Stealing from God: Turek’s Case for Christianity

0 comments

Having established the truth of theism to his satisfaction, Turek next attempts to demonstrate the truth of the Christian religion. He thinks this can be done provided one shows that the answer to four questions — “Does truth exist?”, “Does God exist?”, “Are miracles possible?” and “Is the New Testament historically reliable?” — is yes. And he believes he’s already accomplished the task with regard to the first two. Nevertheless, he summarizes his argument up to this point in the book, which gives him the opportunity to introduce further mistakes. For example, in his defense of objective truth, he makes several false statements, such as that “Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote a five-hundred-page book filled with talk about God to tell us that all talk about God is meaningless.” (Note to Turek: It is not a good idea to present falsehoods whenever making a case for truth.)

Escaping the Spooky Christian Spy God

0 comments

A Review of Drew Bekius’ book, The Rise and Fall of Faith

I was a lucky teenage Christian, way back in the 1950s, in rural northern Indiana. I was one of three brothers, and our devout Methodist mother bequeathed us her faith. It was never an option not to go to church on Sundays. We said grace before meals and read the Bible. But there was never anything extreme or heavy-handed about this, so I was lucky.

We never know as much about our parents as we would like, so it’s a mystery to me that my mother, born in 1905 in southern Indiana, never drifted into fundamentalism. Moreover, she had great distaste for evangelicalism. Although she never went to college, she had made a great effort to expand her horizons; she was a voracious reader, especially biography and history. Even our minister was surprised when she purchased the 12-Volume Interpreter’s Bible, a product, for the most part, of liberal Protestant scholarship. She wanted to study the Bible, and I too dived right into those books.

Quote of the Day By Wanderin Weeta, On Christians Not Really Believing

0 comments
They don't believe. They don't believe in heaven, or they wouldn't be so afraid to die. They don't believe in hell, at least for themselves and their families, or they would never sleep at night. They don't believe in the "rapture", or they would live every moment as if it were their last. They don't believe in Jesus, or they would at least try to follow his instructions. They don't believe the Bible is the word of God, or they would read it and memorize it. And obey its teachings. They don't believe in eternal life, or they wouldn't be so focused on this short time on earth. They only believe what the pastor told them yesterday; but by tomorrow, they've forgotten anything that applies to them, and remember only the things that blame other people for things they don't like.

Most All Christians Do Not Believe!

0 comments
In a post on Facebook I wrote:
Most all Christians believe the Bible is the word of their god. But they don't read it, and can't quote anything more than a popular verse or two. Listen up, they don't really believe it's the word of their god! They can't! How is it possible to have direct communication from god and not read it often, systematically and to memorize large parts of it? I submit to you they are in denial about this. Which means they are in denial about their faith as a whole, most all of them!
I was told polls show that many evangelicals read the Bible through one time (who trusts what liars for Jesus say, anyway?). But if these evangelicals are satisfied with just one reading of the Bible, they are merely curiosity seekers, not true believers. Some Christians will say they agree with me. One pastor friend of a church I served, back when I was his youth minister and he was a child, is using what I wrote as the topic of next Sunday's sermon! But this agreement means unbelief in his very own church--the one I served--is very high! Eric Gorall said in response: "If I "knew" this was the 'Word of God', and convinced it forms the basis of all reality for me... I'd memorize EVERY WORD, every phrase, every verse, of Every book."

Can Christianity Be Blamed for the Holocaust? Round 2

0 comments

Beware of simply explanations and apologist evasions
We all remember the Apostles’ Creed—a list of things you’re supposed to believe, recited every Sunday—but there also seems to be an Apologists’ Creed. Actually it’s more of a loyalty oath: “I will never not believe the fundamentals of my faith. I will never shirk my duty to defend it.” And they work so darn hard at it. The Apologists Guild manages to recruit those whose minds can’t be unlocked.

Hence it was no surprise that the apologists who commonly troll this blog showed up to make sure that Christianity didn’t get take too much of a hit in my recent article about Christianity and the Holocaust. In fact, I did include the anti-Semitic tradition in Western Christendom as one of five possible factors that led to the Holocaust.

