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u/adamshell · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

It's interesting to me because when I talk to people and how they come to their faith, it's all kinds of different stuff that actually ends up being the "straw that breaks the camels back." Why don't I tell you what convinces me and then give you some recommendations in various directions.

Now, I was raised a Christian. That's important because I'm not sure that I would be a Christian now if I wasn't raised as one. I make that admission not because I think it's a weakness to my case, but because I want you to understand that I understand the difficulty in believing something like this seemingly ridiculous story.

Many of my friends, very few of whom are Christians, actually call me the "most open-minded person" they know or at least one of the most. One of my best friends (an agnostic Jewish girl) says that I would make a terrific atheist if it weren't for that whole "believing in God thing."

Though I have always identified as a Christian, I did go through a time when I decided to weigh the evidence.

I'll consider any evidence and look for its flaws. I like science, but I don't like the double standard that exists between science and faith. In the opinion of many atheists, if ANYTHING appears to be incompatible with their perception of faith, it's automatically proved incorrect and any effort of a person of faith to answer why it may not be incompatible is met with deaf ears. Conversely, if ANYTHING appears to be incompatible with science, that's "fascinating!" or "interesting!" or "a great opportunity to arrive at a greater truth."

With that being said, I think there are quite a few things that we (as a society) take for granted that may or may not be true. For example, we all believe that the earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around. But the reason we arrived at that conclusion was not because it was the only possible answer, but because it was the simplest answer. (By the way, I believe that the earth revolves around the sun, this is just an example). Another example is gravity. It behaves so steadily that we even label it with a gravitational constant. But we know it does funky things at the quantum level and at the cosmological level (like near the event horizon of a black hole). We have no idea why.

This thinking brought me to the realization that I might not understand nearly as much as I thought I did. It felt lacking and EVERYTHING felt like faith at that time. Because of that, I decided that I would look for internal consistencies or inconsistencies in the Bible. The one that really stood out to me was Noah's flood. I had always heard that there was varying evidence for or against a global flood, but the vast majority of the arguments didn't seem to be asking the right questions. IF there WAS a global flood, it would certainly be an unprecedented event-- something that we had never observed in our time... so how would we know what to look for? The Bible itself records that water came up out of the earth-- that's not indicative of most floods.

But even that wasn't the most interesting part of that story to me. The Bible is actually a very valuable historical resource. Archaeologists rely on many of its dates and locations to find out more about sites in the middle east. That's why the flood account is so fascinating to me. No one believes that the flood account was written down for HUNDREDS of years after it is supposed to have happened. Yet, according to that account people before the flood were living for hundreds of years (up to 969). Then, for seemingly no reason, the author of the account picks the flood as the dividing point where lives are considerably shortened. I have yet to hear a good explanation for why someone over 1000 years later, yet still over 3000 years ago, would randomly decide to put that kind of change in there. Because of that, I thought, "Hm, maybe the earth drastically changed at that point." I can't prove that, just so you know. It's just an interesting thought that I had.

Now, beyond all that, I look at the historical record of the gospels and the few hundred years of church tradition immediately after that. The thing that always stands out to me there is that, regardless of the evidence of Jesus' resurrection, we do have pretty reliable reasons to believe that prominent apostles chose to die rather than go back on their claims that Christ raised from the dead. I just couldn't wrap my head around why 12 prominent guys, plus Paul, would choose to die for something they would have known to be a lie. I could understand people today who died for blind faith, but this isn't blind faith. It's not cultish (doesn't fit the psychology). It doesn't appear to be hallucinatory (doesn't fit the current medical understanding). The only thing that I could think is that it was either an incredibly elaborate lie that hundreds of people were willing to die for, or it was the truth.

When you take that into consideration with the actual gospel accounts of the resurrection, things get really interesting. I think a lot of people read those accounts (or, trust people who have read them) without considering that they may have actually happened exactly as recorded. They're certainly not written as ridiculous accounts of mad men. They don't protect the reputations of those surrounding the events. If the gospels claimed Jesus had made a roast beef sandwich rather than resurrecting, I'd bet that most people would arrive at the conclusion that they actually happened.

That's just a few reasons in addition to the ideas that resurrection was not exactly smiled upon in that culture, that the church had to survive persecution from the very beginning that the odds of Christianity actually taking hold was so unlikely it might as well have been impossible, etc. etc. As I said, none of these thoughts are exactly original.

Now as to why you should believe, I don't know what it would take to convince you. If you're wondering why I believe in Christianity over a multitude of religions, it's actually extremely original (yes, even in light of the Horus myth). No other surviving system says, "Humanity is despicable, wicked, and evil. There is literally nothing you can do to save yourselves." Yet Christianity is viewed primarily as a religion of hope and redemption. And it has convinced millions of people.

As for your comment about "superstitious goat herders" the book I like best to explain that these guys and their accounts are actually a lot more reliable than they seem is Richard Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. It's not perfect, but it's very very thought provoking and fairly readable.

As I alluded to a number of times, I think most people tend to just treat the stories in the Bible as "impossible" without actually reading them and considering them. To a point, I don't blame them. It does seem unbelievable. But some really rational and reasonable people have looked at the evidence and come to the conclusion that it might not be as totally crazy as they once thought. Will it convince you? I don't know, I pray that it would, but ultimately that's up to you. If there's ever any question you have, I encourage you to come to me with it. I do this kind of thing a lot, speaking of which, here's another conversation I had with some other people on this subreddit. That conversation even caused /u/superwinner, a pretty frequent regular on this part of the site (this very thread, no less), to say, "Thats it, I'm friending the shit out of you." That's pretty much my crowning achievement on this subreddit.

I have much compassion for other members of this human race regardless of religious stance, and the same goes for you. I'm quite pleased that you seem willing to at least engage me on this issue and I thank you for doing it so honestly and respectfully. I hope that you find my response at least considerate and worth YOUR consideration. One final thought though-- it's not going to be ME or anything I say that convinces you one way or another. It'll be your own decision, perhaps in tandem with God, perhaps not (depending on what you choose). Either way, feel free to always consider me as a resource, even if you don't end up believing and you just want to understand why a Christian might believe something-- like why they choose one God over all the others. Good question, OP.

u/MegaTrain · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

It sounds like you're already familiar with it, but just in case, the most plausible mythicist theory (in my opinion) of Earl Doherty, Richard Carrier and David Fitzgerald is not simply that Jesus was made up from whole cloth at a later time or something, but that the original concept of Jesus was of him as a celestial deity, existing only in the heavenly realms. He was later "euhemerized" and placed into stories on earth (this was a common practice), and these later stories became cannonized into the gospels, and the earlier views of him as a celestial-only deity were lost.

The strongest case for this is in the early epistles, where many references to Jesus actually make more sense as a celestial Jesus than a Jesus-on-earth. One strong example:

> Hebrews 8:4 “For if he [Jesus] were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law.”

> An astounding verse, and one that might well be considered the “smoking gun” proving that early Christians did not believe in a human, historical Jesus. Hebrews chapters 8 and 9 discuss the covenant of sacrifice between God and man. The writer is comparing the Jewish tabernacle, where the high priest makes blood sacrifices of animals to God within the heart of the sanctuary, with the “greater and more perfect tabernacle” (9:11) of Heaven, where Jesus offers his own blood within the heavenly sanctuary as a more perfect sacrifice to God. The underlying theme here is clearly a Platonic one: human actions on Earth mirror divine actions in Heaven, the imperfect material world reflecting the perfect divine world.

