Best history of religion books according to redditors

We found 366 Reddit comments discussing the best history of religion books. We ranked the 130 resulting products by number of redditors who mentioned them. Here are the top 20.

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Top Reddit comments about General History of Religion:

u/TooManyInLitter · 35 pointsr/DebateAnAtheist

> ... the Byzantine Empire preserved the knowledge of the Roman Empire...

Claim accepted for discussion.

> thus Christains didn't cause science to stagnate.

Does not necessarily follow from above claim, nor from presented argument.

At best one can conclude - Christianity, and Christians, grudgingly advanced scientific knowledge through a filter of theological apologetics with up to outright rejection if the natural philosophy/scientific knowledge was counter to Christian tenets or traditions. And much scientific knowledge was developed in historically Christian countries/societies in spite of Christianity. However, Christianity did play a support role in scientific knowledge as the Church was, through political and economic control of the various countries/societies, as the Church was an accumulator of wealth that allowed spending (because they were the only institution that had sufficient wealth) on abstracts like natural philosophy/scientific knowledge development.

Care to learn more where the Church/Christianity retarded scientific knowledge accumulation/dissemination?

u/The_New_34 · 31 pointsr/Christianity

As a Catholic, I can assure you Catholics ARE Christians. Mel Gibson is a Catholic... sort of. He's a Sedevacantist.

Man, call yourself a Christian! I would also recommend looking into the Roman Catholic faith or the Eastern Orthdox faith (we're the OG Christians, lol).

Yes, get a Bible, but DON'T read it cover-to-cover. Once you get to Leviticus, you'll be like, "What the actual f--- is going ON here?" Start with the New Testament, specifically one of the Gospels. I personally love the Gospel of Luke because of how it portrays Mary, but the Gospel of John is quite good, too. It's very symbolic and is perhaps the one you could study the deepest.

if you're finding it hard to understand some of the New Testament of the Bible (the part with Jesus, the letters of Paul, and the Book of Revelation,) I would recommend buying the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible. It's an actual, readable Bible that contains commentary throughout. The version I linked is only for the New Testament. The Old Testament analysis is still being compiled, but it's almost done.

Also, listen to Scott Hahn's podcast where he breaks down various sections of the Bible.

As for reading materials outside the Bible, I can highly recommend Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis, Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton, and Chesterton's other work The Everlasting Man.

Oh yeah, PRAY! Just have a conversation with God! Talk to him about anything you want! Pray to God, ask the Blessed Mother for intercession, or any of the saints

If you're confused about the various denominations of Christianity, Here's a basic flow chart.

Here's the Nicene Creed, which is a mash-up of what (most) Christians believe

Also, I highly recommend the Podcast Pints with Aquians! It's an analysis of the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, who's life mission was to combine faith with human reason and prove that it was not unreasonable to believe in God, but perhaps it is unreasonable to not believe in God.

I, along with everyone on this sub, will be praying for you! Good luck on your faith journey!

u/jeanralph · 21 pointsr/The_Donald

Damn right.

It's a bit of a long read, but anyone interested in how Enlightenment ideas only make sense in the context of Europe's Christian roots should read this book by Larry "Based" Siedentop.

u/WastedP0tential · 20 pointsr/DebateAnAtheist

You wanted to be part of the intelligentsia, but throughout your philosophical journey, you always based your convictions only on authority and tradition instead of on evidence and arguments. Don't you realize that this is the epitome of anti – intellectualism?

It is correct that the New Atheists aren't the pinnacle of atheistic thought and didn't contribute many new ideas to the academic debate of atheism vs. theism or religion. But this was never their goal, and it is also unnecessary, since the academic debate is already over for many decades. If you want to know why the arguments for theism are all complete nonsense and not taken seriously anymore, why Christianity is wrong just about everything and why apologists like Craig are dishonest charlatans who make a living out of fooling people, your reading list shouldn't be New Atheists, but rather something like this:

Colin Howson – Objecting to God

George H. Smith – Atheism: The Case Against God

Graham Oppy – Arguing about Gods

Graham Oppy – The Best Argument Against God

Herman Philipse – God in the Age of Science

J. L. Mackie – The Miracle of Theism

J. L. Schellenberg – The Wisdom to Doubt

Jordan Sobel – Logic and Theism

Nicholas Everitt – The Non-Existence of God

Richard Gale – On the Nature and Existence of God

Robin Le Poidevin – Arguing for Atheism

Stewart Elliott Guthrie – Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion

Theodore Drange – Nonbelief & Evil

[Avigor Shinan – From Gods to God: How the Bible Debunked, Suppressed, or Changed Ancient Myths and Legends] (

Bart Ehrman – The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings

Bart Ehrman – Jesus, Interrupted

Bart Ehrman – Misquoting Jesus

Burton L. Mack – Who Wrote the New Testament?

Helmut Koester – Ancient Christian Gospels

John Barton, John Muddiman – The Oxford Bible Commentary

John Dominic Crossan – Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography

Karen Armstrong – A History of God

Mark Smith – The Early History of God

Randel McCraw Helms – Who Wrote the Gospels?

Richard Elliott Friedman – Who Wrote the Bible?

Robert Bellah – Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age

Robert Walter Funk – The Gospel of Jesus

u/DoubtingThomas50 · 16 pointsr/exmormon

The cross only became taboo in Mormonism under David O. McKay. It was an anti-Catholic gesture in response to Catholic's efforts to proselytize in SLC and other anti-Catholic sentiments.

Read Banishing the Cross: Banishing the Cross: The Emergence of a Mormon Taboo

u/Pope-Urban-III · 16 pointsr/Catholicism

Galileo had a theory about the movement of the planets. He argued for his theory, the church scientists at the time said that if his theory were true, we'd be able to see parallax, but the instruments were not good enough for it. They also pointed out that if it were true, we'd have to reinterpret certain lines of scripture.

Then Galileo began arguing that Scripture showed his theory was true, and the church told him not to do that.

>Following this up, the Consultor of the Holy Office and Master of Controversial Questions (a Title which the existence of alone makes me proud of my religion) Cardinal Robert Bellarmine told Galileo it was perfectly acceptable to maintain Copernicanism as a working hypothesis, and if there were “real proof” that the earth circles around the sun, “then we should have to proceed with great circumspection in explaining passages of Scripture which appear to teach the contrary…” Basically, until you have proof, stop trying to interpret Scripture. Galileo ignored this, continued campaigning, and was then brought to the Inquisition, and put under house-arrest, where he died a mass-going, daily-prayer Catholic.

More details can be found here or here.

u/superherowithnopower · 14 pointsr/Christianity

The unfortunately-titled book, Atheist Delusions by David Bentley Hart, is a pretty direct refutation of some of the New Atheist tropes.

For a somewhat more difficult read, his latest book, The Experience of God, takes on some of the more metaphysical misunderstandings that New Atheists (and many theists) make about what God actually is.

For a much easier and shorter summary, in a sense, of The Experience of God, take a look at DBH's article in First Things, God, Gods, and Fairies which covers similar ground in a much more introductory way (and has the benefit of being freely available).

u/Pertinax126 · 11 pointsr/AcademicBiblical

If you're genuinely interested, I recommend either The Origin of Satan by Elaine Pagels. Or if you want something a little less dry and academic, then check out A History of the Devil by Gerald Messadie.

But briefly, I would say that the "Christian cults got the notion that he's the 'enemy of God'" through the New Testament. 2 Corinthians 11 and Mark 3:25 are two quick examples of this.

u/seagoonie · 11 pointsr/spirituality

Here's a list of books I've read that have had a big impact on my journey.

First and foremost tho, you should learn to meditate. That's the most instrumental part of any spiritual path.

 Ram Dass – “Be Here Now” - - Possibly the most important book in the list – was the biggest impact in my life.  Fuses Western and Eastern religions/ideas. Kinda whacky to read, but definitely #1

Ram Dass - “Journey Of Awakening” - - Another Ram Dass book - once I got more into Transcendental Meditation and wanted to learn other ways/types of meditation, this helped out.

 Clifford Pickover – “Sex, Drugs, Einstein & Elves…” - - Somewhat random, frantic book – explores lots of ideas – planted a lot of seeds in my head that I followed up on in most of the books below

 Daniel Pinchbeck – “Breaking Open the Head” - - First book I read to explore impact of psychedelics on our brains

 Jeremy Narby – “Cosmic Serpent” - - Got into this book from the above, explores Ayahuasca deeper and relevancy of serpent symbolism in our society and DNA

 Robert Forte – “Entheogens and the Future of Religion” - - Collection of essays and speeches from scientists, religious leaders, etc., about the use of psychedelics (referred to as Entheogens) as the catalyst for religion/spirituality

 Clark Strand – “Waking up to the Dark” - - Explores human’s addiction to artificial light, also gets into femininity of religion as balance to masculine ideas in our society

 Lee Bolman – “Leading with Soul” - - Discusses using spirituality to foster a better, more supportive and creative workplace – pivotal in my honesty/openness approach when chatting about life with coworkers

 Eben Alexander – “Proof of Heaven” - - A neurophysicist discusses his near death experience and his transformation from non-believer to believer (title is a little click-baity, but very insightful book.  His descriptions of his experience align very similarly to deep meditations I’ve had)

 Indries Shah – “Thinkers of the East” - - A collection of parables and stories from Islamic scholars.  Got turned onto Islamic writings after my trip through Pakistan, this book is great for structure around our whole spiritual “journey”

 Whitley Strieber – “The Key: A True Encounter” - - A man’s recollection of a conversation with a spiritual creature visiting him in a hotel room.  Sort of out there, easy to dismiss, but the topics are pretty solid

 Mary Scott – “Kundalini in the Physical World” - - Very dense, very difficult scientific book exploring Hinduism and metaphysics (wouldn’t recommend this for light reading, definitely something you’d want to save for later in your “journey”)

 Hermann Hesse – “Siddartha” - – Short novel about a spiritual journey, coming of age type book.  Beautifully written, very enjoyable.

Reza Aslan - “Zealot” - - Talks about the historical Jesus - helped me reconnect with Christianity in a way I didn’t have before

Reza Aslan - “No god but God” - - Same as above, but in terms of Mohammad and Islam.  I’m starting to try to integrate the “truths” of our religions to try and form my own understanding

Thich Nhat Hanh - “Silence” - - Hanh’s a Vietnamese Buddhist monk - in this book he writes a lot about finding the beauty in silence, turning off the voice in our heads and lives, and living in peace.

Paulo Coelho - “The Alchemist” - - Sort of a modern day exploration of “the path” similar to “Siddhartha.”  Very easy and a joy to read, good concepts of what it means to be on a “path”

Carlos Castaneda - "The Teachings of Don Juan" - The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge - Started exploring more into shamanism and indigenous spiritual work; this book was a great intro and written in an entertaining and accessible way. 

Jean-Yves Leloup - “The Gospel of Mary” - - The book that finally opened my eyes to the potentiality of the teachings of Christ.  This book, combined with the one below, have been truly transformative in my belief system and accepting humanity and the power of love beyond what I’ve found so far in my journey.

Jean-Yves Leloup - “The Gospel of Philip” - - Really begins to dissect and dive into the metaphysical teachings of Christ, exploring the concept of marriage, human union and sexuality, and the power contained within.  This book, combined with the one above, have radically changed my perception of The Church as dissimilar and antithetical to what Christ actually taught.

