I thought I would give you guys a list of some good books to read followed with a brief commentary on them. Also the last word of each of my commentaries will be a link to a review (except the bible, I think that one can really speak for itself).
1.) The Bible by Multiple Authors
– I know what you are thinking, “why would an Atheist want to read the Bible?” It isn’t good literature, the first half (the Old Testament) is plagiarized from Mesopotamian/Greek religion that predates the Bible, it is full of racism, slavery, bigotry, and cruelty by a ‘loving’ God. However, reading this book will certainly make you a better Atheist. If you know the Bible better than the religious person who quotes every time they open their mouth, you are well in the lead in any argument they may give. The Bible sure isn’t true either, we don’t even know who wrote the damn thing for the most part. Read it because we need more Atheists.
2.) On The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
– This is a great book if you aren’t familiar with Darwin’s original theory of Evolution through Natural Selection. Darwin really is a brilliant man, and has some great things to say. If you are a Theist, I would recommend this book to become more acquainted with how Evolution works. If you read closely you’ll realize that Evolution is not ‘random’ as so many Theists like to claim. It is a product of Natural Selection, which is the opposite of randomness or chance. If you own an iPod/iPad/computer of any kind you can get this book (and the Bible) for free from the Kindle/iBooks store (you can download kindle for your computer). <– not really a review, but still good
3.) Atheism: A Philosophical Justification by Michael Martin
– This is a really good book. I think both Atheists and Theists will be able to appreciate this one. It is a book about the Philosophy of religion, so there really isn’t science in it, it is basically just good arguments as to why one should believe in Atheism. As the book progresses Martin gives a rigorous look at many famous arguments for and against Atheism and improves upon some and just completely changes others. In the introduction he goes over why a belief in Atheism does not mean that someone will be a immoral (which is a common Theist argument). This one can be somewhat expensive (well worth it). I would suggest checking your local library to see if you can rent it for free (or just sit in the library and look over it).
4.) The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
– This is a good book if you have already read On The Origin of Species. It expands on Darwin’s (and other scientist’s) views on some of Darwin’s theories. It is a look at how our genes factor into Natural Selection and Evolution. I don’t think that Theists (or Philosopher) will like this book much, for the simple fact that it is by Dawkins and he can come of as being a bit rude sometime. It is still a great book that will expand your knowledge of Darwin and his key discoveries.
5.) God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens
– Similar to (pretty much anything by Dawkins) The Selfish Gene, I don’t think that a Theist would enjoy this book much. It has a lot to do with attacking religion, its beliefs, its prophets, etc. It is true that religion does do a lot of damage all over the world, which can be alarming because in Hitchens’ view religion is just mythic story telling (which I am inclined to agree with) and is wholly false (which I also think is very true). This book is great for the Atheist who wants to read about what Hitchens thinks about Atheist and especially the ridiculousness of religion.
6.) The God Delusion
– This book started a firestorm in the US and in England. Mainly for the attack upon religion. It sold quite a few copies (a big understatement) and was so successful Dawkins turned it into a documentary (which can be found in my “Fun Media” section). This is a great book for the Atheist (obviously) who wants religion from a modern scientific point of view. In the ways that Dawkins talks about religion, it is easy to see how ridiculous (and scary) some of these religious people are. It often makes me worry that there are people out there (awful people) who have so much spiritual power over uneducated, unenlightened, and fearful people. In my opinion the attack of religion is warranted, but should be restricted to people who are doing harm. If we take those people out of the picture, I think the world becomes a better place.
7.) The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow
– First, let me say that Hawking is one of the most brilliant scientific minds of our generations. Hawking is a much more Theist-friendly person, in my opinion. He does not argue that religion is insane, but that invoking God is not necessary to explain the Universe. He goes on to say that science makes God unnecessary (which is quite true when it comes to explaining the natural world). All in all great science book! Highly recommended.
8.) Reinventing Darwin: The Great Debate at the High Table of Evolutionary Theory by Niles Eldredge
– This book is great! It presents opposing views of Evolutionary Theory and there is something quite new in this book. Niles Eldridge and Stephen Jay Gould proposed the theory of “Punctuated Equilibria” and in this book is the debate that it sparked. Eldridge gives us the theory, starting with Darwin and really tackles the intricacies of the issue. For anyone interested in the debate of human origins, this is a great book.
9.) Social Darwinism: Science and Myth in Anglo-American Social Thought
– This is not really about biological Darwinism. It is more about Darwinian ideas in the late nineteenth to twentieth centuries applied to social theories. So it is really about evolutionary social theory. If you are interested in Cultural Anthropology then this is the book for you!
10.) Horizons: Exploring the Universe by Michael Seeds and Dana Backman
– This is really a text book, so I won’t be giving a link to a review. It is about Astrophysics and Cosmology. It is really interesting and explores many natural phenomenon with the stars, extrasolar planets, life/death of stars, and other natural phenomenon in the Universe. It is excellent for anyone who wants to explore the Universe.