The Cure-For-Christianity Library

See the full list of 250+ titles & their Amazon links

INTRODUCTION

“What do you think about the upheaval in Jesus studies?”

THIS IS THE QUESTION I WOULD so much like to pose to my Christian friends—to be met, I am sure, in most instances–with blank stares. “What upheaval?” Because they are not paying attention. In fact, the Jesus question has been removed from the exclusive domain of Bible scholars and ecclesiastical functionaries. Most New Testament scholars have been, and remain, committed to the Jesus faith. These are the folks who, in the words of one observer, “…still write books manufacturing and manicuring Jesus to look like they do.” Secular observers decided that this biased community could no longer be trusted to provide honest answers on who and what Jesus was. So you will find plenty of titles on this list by secular analysts who have opened up Jesus studies as never before—and exposed its faulty methodologies and conclusions, e.g., Richard Carrier, Robert Price, David Fitzgerald.

Of course, it’s not just Jesus; theism in general and Christianity in particular have been subjected to penetrating, withering critique. As I point out in the Introduction of my book, we are experiencing—and have been for some twenty years—an unprecedented atheist publishing surge. This has never happened before. Ever. There are more than 250 titles on the list below. Some of the titles predate 2000; I have included them because they are classics in the deconstruction of Christianity, e.g. H. L. Mencken’s Treatise on the Gods (1932) and Charles Guignebert’s Jesus (1935). Not all of the authors cited here are atheists, but one thing that they do have in common is their conviction that the Christian brand of theism—no matter how successful it has been—has been falsified.

My purpose in this Cure-for-Christianity Library is to document many of the resources now available to inquiring minds, and I do hope that Christians can take the hint: use this list to get a grasp of what all the fuss is about—why we have been smacking Christianity down so emphatically—and get a move on! Tackle the homework.

These are the resources that have come to my attention, in book form. Admittedly, this approach may have an archaic aroma. Books? What percentage of the populace—spread across multiple demographics—still reads books? But even for people who no longer pick up hard copies, the titles listed here can be considered portals; many of the authors on this list have their own websites, Facebook pages, blogs, Twitter accounts. “The Internet,” it has been said, “is where religion goes to die.”

In my book I have presented ten tough problems in Christian thought and belief, to whet the appetite. Please pursue research, read, probe: find out how Jesus, Christianity and theism have all been so convincingly slam dunked.

* * * * *

Abram, Cheryl,

Firing God, 2014

Alcántar, Fernando,

To the Cross and Back: An Immigrant’s Journey from Faith to Reason, 2015

Andrews, Seth,

Deconverted: A Journey from Religion to Reason, 2012

Angier, Natalie,

The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science, 2008

Antony, Louise, ed.,

Philosophers without Gods: Meditations on Atheism and the Secular Life, 2010

Arel, Dan,

Parenting Without God: how to raise moral, ethical and intelligent children, free from religious dogma, 2014

Avalos, Hector,

Baggini, Julian,

Atheism: A Very Short Introduction, 2003

Barbera, Don,

Black and Not Baptist: Nonbelief and Freethought in the Black Community, 2003

Barker, Dan,

Beaumont, Paul,

A Brief Eternity, 2013

Bekius, Drew,

The Rise and Fall of Faith: A God-to-Godless Story for Atheists and Christians, 2017

Benson, Ophelia & Stangroom, Jeremy

Blackford, Russell & Schüklenk, Udo,

Boghossian, Peter,

A Manual for Creating Atheists, 2013

Boyer, Pascal,

Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought, 2002

Brewster, Melanie, ed.,

Atheists in America, 2014

Bradley, Raymond,

God’s Gravediggers: Why No Deity Exists, 2016

Brodie, Thomas,

Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery, 2012

Carroll, Sean,

Carrier, Richard,

Chaney, Daniel, 

Religion Refuted: Debunking the case for God, 2018

Christina, Greta,

Chumney, David, 

Jesus Eclipsed: How Searching the Scriptures Got in the Way of Recounting the Facts, 2017