Ram Dass - “Be Love Now” - - A follow-up to “Be Here Now” - gets more into the esoteric side of things, his relationship with his Guru, enlightenment, enlightened beings, etc.

Riane Eisler - “The Chalice and the Blade” - - An anthropoligical book analyzing the dominative vs cooperative models in the history and pre-history of society and how our roots have been co-opted and rewritten by the dominative model to entrap society into accepting a false truth of violence and dominance as “the way it is”

u/Witty_Weasel · 11 pointsr/TrueChristian

For me I'm going to go a bit old school. First "The Abolition of Man" by C. S. Lewis, which argues for a sort of 'Universal Truth'. I thought it was endlessly fascinating, and it's really an easy, short read. (The audio book was only an few hours long). There's also Lewis's "Mere Christianity" which is once again easy and short. In it he sort of starts with a shortened version of the argument found in Abolition, and from there discusses why Christianity itself works as the 'Universal Truth'.

If your looking for something thicker, I would suggest G. K. Chesterton's "Heretics", which blasts away the philosophy of his contemporaries (Which is still applicable today), "Orthodoxy" which discusses his own conversion and his own search for truth, and "The Everlasting Man" which discusses the history of mankind and Christianity's role in it. (This was also the book that converted Lewis' intellect).

Chesterton is not necessarily a difficult read because of lengthy words, or because he references something no longer fashionable, but because of his ideas. I like to think I can understand things fairly well, but I had to pause often to go over a phrase, or to really think about a thought he presented. But both authors are very enjoyable.

u/global_domer · 9 pointsr/DebateReligion

Before I get to my main point, I would just like to briefly comment upon this short phrase,

>another case of philosophy failing to keep up with modern science

which demonstrates a patent lack of understanding of what philosophy and science are, and what distinguishes them, as disciplines. Science's domain is the empirical -- it is concerned with physical stuff, with things that can be physically (and usually quantitatively) observed, measured, and examined. Philosophy is concerned with metaphysics, that is, with non-empirical reflection, and for that reason can never really 'keep up' with science. You cannot derive from empirical foundations the principles of moral behaviour, nor what constitutes a 'just' political system, nor whether there is an immaterial God. There is no 'keeping up' between philosophy and science. They deal with fundamentally different subject matter.

To the main point: Arguments to the effect of modern science (in any field, not just cosmology) definitively disproving the existence of God are short-sighted. Even recent developments in the field of cosmology are insufficient to demonstrate the non-necessity of a God, for the reason that they do not broach the fundamental question of why anything at all exists. The classical theist, drawing upon Aristotle, would consider the notion of a godless universe as patently bizarre. Any universe is necessarily 'contingent' in philosophical terms, which means that there is a distinction between what it could be (its potentiality) and what it is at any given moment (its actuality). Since any universe (or any set of pre-universe laws or constants) is necessarily contingent, subject to either change or the mere theoretical possibility of existing in some other way, its existence is not necessary as such.

The theist would then say that, to explain all contingent realities, we must posit some ultimate non-contingent reality in which no distinction exists between potentiality and actuality. In other words, all contingent, non-necessary reality must derive from some necessary reality, which cannot be any particular universe nor any pre-universe state of contingent laws. In theological language, this necessary entity which is fully actual (the 'I AM who am' of the Jewish tradition) is termed 'God.'

Edit: To quote from the great David Bentley Hart,

>Hawking’s dismissal of God as an otiose explanatory hypothesis, for instance, is a splendid example of a false conclusion drawn from a confused question. He clearly thinks that talk of God’s creation of the universe concerns some event that occurred at some particular point in the past, prosecuted by some being who appears to occupy the shadowy juncture between a larger quantum landscape and the specific conditions of our current cosmic order; by “God,” that is to say, he means only a demiurge, coming after the law of gravity but before the present universe, whose job was to nail together all the boards and firmly mortar all the bricks of our current cosmic edifice. So Hawking naturally concludes that such a being would be unnecessary if there were some prior set of laws — just out there, so to speak, happily floating along on the wave-functions of the quantum vacuum — that would permit the spontaneous generation of any and all universes. It never crosses his mind that the question of creation might concern the very possibility of existence as such, not only of this universe but of all the laws and physical conditions that produced it, or that the concept of God might concern a reality not temporally prior to this or that world, but logically and necessarily prior to all worlds, all physical laws, all quantum events, and even all possibilities of laws and events. From the perspective of classical metaphysics, Hawking misses the whole point of talk of creation: God would be just as necessary even if all that existed were a collection of physical laws and quantum states, from which no ordered universe had ever arisen; for neither those laws nor those states could exist of themselves. But — and here is the crucial issue — those who argue for the existence of God principally from some feature or other of apparent cosmic design are guilty of the same conceptual confusion; they make a claim like Hawking’s seem solvent, or at least relevant, because they themselves have not advanced beyond the demiurgic picture of God. By giving the name “God” to whatever as yet unknown agent or property or quality might account for this or that particular appearance of design, they have produced a picture of God that it is conceivable the sciences could some day genuinely make obsolete, because it really is a kind of rival explanation to the explanations the sciences seek. This has never been true of the God described in the great traditional metaphysical systems. The true philosophical question of God has always been posed at a far simpler but far more primordial and comprehensive level; it concerns existence as such: the logical possibility of the universe, not its mere physical probability. God, properly conceived, is not a force or cause within nature, and certainly not a kind of supreme natural explanation.

from The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss (

u/Supervisor194 · 8 pointsr/exjw

I'm very sorry for your situation but the unvarnished truth of the matter is that your relationship with your father as you knew him is probably over, at least for a while. This is a high-control religion that values membership in itself as the highest of priorities. Your father will likely be unable to stop himself and in the short-term it will adversely affect your relationship with him.

My father has been a Witness all his life and we have a great relationship, so the good news is that it is possible. But my father has been jaded by many years of listening to unfulfilled promises of imminent paradise, so the religion is not clouding his thinking as deeply as it is clouded in a new convert like your father. With time, he will - as all humans do - get subconsciously bored with it all and while he won't likely be shaken from his beliefs he won't be as forward about them.

In the meantime, I suggest that you reconsider your supportive attitude and especially as regards your children, make it very clear that any attempts at indoctrinating your children will NOT be tolerated. With regard to families, this is perhaps the most dangerous of religions, as it perversely destroys them in the most unnatural of ways. It may behoove you to understand the religion a bit so I recommend that you obtain and read a copy of the book Crisis of Conscience so that you can understand why your father's decision to be a part of it does not deserve your support.

I'm sorry you have to be put through this, but do become educated and do be vigilant. This religion is a dangerous mind virus.

Edit: holy smokes, Crisis of Conscience is out of print it seems and those prices are crazy. Here is a pdf of it.

u/alfin_timiro · 8 pointsr/latterdaysaints

I highly recommend reading Banishing the Cross, a book about changing attitudes toward the cross in the LDS Church.

u/njrollem · 8 pointsr/atheism

The Case for God, by Karen Armstrong. I'm a strong atheist, but I enjoy hearing her talk. I doubt she'll convince you, but at least she won't fill you with a murderous rage and you'll bea able to finish the book.

u/NDAugustine · 7 pointsr/DebateReligion

Faith and reason are not opposed to one another. For a Catholic perspective, read John Paul II's Fides et Ratio. One of the ways that rationality helped me move from being a Nietzschean atheist to being a Catholic is the philosophical incoherence of materialism. I would recommend a recently-published book by the Orthodox Philosopher/Theologian David Bentley Hart titled, The Experience of God, which has one of the best arguments against materialism as a philosophy I've ever seen.

u/WhoTookPlasticJesus · 7 pointsr/HistoryofIdeas

The Origin of Satan by Elaine Pagels and A History of the Devil by Gerald Messadié are both excellent books on the subject. As you may have guessed the Pagels book concentrates on the Judeo-Christian history where the Messadié book covers a wider assortment of religions. He can be a little self-satisfied and smug in parts, but if you can overlook that the material and his writing are excellent. Given Pagels academic background her book is predictably more objective, but not at all dry and very readable. I highly recommend both (and BTW if I lent you my copy of either could you please return? TIA).

u/Dr-Wonderful · 7 pointsr/Reformed

Any standard work on the subject, whether literary or archeological, would point away from the basic framework of your interpretation. (The best evidence, of course, is always the Bible, properly interpreted in its context, itself).

The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts

The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel (The Biblical Resource Series)

Stories from Ancient Canaan, Second Edition

The Old Testament: A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures

The Oxford Handbook of the Abrahamic Religions (Oxford Handbooks)

History of Religious Ideas, Volume 1: From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries

Religions of the Ancient World: A Guide (Harvard University Press Reference Library)

None of these propose an exact duplicate of this simplistic model, but they triangulate to something very similar.

u/generalgrant · 6 pointsr/Christianity

I'm reading a book called The Case for God that claims religion was largely understood in mythical terms when stories like that were written. That is to say, nobody thought they were supposed to be taken literally. Instead, they would understand religious stories to carry a higher truth in the form of imagery and symbolism that could be understood on a deeper level, like a piece of art.

Just a thought.

u/mobius_sp · 6 pointsr/exjw

Maybe this will help?

Please note that I have not read any of the actual books I linked, so I can't say definitively that they have what you are looking for.

I'd also like to add that JWFacts, though not acceptable to your family, has an extensive article written about the claims of the WT (and Chuckie Russel's calculations) for the 607 BCE date. In that article are several citations for source material. I'll list a few of them here:

Raymond Philip Dougherty's Nabonidus and Belshazzar, Yale University Press, page 10

The Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology, page 274

The Gentile Times Reconsidered, Carl O. Jonsson

And, as an added bonus for your purchase of this comment for the low, low price of 3 easy installment payments of $19.99 US (no refunds), I'll throw in some extra source links just because I like you and your request for historical information.

The problem that you're going to face in trying to prove the whole 607 BCE vs. the actual 587 BCE date is that most historical authors take it as a matter of fact that 587 BCE is the actual date due to mountains of historical evidence (tablets, stelae, tax documents, chronicles, etc.) The only people who seem to think that 607 BCE is the actual date for the fall of Jerusalem are Jehovah's Witnesses (and a few Millerite leftovers from the end of the 1870's). Unfortunately, as is common for Watchtower and it's followers, when they are presented with the reams of actual historical records that support real history they stick their fingers in their ears and shout "LALALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU LALALALALA!" because, as a good JW should know, when the facts don't support their suppositions then it's DEMONS and SATAN manipulating the data.

In other words, if you're looking for actual facts to sway your family's opinions, it's not likely to happen. I'm not saying that you shouldn't try... just be aware of the likely outcome so you aren't disappointed too much. Many (perhaps most?) people decide on what they believe for largely emotional reasons. This means that data and facts alone are often not enough to sway them. For proof, look at global climate change deniers, creationists, and all the other swirling pools of ignorant humanity who refuse to believe science when the evidence is laid before them (I'm looking at you, Senator Ted Cruz, you jackassed idiot.)

u/BvanWinkle · 6 pointsr/bahai

I suggest two books by Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Baha'i Faith. Gleanings which is short selections from his writings and the Hidden Words Hidden Words .

