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About this web site

Recent created/updated essays.
Why this web site is different.
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2016-December's selection

book cover

"The Illusion of God's Presence: The Biological Origins of Spiritual Longing" by John C. Wathey

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
$
18.52 plus postage in Paperback, $7.56 in Kindle format, or $20.89 plus postage in hardcover.

Amazon.com's book review:

An essential feature of religious experience across many cultures is the intuitive feeling of God's presence. More than any rituals or doctrines, it is this experience that anchors religious faith, yet it has been largely ignored in the scientific literature on religion.

"... [Dr. Wathey's] book delves into the biological origins of this compelling feeling, attributing it to innate neural circuitry that evolved to promote the mother-child bond. ...[He] argues that evolution has programmed the infant brain to expect the presence of a loving being who responds to the child's needs. As the infant grows into adulthood, this innate feeling is eventually transferred to the realm of religion, where it is reactivated through the symbols, imagery, and rituals of worship. The author interprets our various conceptions of God in biological terms as illusory supernormal stimuli that fill an emotional and cognitive vacuum left over from infancy. 

These insights shed new light on some of the most vexing puzzles of religion, like:

  • the popular belief in a god who is judgmental and punishing, yet also unconditionally loving;
  • the extraordinary tenacity of faith;
  • the greater religiosity of women relative to men;
  • religious obsessions with sex;
  • the mysterious compulsion to pray;
  • the seemingly irrepressible feminine attributes of God, even in traditionally patriarchal religions; and
  • the strange allure of cults

Finally, Dr. Wathey considers the hypothesis that religion evolved to foster reproductive success, arguing that, in an age of potentially ruinous overpopulation, magical thinking has become a luxury we can no longer afford, one that distracts us from urgent threats to our planet.

Average rating by 11 Amazon customers' reviews: 4.6 out of 5 stars, including nine 5 star ratings.

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The web site has 11 newly created or updated essays so far during 2016-DEC, including the above book review.

New essays are marked "N"; updated essays are marked "U":

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2016-November's selection

book cover "The God Problem: How a Godless Cosmos Creates," by Howard Bloom. Prometheus Books; New edition (2016-FEB) Available in Kindle format for $7.45 and paperback for $14.28 and hardcover.

Amazon.com customers gave this book a rating of 3.3 out of 5 stars. This is low but expected rating for a book on such a controversial topic. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. Available for $5.99 in Kindle format or $15.99 in Paperback.

A sampling of Amazon.com book reviews:

  • "If Howard Bloom is only 10 percent right, we’ll have to drastically revise our notions of the universe. ... [His] argument will rock your world."
    Barbara Ehrenreich, National Magazine Award winner and author of Nickel and Dimed.

  • "Enthralling. Astonishing. Written with the panache of the Great Blondin turning somersaults on the rope above Niagara. Profound, extraordinarily eclectic, and crazy. The most exciting cliff-hanger of a book I can remember reading." James Burke, Creator and host of seven BBC-TV series, including Connections.

  • "Bloody hell. . . . What a truly extraordinary book. I’m gobsmacked. It’s a fast-paced, highly readable, and deeply researched thriller-documentary that grapples with the big issues of the universe. ... Food for the brain." Francis Pryor, President of the Council for British Archaeology, author of Britain BC

  • "For those of us who do not invoke god(s) to explain things, there is a challenge—where did the complexity of the physical and natural world come from? . . . This deep, provocative, spectacularly well-written book provides some answers. ... A wonderful book." Robert Sapolsky, MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" winner and author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

  • "Strong. Like a steam roller. Impressive. Great." Richard Foreman, MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" winner and founder of the Ontological-Hysteric Theater

Howard Bloom has been called "the Darwin, Einstein, Newton, and Freud of the 21st Century" by Britain's Channel 4 TV and "the next Stephen Hawking" by Gear Magazine.

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The web site has 41 newly created or updated essays so far during 2016-NOV, including the above book review.

