A book that should be compulsory for everyone to read:
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
Let’s get one very important thing out of the way right at the outset. I am an atheist. So that goes some way towards explaining my choice in this category I guess. But my reason for the selection is not to try and “convert” others to atheism, it is to give people a balanced view of the options available to them in terms of religious beliefs. After all, learning about religions is compulsory in schools in this country, but what about the lack of a religion?
Too often, atheism is portrayed as an excuse for hedonism and as a lack of morals, which could not be further from the truth. In fact, people confusing religious faith and morals is one of the things in the world that most annoys me. Books like those by Dawkins present the case for atheism, but based on the premise that most atheists are decent, upstanding, intelligent people whose views on religion and moral issues are equally valid as those who follow a particular faith. While some of his arguments against the established organised religions go a little far for my liking, most of what he writes makes excellent sense to me.
Overall, if we want to promote a genuine religious debate, and have genuine religious freedom and tolerance, the case for compulsory teaching of atheist principles is as valid as that for teaching about any religion, and Dawkins is one of the primary writers exploring this area in a modern, readable, non-academic style.
I want to read The God Delusion just for comparison against what I believe but I think I need to be in the right place before I read it. Would you read something that was contrary to what Dawkins writes to balance the opinions? I mean in the sense that I can tell you what I believe and you could go on what you might already know but is that balanced enough?
Having been brought up very much in a church environment until I left home, I think I got plenty of the “other side”, in fact I am pretty knowledgeable about the Bible and Christianity and always happy to discuss it with anyone. I’ve read books about Islam, visited mosques and Sikh temples etc. and I definitely belive it’s important to be informed. At the end of the day, if someone strongly believes something, reading a book by Dawkins or any other writer with similar views is nothing to be scared of, it’s hardly likely to change their beliefs. I get mad when I hear about church groups (generally in the USA) wanting any anti-Christian publications banned, burned or whatever – their religion has survived bigger things than a few books over the 2000 years it has been around!