> As the writer of Hebrews crafts this analogy, he mentions, almost in passing, that if Jesus were on Earth, he would have had nothing to do, because there were already priests there offering sacrifices. Jesus’ role was only in Heaven, where he could offer his blood as a better sacrifice.

> But how could any writer who knew a human Jesus possibly have said this? How could he have overlooked the blindingly obvious fact that Jesus did have a purpose on Earth, that in fact he had to come here precisely to fulfill this purpose? Why does he seem to think that Jesus’ offering of his own blood took place exclusively in Heaven?

> From the gospel standpoint, this is impossible to explain. From the spiritual-Jesus standpoint, it is very easy, and indeed fits perfectly, like a lock in a key, with the scenario this essay puts forward.

u/nullp0int · 17 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Let's dismantle your friend's arguments:

> Because something can't come from nothing...

Prove it. If he can't, his argument already falls apart. People assume that "something can't come from nothing" is a fact, but what evidence backs this up? Every single human being has been surrounded by "something" for every instant of his or her existence. Not once has any person experienced absolute "nothing". Thus any statement about the properties of "nothing" (besides being self-contradictory, as "nothing" cannot have properties) is complete and total Making Shit Up. This is begging the question.

> ...there had to be a being intelligent enough to create it

If something can exist without prior cause, then clearly prior cause is not always needed for existence. Therefore the demand that the universe have a prior cause is unreasonable. Furthermore, the universe is not a "thing" - it is the set of all things. Assuming that the whole must have the characteristics of its parts is the fallacy of composition.

> Because god exists outside of science, he doesn't need a scientific explanation.

"Outside of science" is a nonsensical statement. Please define or stop using this. Also, this is special pleading.

> The chances of abiogenesis occurring is 1 in 10^40,000. Most statisticians agree that these chances are far too improbable for such a thing to occur that it's essentially impossible.

This is Just Plain Wrong. The chance of abiogenesis occurring is not 1 in 10^40,000; people who think so are basing their beliefs off junk science and junk math. See: here for details. By the way, the whole "most statisticians agree..." is a ploy by your friend to hide the fact that he just pulled a random unsubstantiated number (10^40,000) out of the air and expects you to accept it.

>Nearly all genetic mutations are big and negative...

Again, Just Plain Wrong. See this and this. Your friend needs to do a little more research.

> ...therefore evolution having mutations that are small and positive is nearly impossible.

Your friend is showing his ignorance regarding evolution. Mutations are neither positive nor negative without context. A mutation which is helpful under certain circumstances is harmful under others. See the previous two links for more.

> Everything in nature seems perfectly designed for human beings.

Yep, cancer, natural disasters, predators, odorless toxic gases, plagues have all been perfectly designed to suit human beings. Toss your friend alone and naked into the wilderness and see how far that "perfectly designed" environment takes him. Better yet, toss him into the 99.99999999% of the universe that is not Earth and see how long he survives.

Furthermore, saying that "everything looks designed" is self-defeating. Ask your friend to show you an example of something which is not designed. Let's say he suggests X. Point out that, according to his beliefs, God did in fact design X, thus your friend has demonstrated an inability to tell the difference between things that are designed and not designed. In addition, if literally everything around us is designed, then he very concept of being designed loses all meaning (in the same way that theists like to say that good without evil loses all meaning).

> There's no way to explain that/the complexity around us with mutations.

Again, does not understand evolution. He should read this before making more ill-informed statements.

> There had to be a creator.

Even if this were true (it's not, given that every single thing your friend has said above is utterly wrong) - but even if this were true, there's nothing that says that this creator is anything like human notions of "God".

u/frontseatdog · 5 pointsr/TrueAtheism

If you're not already familiar, I suggest you start with the Wikipedia article on a priori and a posteriori knowledge.

> I understand what he means by the love example in that, while love is a series of chemical reactions, you can't really scientifically measure how "in love someone is" or the nuances of those feelings. Does this apply to the concept of God also?

Not exactly. The closest analogy to the claim that a god exists would be the claim that love exists. How would you prove that love exists? First, you would have to clearly define what you mean by love.

If you define it such that it's an unfalsifiable proposition, then the search is over before it begins; unfalsifiable claims are effectively indistinguishable from false claims and are only treated as true (or possible) by the exercise of wishful thinking.

On the other hand, if you define love in a way that is testable then run your tests etc. Note that in this scenario, how "in love someone is" may well be measurable.

This is why it's important to address someone's god claim first by insisting that they provide a testable definition. Obviously theists reject this approach, as it lays bare the weakness of their reasoning. You typically get deflective responses like "Well how would you test for happiness, or love, or whatever (immaterial concept they grasp at)." Of course anything that exists, even if it only has a subjective existence in the mind of one individual, can (theoretically) be tested if it is defined properly. Another common response is "Everything is evidence for (their) god." This is basically presuppositionalism, or circular reasoning. Circular reasoning proves nothing. And then there's "My god can't be defined, because that would set limits on him and he's too awesome for limitations." This makes the claim incoherent, because the god's attributes are incoherent. Incoherence is nonsense, by definition.

If you haven't read it, Carl Sagan's "The Demon Haunted World" is highly rated. I'm giving a copy to my youngest daughter.

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/TooManyInLitter · 26 pointsr/TrueAtheism

> What science has proved the Christian God can not exist?

The Christian God, Yahweh, under Christianity is the one true and only God with a bunch of omni-traits assigned to It.

A foundational belief in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) is that Allah, God, or Yahweh/YHWH, is the only true revealed God. Yet the evidence points to the growth in the belief of the monothesitic Yahweh God from a polytheistic foundation of the El God pantheon in the ancient Ugarits and Canaanites who became the early Israelites. Yahweh was a subordinate fertility/rain/warrior local desert God whom, through a process of convergence, differentiation and displacement (synthesis and syncretism), was elevated to a monolatry and then to a monotheistic Deity.

If you are interested in the growth of Yahwehism, here are a few online references:

u/uncletravellingmatt · 9 pointsr/TrueAtheism

It's all about the kids.

Your kids deserve a great education. Don't force them into an environment where they get nothing but one-sided indoctrination. Teach your kids about religion (not just your own, although that's a great start.) Learning stories about different religions is great is wonderful, so are similar books about Greek myths Indian gods, etc. It's an important part of our culture, current events, literature, world news and history, etc. to understand different faiths.

If your 12 year old is old enough to be into a book like that could be great, too... or tell him/her about cool stuff on reddit, related to any given interest. Internet access does wonders for broadening people's horizons.

>There are times when I wish my world was a bit larger

Your kids might wish this as well. Think about what you could do for them -- are there options for student exchange, travel, getting involved in anything, anywhere that broadens their circle of friends and acquaintances outside of a homogenous community? That should be a goal in raising your kids.

u/i_make_song · 3 pointsr/TrueAtheism

The Bible is a collection of small works written by many people from a select variety of cultures over a period spanning many (many, many, many) years. Each separate work was frequently changed intentionally and unintentionally (in insignificant and significant ways), and as I understand it we actually don't have any of the original manuscripts. There is a ton of physical evidence for the frequent changes to various manuscripts because we have so many copies. The Biblical manuscript page of Wikipedia does a much better job of explaining this.

So even if we had perfect translations of the existing bajillion manuscripts (we don't) it wouldn't matter because they aren't the original manuscripts. I don't think it's very likely that they had any sort of otherworldly knowledge on them, but hey anything is possible right? It's just not very likely. I think a better exercise when debating is pointing out clearly immoral passages that cannot be interpreted in multiple ways (try 2 Kings 2:23).

Any serious historians (including Christian historians) do not believe we have an inerrant Bible. Although that sure seems to be the rhetoric coming from the religious right.

