This is the fourth 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.
A person who was raised in a secular household, or for whom de-conversion was easy, might think that deeply religious people are simply ignorant or delusional, using religion as a psychological crutch. Often, the fact is that many religious people are not “simply” those things, but very seriously so, according to Tamas Pataki in Against Religion. He explains how religious beliefs can become firmly embedded in a person’s psyche and worldview.
Atheists should try to understand the grip that religion can have on others, and the emotional hell that a person might go through when he or she gets on the path to de-conversion. (Read Pataki to see why de-conversion should be so difficult.) There are many books chronicling individual de-conversions; one of the better ones is Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists, by Dan Barker.
Somehow, some religious people begin to suspect that the truth is other than what they have been lead to believe. This happens most often through an introduction to science and its results, but there are other ways as well, many of which are presented in a book of shorter de-conversion stories, 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists, edited by Russell Blackford and Udo Schuklenk.