A Reading List

If you are interested in a deeper exploration of the interface of religion, science and philosophy, the books listed here may be helpful. They are grouped into two general themes: general Christian resources and apologetics, and books on the relationship between science and religion.

I’ve limited myself to books that I’ve personally read, so there are a few obvious omissions (such as Francis Collins’ The Language of God, which I’m hoping to get to soon). If you have suggestions for particular books that you’ve found helpful, write a comment and let me know!

.

Christian Apologetics and Philosophy

.

Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

Simply put, if you only read one book on Christianity, make it this one.

From the Amazon.com review: “Mere Christianity never flinches as it sets out a rational basis for Christianity and builds an edifice of compassionate morality atop this foundation. As Mr. Lewis clearly demonstrates, Christianity is not a religion of flitting angels and blind faith, but of free will, an innate sense of justice and the grace of God.”

.

The Reason For God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller

From Publisher’s Weekly: “Keller mines material from literary classics, philosophy, anthropology and a multitude of other disciplines to make an intellectually compelling case for God … The first, shorter part of the book looks at popular arguments against God’s existence, while the second builds on general arguments for God to culminate in a sharp focus on the redemptive work of God in Christ. Keller’s condensed summaries of arguments for and against theism … should serve … as a compelling overview of the current debate on faith for those who doubt and for those who want to re-evaluate what they believe, and why.”

.

The Irrational Atheist by Vox Day

A pugnacious and brilliant critique of the recent works of prominent New Atheist writers Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and others, as well as a thorough and reasoned rebuttal of common arguments about Christianity contributing to war, the compatibility of science and religion, and a dissection of the New Atheist dogma. Available online from http://irrationalatheist.com/

.

Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton

Written over 100 years ago and still astoundingly relevant. The issues of Chesterton’s time: materialism, evolution, determinism, conflicts fought in the name of religion, morality in the absence of divine guidance, etc – are often exactly the same things that are shaping the debate today.

.

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee & Douglas Stuart

Outstanding resource for anyone wanting to read the Bible and understand it in its correct context. Fee and Stuart cover the correct use of exegesis and hermeneutics, discuss various translation styles and different literature styles found in the various books for the Bible and suggest appropriate avenues of approach to each.

The companion volume, How to Read the Bible Book by Book, is a wonderful “tour guide” to help you read each book of the Bible in context and appreciate the key themes as you go.

.

Mister God, This is Anna by Fynn

An utterly beautiful book which will give you a fresh insight into the Christian faith and the nature of God. Written by Sydney Hopkins under a pseudonym.

.

Religion Is For Fools! by Bill Medley

A short, pithy exploration of the world’s major religions, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. Medley explores: What do they claim? How their claims can be assessed? What can logic and tangible evidence reveal? What can a reasonable layman can learn about a “God”, or an “afterlife”? A professional comedian, Medley presents his material with wit and a light touch, but still engages with challenging and profound issues.

.

Science and Christianity

.

God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? by John Lennox

In this extraordinary book, John Lennox brings fresh intellectual power and clarity to the subject of the origin and meaning of the universe and life. The themes of the book range from cosmology and biogenesis to evolution and information theory, and in each field Lennox separates the pure science from the philosophical interpretations which have become entangled in it. He specifically addresses many issues raised by Richard Dawkins and other New Atheists who seek to find scientific rationalisation for their beliefs.

Although the book does into fairly technical scientific detail, Lennox writes with such clarity and elegance that the text is accessible to a non-scientist audience.

.

Quarks, Chaos and Christianity: Questions to Science and Religion by John Polkinghorne

Formerly the Cambridge Professor of Mathematical Physics and a leading theoretical physicist, now an Anglican priest, Sir John Polkinghorne spent many years thinking and writing about questions of faith, science and the nature of the universe. He is convinced that both science and Christianity are dedicated to seeking truth: “I believe that science and religion are intellectual cousins under the skin. Both are searching for motivated belief … Neither deals simply with pure fact, or with merely opinion. They are both part of the great human endeavour to understand.” According to Polkinghorne, it is belief in God that makes sense of the order of the universe.

