The Bare Minimal Atheist Library!

In the sidebar I linked to six atheist books that could be the only ones you need in your library, given a limited budget. If you were to list only six atheist books on a limited budget, which ones would you list and why?


John W. Loftus said...

I know, I know, I listed my own book, but this is based on what others have said about it.


Chuck said...

1. Atheism Explained: From Folly to Philosophy
by David Ramsay Steele
(good general book)

2. 50 reasons people give for believing in a god
by Guy P. Harrison
(great for the lay reader)

3. The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution
Sean B. Carroll
(for the evolution doubter)

4. Suffering Belief: Evil and the Anglo-American Defense of Theism
A. M. Weisberger
(best treatment on the problem of evil)

5. Parenting Beyond Belief
by Dale McGowan (editor/compiler)
(for parents)

6. Why I Am Not a Christian
by Richard Carrier
(not a book, great essay nonetheless)

John W. Loftus said...

Chuck, not to defend my choices too much but I thought about adding Steele's book, while A.M. Weisberger wrote the chapter of the problem of evil for the Cambridge Companion to Atheism. Have you read my choices for comparison? I've read all but your number 3 choice (arguing for evolution doesn't lead to atheism anyway).

Harry McCall said...

John, while my comment has nothing to do with a book title, a lot of books both pro or contra Christianity make or break their thesis on how they proceed in methodology. This is what sets your book apart in its objective use of logic.

The best ability to deconstruct Christianity is not being told what to think; but how to think (As oppose to religious dogmatics which can carry damnation if one thinks too much thinks outside the theological box). Thus, the best atheistic defense is a good offense.

How to think requires being objectively honest about the truth and the ability to use facts to logically and objectively represent the mass evidence of the secular world as we see it.

Unlike Christianity, Secular Humanism (as subset of atheism) should not confuse the facts of nature and logic with some end product to cause another one’s conversion. Truth will do that.

With most of my life immerged in Christian dogmas, I find myself often guilty of using the same tactics Christians use to prove their subjective truths; such as using Christian dogmas to disprove Christian dogmas. When this happens on a post, the debate goes nowhere.

My next major post will be on Christopher Price’s essay in the Bede’ Library on his study of Josephus’ Testimonium Flavianum and how he constructed a study drawn from facts and authors with the end goal to tell the reader what to think apologetcally.

When I finish my critic of Price’s study, I’ll welcome comments by anyone who would like to compare how we both employed our facts and logic to arrive at two entirely different conclusions as to truth of the Testimonium Flavianum.

And to be fair to Mr. Price this time; I will notify him when I post my critic of his essay here at DC.

Chris said...

While not an atheist book, an excellent anti-Christian book is the Bible.

Jesse Cohen said...

the top choice: the miracle of theism by j.l. mackie, fo sho.

also, Schellenberg's divine hiddenness and human reason.

John W. Loftus said...

Yes, Jesse, I thought about Mackie too. Both his writings and Schellenberg's are represented in the anthologies I chose.

Chris, yes, The Bible Debunks Itself!

damianphipps said...

I realize that these aren't necessarily atheist books, but they all help to build the case, nonetheless.

"Atheism: A Philosophical Justification", by Michael Martin.

"Sense & Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism", by Richard Carrier.

"In God's We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion", by Scott Antran.

"Religion Explained: The Human Instincts that Fashion God's, Spirits and Ancestors", by Pascal Boyer.

"Morality in a Natural World: Selected Essays in Metaethics", by David Copp.

"A Physicalist Manifesto: Thoroughly Modern Materialism", by Andrew Melnyk.

Danny Boy, FCD said...

Sorry, I haven't gone around to buying your book yet. As for my six books, they are:

1) Atheism Explained by Steele.
Best introduction to atheism I've read. (2nd choice would've been Krueger's What is Atheism).
2) Atheism: A Philosophical Justification by Martin.
For advanced readers (was going to add Mackie but his book is harder to read and more dated in content).
3) Darwin's Ghost by Jones.
Evolution does not lead to atheism but it's still an important topic to know. Jones' book is a good intro (Zimmer's Evolution book is a good alternative).
4) Religion Explained by Boyer.
Best scientific explanation of religious origin. Better than Dennett or Shermer IMO.
5) The End of Faith by Harris.
Best of the "New Atheists".

