Atheist looking for inspiring -religion-free-please-!- references... (more inside)
November 11, 2008 12:51 AM   Subscribe

Atheist looking for inspiring -religion-free-please-!- references... as long as they don't involve any personified or anthropopmorphed Divinity.

Following Can you think of any " " "daily devotional" " " or inspiring book for atheists, that one could pick up every single day and read from for a short moment in order to get a fresh start ?

I wondered if Unitarian universalists have any publications - any UU out there ? Philosophic writings work, maybe even Baha'i stories could, but even baha'ism is considered somehow religious

I thought of The Prophet, by Khalil Gibran.. and can't think of anything else apart from zen writings.
Any Ideas ? thanx
posted by Jireel to Religion & Philosophy (11 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I find Nietzsche inspiring, especially Beyond Good and Evil and parts of Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Twilight of The Idols. He's very poetic, and concisely life-affirming.
posted by evil holiday magic at 2:43 AM on November 11, 2008

The writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
posted by Houstonian at 3:37 AM on November 11, 2008

Check out the UUA Bookstore; they have several titles that look like they might work for you. One that looked good to me was True Harvest: Readings from Henry David Thoreau for Every Day of the Year, edited by Barry M. Andrews.
posted by Daily Alice at 3:45 AM on November 11, 2008

Seconding Emerson, but check out the sermons of Dr. William Sinkford. The Unitarian Universalists have many practical and pretty god-free sermons about enlightening the human imagination (which is what religion is really).
posted by parmanparman at 4:42 AM on November 11, 2008

I'm an atheist, and I tend to read the Tao Te Ching is this manner. It could be argued that it is religious, but it's a great philosophical work also. Each verse is less than a page long, and yet takes a couple readings to really absorb. There are many different versions available, some very minimalist with only the writings, some with commentaries on each verse, etc. I find it very interesting every time I read through it and I have dozens of times.
posted by highfidelity at 5:12 AM on November 11, 2008

I was just coming in to recommend the Tao Te Ching from a secular and philosophical standpoint so I'll second highfidelity in that. I find Ursula K. Le Guin's translation the most poetic and approachable. I admit to being a huge fan of her writing in general, however, so you might find one of the more classic interpretations (Arthur Waley's for one) more to your liking.

I also find Rachel Carson's writing to be invigorating to my own ecological/humanist version of atheism, particularly The Edge of the Sea.
posted by nelleish at 5:55 AM on November 11, 2008

I really enjoy reading Robert Fulghum, and although I've read almost all of his bodies of work, I don't really remember him mentioning God. He is a UU, and a great inspirational philosopher to me.
His essay books are good enough for daily devotionals because they are fairly brief.

Most popular book is All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
posted by czechmate at 6:10 AM on November 11, 2008

Richard Dawkins's Unweaving the Rainbow. It's about how science makes clear how amazing the universe is, rather than making it less wondrous. The idea is that the more we learn about things, the more incredible it seems that we are here at all.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I know it makes me very happy.
posted by Nattie at 6:45 AM on November 11, 2008

I don't have a copy on me, but I could swear that The Prophet makes a couple references to God.

If you liked that, and can stomach a few references to that particular dreaded concept then I would suggest Tolstoy's Wise Thoughts for Everyday. Just skip over the religious parts if you must (or you know, you could interpret the religious parts on your own, because that's what you should be doing with any work, religious or otherwise), there's a reason he considered it his greatest work.

Also, Kafka's Parables.
posted by symbollocks at 6:46 AM on November 11, 2008

Epictetus's The Art of Living has lots of quick, pithy sections on how to live happily and morally and effectively, without any God references. And definitely check out the UUA bookstore that Daily Alice linked to.
posted by vytae at 7:44 AM on November 11, 2008

Thirding Emerson.
posted by Brody's chum at 9:08 AM on November 11, 2008

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