Book Review of John Loftus' The Case Against Miracles

Christianity: Ten Knockout Punches, Number 8


Christianity is a cult of human sacrifice

How do you explain torture to children? Author Phil Zuckerman faced this challenge on a day that was supposed to be a pleasant family outing:

“Our older daughter had a school assignment to visit a California mission. Built by the Catholics in the 1700s and 1800s, the California missions are a vital part of California history. And so we were excited to take our daughters to check one out, about 20 miles from our home. “And the mission was lovely: beautiful landscaping, old buildings, indigenous flowers, a trickling fountain. And then we walked into a large hall—and that’s when my younger daughter lost it. The space was full of crucified Jesuses. Every wall, from floor to ceiling, was adorned with wooden and plaster sculptures of Jesus on the cross: bloody, cut, and crying in pain. Some were very life-like, others more impressionistic. But all exhibited a tortured man in agony. My daughter had no context to understand it; she had no idea what Christianity was all about and had never been exposed to this most famous killing in history. She just saw what it objectively was: a large torture chamber. And she burst into tears and ran out.

It's the End of the World, Again


"In around 2020, a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe, attacking the lungs and the bronchial tubes and resisting all known treatments."

Those are the words of psychic Sylvia Browne in her 2008 book End of Days: Predictions and Prophecies about the End of the World, which rose to the number two position on Amazon's non-fiction chart after Kim Kardashian tweeted about this. For the naive, the accuracy of Browne's prediction seems impressive. But of course it really isn't.

To begin with, the fact that she stated something that turned out more-or-less right is easy to explain: That there will be a widespread virus, and that it will cause “pneumonia-like” symptoms (why not simply “pneumonia”?) are both fairly safe guesses as to what could happen in a given year — even though one is of course still likely to be wrong when making such a prediction. In this case, Browne just got lucky. But she also made far more incorrect than correct predictions. Kardashian's tweet includes the above picture of the relevant page in Browne's book, and there one can also read that another epidemic would take place in 2010, this one involving a flesh-eating disease transmitted by mites that came from exotic birds. You probably don't remember that epidemic, since it never happened.

Did Particle Physics Just Disprove the Physical Resurrection of Jesus Christ?

What you’re about to read may very well be the biggest game changer in the history of discussions on the resurrection of Jesus. In fact, what you’re about to read is likely going to change the way theologians, scientists, apologists, and philosophers view the probability that any corpse, at any point in history, revivified back to life.

Excerpt From "Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End"

I've decided to provide excerpts from my works for consideration. Here's one from Unapologetic, "Chapter 4: Case Studies in Atheistic Philosophy of Religion."

In Defense of the New Atheists

My specialties are theology, philosophical theology and especially apologetics. I am an expert on these subjects even though it’s very hard to have a good grasp of them all. Now it’s one thing for theologically unsophisticated intellectuals like Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and Stenger to argue against religion. It’s quite another thing for a theologically sophisticated intellectual like myself to defend them by saying they are within their epistemic rights to denounce religion from their perspectives. And I do. I can admit they lack the sophistication to understand and respond point for point to sophisticated theology. But it doesn’t matter. The reason is because all sophisticated theology is based in faith: faith in the Bible--or Koran or Bhagavad Gita--as the word of God, and/or faith in the Nicene creed (or other creeds), and/or faith in a church, synagogue or temple. No amount of sophistication changes this.

A Pandemic of Delusional Thinking


Christianity’s debt to magical imagination

When did belief in God begin to lose its footing? Realities on Planet Earth can deliver devastating blows—perhaps none greater that the Black Plague that killed one-quarter to one-third of the population between India and England; each death was grotesque, horrific. Barbara Tuchman made this observation—one of her ringing classic statements—in her 1978 book, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century.

Now is a Good Time to Read My Latest Anthology, Yes?

Why don't you read some books while staying home during the next few weeks and months? Here is one suggestion, my latest anthology!

It's very gratifying to hear the recommendations of this new work titled, The Case against Miracles. Like almost every single book of mine it's highly recommended by thinkers and scholars on BOTH SIDES of our debates!

