We found 44 Reddit comments about The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. Here are the top ones, ranked by their Reddit score.
> I am neither an atheist nor a believer in evolution.
> how come there are no fossil records of intermediate species?
Every fossil is that of an intermediate species. I don't think you even understand how small every change really is.
> Here is a quote from a book I had been researching.
Don't use the word research, that would imply you actually bothered to learn about evolution from real scientific sources
> and this anomaly has fueled the creationist argument that each species was created by God
For argument's sake, let's just assume that tomorrow the theory of evolution is disproven, how exactly does that prove creationism?
As for actually learning about evolution, read The Greatest Show on Earth
The line Lenski titled Ara-3 developed several mutations, all of which are needed simultaneously to metabolise citrate. Once Ara-3 evolved to metabolise citrate, this line had a 6-fold increase in population. Prior to these mutations, the E. coli in Ara-3 was only able to metabolise glucose.
If you don't have a copy of Richard Dawkin's book The Greatest Show on Earth, I highly recommend you buy it or borrow it from your library. Dawkins gives an excellent and detailed account of the findings (of which there are many) on pages 116-133.
What's also neat about this experiment is that the bacteria are frozen in periodic "snapshots" so that newer generations can be compared to older ones. Researchers can go back and find out exactly when a particular mutation appeared. What's even more interesting, is that they can take older generations, thaw them out, and run the same experiment again. Some people claim that evolution isn't reproducible, but with this experiment, it is. You can run a particular line forward again and, taking into account the random nature of mutations, see things happen again.
Again: check out the book, it's excellent.
frenchy612, do you have any science education at all? And if so, what kind of education, and to what extent (grade school, high school, college)? Do you live in the bible belt of the United States?
I'm really interested in knowing this, because the only "debate" over evolution is between educated people and willfully ignorant people.
Allow me to broaden your education a little.
First, it's important to understand that in science, "theory" does NOT mean "unproved idea." It doesn't mean, "guess" or "hypothesis," either. It means an idea that explains a wide variety of phenomena. Newton's theory of gravity, for example not only explains why things fall toward the earth, it also explains how and why the moon orbits the earth, the earth orbits the sun, etc.
When a scientific theory is validated (as many hundreds have been) it does NOT stop being a theory, and does not become a fact. The reason is because "fact" means a single piece of information that doesn't relate to anything else. For example, "chickens have three-toed feet," is a fact. It doesn't tell you anything else about chickens, feet, toes or any other birds. That's what a fact is, and that's why no theory is ever called a fact.
Lastly, the theory of evolution is the most confirmed, most well-documented theory with the most evidence demonstrating its correctness, in the history of science. ALL modern biology is based on it, and ALL medical research is centered on it. It has led to virtually all modern biological knowledge.
If you would like to further your education, I invite you to read The Greatest Show on Earth. But please, don't tell people you're not sure where you stand on the debate. You're only embarrassing yourself, whether you realize it or not.
"Of course, like every other man of intelligence and education I do believe in organic evolution. It surprises me that at this late date such questions should be raised."
Sure thing! The great, and not so great, thing about learning about evolution is that there is so much information out there it can be a bit overwhelm at times, and it is not always easy to know where to start. The best place to start it probably a university class, but that is not always an accessible resource. In lieu of that, I will strong recommend learning from biologist Richard Dawkins. While he is currently well-known for his stance on religion, he has devoted his life to teaching about evolution to the public. I'll give you a few of my favorite references of his. They are arranged in terms of the length of time they will probably take you. Also, so that you won't be intimidated, they are not references in which he explicitly denounces religion or anything; although, as you will see, he does explain evolution in contrast to some of the claims of creationism. I hope that is not a problem, as it is kind of necessary to learn why biologists take one view as opposed to the other.
Anyway, here are the references! =)
This video (5 parts, 10 min each) is a great introduction to some of the basic concepts of evolution, and was really eye-opening for me.