Stealing from God: Science

0 comments

The idea that the mind is somehow independent of the natural order is, as I’ve previously mentioned, at the root of all theistic thought. In most cases, this is something that appears to be assumed subconsciously. Turek, however, states it explicitly when he claims that there are two types of cause: “natural and nonnatural (i.e., intelligent).” This is already bad enough. After all, why think that minds aren’t natural entities? But what he then does with this nonsensical claim is far worse: he uses it to make a truly absurd argument against methodological naturalism.

Turek reasons that, since atheists accept methodological naturalism — and thus only believe in natural causes — they have no way of accounting for the existence of anything that is the result of intelligence. After all, intelligence isn’t natural, so how could they? It follows that on the atheist’s view, “geologists would have to conclude that natural forces (not intelligent sculptors) caused the faces on Mt. Rushmore,” and “detectives would have to conclude that Ron [Goldman] and Nicole [Brown Simpson] were not actually murdered, but died by some natural means.”

Debate God: Does Animal Suffering Undermine the existence of God ? Christian vs Atheist debate

0 comments
A debate between John Ferrer and youtuber Skydivephil about whether the millions of years of animal suffering undermines the existence of the Christian and similar omni (all powerful, all loving etc) God's.

New Book: “What Can You Believe If You Don’t Believe in God?" by Michael Werner

0 comments
                                               By Michael Werner                                              $16
This book is intended to help you live your life, and to shed some light on your own values and ethics, if you don’t believe in God. More than just a primer on Humanism, but not quite a full-blown treatise on philosophy, it offers some answers to those crucial questions Socrates asked: What is true? And how shall we live our lives? Those of us who don’t believe in the supernatural sometimes struggle to understand how we can ground ourselves ethically, and how to find truth, meaning, purpose and joy. This book offers ideas about how to know, without depending on Holy Scriptures or guidance from a deity, what it means to lead a good and ethical life.
Reviews:

Dumb Things Christians Say, Another Installment

0 comments

Critical thinking isn’t taught at Sunday School
A devout Christian whom I know is a public school teacher, and she is proud that she became a lay catechist in her church; she is fiercely devoted to her faith. We have engaged in a bit of sparring about my atheism, and I recommended that she read a couple of books by Bart Ehrman—to get an idea of what’s going on in New Testament studies. She scowled…and informed me that she doesn’t read books—in fact, never has. [I’m still trying to process this bit of too-much-information: a school teacher who doesn’t read books.] She even made it through college without doing so. “I just kept very careful notes in class,” she said. I wasn’t sure if she was boasting or confessing.

"Atheism Was Not the Reason Hitler Killed So Many People" by Dr. Hector Avalos from The Christian Delusion

0 comments
I've been thinking about posting whole chapters of my books. At Dr. Avalos's suggestion here's one of them from The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails, edited by John W. Loftus (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2010), pp. 368-95, used with permission. No reproduction of this chapter is permitted outside of this post under copyright laws. You may reasonably quote from it and link to it though.

This is an extended chapter of what you'll find in Avalos's book, Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence. At the present time Avalos is doing a revision of that book, which will almost certainly update the chapter you're about to read, so look for it.

Avalos explains why atheism was not the cause of the Holocaust, especially dealing with the arguments of Dinesh D'Souza, and including other apologetic attempts to distance Christianity from the Holocaust. If you love this chapter as I do, there are many others in my anthology you'll love as well.

"Leading Experts on Christian Apologetics Recommend 'Unreasonable Faith'” A Book Length Critique of William Lane Craig's Apologetics

0 comments
The headline in quotes above is from David G. McAfee's post, to be read here. We are recommending a full book length critique of William Lane Craig's apologetics by James Fodor. I was so happy to be asked by editor David G. McAfee to write a recommendation of it. My full blurb is this:
As a former student of William Lane Craig, graduating under him at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 1985 with a ThM in the Philosophy of Religion, I heartily endorse Fodor’s well-researched and excellently argued book length critique of his apologetics. It's surprising that apologists like Craig need rebutted after David Hume, Charles Darwin, and David Friedrich Strauss, but if you’re still not convinced and only want to buy one book, then get this one!