Of it, famed Christian apologist Dr. Gary Habermas said:
Christians need be aware of what non-Christian scholars are saying. In this thoughtful and stimulating volume, editor John Loftus brings together a number of the most accomplished atheists and other skeptics to deal with the crucial topic of miracles, an issue that is important on all sides.
Catholic apologist Trent Horn, author of nine books including Answering Atheism, said:
While some entries are stronger than others, The Case Against Miracles represents a powerful critique of the miraculous. Its central arguments demand the attention of any serious defender of the Christian faith.
Dr. David Madison said:
The previous four Loftus anthologies have left little of Christianity intact. Of course, apologists continue to flail, but the case against miracles—so massively documented in this new 562-page book—wipes out all vestiges of this primitive, magical thinking.
Dr. Peter Boghossian just wrote this additional comment on Twitter:

Two Bible Chapters Collide Head-on


Where were the fact checkers?

The concept—the excuse—that “these are holy writings” diverts attention from the haphazard way in which the New Testament was put together. Let’s imagine Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John sitting together in a bar, awaiting news about which of their gospels will be selected for the Bible. They don’t especially like each other, and wrote their gospels because they also didn’t like the way the others told the Jesus story. Matthew wanted to correct Mark; Luke freely changed what he found in both, and John—well, John, was sure the others had it all wrong.

Yay! Bernie Sanders Isn't Giving Up, and For Good Reason!

Both the political establishment and the billionaire class that backs them want Sanders to quit. Why should he? Now it's down to two candidates, and my bet is that Sanders will destroy Biden in their debate on Sunday March 15th. Here's a preview:

This debate takes place at an important crossroads, where the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic meets a country that doesn't have universal healthcare coverage. Professor Robert Polin provides an excellent commentary on it starting at the 2:05 mark. Polin ends with some very strong words.

Keep in mind that 20 Top Economists Endorse Medicare for All as Best Plan to Cut Costs, Save Tens of Thousands of Lives Each Year. Key Quote: "By eliminating insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, and lowering overall healthcare costs, Medicare for All will result in enormous savings for almost all households, all except the richest households who will pay more in taxes."

Plus, don't forget the existential threat of climate change. Here is the evidence and why it's troublesome! Given that it has been one of Sanders main platforms, and that Biden's record is sketchy, Sanders is the one we can really trust to push for change.

Bernie's Plan, How To Make the Rich Pay, And Trump's Pledge

We bailed out foolish banks and their rich investors in 2008-09 to the tune of 700 billion dollars. Records show they spent some of that money foolishly with bonuses to the CEO's, without helping many of the people stuck with home loans that were higher than the cost of their houses.

Isn't it time we bail out the working poor from student loans and forbidding high healthcare costs? We can. Take a look at Bernie's plan. He shows how it can be paid. People say the rich can avoid paying taxes. Not so. We can make the rich pay more in taxes.

It's about time the filthy rich should pay back to those of us who helped make them rich!! It's about time we bypass the political establishment who has been complicit in their heist. Let's stop the madness. Let's stop justifying the madness to our own peril. It is time for a revolution.

Do you see how the democratic party and former presidential hopefuls are lining up behind Biden? Rebel against them. They are part of the problem! If you disagree, who's going to force the rich pay a fair wage to their employees, one where no one working 40 hours a week fails to earn enough to afford decent housing, or go to college, or pay for their healthcare? If they don't do it voluntarily they should be taxed into doing it because it's right. It's inhumane not to do so. Better yet, make several of these things free for the American people.

If you're dismissive of these realities, please acknowledge that we need the workers who will accept poverty wages for many needed jobs, and why this is not the society you wish to live in!!! It's not the kind of society I want to live in, no matter how much money I make, because I care. Contrast this with what Trump is planning. He has pledged to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid if reelected:
"Yesterday, when asked about the growing national debt, Trump pledged to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid if reelected. This has been his plan from the start: 1) Pass massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations by claiming they'd pay for themselves. 2) Explode the deficit and send the national debt skyrocketing. 3) Demand cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid."

