What Should I Include in a Resource Guide for Young Atheists?

The new book is a few weeks away from being published and I’d like to include a list of resources for young atheists: Books they should read, websites they should visit, podcasts they should listen to, TV/videos/vloggers they should watch.

Specifically, I’m looking for things that would be good introductions to the world of atheism as opposed to more obscure, unknown things.

I have a number of items in my mind, but I’d love to get input to make sure I’m not missing anything obvious.

If anything helped you become an atheist or helped you after you finally became one, even better.

Thanks in advance!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/richard.lucas.7169 Richard Lucas

    Any of Darrel Ray’s books that involve religion.

  • Piet Puk

    Actually the Science of Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen helped me order why I think the scientific methode makes so much more sense than religion does, when anwering questions.
    It made me realize I am not some stubborn git, but actually way more consistent and coherent in my worldview than religious and woo-prone people around me give me credit for.

  • Girlkillsbear

    Probably one of the best books I’ve read in recent years is a collection of Robert Ingersoll’s speeches and writings, What’s God Got to Do With It?, edited by Tim Page.  It just scratches the surface of Ingersoll’s work, but I’m constantly amazed at how relevant it still is.  An easy and enlightening read.

  • S m i t h a

    Carl Sagan’s Cosmos tv series, Pale Blue Dot.
    Youtubers potholer54′s Made Easy series, Thunderf00t’s Why do people laugh at Creationists series, callumCGLP’s  Carl Sagan Tribute Series.

  • http://twitter.com/ylaenna M. Elaine

    Reasonable Doubts  (podcast)
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/reasonabledoubts (formerly doubtcast.org)
    @doubtcast:twitter

    I definitely recommend going back and listening to all their podcasts, even if they’re a few years old.   Very entertaining and informative.

  • Jim_kordahl
    • mints11

      This one pretty much summed all up for me, it made me realize that I was in fact an atheist

  • MegaZeusThor

    Tell them to Google the following things:

    Richard Dawkins, The Root of All Evil?, TV documentary, 2006

    Matt Dillahunty, The Atheist Experience

    Sam Harris, atheism

    David Silverman, American Atheists

    AronRa, Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism

    TheraminTrees, Religion – The Bad Parent

    QualiaSoup, Lack of belief in gods

    Carl Sagan, Cosmos

    Michael Shermer, Skeptic

    Neil deGrasse Tyson, science

    (I say have them search for them because including actual links in a printed book is for fools.)

  • viaten

    Definitely include the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible web site.  I found myself going through parts of the Bible much more closely than by just reading a plain Bible.  The “Contradictions” section intrigued me the most.

    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com

    • viaten

      Also note that the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible web site includes the Quran and Book of Mormon.

  • http://religionpoisons.blogspot.com/ Secularmusings

    Religulous was a big help, I actually watched it as a Christian and it really helped open my eyes. Of course, r/atheism is awesome. Plus the general atheist blogosphere could help.

  • Vini Marques

    QualiaSoup YouTube channel: simple and effective stuff people should be learning in grade school but aren’t.

    The Atheist Experience podcast: first place where I had my beliefs challenged, one by one – and it felt gooood.

    whywontgodhealamputees.com: Big question with a pretty obvious answer.

  • crackbaby

    Start with the basics of evolution and natural selection.  By understanding these processes and the scientific method associated with testing them, one can understand that superstitions and the propensity to accept them is an evolved trait.  Using an evolutionary framework to understand the patterns we observe around us every day provides the most accurate mechanism for predicting future actions (e.g. how an unpredictable environment leads to different adaptive strategies and traits than one that is more predictable).  

    The God Part of the Brain by Matthew Alper is a useful book for a generalized discussion while  In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion  by Scott Atran provides a technical analysis of global patterns of religious belief.  

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    For online companionship: http://www.godlessteens.com/
    For religion-free counseling:  http://www.seculartherapy.org/

  • advancedatheist

    Hmm, but what do you have to offer youngsters once they’ve gotten the deconversion process behind them? 