New essays are marked "N"; updated essays are marked "U":

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2016-October's selection:

book cover "I Promised Not to Tell: Raising a transgender child," by Cheryl B. Evans, Self published, 2016-JUL. Available in Kindle format for $5.93 and paperback for $15.99

Amazon.com customers gave this book a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. This is an incredible rating for a book on such a controversial topic. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. Available for $5.99 in Kindle format or $15.99 in Paperback.

Amazon.com's review:

"A must read for a parent, relative or friend of a gender questioning or transgender person. I Promised Not to Tell is a deeply personal and emotional parenting memoir told by the mother of a transgender child. This book will benefit anyone who would like to learn more about transgenderism. Honest, moving and well written, you will not be disappointed!

Review by this web site's author, Bruce Robinson, on Amazon.com:

"An absolute gem:

An amazing book! It allows the reader to fully experience the shock, fears, joy, and triumphs that a fully involved parent of a transgender child may have. I have read dozens of books about the LGBT community in connection with my work on the LGBT section of the religioustolerance.org web site. But this is the first time that I have been motivated to temporarily suspend my work on the site in order to read a book cover to cover. Not to be missed."

Viga Boland wrote the following review:

"... I Promised Not to Tell is quite possibly one of the most important books to date on a very controversial and little understood social issue: transgenderism. And what makes it even more valuable is that the focus is on helping parents recognize,and whether they like it or not, accept that their daughter might actually be a son or vice versa. As Cheryl B. Evans states early in I Promised Not to Tell, and repeats throughout the book, what she and her husband wanted most for her children was their happiness. And everything these parents do in this book proves they mean what they say. They listened to and trusted in what Jordan believed was right for her; they educated themselves on transgenderism; they located knowledgeable therapists and doctors, and stood united and strong beside their daughter when faced with religious ignorance that claims such children are "not of God..."

"If you are facing such a situation with your child, I urge you to read this book. Both you and your child need what Cheryl has so kindly shared with readers and parents. And when you do, I'm sure you will come away impressed not just by the courage shown by Jordan in this book, but by the love Cheryl and her husband have for their children and their compassion for all people. That love affirms what I've always believed: true love has nothing to do with gender. Love is love. I loved I Promised Not to Tell. Couldn't put it down. Highly recommended reading."

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The web site has 35 newly created or updated essays so far during 2016-OCT, including the above book review.

New essays are marked "N"; updated essays are marked "U":

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2016-September's selection

book cover "Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior" by Bart Ehrman. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. $18.77 plus postage in Hardcover, $15.70 in Kindle format, or $21.95 in audible formats. .

Some book reviews:

“Ehrman provides an intriguing overview of memory studies and introduces readers to a variety of important pioneers and studies. ... Ehrman concludes that ‘the historical Jesus did not make history; the remembered Jesus did.’ An intriguing new angle on the well-worn field of ‘historical Jesus’ studies.” (Kirkus Review)

“An intriguing and entertaining take on the formation of the Gospels.” (Library Journal)

“With his typical humor, passion, and vivacity, Ehrman explores the ways that memory shapes, distorts, changes, and preserves the stories of Jesus passed along by the Christian community. Ehrman’s provocative book raises engaging questions that drive readers back to the sources of our information about Jesus.” (Publishers Weekly)

“One can see why Ehrman is so widely known and respected by so many people. Here Ehrman takes a completely different approach from his previous books. This book is a new approach to the study of the beginnings of Christianity.” (Association for Mormon Letters)

”Jesus Before the Gospels is a scholarly yet readable study of Jesus and the Gospels. Ehrman’s scholarship remains unmatched. Ehrman unveils several unexplored aspects of the life of Jesus and the Gospels. Everybody with an interest in Christianity and religion in general will find this fascinating book useful.” (Washington Book Review)

“With Jesus Before the Gospels, Bart D. Ehrman has written a thought-provoking book prompted by his interest as a historian in the various traditions about Jesus. Enjoyable to read ” (America Magazine)

Average rating in reviews by 38 Amazon customers: 4.3 out of 5 stars.

During 2016-APR, Amazon.com reported that this book was the #1 best seller in New Testament commentaries.

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The web site has 27 newly created or updated essays so far during 2016-SEP.