Some translations are also much more academically rigorous than others. Rupurt Murdoch literally owns the NIV translation and the NIV translation is overseen by only 15 people. You can interpret that however you would like.

I personally recommend the The New Oxford Annotated Bible. I have it in Kindle format (basically a DRM protected PDF) as it's a fantastic translation. As I understand it is the translation most often used by biblical scholars.

The Bible is actually fairly complicated compilation of writings with all of the different sources and languages that are complied together, but it's a fairly interesting story.

I'm by no means an expert on this stuff, but I've tried my best to be as accurate as possible. Someone let me know if I've slipped up somewhere.

Honestly, the topic is extremely deep, and my interest in the bible has become almost nonexistent over the past few years.

I've debated with countless "the Bible is the inerrant word of God" people with pretty solid evidence and points and it all seems to be that these people use circular logic. I'm not saying they're unintelligent (they're actually quite intelligent) they seem to be clinging on to an improbable belief or in some sort of delusion/denial state.

I think a better question is who decided these people literally talked to "god", and how did they determine what was canonical? Why couldn't I just write a new chapter of the Bible today?

Sorry if my rambling is incoherent.

u/professional_giraffe · 1 pointr/TrueAtheism

Not long after I went off to college. I'd heard and read all the terrible things in the bible, but my loss of faith actually had to do with really studying the history of religion for the first time, and understanding how humanity's changing understanding of the world and growing sense of morality had influenced every major and minor change in dogma along the way. (Very similar to how I was able to dismiss creation when I learned about evolution in school.) I had already started to become more like a "deist" rather than a "theist" without realizing it, but I also had plenty of "religious experiences" that made me feel a personal relationship with god and kept me from dismissing it completely.

My first real challenge to my belief didn't happen until I investigated a church other than the non-denominational type I'd always been taken to growing up. I did this because my very serious boyfriend at the time was mormon (Who is now my atheist husband ;) and of course wanted to give it an honest look. But naturally I was skeptical. I looked on the internet for information, and to make a looong story short, I knew that it was untrue. (Like, literally plagiarized. Heh, literally...) But in researching one religion, I unknowingly started studying them all, and I encountered a lot of new arguments because of this (and just from being on the internet everyday helped with that too. Reddit was a big influence) and I remember deciding that I could not dismiss his religion or any other without truly looking into my own. So I decided to read arguments against everything I'd been taught, like a scientifically minded person is supposed to want to do.

Like you, I made a reddit post around this time, asking for sources and wanting others to tell me why they made the decision. Still identifying as christian, I didn't even know what information was out there, and what sources would be a best place to start. On that post I was given a link to this video series (edit: also linked by someone else) and when I had finished it I was an atheist. My "official" transition happened in just two hours, but really it made me realize how much I already didn't believe and taught me about a lot of other things about the bible I'd never heard such as the Documentary Hypothesis and the origins of Judaism. It was just my "last straw."

What you should look into next really depends on what might interest you the most or have the biggest impact. Here's a site that lists a ton of relevant books by category. Two I personally would highly recommend: "The God Delusion" which is fairly popular and a great place to start for a comprehensive understanding of the main issues, and "A History of God" is absolutely amazing for understanding the natural evolution of religion.

u/GoddessArtemis85 · 1 pointr/TrueAtheism

I had written a huge heartfelt reply and while trying to post links to several books I read, I accidentally closed the tab. :( Major fail.

Anyway, here are the books I read after my year of begging for my faith to return:

"God: Hit or Myth?" by Rober Ingersoll

"Why I am Not a Christian" by Richard Carrier

["Why We Believe in God"] ( by J. Anderson Thomson and Clare Aukofer

My Story
I started out not just Catholic but very Catholic. I was very involved in the faith clubs at my Catholic high school. I insisted on attended a Catholic college. I spent each summer during college helping run a Catholic version of VBS called Totus Tuus. We went to a different parish each week running these camps. It was exhausting and very fulfilling. I was totally high on Jesus and even convinced I was supposed to be a nun.

However, I was also a theatre student at my very Catholic college. And many of the other students found fault with some of our productions and show posters. For more on that, I point you to an old blog post of mine. In short, it really sucked. Despite being a very model of Catholicism, I was still on the receiving end of some very uncharitable attitudes, words, and actions. I started to get bitter. And that opened me up to questioning Church teaching. After all, you can't go far in theatre without making friends with a few gays! :) And I couldn't bear to think that they didn't deserve to be happy just because they preferred a coupling that couldn't naturally produce children. A seed of doubt and resistance was planted.

I moved back to my hometown after college, and started spending time with my best friend, her fiance, and his best friend. We'd all gone to high school together but I hadn't spent much time with these guys before. This other guy and I mesh really well together and have nearly identical thought patterns. I couldn't move on with becoming a nun without seeing if this was something special. I tirelessly pursued him until he gave in and started dating me. ^_^ Then, I lost my virginity to him. I'm not sure what I was expecting to happen, but my world didn't come crumbling down when I broke that big rule. I started to realize I could think for myself and make my own decisions. And, maybe I shouldn't be lazy and just let the Church tell me how to live. I needed to be accountable for my own actions, words, and beliefs. I couldn't just blame it on the Church for telling me what to do. (A little reminiscent of Nazis just following orders...)

Anyway, we eventually stopped going to Church because I was just sick of it. But I waffled back and forth on Catholicism for awhile. (After all, it was a huge part of my life!) I let my mom convince me that we wanted a Catholic wedding, so we had one. But I spent the next year praying for faith with no response from the Almighty. At that point, I borrowed the books mentioned above and broke free. It was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I didn't have to battle any more. I had peace. And it brought greater peace to my marriage. (The hubby never wanted to be Catholic, even since childhood.) We've moved to the west coast and are raising our daughters out here, away from constant religious pressures from both of our families. I've never been happier.

tl;dr Was a super Catholic, questioned teachings on homosexuality, lost virginity, explored atheism, and broke free!

u/NukeThePope · 5 pointsr/TrueAtheism

> mainly as evident in the fact that the Quran manuscripts we have today exactly match the earliest manuscripts we found so far,

I think there's a good possibility that this is also a lie (or irrelevant). Pardon me for sounding like a conspiracy theorist, but from what little I know it seems that there are experts who disagree with your assessment (or your sources).

Ex-Muslim author Ibn Warraq, from whom I've so far read far too little, claims that there was a period early in the history of Islam where the Koran (and the Hadith, I guess - it's been a while) underwent a fair amount of change. This is pretty much analogous to the fate of the Bible in the time before (and probably a little after) the Council of Nicea. It wasn't until this process had run for a bit that the Powers That Be (long after Mohammed) put their foot down and declared a moratorium on changes.

My source for this was Warraq's chapter in Hitchens' The Portable Atheist. If interested, you can surely work your way a bit closer to this horse's mouth.

But having written all this, I realize this whole discussion is pointless. Just yesterday I had a similar discussion with a Christian about the thousands of (allegedly faithful) copies of the Bible. But the point is, who cares if they were transmitted faithfully if the very first original was already bullshit?

We don't even know very well who the original sources were; there's some serious tension between the claim that all those surahs were written by Mo or transcribed from his personal dictation, and the fact that heaps and bundles of these things kept popping up from various sources long after he'd died. The process by which these writings were "found" and assembled looks far from reliable to me.

Finally, again, miracles. In order to accept the Koran's miracles as true, we'd have to

  • reject the miracle stories of all conflicting religious stories;
  • accept that these particular miracle stories were truthfully recorded by reliable eyewitnesses (of unknown identity); and
  • concede the possibility that miracles actually happened and, to be consistent with the teachings of the Koran, still happen today, regardless of the fact that no miracle has been adequately verified in human history.