For an overall view of teachings and history, there is Baha'u'llah and the New Era

u/Shoeshine-Boy · 5 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Personal research, mostly. I'm a big history nerd with a slant toward religion and other macabre subject matter. I'm actually not as well read as I'd like to be on these subjects, and I basically blend different sources into a knowledge smoothie and pour it out onto a page and see what works for me and what doesn't.

I'll list a few books I've read that I enjoyed. There are certainly more here and there, but these are the "big ones" I was citing when writing all the comments in this thread. I typically know more about Christianity than the other major faiths because of the culture around me.

Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years - Diarmaid MacCulloch

A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam - Karen Armstrong

The next two balance each other out quite well. Hardline anti-theism contrasted with "You know, maybe we can make this work".

The Case for God - Karen Armstrong

The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins

Lately, I have been reading the Stoics, which like Buddhism, I find to be one of the more personally palatable philosophies of mind I have come across, although I find rational contemplation a bit more accessible to my Westernized nature.

Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters - Translated by Moses Hadas

Discourses and Selected Writings (of Epictetus) - Translated by Robert Dobbin

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius - Translated by George Long

I'm still waiting on Fed Ex to deliver this one:

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy - William B. Irvine

Also, if you're into history in general, a nice primer for what sorts of things to dive into when poking around history is this fun series on YouTube. I usually watch a video then spend a while reading more in depth about whatever subject is covered that week in order to fill the gaps. Plus, John and Hank are super awesome. The writing is superb and I think, most importantly, he presents an overall argument for why studying history is so important because of its relevance to current events.

Crash Course: World History - John Green

u/Aristox · 5 pointsr/ExploreReligion

A History of God by Karen Armstrong would be a great start. It is pretty comprehensive/thorough and not hugely biased.

u/pygatea · 5 pointsr/AskHistorians

Because no one has said it yet, The Evolution of God by Robert Wright ( is a great book that covers this topic thoroughly.

u/GuitarGuru2001 · 5 pointsr/Christianity

for an overview of what it presents, go here. Video version. Basically the concept of Yaheweh evolved over about 6 centuries out of the old caananite pantheon, which included el, ashera (el's lover) and baal. Due to a combination of xeonphobia (thanks to being invaded over and over) and political unrest, certain prophets were given sounding boxes more than others, while other prophets were silenced.

Editors and redactors then went in and changed certain historical details or laws present in the torah and history books (see my previous post on Genesis 1 vs Genesis 2), king Josiah 'discovered' the book of deuteronomy (read: wrote a new set of more-totalitarian laws to unite the kingdom), and created stories and myths that made it seem like Israel's biggest problem was always turning to false gods, away from Yahweh (who merged personalities with El), the war god.

another good read that is the archaeological parallel to the karen armstrong book is "The Bible Unearthed" by Finklestein. It points out the archaeological findings of the transformation from polytheism, to monolateralism (belief in multiple gods but showing preference to one), to monotheism. It also points out the fact that there is no credible evidence for a large portion of the 'history' in the bible, such as the exodus, the wandering in the desert, the mass genocides; "Israel" was a people group that was already there, and just gained a new national identify thanks to very creative myth-weavers.

Finally, I'm currently reading "The Evolution of God" by Robert Wright (a journalist) who pulls together and condenses a lot of this information into one. He's an expert at literature surveying and information condensing.

u/greatjasoni · 5 pointsr/slatestarcodex

This seems like a word salad of assertions without any actual derivation from first principles. A first principles faith would be Thomism and it's already extensively mapped out with all sorts of variations. Maybe look into analytic Thomism? Physics, the multiverse, etc. would have to be first derived from metaphysical principles which aren't established here. I don't know what the first principles of the article are. It seems more like an aesthetic than a coherent set of beliefs.

You're trying to untangle what can and cant be coherently said about God. Sophisticated theology mapped out all these linguistic issues thousands of years ago, and in the analytic tradition continues to get more and more precise statements. It engages with the multiverse, the probabilistic logic of good/evil, what does and doesn't fit in a word game, all of that. You're unnecessarily reinventing the wheel here. I personally think analytic thomism is misguided and you're better served by a classical picture. But it is a whole field that seems to share your interests and made lots of rigorous logical progress.

u/AHRoulette · 5 pointsr/exjw

Maybe he is (like many) afraid of the consequences of choosing to challenge and/or walk away from the cult. JW's are really good at shunning friends and family members and most people can't deal with losing everyone and everything they have ever known.

Using the internet is not against the rules and he might think that he can convert Atheists by talking to them and debating them. He also probably thinks that doing this makes "Jehovah" happy.

Try to sneak this or better yet, valid points from it, into conversation. I wouldn't be very blatant about it, but if you're digging in, then that book is a GREAT place to dig. Be careful though, because he is trained to adamantly reject "apostate" (aka any former member who says JW's are NOT the one true religion) material. The author of that book was shunned as an apostate and is/was loathed by any JW who knows of him. THAT is how you know it's such a good book! ;-)

All in all, the JW cult is full of A++ mind're friend is probably a victim.

u/NomadicVagabond · 5 pointsr/religion

First of all, can I just say how much I love giving and receiving book recommendations? I was a religious studies major in college (and was even a T.A. in the World Religions class) so, this is right up my alley. So, I'm just going to take a seat in front of my book cases...


  1. A History of God by Karen Armstrong

  2. The Great Transformation by Karen Armstrong

  3. Myths: gods, heroes, and saviors by Leonard Biallas (highly recommended)

  4. Natural History of Religion by David Hume

  5. Beyond Tolerance by Gustav Niebuhr

  6. Acts of Faith by Eboo Patel (very highly recommended, completely shaped my view on pluralism and interfaith dialogue)

  7. The Evolution of God by Robert Wright


  8. Tales of the End by David L. Barr

  9. The Historical Jesus by John Dominic Crossan

  10. Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography by John Dominic Crossan

  11. The Birth of Christianity by John Dominic Crossan

  12. Who Wrote the New Testament? by Burton Mack

  13. Jesus in America by Richard Wightman Fox

  14. The Five Gospels by Robert Funk, Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar (highly recommended)

  15. Remedial Christianity by Paul Alan Laughlin


  16. The Jewish Mystical Tradition by Ben Zion Bokser

  17. Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard Elliot Friedman


  18. Muhammad by Karen Armstrong

  19. No God but God by Reza Aslan

  20. Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations by Michael Sells


  21. Buddha by Karen Armstrong

  22. Entering the Stream ed. Samuel Bercholz & Sherab Chodzin Kohn

  23. The Life of Milarepa translated by Lobsang P. Lhalungpa

  24. Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism by John Powers

  25. Zen Flesh, Zen Bones compiled by Paul Reps (a classic in Western approached to Buddhism)

  26. Buddhist Thought by Paul Williams (if you're at all interested in Buddhist doctrine and philosophy, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not reading this book)


  27. The Essential Chuang Tzu trans. by Sam Hamill & J.P. Seaton


  28. Atheism by Julian Baggini

  29. The Future of an Illusion by Sigmund Freud

  30. Doubt: A History by Jennifer Michael Hecht

  31. When Atheism Becomes Religion by Chris Hedges

  32. Atheism: The Case Against God by George H. Smith
u/TheLurkerSpeaks · 5 pointsr/bahai

The Kitab-I-Aqdas means The Most Holy Book, but I don't think it's fair to equate it with being the Baha'i Bible or Qur'an. It is one of literally hundreds of books and tablets which comprise the Writings of Baha'u'llah, the Prophet-Founder of the Baha'i Faith, all of which are sacred, all of which are equivalent in importance to the Bible for Christians/Qur'an for Muslims. It's also not the best reading for someone completely new to the Faith, as it is speaking to a Baha'i audience who is asking for laws, some of which might not be understood out of context.

On top of that, the Baha'i Faith has the Writings of the Bab (the Prophet-Founder of the Bab'i Faith, Predecessor to the Baha'i Faith) and 'Abdu'l-Baha (son of Baha'u'llah, authorized interpreter of the Writings of Baha'u'llah) which are given nearly equivalent weight. That brings the total volume of sacred Writings of the Baha'is to several orders of magnitude greater than that of most any other world religion. It can be difficult to know where to start, and overwhelming when someone heaps book after book after book upon you. We're not even getting into Shoghi Effendi or the Universal House of Justice yet.

God Speaks Again by Kenneth Bowers is a great starting point for someone who knows nothing.

Baha'u'llah and the New Era by J.E.Esslemont was the starting point for decades before this.

The Hidden Words by Baha'u'llah is my choice for a first read of the Holy Writings.

The Kitab-I-Iqan/Book of Certitude by Baha'u'llah is much heavier reading, but is the core of Baha'i Theology, if you want to dive into the deep end.

Thief in the Night by William Sears is my starting point for people who are intimately familiar with Christianity and the Bible.

My advice is to start with only one book, then move to others. Have fun!

Edited for grammar

u/roguevalley · 5 pointsr/bahai

What is your background and what are you trying to learn?

The most essential spiritual teachings are enshrined in the beautiful little book called The Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah.

If you want an introduction to the history, teachings, and community, Baha'u'llah and the New Era is a wonderful book:

u/ziddina · 5 pointsr/UnethicalLifeProTips

Hah! Just mention Ray Franz and his first book, "Crisis of Conscience", in which he strips the mask off of the Watchtower Society leaders. Ray Franz was one of the leaders of the Jehovah's Witnesses until he was driven out in a real witch hunt, whereupon he wrote a tell-all book that exposes most of their dirty secrets.

u/OrvilleSchnauble · 5 pointsr/exmormon

GBH said all that stuff about why we don't use the cross. This is a much better answer from guide to the scriptures:

"The wooden structure upon which Jesus Christ was crucified (Mark 15:20–26). Many in the world now think of it as a symbol of Christ’s crucifixion and atoning sacrifice; however, the Lord has established his own symbols for his crucifixion and sacrifice—the bread and the water of the sacrament (Matt. 26:26–28; D&C 20:40, 75–79)."

Also, to add to your comment about Catholics, Banishing the Cross by Michael G. Reed discusses the episode in Utah history where the Catholic church and the LDS church were butting heads. According to him, that is why we don't use the cross. Interesting book, though.

EDIT: /u/jdovew mentioned the same book. Should have read the thread... haha

u/amodrenman · 5 pointsr/latterdaysaints

I am an active latter-day saint, and I wear a cross. I have a cross that I made on the wall of my home, as well. I started when I received one on my mission in Russia, and I have continued to wear one because of what it means to me. If you want to read some of the history of crosses and the church, check out this book by an LDS grad student. I've read it and discussed the central theory with a BYU professor; the research seems sound, too, and fits with the other things I've read in the historical periods discussed.

Moreover, the cross is a symbol. Read some scriptures about what it means. Think about what it might mean to you. If you don't want to wear it don't. But there is nothing taught in Mormonism that says you should not wear one, just the remains of some anti-Catholicism and some garbled thinking. It is not the symbol of the Mormon faith, but it is a symbol of Christ.

u/if_and_only_if · 5 pointsr/islam

I was a Catholic. I had issues with certain parts of the faith that I didn't think too much about since I didn't really have a way to answer them, such as reconciling the idea of the trinity with monotheism.

