Lee's Non-Atheistic Recommended Reading

As a contributor to DC, obviously, I am agnostic and, additionally, a former Bible study teacher and Born Again Evangelical Christian. I didn't get that way by reading content on sites like this. In fact, I didn't have any interest in anything atheists had to say until I stood alone with a lack of belief in a god that I acquired after a couple years of truth seeking. Not "God Truth", but "Practical Truth". The kind of truth you need to find before you purchase health products, or make decisions at work. When I applied that to my Christian beliefs, they didn't stand up very well...

At that point I wanted to see what 'the other side' had to say so I subscribed to the Infidel Guy and spent a year downloading and listening to debates and interviews. I also listened to a years worth of Robert Price's Bible Geek show. Then I listened to a Sam Harris Lecture promoting his book "The End of Faith" and got motivated to do something to help make the world a better place. A year ago I started a blog that was a last ditch effort to get God to participate in this relationship we were supposed to have and intervene. All I got was a madman posting a bunch of crap on it. Thats when I decided to Join DC and be part of a team and leave the moderation of loons up to someone else. My point in this increasingly blathering document is that applying the type of practical reasoning that people must necessarily use in every day life will in some cases weaken the perceived validity of the content of the Bible.

Along with the Atheistic books you see posted for sale on this blog, I recommend some books on the topic of reasoning and innoculation to persuasion. I am no teacher but I am a compulsive self-learner and I have read some text books that I want my children to read and I recommend to you. They are High School Senior level and above. I am sure there are better ones out there, and I have some of them unread on my shelf, but until I get to them, this is the best I can do. Maybe some of you out there are Educators and can suggest some others. In any case, reading these books will help you in other areas of your life such as dealing with the boss, coworkers, subordinates, your teens, tweens, kids, sales people and the news.

They fall into two categories; Reasoning and Persuasion. Some associated topics are Argumentation and Rhetoric, and while I am interested in both those topics, I won't recommend any of those books here because they fall outside the scope of this article. I include persuasion because people need to be aware of how people are 'hard-wired' to trust and believe things without much thought.

On the topic of Reasoning.
* Introduction to Reasoning by Stephen Toulmin, Richard Reike, Allan Janik
* How We Know What Isn't So by Thomas Gilgovich
* How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age by Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughn
* Logical Self-defense by Ralph H. & J. Anthony Blair Johnson
* Informal Logic by Douglas Walton.
* Practical Reasoning by Douglas Walton.
* Abductive Reasoning by Douglas Walton.

A word about Douglas Walton. He is a philosophy professor and researcher that is heavily involved in research for artificial intelligence and is helping to derive algorithms for use in computers to simulate human reasoning.

On the topic of Persuasion.
* Influence. Science and Practice by Robert Cialdini.
* Persuasion by Daniel J. O'Keefe.
* The Art of Deception by Nicholas Capaldi


Anonymous said...

Another trouble with deconversion stories on blogs like this is that you never know what the real reasons for the claimed "deconversion" are.

There may well be personal reasons of goals to get what one wants that have nothing to do with the stated arguments.

After all, the blog is run by Loftus, an admitted liar, and one who was recently caught trying to set up an apologist.

Not much can be relied on here.

I my opinion only, of course.

Anonymous said...

Hi Terrence,
I could say that I don't know what your real motivations are for professing faith. Maybe you love god, maybe you are trying to avoid hell and don't love god, maybe you are trying to fit into a social group, maybe you just have an axe to grind with loftus.

Christians aren't immune from lying. And bringing up loftus in this article is irrelevant. That is called a red herring, a distraction from the point and more to the point you are attempting to use it to "poison the well". Loftus actions do not say anything about me. You should know that. That is a fallacy of composition.

All of those are rhetorical devices that are used for purposes of persuasion and/or deception.
Shame on you, you deserve a sound finger wagging in your direction.

Besides that, read what you wrote. deconverting 'to get what you want' is ridiculous, because it infers that the belief in a banishment to hell still exists. Only an insane person would do something like that and if they are insane, then they shouldn't go to hell anyway since they obviously don't have the mental faculties to choose.

Anonymous said...

One more thing terrence,
Have you never lied?
Normally everyone does it.
If you say you have lied, then you are an admitted liar as well. If you say you haven't, then I don't believe you since you would be far outside the range of normal human behavior. That would make you a worse liar than someone that admits it.

pick your poison and get off your 'holier-than-thou' soapbox.

Anonymous said...

Lee, you are now my hero. I am almost 50, and when I grow up I want to be just like you.
Thanks for the book list. If I read some of them, will I be able to respond as you did to anonymous idiots instead of just shoving my hands in my pockets and walking away shaking my head? I sure hope so.

Anonymous said...

I believe I know who Terrence Vaught is. He dogs my steps, has no credibility, and although he's banned from DC continues to post under pseudonymous names, which makes him a deceiver. It's Frank Walton, and since he does this at every available chance, I wouldn't believe him if he denies this. He doesn't deal with my arguments. He just looks for any crack of imperfection and blows it out of proportion. The truth is that even a cuddly dog can be provoked to take a bite out of someone.

