I'll Be At Gateway to Reason This Weekend in St. Louis

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This weekend should be an amazing one at Gateway to Reason. Thomas True, the organizer, has put together a fine line-up of speakers and topics. Come out if you can! My talk will be on my latest book, Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End.

Quote of the Day, by Harold Newman On Miracles

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In Reply to David Marshall, Newman said:
Miracle claims aren't interesting to me because they cannot be verified. The best we can do is establish that the "miracle" in question was a result of natural phenomena at work. The best the apologist can do is claim that since science can't explain an event, it could be supernatural.

Until the day that some apologist has a reliable method to investigate their "supernatural", miracle claims are nothing more than empty claims, and can be dismissed.

"Discussing" David Silverman's Quote With Justin Schieber and @CounterApologis[t]

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Here is why internet celebrities are divisive. Because then can be. Since I'm against atheist divisiveness I have plenty to do, and in doing it I guess that makes me divisive too. I am against a cookie cutter-mentality, a one size fits all approach to capturing this planet for reason and science. I am against the attitude  that we should all do this or think that, and if we don't we are ousted from the atheist ranks of the cool people. This reminds my of High School all over again, but it's happening.

Sometimes I just inadvertently back into these difficulties. Recently I liked this meme of Dr. David Madison's who posted a David Silverman quote. I Tweeted it and said, "Yep. Honesty requires atheists to tell the truth, not placate them, no more than doctors with patients." Controversy ensued.

Here's an accurate description of a faith based cult, per my friend Peter Bighossian

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Here's an accurate description of a faith based cult, per my friend Peter Bighossian's work. Watch up to the 3:15 mark. Listen up apologists, if this is not accurate description then what word would YOU use that best explains all of these similar examples that reject science based evidence?

All Christian Apologetics is Special Pleading!

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This is the claim I made in a chapter for my book, How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist. Whenever an apologist makes an exception for their own faith, that same exception can be claimed by another sect in the Christian household, or another religion. Whenever an apologist uses an argument for their faith, that same argument can be claimed by another sect in the Christian household, or another religion.

They say Christianity is unique. Aren't all religions? They say miracles are possible. Don't other religions say that? They say their deity answers prayers. Others claim the same thing. They say they have a subjective experience of their deity. Don't they all? They claim a personal miracle. So do others. They quote their scriptures (or inspired people) as an authority to settle disputes. Don't others? They claim the existence of objective morality shows their god exists. So do others, even ISIS! They claim there is solid evidence for what they believe over all other religions, yet it does not convince others who believe in the supernatural.

They treat their own religion as special, that it has truer truth, and a better history. But in reality they're just more familiar with their own religion. Period! They cannot see what they're doing. They take for granted their faith is the one true one out of the myriads of religions of the past, present and future. Then taking this as the real reason for their faith, they special plead it all the way to market. But by special pleading their case they allow other religious faiths to walk through the same door. It doesn't defend their religious faith from the myriads of others out there, which is arguing fallaciously. This shows how desperate apologists are to defend what cannot reasonably be defended, and why reasonable people cannot believe.

Jesus: Lost Forever in the Gospel Fog

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A review of David Chumney’s new book, Jesus Eclipsed
Christians are the huddled, persecuted masses, yearning to breathe free—or so they would have us believe. After all, in the last few years a lot of folks have been ganging up on them. Gay people who want wedding cakes come to mind, but, more seriously, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins scorched Christianity with their bestselling atheist books—and these turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg. And then, of all things, a few scholars grabbed headlines with the suggestion that Jesus might not even have existed; they have published substantial works to make their case that a real Jesus is, well, iffy. Yes or no? Well, are you ready for some homework?

Is Jesus Really the Answer?

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How many relevant questions can we ask where Jesus is not the answer? #1 How do you spell MY name?

Did the Pope Just Reveal the Secret to a Christian Mystery? By Robert Conner

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Did the Pope Just Reveal the Secret to a Christian Mystery?

Thanks to a recent circular letter to Catholic bishops, we may be a step closer to understanding a central Christian mystery, the resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ—the bigliest nonfake news to come down the pike in two millennia, a landmark revelation that marks an exciting new era in theological transparency that merits the attention of New Testament scholars worldwide.

"The Truth about God" by Franz Kiekeben, is a Good Book!