This lecture series (5 episodes, 1 hour each) goes into much more detail than the above video, gives much more evidence, illustrates some of the arguments, and has many fun and beautiful examples.
The Selfish Gene is a book that answered a huge number of questions about evolution for me (e.g., how can a "survival of the fittest" scheme give rise to people being nice to each other? The answer, it turns out, is fascinating.)
The The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution May be the book you are looking for. This book clearly lays down the evidence for evolution, complete with wonderful illustrations. It is very detailed, and very readable.
There are many other great authors besides Richard Dawkins, but this is a great place to start. You are about to go on a very beautiful and moving journey, if you decide to take it. I envy you! I would love to do it all over again. Enjoy!
His recent book, The Greatest Show on Earth is about the evidence for evolution. As far as I know, he doesn't get into god at all. In fact, I haven't seen anything where he's talking about evolution from a pedagogical standpoint where he discusses atheism. But I may have missed something.
On science and evolution:
Genetics is where it's at. There is a ton of good fossil evidence, but genetics actually proves it on paper. Most books you can get through your local library (even by interlibrary loan) so you don't have to shell out for them just to read them.
The Making of the Fittest outlines many new forensic proofs of evolution. Fossil genes are an important aspect... they prove common ancestry. Did you know that humans have the gene for Vitamin C synthesis? (which would allow us to synthesize Vitamin C from our food instead of having to ingest it directly from fruit?) Many mammals have the same gene, but through a mutation, we lost the functionality, but it still hangs around.
Deep Ancestry proves the "out of Africa" hypothesis of human origins. It's no longer even a debate. MtDNA and Y-Chromosome DNA can be traced back directly to where our species began.
To give more rounded arguments, Hitchens can't be beat: God Is Not Great and The Portable Atheist (which is an overview of the best atheist writings in history, and one which I cannot recommend highly enough). Also, Dawkin's book The Greatest Show on Earth is a good overview of evolution.
General science: Stephen Hawking's books The Grand Design and A Briefer History of Time are excellent for laying the groundwork from Newtonian physics to Einstein's relativity through to the modern discovery of Quantum Mechanics.
Bertrand Russell and Thomas Paine are also excellent sources for philosophical, humanist, atheist thought; but they are included in the aforementioned Portable Atheist... but I have read much of their writings otherwise, and they are very good.
Also a subscription to a good peer-reviewed journal such as Nature is awesome, but can be expensive and very in depth.
Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate is also an excellent look at the human mind and genetics. To understand how the mind works, is almost your most important tool. If you know why people say the horrible things they do, you can see their words for what they are... you can see past what they say and see the mechanisms behind the words.
I've also been studying Zen for about a year. It's non-theistic and classed as "eastern philosophy". The Way of Zen kept me from losing my mind after deconverting and then struggling with the thought of a purposeless life and no future. I found it absolutely necessary to root out the remainder of the harmful indoctrination that still existed in my mind; and finally allowed me to see reality as it is instead of overlaying an ideology or worldview on everything.
Also, learn about the universe. Astronomy has been a useful tool for me. I can point my telescope at a galaxy that is more than 20 million light years away and say to someone, "See that galaxy? It took over 20 million years for the light from that galaxy to reach your eye." Creationists scoff at millions of years and say that it's a fantasy; but the universe provides real proof of "deep time" you can see with your own eyes.
I recommend books first, because they are the best way to learn, but there are also very good video series out there.
BestofScience has an amazing series on evolution.
AronRa's Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism is awesome.
Thunderfoot's Why do people laugh at creationists is good.
Atheistcoffee's Why I am no longer a creationist is also good.
Also check out TheraminTrees for more on the psychology of religion; Potholer54 on The Big Bang to Us Made Easy; and Evid3nc3's series on deconversion.
Also check out the Evolution Documentary Youtube Channel for some of the world's best documentary series on evolution and science.