    Like all religions, Islam faces a huge burden of proof here.
u/not_thrilled · 6 pointsr/TrueAtheism

> Where do atheists and non-Christians get their sense of morality? I’ve been taught that without God there would be no basis for human morality. However, I’ve met non-Christians who are subjectively (and perhaps objectively) more moral than some Christians. I’m asking, philosophically speaking, where morality “comes from”.

The way I see it, treating others how you wish to be treated is both in your own self-interest and in the interest of others. When writ large, it's simple morality. Do you want to be killed? Raped? Your stuff taken away? Then don't treat others that way either. You can take the thought process further or more abstract, in which case you get philosophy. I'm not smart enough for that, or just don't have the patience for it, take your pick. I just do what I'd want others to do, and on most days, I'd rather someone didn't kill me, thank you.

> Where do I start looking for the science behind evolution? I’ve been told that there is a massive amount of science, research, and evidence behind evolution that I’m inclining to believe is true. I know what evolution is and how it works, but I personally need more hard evidence. I’d love some resources if anyone here has any recommendations.

To be honest, I've never taken the time to truly dive into this. Someone else can probably answer better than me.

> From the outside looking at Christians, what are some of the biggest flaws in our arguments for God’s existence?

Most arguments I see involve one or both of two things. First is the Bible. It claims to be the word of God, and is really old, and people have said it's proof of God, so that's basically enough. Spoiler alert: It's not. If I found a 2000 year old Spider-Man comic, would that be proof that he existed? You're taking the oral traditions of primitive people, written down centuries after the alleged events, or in the case of Jesus, third-hand accounts written down decades later, and then centuries after that culled into a canonical document by someone looking to rule his empire with a single religion, as an accurate representation. Second, the concept of "god of the gaps," where anything not sufficiently understood is assumed to be proof of God. Or, the "look around, it's so beautiful/amazing, this couldn't have happened by chance" argument. The realm of things that hasn't been explained by science is rapidly dwindling, and at this point basically all religious people can do is reject the science. Don't be one of those people. I will say, it's impossible to say there is no god, but what is more likely? That there is a being that runs counter to every known tenet of science, that existed before anything else, that is all-seeing and all-knowing, yet gives no concrete proof of its existence, or that there...simply isn't? At this point, I'd accept the whackadoodle ancient alien explanations of the Bible over the supernatural, because at least those are plausible.

One book I'd recommend is Dan Barker's "Godless." He was an extremely passionate Christian, who had the same doubts, followed them to their logical conclusion, and left the faith. He's now actively involved in the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

u/sharplikeginsu · 3 pointsr/TrueAtheism

That's right, yeah. There are tons of transitional fossils. Every fossil is a transitional fossil, technically :) But the big ones they always want to see are the ones between what we would now consider major species groups, like "land mammals" vs "whales". And yes, there are plenty of those.

It turns out that fossilization only happens in incredibly rare conditions. The critter generally has to have the right level of hard tissues, fall in one of the right kind of sediment, not get scavenged, etc. It's pretty amazing that we have as many as we do, if you think about it. So yes, we would expect a 'gappy' picture to connect the dots through, but there are MORE than enough dots to have a pretty good picture of what the whole tree looks like. (Even more data is now available with the advent of DNA sequencing, and it turns out to map generally pretty well to how the picture looked from only having fossils.) If you want more on this Why Evolution Is True is a good, not too intimidating read.

u/d3b105b · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

You are probably going down the same route I did. I grew up in a very conservative Baptist home. Bed time stories were from the bible, went to youth camps every year, went as a missionary all over Europe, played piano in worship teams and so on. But over time I got more questions than answers.

God never answers my prayers, what am I doing wrong? How can all the people around me speak in tongues? Is evolution actually right? Gays getting married doesn't seem very wrong. And so on. It's a journey ultimately only you can go on and discover what's at the end. Maybe you go back to faith, maybe you don't. I became an atheist last year and haven't looked back since.

However, if you want some good resources I'd recommend the Skeptics Annotated Bible to cover the bible and if you haven't definitively watch Evid3nc3 Why I am no longer a Christian. As for creation, Richard Dawkins' books are usually good introductions if you can stand him, otherwise I'd recommend Why Evolution is True.

My two favorite books are Why We Believe in God(s) and 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian. The first was what made me really question everything I believed in and the second was the nail in the coffin, the question he asks are good and his tone is very nice. Highly recommended reading if that's you thing.

If you need anything more feel free to ask, we're here to help.

u/somerandomguy2003 · 5 pointsr/TrueAtheism

> I [...] was wondering if there were any books out there [...] about how living peacefully without [religion] is possible.

Maybe I'm just being cynical and reading into the phrasing here too much, but do you really need to read an entire book to convince you that it's possible to be an atheist and live peacefully? Shouldn't that be a given?

At any rate, there are only three types of atheist-related books that I'm aware of - counter-apologetic books (books that deconstruct arguments made by apologists), anti-theistic books (books that attempt to demonstrate the problems with religion), and what I'll call post-theistic books (books that address the issues that religion likes to claim a monopoly on - issues like ethics and morality).

I'm assuming, based on your question, that you are opposed to reading anti-theistic books. As such, I'd suggest Godless. Besides Dawkin's introduction, it's pretty light on the anti-theism. The first half is really more of a deconversion narrative than an argument, and it's pretty sympathetic to Christian believers. Also this video series might be of interest to you.

u/rainbowcannon · 1 pointr/TrueAtheism

I would recommend the New Oxford Annotated Bible (

It has copious footnotes about what different versions say and possible interpretations of the text. It also has fantastic essays on translations, exegesis (interpretations) and original texts as well as maps of Ancient Israel and it's surroundings. I don't think it's worth reading the bible without a study edition. It uses the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) translation which I feel is a nice balance between accuracy and readability. Many universities use this as the textbook.

The King James Version (KVJ) is probably the most famous english translation and the best written. It's also somewhat less accurate then modern versions and harder to read (think Shakespeare). I also don't know of a non religious KJV study bible. Even if you choose a different bible, you should consider reading Genesis and Exodus to get a sample of the language. Another major reason to read to bible is to get a greater appreciation of literature because of all the biblical references (think Dante, Shakespeare, Faulkner, etc.) If this is your biggest reason for reading the bible then you should read the KVJ.

In America, the most popular bible is the NIV (New International Version) which was written for people with an elementary school vocabulary and comprehension and it shows. I don't recommend this version.

You can find sample texts of all of these versions and more online and you should compare them yourself. Try the beginning of Genesis for a start.

tl:dr KJV for English Majors, New Oxford Annotated Bible otherwise.

u/ScrotumPower · 1 pointr/TrueAtheism

>I want to spend the rest of my life with this man.

Then there's no dilemma. It's about your lives for as long as you live. And you will very probably live longer than your parents(in-law).

>It was assumed

This is always bad. They will assume all kinds of things. They already assume that you want to be married in a ritual Catholic weddingzilla ceremony. Will they then not also assume that your children will be properly indoctrinated into Catholicism? Baptism, confirmation, Sunday school, church every weekend, Catholic school? Though the last one is apparently not so bad.

>I've heard we must meet with a priest and a married couple who will ask us questions to make sure we can get married.

I've heard that as well. But marriage advice from a man who has never been and never will be married? Marriage advice from random people? Being married doesn't magically grant expert knowledge of marriages, just as being a mother doesn't grant expert knowledge of child-rearing. Jenny McCarthy is a perfect example of this.