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The Truth about Godby Franz Kiekeben speaks simply yet intelligently to readers who want a good primer for understanding why atheists don't believe. He expertly introduces them to a range of important issues in an easily understandable manner, and that's not an easy task to do. As such, this book fills a very needed gap. It's not so technical that it loses the average reader, nor is it so simple that it becomes simplistic. Well done!

Originally from Portugal, Kiekeben studied philosophy at the University of South Florida (where he was awarded the Undergraduate Prize by the Florida Philosophical Association), and at the Ohio State University, where he then lectured for seven years. He has written for Skeptic Magazine, published academic articles on determinism and on time travel, and blogs on atheism and related subjects at www.franzkiekeben.com.

Quote of the Day, By Gary M: "Dead Men Stay Dead!"

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Brain-dead corpses do not come back to life and fly off into outer space. Once a brain cell is dead it stays dead. This is a scientific fact. The regeneration of dead human tissue is Christianity's core belief, therefore Christianity is false.

It's as simple as that.

There may be an intelligent Creator, but if he exists, he (she, they, or it) has decided that the universe will operate under certain inviolable "laws". One of those laws is that when human tissue dies it stays dead. Your Reanimation of a Dead First Century Jewish Preacher story is therefore false until overwhelming evidence indicates otherwise. Alleged eyewitness testimony of this science-defying claim is insufficient.

Christian Apologist Dr. Chad Meister Recommends My Book

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Chad Meister is my friend and an important apologist. Of my book, How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist, he wrote,
In this book Loftus provides some insightful criticisms of arguments by Christian thinkers, including those having to do with the problem of evil.
Dr. Meister is a Professor of Philosophy at Bethel College and author of numerous apologetical works, including, Evil: A Guide for the Perplexed, where this recommendation can be found.

A Classic American Takedown of Christianity

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…but Robert Ingersoll was up against 1,900 years of church momentum

Don Camp On How His God Has Foreknowledge. It's Because His God is Imaginary!

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I've challenged this unrepentant believer to read my magnum opus. He is, and he's commenting on it. He thinks of himself as equal to the task of answering my doubts and others here. Can he? He's reading my chapter on prophecy, where I ask how his god has the required foreknowledge to predict the future of human free willed agents with certainty. I examine four different models and Camp defends one. Here's Camp:
Theological. God decrees everything that happens, he can know the future of every human action, since humans don't have the freedom to do otherwise. "Such a theology creates atheists. It, more than anything else, is what motivates me to attempt to demolish the Christian faith." - Loftus

God is outside time. If God is outside of time he would have no problems predicting future human actions since human actions are not actually in the future. God would merely be seeing the present from his perspective. “We have on hand no acceptable concept of atemporal causation, i.e., of what it is for a timeless cause to produce a temporal effect.” - Davis. “If God is truly timeless,” Hasker says, “so that temporal determinations of ‘before’ and ‘after’ do not apply to him, then how can God act in time, as Scriptures say that he does? - Hasker

The Inferential View. On this view, God figures out from the range of options which choices we will make. "If the history of an empire or nation is already part of the divine plan, how can God hold the leaders, and indeed the peoples themselves, accountable for their actions?" then their thoughts and actions are so preordained as to render them devoid of free will. - Callahan. "How, for instance, can anyone living in the year 2000, God or otherwise, innately know what someone will do on January 1, 2050? So the bottom line for me is that if there is no known mechanism or reason given for how a God in time can foreknow future truly free human actions, then I have reasons to reject that God can foreknow such actions." - Loftus

The Innate View. On this view, God has innate comprehensive knowledge of the future. He just “sees it” because he is omniscient. But this isn't an explanation at all.