    As an immediately practical suggestion in our tough economy, I would recommend resources on frugal living and personal finance. As soon as you leave your parents’ home, you need to become employable, get out of debt and save up an FU Fund (a year’s worth of living expenses) so that you don’t have to move back in with your religiously obsessed parents in case you lose your job. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QPVVPRJ7QKLPU6TF5B4IZTENTI No

    http://capecodhistory.us/20th/The%20Natural%20History%20of%20Nonsense.pdf

    This is a great read, though some of the content is outdated. Nonetheless, it is a good book that shows that skepticism is a great skill we can possess, but must hone. This book is approaching 70 years old, and challenged even some of the latent, popular bad beliefs I had or that I’ve seen coming from others, that I didn’t even realize.

  • guest

     Mencken’s On Religion

    • Antinomian

      This, yes this very much!

      While on my way to deconverting, after reading Hitchens and Dawkins I picked up a book of a collection Mencken’s essays and this paragraph sealed it for me: 

      There is no possibility
      whatsoever of reconciling science and theology, at least in Christendom. Either
      Jesus rose from the dead or he didn’t. If he did, then Christianity becomes
      plausible; if he did not, then it is sheer nonsense. I defy any genuine
      scientist to say that he believes in the Resurrection, or indeed in any other
      cardinal dogma of the Christian system.— H L
      Mencken, Minority Report, 1956, quoted from James A Haught, editor,
      2000 Years of Disbelief

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.co.uk/ Steve Bowen

    Adam Lee’s excellent series of essays at Ebonmusings

    http://www.ebonmusings.org/

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, Blonde

    while applaud your efforts and i’m sure many will find them handy, it saddens me that there is even a need for a ‘resource guide.’ a simple google search on the word atheist should be enough, click thru and following even a few will get all kinds of good, informative links. do kids today need that much guidance that they can’t manage that on their own?

    i can’t remember the address, but there was that great bible inconsistentcy site you posted once. it was red/black theme, i recall. but it pointed out all the ways, the many many ways that the bible contradicted itself and was quite damning. i assume most of the kids who need atheist resources are coming from xtian families, so i’d include that. 

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      That was my argument initially, but the editor suggested that after a whole book informing students what they can/should do, it would be a little silly not to point them to a few of my favorite resources, too, and I think she makes a good point.

    • viaten

       I think there should definitely be a list of resources.  A google
      “atheism” search will produce many results for students to wade
      through.  Providing the best, easy to understand books and web resources
      organized by categories will save students time.

  • Jen Ibrahim

    I second QualiaSoup.

    Also: CFI (Center for Inquiry)

  • CanadianNihilist

    The Skeptic’s Dictionary
    http://www.skepdic.com/

  • http://twitter.com/MichaelCluff Michael Cluff

    By far, I’d recommend Julia Sweeney’s DVD of “Letting Go of God.”  She describes her deconversion in such a humane way I’d be willing to show it to my religious parents, all without losing the firmness of her atheism.  Very inspiring and useful for someone young.  

  • Dan Moody

    Going away from pure atheist resources, can I recommend “Small Gods” by Terry Pratchett and “Good Omens” By Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Both are fun reads rather than heavy going but delve into religious abuses, absurdities and beliefs very well. They also promote humanist ethos very well. 

  • Dan Moody

    Small Gods (Terry Pratchett) and Good Omens (Pratchett and Gaiman) are both funny, stimulating and readable books that look at religion from a humanist perspective but don’t let this get in the way of a good yarn.

  • Will Chain

    The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan. This is the book that taught me how to think critically and apply the scientific method to different spheres of my life. I especially love the part where Sagan presents his Baloney Detection Kit.

  • Smiles

    Christopher Hitchens…his debates, interviews, books and essays…

    Also, perhaps a sparknotes-style breakdown of common fallacies and/or the fallacies of the common theological arguments…

  • Mark Johnston

    A new blog that I started just a couple of weeks ago with this demographic in mind.
    http://backporchstatus.blogspot.com/

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_POBNPRAX3ZQKUBJF3XAG3WLI4A Tracy

    Clear Thinking by Hy Ruchlis is an excellent book on  critical thinking for young adults.  

