The God Delusion by English evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins is a must read for anyone who wants to understand why some people don’t believe in deities as well as for agnostics and atheists. The book covers topics such as why gods almost certainly don’t exist, the roots of religion and the harm religion does.
As a long-time nonbeliever, I had come across a lot of the information in the book before but it did cause me to look at a few things differently. I had never before considered how condescending we atheists can be when we refer to the comfort religion gives. It’s as if we think they aren’t strong enough to handle the truth, the poor little weak believers.
I particularly enjoyed the chapter where he discussed the evolutionary reasons that humans are prone to believe in gods. It really did help me understand why some people can believe things I think are so obviously false. Hopefully that will help me be more tolerant–they’re not total idiots, they’re just a victim of evolution. Okay, some of them are idiots (Terry Jones and the Afghani murderers, I’m looking at you.)
His arguments probably won’t change any minds, but they are eloquently written and well-reasoned. They also provide excellent fodder for long-winded debates with your Christian friends.