Noah's Ark: An Idea That Just Won't Float

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The Force Field that Protects REAL Christians

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Forget the Merit Badge. Go for the Spirit Shield 


Could we put please all Christians on a Bible-reading regimen? We can ask them to read each chapter of the Bible, then sign off on each one. That is, we’d like them to read each chapter carefully, very carefully, then check a few boxes: (1) Yes, I believe that this is the word of God; (2) Yes, I will let this chapter be a guide for my life; (3) Yes, I really believe this is the way the world works. They could be assured that their answers would remain confidential—to boost chances for honesty. At the end of this experiment, I predict that most of the chapters wouldn’t have checkmarks. There’s a reason that Mark Twain said, “The best cure for Christianity is reading the Bible,” and Hector Avalos is probably right that 99 percent of the Bible would not be missed. (“Why Biblical Studies Must End,” The End of Christianity, John Loftus, ed., p. 109)

Propping Up the New Testament’s Biggest Lie

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Christian Apologists Keep on Churning Out Flimflam

I have suggested, in a previous post here on 2 June 2017—that the story of Jesus ascending to heaven, i.e., floating up to exit Earth’s atmosphere—qualifies as the New Testament’s Biggest Lie. Anyone with the least shred of common sense, knowledge of a rotating, orbiting Earth, and any appreciation for the line between fact and fiction/fantasy, knows that no such thing happened. There are a lot of folks, however, for whom skepticism about received religious tradition never kicks in. Compare this with fantasies about Superman; a six-year old may be awed by the Superman comics/movies, but by age ten, chances are, healthy skepticism has kicked in. And from that age on, Superman is enjoyed—using the term of old friend of mine—as “good schoolboy adventure.” Great fun, Yes. History—well, of course not.

Christian Apologist Tom Gilson Tries But Fails to Defend his Faith

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I had a discussion about faith with Christian apologist Tom Gilson on Facebook. You need to read it. He blogs at Thinking Christian and edited the book True Reason. *cough* Our discussion began with a video and my initial salvo:



In the clip above forget about Mel Robbins's religiously charged language and whether talk of motivation is garbage. She hits it when she forcefully and eloquently says:

"The way that our minds are wired...is that we are not designed to do things that are uncomfortable or scary or difficult. Our brains are designed to protect us from those things because our brains are trying to keep us alive.....The way our minds are designed is to stop us at all costs from doing anything that might hurt us."

Robbins goes on to say we're just one decision away from having a new life! But our brains keep us from choosing it because it's uncomfortable scary or difficult. When we come upon a new life changing idea we hesitate. That's our brains keeping us from changing our lives.
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I think this is the number one reason why believers don't abandon their faith in light of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They are made comfortable with their myths in a society of believers who reinforce each other, especially when there's a hell to pay if they get it wrong. So because of our evolved brains atheists face a monumental uphill two-steps-forward-one-step-backward struggle. Belief is easy. Doubt is hard. Belief is still socially acceptable. Doubt could separate us from our loved ones.

I have a friend named Mark who attended a lecture I did about six months ago for the FreeThought Fort Wayne group we're a part of where I handed him a copy of my book, "The Outsider Test for Faith." Sheila saw him yesterday. They talked. She asked him if he has read it. He said he's picked it up a few times but got a "weird" feeling about it, so he put it down. That was his brain dong the talking. The reason he won't even read the book is because he doesn't want to doubt. That's because doubt is hard. If he ever decides to read it he'll probably do as another good friend of mine did, named Brenda. I handed her a copy of my magnum opus and she said this prayer every time she opened it: "Dear Lord, don't let me be deceived by what I read today." This was her brain doing the talking. It was keeping her closed-minded while she read it.

So I put it to you. Given this fact about our brains how can we come to know the truth about which religion is true, if there is one? Remember, our brains have a vested interest in keeping us away from the truth, if the truth is something we were not raised to believe. Taken together with another fact, the fact of religious diversity, we know most people, billions of them, have been raised to believe something false. I've proposed we should treat what we were raised to believe with doubt as agnostic outsiders, who require sufficient objective evidence before we accept any religion, or none at all. What's wrong with my proposal? What is the alternative? I'm serious. Be honest
Tom Gilson "overwhelming evidence to the contrary"? Sorry. No.
John W. Loftus: Tom, our brains will even keep us from seeing that there is "overwhelming evidence to the contrary." Clinical studies confirm this.

Dr. Richard Carrier: "The Rain Miracle of Marcus Aurelius: A Case Study in Christian Lies"

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ephemerol Comments On Religious Freedom In America

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"Religious freedom will be protected for decades to come."
ephemerol comments:
Since the freedom to practice your religion, at least to the extent that it does not impinge upon the freedom of others, is not now, nor has it ever been under threat, I think what you meant was, "Religious privilege will be protected for decades to come." Religious privilege to expressly impinge upon the freedom of others. Religious privilege to be intolerant and bigoted.

