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BEACONSPARKLE's Photo BEACONSPARKLE SparkPoints: (2,635)
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6/25/12 1:57 P

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Thinking Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman
About how the mind works and how intuition is a nice tool, but oh so misleading.
I just started this and I can already say that I recommend this to everyone!

If you walk, just walk. If you sit, just sit; but whatever you do, don�t wobble.
Zen Master Ummon


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MIMOSA88's Photo MIMOSA88 SparkPoints: (5,853)
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6/20/12 1:05 P

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Anything by Richard Dawkins... Especially if you are interested in evolution...

Mimosa, Cyprus

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"I haven't failed. I just found a thousand ways that don't work!"


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NOTLIKEMCLOVIN's Photo NOTLIKEMCLOVIN Posts: 431
6/18/12 11:03 A

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I'm currently finishing up Michael Shermer's "Why People Believe Weird Things". I'm a big, big Michael Shermer fan. I suppose I'm what you call a "born-again atheist", being raised Lutheran-Missouri Synod, and I like Shermer's logical and non-antagonistic approach to skepticism. It's easy to put down religious believers as backward, but it ignores the fact that our brains are wired to believe these things. For every ardent Christian there's an atheist who believes in balancing chakras or getting their back cracked by a chiropractor. At Powell's Books in Portland there are three full shelves of books on mysticism and only half an end cap for skepticism.

That being said, I love anything that Christopher Hitchens writes, especially "The Portable Atheist" which he edited and writes the introductions for. And I'm excited to crack into "Flim-Flam!" by James "The Amazing" Randi as soon as I finish Weird Things.

Josh
Vancouver, WA

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THE_MIGHTYQUINN's Photo THE_MIGHTYQUINN SparkPoints: (3,169)
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6/4/12 1:27 P

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Hi all!

I am a professor and I am teaching two new (for me) books this semester: Sam Harris' now-classic "The End of Faith," which is wonderfully brilliant and funny, and Phil Zuckerman's Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us about Contentment," which I have not yet begun, but looks great. By and large, the students (most of whom are Christian) are having a ball with Harris' book.

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EXOTEC's Photo EXOTEC Posts: 3,142
4/11/12 4:31 P

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OHBOY!!!!!! I *love* Ehrman!

This is a wonderful thread. Amazon, here I come!
I have a little stack of books I'm working my way through. I'll pull them out and amend this later.

This is great!
Thanks, everyone!

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...the problem with people these days is
they've forgotten we're really just animals ...
(attributation forgotten)

We did not create the web of life; we are but a strand in it.
~attributed to Chief Seattle

We don't have souls. We ARE souls. We have bodies.
~C.S. Lewis


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INFINITEJESS84's Photo INFINITEJESS84 SparkPoints: (7,010)
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2/26/12 8:20 P

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Wow, I love this list! I'm going to have a few months of free time between my graduation and my job starting, so I am excited to read some new books!

If you can't love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else? ~ RuPaul


DANGEROUSLAMB81's Photo DANGEROUSLAMB81 Posts: 64
2/26/12 10:40 A

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wow, so many books I'd like to check out!
I just started reading The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris. I'm still in the introduction(long) but it's already given me answers to give to people regarding how to find morality without religion. I think it's a common question to secular people..

STORMY724's Photo STORMY724 Posts: 4,925
12/4/11 6:51 A

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I've read several good books lately:

••••
Jesus for the Non-Religious by John Shelby Spong (a former Episcopalian bishop)
Notice that the title isn't "Jesus for the Non-Believer" ----but rather was written for those who have given up on organized religion, but may still believe. However, it had a lot of interesting information for a non-believer, too, including how some New Testament stories were simply re-writes of Old Testament tales. Spong doesn't believe any Bible stories that report miracles or anything that defies the laws of nature. He also points out many contradictions in the Bible. After finishing the book, I am still not sure why Spong is still a Christian, but I enjoyed reading the book and I learned a lot. Find a review and some passages from the book here: tirelesswing.blogspot.com/2011/11/je
su
s-for-non-religious-book-review.html


••••
Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell
Vowell, an atheist and history buff, tells the history of Hawaii starting with 1820 when missionaries landed with the intent to turn the islands into an up-tight Christian copy of New England. It is interesting and humorous, but also rather appalling. Vowell contends that although we think of 1776 as the defining years of our country's history, 1898 ---when we took over Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Hawaii ---may be even more important ---as it defined us as an imperialistic nation and set us on the path of becoming a militant international superpower.
One of the first missionaries was Hiram Bingham, whose grandson Hiram Bingham III "discovered" Machu Picchu in Peru (1911) after leaving Hawaii for Yale so as not to follow in his father's or grandfather's footstep to become a missionary. (Since visiting Machu Picchu 42 years ago, the Incan culture has been one of my interests.)