>I've heard things like couples having to sign a purity agreement, having to lie about living together

I'm not sure about that, but in a word, don't. Sign nothing, be honest, do not lie to please anyone, retain your dignity and integrity. Tell the priest outright that you're doing this only to please one set of parents. You have and will continue to live in sin, you don't and probably never will believe in any gods, you will never attend church voluntarily, and your children will grow up reading Darwin and Dawkins instead of the bible.

I assume you will use contraception, no matter what the pope thinks about it. Let them know. Fun fact: The Catholic church is firmly against contraception, but 96% of U.S. Catholic women has used contraceptives at some point in their lives.

>having to promise to raise future kids in the church, etc.

Aaand there's the indoctrination angle.

I wonder, would a Satanic church be acceptable? Could you postpone the church-going until after the age of reason because you want your children to be critical thinkers?

>So my question is, on a scale from "We're atheists, but doing this to please our parents" to "We love god and worship daily from our separate apartments" what do we need to say to the priest to get through these hoops?

Stand tall and proud, do not crawl through any hoops. Do not live a lie to please other people. Other people suck and you can't please them all.

But by all means meet with the priest and whoever else might be involved. Just don't agree with anything you don't want to do. Ask uncomfortable questions, reject unreasonable demands, and present yourselves as freethinking open-minded atheists who (I assume) would rather read Harry Potter to your children than the bible.

You don't want to live a life with all the Catholic trappings. Catholicism is all about authority. Obey, listen, always respect people that are older than you, have longer titles, or wear bigger hats. No critical thinking, please. Follow the rules!

Is that what you and your children want to do?

Also: In case any of your future children are boys, know that there are very few non-religious reasons for circumcision. The two main reasons boys are (more or less automatically) circumcised in the US are 1) it's in the bible, and 2) it supposedly prevents masturbation. Both reasons are from the dark ages of puritanism.

u/HaiKarate · 12 pointsr/TrueAtheism

I was an evangelical for 27 years, from age 18 to 45. I wouldn't say that there's one profound argument against Christianity; I would say that Christians and atheists are not even talking the same language. And most of that has to do with Christians having their conclusions in mind when they investigate, whereas atheists are willing to be led wherever the evidence and reason lead them. The end result is that atheists and Christians have completely different mindsets about what constitutes evidence and what they are willing to consider.

The first book I would recommend is Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard Elliot Friedman. Friedman is, himself, a Christian. The book deals with what scholars know about the construction of the first few books of the Bible.

Second book I would recommend is The Bible Unearthed by Neil Silberman and Israel Finkelstein. Have you ever wondered what the archaeological support is for the stories of the Old Testament? Dr. Finkelstein is one of the leading archaeologists in Israel today. This is an excellent place to start. (Here's a 90 minute video if you prefer.)

Third, pretty much any book by Bart Ehrman. Here's a good one, though -- Jesus, Interrupted. Dr. Ehrman is very respected in the scholarly community, and what he writes here, for the most part, represents where the majority of scholars are.

Fourth is A History of God by Karen Armstrong. Ms Armstrong tells the story of how the God the Jews, Christians, and Muslims got his start in Canaan. There is a quick summary of the book here.

u/sbsb27 · 10 pointsr/TrueAtheism

One of the main and repeated sources Christopher Hitchens cites in his "God is not Great" book is Jennifer Hecht and her book "Doubt: A history: The great doubters and their legacy of innovation from Socrates to Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickenson.

While not argumentative it is full of careful study and resources.

Karen Armstrong and her "History of god: The 4,000 year quest of Judaism, Christianity , and Islam" is a wonderful read as well.

I think the point about confrontation is a good one. So while there may not be many women debating about religion on the public stage, there are women writing great reviews of the development of religions.

u/distantocean · 3 pointsr/TrueAtheism

I'd strongly recommend reading Why Evolution Is True by evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne. It's an outstandingly clear and well-written overview--probably the single best book I've read on the topic of evolution (and also consistently one of the best selling).

As far as atheist reading, the best book I've seen is Atheism: The Case Against God by George H. Smith (here's a 5-star review from a Christian who read it). It might be worthwhile to read Dawkins' The God Delusion simply because it's so prominent right now, but personally I didn't find it either well-organized or well-argued.

Hope that helps.

u/pckizer · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

I definitely agree that it's worth it to engage such conversation (though only when you have both the time and inclination so that you're not appearing antsy or overly aggressive).

One of the other good things that I've seen done is to ask if there is any evidence that anyone could provide that would cause them to change their mind. Tell them to ignore whether they think it is possible that any such evidence might arise; but, if something shown to them that they could independently verify that directly contradicted their bible verses, would they be willing to change their belief about the truth of even a single verse? If they answer that no evidence would ever change their mind then they have admitted they are too closed-minded to have any kind of productive conversation and they're admitting they not actually seeking the truth.

Lastly, make sure you're not only talking about items of data like science facts or the specifics about what a particular verse in the bible says. You have to find some way of reaching them emotionally since most of the death grip on their beliefs originates from an emotional process (including self-identity) that facts will help with but will be nearly useless on their own. [See: Boghissian's "A Manual for Creating Atheists" and Romm's "Language Intelligence: Lessons on persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln, and Lady Gaga" for making your spontaneous interaction with proselytizers more satisfying.

u/[deleted] · 5 pointsr/TrueAtheism

I don't view the expression that gods are, essentially, Santa Claus for adults to be a sarcastic or negative viewpoint. That said, maybe you'd enjoy Good without God by an author who seems to share your viewpoint.

>more about how living peacefully without it is possible.

The thing is, we don't have any problem living peacefully. It's not something we have to learn. Maybe you need a book about recovering from religion. Try googling for that in conjunction with your specific religion.

You might enjoy atheism parenting books because, in a way (and I don't mean this to be insulting), you're a bit like a child to be believing in fairy tales, so it might be instructive for you to see how children are taught about moral behavior, finding purpose in life, etc.

Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion

Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief

u/Ohthere530 · 6 pointsr/TrueAtheism

> Do you think Jesus was a real guy?

I recently read the books on this topic by Ehrman, Doherty, and Carrier.

I found Carrier's case for a Mythical Jesus to be compelling. I found Carrier to be annoying as a writer, but his book is scholarly and well documented.

Ehrman argues for a historical Jesus. His book was almost the opposite of Carrier's. His tone was friendly and approachable. He seemed calm and reassuring. I kind of wanted him to prove his case. But his arguments sucked.

Doherty dissected Ehrman's case paragraph by paragraph. (I read Carrier first, then Ehrman, then Doherty.) Doherty raised many of the concerns I noticed myself. Ehrman's arguments just didn't make sense. Never mind the history or the evidence — I'm no scholar — his arguments didn't make logical sense.

I wouldn't say it's proven either way. Given the scarcity of evidence, it may never be. That said, Carrier made a surprisingly strong case against a historical Jesus. If Ehrman's defense of Jesus is the best that academia can do, I'd say Jesus is pretty much dead.

But I would love to see a serious and scholarly attempt to refute Carrier's work. Ehrman's work didn't cut it.

u/regypt · 5 pointsr/TrueAtheism

The book you're looking for is "Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why"

I'm about 70% though it and it's been a great read. It's thick reading, but super interesting.

