Recommend
Atheistic Reading;
Atheists In History
Jack Murphy

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From: “Positive Atheism”
To: “Jack Murphy”
Subject: WebMaster: Positive Atheism Index
Date: Sunday, January 16, 2000

My favorite is “Atheism: The Case Against God” by George H. Smith. We have part of the first chapter posted, and that chapter speaks for itself.

Easier reading, but more fundamentalistic (in my opinion), is “What Is Atheism?” by Douglas Krieger, a portion of which was once posted on Positive Atheism’s web site, but the publisher asked us to remove it. Krueger’s book is overly simplistic in that it comes off, at times, like a religious tract. By this I mean that it makes strong conclusions while ignoring some of the more complex questions raised by his statements. Many of these are addressed by the other authors, some of whom do not draw such a strong conclusion as Krueger does. I suspect that Krueger’s work was written this way on purpose, and, keeping this in mind, it is a good read. I highly recommend it for high school students who, I am sure, are pummeled with more than their share of dogmatic drivel that advocates faith. It can lay a good foundation for further contemplation, and contains many great responses to the questions typically raised by the evangelical types. My personal approach to atheism, though, is much closer to that described by Smith (I find it more powerful in the long run), and my reasons for doubting are well stated by Drange (see below).

Tougher reading by far, but more sensitive to honest doubt in both directions, is “Atheism: A Philosophical Justification” by Michael Martin. (Martin also wrote the “atheism” entry for the 1999 Microsoft Encarta CD-ROM, which is posted on our website.) What is otherwise an exquisite presentation is marred by the author’s use of “shorthand” terminology known primarily by philosophers. After having spent (wasted) lots of time searching out the meanings of some of these terms, it turns out that I could have been a dozen or so pages further into the book had he simply made his statement in plain English. I may not have a philosophy doctorate, but most of the concepts are not over my head — if I only understood the buzz words.

If you are skilled at keeping several concepts in the forefront of your mind while you are reading, I highly recommend the book “Nonbelief and Evil” by Theodore Drange. I would not tackle it, though, without first having read one of the presentations for laypeople, such as the works by Smith and Krueger. Drange admits this cumbersome aspect of his book by instructing the reader to bookmark several pages in the first part of the book. He then returns to these concepts again and again, referring to what he previously said by using abbreviations. Unlike Martin, Drange does explain up front what his abbreviations mean. Though following his book was hard work, it was not difficult. His ideas are easy to grasp.

Cliff Walker
“Positive Atheism” Magazine

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From: “Positive Atheism”
To: “Jack Murphy”
Subject: WebMaster: Positive Atheism Index
Date: Tuesday, January 18, 2000

The book “2000 Years of Unbelief” by retired journalist James A Haught is an excellent list of quotations by atheists and other unbelievers. As such, it would serve you well as the list for which you’re looking. Its bibliography is a great source for finding other books and collections of quotations.

The book “Women Without Superstition” by Annie Laurie Gaylor features writings from about 100 women.

Our Big List of Quotes is another source, although many quoted here are not atheists.

Two websites feature famous atheists: Celebrity Atheist List Home Page and Famous Dead Non-Theists.

Cliff Walker
“Positive Atheism” Magazine

Note: Another good list is Famous Atheists.

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