No #6. This is my minimalist atheist library.

bigjohn75602 said...

How do I get a list of the atheist library?

Chuck said...

John, I haven't read any of the books on your list, though Martin's "Impossibility" looks interesting. (Yours too.)

As for why I included a book on evolution, it is because I think, properly understood, evolution does lead to atheism.

jUUggernaut said...

I'll recommend a science fiction novel. This German author got rave reviews from Orson Scott Card: I read it as an anthropological parable.
Andreas Eschbach: The Carpet Makers

Then there is historical fiction:

Neal Stevenson's Trilogy "The Baroque Cycle" starting with Quicksilver.
You live through religious war, the birth of modern science and international commerce in a deep and yet most entertaining fashion.

Kim Stanley Robinson: The Years of Rice and Salt
weaves an alternative history where Christendom is wiped out by the plague and Muslims and Chinese drive development after the year 1000.

I'm listing these because religion's hold is so strong because of their stories, not their arguments.
These books tell stories that provide a broader context, both anthropological and historical by leaving the narrow Christian world.

Phil said...

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not A Christian (and other essays)

It's been around a long time, but this is the book that made me realize that Christianity wasn't intellectually respectable!

Danny Boy, FCD said...

Speaking for myself, Bertrand Russell's book is not too compelling. It has value as a historical document but I don't know if it would still have the same force today. In a larger library, it would fit nicely (I have one myself) but I can't justify including it in a minimal library. In fact, I only listed five books!

Jason Long said...

1. Atheist Universe by David Mills
2. Atheism by George H Smith
3. Influence by Robert Cialdini
4. Why I Became an Atheist by John W Loftus
5. The End of Faith by Sam Harris
6. The Bible

Brian_E said...

Could someone give me the 10 second review of Hitchen's The Portable Atheist? I see that one recommended a lot.

John W. Loftus said...

Jason, pardon me but I find your choices #1 and #2 unbelievable when compared to the other available choices. I personally would place your latest book above them. Were you thinking more of the least expensive list, or a list for the average reader? Thanks, BTW for including my book.

Alejandro Izaguirre Martín said...

Why I Am Not A Christian
by Bertrand Russell

cognitive dissident said...


I wrote a short review of Hitchens' book here, if you're interested.

I'm still working on a "minimal" list...sometimes brevity takes a long time to achieve!

Scary Jesus said...

Typical atheists, can't even agree on six books! Why don't you guys get your act together then come talk to me about why my Jesus is fake.

jUUggernaut said...

That's nothing compared to the early Christians who couldn't even agree on which gospels and other manuscripts to include - imperial power decided that one.
Actually - it's not decided yet, and will never be as Christian sects redefine their textual basis at least at every schism, if not at every new translation.

Scary Jesus said...

That's nothing compared to the early Christians who couldn't even agree on which gospels and other manuscripts to include - imperial power decided that one.
Actually - it's not decided yet, and will never be as Christian sects redefine their textual basis at least at every schism, if not at every new translation.

Yeah but God divinely inspired the writers, so BOOM, pwned!

(ok I'l stop hijacking this link with silly sarcasm)

Jason Long said...

John, I think they are both excellent, but I must admit to having never read Michael Martin, so I'll check those out. And yes, I was going for intro to deconversion.

cognitive dissident said...

Here are the six books I would suggest—books which are not specifically atheist, but which link religious beliefs to politics and science and sex, encourage curiosity, and foster critical thinking about received wisdom:

Mikhail Bakunin God and the State

Richard Feynman Classic Feynman: All the Adventures of a Curious Character

Julian Jaynes The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

Bertrand Russell Why I Am Not a Christian

Carl Sagan Contact

Theodore Sturgeon Godbody

Andrew said...

Wow what a surprise! You put your book on the list!

I'm beginning to think you are nothing more than a shill for a book about stuff you know is full of lies, but you need the money. And you know these lies are going to help instigate an eventual banning of all religion. Stalin/Pot/Hitler, here we go again if John has his way.

