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Freethought Summer Reading List

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This article originally appeared as part of SSA eNews No. 12 - Secular Summer Fun.

This list was compiled by SSA Campus Organizer

Now that you're not reading piles of literature and textbooks for school, how about a little reading you've chosen for yourself? All of these books are available at Amazon.com (all have used and less expensive copies for sale), and many are available in public libraries across the country. You can also use the links at the bottom of each description to purchase the books through Amazon.com with a portion of the price going to help support the SSA!

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins' The God DelusionDiscover magazine recently called Richard Dawkins "Darwin's Rottweiler" for his fierce and effective defense of evolution. Prospect magazine voted him among the top three public intellectuals in the world (along with Umberto Eco and Noam Chomsky). Now Dawkins turns his considerable intellect to religion, denouncing its faulty logic and the suffering it causes. He critiques God in all his forms, from the sex-obsessed tyrant of the Old Testament to the more benign (but still illogical) Celestial Watchmaker favored by some Enlightenment thinkers. He eviscerates the major arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. He shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry, and abuses children, buttressing his points with historical and contemporary evidence. In so doing, he makes a compelling case that belief in God is not just irrational, but potentially deadly. Dawkins has fashioned an impassioned, rigorous rebuttal to religion, to be embraced by anyone who sputters at the inconsistencies and cruelties that riddle the Bible, bristles at the inanity of "intelligent design," or agonizes over fundamentalism in the Middle East or Middle America.

To buy it now through Amazon.com and support the SSA:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0618680004/secularstudental

Breaking the Spell : Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by Daniel C. Dennett

Breaking the Spell by Daniel C. DennettIn his characteristically provocative fashion, Dennett, author of Darwin's Dangerous Idea and director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, calls for a scientific, rational examination of religion that will lead us to understand what purpose religion serves in our culture. Much like E.O. Wilson (In Search of Nature), Robert Wright (The Moral Animal), and Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene), Dennett explores religion as a cultural phenomenon governed by the processes of evolution and natural selection. Religion survives because it has some kind of beneficial role in human life, yet Dennett argues that it has also played a maleficent role. He elegantly pleads for religions to engage in empirical self-examination to protect future generations from the ignorance so often fostered by religion hiding behind doctrinal smoke screens. Because Dennett offers a tentative proposal for exploring religion as a natural phenomenon, his book is sometimes plagued by generalizations that leave us wanting more ("Only when we can frame a comprehensive view of the many aspects of religion can we formulate defensible policies for how to respond to religions in the future"). Although much of the ground he covers has already been well trod, he clearly throws down a gauntlet to religion.

To buy it now through Amazon.com and support the SSA:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/067003472X/secularstudental


How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker's How the Mind WorksWhy do fools fall in love? Why does a man's annual salary, on average, increase $600 with each inch of his height? When a crack dealer guns down a rival, how is he just like Alexander Hamilton, whose face is on the ten-dollar bill? How do optical illusions function as windows on the human soul? Cheerful, cheeky, occasionally outrageous MIT psychologist Steven Pinker answers all of the above and more in his marvelously fun, awesomely informative survey of modern brain science. Pinker argues that Darwin plus canny computer programs are the key to understanding ourselves--but he also throws in apt references to Star Trek, Star Wars, The Far Side, history, literature, W. C. Fields, Mozart, Marilyn Monroe, surrealism, experimental psychology, and Moulay Ismail the Bloodthirsty and his 888 children. If How the Mind Works were a rock show, tickets would be scalped for $100. This book deserved its spot as Number One on bestseller lists.

To buy it now through Amazon.com and support the SSA:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0393318486/secularstudental

This article originally appeared as part of SSA eNews No. 12 - Secular Summer Fun.

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