All files encoded at 32kbps, with excellent quality apart from a little tape-hiss from the cassettes of Russell and Sagan.
Three complete essays on religion - by Bertrand Russell, read by Terence Hardiman (2½hrs)
Terrence Hardiman gives an excellent reading of three philosophical essays from Bertrand Russell (1870-1970). Russell was one of the prominent voices that defined the religious and moral questions of the 20th century. These essays (What I Believe; Why I Am Not A Christian; and A Free Man's Worship) present Russell's persuasive opposition to any dogma that he believed could shackle the human mind.
A British philosopher and mathematician, an ardent pacifist, opponent of nuclear weapons, and an advocate of sexual freedom, Russell once stated that his life had been governed by three passions: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and an unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. Remarkably relevant, beautifully written, and filled with wit and wisdom, these three essays will delight anyone who values the free and impassioned exchange of ideas.
Religion and Science – by Bertrand Russell, read by David Case (2¼hrs)
Bertrand Russell was a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge University, where he taught for many years. He also lectured widely in the United States. Winner of the 1950 Nobel Prize for Literature, he authored many books including the influential Principia Mathematica, with Alfred North Whitehead, and The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell 1872-1967, published in three volumes.
In Religion and Science, Russell offers a brief yet insightful study of the conflicts between science and traditional religion during the last four centuries. Examining accounts in which scientific advances clashed with Christian doctrine or biblical interpretations of the day, from Galileo and the Copernican Revolution, to the medical breakthroughs of anaesthesia and inoculation, Russell points to the constant upheaval and re-evaluation of our systems of belief throughout history. In turn, he identifies where similar debates between modern science and the Church still exist today.
In the paperback edition, Michael Ruse's new introduction brings these conflicts between science and theology up to date, focusing on issues arising after the Second World War. This classic is sure to interest all readers of philosophy and religion, as well as those interested in Russell's thought and writings.
God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything – written and read by Christopher Hitchens (9hrs)
In the tradition of Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian and Sam Harris' recent best-seller, The End of Faith, Christopher Hitchens makes the ultimate case against religion. With a close and erudite reading of the major religious texts, he documents the ways in which religion is a man-made wish, a cause of dangerous sexual repression, and a distortion of our origins in the cosmos. With eloquent clarity, Hitchens frames the argument for a more secular life based on science and reason, in which hell is replaced by the Hubble Telescope's view of the universe, and Moses and the burning bush give way to the beauty of the double helix.
Hitchens contends that religion is "violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children."
Regarding his friend Salman Rushdie and the ayatollah’s fatwa:
“One might have thought that such arrogant state-sponsored homicide . . . would have called forth a general condemnation. But such was not the case. In considered statements, the Vatican, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the chief sephardic rabbi of Israel all took a stand in sympathy with – the ayatollah. So did the cardinal archbishop of New York and other lesser religious figures. While they usually managed a few words in which to deplore the resort to violence, all these men stated that the main problem raised by the publication of The Satanic Verses was not murder by mercenaries but blasphemy.”
God Is Not Great is a coolly angry book, but there are good laughs too; for example, Hitchens’s hilarious account of how Malcolm Muggeridge launched “the ‘Mother Teresa’ brand upon the world” with his story that, while the BBC struggled to film her under low-light conditions, she spontaneously glowed. The cameraman later told Hitchens the true explanation of the “miracle” – the ultra-sensitivity of a new type of film from Kodak – but Muggeridge fatuously wrote: “I myself am absolutely convinced that the technically unaccountable light is, in fact, the Kindly Light that Cardinal Newman refers to in his well-known exquisite hymn”.
A wonderful review of this book (by Richard Dawkins) can be found at
The Portable Atheist – by Christopher Hitchens, read by Nicholas Ball (10¾hrs)
From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of God Is Not Great, a provocative and entertaining guided tour of atheist and agnostic thought through the ages. Christopher Hitchens continues to make the case for a splendidly godless universe in this first-ever gathering of the influential voices--past and present--that have shaped his side of the currently raging God/no-god debate.
With Hitchens as your erudite and witty guide, you’ll be led through a wealth of philosophy, literature, and scientific inquiry, including generous portions of the words of Lucretius, Benedict de Spinoza, Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Mark Twain, George Eliot, Bertrand Russell, Emma Goldman, H. L. Mencken, Albert Einstein, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and many others well-known and lesser known. And they’re all set in context and commented upon as only Christopher Hitchens can. Atheist? Believer? Uncertain? No matter: The Portable Atheist will speak to you and engage you every step of the way.