"At this point, Trump and his enablers aren't even trying to hide their plans anymore. For decades, Republicans in Washington have had their eyes on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. If Trump is reelected, they'll finally get their wish. We must all come together to stop them." LINK.

Karl Marx On The Relationship Between Religion and Economic Inequality

Religion and economic inequality exist together. Where you find one you find the other in a modern industrial society. The working class needs religion whenever inequality prevails. The wealthy class of people need religion to pacify the working poor.

This symbiotic relationship is so intertwined the working poor will even justify their economic inequality, and do so because of their religion. This keeps them all happy until someone asks if there's a better way.

While Marx was unduly optimistic and while his views were unduly co-opted by Lenin, what he says is important and true. For more, see Austin Cline's entry, Religion as Opium of the People: Karl Marx's View on Religion and Economics.

Christianity: 10 Knockout Punches, Number 7


The embarrassingly bad resurrection tale

It’s rare for religions to come up with new ideas, and Christianity especially did a good job of borrowing, adapting, and recasting. One of the oldest ideas is that gods have a habit of coming alive again. In fact, early humans explained the arrival of spring in just this way:

“A vegetation deity is a nature deity whose disappearance and reappearance, or life, death and rebirth, embodies the growth cycle of plants. In nature worship, the deity can be a god or goddess with the ability to regenerate itself. A vegetation deity is often a fertility deity. The deity typically undergoes dismemberment, scattering, and reintegration, as narrated in a myth or reenacted by a religious ritual. The cyclical pattern is given theological significance on themes such as immortality, resurrection, and reincarnation.” (Wikipedia)

Can One Actually Believe in Christianity?


[Originally published as a guest-post on the A Tippling Philosopher blog at Patheos.]

In one of the essays in Loftus's anthology The Case Against Miracles, Robert Price raises an issue that is commonly ignored. Price's essay, “Jesus Christ: Docetic Demigod”, concerns the miracles of the Incarnation and of the Virgin Birth, and is well worth reading for the many additional points it makes (as is the rest of the anthology). Here, however, I'm just going to discuss that one issue, for it is something that puts the very idea of Christian belief in doubt.

Price asks whether it is possible to “believe what you cannot understand.”

Consider the doctrine of the Trinity. It does not mean that there are three gods, nor does it mean that there is one God who “reveals himself in different forms,” for those, he points out, are both considered heresies (Tritheism and Modalism respectively). Or consider what is claimed regarding the Incarnation — namely, that Jesus is 100% God and 100% human. It is impossible to make sense of such a thing. After all, it is a logical contradiction. But then what is it that the Christian is supposed to believe?

Robert Reich: "Sanders is Our Best Shot to Take Back the White House"


The Problem is Oligarchy!

The middle class are on life support! We need a revolution! Let's take back our country from the filthy rich and their political whores! The typical US worker can no longer afford a family on a year's salary, showing the dire state of America's middle class.

The following essay gets it right! That's why we need a revolution that gets results!
Oligarchic rule must be destroyed. If we fail, our democracy, and finally our species, will become extinct.

The oligarchs are happy to talk about race. They are happy to talk about sexual identity and gender. They are happy to talk about patriotism. They are happy to talk about religion. They are happy to talk about immigration. They are happy to talk about abortion. They are happy to talk about gun control. They are happy to talk about cultural degeneracy or cultural freedom. They are not happy to talk about class. Race, gender, religion, abortion, immigration, gun control, culture and patriotism are issues used to divide the public, to turn neighbor against neighbor, to fuel virulent hatreds and antagonisms. The culture wars give the oligarchs, both Democrats and Republicans, the cover to continue the pillage. There are few substantial differences between the two ruling political parties in the United States. This is why oligarchs like Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg can switch effortlessly from one party to the other. Once oligarchs seize power, Aristotle wrote, a society must either accept tyranny or choose revolution. LINK.

Why The Democratic Party Doesn't Want Sanders & Why You Should!