  • Daniel

    Seconding all the Pratchett stuff for lighter reading.  Small Gods is fantastic.

    I really liked Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman

    Of course Selfish Gene, Blind Watchmaker, Naked Ape, etc.

    Also a big fan of The Universal Church Triumphant of the Apathetic Agnostic http://uctaa.net/   It’s a great place to get ordained to perform secular weddings, among other things. 

    I’m sure it’s already on there, but SSA, SSA, SSA.  I think for most kids likely to buy a book on atheism and youth, they have already encountered a lot of this, but knowing their legal recourses to form clubs, avoid the pledge, collect evidence to report separation of church and state violations, etc. will be far more relevant.

  • Chris McLaughlin

    Stock up on canned goods. Learn parkour. Machettes and baseball bats are better than guns because they make less noise… Oh, wait! That’s my resource guide for the zombie apocalypse.

  • Laura

    Reading Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” really helped me, and it’s a fun read too!

  • JamesR

    The “Beyond Belief” series from The Science Network.  http://thesciencenetwork.org/ course
    And of course Mark Twain.

    • Piet Puk

      Beyond Belief!  Yes!!!

  • http://fractalheretic.blogspot.com/ Fractal Heretic

    “Why Evolution is True” by Jerry Coyne.

  • Emily

    The Portable Atheist, which was compiled by Christopher Hitchens. It’s a chronological march through atheist positions and does an okay job at including non-white, non-male authors. It’s also composed of lots of shorter essays/articles (10-30 pgs) which makes it easy to pick up and put down a lot for them busier folks. 

  • dorothy30

    Why we believe in gods by Andy Thomson, and Godless by Dan Barker. 

  • D. Ranew

    Parenting Beyond Belief  by Dale McGowan

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    Any of George Carlin’s bits on religion.

    • Elisha C

       Eddie Izzard does some great bits on religion, too. While I love Carlin, Izzard’s also a bit more contemporary for younger people.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Eh, this might be a matter of taste, really, but it was George who gave me a real good shove towards… wherever I am now.

  • viaten

    “Why I Am Not a Christian” by Bertrand Russel
    Writings and speeches by Robert Ingersoll
    “Demon-Haunted World” by Carl Sagan
    “Breaking the Spell” by Daniel Dennett
    “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins
    “God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens
    “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris
    “How We Believe” by Micheal Shermer
    “godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists ” by Dan Barker
    “Scholarly World, Private Worlds” by Karl D. Fezer  (Critical thinking about science, religion and private beliefs)

    “YouTube video series:” Excavating the Empty Tomb” by TruthSurge is excellent
    Matt Dillahunty, “The Atheist Experience” videos
    Seth Andrews, “The Thinking Atheist” Radio Podcast
    “Letting Go of God” by Julia Sweeney

  • http://twitter.com/yjmbobllns Yojimbo Billions

    Douglas Adams.

  • Aunolin

    Last year over the summer I started reading Blag Hag, and it helped me be a more active atheist and also to learn about feminism.  I don’t know how applicable stuff about college and grad school would be to high-schoolers, but it definitely made me a better person.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/EODM45N2R75PI57HLZQIF5C3XA Mark

    I know it’s not strictly atheistic, but I think Illusions by Richard Bach does a good job of opening doors for young people without forcing them to get to the conclusions yet.  Its a gentle and reassuring step in the right direction.  Easily read in any grade.

  • http://exconvert.blogspot.com/ Kacy

    Talk Origins–Information on Evolution and answers to creationist arguments

    Podcasts:  The Thinking Atheist, The Atheist Experience, Reasonable Doubts, The Human Bible

    Websites:  The Thinking Atheist, Iron Chariots Wiki, Infidels.org,

    Blogs:  Patheos Atheist Channel :-)  followed by Freethought Blogs and Skeptic Ink Network

  • Chelsea Butler

    Don’t know if anyone mentioned this yet, but talkorigins.org is an essential resource! 


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