INTRODUCTIONS TO ATHEISM
Julian Baggini, Atheism: A Very Short Introduction (OUP 2003)
Baggini sets out to dispel the myths that surround atheism and show how a life without religious belief can be positive, meaningful, and moral. The book presents an intellectual case for atheism (even in the face of the failure of 20th c. atheist states) that rests as much upon positive arguments for its truth as on negative arguments against religion. In the "Very Short" series, this is an excellent introduction to Atheism.
Peter Cave, Humanism (OneWorld 2009)
As chair of Humanist Philosophers for the BHA (British Humanist Association), Cave is well postioned to write an authoritative book on atheist humanism. This is very readable, and a simple introduction to how humanists make sense of the world, based on reason and experience alone.
John Gray, Seven Types of Atheism (Allen Lane 2018)
Gray is an atheist and one of Britian's leading and original philosophers. The book is a meditation on the importance of atheism in the modern world, including its inadequacies and contradictions. Gray is annoyed with the "neo atheist" movement of the last 20 years, seeing it as narrow, divisive and limited. Here he seeks to describe the rich, complex world of the atheist tradition, a tradition which he sees as in many ways as valid as that of historic religion itself, as well as being deeply intertwined with what is so often crudely viewed as its 'opposite'.
The popular TV presenter looks at the life of Nietzsche, one of the most brilliant and dangerous minds of the 19th c. (and still deeply influential today). His thinking destroyed much contemporary thought about religion, morality and science, and he became notorious for one of his key ideas - the "death to God". This latter idea has contributed substantially to the modern secular age and atheism in the 21st c.
Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Bantam 2006)
The book that started the recent "culture war" between religion and non-belief! As Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford Univerisity, Dawkins set out to attack the idea of God in all its forms, in a hard-hitting rebuttal of religion. This landmark book should be read by anyone interested in the debate of belief/non-belief.
Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (Atlantic 2007)
As one of the "four horsemen" (the preeminent group of neo atheists) Hitchens took over where Dawkins left off, not just declaring the idea of God and the consequences of the religious impulse to be false, but arguing that humanity has been greatly reduced by religion, and the latter should be exposed and eradicated. This book is a full-on attack on belief and believers, and created a storm of publicity when first published.
The last of three debates from Australia between two formidable debaters. Dr Craig is philosopher and theologian and an accomplished apologist for the Christian Faith, whereas Professor Krauss is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist (heading up the Origins Project at Arizona State University), and a formidable neo atheist. Craig is noted for having developed the Kalam Cosmological Argument of the existence of God, and Krauss is known for his close association with Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, and also his work on the origins of the Universe (A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing, Atria Books 2012).
MAKING SENSE OF ATHEISM AND THE WORLD
Sam Harris, Waking Up: Searching for Spirituality Without Religion (Simon & Schuster 2014)
In an increasingly secular West, Harris’s book is a guide to meditation as a rational spiritual practice informed by neuroscience and psychology. Throughout the book, he argues that there are important truths to be found in the experiences of such contemplatives - and, therefore, that there is more to understanding reality than science and secular culture generally allow.
Alain de Botton, Religion for Atheists: A non-believer's guide to the uses of religion (Hamish Hamilton 2012)
In this book de Botton, although arguing that the supernatural claims of religion are false, explores important aspects of religion that we have lost in the modern secular West, and yet need rediscovering. By respecting certain aspects of religion (at least as manifestations of how humanity organizes and creates stability) de Botton transcends the intense and vitriolic debate between science and religion of the last 20 years.
Jordan B Peterson, 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote fo Chaos (Allen Lane 2018)
This book is not about atheism per se, but has contributed to the debate raging between theist and atheist of recent years. Peterson looks at the Human Condition, and through his extensive academic and clinical background in psychology approaches traditional religion from a psychological and mythical standpoint, sidestepping what has become a hard-nosed confrontation. He work has appealed to believer, but also non-believer, and in this way has opened another form of dialogue.
Jim Holt, Why Does The World Exist?: One Man's Quest for the Big Answer (Profile Books, 2012)
Holt, himself an atheist, travels around the world to glean scientific and philosophical insights into the question posed by Gottfried Wilhelm Liebniz in the 17th c. 'Why is there something rather than nothing?' In so doing he creates a humorous, yet profound, document as to how non-believers live with this greatest of questions.
Mark Vernon, Science, Religion and the Meaning of Life (Palgrave Macmillan 2007)
As a prolific writer, broadcaster, and psychodynamic psychotherapist (with a bcakground in physics, theology and philosophy), Vernon has documented his personal journey from Christian faith to atheism, and then agnosticism. In the modern "culture wars" he seeks to suggest a third way, in a thoroughly readable and engaging book.
In this Ted Talk Harris argues that Science can now answer moral questions, and the latter are no longer the preserve of religion, as considered in previous societies. The idea of morality based in atheism are further developed in his book of the same year, The Moral Landscape (Free Press 2010).