That may be. We shall see. However...
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Bigotry by Any Other Name Betrays a Similar Stench

The history of this nation is littered with countless instances of people committing reprehensible acts of injustice under the pretense of “living out their faith.”

Geoff Benson On Accomodationism and Context

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The quote to remember: "Accomodationism is simply a way of sneaking in special pleading by the back door."
I can't help but feel that you are mixing up context and accommodationism.

Lawremce Krauss, Stephen Hawking, or Richard Dawkins, are experts in fields that are pretty well totally inaccessible to ordinary people. That they can actually find a level of understanding in quantum physics, or gravitational waves, or speciation, is an amazing testament to the levels to which humanity has risen. All of these scientists, however, make attempts to communicate their knowledge to ordinary folks, such as me, and although I don't pretend to understand anything like all of it I get the general idea, and can talk quantum fluctuations in any pub discussion.

The point is that scientists such as these communicate by identifying their audience, by writing in context. Were they to write their popular science books at a technical level nobody would buy them, and there'd be no point to them; and vice versa. No accommodationism, only context.

It's the same with philosophy, though it is a generally more accessible subject than traditional science. Great philosophers of the past resonate in the present, even those who perhaps have fallen from favour; Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Bertrand Russell, Immanuel Kant, all names that are relevant today. How about Plato and Socrates? All have things to say that are relevant today, even though much of what they believed has been found to be wrong (and I'd guess that all were sufficiently wise to know this was likely). All must be taken in context, and where they are wrong we call it out as wrong.

Yet somehow you expect the bible to be regarded differently. If the bible says something that is plainly wrong then that's just because if God had presented the truth nobody would have understood it? Yet God knew that one day people would know he was lying? Basically this makes God a very bad communicator. After all, he didn't need to go into the details of quantum physics, he could just have said that what we see is made up of lots of tiny things we can't even see, or at least give us some helpful hints; and no, the Ten Commandments don't come close! How about 'always wash your hands after using the toilet' or 'store food in a cool place'?

Accomodationism is simply a way of sneaking in special pleading by the back door.

Quote of the Day by Mattapult

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People do evil things in the name of God. Does God have a moral obligation to stop people from doing evil things in the name of God? None of the regular apologists here have tackled this question. -- Mattapult

The Accommodation Theory of the Bible

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Today I was called an “idiot” and a “moron” for arguing that God should've told human beings a few things he didn't do, especially when it comes to the ancient superstitious problem for modern Christians about the evil eye. He said, “If you were this ignorant in the pulpit then I really feel sorry for your former congregation.” Am I an idiot? Let me respond.

Christians Don't Believe Their Own Bible, The Key Question Revealed.

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Christians don't believe their own Bible. If they did they would agree with these Flat Earth Society idiots who claim they have "members all around the globe."

--Kyle Huitt: Wait, what makes you think that the Bible asserts the factual claim that the earth is flat, John?
--John W. Loftus: Kyle, what makes you interpret the Bible based on modern science rather than according to the times it was written? This is the key question.
--Kyle: John how can you question my interpretation when you haven't even brought up a passage that we are interpreting?
--John: Kyle, being disingenuous, eh? Typical Christian. I made an assertion about what the Bible says. Do you deny it or not?

--Kyle: I'm inviting you to support your assertion by asking a simple question. I haven't even implied you're wrong. I just want to know why you think what you do.
--John: Kyle, you said, and I quote: "how can you question my interpretation"? So, you deny it? Why? You tell me.
--John: Why don't you do what scholars should do with an ancient text of any kind? Listen to Jon D. Levenson, Professor at Harvard Divinity School in the Department of Near Eastern Studies and Civilizations, who offered a great definition of what scholars do. They “are prepared to interpret the text against their own preferences and traditions, in the interest of intellectual honesty.” See page 3 of his book "The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son." Your preference is to see the Bible as the Word of God rather than interpreting the Biblical texts honesty in their historical context as a part of Mesopotamian beliefs. We must discuss this before we look at the texts.

Below is a good depiction of what ancient Mesopotamian people believed, along with our final comments. For a detailed analysis see Edward Babinski's chapter 5 in my anthology, The Christian Delusion.