I've studied the church's stance on it but it doesn't FEEL like the two beliefs are compatible and it never has. The explanations I was given and that I thought of myself always seemed a bit unsatisfactory like technicalities. That and the idea that I had to accept the teaching of a church whose members consist of fallible people. How do I accept creeds and beliefs laid down by other people throughout history hundreds and thousands of years after Jesus lived? It was, in fact, the vow of obedience to the church that dissuaded me early on from contemplating joining the clergy.

The last reticent doubt I had was about the authenticity of the bible, having studied a bit about the Documentary Hypothesis and the different authors of the bible. It became a bit hard for me to believe it could be very factually accurate or (more importantly) have spiritual authority for me to base my beliefs on. Different people throughout hundreds of years wrote different documents and I'm supposed to follow this specially compiled group of them as an authoritative fact? It would require me to accept the authority of the people who wrote them, and the people who edited them, and the people who compiled them, the authors and the church. So I ended up not reading too much of the bible after a point.

When I learned about Islam (completely by happy accident, I enjoy studying world religions anyways and realized reading through the Islam wiki I had no idea what this huge religion was about or how it originated, etc) I found that I agreed with Islam's teachings about Jesus as prophet. And then the Qur'an (in Islam) does not present the same difficulties as the bible does in Christianity IF you believe in the prophethood of Muhammad ﷺ. That came to me upon reading the Qur'an and reading a short biography about the prophet's life and the origin of Islam source

If you'd like to talk more about this please feel free to PM me :)

u/nopaniers · 4 pointsr/Christianity

Tim Keller has some good advice about approaching new atheists in general.

You might try some things by Alister McGrath, on Dawkins views in general or specifically on the Dawkins Delusion. There's several links here, and the correspondence with Mike Poole takes on some of the more aggressive claims down the bottom of the page. William Lane Craig makes points on who designed the designer. In fact he has quite a few videos like that which can at least be a starting point.

But really the best defence against Dawkins is simply to get to know the facts. Get a book or two on the historic relationship between science and Christianity. Get to know about Christianity and what historic Christians have actually said, and it will be harder for people to present you with strawmen. Get to know what you think first, and then you know what to defend.

u/jimleko211 · 3 pointsr/history

The book I linked explores that possibility. Some of the things the author goes into is how Yahweh started as simply one god in a large pantheon, and then the Jews started to worship him more than the other gods (the other gods still being recognized and significant) until the Jews turned to monotheism. Fascinating book.

u/chiropter · 3 pointsr/todayilearned

Everybody in this post needs to read The Evolution of God by [Robert Wright]( It's the tale of the evolution of Judaic religion from polytheism through monolatry to monotheism, the evidence for this theological evolution that still exists in the Bible and from archaeology, and so on. For anyone wanting actual non-circular references for their positions. As I recall, all archaeological evidence points to the Israelite culture and kingdoms evolving in Israel, not from somewhere else.

Inb4 it's some anti-Semitic work, because it's not.

edit: a link.

u/blackstar9000 · 3 pointsr/atheism

Well, for starters I'd check out E.E. Evans-Pritchard's Theories of Primitive Religion, which summarizes most the reasons for the modern break with Dennett's sources in classical anthropology and sociology. The only edition currently in print is pretty expensive, so it's probably best to look for a library copy.

The direction more recent scholarship points towards is a modern status quo that offers no definitive set of theories as to the origins of religion, which is perhaps part of why Dennett and co. have been so eager to revive the Victorian models.

In the meantime, Dennett is explicit in rejecting more recent historians of religion, like [Mircea Eliade][1]. I wouldn't necessarily recommend Eliade as an authoritative source on the origins of religion -- he provides some very interesting research and synthesis, but is, on the whole, too interpretive -- yet it's telling that Dennett is willing to reject a major modern theorist without offering anyone to stand in his stead.

Increasingly, serious researchers have tended towards specialization, so it's difficult to give you a list of authors that deal with the phenomenon of religion as a whole. For the history of the Christian tradition, I'd recommend [Elaine Pagels][2] and [Jaroslav Pelikan][3]. For the Judaic tradition, and particular Jewish mysticism, [Gershom Scholem][4] -- who also makes some very interesting observations on the relationship between religious experience and religious tradition in general, cf. "Religious authority and mysticism". On ancient Greek religion, I'd suggest [Karl Kerenyi][5], [Walter Burkert][7], [Martin P. Nilsson][8], and E.R. Dodds' [The Greeks and the Irrational][6]. Eliade is, on the whole, as strong an authority as you will find on the general topic of Shamanism, and his book takes us a good ways back towards he earliest forms of religion presently known.

That's a pretty good start, anyway.

I should say that there's nothing necessarily wrong with most of the modern research Dennett presents in Breaking the Spell. The problem is that, despite his protestations to the contrary, they seem to have been chosen with a particular interpretive paradigm in mind.


u/Ibrey · 3 pointsr/Christianity

You're right to ask how we know God exists and that Christianity is true. Contrary to what many believe, "having faith" does not mean believing in something for which there is no evidence, and Christianity hasn't survived for nearly two thousand years just because nobody ever thought to question it. You shouldn't envy anyone for their ability to shove these questions aside; their faith is founded on sand.

I think the best way to start forming an answer to questions like these is to find out how others have answered them in the past. So I suggest that you read a textbook like An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion.

A recent book with a heavy focus on the kind of wonder you describe at the existence of the world is The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss by David Bentley Hart. It has a great bibliography for further reading.

u/togtogtog · 3 pointsr/DebateReligion

Oh Morb - I was trying to give you something interesting to think about and debate, not ideas that are already fully formed. It was ideas from my head, not an article that I had read, but I didn't want to say it all myself and leave nothing for anyone else to say...

Anyway - seeing as you asked so nicely:

Here is a history of religion:

and here is an article for you to read:

There is plenty more out there if you want it?

u/catherineirkalla · 3 pointsr/occult

A good place to start I think is reading Shamanic Voices by anthropoligist Joan Halifax. It isn't a how-to guide or anything, but gives intimate accounts of Shamanic practices throughout the world. It includes records of rituals performed by Maria Sabina that you may find especially interesting.

After that, I'd recommend Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy by reliigious history professor Mircea Eliade. Its a bit thick but is very thorough in its treatment of Shamanic practices through the millennia and around the world, including descriptions of numerous techniques used for entering trance states, cosmologies, symbolism, initiations, and powers claimed by Shamans. This is an academic work, however and won't give you step by step instructions (if that is what you are looking for).

If you are looking for something a bit lighter, Supernatural by Graham Hancock is an interesting read. In it he looks at parallels between drug-induced experiences, Shamanism, fairies, and reports of extraterrestrials. If I had known that last part before I read it I probably would have skipped this book but he actually made some very interesting points that I think makes the book worth reading. Also, he relies heavily on Joan Halifax's book as a source and spends a decent amount of time discussing Maria Sabina and psilocybin usage.

The beginner how-to department is an area I'm less versed in but I've heard good things about this book and its companion. Personally I'd generally recommend getting oneself intimately familiar with current and past Shamanic practices through the academic works on the subject and then creating a personalized system - though commercial how-to guides can certainly provide some practical hints and inspiration.

u/gamedrifter · 3 pointsr/INTP

It's a basic reversal of classical theism. The ironic thing is that modernity gave birth to a fundamentalist literal reading of the bible that hardly existed before (enter the demiurge, or what new atheists like to call the sky daddy or whatever). Modern fundamentalist literalists read Genesis as literal. Literal six day creation. Literal Adam and Eve, literal worldwide flood with a literal ark with literally two of all the animals. Early Christians almost exclusively read these stories as allegory intended to communicate spiritual truths.


Classical theism (crudely explained by me, not a philosopher but a reader of such) believes not that God is part of nature, but that nature is part of god. That all being, everything that is or will be proceeds from one infinite god. God encompasses everything and is the uncaused cause of everything. This is also a picture of God in Hinduism, and in Zoroastrianism, and much of Judaism, and there are writings to this effect in classical Islamic philosophy as well. As I said, I explain it crudely but if you want arguments made by an actual living classical theist and philosopher (who covers the question of how to define God from the different angles of all those religions) I can make some book recommendations. Warning though, he has some pretty harsh things to say about naturalism and materialism. But all of his attacks are rooted in actual logic (though he does get a bit personal at times with some of the new atheists because hey, they're not exactly nice to those they criticize). I always hesitate to recommend his books though because the arguments are difficult to follow if you're unfamiliar with certain sophisticated metaphysical disciplines it can be difficult to follow his work as some familiarity with such is assumed. But I mean if you're reading Spinoza those probably won't be a problem. The guy I am talking about definitely doesn't believe in an anthropomorphic god and pretty harshly ridicules the concept. Check him out.


His name is David Bentley Hart. He's an eastern orthodox Christian so I know many will be biased against him from the start. But he's at least an entertaining read and he is one of the top scholars of religion (not just Christianity) out there right now. Yale recently commissioned a translation of the New Testament from him. But yeah, he also deeply studies many eastern religions in addition to Christianity and has a deep respect for them. He's not just looking confirm his beliefs. He's not looking to convince people. He has openly said he doubts and questions his beliefs constantly. He's also a Christian universalist. He's an interesting guy to read if this stuff piques your interest.

u/Sorrybeinglate · 3 pointsr/AskAnthropology

History of religious ideas by Mirca Eliade. The book is structured around several ideas by the author that are both catchy and outdated, but still skimming through all three volumes is the best way to put things into perspective.

u/hdvtech · 3 pointsr/C_S_T

An interesting read is the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Some important philosophical views are presented about life and death.

u/TripleM97 · 3 pointsr/bahai

Well, what questions do you have? Are you looking for holy books, general information, etc? I would be happy to help with anything you may need. I personally started with the book Baha'u'llah and the new era. It is not a holy book/text, but it covers the basics of every aspect of the faith in plain language.

Here is the book on Amazon:

And here is a link to a website that contains a free ebook version, as well as many other free ebooks:

Good luck in your search, and let me know if you have any questions! I was a Christian once myself, and was aided in my search on this subreddit, and by meeting with Baha'is in my area. There are plenty of knowledgeable people here who I'm sure will be as willing to assist you as they were to assist me! :)

u/G01234 · 3 pointsr/Catholicism

I highly recommend this book for you:

In it's way it's a philosophical defense of the idea of God or the Divine in response to Dawkins et al. The author is Orthodox, but the argument in defense of God is undertaken philosophically, without being tied to any one faith or denomination.

u/Ashimpto · 3 pointsr/Romania

Eliade e omul care a adus shamanismul si ezoterismul estic in cercul filozofilor occidentali. Este puternic subestimat omul asta, ce-a facut, ce-a scris si chiar profunzimea micilor povestiri.

Asta am auzit ca-i deosebit de interesanta:

u/nostalghia · 3 pointsr/Christianity

I've been reading a really great book on God and humanity, and how it is that we come to know ourselves, others, our environment, and God through interpersonal relationships. It's called The Face of God, written by the English philosopher Roger Scruton. He's an Anglican Christian, though he doesn't believe in the traditional dogmas of the Church (like the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the Trinity), and he re-interprets traditional doctrines like the real presence of the Eucharist to fit a more philosophical perspective (which I completely endorse, but the average orthodox Christian may not).

