If I remember correctly, in Larry Niven's novel Ringworld, one of the characters says something like "our scientists have proved that God does not exist". At the time I wondered whether how such a statement could possibly be proved (or disproved).
Years later, after reading several books by Stephen Jay Gould, including The Panda's Thumb, it gradually dawned on me that Charles Darwin did, in fact, begin that proof, by showing that the Argument from Design is fallacious. Yes, it's natural to believe that plants and animals are designed, but in fact the "designer" is evolution, not a supernatural being.
In fact, the evidence for atheism is overwhelming.
For those who still believe in belief, I recommend the following books:
- The End of Faith, by Sam Harris.
- Why Evolution is True, by Jerry Coyne.
- Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible, by Jerry Coyne.
- The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins.
- Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, by Daniel Dennett.
- Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, by Sam Harris.
These ideas may seem profoundly threatening. That need not be so. Atheists, like everyone else, feel love, beauty, spirituality and other selfless or transcendent emotions. Atheism does not diminish these aspects of life, it simply explains them as arising from evolution. People don't need non-existent beings to be happy, to live morally and with a sense of purpose. We create our purposes. Nothing else does.
Enjoying the discoveries of science is one my great pleasures. In particular, the theory of evolution is the most beautiful, elegant, fertile, powerful and successful scientific theory ever created:
- The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, by Richard Dawkins.
- Darwin's Dangerous Idea , by Daniel Dennett.
- The Arrival of the Fittest, by Andreas Wagner. This book shows how fertile and unexpectedly interesting evolutionary theory is. Highly recommended.