Here are two important essays and a video interview with Michael Moore:
One) In truth, the divisive attacks on Sanders and Warren have nothing to do with assuring Democratic unity, or victory. Rather, they serve to defend deeply embedded financial interests and the wealthy donor class on which the mainstream Democratic Party has come to rely. Such wealthy interests are adamantly opposed to the types of policies being advocated by Sanders and Warren—such as Medicare for All and a Green New Deal—that would threaten their concentrated financial and political power. Centrists Don’t Want “Party Unity”—They Want to Defend the Wealthy.
Two) Democratic officials have insisted that Donald Trump is an unprecedented threat to the republic, a fascist and racist dictator whose removal from power is the paramount, if not the only, political priority. Yet the strategy on which they are now explicitly relying to prevent Sen. Bernie Sanders from being their 2020 presidential nominee — a brokered convention at which party elites anoint a nominee other than the one who receives the most votes and wins the most delegates during the primary process — is the one most likely to ensure Trump’s reelection. Democrats Craving a Brokered Convention — Including Elizabeth Warren — Should Learn the Lessons of 1968.
Three) Michael Moore in this interview says the democratic party is not thinking about who can beat Trump but who can beat Sanders. Isn't it obvious? Biden has ran for the Presidency three times and only won one state a few days ago, South Carolina. So they're risking losing to Trump.

My Brand is Debunking Christianity. Be Patient As I'm Switching Gears.

I have a brand. It's debunking Christianity. And I have a regular readership who likes what I write, and/or finds it interesting to discuss. When I switch gears every four years, or so, to talk about politics, this cuts across the grain of what people expect, and the shit hits the fan. So if you don't like what I say in politics, rest easy, I'll regain my right mind again in a week or two or more. It's just that politics matters to me and this is my venue!! Be patient for a few weeks at the most. All will be well again, and there will be peace in the valley.

The Hypocrisy of the Democratic Party!

The Democratic Party, my party, is doing it again, and will probably get the same results. Last time they decided in advance to nominate Hillary Clinton no matter what. We all know the results. This time it's Joe Biden no matter what.

On NBC News tonight the commentary was that the democratic party is not worried whether Bernie Sanders can beat Trump, they're worried he will win! I kid you not! What this means, if I heard correctly, is that they have a candidate whom they know can beat Trump, but they're going to risk it on someone else, Biden. Forget voting "blue no matter who." Now it's vote for the establishment "no matter what."

The establishment democrats can do whatever they want, but since they already have a candidate in Sanders who can beat Trump, if they risk it all on Biden then it's hypocritical for them to blame the rest of us when we don't march to the tune of "blue no matter who." But they are doing just that. LINK. Given that Bernie has brought into the political process a great many new voters, they are not beholden to the establishment democratic party. Given that the attraction of Bernie's candidacy is to stand against corruption, there is a likelihood they will not vote for corruption if they see it in the democratic party no matter what. LINK. It's times like these I wish I had a much larger audience.

Here's a Factor in the Democratic Primaries Few Are Talking About

"Four years ago, 12 percent of people who voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary ended up voting for Donald Trump in the general election, according to two surveys. That defection rate is not unusual; the same percentage of Republican primary voters that year ended up voting for Hillary Clinton, political scientist Brian Schaffner explained to NPR. But keeping Democrats unified after a sprawling and increasingly contentious primary season will be essential if the party is to retake the White House in November. So far, signs are not promising: A poll conducted in January by Emerson Polling found that only 53 percent of current Sanders supporters say they will definitely support the eventual Democratic nominee, even if it is not Sanders. By contrast, at least 85 percent of Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and Elizabeth Warren supporters say they will support any Democratic nominee." LINK

More In Support of Bernie Sanders for President!

Here are some more items that political people for Bernie Sanders might want to share.

Next time someone says Bernie Sanders didn't get much done in Congress send them this informative link to chew on. He's known as the Amendment King! As an outsider, whose perspectives were different than his colleagues, that's the only thing he could do. Even then his amendments were shot down many times. So he learned how to put pressure on Congress from the people, and out of it came a formidable Presidential candidate, who eventually by-passed Congress since they weren't interested. If anything, Bernie's career shows a patient principled wisdom with a tenacity that is admirable! LINK.

