Hi everyone,

New member, long-time nontheist. I have a friend who was raised Seventh-Day Adventist and has recently realized that he really doesn't believe a word of it. I am, of course, happy for him. Unfortunately he lives far away and I don't get to have long heart-to-hearts with him as much as I'd like, but I'd still like to help him in his transition out of religion and into the light.

My own deconversion story is far off in the misty past, and mostly centered around Michael Martin's Atheism: A Philosophical Justification (because I'm a philosophy dork) and various Ayn Rand books (because I was a teenager).

My friend is not a philosophy dork nor a teenager, so I find myself at a bit of a loss for a good book to recommend to him to assist him in his journey.

What I'm looking for:
- not too heavy on philosophy but provides at least a decent grounding.
- deals a lot with the social aspects: how to break the news to friends, family, coworkers.
- what to expect.
- the stages you may go through ("OMG YOU'RE ALL FOOLS" -> "Naw, it's not for me," etc.), and how to navigate each of them in a way that is compassionate both to yourself and others.
- where to go for support.

Is there one single, magic book that deals with all of these things, in a charming, readable, erudite-yet-accessible fashion? Alternately internet articles are okay too, but books are preferable.

Thanks in advance for any advice.
And hi!

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I have read a number of books that helped me to understand and grow in my transition from theism to atheism. If you are looking to recommend some books, there are a whole range of them and they vary in their degree of hostility towards religion. Sometimes, this hostility is necessary and can really help make the point of the book clear. However, if you want to start him off on a softer note, then other books are more appropriate. I will give you a short list of my favourites, and I will list them in order from least hostile to most hostile (as best as I can...)

The Demon Haunted World, by Carl Sagan
This is an excellent book, though it doesn't address religion per se. However, it is an excellent introduction to critical thinking and the fallibility of the human mind.
The Pale Blue Dot, by Carl Sagan
This book will help your friend realize the enormous expanse that is the universe. This is an important step away from theism.
The Dragons of Eden, by Carl Sagan
The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins
While not about religion, the in-depth discussion of evolutionary theory can help a newly-converted atheist find some bearings in trying to understand human origins outside the realm of dogma.
Guns, Germs and Steel, by Jared Diamond
This is more of a history book than a book on religion, but I found that learning history (especially comparative cultural history) was a crucial part of my deconversion.
A History of God, by Karen Armstrong
One of my favourite books, Armstrong writes about the changing face of god throughout history.
Misquoting Jesus, by Bart Ehrman
This book is a good introduction to texual criticism, focussing on the bible.
The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins
Does this book need an introduction?
The Portable Atheist, a compilation by Christopher Hitchens
I am currently reading this book and am enjoying it thoroughly. The compilation style is excellent if your friend has a shorter attention span.
The End of Faith, by Sam Harris
I would say this is a relatively hostile book, though Harris makes his points exceedingly well. Minimally, this book is a powerful argument against the ubiquitous cultural mileu of faith.
Letter to a Christian Nation, by Sam Harris
This is a very short read, and somewhat of a follow-up to The End of Faith. Primarily, this book focusses more on Christianity than the latter.

There are a whole range of books that can be helpful during this process. These are just a few that I can think of at this moment, and I am sure that more will come to me. I know this is a long list, and just to start, I would go with The Demon Haunted World, A History of God and The End of Faith. Anyhow, good luck with your friend!
None of these books will encompass everything you are looking for. When someone is changing core beliefs about who they are, the process is rarely a short one. The literature on atheist morality alone is extensive. However, the actual process itself is highly personal, and the best resource for him would likely be the stories of other atheists who went through a deconversion process. Being a theist, he may have had a rather warped understanding of the world and his place within it. The books I have recommended will help him to gain a better understanding of his place as a human being, and reality as a whole. As for the actual deconversion process, I hope that information in dealing with the 'stages' a person goes through will be implicit in his process of gaining a clearer understanding of reality and his place within it.
Why I am No Longer a Christian by John Loftus
For a little different take on types of nonbelief, I think your friend might enjoy the essay Aweism by Paul Zukerman. It's reprinted on my blog. Welcome.
There is a great book entitled 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God by Guy Harrison. It takes each reason, gives a summary and example and then gives an atheist's response to that reason. This book is not only a great intro to atheist thought around examples like this, it also provides a response to some of the reasons we hear over and over as "proof" there is a god.

Check it out. Lots of books. maybe you can read some of them.

I also recommend "How We Decide?". Its not book on religion. but more of rationality of brain/thoughts, Decision making and stuff. Nice reading.




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