Quote of the Day By Mattapult, On Gaps to Gods Arguments

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I've been thinking a lot about god-of-the-gaps and method.

Science has a lot of tools as part if its method: modeling, hypothesis, falsifiability, null hypothesis, testing, peer review, and so on. We've learned over the centuries, that these are the best methods to prevent ourselves from fooling ourselves. The standard of proof in science is fairly high, and even then, we often call the findings "provisionally true".

A god-of-the-gaps argument starts with the assumption that the best methods have failed; that no matter how hard we've tried to reach the standard of proof required, it is impossible to reach the standard of proof.

So let's punt to Authority and Revelation.

The CEO of Google is probably a pretty good authority on the next product Google will produce. But if he claims to knows what dark matter is, then we should demand evidence as expected of any scientist.

By the same standard, if you have a hypothesis of "God", then by all means, follow the same standards of science to test and validate your claims. You don't get a free pass based on authority to get around the level of proof. Model your god, hypothesize, test, and peer review. Oh, and please have at least one Hindu, Muslim, Jew, and Christian on the peer review panel.

What of the "method" of revelation? Revelation is nothing more than intuition, guesses, dreams, or the output of any other creative process. The number of revelations throughout time are uncountable, people had revelations ranging from where th eir lost car keys are to when it's right to start a war. How many of those are truly a divine inspiration? Answer: model, hypothesis, test, and peer review. It's important to set your pass/fail criteria in advance--another lesson from science.

For the sake of example, let's say there is a divinely inspired revelation out there somewhere. How do you know which one it is? There is no method to find it or identify it. Perhaps ask an authority, but that just substitutes one failed method for another.

God-of-the-gaps will never be a valid argument because there is no method to fall back on when the best methods have failed.

Dr. David Madison on the ignorance of Christians

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No matter what denomination or creed, there is indeed massive ignorance about Christian origins and the Bible. You can ask 100 believers, “What is your opinion about the turmoil in Jesus studies during the last half-century?” and 99 will give you a blank stare: “What turmoil?” They have no idea. They are unaware—and just as happy to be in the dark. I can easily pick out at least 10 quotes attributed to Jesus (and 10 for Paul as well) that Christians would find incredibly stupid or horrifying: it is their ignorance of their own faith that is truly a scandal. John W. Loftus is not exaggerating when he speaks of the "epidemic of ignorant believers."

My Blurb for David Silverman's Book "Fighting God"

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The paperback of David Silverman's book, Fighting God: An Atheist Manifesto for a Religious World, is coming out in August and he asked me for a promotional blurb to help launch it. Here 'tis:
Silverman's manifesto is a needed approach given a world with an epidemic of ignorant believers--and they're all ignorant--who are infected with the God virus so much they feel certain their God wants them to be cruel, misogynistic, gay bashing, racist, warmongering theocratic bigots. This is not a God we can placate or accommodate. It's all out war--a war of ideas, arguments, litigation and persuasion--for truth, humanity and the planet. If you love all that's good you too must fight this fight. God must die if we are to live.
John W. Loftus, Editor of Christianity is Not Great: How Faith Fails.

I'm Now the Senior Editor of the "Secular Nation" Magazine

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I'm the new Executive/Senior Editor of the Secular Nation, the magazine of Atheist Alliance of America. LINK. Yep, I'm pumped! We offer a print and a digital version. As with everything I set out to do, I aim to do this well.

Quote of the Day on the Resurrection of Jesus, By JP415

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;-) Any questions?

Quote of the Day On Gaps To Gods Arguments, by im-skeptical

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There are gap arguments because there is science. If there is no science, there are no gaps in our scientific understanding.

If God made the world, he made it completely consistent with naturalism. That's why science works, and that's why we are naturalists. And it's why all the evidence we ever see is consistent with naturalism - and we don't expect to ever see anything that is not consistent with naturalism. There has never been a single exception to this. EVER. (your mythical stories notwithstanding).

God could have made a world where naturalistic science does not work. Maybe we could actually witness things like rotting corpses rising from the dead, and we'd have no science to tell us that couldn't happen, because it does happen. It would then be reasonable to seek some other explanation for what we observe, which might be some supernatural entity (especially if we observe that such entities exist). That's not what I call God of the gaps. It's simply a matter of inferring the best explanation for observed evidence.