I hope all of you on Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid are paying attention! "The Trump Budget cuts the Social Security disability program by tens of billions of dollars. It cuts Medicare by about half a trillion dollars. It cuts Medicaid by nearly $1 trillion." LINK.

Bernie Sanders on "Face the Nation"

Margaret Brennan sat down with 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail in Columbia, South Carolina. Hear for yourself and share. If you are sick and tired of the establishment. If you are sick and tired of Trump. Bernie is your man!

"America Is About To Learn Why Health Care Should Never Be A For-profit Business"

From the article, "It's an absolute certainty that Americans will hide their sniffles, drown their symptoms in over-the-counter drugs, and try to “tough it out” because they can’t afford health care. Besides, they have no paid sick leave, no paid child care, and no guarantee that missing a day’s work won’t mean being cast to the curb. All that “socialist” crap."" "America is, unfortunately, about to get a lesson in why there is much more to a national health system than whether you pay for it in taxes or with checks to an insurance company." LINK

"Sanders makes a perfectly cogent case that he is ideologically in tune with most Americans, whether they realize it or not."

In a column for the LA Times we're told, "Sanders makes a perfectly cogent case that he is ideologically in tune with most Americans, whether they realize it or not." See Bernie Sanders isn’t going to destroy the Democratic Party. He just might save it.

Victor Reppert: Trump apologists are shooting Christianity in the foot

Previously I had argued Bernie Sanders is the atheist's candidate because his policies will raise societal health, which will in turn decrease people's need for a god. Now Christian apologists Victor Reppert chimed in, giving me permission to quote him:
If I were an atheist, and only concerned about the credibility of atheism and didn't care about the country, I would say go for four more years of Donald Trump. That is because evangelical Trump apologists follow him, and they do more damage to the credibility of Christianity than atheists like John Loftus. I seem to spend more time arguing with Trump apologists than atheists these days, because even though they don't know it, they're shooting Christianity in the foot.
This is an interesting proposal, but we do care for people and our country so we cannot do that. He's right though, Trump and his evangelical fan-boys are destroying the credibility of their Christian faith.

Julie Carole, a Canadian, On Universal Healthcare

Julie Carole, a Canadian, wrote this on Facebook. I approve of this message. People are being confused and deceived by the filthy rich class of people to fear what they need not fear.

What Would Happen If Christians Went on Strike?


But the apologists never do

In May 2018, volcanic eruptions in Hawaii caught the world’s attention. The New York Times described local beliefs about the cause of the destruction, namely the goddess of volcanoes and fire, Pele:

“…in a striking display of the resilience and adaptability of Native Hawaiian culture, the exaltation of Pele has not only persisted through the centuries, but seems to be strengthening with every bone-rattling eruption of Hawaii’s volcanoes.” Said one 71-year old resident, whose house was destroyed, “My house was an offering for Pele. I’ve been in her backyard for 30 years. In that time I learned that Pele created this island in all its stunning beauty. It’s an awe-inspiring process of destruction and creation, and I was lucky to glimpse it.” (The New York Times, 23 May 2018)

Democrats should be worried if a "moderate" Democrat is nominated

Calm down, says Robert Reich in the Washington Post, Bernie Sanders might be the safest choice. Reich gets this exactly right! Here are a few snippets:

"As wealth and power have moved to the top and the middle class has shrunk, more Americans feel politically disempowered and economically insecure. Today's main divide isn’t left versus right. It’s establishment versus anti-establishment."

"In the fall of 2015, I visited Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Missouri and North Carolina, researching the changing nature of work for my book, “The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It.” I spoke with many of the same people I had met two decades prior, when I was secretary of labor, as well as some of their grown children. I asked them about their jobs and their views about the economy. I was most interested in their sense of our system as a whole and how they were faring in it."

"What I heard surprised me. Twenty years before, most said they had been working hard and were frustrated that they weren’t doing better. Now they were angry — at their employers, the government and Wall Street; angry that they had not been able to save adequately for retirement, and that their children weren’t doing any better. Several had lost jobs, savings or homes during the Great Recession. By the time I spoke with them, most were employed, but the jobs hardly paid any more than they had years before."