You know you hate me. And I suppose I should hate you, but I don't I just hate your Fascism.

Andrew said...

That last post wasn't mine; thank for the confirmation that you are involved in what I talked about earlier John.

Andrew said...

The other people here won't know it, but YOU and I both do. You have been tampering with posts all along.

God only knows the extent to how much you have done! LOL!

Andrew said...

You really have sunk to a new low John.

Andrew said...

Thanks John for acknowledging that the threat exists! I've taken screen shots and have saved the HTML code, so even if you remove these posts I'll have them somewhere else safe.

Andrew said...

John, you are very angry.

It makes me think of that Sripper story, and why she was so pissed.

Do you have a small penis?

If so, that would explain it.

But don't feel bad. Thats just genetics, not something you did.

Andrew said...

That last post wasn't mine.

Sogn said...

I'm so glad that CD recommended The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes. My wife and I were just last night discussing how significant that book seems in terms of sowing doubts about the uniqueness of the bible - and in that respect it ties in nicely with John Loftus's chapter on superstition in antiquity vis-a-vis the bible. One problem is that Jaynes's thesis did not catch on with his colleagues, though I confess to not being familiar with any rebuttals. I believe Dawkins mentioned Jaynes in The God Delusion as a thesis that is either profoundly relevant to theism vs atheism or else crazy. Unfortunately, he inclined toward the latter reaction, I suppose because it did not win over the academic community.

Another issue here is how narrowly one defines pro-atheism books. Loftus evidently prefers to include only books that are very specific in their advocacy of atheism, rather than books which tend to foster atheism, perhaps indirectly, in sympathetic readers. I notice that some of the commenters here take a much broader view in their selections, and Jaynes would be very broad.

John also has selected only books published within the last decade. However, a couple people here have recommended Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian and other older material. I would go back a half-century to a book that had a profound effect on my journey from Christianity to disbelief: The Faith of a Heretic by Walter Kaufmann. True, it deals mainly with Christianity rather than directly attacking theism, but it is deeply polemical and effective against the latter as well. I don't understand in what sense a book like that can be deemed out of date; it seems to me that only its philosophical efficacy in undermining theism should be relevant.

My selections:
The Faith of a Heretic by Walter Kaufmann (available online)
The Miracle of Theism by John Mackie
The End of Faith by Sam Harris
Why I Became an Atheist by John Loftus (not currying favor here, but I just read it and am very impressed by its arguments, method and scope)
Divine Hiddeness and Human Reason by John Schellenberg
The Portable Atheist edited by Christopher Hitchens
Atheism: A Philosophical Justificationby Michael Martin
Honorable Mention in fiction category:
Code of the Lifemaker by James Hogan

Frank Walton said...

Hey Anderw I remeber a while back when John Loftus started posting with made up profiles, so this is his MO so don't be surprised at the lengths he'll go to to discredit you.

Why do you think I've been banned?

Frank Walton said...

Hey Andrew, email me, it's in my profile, he or one of his cronies will delete this post if I put a link in.

I'll fill you in on all the details about Loftus.

John W. Loftus said...

Well, well, Andrew and Walton are proving my point. All they need to do is provide links and evidence to their claims, but they can't. Someday I'll be able to ban them from this blog. They are already banned. It's just that they don't give a damn.

Keep pouring gas on the flames on my passion boys. Keep it up. I like it. It will not do your faith any good at all, I promise. You only motivate me. Hell, I was about ready to throw in the towel and get on with my life. Thanks for the motivation. Keep piling the lies on. See where that'll get you.

Samphire said...

Some 30 years or so ago I read a book called "Faith & Belief" (or something similar) by an author called Brand Blandford (or something similar).

From memory, it was a history of protestant evolution and it set me on the path to atheism. I haven't been able to trace it since and I wonder whether any of you lads have ever come across it.

John W. Loftus said...

Sogn, good list! Thanks for mentioning my book too. There are a lot of great suggestions here. It's kinda tough comming up with a bare minimal atheist library. I too struggled with what to include in my list. But I really recommend David Eller's book, Atheism Advanced. It is probably the best book (next to mine). You must get it. Everyone should get it and read through it! Order it and when it comes in you'll get it, probably soon.

