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Book Recommendations for Those with Questions and Doubts About the Bible and Christianity

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Recently, a new reader sent me the following email:

I found your site by way of various blogs on Patheos.  Over the weekend, I read one of our posts describing your journey to atheism…In particular, I am interested in a list of five or so books that you had read on your journey.  I cannot find your post and am extremely interested in reading your suggestions.  Can you point me in the right direction?  I’m married to a Southern Baptist, who was completely non-practicing until we had kids.  I’m an atheist, trying to be extremely respectful of my husband’s religion, while my young children are rebelling against it because of science and common sense… (email edited)

This is a great question, one that I get quite often, so I thought I’d put together a list of books I recommend for those who have questions or doubts about the Bible and Christianity. I think these books will be quite helpful. If you know of other books that would be helpful, please mention them in the comment section.

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    Karen the rock whisperer

    For those wanting to learn more about evolution from a paleontologist’s perspective: “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters”, Don Prothero

    For a general view of science vs. magical thinking: “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark”, Carl Sagan

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    thanks so much for posting this list. i immediately put 2 on reserve at my library. is it possible to put it in your list
    of most popular posts as well
    thanks for a great blog

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    Appalachian Agnostic

    I read “Why I Am Not A Christian” by Bertrand Russell while I was still a Christian. It didn’t change my mind at the time. It is weird to think about it now, but I remember reading it and just not believing that he could possibly be right. I figured there must be some way to explain away his objections to Christianity that I hadn’t learned about yet. This is what comes of being taught not to trust your own judgement.

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    *Nice* list. One thing: “The Evolution of God” link takes me to “Why Evolution Is True”. I just bought four of these titles through your bookstore. Good stuff.

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      Thanks. I hope Bruce adds that one. You just reminded me of what book I told myself to read and forgot. I did read the other one, How Jesus Became God (need to reread that one eventually). I have been thinking about the God’s Problem book but I wanted to put it off for emotional reasons I guess. I wouldn’t (pretend to) go back to the fundamentalist Christianity I left behind unless it was to save my life or escape extremely negative consequences, and then I would feel guilty about being deceptive. At any rate, I really miss the comfort of some kind of Supreme Being. I have backed away from my militant atheist phase. I want there to be some kind of God. But when I consider everything rationally, I have to either be skeptical or just define any Supreme Being completely out of the bounds of falsifiability. And I have always been absolutely drawn to the person of Jesus Christ, mythical or not. Even if Christ never existed, which is a low probability for me because I think he probably did, something about what has been written about him has touched my inner psyche in profound ways. I’ve spent 25 years in the Christian faith, now about 5 years out of it I guess? And I think I have learned not to despise faith, that is, the mechanism that people use including belief in the supernatural to comfort themselves and produce some workable world view, but everything I have seen of the organized religions just comes down to being completely absurd to me. I could not believe it even if I wanted to, but I do miss the comfort of believing, with the purpose and meaning it gives to life. Where was I going with all of this? Well, just that I remain fascinated by religion in general and Christianity in particular, and I love all the guilty pleasurable reading of non-Christian books about Jesus so far that I can find. Sorry for all the rambling. LOL.

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    Aram McLean

    I’ve said it before but The Evolution of God is such an interesting book. I need to read it again. I love the thought experiment behind it. People argue that it didn’t have enough of Eastern religions in it. To which I say, you missed the point. I really should buy it, in which case I’ll definitely buy it through your store here 🙂

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    The Portable Atheist, Hitchen’s collection of essays. A treasure of writings by remarkable non-believers, close to fifty! of them.

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    Daniel Wilcox

    Other ones:

    The Human Christ by Charlotte Allen. The fascinating historical study documents how every generation transforms Jesus into a different sort of hero based on its own values!

    God, A Guide for the Perplexed by Keith Ward. A look at the very different philosophical outlooks of Christians of the past showing how amazingly different so many Christian leaders were in their beliefs.

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    Interesting that Hitchens’ ‘God is not Great’ nor Dawkins’ The God Delusion’ feature.

    These were the books that were instrumental in piquing my interest in religion; it’s possibly because, being in the UK, atheism is nearly on the point of being the ‘religion’ of default, so I didn’t need the conversion books. Even so both books are very powerful and Hitchens will forever be a hero to me.

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      Bruce Gerencser

      I generally do not recommend Dawkins or Hitchens to an Evangelical who has doubts or questions about Christianity. Their books tend to be polemical and I think this is a turn off for a lot of people. I DO recommend them to those who have made the decision to deconvert.

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Bruce Gerencser