Comings, David,

Did Man Create God? Is Your Spiritual Brain at Peace With Your Thinking Brain? 2008

Compere, John,

Outgrowing Religion: Why a Fifth-Generation Southern Baptist Minister Left God for Good, 2016

Conner, Robert,

Coyne, Jerry,

Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible, 2015

Cragun, Ryan,

Cunningham, George,

Decoding the Language of God: Can a Scientist Really Be a Believer? A Geneticist Responds to Francis Collins, 2009

Daleiden, Joseph,

The Final Superstition: A Critical Evaluation of the Judeo-Christian Legacy, 1994

Daniels, Kenneth,

Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary, 2010

Dawkins, Richard,

Dennett, Daniel & LaScola, Linda,

Caught in The Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind, 2013

Dennett, Daniel,

DeWitt, Jerry & Brown, Ethan,

Hope after Faith: An Ex-Pastor’s Journey from Belief to Atheism, 2013

Doherty, Earl,

Eden, Jason,

That’s Me In the Corner: Coming Out as An Atheist on Facebook, 2014

Edis, Tanner,

Ehrman, Bart,

Eller, David,

Epstein, Greg,

Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe, 2010

Ferris, Timothy,

Coming of Age in the Milky Way, 1988

Finklestein, Israel & Silberman, Neil Asher,

The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts, 2002

Fitzgerald, David,

Fox, Robin Lane,

The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible, 1992

Fredriksen, Paula,

From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ, 2000

Garst, Karen L., 

Gilgamesh, Horus,

Gill, Tyson,

Belief in Science and the Science of Belief, 2010

Gorham, Candace A.M.,

The Ebony Exodus Project: Why Some Black Women Are Walking Out on Religion—and Others Should Too, 2014

Grant, Michael,

Saint Paul, 2000

Grayling, A.C.,

Guigneberg, Charles,

Jesus, 1935

Hafer, Abby,

The Not-So-Intelligent Designer: Why Evolution Explains the Human Body and Intelligent Design Does Not, 2015

Hallquist, Chris,

UFOs, Ghosts, and a Rising God: Debunking the Resurrection of Jesus, 2009

Harbour, Daniel,

An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Atheism, 2001

Sam Harris,

Harrison, Guy,

Harvie, Robin. & Meyers, Stephanie, eds.,

The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas, 2010

Harwood, William,

Mythology’s Last Gods: Yahweh and Jesus, 1992

Hawking, Stephen & Mladinow, Leonard,

The Grand Design, 2012

Hecht, Jennifer Michael,

Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson, 2004

Helms, Randel,

Hitchens, Christopher,

Hunsberger, Bruce & Altemeyer, Bob,

Atheists: A Groundbreaking Study of America’s Nonbelievers, 2006

Hyppolite, Carolyn,

Still Small Voices: The Testimony of a Born Again Atheist, 2014

Jacoby, Susan,

James, Craig,

The Religion Virus: Why We Believe in God, 2010

Jefferson, Thomas

The Jefferson Bible, Smithsonian Press, 2011

Jenkins, Philip,

Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 years, 2011

Jillette, Penn,

God, No! Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales, 2012

Johnson, Chris,

A Better Life: 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God, 2014

Joshi, S. T.,

Kelly, Joshua,

Oh, Your God!: The Evil Idea That Is Religion, 2016

Kennedy, Ludovic,

All In the Mind: A Farewell to God, 1999

Kick, Russ, ed.,

Everything You Know About God Is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to Religion, 2007

Klein, George,

The Atheist and the Holy City: Encounters and Reflections, 1990

Komarnitsky, Kris,

Doubting Jesus’ Resurrection: What Happened in the Black Box? 2009

Krauss, Lawrence,

A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing, 2013

Lalli, Nica,

Nothing: Something to Believe In, 2007

Lataster, Raphael,

Law, Stephen,

Believing Bullshit: How Not to Get Sucked into an Intellectual Black Hole, 2011

Lee, Adam,

Daylight Atheism  (2014)

