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Author Topic: Book(s) for an atheist?  (Read 469 times) Average Rating: 0
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GabrieltheCelt
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« on: November 25, 2013, 09:03:08 PM »

Hey y'all,

 A friend of mine has begun dating a woman who he's just learned is a professed atheist/agnostic (not sure which one).  He has taken her to his church (A of G) once and she really didn't care for it.  Now I've told him that missionary dating usually comes to a bad end, and he's coming around to the idea of ending things.  But he's asked me if there are any books he could pass along to her, since she's agreed to read whatever he lends her.
 To get a sense of her personality and what she's like, she is very well read and loves Literature.  She's read the Old Testament and remarked upon its beauty, but it didn't have an affect on her.  I don't know, but I was thinking maybe C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity and/or the New Testament?  Since my friend is Protestant, this is kind of an anomaly.
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« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2013, 09:18:21 PM »

Oh, your friend is Protestant?

So the Desert Fathers are out of the question.
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« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2013, 09:21:41 PM »

Ravi Zacharais book : The Real Face of Atheism

was really an wakeup call to many of my different questions. I doesn´t appeal to any kind of church tradition, but rather to fundamental information and questions around atheism. It´s a good start if the lady would like to look upon what worldview she holds to, and to question it.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2013, 09:24:23 PM »

I don't have any one book I would recommend, but I do wish her good fortune.
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GabrieltheCelt
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« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2013, 09:27:23 PM »

Ravi Zacharais book : The Real Face of Atheism

was really an wakeup call to many of my different questions. I doesn´t appeal to any kind of church tradition, but rather to fundamental information and questions around atheism. It´s a good start if the lady would like to look upon what worldview she holds to, and to question it.


 Hmm.  Interesting choice.  I do own this one so I might just loan it to her.
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« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2013, 10:25:40 PM »

Who are her atheist heroes? Dawkins or Hitchens? Epicurus or Democritus? Freud or Marx? Stephen J. Gould or E. O. Wilson?
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« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2013, 06:26:26 AM »

Ravi Zacharais book : The Real Face of Atheism

was really an wakeup call to many of my different questions. I doesn´t appeal to any kind of church tradition, but rather to fundamental information and questions around atheism. It´s a good start if the lady would like to look upon what worldview she holds to, and to question it.


 Hmm.  Interesting choice.  I do own this one so I might just loan it to her.

Yeah, I would just recommend you or her boyfriend to ask if she even cares about these questions, in a kind way ofcourse Tongue

Because if not, the book can be very offensive to someone not expecting several questions regarding their own position.
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« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2013, 06:52:37 AM »

The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton

Merton's reflections and writing are honest, which is what I think most atheists are really in search of. Religion is too often a mask, and most atheists crave sincerity. Merton's autobiography is a revelation of honest searching, and I think it would appeal to those who thirst for authenticity.

As an aside... I personally enjoy Ravi Zacharias and his excellent apologetics. But I would not recommend him to an atheist. While his arguments may be hard to refute, there is something about his presentation that's just a little to cocksure in my opinion. (This admittedly from somebody who probably comes across the same way, minus the cogent argumentation.)


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« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2013, 08:33:24 AM »

Totally agree with you Gebre, when I was an atheist interested in truth I really would benefit from more orthodox literature. But a lot of the works from the orthodox church is regarding other traditions, we would benefit from more orthodox christians writing about this.
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« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2013, 08:46:20 AM »

Who are her atheist heroes? Dawkins or Hitchens? Epicurus or Democritus? Freud or Marx? Stephen J. Gould or E. O. Wilson?

Exactly. There is many types of atheists and reasons to be atheist.

When I was an atheist, I would have laughed if someone handed me C.S. Lewis or Ravi Zachariah. Maybe it might work on someone else, but Christian apologetics are not as effective as they might seem to those already convinced- they can instead provide an occasion for atheists to strengthen their arguments and their atheism.

Let me make something clear: For someone who is not particularly searching for faith, unsolicited apologetic literature is a killer. It's a drag. It's like getting homework from your friends. It's patronizing. There needs to be dialogue in a friendship or relationship, and "Read this book and tell me what you think" doesn't really cut it. So make sure she is actually curious before even thinking of giving her a book recommendation.