••••
Divinity of Doubt by Vincent Bugliosi
Bugliosi (lawyer who wrote Helter Skelter, about the Manson murders) contends no one can be sure that there is or is not a god, therefore the only logical conclusion is to become an agnostic. He trashes both religion and points out numerous idiotic stories and inconsistencies in the Bible, but also contends that Dawkins, Hitchens, et al, have offered no proof that god does not exist. I didn't agree with everything he wrote, but he makes some good points. Find a review here: tirelesswing.blogspot.com/2011/11/th
ei
st-atheist-agnostic.html


••••
Holy blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh & Henry Lincoln
This is the research on which Dan Brown based his novel The Da Vinci Code. The authors make compelling arguments that Jesus was married, that he did not die on the cross, and like some of the other books I mention here, points out many inane and contradictory stories in the Bible. The authors also spend quite a bit of time pointing out that the books that were included or left out of the Bible were often chosen by committee and with what would best preserve the church's power at the time. They also quote many of the discarded or recently-discovered gospels. The authors are knowledgeable about customs and practices of the first century CE to support their reasoning why something in the Bible makes no sense and what a more reasonable theory might be. I found it very interesting, Yet, in the end, we have no definitive proof, one way or the other if any of their contentions are true. However, neither do we have proof that anything in the Bible is true, so to me, their arguments are at least as plausible as Biblical stories and in many cases make much more sense.


'I still have an insane drive to create and express myself and it'll never stop because I don't know how to stop it.' ---Graham Nash

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BLUESPYDER41's Photo BLUESPYDER41 Posts: 188
8/28/11 12:10 P

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"God's Problem" by Bart Ehrmann.

This book is excellent. Ehrmann is a profession in North Carolina in a theological department and he's an agnostic. He was an ardent believer and attended Moody Bible College and then went onto PhD studies.

What in like about this book is that it examines pain and suffering in the bible and every day life. If our lives were being monitored by some benevolent god (totally my paraphrasing) who could smote evil as he did in the Old Testamaent, turn around and let someone like Hitler rise to kill His chosen people in droves - the Jews?

People claim that how thankful they are to God when they win a Superbowl but yet it's "God's will" when something horrible happens, like a child getting cancer and dying. WTF? Really?

Ehrmann is an excellent writer and he backs up his writing. Note that he studied the old bible languages so he could understand them in their original language. Translations can sometimes change meanings advertently or inadvertently. The time the books were written make a difference as well as the political happenings at that time figure into the writings.

Do read this book. It's excellent.

Sparky

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December 7, 2013 - St. Jude Marathon Weekend - Half Marathon
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STORMY724's Photo STORMY724 Posts: 4,925
5/29/11 11:48 P

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"Sway"
the irresistible pull of irrational behavior
by Ori and Rom Brafman

Sway gives example after example of how we, no matter how logical, are swayed into irrational behaviors by preconceived ideas, fear of loss, a pretty face, perceptions of danger, commitment, and a myriad of other factors. The authors present everyday examples of such behaviors, each followed by accounts of scientific studies that show how and why we seem to be so easily swayed into foolish acts. Anyone interested in the human condition might enjoy this book. I'm sure every reader will see him/herself somewhere in its pages.

It explains:
why people are ruled more by the fear of losing than the desire to win

why people can't seem to get out of bad situations (be they a poor investment or choosing to engage in a war) because once committing oneself to a particular strategy most are unwilling to get out even though a good outcome is almost impossible

how we are swayed in our opinions by preconceived ideas

how our own behaviors change by the way we are treated

why job interviews are mostly useless

why we might choose to accept a loan at a bank based on totally irrelevant information even though the bank charges high rates

how patients are diagnosed by irrelevant information

why we will follow a group even if we know they are wrong

---and more

I liked this book. It isn't "deep" so that, even though I'm not a scientist or psychologist, it was easy to understand. Also, it's a fast read.

'I still have an insane drive to create and express myself and it'll never stop because I don't know how to stop it.' ---Graham Nash

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STORMY724's Photo STORMY724 Posts: 4,925
5/29/11 11:41 P

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"Misquoting Jesus"
by Bart Ehrman

Ehrman was a born-again Christian who attended a Bible college that required all faculty and students to sign a statement attesting to their belief that the Bible was the inerrant word of God. But later, at another Christian college, he wrote a paper in which he had to do some clever foot work in a futile attempt to justify a Biblical contradiction. On the last page, his professor wrote a note stating that perhaps Mark had made a mistake. Ehrman, having never doubted anything in the Bible, learned Greek, Latin, and Hebrew so that he could understand Biblical writings in their original forms. But, alas, there are no original texts. They are all copies of copies of copies...etc. He learned that many scribes made mistakes when copying text, some merely spelling errors, but some intentionally changed to make the text say what a scribe thought it was trying to convey or what he thought it should say.

