An Atheist library, part 3

This is the third part of an attempt to define a core set of books that any Atheist, or anyone who wishes to know what Atheism is about, should read and have in his or her library.


Atheism: A Brief Insight, by Julian Baggini, presents a nice overview of Atheism, including definitions and notes about ethics, the meaning and purpose of life, some history, and a few other topics. If this book, at 179 pages, is not brief enough for you, the same author has a 119 page book, Atheism: A Very Short Introduction, with the same table of contents!

Meaning and purpose

Non-Atheists always want to know how Atheists find meaning and purpose in life. We do find meaning and purpose, but sometimes find it hard to explain. The Atheist’s Way: Living Well Without Gods, by Eric Maisel, is a kind of “self-help” book intended to help us become conscious of how we can or do approach life. It is easy to read, yet thought-provoking.

If you prefer a more formal philosophical approach, you might enjoy wading through Ethics Without God, by Kai Nielsen.

What are Atheists really like?

Remarkably, there has been little research into the actual day-to-day attitudes and goals of atheists, especially in comparison to extreme believers. A first step in that direction is reported in Atheists: A Groundbreaking Study of America’s Nonbelievers, by Bruce Hunsberger and Bob Altemeyer. The authors present and discuss the results of surveys and detailed questionnaires concerning how people became Atheists, their levels of dogmatism, zealotry, and happiness, and other interesting facts.

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