I'm sure I've overlooked something here... but that's some stuff off the top of my head. If you have any questions about anything, or just need to talk, send me a message!
Along those lines, Dawkins is great for explaining evolution in easy-to-understand detail. Pick pretty much any book by him and you'll get a very good education.
Big Bang Theory and Evolution are not really related, so I don't think you'll find a book with both, but, to answer your question:
The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins is a great book on evolution.
EDIT: You wated the Kindle version KINDLE VERSION
The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins.
That's not really a relevant question. You're implying that because we can't find proof of god, we don't need proof? But because we have tons of proof of evolution, you require that each and every one of us (accountants, programmers, carpenters, etc.) have a detailed knowledge of it before you'll believe it?
Again, you're saying there's no proof of god -- indeed, there can't be -- and yet you're willing to believe in god wholeheartedly. Meanwhile, you won't believe in evolution without absolute proof (and, I'll go out on a limb and guess that you want a couple of simple sentences you can understand without having to do a whole lot of book learnin'. You're not willing to put in even the minimal effort it takes to gain a basic understanding of evolution.)
Basically, nobody believes in evolution; you either understand it or you're an idiot.
I suggest picking up a copy of The Greatest Show on Earth and reading it.
I really enjoyed reading The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes.
Also Thunderstruck by Erik Larson.
Both of these books are fantastic nonfiction accounts of the history of scientific discovery.
On the biology side, anything by Dawkins is a good choice. I recommend The Greatest Show on Earth
My gateway drug was The Panda's Thumb by Stephen Jay Gould
Congratulations! I know what a big step that is, as I've been in the same boat. Books are the best way to become informed. Check out books by:
I'm assuming you're looking for things geared toward a layman audience, and not textbooks. Here's a few of my personal favorites:
Cosmos: You probably know what this is. If not, it is at once a history of science, an overview of the major paradigms of scientific investigation (with some considerable detail), and a discussion of the role of science in the development of human society and the role of humanity in the larger cosmos.
Pale Blue Dot: Similar themes, but with a more specifically astronomical focus.
The Greatest Show on Earth: Dawkins steers (mostly) clear of religious talk here, and sticks to what he really does best: lays out the ideas behind evolution in a manner that is easily digestible, but also highly detailed with a plethora of real-world evidence, and convincing to anyone with even a modicum of willingness to listen.
Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid: It seems like I find myself recommending this book at least once a month, but it really does deserve it. It not only lays out an excruciatingly complex argument (Godel's Incompleteness Theorem) in as accessible a way as can be imagined, and explores its consequences in mathematics, computer science, and neuroscience, but is also probably the most entertainingly and clearly written work of non-fiction I've ever encountered.
The Feynman Lectures on Physics: It's everything. Probably the most detailed discussion of physics concepts that you'll find on this list.
Connections: Not exactly what you were asking for, but I love it, so you might too. James Burke traces the history of a dozen or so modern inventions, from ancient times all the way up to the present. Focuses on the unpredictability of technological advancement, and how new developments in one area often unlock advancements in a seemingly separate discipline. There is also a documentary series that goes along with it, which I'd probably recommend over the book. James Burke is a tremendously charismatic narrator and it's one of the best few documentary series I've ever watched. It's available semi-officially on Youtube.
I would suggest Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder as a good starting point and maybe move on to The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, but that is just one author. He can be a little condescending to the faithful at times and call them "history deniers" but the second one is pure science and only just touches on religion.
The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins is an extremely well written introduction to the evidence for evolution.
Former Young Earther here. The best thing you can do is read and learn. www.talkorigins.org is a pretty good site.
Another good source is The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins.
Figure out some of the more common creationist claims, as well. Read some about geology, astronomy, cosmology. It'll take a while, but the more you know, the more intelligible you'll be, and the better able you'll be to string ideas together when asked.
