Kaila, I definitely second the "God Delusion" as well as Sam Harris' "Letter to a Christian Nation" for getting a concise argument on the discussion with a religious family. As far as the "science" of atheism I would suggest anything by Dan Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, or Sam Harris.
Also, as much Christopher Hitchens as you can just for the fun of it!
Welcome to the bright side!!
I'm very surprised that no one has jumped in at this point, but what you ask is really a complex question. I hope someone comes along to rescue me.
First, you don't need to be a scientist to be an atheist. For example why did you choose not to believe in a supernatural entity? What is the evidence that such an entity exists? (There is none.) Why are you a christian and not a muslim? (Because you were raised by christian parents.) Were you a christian because you were afraid of going to hell? (There is no evidence of hell.)
All religions have evolved from earlier beliefs or from other religions and peoples. And all of them require that you believe in something which is outside the laws off nature, for which there is no evidence, and which simply requies an unquestioning "belief".
I hope someone else jumps in, because I have to stop for now.
I agree but think it's beyond belief - it's faith, the belief in something than can not be proved or disproved, a metaphysical notion around which religions gain their influence. Such faith makes one question what passions drive an individual. Are they firmly rooted in the world as it is or do their decisions arise from their allegiances to a god conceived by a bunch of bronze age, nomadic, illiterate, goat herders?
Rick “frothy” Santorum springs to mind.
Hi Kaila- Welcome! So many good suggestions have been made already, but I have a couple to add. I personally like the videos produced by "The Thinking Atheist", or ones that he showcases. I believe he has a you tube page (or is it channel?), as well as a facebook page you can like. Following a good atheist blog is also fun. Although it won't really be an "athesist 101" course, it will give you an idea of issues other atheists are facing. Freethought blogs is a good place to look, but I also like The Friendly Atheist. As far as parenting, there is a wonderful blog for parents/families called, "The Meming of Life: on secular parenting and other natural wonders". It is written by Dale McGowan, who wrote a book called "Parenting Beyond Belief" (among others). It would offer good resources for parenting. Best wishes to you!
I'm going to advise against Dawkins. Why? Because he's the favourite atheist to bash you silly with when faced with the barrage of critique you're likely to face. Same with most of the big names.
Assuming no one else has already mentioned it: The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan is probably the first place you should start. Avoid strict polemics from Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennet et al until you know what you're dealing with.
BUT, if you want to know something - ask us!
i'm not sure i understand your complaint with Dawkins etal. he and the other "horsemen" make very sound arguments which are primary to the question she asked.
please explain, thanks.
Yes, they do. But because they are so visible - the usual suspects have well-prepared arguments to counter anything they put forward.
Demon Haunted World encourages the reader to think for themselves; I've been researching/writing a follow up for some years now but thanks to Wikipedia and other on-line sources I've got stuck in a publishing hell-hole.
Quoting Dawkins (etc.) is just going to strengthen other people's resolve.
Each of us needs a cognitive armory of anti-bullshit - just not believing there is a god is not much different from just believing that there is.
Knowledge of the scientific method is probably the best start - rather than studying any given science. Science welcomes reason, faith denies it.
You probably have enough book recommendations for now, but, here are just 2 more you might want to consider at a later date.
John Loftus " Why I Became an Atheist" he is a former conservative evangelical Minister, in his book he recounts the story of his de-conversion and presents many of the counter arguments that have been developed to undermine those presented by Christians,
Bill Bryson "A Short History of Nearly Everything" He is a science writer and presents some excellent scientific information on subjects as diverse as the Big Bang to Darwin in very concise and well written chapters.
Best of luck on your journey