Anonymous said...

Nope, I am NOT Frank Walton.

Thats your claim, so you prove it.

So you are lying again, Loftus.

But readers don't need to rely on me for anything, you admit it in your own hodgepodge book.

So we are supposed to believe you now? I think not, since you were recently caught pulling a deceptive stunt on J.P. Holding.

As for looking for any crack of imperfection, isn't that what you do with Christianity? As lee points out, Christians aren't immune from lying, but you use every chance you can to discredit them and then cry like a baby when someone dare chanllenges you!

You gotta be kiddin me, Loftus!!!

The churches are full of "preachers" like you were. Whats incredible is that the churh has even suvived with people like that leading it.

And sure, I have failures, but why should we believe Lofutus when he talks about his deconversion? How do we know what really happened.

Why should we follow this guys faith that all existence, life, mind, and reason itself are the result of mindless processes.

As he has said, even if Christianity were shown to be true, he wouldn't want to follow God.

No, I don't want to follow Loftus anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Terrence (Walton), What does any of this have to do with the arguments we present here? And why does the fact that I said you are Walton make it a lie? If I'm mistaken about you, that has nothing to do with a lie. If you're not Walton then who are you? You ask me to prove the impossible, just like you ask me to prove Christianity is a delusion. Just because I cannot prove something doesn't mean it's not improbable. Furthermore, it doesn't matter one bit if you believe my deconversion story, since you probably don't even believe I was ever a Christian in the first place. Doubt it all. I don't care. You'll still have my arguments to deal with. So deal with them. Lastly, please do tell us of your failures like I did in my book. It's one thing to do wrong things, but it's another thing to come clean about them. And it's still another thing to attack a man who admits he is a flawed human being, like I did, while having flaws himself. That's called hypocrisy, which is par for the course with Christians who do not take Jesus' advice to remove the beam from their own eyes before trying to remove a splinter from someone else's eye.

lotus said...

thank you for the book list and encouragement.

reading books on logic and reason may be intimidating to some people, such as me.

is it only the REALLY intellegent people who can come to TRUTH?
what i am asking is--- i think i am in the deconversion process, but my thoughts are so overwhelmed and tangled. I do not know if I can sort through them. everyone on this blog seems really intellegent and i do not know if i am that kind of a thinker/person.

how can i keep from being deceived if i am not sharp, articulate, well read... etc.

Anonymous said...

maybe, If God gave you your brain matter in the first place, then you can only do what you can do. If God exists he should understand since he knows why you think the way you do, and you cannot think otherwise than what you do, given your experiences and thoughts. Just try thinking you can fly. Cannot do it? Nope. Because you cannot make your mind believe something you don't think is true.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Hi maybeitsnonsense,
you never know till you try.
I do suspect that you will not know what to think until you look for new information and challenge what it is you already believe. The truth will stand up to scrutiny. Challenge away.

You don't have to be above average intelligence to read those books. Some of them were intended to be read by people like us. You may have to read them at Starbucks eating chocolate coffee beans and drinking a double cappuccino Venti though.

Seriously, here's a short list of the more popular ones. Order them used from amazon. I think the first two and the last one are the most fun. So pick the least expensive and/or shortest one and order it from amazon Used. Or look them up on Wikipedia. Cialdini has a large entry in Wikipedia.

On the topic of Reasoning.
* How We Know What Isn't So by Thomas Gilgovich
* How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age by Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughn
* Logical Self-defense by Ralph H. & J. Anthony Blair Johnson

On the topic of Persuasion.
* Influence. Science and Practice by Robert Cialdini.
* The Art of Deception by Nicholas Capaldi

Stay tuned.
I'm researching a short article on Homosexuality and human sexuality that I want to post before the months over. I think that and slavery are two of the most obviously flawed principles in the bible and key indicators of lack of divine inspiration.

Then later I'm going to address a frequently asked question about 'if life is so simple, why can't it be reproduced in the lab'. And maybe after that an article on Anencephalic babies and where the soul fits in.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Will you guys come off it? John made a mistake, has admitted it -- and his mistake was not creating the site but in deceiving us here. The site was not presented as Holding's, nor would anyone think it was when they looked at it. It was a collection of references to posts critical of Holding, much like the site 'WillisCarto.com" is a demonstration of Carto's anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. The site itself was no more wrong than 'google-bombing' a political candidate so that people who check a reference to him will first go to a critical site.

However, I'm getting very sick and tired of Christians who compare the 'ideal Christian' ethically to real-world non-Christians. Where are all these sainless, totally loving, never angered Christians that live up to Jesus' words totally?