Let me copy something I wrote in another thread about someone asking what to read about:
Personally, I just finished 'The Greatest Show on Earth' by Dawkins a bit ago. It was pretty stunning even as someone who's never really been of the faithful. Only recently have I really started doing outside reading on these sorts of topics (as a kid the baptist tradition of the south where I live failed the 'looks like bullshit, smell like bullshit, probably bullshit' test for me and I just sort of disregarded the whole thing for the next 20 years or so) so I'm also fairly new to the ballgame in that sense. I've always believed in evolution as the origin of life on this planet but it was pretty amazing the enormity of evidence we now have supporting it, particularly with the advent of modern molecular biology and DNA sequencing. Our knowledge absolutely dwarfs the vague and semi-hand-wavy feel of the old 'we have some bones and radioactive dating stuff' that was glossed over in my education even at a college level 15 years ago.
If you really want to know about the evidence for evolution that books covers it, for the layman, in about as much detail as one could ask for. It is Dawkins, so there's no kid-gloves here and you will get the occasional "Only someone being willfully stupid could ignore all this evidence" type stuff, but the focus is pretty firmly on simply laying out the huge piles of evidence across many different areas of science all supporting common ancestry and evolution by natural selection.
That was nearly incoherent, and betrays at the very least a deep misunderstanding of what Darwin's theory of Evolution by process of Natural Selection is.
Strongly recommend getting and reading The Greatest Show on Earth. It'll give you a more-or-less up to date perspective on the breadth of evidence in support of evolution.
You might also be interested in Intelligent Design on Trial, wherein it was revealed that "Intelligent Design" is merely papered-over creationism with the same lack of evidence to support its assertions, and how it was demolished pretty conclusively in the courts - presided over by a Bush-appointed religious conservative judge who was completely convinced by the end of the trial.
Please educate yourself about the theory of evolution.
Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne
The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins
Kent Hovind received his "masters" and "doctorate" in "Christian Education" by correspondence by a non-accredited school. Hovind has no formal scientific training, no research credentials, no worthwhile understanding of the basics of biology and certainly not even the most rudimentary understanding of developmental biology. This article ranges from complete nonsense to outright lying. Bringing this article in here and suggesting that it points out holes in evolution ought to be embarrassing for you. If it isn't, then you are too uneducated on the subject to even bother taking seriously and a sufficient answer is we are as certain about evolution as we are that the earth goes around the sun despite what "Dr. Dino" says.
The Greatest Show on Earth, the book they are discussing in that interview, is one of the best books I have ever read. In it he lays out the case for evolution in a manner that is thorough, understandable, and beautiful. I can't recommend it enough. link
And beyond radiometric dating, there is also geology, historical documentation (beer alone was invented over 7000 years ago), evolution (The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution is fantastic), and ice cores (for example).
If your interested in the special diversity of Earth, I strongly recommend The Greatest Show On Earth, which does a truly marvelous job of putting a couple hundred years of initial speculation, exciting research, and modern evidence for evolution, and the basis of life on Earth into an easy to read book. It can be a little daunting at time, but I love the book, and recommend it fondly.
Oh boy, great questions but the answers can be really long and (again) belong under science moreso than philosophy. I think I'll link some resources and you can read at your leisure.
The Greatest Show on Earth: Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins
I would read the book The Greatest Show on Earth by Dawkins. It is well written in plain english that is easy to understand and follow.
Protip: Keep a copy or two of Your Inner Fish or Greatest Show on Earth (or your preferred book on evolution) to lend to any creationist you are trying to convince.
Good introduction to evolution: The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins
If you're truly curious, you can't do much better than these two books.
The Ancestor's Tale and The Greatest Show on Earth.
There are no missing links... its a red herring.
Read the 'greatest show on earth'
This one's from Dawkins and is listed in the FAQ: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution.