--John W. Loftus, author/editor of ten works, including Why I Became an Atheist, The Christian Delusion, The Outsider Test for Faith, Christianity is Not Great, Christianity in the Light of Science, and How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist.

"Follow the Money" Michael Alter and Matthew Ferguson On Apologetics

0 comments
On this blog and especially in my book How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist, I have defended several claims regarding Christian apologetics, such as: 1) Honest Evangelical Scholarship is a Ruse. There is No Such Thing!; and 2) All apologetics is special pleading (see my book). Then there's the money problem. Other writers here have mentioned the money, like Robert Conner, who wrote a piece called, EVANGELICAL BAD FAITH V: FOLLOW THE MONEY, and former DC team member Harry McCall, who lamented The Disappearing Atheist Who Holds a Degree in Religion due to the outrageous costs, and hence, financially forbidden to earn the degrees necessary to be taken seriously by our counter-parts.

Here's a recent link to an extremely helpful breakdown of the money problem, first written by Michael Alter, author of the fantastic book, The Resurrection: A Critical Inquiry, then commented on by Matthew Ferguson, a doctoral candidate in Classics at the University of California, Irvine: Follow the Money. They know the problem well. Michael Alter, because he must fund his own research, and Matthew Ferguson, because for an atheist scholar to be gainfully employed in his field (and be able to pay off his educational loans) isn't too promising, compared to others who are believers. This is good, really good. I especially like Ferguson's comment under the essay itself, from which I'll quote below:

All Black Hats Aren't Equal

0 comments
I live in Amish country. The other day, my husband and I were in our car directly behind not one but two Amish buggies. So, I took a photo, several actually, and sent them to my sister. I was pretty certain that the two old men sitting in the back of the buggy would trigger a response from her. Why? Because they looked a lot like our dad and the other men in the church where my sis and I grew up. 

Can Christianity Be Blamed for the Holocaust?

0 comments

Beware of simple explanations


The oldest surviving manuscript fragment of the New Testament is the Rylands Library Papyrus P52, which is on permanent display in Manchester, England. This scrap of scripture is about the size of a credit card, contains a few verses of chapter 18 of John’s gospel, and is commonly dated to the second century.

When I first heard about this, years ago, I thought, “What a bummer…it had to be from the worst gospel.” Christians so commonly swoon over John’s gospel because of its drumbeat promise of eternal life, so they don’t seem to notice some of its evil messages. In chapter 8, for example, Jesus is in conversation with Jews in the Temple complex. This is the ‘loving’ Jesus, according to John (vv. 42-47):

Religion Photos as an Outsider

0 comments
Here are some religion photos of the week. Who's to say if you were raised differently you would believe what they do? So the best way to overcome your own indoctrination is to treat your inherited religious faith to the test of an outsider. There isn't any better alternative. LINK.

The Unholy Alliance of Gods and Countries

0 comments
America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. Sounds like a song. Oh, wait a minute, it is a song. And, patriots everywhere in this exceptional country sing it, stand for it and well up inside whenever they hear it. Patriotism, a manufactured cultural response to wherever a human is born, still rings loud and clear in most countries. I've never been anywhere in the world that lacked love for country, and I've been lots and lots of places. The commitment to a birth place is always flagrant and obvious. So much so that mothers and fathers are willing to sacrifice the lives of their children for this random membership within an imaginary border. Yet, none of us got to choose a country. We simply exited our mother's womb to encounter the cold world on the outside without any say in the matter at all.   

Stealing from God: Evil

0 comments

In chapter five, Turek repeats some of the points he made on morality. Nonbelievers are being inconsistent, he says, when they complain about evil, since on the atheist view there is no evil. His argument for the latter is simple, and can be restated this way:
1. Evil only exists as a lack of something – it is a deficiency of good.
2. So evil only exists if good exists.
3. But good only exists if God exists.
4. Therefore, evil only exists if God does.

I’ve already criticized the third premise a couple of posts back. The other premise this argument depends on is the first one. But this premise Turek simply asserts. Like many theists, he seems to think it’s just obvious. I personally don’t think it is obvious at all — and certainly not any more so than the opposite claim, that good is the lack of evil.

