2009 A to Z authors discussion

63 views
Charles's List in progress...

Comments Showing 1-15 of 15 (15 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Charles (last edited Dec 26, 2009 10:47PM) (new)

Charles | 16 comments A - Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions - Dan Ariely
B - godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists - Dan Barker - Finished
C - Gentlemen of the Road: A Tale of Adventure - Michael Chabon - Finished
D - Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon - Daniel Dennett - Finished.
E - Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible & Why - Bart D. Ehrman - Finished
F - Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character) - Richard P. Feynman - Finished.
G - American Gods - Neil Gaiman - Finished
H - God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything - Christopher Hitchens - Finished
I - Einstein: His Life and Universe - Walter Isaacson
J - Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism - Susan Jacoby - Finished
K - Forbidden Fruit: The Ethics of Secularism - Paul Kurtz
L - Why I Became an Atheist: a former Preacher rejects Christianity - John Loftus
M - Towing Jehovah - James Morrow - Finished
N
O
P - The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman - Finished
Q
R - Crimea: The Great Crimean War, 1854-1856
- Trevor Royle
- Finished
S - The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle In The Dark - Carl Sagan - Finished
T - Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries - Neil deGrasse Tyson
U
V - The Wordy Shipmates - Sarah Vowell - Finished
W
X
Y
Z - Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment - Phil Zuckerman - Finished


message 2: by Carrie (new)

Carrie | 25 comments Thanks for the Sarah Vowell reminder...I love listening to her on This American Life!


message 3: by Kerri (new)

Kerri | 21 comments Mod
I totally forgot about her! I read The Partly Cloudy Patriot years ago...I think it was a suggestion of Bob Barnes.


message 4: by Charles (new)

Charles | 16 comments Kerri wrote: "I totally forgot about her! I read The Partly Cloudy Patriot years ago...I think it was a suggestion of Bob Barnes."

I got The Wordy Shipmates for Christmas, so I'm sticking with that but most all the reviews I've seen of Assassination Vacation say it's great.


message 5: by Charles (new)

Charles | 16 comments Also, I keep re-editing my list here so check back for updates. :D


message 6: by Charles (last edited Jan 12, 2009 08:09AM) (new)

Charles | 16 comments Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by Daniel C. Dennett


My review>
rating: 4 of 5 stars
Daniel C. Dennett is a professor of philosophy so, as might be expected, he doesn't offer many answers in this book. He does however present more than a few questions and interesting ideas. Many of which I feel should be given more than just a casual glance.

The book is divided into three parts:

Part 1 Opening Pandora's Box

- What is the definition of religion?

- Can science study religion? Should science study religion?

- Cui bono? Who benefits from religion as a whole? Individuals? Society? Or "religion" itself?

- Is religion a sort of cultural symbiont that managed to thrive by leaping from human host to human host? If so, is it a beneficial Mutualists, neutral Commensals, or detrimental Parasites we might be better off without?

Part 2 The Evolution of Religion

- In this section Dennett offers an interesting hypothesis for evolution of religion from tribal "folk religion" to the large organized religions of the modern world.

- Did religion as we know it start as a way to get groups of non-related people to work together?

- Did it evolve a "market model" way in which the more you have to "pay" for religion the more implied value or product you received? A goat sacrificed for good crops, a life of servitude for eternal afterlife?

Part 3 Religion Today

- Is religion good for you?

- Should it be the basis for moral values?

- Why does it matter what you believe?

In a time when religion (and religious extremism) has as great an impact on public policy and politics as any in history these kinds of question need to asked.

If religions are worthy enough to survive in a modern age they need to stop playing the "sacred card" and open themselves up to an honest rational scientific inquiry as to their value in modern society.

It is time not only to ask people what they believe but why they believe it and to tell them when those answers are no longer good enough.


View all my reviews.



message 7: by Charles (last edited Jan 16, 2009 06:02AM) (new)

Charles | 16 comments God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens


My review
rating: 4 of 5 stars
“Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.” ~ Steven Weinberg, Nobel Laureate in physics.



Perhaps the most acerbic of the group being called "the new Atheists"Christopher Hitchens, nevertheless, writes in a witty and accessible way. Having seen several interviews with Mr. Hitchens I couldn't help but to "hear his voice" while reading this book.



God is not Great definitely presents a singular perspective on it's subject matter, though through a wide and varied sampling of that subject. In America we tend to only hear about the evils of Muslim extremism or the decline of American education due to Fundamentalist Christian movements. In this book it was interesting, if equally disheartening, to hear about the problems arising from irrational dogmas in the eastern faiths as well.



Definitely doubtful that Mr. Hitchens would convert any of the faithful with this book. I was even finding myself thinking "alright, I get it, religion is horrible" toward the end. Personally, I would like to see a few more accounts of the good done by secularists peppered in with all the negatives of the other side.


View all my reviews.



message 8: by Charles (last edited Mar 02, 2009 03:00PM) (new)

Charles | 16 comments The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan


My review
rating: 4 of 5 stars
I can see why this book is so highly regarded as a primer for skepticism. It covers the application of critical thinking on a wide range of topics. This book is Copyright 1996, and while some of it seems a little bit dated more than that, it is a little depressing. Some of the things Sagan tries to bring to peoples attention in this book have yet to improve in the last 12 years. Things like science funding, education and public awareness.

As we emerge from the Bush years, Sagan even seems a bit prophetic when he quotes Thomas Jefferson as having written, "A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both and deserve neither."


View all my reviews.



message 9: by Charles (new)

Charles | 16 comments Finished godless and added The Age of Reason.


message 10: by Charles (new)

Charles | 16 comments Finished my V and P (switched out Paine for Pullman)


message 11: by Charles (new)

Charles | 16 comments I read Gentlemen of the Road: A Tale of Adventure by Michael Chabon for my C.


message 12: by Charles (new)

Charles | 16 comments Just finished Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible & Why By Bart D. Ehrman for my "E".


message 13: by Charles (new)

Charles | 16 comments Finished my "Z" still a lot to go.


message 14: by Charles (new)

Charles | 16 comments Finished Crimea: The Great Crimean War, 1854-1856
by Trevor Royle for my "R"


message 15: by Charles (new)

Charles | 16 comments One more done, my "G", American Gods by Neil Gaiman.


back to top