This is what I mean by Prup's Second Law -- "Everything Works in Theory." The ideal Christian -- or Jain, or Hindu, or even Communist -- who follows every precept he is taught, or all the good ones (and ignores the less ethical teaching included in all these systems) might be a wonderful person, if he existed. The trouble is that all of us are living in the real world. And all of us have weaknesses. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, whoever, had their flaws, (To quasi-quote Nehru -- "If only Gandhi realized how much it cost for us to allow him to live in his simplicity.")

So, okay, John slipped, was castigated by you, and by many of us at least in personal e-mails. At least one valuable member left because of it. John has apologized.


Anonymous said...

Rocky said...you have said that even if Christianity is true, you wouldn't follow it.
I think Ingersoll said it best: If there is a God who will damn his children forever, I would rather go to hell than to go to heaven and keep the society of such an infamous tyrant. I make my choice now. I despise that doctrine. It has covered the cheeks of this world with tears. It has polluted the hearts of children, and poisoned the imaginations of men.... What right have you, sir, Mr. clergyman, you, minister of the gospel to stand at the portals of the tomb, at the vestibule of eternity, and fill the future with horror and with fear? I do not believe this doctrine, neither do you. If you did, you could not sleep one moment. Any man who believes it, and has within his breast a decent, throbbing heart, will go insane. A man who believes that doctrine and does not go insane has the heart of a snake and the conscience of a hyena.
Rocky, if the existence of God were proven to my satisfaction, faith would not be necessary. I would then acknowledge his existence. But if it were proven that he was indeed the God of the bible, I would not worship him. I hope you can understand why.

zilch said...

Lee, thanks for the list of books. I'll take a look at some of them next time I'm in the States.

After having read some of Frank Walton's stuff at Atheism Sucks!, and having my perfectly polite but critical comments simply not appear, I have to agree with someone who characterized him as "a playground bully who beats up your kid sister at recess, and then runs away when you show up". A coward, and if I didn't know better, I would have said he was an exceptionally mean-spirited atheist posing as a Christian to make them look bad. Whatever- he does a good job at it. What surprises me is that no Christians seem to want to reign him in.

Sorry to sound off about Walton here, but bragging cowards piss me off no end.

Anonymous said...

Hi all,
I hope you remember that this frank walton is not the same DOUGLAS WALTON that wrote three of the books in my list.

Anyone confusing Frank Walton with DOUGLAS WALTON, I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to step outside. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Randy,
earlier I wasn't sure if you were sincere or not, but now after you responded to 'Rocky' I feel better about you.

I wanted to say, thanks for the kind words, I know how you feel, I'm 'mature' as well. Putting your hands in your pockets is a poor option in my opinion. I used to get picked on as a kid, I got stronger, defended the Science Club in school, now that I'm reaching old age, I work my brain and am once again defending the underdog, but the difference is that now I'm one of them.

fight the good fight, do the right thing, and keep getting stronger till you can't get any stronger, and enable others to get stronger.

Anonymous said...

Lee, a major problem I find in dealing with many believers, both fundamentalist and ...casual believers?...is that we just don't seem to play by the same rules, speak the same language, have the same standards for proof, etc. But the biggest problem is that they are not looking.
While I found your reply to Terrence above to be flawless and made me envious of you, your words were most likely useless against the brick wall that believers like Terrence hide behind.
So, I have to ask, (and perhaps you can tell me) what's the use? Your mastery of reason, persuasion, and logic will only influence those of us who are actually looking. To the believer, who's eyes are covered over with old bible leather, they will either be completely unimpressed, or they will be thinking of a way to shoot down your argument before your even finish your sentence.
So, help me: What is the use in even trying to talk to them? I do it. I like to do it. But it always ends the same. It ends with them still clinging blindly to what they believe they have.

zilch said...

Oops- I guess I should have made clearer that I wasn't talking about Douglas Walton.

I rather like Izaac Walton, so I'm willing to believe there are other Waltons worth reading. I won't mention that other Walton again.

Anonymous said...

Hi Randy,
they are not all like that.
The audience here is wide and varied.
It is a show.
The more insincere the guest, the better we look.
Did you read the post from maybeitsnonsense, or visit her site?
She is the type of person I am trying to reach. And she is the audience.
Don't underestimate attrition. The old school goes away over time.
Once the fence sitters get off the fence, reproduce and influence others, then that makes the world a better place.

Lead by example.

When you have a whole pizza sitting in front of you, you should eat it one piece at a time and savor each bite. When you're full, push back from the table. Then when you're ready, come back for more. But you need to be ready when it comes time to bite.

I'm confident that truth withstands scrutiny, and they can anticipate my arguments till they are blue, the fact is that they know in their heart they are in a relationship with a ghost, but they don't want to give up the ghost because it eases their discomfort with uncertainty. Some of them will never give it up, but some of them will do some introspection and realize that their walk with Jesus is a lot like luck.

The best part is when you get a respectful intelligent christian that will engage in meaningful dialogue. That is the best part of the Pizza. Thats when you have the opportunity to show your stuff, and maybe plant a seed somewhere.

I told you I was fond of Rhetoric.
Hope this helps.