Anyway, I think he offers some very valuable insights into the nature of God and the human response to God, hinting at ways in which we come to know God through the knowledge of ourselves, others, and the sacredness of life around us. It's not necessarily "personal" in the way the typical Evangelical might define that word, but it certainly is personal in that it supports a view that we must ask God to forgive our transgressions against him and against others, and to realize that we encounter God in the experience of love and beauty.

If you enjoy philosophical reading, I would also encourage you to read David Bentley Hart's book The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss, which demonstrates the existence of God who gives the necessary ontological grounds for existence, consciousness, and the transcendental virtues. One reviewer of this book said that it made him realize that God is "the most obvious thing of all."

u/deadflow3r · 3 pointsr/exjw

I can't stress to you enough. However you can get Raymond Franz's book Crisis of Conscience you can find it here

heck I'll but it for you if you can't purchase online. It is a must read for anyone like you who need help seeing things more clearly.

u/[deleted] · 2 pointsr/exmuslim

No God But God

It's not yellowish, and the author is muslim, but it's a pretty objective historical book about the evolution of islam. Also well written.

u/SpaceYeti · 2 pointsr/exmormon

Thanks for sharing your perspective. It seems to me—and I may be way off the mark—that you still believe in God and the Christian values of the the Mormon faith, but not in the institution of the Mormon church.

Question: have you investigated other Christian churches outside of the Mormon tradition? I know that for many on this sub, losing their belief in Mormonism has been accompanied by a loss of belief in Christianity or religion in general, but many others find a home in a new faith community. I am currently one of those people.

One thing that I learned as a product of my questioning my faith was that I didn't really understand non-Mormon Christianity very well at all. That is, what I thought I understood about Christianity was really more of a caricature of Christianity I had been given through my Mormon upbringing, and not really an accurate representation. As I started to research religion more broadly, I discovered that Christianity is actually far more diverse than I had supposed. Through my upbringing and bias-colored experiences, I had come to think of all of Christianity as a sort of Bible-belt, evangelical, born-again, fundamentalism, that in many ways is actually not that dissimilar to Mormonism in practice, despite significant differences in theology. However, I discovered that—primarily in the "mainline" Christian denominations—there is also a rich tradition of Christianity that remarkably different from what I had experienced or presupposed.

Anyway, the short version: it seems like you might still identify as non-evangelical Christian, but just not Mormon. That might be me projecting, but if not, you might consider looking into some of the mainline Christian faiths and seeing if you like it. And maybe you wont, but at least you'll know. If you are interested, I highly recommend reading Marcus Borg's The Heart of Christianity, which is a light and conversational read on 'progressive Christianity', or Karen Armstrong's The Case for God, which is a much more detailed treatise on religion throughout history but ultimately covers some of the same ideas.

u/mavnorman · 2 pointsr/atheism

> What is a good beginner's book for philo of religion?

A rather gentle introduction is "Arguing for Atheism - An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion" by Rob Le Poidevin (1996).

A basic introduction is "Atheism: The Case Against God" by George H. Smith (1979)"

u/orsr · 2 pointsr/atheism

I think it's because people run from their old faith, they don't want to understand it. When I look back I'm sure I wasn't really a believer at no point, I simply did what my parents wanted me to (going to church etc) and made the best of it, I had a lot of fun being a ministrant, found a lot of friends blahblah. But I never really believed those things. So I never even had to start asking my faith. Then we had religious courses at high school, and the teachers taught us mostly christianity, the other religions were only shortly mentioned and treated like potentionally dangerous cults. That was a rebelious time in my life, so I started to look into different religions and ask the teachers questions. Needless to say, I wasn't very popular with our religious teachers. But it was growth, as you put it.

The most objective sources I would recommend you are not Hitchens or Dawkins, those are biased. Try to look up books on comparative religion. I'd highly recommend the four volume History of Religious Ideas by Mircea Eliade, or Masks of God by Joseph Campbell. And you might want to read a history of the Catholic Church, it's always good to know one's history.

u/smokeymcdank · 2 pointsr/DebateAChristian

Whoa. There is a lot here.

  1. I was experiencing panic attacks. I tried various ways of dealing with it, but as it turned out, I think I just needed something constant in mylife reminding me that its not all about me... if that makes sense.

  2. I don't really understand what you mean by not believing in souls, you have no spiritual needs. Spirituality to me is just human, from superstitions (e.g. fortune cookies, beards for the playoffs) to full on shamanism. For me, its not about magic or souls or anything like that. Its about having a structure and mechanism, for tapping into that spiritual side.

  3. Yes. I read this book. I also have some exposure to Buddhism, albeit 15 years ago.

  4. Well nothing in particular. Laziness I suppose. I am convinced that most "spiritual" people who don't attend church don't because they like having Sunday mornings to themselves.

    There is a lot of chest-beating on the part of the religious right; nobody misses an opportunity to feel superior (kind of like r/atheism here). I'm sure that would turn a lot of people off. For the most part, however, I think that real thoughtfulness is just not incentivized in modern American society. So people just don't consider church important, even if they call themselves religious. And I fell into that category. I just fell into an egocentric mode.
u/_PM_ME_YOUR_SECRETS- · 2 pointsr/AskAnthropology

Most shamanic cultures believe that the shaman has the power to fly into the upper world and converse with spirits there. Siberian shamanism has been dated back as early as 30,000 years, certainly much longer than the Icarus myth.


u/Irish_Whiskey · 2 pointsr/religion

The Case for God and The Bible: A Biography by Karen Armstrong are both good. The God Delusion is a simple breakdown and explanation of most major religious claims. Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World by the Dalai Llama is an interesting book on ethics. The Koran: A Very Short Introduction by Michael Cook is 150 funny and insightful pages on Islam. Under the Banner of Heaven is a shocking and fascinating account of fundamentalist Mormonism. The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan discusses religion, and Cosmos and Pale Blue Dot are my secular versions of holy books. And of course given the occasion, I can't leave out God is Not Great.

I recommend avoiding authors like Lee Strobel and Deepak Chopra. Both are essentially liars for their causes, either inventing evidence, or deliberately being incredibly misleading in how they use terms. Popularity in those cases definitely doesn't indicate quality.

u/vfr · 2 pointsr/atheism

Buy this book and read it fast, it's on the JW history of ridiculousness. None of them probably know their own church's history.

> Franz does not detail doctrinal problems with the Watchtower. Franz most likely holds to many of his old Watchtower doctrines. The Watchtower does have doctrinal problems when compared with the beliefs commonly held by the Church throughout Christian history. In fact the Watchtower is in my opinion just another apocalyptic group founded in the mid-late 1800s. However, Franz is not concerned with issues like the Trinity or Christ's divinity. He is more concerned with what makes a group truly a cult, which is control by the leaders over its members. Franz details this marvelously, and explains how the Watchtower even monitored its members bedroom activities. He speaks of disfellowshippings where families were encouraged to "shun" other members who had been kicked out of the Watchtower, effectively ruining the lives of thousands people. Franz also documents and explains failed prophecy, which caused many trusting members of the "truth" to sell homes, postpone college, and other goals in order to be ready for the end. The entire book is a calm and sober, yet highly personal, account of Franz's life deep within the Watchtower and his eventual exit.

u/The_Last_Y · 2 pointsr/exmormon

[The Case for God] ( by Karen Armstrong. It never mentions Mormonism, so it is unlikely your wife will feel like you are trying to persuade her away from it. In addition the author's goal is to promote faith in God. She goes through the development of religion from an anthropological method and covers a lot of different religions and theological view points. She does a very good job of explaining the different belief systems and why they are valuable. And this is the important part. She makes different views and ways of thinking important and valuable. One example is that her explanation of the Trinity doctrine made me actually feel okay with someone believing that version of deity. The book helped me understand how it is we ended up with extremist views like fundamentalist Christians and how my own views and atheism fit into that puzzle. I think it could be a great way to help her become comfortable with thinking outside the Mormon box and about looking at religion critically in general.

u/DeathAndRebirth · 2 pointsr/Buddhism

Uhm.. it all depends on what you want to write about!

  1. Buddhism for Beginners

  2. This may help too

  3. This is a classic

  4. Another good book

    Im sure google would help in your search as well
u/OldManEyeBrow · 2 pointsr/exmormon

What's up dude.

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww yeah.

u/Al_Tilly_the_Bum · 2 pointsr/exmormon

Probably. The Mormon aversion to the cross did not stem from the founders but started in the early 20th century. It became institutionalized in the 1950's under David McKay. Here is a book that explores this. I have not read the book so I do not know how good it is

u/gamegyro56 · 2 pointsr/ELINT

I'll try to give an unbiased view:

  1. Yes, before and after, as you can see here. The most famous of which is Simon bar Kochba, though he was slightly after Jesus. It is also the mainstream historical view that Jesus did not claim to be Messiah (though there are some that disagree).
    The main thing about Jesus is that, even though he was executed, his followers (mostly Peter and Mary, and Paul later) had visions of him. This allowed it to be continued after his death.
    Another major thing is that Christians (especially through Paul) reached out to Gentiles. Paul said that Gentiles did not need to conform to any Jewish law to be Christian. This made it much easier for others to convert, and in just a few hundred years, we see tons and tons of Gentile Christian writers.

  2. Christianity was known in the time, though it was a type different that what was in the west (though both types are equally old). The makeup of Arabia varied. There were Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and Arabs. Arabs worshiped lesser divinities (that is, not the supreme God), or they were monotheistic hanifs. There were also non-Arab polytheists.
    As far as I know, Muhammad's early community was made up of mostly Arabs, and no Jews. Though he did view Jews as People of the Book (Jews were given 3 of the 4 major books in Islam: Moses, David, and Jesus). It's hard to explain why an individual Jew would convert to Islam, as religion is tied up with politics and culture. But Muhammad's early community didn't have any Jews in it (I think).

  3. As far as I know, Muhammad didn't claim to be the Messiah. In Islam, Jesus is still the Messiah. The difference is that he is not God. As for Jews and Jesus, you can read some reasons here. The Gospel writers had their own view of the prophecies. They seemed to make the story of Jesus fit into the prophecies, even if those prophecies are based on a bad translation, or even if those prophecies aren't even talking about the Messiah. There are unfulfilled prophecies. Modern Christians say they will be fulfilled when Jesus returns. This is not in the Tanakh, and Jews don't seem to believe in the Second Coming.
    The reason Jews generally don't think the Messiah went unknown is because the prophecies have some extravagant claims (as you can see in the link). The whole world will have knowledge of Yahweh and worship him.

    For question 1, you can read more in the book How Jesus Became God. For question 2, you can read more in the book No god but God.
u/SecretAgentX9 · 2 pointsr/atheism

Well, I was a Jehovah's Witness until I was 24.

If you're serious about trying to get to them, the book that finally woke me up was Finding Darwin's God by Ken Miller. It's about evolution but since he's a nominal Catholic (and also head of Biology at Brown University) it isn't at all antagonistic toward religion (though it is insanely badass in shooting down all of the intelligent design arguments).

That's only going to work if the person's faith is evidence-driven. As the old adage goes, you can't reason someone out of an idea that they didn't come to through reason.