Free (legal?) ebook links here:

u/Fenzik · 4 pointsr/TrueAtheism

For an approach that isn't argumentative and doesn't ridicule them, I'd recommend checking out the book A Manual for Creating Atheists by Peter Boghossian. It has some good tips for talking to all kinds of people of faith and helping them to critically examine why they believe the things they do, and whether those beliefs are justified. There are lots of examples on YouTube as well under the banner of Street Epistemology.

u/Roxasnraziel · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

I prefer the NRSV, but the NIV is pretty good too. This is the bible that my college classes used. It's a very good study bible, since it has tons of translational and historical notes. The editor, Michael Coogan, also wrote the textbook for my Survey of the Old Testament class. He really knows his stuff and presents it well.

u/astroNerf · 54 pointsr/TrueAtheism

It's not a book but is instead a series of videos, but might be really useful. Why I am no longer a Christian. It's long, but worth it. Covers a lot of bases.

A good book not on atheism per se but a book on critical thinking and skepticism: The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan. There are some chapters that touch on religion specifically but it treats religion and superstition more or less equally, and provides a really good foundation for people who care that their beliefs are true - it's the sort of thing you'll want to read if you want to be better-equipped to determine whether something is bullshit or not. You can usually find this at most used bookstores.

A lot of atheists would tell you though: the bible. Really! Read it cover to cover, like you would any other book. There's probably a lot of stuff in there you'll never see in church or Sunday school.

Edit: I have to plug The Sagan Series. Some of the videos touch on religion but most are more in a humanistic vein. They are really well-put-together by /u/rgower and there are some ideas in there that might give you things to think about.

u/SomeRandomMax · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Personally, I find the subject of Evolution fascinating. Almost no subject causes more disagreement in our society today, yet at it's core it extremely simple and almost trivial to understand the basics. People go out of their way to misunderstand it, which is amazing considering just how simple it really is.

There are lots of great books on the subject, but I personally recommend the book Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne. It is easy and clear, and presents all the overwhelming evidence in a straightforward manner.

u/Rockfiend · 1 pointr/TrueAtheism

Thank you. In my courses I did a lot of research into bible translations. The one I found to be the most "accurate" is the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version). It has basis with the most archaeological finds and is the most widely accepted as being reliable. I chose to get the one with the apocrypha because I think they deserve to be read right along with the bible. The one I have is academic (used for my Old Testament course) and I found it to be unbiased for the most part with great footnotes and introductions. Whenever possible, it includes information about other religions/mythologies that inspired stories in the bible. I'm intending on reading those as well.

u/touchmystuffIkillyou · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

You can "argue" with people in real life instead. I'm not really suggesting arguing, but a better form of conversation to get people thinking.

If so, you might be interested in Peter Boghossian's book, a good start on the subject. The title doesn't do it justice, but it's called A Manual for Creating Atheists

u/titan_trigger · 1 pointr/TrueAtheism

Yes I am aware of Richard Carrier and Bob Price. Ask yourself why he - not originally a new testament historian - has not written a peer reviewed paper on this rather novel and contrarian view and has instead decided to publish popular books targeting an atheist/agnostic audience eager to accept this message.

As a counter can I recommend Bart Ehrman's Did Jesus Exist?, also a short video

u/moon-worshiper · -1 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Recent Zen realization:

The sound of one hand clapping is a longitudinal displacement wave.

It explains BAO (baryon acoustic oscillation).

Zen explains quantum mechanics, superposition and entanglement.

Another Zen koan that is enlightening every day:

Infinity lies in a flower petal.

The best synthesis of mathematics and Zen is "The Tao of Physics". Capra needs to write a new book to consolidate the findings of the past few decades.

The Zen koan, "First there was a mountain, then there was no mountain, then there was" is like a mini-review of "A Universe from Nothing".

It is also a synopsis of Schrodinger's Cat.

Physics is finding everything is nothing and nothing is everything, matter plus anti-matter equals nothing. Physics and Zen are on the same perfect circle path, a perfect circle with no beginning or end, with a center with no center.
A center with no center

u/ghostmountains · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

The Portable Atheist, edited by Christopher Hitchens, is an invaluable resource and a full-on greatest hits of nonbeliever writing, tracing the chronology of freethinkers all the way from to Lucretius to H.P. Lovecraft to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I'm constantly going back to it, especially because there are essays for all sorts of atheism-related subjects, like the refutation of miracles or the source of morality.

Also, I know you said you're not looking for anti-Christian media, but Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not A Christian is a classic for a reason - it's comprehensive and expertly-crafted without being vitriolic. As influential as Dawkins has been for me, he can't hold a candle to Russell.

u/Philo_T_Farnsworth · 6 pointsr/TrueAtheism

> Quite possibly the worst is the cult-like encouragement to indoctrinate your kids into Christianity.

Every so often I like to mention the book The God Virus by Darrel Ray. It goes into considerable detail on that point, and the book is just fascinating. Darrel has a way with words and is good at making a point, and I think he has a pretty compelling argument here. If you've not read it, it's honestly worth checking out.

u/kent_eh · 11 pointsr/TrueAtheism

It sounds like you two are discussing the basics of epistemology.

>I told her that I would have to think about it, but that you can't be scared to learn about things that disagree with your beliefs. I told her that a lot of times it feels bad to have your beliefs challenged, and that this can cause you to avoid learning things that you don't like or immediately discounting them.

That's a very good place to start.

>At this point she basically said "Yeah you have to make sure you aren't just accepting something because it agrees with what you already think."

She seems to have discovered confirmation bias on her own. Well done her!

Maybe introduce her to some information on critical thinking.

Given her parents and your desire not to ruffle their feathers too muck, I'd avoid The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True for now. Maybe have a copy at your place that she might accidentally find on your bookshelf?

Perhaps The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark would be a good choice?

u/NikoMyshkin · 1 pointr/TrueAtheism

This book discusses the issue frankly, IMO. Essentially it concludes that man created god in his image - that we are driven emaotionally towards such creation. Not exactly groundbreaking but it presents a large body of evidence in support of our species' proclivity towards creating god/gods.

u/penguinland · 1 pointr/TrueAtheism

A great reference is Karen Armstrong's A History Of God. For things you can read free online, see PBS' Nova, Harvard Magazine, and in general the Documentary Hypothesis of how the Torah was written.

u/bdwilson1000 · 1 pointr/TrueAtheism

Grab a used copy of Misquoting Jesus for $4 shipped here:

It goes into great detail on how the New Testament came together. It's fascinating stuff that every Christian should be aware of.

u/-Lemma- · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Agreed looks like the OP just needs general skeptics resources and community. I would also recommend Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World. You may also find /r/skeptic here on reddit useful.

u/Chiparoo · 4 pointsr/TrueAtheism

A History of God, by Karen Armstrong

It's a history of how the concept of a single deity came to be, and how Christianity and Islam came to branch off Judaism.

Note: this isn't an "atheist" book per se, but an academic one revealing some great facts about the evolution of religion.

u/BlazeOrangeDeer · 4 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Sagan's book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark is excellent reading. Although it's more pro-science than anti-religion, that's what's important anyway and it makes the atheist viewpoint clear.

u/evilmaniacal · 7 pointsr/TrueAtheism

You may be interested in Bart Ehrman's book Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, in which the author concludes that yeah, he probably existed. You may also be interested in this (still ongoing) series of blog posts reviewing the book, which does a nice job pulling out relevant quotes

u/NdnsX · 1 pointr/TrueAtheism

Never teach your children that one or the other worldview is right and never to be questioned, be that religion or atheism. Inform them about everything and let them figure it out themselves. Don't think for them, let them do the thinking. Lie to them and do it so blatantly that they recognize it's a lie. Then be increasingly subtle about it, though always have some kind of "Simon says" safe word that tells them that you're not fucking around when they really need your honesty.

"Is there a god/Santa Claus/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy?"

"What do you think?"