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a
The Demon-Haunted World is a collection of twenty-five essays, several written with Sagan's wife, Ann Druyan. The essays range in scope from eloquent paeans to science to impassioned denunciations of bigotry, from humorous accounts of a variety of pseudoscientific endeavours to serious attempts to understand the nature of alien abduction delusions.
With intelligence and wit, and the rational calmness that was his trademark, Sagan takes on a wide variety of topics, among them: alien abductions, astrology, Atlantis, the Bell Curve, channelling, crop circles, demons, ESP, the face on Mars, fairies, faith healing, magic, miracles, prayer, religion, Roswell, satanic rituals, therapy, and, of course, one of his favourite topics, UFOs and extra-terrestrials.
Through each of his essays he extols the virtues of scepticism, empirical evidence and control studies, while uncovering a multitude of errors and weaknesses in the positions of occultists, para-normalists, super-naturalists and pseudo-scientists. And he does so with extreme grace, gentility and civility.
The God Delusion – by Richard Dawkins, read by Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward (14hrs)
The God Delusion caused a sensation when it was published in 2006. Within weeks it became the most hotly debated topic, with Dawkins himself branded as either saint or sinner for presenting his hard-hitting, impassioned rebuttal of religion of all types.
His argument could hardly be more topical. While Europe is becoming increasingly secularised, the rise of religious fundamentalism, whether in the Middle East or Middle America, is dramatically and dangerously dividing opinion around the world. In America, and elsewhere, a vigorous dispute between 'intelligent design' and Darwinism is seriously undermining and restricting the teaching of science. In many countries religious dogma from medieval times still serves to abuse basic human rights such as women's and gay rights. And all from a belief in a God whose existence lacks evidence of any kind.
Dawkins attacks God in all his forms. He eviscerates the major arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. He shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry and abuses children. The God Delusion is a brilliantly argued, fascinating polemic that will be required reading for anyone interested in this most emotional and important subject.
The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason – by Sam Harris, read by Brian Emerson (9¼hrs)
Harris offers a vivid historical tour of mankind's willingness to suspend reason in favour of religious beliefs, even when those beliefs are used to justify harmful behaviour and sometimes heinous crimes. He asserts that in the shadow of weapons of mass destruction, the world can no longer tolerate views that pit one true god against another. Most controversially, he argues that we cannot afford moderate lip service to religion - an accommodation that only blinds us to the real perils of fundamentalism.
Harris' main premise, simply stated, is that in an age of Weapons of Mass Destruction, religious belief is a hazard of major proportions. Any belief system that speaks with assurance about the hereafter has the potential to place far less value on the here and now. And thus the corollary -- when death is simply a door translating us from one existence to another, death loses its sting and finality.
Harris pointedly asks us to consider that those who do not fear death for themselves, and who also revere ancient scriptures instructing them to mete death out generously to others, may soon have these weapons in their own hands. If thoughts along the same line haunt you, this is your book.
Letter to a Christian Nation – by Sam Harris, read by Jordan Bridges (2hrs)
"Forty-four percent of the American population is convinced that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead sometime in the next 50 years," writes Sam Harris. "Imagine the consequences if any significant component of the U.S. government actually believed that the world was about to end and that its ending would be glorious. The fact that nearly half of the American population apparently believes this, purely on the basis of religious dogma, should be considered a moral and intellectual emergency."
In response to his award-winning best seller The End of Faith, Sam Harris received thousands of letters from Christians excoriating him for not believing in God. Letter to A Christian Nation is his courageous and controversial reply. Using rational argument, Harris offers a measured refutation of the beliefs that form the core of fundamentalist Christianity. Addressing current topics ranging from intelligent design and stem-cell research to the connections between religion and violence, Letter to A Christian Nation boldly challenges the influence that faith has on public life in the United States.
“If you believe in a religion, even the mildest form of Christianity, please read this book. It won’t take you long, but it might change your mind.”
— Matt Ridley, author of Genome and Nature via Nurture
This combination of ruthless argument with polemic designed to provoke (he describes the Catholic Church as the “institution that has produced and sheltered an elite army of child-molesters”) will further delight Harris’ supporters and infuriate his critics.
— San Francisco Chronicle
"Reading Harris’ Letter to a Christian Nation was like sitting ring-side, cheering the champion, yelling “Yes!” at every jab. For those of us who feel depressed by this country’s ever increasing unification of church and state, and the ever decreasing support for the sciences that deliver knowledge and reduce ignorance, this little book is a welcome hit of adrenalin."
— Marc Hauser, Professor of Psychology, Biology. and Biological Anthropology at Harvard University, author of Moral Minds
eBooks, Magazines, Audio Books
Mar 20, 2009, 18:51:24
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