"The best way for Democrats to defeat Trump’s fake populism is with the real thing, coupled with an agenda of systemic reform. This is what Sanders offers. For that reason, he has the best chance of generating the energy and enthusiasm needed to regain the White House."

"Instead of hand-wringing about Sanders’s electability, maybe establishment Democrats should worry that a “moderate” Democrat might be nominated instead."

Bernie Sanders Is The Atheist's Candidate!

[Published 10/19/2015] Bill Curry of the Salon magazine wrote a timely piece on Bernie Sanders titled, Bernie Sanders is right on the big issues, now we must spread the word! Okay, I fudged the last part of his title, but I think Bernie is the man, if for no other reason but that climate change is our most pressing issue, and Bernie Sanders is making it a top priority. But there are many other reasons, not the least of which is that he looks to democratic atheist countries like Sweden, Denmark and Norway as the wave of our future. It has been shown that when there is high societal health, where people's needs are being met, the people in those societies don't have a need to believe in God, so they don't. Since I stand against religious faith then I must also stand with Bernie Sanders, regardless of whether he is a believer or not.

I'm tired of ignorant fear-mongering Christian apologists like Victor Reppert telling his readers:
I remember the well-intentioned ideas that launched the French Revolution and the Russian revolution, and remember also where these movements ended: with guillotines and gulags. As a result I am concerned about what is going to happen if the secularist movement today gets a lot of political power. These people started off with combining secularism with a passion for social justice, and look what happened to them. The death tolls of the Soviet Union far outstrip all the "holy horrors" of Christianity, such as the Inquisition. It's not even close.
Look, if you want to know the direction of democratic atheist societies then look to the Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Denmark and Norway. They aren't perfect but they are much better than ours, by far. And since the American people stand with Bernie Sanders on the most pressing issues, that makes him electable. I have not spoken much on politics because I have been jaded after decades of seeing little or no change. Nothing ever changes it seems. That's because we need a political revolution and I aim to do my part. I love Bernie's message. I like how Bernie boldly puts it out there. I think he is electable and I think social media can make the difference. Social media reigns over the establishment. It brought down a few dictators in the Middle East and it can bring down the American establishment, if we want it bad enough. So if you don't help put Bernie in the White House then you are part of the problem! No worries. I'll vote for Hillary Clinton if he fails to get the Democratic nomination. After all, the Republicans are all nutcases. I'm throwing my intellectual weight in favor of Bernie Sanders. First and foremost, Bernie is the best candidate for achieving a good healthy society for everyone, one where everyone can take part and live a better life. But secondarily, there is something else. Bernie Sanders is the atheist's candidate!

My name is John W. Loftus, who says a vote for Bernie Sanders is a vote for atheism. I just put the pieces together and will provide more documentation of it in the months to come. I approve of this message. No one paid me a dime to write it. [Click on the tag "Bernie Sanders" for more]

Don't Expect Billionaries to Roll Over!

Getting undue billionaire influence out of the political process will be as hard as it was for women to gain the right to vote from an all male Congress. Billionaires will do everything they can to deceive us with complex numbers, by playing to our fears, dividing us over unimportant issues, and bankrolling ignorant pliable politicians. This is our time to take control of our country. Don't let it slip by. Women did it, along with others who cared. We can also do it, with others who care.

Unfortunately, too many people do not care about anyone else but themselves. Be on the right side of history. Every major country has universal health care. Help Bernie Sanders make that happen in the USA too.

On Medicare for All and Climate Change

Bernie Sanders has said, "No one asks where we're going to get the money to pay for the military budget or for Social Security. People only ask that question when it comes to universal health care and climate change." The fact is there's a strong possibility the changes Sanders proposes will actually save us money!! Now what will his naysayers say? Even if it will cost more, if cost is the only factor then why not do away with the military and Social Security!

1. On Medicare for All:

Here's a list of countries with universal health care. If most major countries can do this the US can too!

Multiple studies show Medicare for All would be cheaper than public option pushed by moderates.