Over time, Ehrman became a liberal Christian and later an agnostic.

You can listen to Ehrman on NPR's Fresh Air. Go to this link which will list all the programs and topics he has covered (currently 6) on Fresh Air. Then, click on "Listen Now" to the right of the title you wish to hear.

http://www.npr.org/search/index.php?sear
chinput=%22Bart+Ehrman%22+%22Fresh+Air%22



'I still have an insane drive to create and express myself and it'll never stop because I don't know how to stop it.' ---Graham Nash

(Photo: Parque das Aves, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil 8/24/11)


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STORMY724's Photo STORMY724 Posts: 4,925
5/29/11 9:00 A

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"The Wordy Shipmates"
by Sarah Vowell

Opening sentence: "The only thing more dangerous than an idea is a belief. And by dangerous I don't mean thought provoking. I mean: might get people killed."

This book tells the story of early settlers ---Puritans and Pilgrims. That sounds awfully boring, but this book is interesting and amusing. Vowell, an avowed atheist, relates historical events to current happenings and spices her writing with amusing asides. She is definitely appalled at some of their religious beliefs, practices, and cruelty, yet admires them for their tenacity, too.

'I still have an insane drive to create and express myself and it'll never stop because I don't know how to stop it.' ---Graham Nash

(Photo: Parque das Aves, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil 8/24/11)


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STORMY724's Photo STORMY724 Posts: 4,925
5/29/11 8:51 A

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"Mistress of the Vatican"
The True Story of Olimpia Maidalchini: The Secret Female Pope
by
Eleanor Herman

Olimpia became the confidant of her indecisive brother-in-law Pope Innocent X (great-great-great grandson of Rodrigo Borgia aka Pope Alexander VI) and, in effect, ran the Vatican for him. Besides being a fascinating biography of a woman ahead of her time, this book is a portrait of cruelty, political intrigue, and greed in the Catholic church in the mid 1600s. The church was so corrupt that I can barely understand how anyone remained Catholic. I guess most were too intimidated and afraid to leave.


Edited by: STORMY724 at: 5/29/2011 (23:16)
'I still have an insane drive to create and express myself and it'll never stop because I don't know how to stop it.' ---Graham Nash

(Photo: Parque das Aves, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil 8/24/11)


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STORMY724's Photo STORMY724 Posts: 4,925
5/29/11 8:46 A

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"Atheists, A Groundbreaking Study of America's Nonbelievers"
by Bruce Hunsberger and Bob Altemeyer, 2006

A very short summary of the results of an in-depth study of atheists ---and how they came to be non-believers.

'I still have an insane drive to create and express myself and it'll never stop because I don't know how to stop it.' ---Graham Nash

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STORMY724's Photo STORMY724 Posts: 4,925
5/29/11 8:44 A

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"God in the White House"
How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush
by Randall Balmer

Although written by a minister (albeit one who is not sympathetic to the Religious Right) this is a very interesting book that follows the presidents and how they have used (and I mean "used" as in "taken advantage of") religion. Did you know that Jimmy Carter ---probably the one president who was truly religious ---was the only president in recent times who didn't end his speeches with "God bless America?"

Edited by: STORMY724 at: 5/29/2011 (09:02)
'I still have an insane drive to create and express myself and it'll never stop because I don't know how to stop it.' ---Graham Nash

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STORMY724's Photo STORMY724 Posts: 4,925
5/29/11 8:37 A

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"Freethought Today"
monthly publication of the Freedom From Religion Foundation
You can order a sample copy at www.ffrf.org

Edited by: STORMY724 at: 5/29/2011 (09:01)
'I still have an insane drive to create and express myself and it'll never stop because I don't know how to stop it.' ---Graham Nash

(Photo: Parque das Aves, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil 8/24/11)


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STORMY724's Photo STORMY724 Posts: 4,925
5/29/11 8:36 A

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Post any books (or publications or articles) you've read and would recommend to our group members.

Edited by: STORMY724 at: 5/29/2011 (08:38)
'I still have an insane drive to create and express myself and it'll never stop because I don't know how to stop it.' ---Graham Nash

(Photo: Parque das Aves, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil 8/24/11)


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