The book does bring up and refute creationist ideas to make evolutionary concepts more clear, but the main point of the book is to explain evolution very thoroughly to beginners. Dawkins is a fantastic teacher. If you want evolution-only and are looking for something more advanced, go with The Selfish Gene.
Dawkins has a fantastic book on precisely this: the evidence for evolution. There are a few chapters with specific examples we have actually observed, such as isolated populations of lizards on two islands and in-lab bacterial growth. (Remember that micro- and macro-evolution are the same thing.)
The book is The Greatest Show on Earth, and is probably available at your local library!!
Two books, one link:
Dawkins: Greatest Show on Earth
Coyne: Why Evolution is True
LMGTFY: Evidence of Evolution by Natural Selection
Well, if you really want to know, and not just go by what other people tell you, 24 hours is not a reasonable limit.
I'd recommend you do some reading. You can start with
Why Evolution Is True
The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence For Evolution
Your Inner Fish
And if you don't have much time, or are not that much of a reader, try
The Magic Of Reality: How We Know What Is True, which is aimed at young adults (don't get me wrong, I'm almost 30 and I loved it), but does a fantastic job of easily explaining, and has some kick ass graphics as well.
> You simply disbelieve because you refuse to try to understand.
I don't know about cephalgia, but for me: false. I "simply disbelieve" because there's a severe lack of evidence.
> If evolution explains all, how does evolution just "decide" it is going to do what it does?
You lack information of how evolution works. Go read The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins, or The God Delusion... If you dare.
> ... there is no reason to believe that when life was creating itself, ..., that conditions would change or that it would need to adapt... that's called consciousness
Again, a lack of information, because that's not how evolution works.
> but it fails in glaring fashion at explaining how it came to be in the first place
And again, a lack of information, because that's not what the theory of evolution explains.
> it's an idea, it can't create anything.
Again... (I think you're getting the idea here)
> Every cell in your body acts like a well oiled machine.
Say that to my face when I had 12 operations all related to my cleft lip, with which I was born with.
> Is evolution real? I have no idea
Then go learn about the evidence. Some of the most easily understood parts are in The Greatest Show on Earth. Rather than staying ignorant and sticking your head in the sand, learn about the world around you and all the evidence in it.
> The moon landing is fake, dunno.
Really!? ಠ_ಠ It happened at the height of the Cold War; if it were faked, I would expect the Soviets to have called the bluff and humiliated America in front of the rest of the world. We furthermore have moon rocks brought back from it that are unlike any rocks found on Earth, and we have photos from years later showing the tracks the astronauts made on the moon. Yes, it's possible that it was faked with the help of both superpowers from the Cold War, and that they have kept up this conspiracy for over two generations without any credible evidence leaking out, even bringing the Japanese into the conspiracy when they started sending probes to the moon. Would you agree that this scenario is vastly less likely than an actual moon landing would be?
> Mohammad split the moon in half, well I haven't heard that
That's why I linked you to info about it, which in turn has further links to further details. I'm mildly insulted that you don't appear to be considering my writing or looking at any evidence for your arguments before you write them down. Given what you can learn about it, you should be able to at least decide whether it's likely on unlikely, and the degree to which it is plausible.
> I simply take a non-stance on anything I do not know myself. I level my knowledge based on how reliable my source is.
I'm confused. I do the same thing, but we come to wildly different conclusions. You seem to be taking a solipsistic stance, that we cannot know anything about the outside world, so it's best just to give up and never learn anything or evaluate whether or not any claims are true. If you're trying to suggest that we can't have absolute 100% proof, then I agree, but that's a red herring. Go for reasonable evidence instead, and be willing to admit you're wrong if new evidence comes up. For instance, no one can prove for sure that unicorns don't exist, yet I really hope you think they don't exist, rather than saying "I don't know, maybe." In any day-to-day colloquial vernacular, I'd say I know that unicorns don't exist, and there is a common understanding of what that means. I'm not claiming to know absolutely for sure that at no time in history have any unicorns ever existed; I'm claiming that their existence is extremely unlikely given the evidence I have seen so far.