What brought me to religion in general and eventually Christianity were glimpses into a lived faith- the peace, beauty, and community arising from a revelation, expressed in worship, art, and kind acts. Literature can be part of this too but it has to be the right books for the right person. William Blake and John Milton were big influences for me but not necessarily for someone else.

I've often thought about what book I might recommend to an atheist/ agnostic who was philosophically or aesthetically inclined. I would probably go with Fr. Sophrony's His Life is Mine.

But this is all assuming that said atheist is asking for a book.
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GabrieltheCelt
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« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2013, 09:14:35 AM »

Who are her atheist heroes? Dawkins or Hitchens? Epicurus or Democritus? Freud or Marx? Stephen J. Gould or E. O. Wilson?

Exactly. There is many types of atheists and reasons to be atheist.

When I was an atheist, I would have laughed if someone handed me C.S. Lewis or Ravi Zachariah. Maybe it might work on someone else, but Christian apologetics are not as effective as they might seem to those already convinced- they can instead provide an occasion for atheists to strengthen their arguments and their atheism.

Let me make something clear: For someone who is not particularly searching for faith, unsolicited apologetic literature is a killer. It's a drag. It's like getting homework from your friends. It's patronizing. There needs to be dialogue in a friendship or relationship, and "Read this book and tell me what you think" doesn't really cut it. So make sure she is actually curious before even thinking of giving her a book recommendation.

What brought me to religion in general and eventually Christianity were glimpses into a lived faith- the peace, beauty, and community arising from a revelation, expressed in worship, art, and kind acts. Literature can be part of this too but it has to be the right books for the right person. William Blake and John Milton were big influences for me but not necessarily for someone else.

I've often thought about what book I might recommend to an atheist/ agnostic who was philosophically or aesthetically inclined. I would probably go with Fr. Sophrony's His Life is Mine.

But this is all assuming that said atheist is asking for a book.

 I never thought of it like that, but you make a great point as I'm not sure she even cares at this point.  I see this as just planting a seed like the parable of the sower.  I doubt she'll believe after reading one or ten books.  But maybe the seed will germinate  years later.  I guess it really depends on their relationship and how he presents such a book.
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« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2013, 11:23:26 AM »

(RNS) British novelist and essayist Francis Spufford’s spirited defense of the Christian religion [-- entitled Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense --] is in some ways like eavesdropping on a missionary conversation with the pagans of antiquity.
....
A member of the Church of England, Spufford is a former atheist who now calls himself an orthodox Christian and believes in the literal resurrection of Jesus and other core tenets of the Christian faith. And despite professing amiable relations with the sister religions, he is convinced that Christianity is right about Jesus being Messiah and Son of God. Islam and Judaism have got it wrong.

Only with this caveat: Religious truths can’t be demonstrated with ironclad logic, as if they were a “repeatable laboratory experiment,” which leaves open the possibility that Christianity is a mistake. Its validation necessarily lies in the inner emotional register of its believers.

“We could be wrong,” Spufford said. “As a matter of intellectual honor, I need to represent my faith as what I feel it is, which is a gamble on meaning in a state of radical uncertainty.”
....
“In a setting like the contemporary English one, where people have no reason to find religion or Scripture authoritative, the one thing that people listen to and find authoritative is somebody’s individual story told in a way that other people can recognize,” he said.
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If you will, you can become all flame.
Extra caritatem nulla salus.
In order to become whole, take the "I" out of "holiness".
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"Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is." -- Mohandas Gandhi
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« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2013, 05:53:34 AM »

I bought my Dad who is a card-carrying atheist, an e-book called "Journey To Mount Athos" from Amazon. It covers the writer's conversion to Christianity, then to Orthodoxy, and then his trip to Athos. An excellent read and one that got my pa asking lots of useful questions.
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« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2014, 11:25:36 AM »

Have her read books by William Lane Craig, and watch his debates with atheists on Youtube. I have seen most of his debates, and in all honesty, the atheist community does not have any successful or sophisticated arguments. There is not an atheist in the world who can stand-up to Craig's arguments. Craig is an Evangelical scholar, but I think his material is still very beneficial for people who have doubts.
Your friend might consider reading,

"On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision," by William Lane Craig;

"Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics," by William Lane Craig.

Also, these books might be helpful:

"Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts" (2 Volume Set), by Keener. This book documents Christian miracles all over the world, from the time of the apostles to the present.

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