Vanja Antonijevic's Reviews > The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever

The Portable Atheist by Christopher Hitchens
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Dec 09, 08

Read in December, 2008

Although, as can only be expected, it is missing some crucial works, and allows for only small excerpts of others, it an excellent collection overall.

The first third of the book will allow you to understand the philosophical intellectual history of atheism/agnosticism (Lucretius (c. 60 BCE ), Hobbes, Spinoza, Hume, Mill, Marx, Eliot, Darwin, Twain, Freud, Einstein, Orwell, and Russell). The rest of the book has more modern and recent arguments, that I believe are more systematic and convincing.

My favorites:

(1) Hume: He takes the idea of miracles to task.
(2) Mill: Rationally explains his lack of faith.
(3) Marx: Ever wondered what the "opium of the people" really means?
(4) Mencken: A witty memorial service to all the "dead" gods
(5) Einstein: Always one of the best when it comes to collecting eloquent and humorous short quotes
(6) Russell: Puts superstition to task.
(7) Mackie: Discusses possible consequences of adopting atheism
(8) Shermer: Excellent parody of what one would have to believe if one wishes to reconcile what we know scientifically today with the teachings of the Bible.
(9) Dawkins: Probably the best presented argument for the unlikelihood of the existence of God, and a good refutation of some of the most powerful objections of theists. His book, "The God Delusion", is a more complete explanation.
(10) Stenger: The best attack on the cosmological arguments for God.
(11) Anderson: Wonderful summary of the type of moral things God does in the Bible, tells others to do, or simply permits. The bottom line: clearly no truly good moral person should look to the Bible exclusively for guidance.
(12) Weinberg: Another cosmological discussion, but he is more sympathetic to religion.
(13) Warraq: A long but devastating attack on the Quran. Also good for those that do not really understand the type of things actually written in Islamic religious doctrine (or for that matter, how these religious books came about).
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Sandy b What a wonderful,insightful,and enjoyable review!
These essays are easy reading,and helped me clear up many lingering questions
I strongly recommend this ," not really portable" book


Shaun You said; "it is missing some crucial works" . . .
Would you please throw me a few references of the works that should have been included?
Thank you ( :
Best Regards!


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