Ancient Superstitions at the Heart of Christianity

0 comments

A Review of Robert Conner’s book, Apparitions of Jesus: The Resurrection as Ghost Story

There are a lot of clergy these days who have escaped from the church and lived to tell the tale. Drew Bekius captures the feeling of so many of us: “Trying to make sense of what doesn’t make sense will make you crazy.” Of course, some folks detect the nonsense early on and walk away. At a young age George Carlin knew enough to get out: “This is a wonderful fairy tale they have going here, but it's not for me.”

But, good grief, what does it take to get people—especially those lost inside Christianity—to see that it is a grim fairy tale? They aren’t bothered by the crazy. Father Andrew Greeley, in a 1994 New York Times article, suggested that Catholics stay with the church because of the stories. There’s probably been slippage since 1994 because of the child rape scandals, but the Christian stories have undeniable appeal. Well, some of them. The church has had to finesse the brutal human sacrifice at the core of the faith.

The Bible is Not a Friend to Immigrants

0 comments
I have published a new essay in the Bible & Interpretation website about religionist biblical scholars who are commenting on the family separation crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. Here is the abstract:

In commenting on the current family separation disaster that is occurring at our borders, biblical scholars mostly have perpetuated a benign view of the Bible’s stance on immigration. The Bible, as commonly defined by Jews or Christians, presents far more complex and contradictory views of immigrants that range from acceptance to genocide. Jesus, as portrayed in the Gospels, offers morally contradictory views on children and immigrants. Using the Bible to support a liberal or conservative Jewish or Christian position also perpetuates a form of textual imperialism that still retains the Bible’s place as a moral authority today. That approach will not help oppressed immigrants in the long term.



Dr. Ralph Lewis, "Finding Purpose in a Godless World: Why We Care Even If the Universe Doesn't"

0 comments
This definitive book by Dr. Lewis is a must have one! I wrote a blurb for it:
The question of life’s purpose is probably the main reason believers cannot bring themselves to reevaluate and reject the antiquated religions they’ve been indoctrinated to believe. Prompted by a personal crisis, Dr. Lewis has written a definitive answer to this question, one that I hope gains a substantial audience. LINK




The Cartoon History of Humanism, By Dale DeBakcsy

0 comments
I wrote this blurb two years ago. Get this book! It's seriously good!
From Arnold of Brescia, the man so important you've never heard of him, to Denis Diderot's book, Jacques the Fatalist and His Master--which changed the entire direction of the author's life--this cartoon history of humanism is pure creative genius. DeBakcsy has produced a delightful textbook case in creativity, containing superior research expressed in a concentrated engaging style, with cute cartoons at no extra expense! If readers don't learn something on every page I would be surprised. My only disappointment is I'll have to wait for Volume Two to read more.
LINK.

"We Are Atheists" Live Call-in Show, Episode E1S2

0 comments
Your co-hosts are John Loftus and Calyb Tittman. [There's a minute time gap at the beginning].



To keep from missing a show join our Facebook page.

A Debate With Kent Hovind On "We Are Atheists"

0 comments
"We Are Atheists" is a TV show out of Fort Wayne, Indiana, of which I co-host with Calyb Tittman, the one responsible for putting it together. Our very first show was a debate with biblical creationist Kent Hovind. Yes, THAT guy! Enjoy. I think we did well, very well!

I had expected Christopher Rex to present the over-all case for evolution, but he chose instead to poke holes in Hovind's case, which he did well. This forced me to speak on the scientific issues when I had expected to focus on the biblical issues. Due to logistics errors with it being our first show, the time was cut short, so it wasn't long enough to boot. See what you think.

Don’t Be Fooled by ‘Processed’ Scripture: Those Damned Red Letters

0 comments

The Bible as ‘Word of God’—Fatal Flaw Number 5 (of 5)
I retain an iconic image from my distant youth, that of Billy Graham standing at his TV pulpit, waving the Bible above his head. It’s actually a neat summation of Protestantism: preaching from the Bible. Even if unofficially, preaching ranks as one of the sacraments for those who broke from the Roman church, and the Bible is the primary talisman.

Billy had faced a bit of a struggle himself, especially when his preaching pal, Charles Templeton, gave up on Christianity. But Billy couldn’t give up on the Bible:

Only in America?