This one's good for witnesses, too:

u/bobbleprophet · 2 pointsr/AncientCivilizations

History of Religious Ideas (3 Vols)- Mircea Elidae Link

Treasures of Darkness - Thorkild Jacobsen Link

Religion in Ancient Mesopotamia - Jean Bottero Link (damn I got this for $20 a few months back, great book though)

Religion in the Emergence of Civilization: Çatalhöyük as a Case Study - Ian Hodder & VA Link

Egypt Before the Pharaohs - Michael Hoffman Link

u/Daster129 · 2 pointsr/Jung

Im just now starting to read Mercia Eliade, Idk if this book covers types of shamanism. (I’m highly certain it will) I just bought this book yesterday.

Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of...

u/danielpants · 2 pointsr/worldnews

I thought this book was quite good at explaining the different schisms in Islam in the different countries throughout the middle east. Wahhabism, radical islam, etc. Not really the why, so much as the what, but it makes it a little more clear about how ISIS came about.

u/astroNerf · 2 pointsr/Showerthoughts

Yahweh was once one of many gods within the Hebrew pantheon, which included gods like Asherah and Ba'al. At some point, the relevant books of Old Testament went through a period of editing by Yahwists who were intent on cementing their particular god's supremacy. Yahweh absorbed some of the other gods in the bible, which explains why he seems to have multiple conflicting personalities at times, and explains why he was jealous. The first commandment is a good example of this jealousy.

Karen Armstrong's book A history of God is a really interesting read, for those interested. You can find a decent video/animation summary of parts of the book here.

u/DrTxn · 2 pointsr/exmormon

I know they made him take it out in Mormon Doctrine.

Banishing the Cross talks about how the early Mormons had crosses but because they were connected to the Catholic church they eventually were banished. As an example, some early church buildings in SLC have crosses in them and the this is the place monument almost was a cross. The hate used to run deep.

u/NonSumDignus · 2 pointsr/ExMo_Christianity

And then there's a book on the same subject:

Banishing the Cross: The Emergence of a Mormon Taboo.

u/onecommentpastor · 2 pointsr/atheism

And if you continue to believe that moderate Christians somehow magically transmogrify into fundies you'll still be missing the point.

I'm going to try to be as clear as I can. It seems as though you imagine religious belief as a sort of spectrum with "atheist" on one end and "fundamentalist" on the other. This is inaccurate and does not hold up to scrutiny. You could do worse than an intro Sociology text that deals with patterns of religious behavior. Even something older, like Mauss' General Theory of Magic.

Fundamentalism is not the opposite of atheism. You can want it to be that way, but wanting something to be true does not make it so. The opposite of atheism is probably something like negative theology. Interestingly, this topic is also taken up in Armstrong's book.

Fundamentalism and atheism actually live right next to each other on our imaginary "spectrum of belief." Fundamentalists believe in a silly sort of God - a sort of imminent being summoned forth to help self-sooth a frightened child. Anyone could invent this kind of thing. It's a totem, and idol. And it is as easily debunked and dismissed when exposed to even the most basic, sophomoric scrutiny. (i.e. Why doesn't God heal amputees? If God is male, what do his sexual organs look like? Why does God hate figs? and on and on.)
Incidentally, this is why I personally believe so many of these new sorts of courageous anti-theist crusaders come from lunatic fundamentalist families. They were weened on sugary pabulum and silly, idolatrous presentations of the Holy and it is easily dismissed and subject to ridicule. Those who don't make it out spend a lot of calories defending some really indefensible stuff.

For what its worth - I am not a religious "moderate." My heart is saturated with religious awe, speculation, a healthy measure of terror and trembling, and a constant gasping awareness of the cosmic, Holy Other. I rather suspect that I am several orders of magnitude more religious than even the most devout fundamentalist. So be careful who you are calling a "moderate." I think the fundamentalists are actually, in reality, mostly atheists in their hearts. Idolators at least - but more likely atheists.

u/sajsemegaloma · 2 pointsr/graphicnovels

Not a graphic novel, but I enjoyed reading A History of the Devil some years ago. It tries to cover the concepts of the devil, evil and hell in different cultures and religions and how each one dealt with them. It's by no means in-depth (considering even cultures that have lasted millennia get a couple dozen pages at best), but is a very fun comparative view on these topics all over the world.

edit: as for actual comics, people have already mentioned Sandman and Hellboy, those would be my recommendations as well.

u/christiankool · 2 pointsr/DebateReligion

>humans just made this up and chose what to include and what not to include.

Humans made what up?

  1. the bible? The bible is literally a library with different forms of writing. You can't read a myth as if it's history or a poem as if it's an account of scientific explanation - you especially can't read Genesis 1 like that because the scientific method didn't exist yet. I will (and did in my previous post) agree that they "chose what to include and what not to include". But, it's not as if they just randomly chose certain texts. They chose what they believed resembled their situation accurately and truthfully. It wasn't one person's history, rather it's the history of a people - first the Jews then the (orthodox) Christians.

  2. religion? Experiences of "the Divine" exist, as such. Whether or not you believe in the Divine doesn't neglect the fact that religious experiences exist. Religions, broadly and generally speaking, are that which house a "lens" to interpret those experiences: the "why" and "meaning" of such things. Why did this happen? (Not how! science can and should attempt to answer that) Is there a meaning to this? The experiences of the given followers also influence the given religion. It's a mutual circle.

    >why would a being so powerful choose such a misunderstood way to communicate if his goal was to save us?

    This question is making some assumptions:

  3. God is a being.
  4. God has a goal for humanity.
  5. This goal is "saving us".

    Number 1 is false to any classical monotheist. Here's a blogpost I wrote about the "nature" of God and evil. Here's a reddit comment I wrote which also touches this. I only link these because I don't have the time to figure out how to write it out again in my currently allotted time (work soon). However, I will suggest two books for you that are better written and that heavily influence(d) my thoughts: God Without Being: Hors-Texte, Second Edition (Religion and Postmodernism) 2nd Edition by Jean-Luc Marion. He is a French Philosopher. The second book is The Experience of God by David Bentley Hart. He is an American Eastern Orthodox Theologian. The second of the two books will be a little bit easier to understand as it's written for a wide audience.

    Number 2 could be false, but I personally think it's true. So, I'm going to assume this with you.

    Number 3 is wrong in the sense of the goal being to save us from eternal damnation. Read my comment (or blogpost) to get a better understanding. Long story short, to quote St. Athanasius: "God became man so that man might become God".

    But, to answer your question: Humans live and participate in different contexts. Whether it be historical, societal or even religious contexts. That is burden of our "imperfect" nature. Based on that alone, we will of course misunderstand things. I can say more, but I'm running out of time.

    >my point was that if we open up the floor to interpretation...just everyone making up their idea of what is right.

    Interpretations aren't just made up. To interpret properly is to situate and figure the given materials in their proper contexts and stories. This happens from science to art. I suggest reading up on Hermeneutics. I could suggest a couples books (sorry, I'm just bad at explaining things in a quick easy-to-digest way. Especially when it comes to topics our minds literally can't comprehend). New Testament People God V1: Christian Origins And The Question Of God by NT Wright which sets up what he calls a "critical realism" approach to scripture. Phenomenologies of Scripture, which is a collection of articles detailing how to approach the bible and related topics as they "give themselves". I'm currently reading both. The first is a more historical-critical and literary approach to the bible and the second is more a philosophical approach. Both really good so far.

    >but I suppose in that case I reject both your idea of God and the existence of God.

    You cannot deny "the existence" of God because that's an absurd statement. God is not a thing or even "highest power" that exists in some "realm" called "the supernatural". If that were the case, "Existence", as such, would be ontologically prior to "God" which doesn't make sense. The Divine/God/Brahman/whatever is that which provides "Existence" to "exist". God does not exist. Once again, I highly suggest reading my blogpost (I don't have ads or anything so I won't get paid) because it's better articulated. Better yet, read the book I mentioned by David Bentley Hart. I can send you (I think) a PDF if you want. I've provided a short reading and long reading. If you want a video instead, I can probably find one!

    Sorry about all the books I recommend. Reddit is not a place I can expound on philosophical ideas, especially when we both have different working assumptions that we need to clear. That's why I'm focusing on challenging your viewpoints on certain things because we just fundamentally disagree. We can't discuss/debate things without first agreeing on something.

    Also, I've enjoyed engaging with you. You seem open-minded enough and that's a good thing. So, thanks.
u/DivineEnergies · 2 pointsr/Christianity

David Bentley Hart is unparalleled in terms of knowledge, wit, imagination, eloquence, and is perhaps the greatest living Christian thinker today.

He just put out a translation of the New Testament through Yale University Press which is incredible.

His newest book is called The Experience of God and it is mind-boggling.

Atheist Delusions absolutely eviscerates pop atheism.

His theological magum opus, The Beauty of the Infinite has been called the greatest work of theology so far this century.

The Doors of the Sea is required reading for anyone who struggles with the issue of evil.

His work is sublime.

u/mistiklest · 2 pointsr/Christianity

The Experience of God by David Bentley Hart.

u/raisinbeans · 2 pointsr/Christianity

My apologies, I assumed you may have been familiar with Rene Decartes.

I'll explain it this way: How do you know something? How do you know something as simple as your keyboard is in front of you?

You can see it and you can feel it, right?

But that doesn't actually prove the keyboard really exists. That just proves your eyes see a keyboard and your hands feel a keyboard.

And really, you can't even 100% sure of that. You know from experience that your senses aren't 100% trustworthy. They can be confused by psychological tricks or medical conditions can cause senses to report things that aren't really there. As mentioned before, optical illusions, phantom pain, schizophrenia, magic tricks, desert mirages, LSD, mushrooms, etc are all known cases where your eye sight, hearing, or sense of touch report things that aren't there.

So really, all you can say for 100% certainity is that you think your senses are reporting there's a keyboard in front of you.

While four hundred years too early, Decartes would have used The Matrix as a great example. Relying solely on your senses, there is no difference between your reality now and if you were hooked up to The Matrix. Everything you saw, heard, or touched would prove that the Matrix was reality- yet it wasn't.

Likewise, while it is incredibly unlikely and not at all practical, there is still a tiny tiny chance that you just may be inside a giant virtual reality world.

> When asked for evidence,

When asked for evidence I listed several resources for you. I'll explicitly bullet them for you this time :-)

u/mathent · 2 pointsr/atheism

I can speak from personal experiance. The best way I can offer to push someone from theism, specifically evangelical christianity, to atheism is to show them that what they've been told about God is (mostly) bull shit.

For this, I offer: The Case for God by Karen Armstrong.

Armstrong outlines all understandings of God for all of history. As such, it can be really dense, but it really gives you an exhaustive understanding of how people have understood God. She also does it by presenting the facts as she has studied them, and offers very little of her own opinion. That is, she is arguing for understanding the historical character of God, not that you should necessarily believe in Him. She's actually quite critical of the modern, mainstream, conceptions of God--especially biblical literalism and evangelical protestants.

Her discussion should change the way you perceive God, which may allow you to have more objectivity towards your beliefs. I read this through my de-conversion and I think it helped me more than any other book; here was a woman arguing for God telling me that most of what I believed was a new fad in Christian beliefs rather than a multi-century established doctrine.

Reading an atheist book is all well and good, but you know what they're going to say. This book will argue that even in the context of God existing, what you believe about him is bull shit.

u/Earthtone_Coalition · 2 pointsr/Christianity

I'm an atheist, and have more books about atheism than about any particular theistic belief.