Andrew said...

Listen John there is someone (probably you) impersonating my account and posting junk that I didn't say. So it only makes sense that it's going to get confused.

So congratulations, you've managed to totally derail the points I've been trying to make. Nice job.

The truth hurts huh?

Plus I have no idea who this Frank Walton is or what beef you have with him and I really don't care.

Anthony said...


Um, why in the world would you think John is impersonating you? Why would he need to? Besides someone has impersonated me numerous times. I finally wised up to him and started playing back, I have also reported him.

Since you can link to the impersonators profile why don't you report him?

Sogn said...

John, I intend to read Eller's latest book, but I will probably read his earlier Natural Atheism first. Yesterday I read some glowing reviews of both books.

Harry McCall said...

I see two Andrew profiles which are exactly both the same, except one has 254 Profile Views and the other 1,224.

The fact that both claim the extreme Moslem country of Afghanistan as their location give us a good example that our Andrew is as genuine as the pseudo Acts of Andrew is also genuine and little wonder that both are rejected.

Andrew said...

Since you can link to the impersonators profile why don't you report him?

Good idea, I didn't think of that, thx, I will.

Andrew said...

Ok, I need to chill out it's probably not John. But what else would you think when you see posts with your profile and it's not you. I just assumed it was John doing it when he approves them, but I found out you really can't do that. Ok my apologies.

Harry McCall said...

One thing that CAN NOT be faked is the Profile Views.

If a comment is made in poor taste by an impersonated / False Bogger claiming to be someone he or she is not; check out he Profile Views since this is one area that can not be falsified particularly if someone has over 2,000 hits on their Profile View.

Anyone can cut and past pictures and descriptions off another blogger profile description, but Google totally controls the Profile Views and that’s what will provide the truth!

Andrew said...

I didn't even notice that, I see what you mean. Thanks.

Frank Walton said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Calum said...

1. They Lied to us at Sunday School by Ian Ross Vayro. This book highlights many contradictions in the Bible not normally listed elsewhere.

2. God Save Us From Religion by Ian Ross Vayro. A continuation of this author's first book.

3. Tears in Heaven by Ian Ross Vayro. Shows the source of many Bible names, and places in Egypt. But also because I am given credit in the book.

4. The Bible Fraud by Tony Bushby. A good beginning to see how Christianity was created by a homicidal maniac.

5. The Crucifixion of Truth by Tony Bushby. This book shows the lengths that the early church went to, and where and how they turned fables into gospels.

6. The Mystery of the Copper Scroll of Qumran by Robert Feather. Essential evidence which confirms that Moses was the Pharaoh Akhenaten.

Frank Walton said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jUUggernaut said...

I've done a quick search regarding the thesis of that book No 6 - Egyptologists give a number of reasons that exclude the possibility that Moses was that pharaoh Akhenaten.

Calum said...

The usual objections come from Christian apologists, the most notorious being Turkel/Holding. Read the book for yourself and decide. The name of Akhenaten is in the Copper Scroll in Greek Letters. The numerals are Egyptian. The gold in one column matches the gold found at Akhetaten. An analysis of the copper shows that it is of Egyptian origin.

But study everything else - for example the evidence for Solomon being YmnHtp III is absolutely overwhelming. The main biblical patriarchs have all been identified as being Egyptian. Israel was Lower Egypt.

I can direct you to the various web pages with evidence which you can then check for yourself.

Jeffrey said...

Samphire, the book you're recalling is Brand Blanshard's Reason and Belief from 1974. All of Blanshard's work has a lot to recommend it, whether or not you buy into his rationalist idealism. Not the least virtue of Blanshard's work is his wonderfully elegant prose style. Two typical examples: "If there is anything in my philosophy that I should hope might last, it is the quite unoriginal but none the less important thesis that the rational life is at once the worthiest of lives and the most valuable." and "The world for me is a necessary system, and in the degree to which the thinker can surrender his thought to that system and follow it, he is in a sense participating in that which is timeless or eternal."