Living Without Religion 
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* God against the gods ; KIRSCH, Jonathan

* The God Delusion ; DAWKINS, Richard

* God is Not Great ; HITCHENS, Christopher

* GOD: The Failed Hypothesis ; STENGER, Victor J.

* GORA (RAO, G. Ramachandra)

* The Greatest Show on Earth ; DAWKINS, Richard

* Guns, Germs, and Steel ; DIAMOND, Jared

* God against the gods
The history of the war between monotheism and polytheism
KIRSCH, Jonathan
Keywords: Christianity history
Viking Compass

"...monotheism turned out to inspire a ferocity and even a fanaticism that are mostly absent from polytheism. At the heart of polytheism is an open-minded and easy-going approach to religious belief and practice, a willingness to entertain the idea that there are many gods and many ways to worship them. At the heart of monotheism, by contrast, is the sure conviction that only a single god exists, a tendency to regard one's own rituals and practices as the only proper way to worship the one true god. The conflict between these two fundamental values is what I call the war of God against the gods—it is a war that has been fought with heart-shaking cruelty over the last thirty centuries, and it is a war that is still being fought today."

p. 2

"On September 11, 2001, we were reminded once again of the real meaning of the 3000-year-old conflict between monotheism and polytheism.... But the roots of religious terrorism are not found originally or exclusively in Islamic tradition. Quite the contrary, it begins in the pages of the Bible, and the very first examples of holy war and martyrdom are found in Jewish and Christian history."

pp. 2-3

"'Pagan' is a word invented by early Christians to describe anyone who refused to recognize the Only True God, and no self-respecting pagan ever described himself as one. Paganism, in fact, has been so thoroughly defamed that our language lacks the words and phrases to describe it in value-neutral terms."

p. 14

"...the open-mindedness of the pagan world was regarded by those who worshipped Yahweh as the True God as its very worst sin....By a bitter irony, it was the open-minded and easygoing attitude of paganism that roused the rigorists in both Judaism and Christianity to their hottest and ugliest expressions of true belief."

p. 63

"Akhenaton [d. c. 1347 BCE, Pharaoh of Egypt and founder of the first recorded monotheistic religion] and Josiah [c. 640-609 BCE, King of Judah, purged the Israelite religion of pagan elements], as we have seen, were monarchs who tried but failed to impose monotheism on their subjects—they were true believers, but they did not possess the terrible power of the totalitarian state. Constantine [c. 274-337 CE, Roman emperor who embraced and legalized Christianity] and Julian [c. 331-363 CE, last pagan emperor of the Roman empire] were the first monarchs in recorded history to command the whole arsenal of totalitarianism, but neither of them was willing to put it to use in service of true belief. Each of them, to a lesser or greater degree, was willing to tolerate a certain degree of diversity in religious belief and practice. But Theodosius I [c. 346-395 CE, Christian emperor who established orthodox Christianity as the state religion of Rome and completed the criminalization of paganism] was not so kind or gentle, and he used what he called 'the thousand terrors of the laws' to achieve the final victory of monotheism over polytheism."

p. 275

* The God Delusion
DAWKINS, Richard
Keywords: religion science
Houghton Mifflin, New York
ISBN-13: 978-0-618-68000-9, ISBN-10: 0-618-68000-4

A Courageous Stand

This book is a huge breath of fresh air and clear-headed thinking in a world flooded with utter nonsense about religion, nonsense spouted even by—and perhaps especially by—many non-believers and moderate believers. Where others claim that the existence of 'God' is an undecidable hypothesis, Dawkins states boldy—but not gratuitously, because he backs up his assertions with solid argument—that the 'God' of theism is a practical impossibility. While others bleat about the alleged necessity of religious faith, Dawkins reminds us of the urgent importance of exposing the great harm that religions are doing now, in the modern world, and not just in the distant past. While others are busy being 'nice' to religion, Dawkins is busy being relevant.

A few excerpts:

"Religion's power to console doesn't make it true. Even if we make a huge concession; even if it were conclusively demonstrated that belief in God's existence is completely essential to human psychological and emotional well-being; even if all atheists were despairing neurotics driven to suicide by relentless cosmic angst—none of this would contribute the tiniest jot or title of evidence that religious belief is true."

p. 352


* God is Not Great
How Religion Poisons Everything
HITCHENS, Christopher
Keywords: atheism religion
Twelve Books, Hachette Book Group (McClelland & Stewart in Canada)

* GOD: The Failed Hypothesis
How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist
STENGER, Victor J.
Keywords: religion science
Prometheus Books, Amherst, NY, USA
ISBN: 978-1-59102-481-1

A few excerpts:

"...history and common experience provide many examples where, ultimately, absence of evidence became evidence of absence. Generally speaking, when we have no evidence or other reason for believing in some entity, then we can be pretty sure that entity does not exist. We have no evidence for Bigfoot, the Abominable Snowman, and the Loch Ness Monster, so we do not believe they exist. If we have no evidence or other reason for believing in God, then we can be pretty sure that God does not exist."

p. 18

"The thesis of this book is that the supernatural hypothesis of God is testable, verifiable, and falsifiable by the established methods of science. We can imagine all sorts of phenomena that, if observed by means of methodological naturalism, would suggest the possibility of some reality that is highly unlikely to be consistent with metaphysical naturalism."