That said, I'd strongly recommend--and would appreciate Christian Redditors' takes on--The Case For God by Karen Armstrong. I'm afraid it's been a while since I read it, but I recall thinking that, at least from the atheist perspective, this book presents a fairly nuanced look at god and religion throughout history. Armstrong advocates (?) for a return to a gnostic tradition of belief and contemplating God through silence. It only addresses the New Atheist argument briefly, at the very end. Interesting stuff.

EDIT: I failed to mention the following. As a counterpoint to Armstrong's "all paths" interpretation of belief I'd recommend God is Not One by Stephen Prothero. This is one of my favorite books I've read about religions. The book is strictly a comparative study of major religions and does not address the question of whether or not God exists, so it may not fit into your pro/contra reading list. Still, a fascinating book and highly illuminating.

u/Erdrick · 2 pointsr/atheism

Well, you're trying to believe in the god of your times. Go back, way back, to even primitive hunter-gatherer societies, and start tracing the evolution of god from that point.

You'll have a better appreciation for what god has been to different people over the years, and you won't be so bound to the particular flavor of god you were indoctrinated with. You may end up deriving a different belief in god, or no belief at all.

u/jeffanie96 · 1 pointr/islam

John Espositio has written several books about Islam. He is a staunch Catholic. Islam: The Straight Path is really good.

I Karen Armstrong has written some books as well that I've heard are good, but I haven't read them myself.

No God but God by Reza Aslan is good too, but it has some controversial things regarding the beginnings of Islam.

u/acuteskepsis · 1 pointr/exmormon

The cross/crucifix was only officially repudiated by the church in the 1950s under David O. McKay, though there was grassroots opposition to it starting around the turn of the 20th century.

It was seen as a primarily Catholic symbol, apparently. There's a book about it that I haven't read:

Bruce R. McConkie went perhaps the furthest and called it a mark of the beast, or something like that.

u/of_ice_and_rock · 1 pointr/Anarcho_Capitalism

>If "the masses" wanted to be willing tools of Roman rulers, then this desire stemmed from indoctrination and ignorance rather than instinct.

Even instinct is indoctrination.

>perhaps because it relied so much on overt tyranny rather than subtle manipulation via religion.

The Romans did have pagan religions that were state-reinforcing, though.

>Christianity, which was also arguably inspired by Stoic philosophy

I'd say Platonism, but, in certain ascetic senses, yes.

>Peter Gay's history of the Enlightenment as the reception of pagan values in the west

Oh, that's a quite silly claim. The Pagan gods were not even remotely humanists, and just because the Enlightenment fostered skepticism of religion, it does not follow from that that it wasn't informed by contiguous Christian values.

u/anteaterhighonants · 1 pointr/Random_Acts_Of_Amazon
u/Heartnotes · 1 pointr/SuicideWatch

Oh, that makes a lot of sense. I'm agnostic. I've had moments where things happened I couldn't explain and I believe in ESP/ghosts. Really!

Have you ever read the Tibetan Book of the Dead?

u/Sioltorquil · 1 pointr/offbeat

>imprisoned him and suppressed his works

Close - sentenced him to house arrest and forbid one of his books. He was technically sentenced to go to prison but they never went through with it and instead he had to stay at his house during his last years.

u/Bezbojnicul · 1 pointr/atheism

History of Religious Ideas, Vol 1, Vol 2 and Vol 3. by Mircea Eliade A comprehensive comparison and history of different religions, religious ideas and ways in which myths work. Was a real eye-opener


LE - Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam by Michel Onfray

u/nomemory · 1 pointr/religion

You can try Mircea Eliade - History Of Religions.

If you want to read about Judaism and Kabbalah I recommend you to check the resources from /r/kabbalah.

u/demidyad · 1 pointr/todayilearned

personally i recommend this one :o)

u/vamessedup · 1 pointr/atheism

Yes, Muslims don't worship Christ, but they do recognize him as a prophet- though not as great as the prophet Mohammed. Similarly, Christians recognize Abraham, Isaac, Moses (and many others) as prophets even though they were Jews and are also considered prophets by Jews.

If you want to go by the almighty Wikipedia, check out this handy chart.

Also, some more reputable sources: here, here, here

While I don't believe in any religion, I do think it's interesting to learn about their origins and tenets. If you're interested in reading a very well-written book on the subject, I quite enjoyed Reza Aslan's No god but God

u/marrsd · 1 pointr/samharris

Read "The Case for God", by Karen Armstrong. She talks about this sort of thing from quite a different point of view. I think the book forms a good foundation that might help you see things from Peterson's point of view. Interestingly enough, she also has quite a lot to say about Newton and Darwin and how they relate to religion.

I should warn you, it's densely packed and will require your full attention throughout.

u/obscure_robot · 1 pointr/occult

Give Michael Harner a try, followed by Mircea Eliade.

u/drb226 · 1 pointr/latterdaysaints

There is a book on this very topic. OldManEyeBrow posted the link but gave no additional information so I have no shame in reposting it with a little more elaboration on how it is relevant.

Banishing the Cross: The Emergence of a Mormon Taboo.

Also, [BYU religion professor Alonzo Gaskill wrote a book review about it](
) tl;dr: "Well reasoned," "well supported," "light read," "interesting and engaging."

u/Veritas-VosLiberabit · 1 pointr/DebateReligion

Subsistent being: God is the experience of being itself. Rather than being an object within reality God is reality itself. See:

2+2=4 is also necessarily true. It cannot be any other way than the way in which it is. Is the fact that that is axiomatically true an example of "circular logic"?

u/scarfinati · 1 pointr/DebateReligion

> Subsistent being: God is the experience of being itself. Rather than being an object within reality God is reality itself. See:

Violates the law of non contradiction. If god is reality then why do we have two separate labels for those concepts? I’ll tell you why, because they are different concepts. If god is nature then you’re basically a pantheist.

> 2+2=4 is also necessarily true. It cannot be any other way than the way in which it is. Is the fact that that is axiomatically true an example of "circular logic"?

No because mathematical proofs don’t assume the conclusion in the proof. Whereas unproven claims about a god being do.

u/chileroX · 1 pointr/atheism

If you are honestly interested in this, I highly recommend reading The Evolution of God by Robert Wright. This book reviews much of what historians know about how the modern idea of the christian god came to be. It regularly compares what the bible says to what historians think really happened in history. It is a great read and is written in a way that probably wont offend a christian who appreciates good scholarly work.

u/swjd · 1 pointr/islam


Lives of other Prophets Series

  • [Video] Lives of the Prophets - Series of 31 lectures by Sheikh Shady on the lives of the Prophets from Adam (AS) to Isa (AS).

  • [Video] Stories Of The Prophets - Series of 30 lectures by Mufti Menk on the lives and stories of the Prophets from Adam (AS) to Isa (AS).

    End times, Death, Hereafter

  • [Video] Death and the Hereafter - Series of 10 or so lectures by Sheikh Shady on what happens during and after death. Also, the minor and major signs that would occur until the end of times.

  • [Video] Signs of Day of Judgement - Series of multiple lectures on the signs of the day of judgement by Sh. Yaser Birjas.

    Seerah (Life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW)

  • [Video] Seerah - Series of 47 lectures on the signs of the life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) by Sheikh Shady.

    Understand the Quran

  • [Video] Story Night - How Allah(swt) wrote/directed the Quran with analogies to popular works of flim and stories. Another way of looking at it is that why does it seem the Quran is out of order sometimes? Noman Ali Kahn mainly talks about the story of Musa (AS) and how ayats pertaining to his story are written.

  • [Book] The Qur'an by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem - Translation of the Quran with modern English vernacular.

  • [Book] Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations by Michael Sells - There's a chapter that goes in depth about how the pre-Islamic Arabs previved the concept of love and the female beloved character layla and what Islam changed about this concept.

  • [Book] No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam by Reza Aslan -- Covers lots of topics, excellent writing overall.

  • [Audio] Fahm al-Qur'an - Tafseer of the entire Quran in very simple English. The commentary is by a female scholar, Amina Elahi so it's a good tafseer for gatherings with a lot sisters but obviously anyone can listen. Best way to make the most of this tafseer and others like it is to have a translated copy of the Quran in front of you and some highlighters, sticky notes and a dedicated notebook and just scribble away as you listen. BTW, if you have a Muslim friend(s) who is/are interested in Islam and you don't have access to a teacher or w/e, have a listening party/gathering with these lectures once a week. Since each lecture is 2 hrs long, in 30 weeks, you will have finished the tafseer of the entire Quran and you have a notebook filled with notes and a translated Quran that is now colorful and filled with notes.
u/Flubb · 1 pointr/

The 'better' interpretation is found in historical books and journals, but since I'm going to have to do your work for you:
You could start with Clarke's [Civilisation series](, James Hannan wrote a reasonable book outlining the course of science over the mediaeval period, and you should read Ronald Numbers to finish off an overview.

But go ahead and downvote, because as everyone knows, uninformed comments are far more popular than facts.

u/lanemik · 1 pointr/DebateReligion

>The "professional philosophers" who use incorrect definitions, on the other hand, I couldn't care less about.

First off, let me be clear again, you're the one using the incorrect definition. We can know that because we have rational minds that can understand rational arguments. And luckily, we have redditors that are very proficient at providing just the rational arguments we need to show that weak atheism is not intellectually viable.

>. If you could be so kind as to point out some of these "professional philosophers" - with sources - so I could dismiss anything they have to say on the matter, it would save me a lot of time.

First, I do so love the overconfidence. You've clearly proven my point there. You're completely unaware of even who these philosophers let alone what they argue, yet you're absolutely convinced of your ability to dismantle whatever it is they have to say.

The question is why would you want to? Clearly you're attached to the label atheist, and you're here so you at least like the impression of being intellectual, so why would you be interested in dismissing the arguments of professional atheists philosophers out of hand? Surely you'd want to at least see what they had to say. In fact, I'd say that you'd want to study and really understand their arguments. But maybe that's just me projecting what I want onto you.

Just in case, here are a few atheist philosophers of religion you ought to be reading up on.

  • Julian Baggini
  • Raymond Bradley
  • Theodore Drange
  • Nicholas Everitt (also here)
  • J.L. Mackie
  • Stephen Maitzen
  • Michael Martin
  • Matt McCormick
  • Kai Nielsen
  • Graham Oppy
  • Robin Le Poidevin
  • William Rowe
  • J.L. Schellenberg
  • Quentin Smith
  • Victor Stenger
  • Michael Tooley
  • Andrea Weisberger
  • Erik Wielenberg

    >And just because "professional atheist philosophers" make arguments that gods don't exist, that doesn't change the definitions.

    Read all of those links (remember to check your local library or your local university's library!) and you'll see that atheists who aren't a part of the cacophony of the unsophisticated group think do not argue for weak atheism. They do not simply argue against the theist's argument and, convinced they have sufficiently undermined that argument, declared themselves free of any belief. They believe there is probably no God and they argue there is probably no God.

    You take pride in your belligerence, but it's a shame that belligerence comes from a position of ignorance. I worry about the status of atheism not because I think the theist arguments have won but because people like you are so completely ignorant of the topic that they can't even get straight what atheism even is, what arguments actually support it, and what obstacles there are for atheists to overcome. And yet you feel justified in spewing your nonsense in the most jackass way you can muster.
u/Xetev · 1 pointr/DebateReligion

>A claim whose veracity can never be tested or verified. Got it.

