Conversations with God (Books 1-3) particularly annoying, and with ease, could have made those books up myself. Neale Donald Walsch has had a checkered career and was actually accused of plagiarism just about the time Simple Solutions for Humanity was being published. I read two out of three of them only because people gave me copies.
The Physics of Immortality by Frank Tipler seemed particular promising, for he had actual equations for proving the existence of immortality. He scientifically proved there is a God. I reached page 5 and gave up. Most of you would, too.
He also wrote The Physics of Christianity, which of course I did not buy. Skeptical Inquirer said:
The Physics of Christianity by Frank Tipler, a mathematical physicist at Tulane University, is a sequel to The Physics of Immortality, a bestseller in Germany before it was published here in 1994 by Doubleday. In that book, Tipler argued that anyone who understands modern physics will be compelled to believe that at a far-off future date, which Tipler calls the Omega Point (borrowing the term from the Jesuit paleontologist Tielhard de Chardin), God will resurrect every person who lived, as well as every person who could have lived! Our brains will be preserved as computer simulations and given new spiritual bodies to live happily forever in the paradise described in the New Testament.
The End of Faith by Sam Harris was particularly influential. Harris was a Stanford undergrad when he got so interested in spiritual insights without the use of drugs, that when a sophomore, he left school to study meditation in India and Nepal.
He returned to earn a B.S. in Philosophy in 2000, wrote this book immediately after 9/11/2001, and went on to gain a PhD in cognitive neuroscience from UCLA. To quote him on his point that religion contains bad ideas: one of the most perverse misuses of intelligence we have ever devised.
In this sizeable book, Dennett, a philosopher already famous for his earlier work Darwin's Dangerous Idea (1995), undertakes to convince his readers that religious beliefs have no empirical foundation and hence should be abandoned to prevent religious fanatics from destroying the world in a nuclear holocaust. In developing his argument Dennett relies on two sources: Charles Darwin's theory of organic evolution by natural and sexual selection and Richard Dawkins's theory of cultural evolution by the copying and competition of "memes" (ideas, rhymes, behavior patterns, and so on) which lodge themselves in the brain and compete for survival in human societies. Religious memes — gods, spirits, and so on — have no reality except as memes because their extra-human existence cannot be proved scientifically by observation and experiment.
God is not Great, was written by Hitchens. To quote myself:
A noted British journalist, who is a visiting professor in the U.S., provides an angry and vitriolic treatment of religion, maybe even sensational. He already indicts religion with his subtitle: How Religion Poisons Everything.
Conversely, The Greatest Story Ever Told...So Far, by Lawrence Krauss, was made available just about a year ago. I got an e-copy before it was actually released. Just yesterday, I finished the book. Krauss has already been recognized as a player in this field. He is a noted theoretical physicist and cosmologist.
He has a monthly column in Scientific American, and is on their board of advisors. So is Richard Dawkins. However, to suggest that this publication is atheistic is to believe that science is anti-religion...which could well be so.
Most of you will recognize the "new" atheists. Next Sunday, I'll delve further into God is Not Great.