> we can revive a human... 50 years ago, and they would laugh at you.
The pioneering work behind life support machines was done in the 1930's; they wouldn't laugh at you in the 60's. Frankenstein was written in the early 1800's; the ideas were plausible back then even if they hadn't been fully implemented yet. Even if you went back further, they would only laugh at you if you didn't have evidence. Revive a human in front of them and explain how it works, and people would believe you.
> I am actually more of a skeptic than anything
You don't sound skeptical at all to me; skepticism is not the same as the extreme solipsistic stance you seem to be taking. When there is a vast preponderance of evidence for or against something, a skeptic accepts that evidence and believes or disbelieves in the thing until a vast preponderance of conflicting evidence arises.
I feel frustrated that you seem to be unwilling to accept the evidence around us (you seem to think we can't tell if segregation existed, or if Genghis Khan existed, or if Jesus really performed miracles, or if the moon landing was faked, etc.). I can't imagine you really go through life this way. You can't tell for sure if the sun will rise tomorrow, but I doubt you seriously consider what will happen if it doesn't. Why do you accept reasonable amounts of evidence for that but not for other aspects of the world?
> My reason for believing in a higher power... This experience has been experienced by many people, cross language and cultures, the same experience.
No, the higher powers experienced by people in different cultures religions are wildly different from each other. It's strange that so many people can agree that a higher power exists but have such disagreements about what this higher power is like. The details are not widely shared.
> without that my brain cannot come up with a society normal morality.
This is beside the point. How does whether or not you are able to be moral on your own have anything to do with how many authors the bible had (your original question), or whether any of it is historically accurate (what appears to be our main disagreement). There are lots of ethical systems you could subscribe to without believing Yahweh or Jesus existed or performed miracles.
And I would recommend reading The Greatest Show on Earth if you haven't already.
I suggest you read a couple of books that present the evidence for evolution very clearly:
Why Evolution Is True
The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
Evolution itself is a simple concept, but the evidence for it is broad and detailed across many scientific disciplines, and it all fits together.
Regarding the existence of God, one can't prove that your God doesn't exist, or that any of the other thousands of gods that have been worshiped through the ages don't exist. The real question is whether there is enough evidence to positively prove the existence of any one of those gods.
>I understand how we arrived at that theory, and it may even be true, but can we really say with 100% certainty that it is correct? Really?
100%? Sure, you're right. No, we can't be 100% sure. But we can be 99.9999% sure, and that's where we're at. Read The Greatest Show on Earth for a better understanding. All available evidence points to evolution of all species from a single common ancestor.
EDIT: Just wanted to add another phrasing: The theory of evolution is true beyond all reasonable doubt.
Don't forget The Greatest Show On Earth if you haven't got that one already. It's pretty great as well.
>evolution is based around the fact that existence is random and chaotic.
Evolution is the opposite of random. It's natural selection, not natural shit happens (no offense). It's a pattern: the things likely to be reproduced are reproduced the most, and there end up being the most of those things, until they completely overpower the others and they're all that's left and they're the new standard. (To answer your questions: The hornier humans made more babies. Then there were more horny babies and humans. Today, all the humans are horny (inclined to mate), to paraphrase.)
We're not naked all the time because it snows. (I'm simplifying, but do you see my point?) Also, culture. That's been around, in anthropological terms, fo eva. (Shyness is something else. This is all extremely complex.)
>And if you take into account that that would accelerate reproduction too much, food supply would diminish and natural selection would kick in.
Looks like you answered your own question there. It's like trees: being taller (mating more) gets them an advantage; but being too tall costs too many resources (we eat too much) and they even out.
