What should atheists read? A brief bibliography

The short answer to the question in the title is: There is no essential reading list for non-believers. While many might argue the books by Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennett, and Harris are indispensable, atheists reading about atheism is merely an exercise in availability cascade (in the same way Christians reading about Christianity is an exercise in availability cascade). The shorter answer to the question, however, is: Everything!!!

Personally, I’ve been blessed with lifetime subscriptions to practically every academic journal available through digital means, but not everyone is so lucky. Therefore, I’m providing my readers with a short multidisciplinary list of peer-reviewed journal articles that serve two purposes: 1) To expand their knowledge base, and 2) to give them something to talk about with their friends over drinks. This brief bibliography is not the product of my access to scholarly journals. This list is actually the product of using an invaluable reference tool available to everyone with Internet access: Google Scholar. Several of the articles are freely available. Just click the PDF!

First, for those of you left scratching your heads over “availability cascade,” I should define it. Availability cascade, or the illusory truth effect, is a cognitive bias fallacy wherein the believer assumes a statement or belief to be true because s/he has been repeatedly exposed to it. Google Scholar has a great article about an experiment using availability cascade:

The remainder of this post will be in titled bulleted list form.

More on availability cascade

Statistical mechanics

Self-immolation (my specialty)

Cognitive dissonance

Free will

International relations

This list is not even the tip of the available iceberg. Although without subscriptions you won’t get the latest, most up-to-date articles in science, Google Scholar is a wonderful tool for the inquisitively minded. I urge all non-believers (and believers too) to abstain from reading too much about atheism (perhaps this blog included) and focus your attention on the fruits of hundreds of years of scientific discovery. Besides, I’m sure your believing friends and family are tired of hearing about what you don’t believe. Why not discuss science instead of religion sometimes? Head over to Google Scholar (or send me hate mail if you can’t find something. I’ll try to find it and send it to you) and have a blast!!

About Rayan Zehn

I'm a political scientist.
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10 Responses to What should atheists read? A brief bibliography

  1. uldissprogis says:

    The challenge for all atheists is what moral code do you replace the old religious moral code with to prevent an anything goes type of ethical mentality. Check out my blog at uldissprogis.com under keyword morality for a possible answer. Best wishes. Uldis

    • Rayan Zehn says:

      First, that is hardly a challenge. Second, please limit your responses on my blog to those directly referencing the original post. Although I’m a big supporter of free speech, it is wise to stay on topic.

  2. The Bible. Start with the Gospel of John. Notice Jesus and the envy and hatred that hounded Him. Ask yourself if Jesus ever showed any of the attributes you hate that we witness in humanity daily.
    Ask yourself if the Christianity you hate reflects Christ genuinely.
    Then look at all the atheist nations we have had and currently do have.
    Now ask yourself if they look more like the life of Christ or those who envied Him and killed Him.


    • Rayan Zehn says:

      What makes you think I hate Christianity? That’s a pretty bold way to make a straw man.

      But those questions are meaningless. They presuppose the Christ myth is true while we have no objective reason to think that. Until we have evidence compelling enough to accept the Christ myth, any following questions are irrelevant.

      • “While physics and biology, by definition, have zero room for religion,”
        This hyperbole is why. Your post has a distinctly passive aggressive tone. Clear and consistent. Your comment about Jewish scholars who are “the first to through colleges under the bus”, and then you say you agree that they should.

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        I can see I have a new ‘random’ on my blog. Take your time. It looks like you’re enjoying yourself by drawing lines that aren’t there [you definitely misread that post to come to that conclusion].

        PS. It’s not hyperbole. List me one published physics paper that relies on religious beliefs. It doesn’t appear you could do it even if you were an atheist. Let me make it clear. The number of those papers is precisely zero.

      • Victor Frankl was right when he said that the hatred that became Aushwitz began in the lecture halls of learning institutions.

  3. , “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done.”
    Sir Isaac Newton

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