Some book recommendations

By Jon Morgan

Recently, I put together a short list of books that had helped me when struggling with doubts, and that I wished I had read earlier.  They were:
  • Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary (available online here)
  • Unbelievable (available online here)
  • Why Evolution is True
  • Sapiens
For more information about how these books helped me, plus some fiction and a couple of other recommendations, see my original blog post.

But it got me thinking: I knew about all of these books because of recommendations by others (some of them on this site). And I'm sure that there are other helpful books that I'm not aware of.  So I thought I'd throw it open to discussion.

Are there any books that you would particularly recommend here?  Books that helped with dealing with doubt or with constructing a new worldview?  Please comment below.

14 comments:

  1. Thank you Jon,
    I`ve read the second and third on your list, they`re well worth a read. I`ll catch up on the first and fourth.
    May I add: "GOD - A Biography" by Jack Miles, and, "The Bible Unearthed" by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman.

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    1. Thanks Mancott. I'm sure I had both on my reading list at some point, but they seem to have dropped off. I've put them back on, so I may get to them by 2020 :)

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  2. Some recommendations of mine:

    The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

    Everyone has an opinion on this book, but not everyone with an opinion has read it. People love to hate it, but no matter what anyone says you should read it at least once. Many Christadelphians appear to be terrified of it, going by their reactions to it, and to anyone who dares to read it. Imagine if atheists were that terrified of reading the Bible. Many atheists are atheists BECAUSE they read the Bible.

    Forged by Bart Ehrman

    This changed my view of the Bible forever. Not all scholars agree with Ehrman's conclusions (though many/most critical scholars do), but most agree with the facts and evidence he presents. Perhaps the thing that most persuaded me is what critics didn't say about the book. I found Ehrman's conclusions difficult to argue against and his evidence very compelling. I still believed after reading it, but I viewed the Bible very differently.

    The Christian Delusion edited by John W Loftus

    I found this one more comprehensive than The God Delusion. Definitely recommended, though it's a longer read.

    Biblical Nonsense by Jason Long

    I include this one because of all the books I've read about biblical inaccuracies, this one is probably the heaviest hitting. Probably not the first book you should read if you think the Bible is 100% divinely inspired. Better to ease into it by reading something lighter, like The God Delusion.

    The Blind Watchman by Richard Dawkins

    Probably the best book I've read on evolution. It's a shame Richard Dawkins is so feared by Christadelphians, because he is an excellent writer and science communicator. If you're curious about learning more about how evolution works (whether you agree with it or not), this book is a must.

    A Brief Eternity by Paul Beaumont

    A fiction novel written by a former Christian as he was questioning his own beliefs, the author explores several themes relating to the ideas of heaven and hell, and afterlife in general. It's a very enjoyable read, and will make you think. Highly recommended.

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    1. Thanks Steve. Liked the list and your comments on them.

      But I'm not sure The God Delusion would often be described as "something lighter"! :)

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    2. Haha, of course. I just found "Biblical Nonsense" to be more full-on by comparison.

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    3. I should also point out that with the exception of "Forged", I only read all of these books after I became an atheist.

      The books that had more influence on my deconversion were:
      * "Forged" by Bart Ehrman (as already mentioned)
      * "God's word in human words" by Kenton Sparks
      * "The lost world of Genesis one" by John Walton
      * "Who moved the stone" by Frank Morison
      * "Historical Jesus: What we can know and how we can know it" by Anthony Le Donne

      And many high profile debates online.

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  3. Ah yes, the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. This should be interesting. :)

    I keep a list of what I've read here because I think it's important to know where someone's ideas come from. You will see that two of the four mentioned in the original post are on my list. I'm also currently reading Sapiens so that'll go on there once finished as well.

    On Jon's original blog post he mentions the principal of "Don’t just read things that support your point of view", and on that vein I'd like to recommend one that was particularly significant on that front for me that is likely to challenge both theist and atheist. I found Karen Armstrong's "The Case for God" fascinating. It plots a history of ideas about 'God' up to the present day and shows how modern philosophy thinks about 'God' in a very different (and much more interesting) way to the people in the pews.

    Though not actually a book, I'd also like to add an Open Yale Courses resource to the list. Professor Dale B. Martin takes you through what scholarship tells us about the New Testament. The course is available for free here.

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    1. Thanks, looks a good list. Though I'm not sure I'm happy listing all the books I've read without significant caveats. Particularly with apologetics books, sometimes they spun a good argument, and I only later realised how much they have over-simplified it. At least "Living on the Edge" is more cautious than "I don't have enough faith to be an atheist"...

      The open course looks interesting, too. Without things like that it's too easy to continue to interpret the Bible in the same way as before, and my knowledge of the Biblical text (as interpreted by Christadelphians) is much greater than my knowledge of modern scholarship (it didn't help that higher criticism etc. was generally considered biased and/or evil).

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    2. I actually watched many of the videos from this course on YouTube. I didn't realise the courseware was available for free as well. I found it really interesting.

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    3. Agreed, listing books is very different to recommending them. And I certainly wouldn't recommend 'I don't have enough faith to be an atheist' among others that are there. It's on the list as recognition that I'm aware of those arguments even though I don't find them to be at all useful or compelling, and to try and deflect the claim that I've not read around the subject matter.

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    4. WRT the principle of not just reading stuff that supports your point of view, that originally came from Ken Daniels (though I heartily agree with it). I'm pretty certain he also said that that didn't mean contrarian reading was the majority of his reading, and he didn't feel compelled to read yet another apologetics book just because a believer pointed him to it. In fact, I think people have a responsibility to choose their own - no-one else should be able to dictate it.

      In my case, a lot of my stretch reading is on social issues that aren't directly linked to religion, but which a Christadelphian upbringing gave a certain point of view on. Stuff like feminism, poverty, racism, affirmative action, etc. But "The Case for God" sounds like a worthy addition.

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  4. You forgot the most important book!

    The Bible for Dummies by People with more than one brain cell

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  5. Believing Bullshit (How not to get sucked into an intellectual black hole) By Stephen Law.

    An easy to read book, maybe only a few hours, highly recommended for young people perhaps on the cusp of making the baptism plunge. Just take a few hours out before you do and consider what's written here.

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  6. I meant to add,
    THE ARK BEFORE NOAH, by Irving Finkel.
    Irving, going to university in Birmingham in 1969, found he was prevented from studying Egyptology due to the Egyptologist, T.Rundle Clark, "peremptorily expiring", and Irving was told it would take a while to find another one. It was suggested to him that he "do a bit of cuneiform in the interim with Lambert down the hall". Lambert was an Assyriologist. Irving writes "...at this stage I had no conception of how great a scholar he was..." W.G.Lambert was a Christadelphian, by the way.

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