I hate to sound insulting, but there are soo many things wrong with your post; you don't understand evolution at all. I think you should read up on it a little. If you're willing to read a book, Richard Dawkins's The Greatest Show on Earth is amazing. Not only will it give you a wonderful understanding, but it's just a brilliant read, and I plan on rereading it for the fun of it. And I got the tree thing from Chapter 12. (Dawkins explains it much better.)
But if you don't want to read a whole book, maybe find some articles or something.
Anyway, good luck.
Buy it. Read It.
EDIT: quick note...for all those who enjoy those goofy memes...(and even for those who don't) Richard Dawkins introduced the term "memes" in his book The Selfish Gene.
Just posted this recomended reading/viewing list in another thread:
Universe from Nothing Video
Universe From Nothing Book (this is not released yet)
The Selfish Gene Book
How New Organs arise video
Why Evolution is true Video
Greatest show on Earth Book
"The Blank Slate", "Guns Germs and Steel" "Your Inner Fish" and "Journey of Man"
Of all these, the last three and "The Selfish Gene" are my faves. "The God delusion is a great book, but it's not as focussed on scientific revelations as these.
It's a fascinating universe, I envy you being able to explore it with freshly awakened curiosity.
My one-stop book recommendation would be Sam Harris's Letter to a Christian Nation. It's a short read, but nearly every paragraph is its own distinct argument, and it covers a lot of territory.
If you're aiming to construct your paper around a set of the most popular arguments, here are some common refutations to arguments for the existence of God. Keep in mind that many of our arguments are in the form of refutation instead of assertion, since the burden of proof is on the claimant:
Ontological Argument (Argument from experience) - We assert that feelings do not equal facts; revelation is not a reliable basis for a factual claim. We also realize that to criticize someone for feelings that are personal can seem like a personal attack. Most of us wouldn't tell someone who claims he/she had a spiritual experience that it didn't happen, but we would try to find a scientific explanation rather than coming to the immediate conclusion that it was God's doing. As a brief example, a friend of mine said he "felt the touch of God" when his daughter was born, but we interpret his feeling as a normal, natural high that most people feel at such an emotional moment.
Teleological Argument (Argument from design) - We accept the evidence for evolution and realize that it is inconsistent with the biblical creation story. For further reading about what proof we have for evolution, I'd personally recommend The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins, and he promotes Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution Is True though I haven't read the latter yet.
Cosmological Argument (Causal Argument) - This is a case of people assigning the "God" label to something difficult to comprehend. The best we have to go on so far is the Big Bang Theory, and scientists will continue to test the theory. We don't have evidence that the beginning of the universe was brought about by an omnipotent/omniscient being outside of what is claimed by religious texts, and that goes back to the. We might also ask, "who/what made God?" inviting an infinite loop of "which came first" questions.
Moral Argument - We believe (normal) people are able to tell the difference between right and wrong without religious guidance. In turn, it seems that the Christian Bible teaches, excuses, or condones actions that our enlightened society would deem immoral, such as slavery, killing of children and non-heterosexuals, oppression, rape, and genocide. Interpretations of the Bible differ, of course, and most modern Christians don't believe they should actually kill their disobedient children (or that the laws of the Old Testament no longer apply since the coming of Christ, which is another conversation). Regardless of arguments from the Bible, we believe that science can tell us a lot more about morality than we give it credit for.
Lastly, here is a wikipedia list of lots more arguments in case you'd like to ask about specific ones: link
Good luck, and I hope you enjoy writing your paper. Not that you should necessarily crowd-source coursework, but you'd probably get quite a strong response if you posted up a final draft, too.
I turned my younger brother on to logic via Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.
While not a book, per se, the appeal to fan fiction and use of science to dissect magic got him hooked, and he's shared it with all his friends. Not sure if that would fly with your cousin's parents, given the wizards and what not.
I mean, if you bought them a book on evolution, would their fundamentalist parents would let them read it? It reasons out very clearly why evolution is a fact using some simple critical thinking...
::sigh:: I wish religious indoctrination were outlawed below a certain age.