p. 29

"I reject the notion that science has nothing to say about morality."

p. 195

"The only precepts unique to religion are those telling us to not to question their dogma."

p. 196

"Believers are guided by their consciences in deciding for themselves what is right and wrong, just as are nonbelievers. The basic notions of good and evil that we all share—believers and nonbelievers—are, for the most part, common and universal. Psychological tests indicate that there are no significant differences in the moral sense between atheists and theists.
In short, the empirical facts indicate that most humans are moral animals whose sense of right and wrong conflicts with many of the teachings of the great monotheistic religions. We can safely conclude they did not originate at that source."

p. 208-209

"Far from providing us meaningful goals, religions prescribe tribal values: amity for our tribe; enmity for other tribes; mind-closing faith; abject worship of authority."

p. 252


* GORA (RAO, G. Ramachandra)


An Atheist with Gandhi

On November 15, 1902, India's atheist leader Gora was born into a high caste Hindu family in India. He wrote in his autobiography, We Become Atheists, that he grew up "conventionally orthodox and superstitious." He pursued a botany degree, eventually earning his Master's in botany at Presidency College in Madras. He married Saraswati in 1922 when she was only 10. Both their families were Orthodox Hindu, which dictated that girls must marry before puberty, until the Child Marriage Restraint Act was passed in 1935. Gora was excommunicated by his family for his atheism, and devoted his life to propagating it. In 1940, he and his wife co-founded the Atheist Centre, in a small village in the Krishna district. On the eve of Independence in 1947, they moved the centre to Vijayawada. Gora wrote many books, such as Atheism Questions and Answers, An Atheist Around the World, An Atheist with Gandhi, The Need of Atheism, and Positive Atheism. From 1949 on, he wrote a column on atheism, and began publishing The Atheist, a monthly, in 1969. Gora's atheism dictated his campaign to abolish the caste system with its "untouchables," and the idea of "karma" or divine fate. The Atheist Centre, continuing under the guidance of Saraswati, provides counseling, promotes intercaste and casteless marriages (more than 500 have taken place there), works to abolish child marriages, provides aid to prostitutes, unwed mothers and vulnerable women, explodes superstitious beliefs by holding firewalking demonstrations and debunking other "miracles," educates against belief in witchcraft and sorcery, promotes sexual education and family planning and many other reforms. D. 1975.
(Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor)


"The greatest contribution of atheism is the provision of a firm basis for ethical conduct. Atheism explains that morality is a social obligation but not a passport to heaven and salvation. The theistic belief in divine retribution sidetracked moral behavior. Believers were more prone to please the god of their imagination by prayer and ritual than to conform to rules of moral conduct. Consequently immorality and anti-social activities spread wild wherever people were absorbed in the worship of god and in the propitiation of fate. Atheism brings about radical changes in the outlook of people in this context. Truth, tolerance, love and equality are the basic needs of social harmony."

— Gora

* The Greatest Show on Earth
The Evidence for Evolution
DAWKINS, Richard
Keywords: evolution science
Free Press

Some Quotes

"Why did it take so long for a Darwin to arrive on the scene? ... For [Ernst] Mayr, the culprit was the ancient philosophical doctrine of—to give it a modern name—essentialism. The discovery of evolution was held back by the dead hand of Plato. "

p. 21, See also Ernst Mayr.

"I wish we really did have a complete and unbroken trail of fossils, a cinematic record of all evolutionary change as it happened. I wish it, not least because I'd love to see the egg all over the faces of those zoologists and anthropologists who engage in lifelong feuds with each other over whether such and such a fossil belongs to this species or that, this genus or that. Gentlemen—I wonder why it never seems to be ladies—your are arguing about words, not reality. As Darwin himself said in The Descent of Man, 'In a series of forms graduating insensibly from some apelike creature to man as he now exists, it would be impossible to fix on any definite point where the term "man" ought to be used.'"

p. 196

"Creationists act as if fossils provide the only evidence for evolution. The fossil evidence is indeed very strong. Truckloads of evidence have been uncovered since Darwin's time, and all this evidence either actively supports, or is compatible with, evolution. More tellingly, as I have already emphasized, not a single fossil contradicts evolution. Nevertheless, strong as the fossil evidence is, I again want to emphasize that it is not the strongest we have. Even if not a single fossil had ever been found, the evidence from surviving animals would still overwhelmingly force the conclusion that Darwin was right. The detective coming on the scene of the crime after the event can amass surviving clues that are even more incontrovertible than fossils."

p. 283-284

"... the overwhelming impression you get from surveying any part of the innards of a large animal is that it is a mess! ... a decent designer would never have perpetrated anything of the shambles that is the criss-crossing maze of arteries, veins, nerves, intestines, wads of fat and muscle, mesenteries and more. To quote the American biologist Colin Pittendrigh, the whole thing is nothing but a 'patchwork of makeshifts pieced together, as it were, from what was available when opportunity knocked, and accepted in the hindsight, not the foresight, of natural selection'."

p. 371

* Guns, Germs, and Steel
The Fates of Human Societies
Keywords: history
W. W. Norton