’d like them to seriously consider adopting a more rational, naturalistic worldview; I suspect some of them would See the Light. I haven’t discussed this with most of them but would like to in the near future; if I do and “teachable moments” arise, I’d like to have in mind some articles, books, podcasts, blogs, videos, Web sites, films, or other sources toward which I can point them.
To be clear, I don’t want to compile a large bibliography to unload on my friends. I’d rather offer them a select few high-impact pieces—concise stuff they’re likely to read, watch, or listen to during their busy lives but that gets across key ideas in a compelling way. I guess I’m sort of asking for the crack cocaine of skeptical material. Also, as much as I’d like to, I don’t have time to sort through scads of resources to pick the few I personally like best; furthermore, I trust this forum’s collective judgment more than my own.
I realize it’s hard to recommend things for people you don’t know and who might have very diverse backgrounds, sets of beliefs, and motivations for maintaining those beliefs. Think of your own friends (or family), if that helps. If you want to explain any of your recommendations or qualify any of them as more appropriate for particular types of people or for sparking interest in certain kinds of worldviews, please do (but also feel free to just list a few).
1. My initial idea was to ask for a handful of specific episodes of “Point of Inquiry.” I may re-consider that in the future, but for now that seems too restrictive.