Do you only believe in what is scientifically verifiable?

>if it occurs, can be measured,

What? how would you measure it? is there some god-o-meter i don't know about?? I mean most theist will say that god instigated the universe which makes the laws of physics essentially the action of god if done with intention. But say, look at a miracle, how can you test it using science which is methodologically naturalist when supernatural miracles are by their nature non-repeatable phenomena. The second science can test or replicate a miracle it is no longer a miracle the question is malformed.

>Which of the thousands, millions or billions of definitions of god are we talking about?

The core claim of all monotheistic traditions today which also lies at the heart of many other traditions: this is of a necessary premise, common to all classical theistic philosophies. That is god as the source and ground and end of all reality. The immaterial transcendent reality of which all things are contingent upon. This can describe Brhama,the Sihk god the Abrahamic gods, it applies to various Mahayana formulations of the Buddha consciousness or nature or even earlier the conception of the unconditioned, or to certain aspects of the tao.

For a more thorough explanation go to David Bentley Hart's work The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss

This, essential belief that all major religious traditions have some premonition of is what I'm concerning.

>What if it was actually an alien? You'd just be fooling yourself into believing something that you wanted to believe, not believing what actually is.

Thats kinda my point... science cannot prove or disprove god, there will never be a way to be certain even if he walked up to you and said hello

The existence of god is and always will be an a priori claim, now you can dispute all a priori knowledge but that is a different question for another time. The fact of the matter is that science cannot prove or disprove the existence of god, it is a category error (at least regarding the vast majority of major world religions)

u/Eli_Truax · 1 pointr/Jung

Looks like you've got a Spanish language edition ... a good translation is important.

This is the edition I used, Robert Thurman is well respected. Plus it's got an introduction by the Dalai Lama ... so it's got that going for it.

u/Simplicious_LETTius · 1 pointr/exjw
u/GregoireDeNarek · 1 pointr/Christianity

Lately, when people are aiming at a definition of God, I ask them if they've read David Bentley Hart's The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss.

u/rahkshi_hunter · 1 pointr/Christianity

> His physics have been proven pretty wrong as well

Would you be able to show me what specifically has been disproved in Aristotle's physics/metaphysics that Aquinas specifically uses in his Five Ways?

Aquinas' Five Ways:

> [Aristotle's cosmology] was the reason that Galilleo was condemned

This is a myth. In the case of Gaileo, the Inquisition went after him because he used heliocentrism to interpret Scripture, which the Church was not happy about. Moreover, when the Pope asked him to write a book about the strengths and weaknesses of the Copernican Heliocentric model vs the Ptolmeaic Geocentric model (The Dialogue Concerning the Two World Systems), he did so in a way that hugely downplayed the flaws of the Copernican model, and he quoted the Pope in a character called "Simplicio", which means "The Idiot". These reasons led the Inquisition to sentence Galileo to house arrest in his Florentine villa (roughly 2500 square feet / 230 square metres in size).


u/Azdahak · 1 pointr/entp

Yeah there's four books all together.

I also highly recommend this and also this which is more encyclopedic and hence terse, but still a very excellent read.

u/Sehs · 1 pointr/islam

I'm a big fan of Reza Aslan's book.

u/GKPressperton · 1 pointr/Catholicism

I don't know but I would say avoid this one because that's the one I have and I really dislike the way the words are laid out on the page.

u/doofgeek401 · 1 pointr/AcademicBiblical

From the Stone Age to the Information Age, Robert Wright unveils an astonishing discovery: there is a hidden pattern that the great monotheistic faiths have followed as they have evolved. Through the prisms of archaeology, theology, and evolutionary psychology, Wright's findings overturn basic assumptions about Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and are sure to cause controversy.

u/amdgph · 1 pointr/DebateReligion

>Their conversion just proves that despite the gift of intelligence, one is nevertheless susceptible to irrational beliefs.

How is it irrational when these people gave rational reasons for their belief in the truth of the Christian religion? Check out any of their books/writings. Are Edward Feser's The Last Supersition and 5 Proofs irrational? What about Chesterton's The Everlasting Man and Orthodoxy? What about Alaisdair Macintyre's After Virtue?

>You said he wasn't a Christian yet. Did he accept Jesus as his savior? That is the requirement for salvation from what I know.

Looks like your only idea of Christianity is Protestant Christianity (in fairness to Protestant denominations though, many of them are nuanced in their views on this issue and would disagree with the assertion that only Christians are saved). The Catholic Church which was founded by Christ himself disagrees, and so do the other apostolic orthodox churches (Eastern Orthodox and Coptic Orthodox).

>What other ways would this be?

I quoted official teaching, didn't you read it?

>You know this how?

Because they themselves shared their reasons for converting/believing in the truth of Christianity (for non-converts) in their talks, books and writings? How else dude?

>What's this evidence that others converted over?

A lot -- philosophical, scientific and historical evidence.

Philosophical: The traditional cosmological arguments (given by the great thinkers of the Western philosophical tradition -- Plato, Aristotle, Maimonides, Aquinas, Leibiniz, etc) for the God of classical theism, the argument from consciousness, the moral argument and others.

Science: The Kalam Cosmological argument, the fine-tuning argument, the argument from biological teleology, and the argument from the laws of nature.

History: the argument from Jesus' miracles, the historical case for the Resurrection, Catholic miracles, and the religious experiences and mystical gifts of countless Christian saints. I lay this out these arguments briefly in this post.

>Because of this outright lie and string of labels thrown at me:

Nah, my assessment is self evident from what you wrote. A silly absolute statement like "no Christian ever believed in his faith on the basis of reason and evidence" is extremely telling...especially given that you doubled down on your erroneous views after being given abundantly clear evidence.

u/sethra007 · 1 pointr/exjw

I encourage you to read Crisis of Conscience by Raymond Franz. Franz is the nephew of Frederick Franz, and was a member of the Governing Body from 1971 - 1980. He was disfellowshipped and declared an apostate when, while leading chronology research for the Aid to Bible Understanding encyclopedia, his findings led him to question key teachings of church.

Again, this was Ray Franz, from a family of JWs, who rose about as high as you could possibly rise in the church, and who'd devoted over forty years in the service of the church. The GB ran Franz out on a rail for asking simple and logical questions that, per them, should have been ludicrously easy for them to answer.

I can get you a copy of the book. I'll send you a PM.

u/Bacarey · 1 pointr/funny

Many people understand jihad as a religious justification for violence in Islam. Jihad actually translates into English as "struggle". The greater jihad that all Muslims are supposed to undertake everyday in their lives is to be a better Muslim, to live amoral life, and to follow the teaching of the Prophet. This is similar to Christians trying to follow the word of Jesus in their every day lives. The lesser jihad is the struggle with the outside world. The struggle is with those who do not live in your faith and your struggle to convert them. This is usually done by encouraging others to understand the religion and its teaching but radicals and extremists take this to mean one must kill people who do not believe or live in their insane world. Terrorist acts are undertaken by radicals and extremists, who do not operate by the same moral code that the average person understands.

As for religious justification for violence, yes, there ARE passage in the Quarn that seem to encourage violence, but just like many people who don't live in the 7th c. AD, most modern Muslims do not take this as a call for murder.

And the Christian Bible also contains violent passage, like God's call to King Saul in Samuel 1, "Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'" This is the translation in the New International Version, but many other translations read similarly. you can see them here-

I highly recommend reading and or listening to this- Is the Bible more Violent than the Quran? to understand the textual support for the argument.

Also the book No god but God by Reza Aslan gives a really full and well researched look into the history and the development of Islam, as well as the Islamic world's interaction with the Western world and helps to understand the political climate.

Also Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism is a little dated (written in 2002) but it is an interesting look into the western understand of Islam and its relation to terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda

u/Pixelated_ · 1 pointr/exjw

I would strongly disagree with that.

Have you read The Gentile Times Reconsidered by Carl Olof Jonnson?

This is the most well-researched treatise that examines the fall of Jerusalem in excruciating detail, and shows how to arrive at 586/587 through archeological artefacts.

u/DionysiusExiguus · 1 pointr/Christianity

David Bentley Hart's, The Experience of God.

u/henriettatweeter · 0 pointsr/offmychest

Your grandma's heart probably was weakened by the cancer treatments. It happens.

Sick dogs will get sicker, usually.

A lot of men would rather break up with you than deal with something difficult like a death or falling in love. They don't like feelings.

Oh, guess what? There is no god. BUT that doesn't mean there isn't joy in the world.

I'm sorry you are going through so much and it's normal to be angry. Tr reading this

u/TheSpaceWhale · 0 pointsr/atheism

I'd like to put out a counterpoint to a lot of the comments about "finding holes in the books" etc. You don't need to convince her that there is no God, Bible is mythology, etc. You don't want to come off as attacking her beliefs or from a side of negativity. You need to convince her that you're an adult, a good person, and that you've found another "belief system" that fits better for you and deserves her respect. You want to approach her as Carl Sagan, not Richard Dawkins.

I would highly encourage you to read Karen Armstrong (A History of God, or The Case for God). They're both not only fascinating books on the evolution of religion in general, but they show a non-theistic side of religion/spirituality within Christianity. She'll likely feel more comfortable with your lack of belief in a literal personal God if you approach from an angle of something WITHIN Christian theology. Another good view of this is When God Is Gone, Everything Is Holy, which describes the positive side of atheism and science. Maybe give her one of these books rather than The God Delusion--it's something she's more likely to read.

Ultimately, most religious people having their own different religious beliefs than they are with people rejecting their beliefs. Present atheism as something positive, inspiring, and fulfilling for you.

u/2ysCoBra · 0 pointsr/NoFap

Watch a William Lane Craig debate and read "The Experience of God" by David Bentley Hart.

u/MikeBerg · 0 pointsr/atheism

Ok, first off I'm not trolling nor am I a theist dumb dumb but here me out.

I'd argue that Atheism IS a form of religion and is in fact the next logical progression after Christianity.

I recently read an interesting book that got me thinking about this, The Evolution of God ( The author talks about the progress from caveman religions all the way up to the modern day Christianity. In each religious iteration there is a reordering of the deities, a streamlining of the gods if you will. First we started out with many many gods that each control there respected domains and each time the major religions simplify these down. From multiple pagan gods to the set of gods worshiped in the roman/greek times to the set of god/angles/saints of the catholic religion to modern religions that just believe in a single divine god down to atheism that have cut out a single god all together.

However reason I would say the atheism is still a religion is that many of the beliefs from Christianity are still present but there is a lack of a single point of worship (unless you count Dawkins for some). Atheists still have the need to congregate together and to share there belief system and even try to convert others to their belief (for example putting atheist signs on buses, sticks in bibles at book stores, even arguing with your teacher when they bring up atheism is a religion, etc).

This is just something I've been pondering for the last while and its not intended to piss anyone off, what do you guys think?

u/troutmask_replica · -1 pointsr/Christianity
u/iamisa · -3 pointsr/islam

I enjoyed Muhammad: The messenger of God by Betty Kelen as an introduction and preview for what is to come, and then No God But God by Reza Aslan.

These books are entertaining and touch on several issues without too much study.

If you become serious and want to learn more, go ahead and read Tafheem Ul-Qur'an by Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.