What were the first books you read in favor of skepticism/atheism?

This is a "poll" of sorts, just for my own curiosity. I read many books on my path from believing in the Christian god to atheism, but the two that stand out most in my memory are "Why I am not a Christian" by Bertrand Russell and "Atheism: The Case against God" by George H. Smith. I still enjoy both books (though Smith's blatant libertarianism is annoying) and I'm wondering what other people read as they "saw the light" so to speak.

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I just put Hitchhiker's Guide on my "want" list at the library. I should have it soon. :D

After I was pretty sure I was an atheist, I read The God Delusion, God is Not Great and about half of The End of Faith. It just confirmed to me what I did and did not believe and made it more clear why I thought that way.
Douglas Adams and Richard Dawkins were good friends. The God Delusion carries a dedication to Adams since he died suddenly in 2001. And it was Adams reading of The Selfish Gene that awoke him to the power of evolutionary thinking and the paucity of religion. Richard describes Douglas as his one and only convert.

The Hitchhikers Guide is very much recommended. Although it comes in many forms each subtly different, often contradictory, and people tend to swear by the version they first encounter. Sometimes full immersion is the only solution and eventually you seek them out and try them all and appreciate each for their own peculiar idiosyncrasies.

First was the idea, conceived by a drunk Douglas in a field in Innsbruck, I believe.
Swiftly following on the heels on that bolt of inspiration was the radio plays.
Then the was the first book and it's sequel: Hitchiker's Guide & The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
After that came the TV series http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081874/
Then two more books: Life, the Universe and Everything and So Long and Thanks For All The Fish
Douglas owned a software devlopment company called Digital Village: It's two great legacies were the computer game Starship Titanic and then Douglas set up the website h2g2.com (which is now owned by The BBC) and can be found at:


I know this because I am a researcher for The Guide and it from there that I hail from.
If you ever happen to be passing, I can be found at:


Douglas's page, naturally is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/classic/u42

Douglas published a fifth book in the now increasingly inaccurate "trilogy" Mostly Harmless

He was working on the movie script when he died. It was finally released four years later.

Also collected collated and published with permission of his family was fragments of his writings from his hard drive which contained fragments of chapters and other writings and letters. The novel was to be called The Salmon of Doubt and they are available under that name.

Also you should check out Last chance to See. A terrific and moving travelogue of Douglas touring the South Pacific and finding out about endangered and verging on extinct animals. He was a big supporter of the Diane Fossey and Jane Goodal and Save the Rhino.

He co-wrote with John Lloyd - who created the BBC series QI - a book called The Deeper Meaning of Liff, which contains new definitions of words you thought you'd never need. Such as "Abilene" (adj) "Descriptive of the pleasingly cool sensation of the other side of the pillow."

Each year the is a Douglas Adams Memorial lecture given in London.

Douglas was always interested in technology and a bit like Arthur C Clarke had a habit of thinking ahead: witness this 1990 documentary he did with Tom Baker (AKA: Doctor Who) speculating about 'interactive media' ,"icons", "hypertext" and something called an 'internet -browser'.

I wanted to add this to my post last night but I couldn't find the link.



I skimmed through all of the suggestions. I've read some of them but also picked up a lot of great titles to put on my list. Right now I'm reading Doubt by Jennifer Michael Hecht. I don't think I saw this one suggested. It is a great read about the rich history of doubters. I also found Eric Maisel's book The Atheist Way uplifting and helped me get over the existential depression I struggled with once I admitted I was atheist. Any of Bart Ehrman's books on biblical history like Misquoting Jesus, Michael Shermer's Why Darwin Matters, E.O. Wilson's Creation, Christian Science by Mark Twain, The Caged Virgin by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Spiral Staircase and History of God by Karen Armstrong. I also enjoy CFI's Free Inquiry magazine, Shermer's Skeptic magazine and the Freethought Today newsletter.
Ironically The book that started me thinking about Atheism was Shogun By James Clavel. The book makes a big deal about the persecution of Christians in Japan. This got me thinking about where the Japanese who died prior to the introduction of Christianity to the island. As they were isolationatist and had no chance to hear about Jesus much less be "saved" what was their eternal fate? If god sent them to hell then he is an unjust bastard unworthy of worship, and if not, then "salvation" is unnecessary. At the time I was a Christian and this was the first serious doubt.
Following this The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged pushed further, and the nail in the coffin was Atheism: the Case against God (comming from a fundamentalist background I found the Libertarian ethos refreshing, by the way)
The Faith Healers by James Randy turned me into what you might call a "militant" though I prefer Pissed off Atheist. Though I have calmed down a bit.
The Story of B by Daniel Quinn probably was what guided me to become comfortable in calling myself an Athiest for the first time. It's not purely about religion, but there are some great arguments that explain the western monotheisms.




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