Books in common

ConversesAtheism and humanism

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Books in common

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ag. 15, 2007, 7:19am

WholeHouseLibrary said, among other things, in the very first message of this group:
"Part of my curiosity about this group was "what books do I have in common with you?" The answer is apparently, "None" -- at lest of the ones I've cataloged so far. Kind of odd, eh?"

Why should this be odd? As far as atheism goes, atheists define themselves by a negative - failure to believe in any gods etc. Would we expect people who don't collect stamps to have a lot of books in common?

Being positively and actively humanist might show up a little, I suppose.

My expectation would be that atheists and humanists have more diverse libraries than people who identify themselves by a religion, but it would be a lot of work to gather relevant evidence for this hypothesis, so I won't bother :-)

ag. 15, 2007, 7:53am

Ah, but you're ignoring the selection effect. This group does not attract all atheists equally. While I wouldn't expect atheists in general to have particular books in common, I do expect some commonality among people who like to talk about atheism.

ag. 15, 2007, 8:32am

You are quite right, I should have considered that 'people who succumb to the urge to join this group' don't constitute a representative sample of atheists and humanists on LT. And in fact the list of shared books doesn't suggest a random crowd of atheists. If I understand it correctly, 20 of 43 people have The God Delusion. Looking at other groups, it is no surprise that a high proportion of fantasy readers have The Hobbit or members of Hogwarts Express have HP books. I don't know another group with a similarly negative definition to ours, but we might expect tea drinking (Tea!) to be little related to tastes in books, and their top books look very like the top books overall.

ag. 15, 2007, 11:57pm

>1 jimroberts:,

"atheists define themselves by a negative - failure to believe in any gods etc."

You say it as if it were a BAD thing!

{ ;>)

I see Theists as people who have failed to overcome their parents' superstitions, and as people who have failed to grasp the freedom of Reason. But that's just me talking....

I would expect that people who enjoy .... macrame, for instance, would have books about knots and textiles -- ropes, yarn, etc. Of course, to some extent, so would seafarers, mountaineers, and diligent Boy Scout leaders; maybe not the yarn....

In the same way, I would expect Atheists to read at least ~some~ books about Atheism.

But you may have a point, depending on whether the Atheist sees him/her-self in a positive or negative light ~because~ of his/her choice.

I happen to own a lot of books about Ethical Culture, and Ethics in general. I didn't buy them because I felt I was ~lacking~ ethics; I bought and read them to reinforce my undersanding of what Ethics involves. It's truly DRY subject matter, but overall, it's worth the read. I see my Atheism as a positive thing.

While my kids (now 18 - 24) were young, I bought and read books about being a better dad to my kids. I didn't think I was particularly ~lacking~ as a father -- we had carried on some traditions and silliness from both sides of the families, and I was involved in the boys' activities, and often got down on the floor and built Lego cities and complex Brio track layouts for hours on end. I couldn't teach them to throw a baseball, though -- I can't grip the ball very well due to an accident I had when I was about 4. Kind of got off-topic there!

There's one in particular book that I re-read every 6 or 8 months, just to reinforce those principles. I ended up (not because of the book, though) divorcing my first wife about 10 years ago. In the end, I got the house and the kids, and she got all the money.

I tend to have a positive outlook, so I gravitate towards wanting to find out more about an aspect of myself (not because of any huge ego, though). I was miserable being raised RC, and believe me, I sure wasn't interested in reading any books about how great it was to be in ~my~ position! I found the Speck, the Altar Boy amusing, though.

ag. 16, 2007, 4:24am

> You say it as if it were a BAD thing!

I didn't intend any value judgement at all, just to indicate the one characteristic shared by all atheists. "Failure" in this usage doesn't, to me, indicate unsuccessful striving. I could have said, "lack of belief", but that might sound like a deficiency, hence also a bad thing.

ag. 24, 2007, 10:20am

Try rephrasing "failure to believe in any gods" to "successfully believing in the absence/non-existence of gods"

ag. 24, 2007, 10:28am

Ah, but that's different. It's quite common to have no opinion on the existence of gods. That's a lack of belief. You can't equate that to a belief in the non-existence of gods.