The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True

u/SuperDaleCooper · 10 pointsr/TrueAtheism

You're not likely to change theists minds through debate or argument. I find that Street Epistemology/Socratic Method is the best method for examining beliefs and what methods someone uses to arrive at a particular belief (e.g. faith vs scientific method). Check out Anthony Magnabosco's Youtube channel or Peter Boghossian's book "A Guide for creating atheists".

u/succhialce · 9 pointsr/TrueAtheism

This is eloquently put. To add to the point of learning from freethinkers I would like to recommend some reading material. First, I would advise becoming familiar with skepticism. The ideal text for this is The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan. In order to educate yourself on comparative religion (as far as monotheism is concerned) I would recommend A History of God by Karen Armstrong. Third, specifically regarding Christianity and more specifically the NT I would go to Bart Ehrman. Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. Hope this helps anyone trying to inoculate themselves to misinformation.

u/myusernamestaken · 3 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Damn, 16 hours and no response, /r/trueatheism usually eats this shit up.

I don't have much to say, but i'd assume it's a fairly easy task. In The Bible Unearthed, Finkelstein and Silberman convincingly demonstrate that the entire OT is pretty much bullshit (arguing from an archaeological viewpoint).

I had thought that most scholars believed that it was written by David, Isaiah and Moses, not only the latter. The author only sources 4 academics to form his conclusion as well.

u/SuJu43ver · 1 pointr/TrueAtheism

There was a book I read on why we have religion. It was very interesting and informative and a good resource. You should check it out!

u/napoleonsolo · 3 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Misquoting Jesus. It's by a highly regarded New Testament scholar and covers the history of the creation and development of the New Testament brilliantly.

u/_stuntnuts_ · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

A bunch of good books have already been mentioned, so I'll throw this one in the mix. Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus does a very good job explaining how the documents that make up the Bible were compiled, altered, and repercussions of that process.

u/meldroc · 3 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Ever read The God Virus by Darrel Ray?

He explains the guilt cycle from a psychological perspective in detail.

  1. Make something that every animal does into a taboo, encode it into the religious virus's DNA.
  2. When followers do it anyways (fornication, masturbation, you name it...), compel them to come to the church for repentance.
  3. Tell followers they'll be absolved, this time, for the low-low price of 10%.
  4. Followers repent, fork over the tithe, priest waves his dead chicken of absolution, induces wave of dopamine euphoria as guilt is washed away, for a while...
  5. Lather, rinse, repeat once a week.
  6. PROFIT!!!
u/aazav · 1 pointr/TrueAtheism

My personal fave is written by Bart Ehrman, Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

And the book that is my fave is Misquoting Jesus.

u/Kai_Daigoji · 16 pointsr/TrueAtheism

The New Oxford Annotated Bible is a great place to start if you really want to dig in academically.

u/SnowyDuck · 3 pointsr/TrueAtheism

The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins. An easy read describing some of the most fundamental forces in the world. Don't think for a second the world is any less amazing without spirituality or God. This book will show you exactly how disbelief in a creator can open your mind to the wonders of the universe.

If you ever think you're losing something, this book will convince you otherwise without even mentioning religion.

u/69frum · 20 pointsr/TrueAtheism

The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True

I don't know which age groups it's for.

Alternatively you can give them books about lots of different myths and legends. Greek mythology is great.

u/U53R-N4M3 · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

What is yours and other academic's take on Bart Ehrman's book: "How Jesus Became God :The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee"

What book would you recommend if I wanted a historically accurate version of Jesus's life and the foundations of Christianity?

u/yself · 0 pointsr/TrueAtheism

If the mythical Jesus never actually lived, then no. It's like asking if it is at all true ithat Hermes actually brought messages from the gods. Since probably everything we know about Jesus comes from mythical writings, we have good reason to doubt that he existed. See Richard Carrier's recently released book, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt.

u/XtotheY · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Keep trucking. I'm curious if you've used any of the techniques from Peter Boghossian's A Manual for Creating Atheists?

u/epieikeia · 19 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Richard Carrier has explored this issue recently in a two-book series (Proving History, and On the Historicity of Jesus. Here is a lecture he gave while the second book was in progress, if you want an overview of the arguments. He's the most prominent historian I know of who considers a mythical Jesus most plausible.

u/markevens · 11 pointsr/TrueAtheism

If he doesn't want to read something, don't push it on him.

Even if he does end up reading it, it won't be a proper reading, just something to please you that he begrudgingly does.

It is like reading a book that you were forced to read in school years after the fact, and you love the book on the 2nd reading but because you were forced to read it the first time you didn't engage it the way you should have. Same thing.

If you want to have a good discussion with him, you need to stop telling him things and instead start asking questions. With the right questions, he comes to his own answers instead of some kid (which you are in his eyes because he is your uncle) telling him.

This is the socratic method, and it works. If you want to learn more about applying it to atheism, check out A Manual for Creating Atheists.

u/st_gulik · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Parenting Beyond Belief helped my wife and I with a similar situation. :)

u/ikonoclasm · 1 pointr/TrueAtheism

Read How Jesus Became God. It gives you a good perspective on the early church.

u/tm258 · 3 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Another book that might be interesting is The Portable Atheist by Christopher Hitchens. It's a collection of writings and essays from a lot of different people.

u/mmm_ · 6 pointsr/TrueAtheism

On the topic of raising children in a mixed-faith environment, I'd recommend the book Parenting Beyond Belief.

Teaching our children how to think critically from a young age will be the biggest help in fighting against nonsensical beliefs.

u/fresnik · 36 pointsr/TrueAtheism

I cannot recommend Carl Sagan's The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark enough. Some parts of it may be a bit dated, but the chapter entitled "The Fine Art of Baloney Detection" is timeless and it may be exactly what you're looking for.

u/Knodiferous · 11 pointsr/TrueAtheism

There is nothing, because there is fucking nothing, nothing, nothing at all, period, zip, zero zilch. There's no books about a guy named jesus who lived at that time. There's no books about jesus that aren't based on the bible. Nothing was written about jesus while he was alive. He is not mentioned.

Nobody can prove jesus existed. Nobody can prove he didn't. Nobody can prove he was based on a real character. Nobody can prove a fucking single thing, period, at all, period. End of conversation.

Many historians agree that the character written about in the books of the new testament probably grew from legends and fables based on a real itinerant apocalyptic preacher. They come to these conclusions based on comparative analysis of the books of the new testament, and their conclusions are not solid, but are merely what they think is most likely.

If you want some scholarship, this book might be interesting

u/Kelloggs801 · 11 pointsr/TrueAtheism

I've just finished reading this:

I recommend it if you're looking for something like that.

u/im_buhwheat · 5 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Read this A Manual for Creating Atheists

At least look the dude up on youtube for an idea about what the book is about.

u/sbicknel · 5 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Anthony's approach is based on Peter Boghossian's book A Manual for Creating Atheists, and there is also the Street Epistemology website.

u/TheFeshy · 4 pointsr/TrueAtheism

A Manual for Creating Atheists, A book about how to have more civil and productive conversations about religion by using the Socratic method and focusing on epistemology.

u/captainhaddock · 5 pointsr/TrueAtheism

I highly recommend the New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. The translation used is the New Revised Standard Version, which is the standard in academic settings and lacking in denominational bias. It includes all the books used by Catholics and most branches of Eastern Orthodoxy. It has scholarly notes and introductions to each book. It is not a typical Evangelical Bible that pretends all the books were written by the traditional authors.

u/extispicy · 1 pointr/TrueAtheism

The New Oxford Annotated is the one I see recommended most often.

u/czah7 · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Watch this video first

And if you really want. Buy this book

What you should know is you may ostracize yourself from friends and family if you attempt this on them. I would first have light conversions simply asking what they believe and why to gauge how open they may be to a discussion. Don't just start with these attacks on their beliefs.

u/Autodidact2 · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

summer reading

You don't need to hide your (lack of) belief. It's not your job to make him comfortable with his unexamined superstition. Be who you are; don't change to help someone else ignore reality.

u/mavnorman · 3 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Why evolution is true by Jerry Coyne is concise, and keeps the bashing of creationists to a minimum, if I recall correctly.

u/ggliddy357 · 3 pointsr/TrueAtheism

You might want to pick up Richard Carrier's latest work.

u/Shareandcare · 3 pointsr/TrueAtheism

I've never heard of this book, and I cannot find any other references to the Author 'Filius Venus' which throws up some red flags.