Lehto, Bill, ed.,

Atheist Voices of Minnesota: an Anthology of Personal Stories, 2012

Le Poidevin, Robin,

Arguing for Atheism: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, 1996

Lindsay, James,

Lindsay, Ronald,

The Necessity of Secularism: Why God Can’t Tell Us What To Do, 2014

Lobdell, William,
Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America and Found Unexpected Peace, 2009

Loftus, John,

Long, Jason,

Maccoby, Hyam,

The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity, 1998

Mack, Burton,

Madison, David, 

10 Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: a Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith, 2016

Maisel, Eric,

The Atheist’s Way: Living Well Without Gods, 2009

Mark, Jeffrey,

Christian No More: On Leaving Christianity, Debunking Christianity, And Embracing Atheism And Freethinking, 2008

Martin, Michael,

Martin, Michael & Monnier, Ricki, eds.,

Matheson, Chris,

The Story of God: A Biblical Comedy about Love (and Hate), 2015

McAfee, David,

McCormick, Matthew,

Atheism and the Case Against Christ, 2012

McGowan, Dale,

Atheism for Dummies, 2013

McGowan, Dale, ed.,

Voices of Unbelief: Documents from Atheists and Agnostics, 2012

McGowan, Dale; Matsumura, Molleen; Metskas, Amada; Devor, Jan,

Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief, 2009

Mencken, H. L.,

Treatise on the Gods, 1932

Mehta, Hemant,

Miller, Richard C., 

Miller, Richard J.,

Mills, David,

Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism, 2006

Mitchell, Deborah,

Growing Up Godless: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Without Religion, 2014

Molyneux, Stefan,

Against the Gods? A Concise Guide to Atheism and Agnosticism, 2011

Murphy, Derek,

Jesus Potter Harry Christ: The Fascinating Parallels Between Two of the World’s Most Popular Literary Characters, 2011

Murray, Malcolm,

The Atheist’s Primer (Broadview Guides to Philosophy, 2010

Musolino, Julien,

The Soul Fallacy: What Science Shows We Gain from Letting Go of Our Soul Beliefs, 2015

Navabi, Armin,

Why There Is No God: Simple Responses to 20 Common Arguments for the Existence of God, 2014

Niose, David,

Onfray, Michel,

Atheism Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism and Islam, 2011

Orenstein, David & Blaikie, Linda,

Godless Grace: How Non-Believers Make the World Safer, Richer and Kinder, 2015

Ostman, Cami & Tive, Susan,

Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religions, 2013

Ozment, Katherine,

Grace Without God: The Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Belonging in a Secular Age, 2016

Palmer, Michael,

Perakh, Mark,

Unintelligent Design, 2003

Pervo, Richard,

Pfeiffer, C. Boyd

No Proof at All: A Cure for Christianity, 2015

Pinn, Anthony,

Price, Robert,

Price, Robert & Suominen, Ed

Evolving Out of Eden, 2013

Price, Robert & Lowder, J. J., eds.,

The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond The Grave, 2005

Prothero, Stephen,

Rafferty, Tom,

Making Stuff Up Is Unwise: An Introduction to Reason, Skepticism and Science, 2012

Ray, Darrell,

The God Virus: How Religion Infects our Lives and our Culture, 2009

Ripley, Bob,

Life Beyond Belief: A Preacher’s Deconversion, 2014

Russell, Bertrand,

Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects, 1967

Sagan, Carl,

Shermer, Michael,

Silverman, David,

Fighting God: An Atheist Manifesto for a Religious World, 2015

Silverman, Herb,

Candidate Without a Prayer: An Autobiography of a Jewish Atheist in the Bible Belt, 2012

Sjørdal, Jonathan Erik, Two Witnesses: Hebrew Texts Changed By The Greek New Testament, 2009

Smith, George,

Atheism: The Case Against God, 1979

Stefanelli, Al,

A Voice of Reason in an Unreasonable World: The Rise of Atheism on Planet Earth, 2011