0 comments
If you've never been to Spain and you like to travel, put it on your bucket list. I've been returning to Spain for twelve years, often staying for my 90-day limit on my passport. There are loads of reasons why I fell in love with Spain, but one that I often fail to remember is that like much of Europe, Spain is far more secular than the US. That's no small accomplishment considering their crushing history with the Catholic church.

Bayes Theorem Is a Math Equation, So Math Must Be Used!

0 comments
Let's talk about Bayes Theorem one last, and I mean last, last time (until later). I've seen a lot of tribalism on this issue. If you like a person who disagrees with me, you'll tend to agree with him. If instead you like me, you'll tend to agree with me. But if people truly want to think for themselves rather than align with a tribe, just honestly consider this post. Keep in mind I am not objecting to Bayes Theorem. It's the best way to figure out what is probable when there is data to work from. Here is a really good explanation of it, complete with a video.

But what about unique Christian miracle claims? Let's consider the belief that a virgin birthed god incarnate in the ancient world. If it happened *cough* it's a unique miraculous historical event (on Christian grounds). It's a good example since many other Christian miracles are unique to Christianity. To get Bayes rolling one must suggest a mathematical number representing the prior probability of such a miracle taking place. Without picking a specific number based on bonafide previous data as the prior probability, Bayes cannot get off the ground.

Social Evolution Exposes Religion for What It Really Is

0 comments
The #MeToo movement apparently is making its presence felt in Southern Baptist churches. This isn't the first time that secular social movements have tried to knock down the doors of cultural convention. Religion is just another culturally crafted expectation designed at least in part to keep people under the crushing rule of churches. 

The Catholic Church and its horrendous treatment of children and women as well as its impact upon the lives of poor people by denying them the right to birth control has long been under the radar. Their crimes, lack of moral ethics and coercive practices are no longer a secret. Recently, the weary people of Ireland voted against the ban on abortion, continuing to strip away the once  unquestionable power of a religious institution that has caused much pain and suffering. People who become a catholic these days are choosing to walk into this den of iniquity with eyes wide open, supporting an institution that is steeped in archaic darkness. 

The ‘Good Book’ Has Never Lived Up to the Hype

0 comments

The Bible as ‘Word of God”: Fatal Flaw Number 4 (of 5)

If only the Bible had produced the best possible results in this best of all possible worlds. We’re stumped that the deity who gave us this thousand-page book didn’t foresee some of the consequences. By some measures, of course, the Bible has been a big success; in terms of sales it ranks pretty high—supposedly the best seller of all time. And billions of copies have been handed out by Christian zealots. ‘Holy Bible’ is commonly printed on the cover, but does widespread veneration mean that it has been successful as a moral guide? Of course we can acknowledge the many positive outcomes of people following its best teachings. But that’s not the whole story by any means.

My Major Objection With Bayes Theorem

0 comments
I've written a lot about Bayes Theorem, where I've laid out some of its problems. [See TAG below]. The major objection I have with believers who use Bayes Theorem to evaluate ancient miracle claims of faith, is that by doing so it disingenuously gives them the appearance of proving these miracles to be true, since after all, the math shows it, stupid! This is how William Lane Craig used it in his March 2006 debate on the resurrection of Jesus with Bart Ehrman, saying,
In calculating the probability of Jesus’ resurrection, the only factor he (Ehrman) considers is the intrinsic probability of the resurrection alone [Pr(R/B)]. He just ignores all of the other factors. And that’s just mathematically fallacious. The probability of the resurrection could still be very high even though the Pr(R/B) alone is terribly low. Specifically, Dr. Ehrman just ignores the crucial factors of the probability of the naturalistic alternatives to the resurrection. [Transcript PDF, page 16]
Who can argue against the math, right? Ehrman had a bit of difficulty but he still did well in that debate.

Stealing from God: Morality, Part 2

0 comments

As expected, Turek criticizes atheists for expressing moral opinions, for on his view that’s inconsistent with atheism. If without God there can be no objective morality, then on what basis do atheists condemn wrongs? Unless, of course, they are once again "stealing from God."