New essays are marked "N"; updated essays are marked "U":

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2016-August's selection:

book cove "Fighting God: An Atheist Manifesto for a Religious World," by David Silverman. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$
17.80 plus postage in Paperback, $11.92 in Kindle format, or $16.45 plus postage in hardcover. Also available in Audible and MP3 CD formats.

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Webmaster's comment:

This book is written by an Atheist about Atheism. It might be very helpful for Christians and others who attempt to proselytize non-Christians. That is because it accurately reflects real beliefs of many Atheists.

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Amazon.com book description:

"Fighting God is a firebrand manifesto from one of the most recognizable faces of atheism. In his book, Silverman -- a walking, talking atheist billboard known for his appearances on Fox News -- discusses the effectiveness, ethics and impact of the in-your-face-atheist who refuses to be silent.

Silverman argues that religion is more than just wrong: it is malevolent and does not deserve our respect. It is our duty to be outspoken and do what we can to bring religion down. Examining the mentality, methods and issues facing the firebrand atheist, Silverman presents an overwhelming argument for firebrand atheism and reveals:

- All religion is cafeteria religion and almost all agnostics are atheists.

- American society grants religion a privileged status, despite the intentions of the Founding Fathers.

- Christian politicians have adversely (and un-Constitutionally) affected our society with regard to science, health, women's rights, and gay rights. ...

- It is not "Islamophobia" to observe dangerous teachings and disproportionate violence in Islam, including the governments of some predominately Muslim countries that execute Atheists, Muslims who leave Islam for another religion, and homosexuals.

- Atheists are slowly but surely winning the battle. ..."

Average rating in reviews by 77 Amazon customers: 4.5 out of 5 stars. That is unusually high for a book on such a controversial topic.

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There are 36 new and revised essays activated during 2016-AUG:

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2016-July's selection

book cover "Epiphany: A Christian's Change of Heart & Mind over Same-Sex Marriage," by Michael Coren. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. $19.45 plus postage in Hardcover, $14.54 in Kindle format.

Amazon.com book description:

"Michael Coren had a profound spiritual and personal change of heart. Epiphany is about how and why that happened; the reaction from both sides of the fence; and how the Christian doctrine, when studied closely and without bias, heartily supports Michael's findings. As a middle-aged, very white, very straight, very Christian man, he was obliged, first reluctantly and then eagerly, to explore the complex dynamic between faith and homosexuality and to work out a new narrative. The crux of that narrative: God is love.

Honest, brave, and rigorous in its scholarship, Epiphany is a groundbreaking book on one of society's most pressing issues.

This book was released on 2016-APR-26. There are no reviews by Amazon.com customers yet.

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There were 35 new and revised essays activated during 2016-JUL:

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2016-June's book selection

book cover "Freedom from Religion," by Noel McGivern

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$
18.65 plus postage in Paperback, or $5.77 in Kindle format.

Webmaster's note:

Although this book advocates that people abandon religion, it should also be of interest for believers who engage in the proselytizing of others. It should teach you what negative beliefs others have about religion, and make your proselytizing more effective.

Amazon.com book description:

"Why is belief a useless guide to truth? Why do we need to understand the danger of religious identity? Was Moses a ruthless psychopath? What led to the Catholic Church's moral cowardice over the Nazis and child-abusing priests? How harmful have Islamic interpretations been for women in Arab countries? What are the best answers to claims the Bible is inerrant? Are spiritual experiences just products of the mind? Freedom from Religion explores the evidence and makes a powerful case for walking away from religion. It's a guide for those defending non-belief and deeply challenging to those within religion."

Noel McGivern was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1962, and left at the age of 19 for a degree in politics at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. A major reason for leaving Belfast was his desire to be free from the religious identities imposed by that divided society. He spent many years seeking the truth at the heart of religion and spirituality, eventually reaching the conclusion that such beliefs are often barriers to human and political progress. He embarked on a study of how religion affects individuals and society. This book, sometimes funny, and at others deeply serious, is the outcome of that. Average rating by Amazon customers: 4.6 out of 5 stars, which is unusually high for a book on such a religiously controversial topic.

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New and revised essays during 2016-JUN:

There were 29 new or updated essays in June including the above recommended book.

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