Stedman, Chris,

Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious, 2013

Steele, David Ramsay,

Atheism Explained: From Folly to Philosophy, 2008

Stenger, Victor,

Stephens, Mitchell,

Imagine There’s No Heaven: How Atheism Helped Create the Modern World, 2014

Tarico, Valerie,

Templeton, Charles,

Thomas, J. Anderson & Aukofer, Claire,

Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith, 2011

Thompson, Thomas,

The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David, 2005

Thompson, Thomas & Verenna, Thomas S., editors,

Is Not This the Carpenter? The Question of the Historicity of the Figure of Jesus, 2014

Torres, Phil,

The End: What Science and Religion Tell Us about the Apocalypse, 2016

Tuchman, Barbara,

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, 1987

Tyson, Neil deGrasse & Goldsmith, Donald,

Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution, 2014

Watson, Peter,

The Age of Atheists: How We Have Sought to Live since the Death of God, 2014

Wells, Steve,

The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, 2013

Wathey, John,

The Illusion of God’s Presence: The Biological Origins of Spiritual Longing, 2016

Wheaton, Billy & Fuller, Joy,

Hooks and Ladders: A Journey on a Bridge to Nowhere with American Evangelical Christians, 2009

Whitmarsh, Tim,

Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World, 2015

Wilson, A.N.,

Winell, Marlene,

Leaving the Fold, 2006

Young, Matt,

No Sense of Obligation: Science and Religion in an Impersonal Universe, 2001

Young, Matt & Edis, Tanner,

Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism, 2004

Zichterman, Jocelyn,

I Fired God: My Life Inside—and Escape from—the Secret World of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult, 2013

Zingrone, William A.,

The Arrogance of Religious Thought: Information Kills Religion,  (2016)

Zuckerman, Phil,

Zuckerman, Phil; Galen, Luke; Pasquale, Frank,

The Nonreligious: Understanding Secular People and Societies, 2016

scene-du-deluge

Excerpts from 10 Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief, 1: The Prologue

Prologue: My Journey Into, Through and Out of Faith

A field of corn on a central Indiana farm shows signs of stress from a combination of little rain and excessive heat. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Jennifer Stewart)
(Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Jennifer Stewart)

On the northern Indiana prairie where I was raised in the 1940s and 1950s, two religions commanded the loyalty of the locals: basketball and conservative Christianity—and in that order. The energy and devotion lavished on basketball far outpaced unflustered adherence to the obligations of faith. No one would have said that basketball was more important, but the imbalance of emotional investment was obvious. Even today, a drive through Hoosier suburbia reveals this priority. In almost every driveway there is a basketball backboard and hoop. Future archaeologists will be convinced that these were the implements of the dominant cult.

When I was growing up and coming of age, I had zero interest in basketball. I did run the popcorn machine at the basketball games, but the closest I came to playing the game was in high school gym class. I resented this enforced athleticism, and protested by simply standing at one corner of the court while everyone else ran back and forth.  A basketball is a hard object , and I—being a 90-pound weakling—was alarmed to have one thrown at me. I even detested the sounds: the squeaking of the shoes on the floor and awful twang of the ball hitting the floor.

Photo credit: Jeff Roberts
Photo credit: Jeff Roberts

The runner-up cult, however, was the one for me.

A Kinder Gentler Approach

Christianity received the full measure of my devotion, largely under the influence of my mother. My oldest brother once said of her—long after we had both walked away from Christianity—that she was the most Christian woman he had ever known. By this he meant that she was guided by compassion and generosity. She really did try to live her faith.  When we were growing up, giving children ‘a faith to live by’ was considered an element of good parenting, and my mother was equal to the task.

