Books on Atheism and Books on Religion

 

This is a, very partial, list of books about atheism, religion and religious issues that you might enjoy reading. Every book found here comes from my personal library and is reviewed based on a (yes, full!) reading. So if you read these reviews, you may be able to avoid some duds, and, with a bit of luck, find what is really worth reading for the person interested in religion. If you are interested in buying a book, please click the link to Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk below the review - they are likely to offer the best available price.

The Bible (New Jerusalem Study version)
Authors unknown

The book that started it all, at least for many of us. This is one of the most accurate and modern translations, which attempts to combine faithfulness to the original texts, readability and poetry. This Study Bible contains detailed notes, maps and glossaries which not only explain unfamiliar terms, but explain the text in detail and point to both parallel and contradictory passages. Some fascinating detail can be gleamed from reading these notes, and the edition is attractive and durable. For a smaller Bible without notes, buy the famous King James version, reviewed next.

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The Bible (King James version)
Authors unknown

This version of the sacred text of Christianity dates back to 17th century England, and is famous for its beauty and poetry. If you want a portable version of the Bible with the most famous translation, this is the one to buy. You should bear in mind, though, that the language can be archaic and the translation not 100% reliable. For someone whose interest in the Bible is not one of serious study, the King James version is ideal; for everyone else, I recommend the New Jerusalem Study version, reviewed above.

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The Miracle of Theism: Arguments for an against the Existence of God
J.L. Mackie

The Miracle of Theism, taking its name from a (sarcastic) remark of Hume's, is the last and best book by Oxford philosopher J.L. Mackie. It is not the easiest book to follow but deals comprehensively with almost all the arguments for and against God's existence, including obscure or recent technical ones. However, the conclusion it comes to is one of atheism. It comes highly recommended to anyone prepared to invest a bit of time and effort into understanding the arguments involved.

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The Puzzle of God
Peter Vardy

This is a relatively elementary book, but nonetheless provides a decent overview of the philosophy of religion, focussing on the fascinating (but often ignored) debate among theists about anti-realism. Written as a textbook, it attempts to maintain a neutral tone, but it is clearly sympathetic to religion, and perhaps of more interest on those wanting to examine the nature of their faith without challenging it too much. The normal arguments for and against God's existence are covered alongside the interesting questions about God's nature, however - and all in a brief, reasonable and interesting manner.

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A New Dictionary of Christian Ethics
Edited by John Macquarie and James Childress

This comprehensive volume has entries, some a page or more in length, on aspects of ethics both specifically Christian and more general in nature. The general standard of these is excellent, thoughtful and scholarly. Major names in the field are bought in; for example, the philosopher R.M. Hare wrote the entry on utilitarianism. All in all, a valuable volume, worth putting on any religion or ethics bookshelf.

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A Brief Guide To Beliefs: Ideas, Theologies, Mysteries and Movements
Linda Edwards

An invaluable resource. Almost all religious beliefs and practices with any following are covered, not just the artificial 'Big Five' (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism) so often described to the exclusion of all else. To my delight, the non-religious alternative of humanism is also described. The history and various denominations of Christianity are given in significantly greater detail than those of other religions, so this book is targeted particularly at the traditionally Christian world. The book opens with a discussion of the philosophy of religion and aspects common to many world faiths.

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The Holocaust and the Christian World
Edited by Carol Rittner, Stephen D. Smith and Irena Steinfeldt

The Christian world has not yet faced up to the full culpability of both Protestants and Catholics in the Holocaust. (For more on this, see my essay.) This book, with chapters written by many different scholars, some Jewish, some Christian, provides as broad an overview of this period in Christian history as any, with sections both on whole churches and on noble - or ignoble - individuals. A chronology, a brief history of the holocaust and consideration of Jewish-Christian relations and apologies after it are all included.

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In Lieu of Heaven
Kevin Archer

Former missionary Kevin Archer's In Lieu of Heaven is a fictional work that uses the Bible itself to explores God's character and the motivations for his actions. It argues that He actually parallels an abusive or negligent parent who punishes his children for misdeeds that they do not understand. The book revolves around two men who meet in the wilderness-one who wants to meet God face-to-face and another who claims to have already done so. Archer claims his book will appeal to a wide audience: " For those already free, it is very confirming. For those who need no confirmation, it offers compelling thoughts regarding our behavior and interaction within society and our relationship with those in authority. And for the readers who remain religious coming out of the book, they will at least be required to take an honest look at their beliefs."

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Towards A New Modernism
Kenneth Cauthen

Former missionary Kevin Archer's In Lieu of Heaven is a fictional work that uses the Bible itself to explores God's character and the motivations for his actions. It argues that He actually parallels an abusive or negligent parent who punishes his children for misdeeds that they do not understand. The book revolves around two men who meet in the wilderness-one who wants to meet God face-to-face and another who claims to have already done so. Archer claims his book will appeal to a wide audience: " For those already free, it is very confirming. For those who need no confirmation, it offers compelling thoughts regarding our behavior and interaction within society and our relationship with those in authority. And for the readers who remain religious coming out of the book, they will at least be required to take an honest look at their beliefs."

Buy in UK



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