From the first chapter:

“We need the insights of both science and religion in our quest for understanding. Science is essentially asking, and answering, the question ‘How?’ By what manner of means do things come about? Religion, essentially, is asking and answering the question ‘Why?’ Is there a meaning and purpose at work behind what is happening? We need to address both these questions if we’re to understand what is going on. The kettle is boiling because the gas is burning. The kettle is boiling because I wish to make a cup of tea (and would you like one?). We don’t have to choose between these two answers. We need both… Because of this need to make mutual sense, science and religion have things to say to each other.”

.

General Reading

.
When I visit someone’s house, I generally browse their bookshelves. Not only is it a handy conversation piece, it can give me an insight into aspects of the person that I may not have previously appreciated. In addition to those listed above, the following list contains  books that I’ve loved and enjoyed over the years and that I recommend if you’re looking for something good to read. It also lets me offer you a chance to “browse my bookshelves”.

Just as on my actual shelves, these books are in no particular order.

.

The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis

The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis

God in the Dock, C. S. Lewis

Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan

The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (all four books in the trilogy), Douglas Adams

The Foundation Trilogy (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation), Isaac Asimov

I, Robot: The Complete Robot stories, Isaac Asimov

Nightfall, Isaac Asimov & Robert Silverberg

Harry Potter and the… (all 7 of them), J. K. Rowling

Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson

Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card

Speaker for the Dead, Orson Scott Card

Dune, Frank Herbert

Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, James Gleick

Chaos, James Gleick

Isaac Newton, James Gleick

Fooled by Randomness, Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman

Classic Feynman: All the adventures of a Curious Character, Richard Feynman

Bully for Brontosaurus, Stephen Jay Gould

Eight Little Piggies, Stephen Jay Gould

Cod, Mark Kurlansky

Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton

The Everlasting Man, G. K. Chesterton

Absence of Mind, Marilynne Robinson

Sophie’s World, Jostein Gaarder

Everything I Know I Learned From TV, Mark Rowlands

The Year of Living Biblically, A. J. Jacobs

Sex God, Rob Bell

On Writing, Stephen King

Different Seasons, Stephen King

Hearts in Atlantis, Stephen King

The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemmingway

The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemmingway

For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemmingway

Cannery Row, John Steinbeck

War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

Les Miserables, Victor Hugo

Moby Dick, Herman Melville

Dracula, Bram Stoker

The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver

Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut

Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut

High Fidelity, Nick Hornby

Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby

39 Songs, Nick Hornby

The Polysyllabic Spree, Nick Hornby

Motherless Brooklyn, Jonathan Lethem

Gun, with occasional music, Jonathan Lethem

Mystic River, Dennis Lehane

Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein

Green Eggs and Ham, Dr Seuss

The Lorax, Dr. Seuss

Grimm’s Fairy Tales, The Brothers Grimm

Eat the Rich, P. J. O’Rourke

CEO of the Sofa, P. J. O’Rourke

All the Trouble in the World, P. J. O’Rourke

On the Wealth of Nations, P. J. O’Rourke

Give War A Chance, P. J. O’Rourke

Holidays in Hell, P. J. O’Rourke

Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond

I Wouldn’t Start From Here, Andrew Mueller

The Undercover Economist, Tim Harford

The Logic of Life, Tim Harford

Freakonomics, Steven Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

Animal Farm, George Orwell

1984, George Orwell

Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell

The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37¾, Adrian Plass

Adrian Plass Classics (The Growing Up Pains of Adrian Plass, Cabbages for the King, View from a Bouncy Castle), Adrian Plass

The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson

Neither Here nor There, Bill Bryson

Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson

A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson

In a Sunburned Country (also published as Down Under), Bill Bryson

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir, Bill Bryson

Shakespeare, Bill Bryson

Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson

Made in America, Bill Bryson

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson

The Andromeda Strain, Michael Crichton

Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton

Life of Pi, Yann Martel

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Paul Torday

The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco

One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Blindness, Jose Saramago

The Quiet American, Graham Greene

Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

American Civil ReligionThe Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37¾

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s