I don’t say this uncharitably, because I was not subjected to a hard-nosed fundamentalist version of Christianity. I recall no emphasis on guilt, damnation and Hell; there was no trauma in my mother’s version of the faith. Nor was there anything cloying about it. A young friend of mine today, who was raised in an evangelical family in Tennessee, says that a common question that family and friends ask each other is, “How is your walk with the Lord going today?” The companionship of the Lord, it seems, is felt throughout every waking hour, and many people excel at this “God-is-your-pal” brand of Christianity. I never once heard my mother ask anyone, “How is your walk with the Lord going today?” Such smarmy piety was alien to me, even though religion

cropped-live-by-faith-copy
Photo credit: livingbyfaith12stepsatatime

was part of the fabric of our life: Sunday church attendance was mandatory, as was grace at meals and reading the Bible.

My mother and I read the Bible together.The Billy Graham Crusades were on TV in my teen years, but my mother found him irritating. She had no use for his theatrics, waving the Bible above his head and coaxing tearful conversions to Christ from his listeners. She disdained emotionally charged religion: ‘getting carried away with it’ was

unseemly. My mother prayed, she studied the Bible more deeply than most laypeople do, and if she ever doubted the existence of God, I saw no hint of it. Her faith ran deep, and she got on with life, mindful that God was there and mattered—but she was not checking in with the Lord on an hourly basis.

It’s a mystery to me how my mother, born in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1905, turned out not to be a fundamentalist. She believed in evolution and in a non-literal reading of the Bible. She could say of this or that in the Bible, “Well, you can’t take that literally.”  She had a good laugh when I asked if Hell was at the fiery center of the earth.

Gladys Yegerlehner, photo courtesy of genealogy lady.net

Immersion in Books

My mother never attended college, but she probably attained the equivalent of a degree by being a voracious reader, until Alzheimer’s wiped her memory clean. She loved biography and history, and assumed that the Bible should be studied as well as read. When I was in high school—and this is crucial to my story—she purchased The Interpreter’s Bible. This was a hefty, 12-volume commentary on the entire Bible, which included, in adjoining columns, the traditional King James translation (1611) and the recently released Revised Standard Version (1947 & 1952). On every page, accompanying these texts, were two other sections aimed at explaining the texts: the exegesis and the exposition. These books were for ministers, for those who were seriously into Bible study.

The Interpreter’s Bible (photo credit: Amazon)

The exposition was usually written by preachers, who explained the spiritual lessons of every Bible chapter. More often than not, these lessons were unctuous drivel, and even at that early age I could spot at least some of the drivel. The exegesis, however, had substance. This was the science, the research-based analysis of the texts. It was written by scholars and critical issues were tackled: where the texts came from, who wrote them, the meaning of words in the original Hebrew and Greek. It discussed translation problems, contexts and challenges. For the most part, The Interpreter’s Bible was the product of liberal Protestant scholarship, which meant that it was not fundamentalist propaganda about the Bible. The Bible’s flaws, fault lines and contradictions were acknowledged and analyzed candidly, usually without resort to ad hoc arguments to prove that  the Bible as God’ infallible word.

I can say, without fear of contradiction, that mother was the only person in town—other than the pastor, possibly—who owned The Interpreter’s Bible. Not long after a new pastor was appointed to our church, mother asked him a question about something she had read in the commentary. He was surprised: “You have The Interpreter’s Bible?”

Of course, these twelve books were at my disposal. I was an enthusiastic teenage Christian, and I was gifted with mother’s curiosity, love of reading and thirst for knowledge. I was drawn to the exegesis, and had no trouble cozying up to liberal Protestant scholarship and adopting a critical attitude toward the Bible. And since my father’s first career had been teaching high school science, we grew up with respect for science; questioning evolution would have been considered eccentric. At that point, belief in God was fairly secure; there may have been a few cracks in my faith, but not many. When I went off to college I was a liberal Christian soldier. Well, I was a priggish liberal. I believed fervently, as my mother did, that swearing, smoking, drinking and sex (outside of marriage) were verboten.             [To be continued.]

Darwin's first sketch of the evolutionary tree of life. Photo credit: American Museum of Natural History
Darwin’s first sketch of the evolutionary tree of life. Photo credit: American Museum of Natural History

Copyright 2016, David Madison, PhD, www.tentoughproblems.com