The Native American approach makes me think Mormons, but it could always be something more open in interpretation.

A History of God By Karen Armstrong is reputedly very solid, so whatever claims this book makes should have to line up with her account. Otherwise something strange may be going on.

u/10thPlanet · 5 pointsr/TrueAtheism

The Oxford Annotated Bible is the standard "scholarly" study Bible, I believe.

u/Notasurgeon · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

While these are not all specifically about religion, here are a few things that I think everyone should read at some point in their lives.

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (this is where the term 'paradigm shift' came from).

Karl Popper on politics

Karl Popper on science

Get some historical perspective on the philosophy of science

The Power of Myth

A History of God

u/otakuman · 5 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Perhaps this might suffice: "Why we believe in god(s): A concise guide to the science of Faith, by J. Anderson Thomson.

While it doesn't address particular examples of religious experiences, it addresses "religiosity" as a whole, and gives plenty of explanations for why we tend to be religious.

u/z9nine · 14 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Godless by Dan Barker.

u/epicskeptic · 6 pointsr/TrueAtheism

You need this book. You're debating on his turf. Try using the Socratic method and treat him like a "patient" on your couch of psychology and find out "why" he thinks these things, then he will (maybe), realize that he is wrong in the future. Other than that, there is no other way for you to make him see the light.

u/epwnym · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

>Or places with suggestions for "things you can do to fight theism and religion" that are likely to make a real difference in the world.

Read this book: A Manual for Creating Atheists

u/vriendhenk · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

You [should read this book] (, it taught me to argue a bit more structured, not make statements but ask very difficult questions.

Being blunt and honest at the same time, seems to scare the posers(most of them that come in groups) and make the true believer actually think about the validity of things he or she believes and question [faith as a method of getting reliable information] (

u/lingben · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

I know you asked for the positive but there is no historical account for either Jesus Christ, Mohammad or Buddha.

Richard Carrier has just published the very first peer reviewed academic work on the historicity of Jesus:

u/bjlmag · 6 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Arguing in the sense of counter-apologetics and debate will very rarely change anyone's mind. Generally people have to be open-minded and willing to be wrong in order to change, and a debate setting immediately turns off both of these factors.

If you haven't already heard of Street Epistemology, [this channel] ( is an excellent place to start. Based on [this book] (, Anthony uses the Socratic Method to get believers to start considering the reliability of their beliefs on their own, which is generally much more effective than slamming down silly arguments with counter-apologetics.

If you get into a debate, especially with fundamentalists, you're only hurting yourself.

u/hibbel · 5 pointsr/TrueAtheism

It's hard to disprove the existence of someone or something 2k years in the past.

However, I'm not sure why many atheists think he most likely existed. I have a number of assumptions, though.

  • Yea, so if there was a historical Jesus, that doesn't mean he was the son of god, so it's a question that's not relevant for my atheism. Why argue over it?

  • Someone must have started christianity, so likely it was some "christ" guy.

  • Lots of scholars seem to think there was a historical Jesus, so why doubt it?

    Personally, I like what David Fitzgerald had to say about this in "Nailed" but I can understand why even atheists go with one of the arguments above.
u/nickelro · 4 pointsr/TrueAtheism

>Why does Krauss have to be "humble"

Emulate the change you wish to see in someone else.
You want people to be more honest, blunt, and humble? Project that.
Peter Boghossian constantly reiterates this. But let me put it this way, no one has ever changed my mind by coming up to me and yelling at me about how wrong my world view is and how irrational/delusional I am.

If you need further evidence in how bad Krauss is at debating, look no further than here.. Krauss has never read any of the Koran and decided to jump into a debate of Atheism/Islam which went ugly real quick. Hitchens and Harris would have mopped the floor with this guy.

u/redsledletters · 5 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Monotheist arguments

u/kickstand · 1 pointr/TrueAtheism

> how do respond to the claim that Jesus is essentially too unique and revolutionary not to be a God? That his message was so subversive and out of the blue that there's no way he could just be some guy?

Actually, around the time of Jesus there were a lot of apocalyptic preachers going around. He wasn't unique at all. Jesus is just the one whose influence happened to continue to our time.

You might want to search YouTube for "Richard Carrier" or read his book.

u/FredJoness · 8 pointsr/TrueAtheism

It is hard to find work that can be considered completely non-biased. If it's written by a Christian it can always be considered biased one way, and if written by a non-Christian it can be considered biased the other way.

Bart Ehrman, an agnostic, has written a book on this subject and made audiotapes. He argues that Jesus did exist, although he did not closely resemble the Jesus described in the Gospels. They can be found in libraries.

Richard Carrier is one of the major arguers for the case that Jesus never existed.

u/mothman83 · 12 pointsr/TrueAtheism

No it is not. This view is generally seen as discredited.

Having said that there are many many MANY figures in mideastern mythology that were killed and resurrected. So while it is not at all accurate to say that this aspect of the jesus story was merely plagiarized from egyptian mythology, it WOULD be accurate to say that the theme of being killed and then resurrected was a common theme in mideastern mythology at the time. jesus was hardly the only godman to arise in the first century A.D

I would deeply recommend EVERYTHING by Bart Ehrman but especially in this particular case How Jesus became God, the exhaltation of a jewish prophet in which Dr Ehrman discusses how one of the literally DOZENS of apocalyptic preachers wandering around Jerusalem in 30 A.D had a mythology of divinity attached to him later on. Suffice to say that it was common for, for example, emperors to become " gods" after their deaths. Jesus was hardly the only person to become a god after death in the roman empire in the first century.

( Fun Fact: If jesus came back to Earth today the number one thing that would shock him would be that... the EARTH STILL EXISTED. Jesus was convinced that the earth would be destroyed within a human lifetime.the bible expressly attributes this belief to jesus in Matthew 16:28 Sure Christian apolgists now spin this as some kind of methaphor, but when you place jesus within his hsitorical context and realize that apocalyptic beliefs where everywhere in israel in the first century ad and that there where maybe twenty other guys preaching the imminent destruction of the world right there in the same city, then it becomes clear that jesus meant it literally. Anyone listening to him at the time( if he indeed said these words) would have ABSOLUTELY thought he meant them literally.

Tl;Dr: using the bible itself and the historical context of his time and place, Jesus was certain that the world would end at the latest 1900 years ago. )

u/Studsmanly · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Thank you for providing context. I offer my sympathies with what you are going thru.

If I can make a suggestion. Read this book "The God Virus"

It is one explanation of why religious people behave the way they do and offers some suggestions in how to communicate with them. I don't know if it'll help with your wife, but you may get an insight on the rest of your community. Reading unapproved books is a threat to the community and therefore shunned and aggressively persecuted.

On the plus side, now all your fears are of the earthly variety :).

Do you still go to church?