Penn Jillette Really Loves Books About Atheism…

The New York Times asked Penn Jillette about his reading habits and he managed to squeeze in more atheist references than I thought humanly possible in the paper of record:

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When the Golden Rule Goes Wrong

In Dutch philosopher Floris Van Den Berg‘s new book Philosophy for a Better World (Prometheus Books, 2013), he “charges individuals to reimagine society from the position of one at the political and ethical control board.” In other words, it’s full of a lot of interesting thought experiments that involve you putting yourself in the shoes of others (including animals in a fascinating section on vegetarianism/veganism).

In the excerpt below, reprinted with permission of the publishers, Van Den Berg discusses “A New Golden Rule.” (Keep reading afterwards for your chance to win a copy of the book!)

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This Christian Preacher Has No Idea Why His eBook’s Cover is Unintentionally Hilarious…

Here’s some helpful advice: If you’re a fundamentalist Christian, and you’re writing a book about the Bible Principles of Child Discipline (such as “You cannot raise the kids without a paddle”), and you’re looking for a perfect family to put on your book’s cover, you should do a little bit of research when picking a photo…

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A Review of The Happy Atheist by PZ Myers

This is a guest post by Chantelle Moghadam.

[Hemant’s Note: For the sake of disclosure, I wrote a blurb for the back of the book. This review, however, was written independently]

PZ Myers writes the first half of The Happy Atheist (Pantheon, 2013) with all the bound-up angst against religion that most atheists hold and, as an atheist myself, I completely understand where that frustration comes from. I can’t help but wonder, though, what a religious person might think of atheists if they read this book. The most convincing arguments against religion are not always the ones telling religious people how ridiculous they are, but ones that make valid criticisms of religion itself. Even someone who is on the fence about religion may be offended within the first few pages and unable to finish the rest of it. The Kirkus Review held nothing back when it said of the book: “Unlikely to change a single mind or cause even the slightest shift in perspective.”

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A Review of Hope After Faith: An Ex-Pastor’s Journey from Belief to Atheism by Jerry DeWitt

Brother Jerry DeWitt has a problem. Since he first felt called to the ministry — a call that came in his teens — he’s been trying to bring about a revival: a gathering of souls that he would lead to Christ. He’s been moving from church to church, building his ministry and trying to get his doctrine right. Nothing seems to fit, and as time passes, it becomes clear to him that the disconnect is less about his failure to find the Word, and more a failure of the Word itself, which contains a myriad of positions that Jerry can’t accept, and contradictions that he ultimately comes to see as lies.

This is the central arc of Hope After Faith: An Ex-Pastor’s Journey from Belief to Atheism (Da Capo Press, 2013). DeWitt starts by taking us back to his roots in DeRidder, Louisiana, to a church culture where religion fundamentally reorders one’s priorities, that sees spirituality as its wellspring, and accepts God as the only possible source of hope. These are people who welcome (Christian) preaching in the public schools and call their minister right after dialing 9-1-1. The first two-thirds of the book catalogue DeWitt’s struggles to balance creating a life for his family with finding his way as a young, Pentecostal preacher. The last third tells the story of his ultimate disillusionment with Christianity, his coming out as an atheist, and the fallout, as his professional and personal life disintegrate and he becomes a pariah.

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