A Day God Overslept

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There have been thousands of such days


One of the major chores of professional Christian apologists—and they’ve been at it for hundreds of years—is to explain why there is so much suffering and evil in our world when a good, caring god is supposedly in charge; indeed, these apologists maintain that their god pays very close attention to everything. Their menu of excuses includes variations on several themes: god punishes sinners—he has to get even, right? Or he allows bad things to happen as a way of testing us, or improving our characters. Also, we wouldn’t truly appreciate all the good that god does if we don’t sometimes experience hardships and suffering. We also hear, when really horrible things happen, that god moves in mysterious ways, and that, as humans, we can’t see the big picture: we can’t grasp his master plans for the world. These are all invitations for the laity to turn off their minds. The apologists are masters of gaslighting, as I mentioned in my article here last week on Dale O’Neal essay in the Loftus anthology, God and Horrendous Suffering.

 

But on occasion, the professional apologists are put to shame by ordinary church folks who respond to tragedy with practical wisdom: what they feel in their gut. An example of this happened in the wake of the school shooting in Dunblane, Scotland in March, 1996; a gunman killed 16 kids and their teacher. In the days following, many memorial flowers were placed outside the school. And there was a Teddy Bear, with a note attached that received national publicity: “13 March 1996: the day God overslept.”

On What Topic Should I Debate William Lane Craig?

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I said I'm going to debate Craig in absentia. On which topic should I do so? See this for suggestions.

Here are three potential topics:
--Is There Evidence for the Christian God?
--Does Horrendous Suffering Disprove God?
--Is Faith in God Reasonable?

United States Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade, erasing constitutional right to abortion

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This was expected but it's f*cked!

Christian Dependance on Gaslighting

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Religious indoctrination in the scheme of evil


A popular song from the 1960s still resonates, What the World Needs Now Is Love Sweet Love.

How true, of course, given the history of human obsession with war and brutality. But also urgently needed is critical thinking. That is, there is so much ongoing damaged caused by belief in ancient superstitions—Christianity being the champion superstition, i.e., it has survived for two millennia. It created a perfect blend of superstitions, gleaned from the cults of the ancient world: (1) the idea that a god was going to send a savior/rescuer/messiah to save its chosen people; (2) after the Romans destroyed the Jerusalem Temple, animal sacrifice to appease god for sins came to an end—and so Christianity resorted to the grim belief that a single human sacrifice would do the trick; (3) when this human sacrifice resurrected, this had major magical impact for those who believed in it, i.e., eternal life. What a formula—and people still believe it!

I'll be debating WLCraig in absentia!

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Dr. William Lane Craig has decided not to debate me, not even if his proceeds went toward his favorite charity! So I will debate him in absentia. Stay tuned. I'm going to share my 30 minute debate opener soon.

Hitchens on Ridicule

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I don’t ridicule people to their face, but ridicule is as Hitchens' says it is!

A Pop-Quiz for Christians, Number 3

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Confusion and incoherence in Jesus theology


One of the handiest tools for showing that Christianity is wrong—that its theology is confused and incoherent—is the Bible itself. I have seen so much resistance among church-goers to reading the Bible, even casually (say, just one chapter a day), let alone studying it carefully, thoughtfully, critically. Is this hypocrisy, or just laziness? If the devout really, truly believed that the Bible is their god’s word—more than a thousand pages of his wisdom and guidance—why don’t they obsess about reading it? 

 

For many of us who have left Christianity, there is no mystery about this neglect. My constant appeal for years to my Christian acquaintances has been: please read the Bible. When my book was published last summer, Ten Things Christians Wish Hadn’t Taught, I gave copies to some of my devout—openly, aggressively devout—friends. What was the response? Silence. They didn’t want to think about it, and they certainly didn’t want to read the Jesus quotes that I discuss in detail in the book. They want to trust their priests and ministers, and draw comfort from the ceremonies and rituals, while Jesus in stained-glass gazes down on them. No thought required.

Introducing The Real God of The Bible: An Interview with Dr. Francesca Stavrakopoulou

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Derek Lambert of the MythVision Podcast (who has a whopping 47.9K subscribers!) interviews Dr. Francesca Stavrakopoulou on the real god of the Bible. This is really good stuff. See what the world of the gods were like in the ancient world! They talk about her fantastic new book, God: An Anatomy, and the gods and goddesses of the world that came before!



The Comfort of Faith is Shattered by Suffering and Disaster

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The prevalence of medieval thinking


It’s hard to unsee it once you’ve seen it: the severity of Christian theology. Here is the Jesus-script we find in Matthew 12:36-37:  “I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” That’s pretty brutal, and the theology behind it is terrifying: It’s totalitarian monotheism: a god is watching you at every moment of your life, and even keeps track of every careless word you utter. And no, John 3:16 (“God so loved the world”) does not modify this terrible threat. In fact, just two verses later, 3:18, we find this warning: “Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already…” The final verse of the chapter (36) drives home the point: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.” The apostle Paul was just as sure about this, as he explained in his Letter to the Romans, 2:5: “But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” He too championed totalitarian monotheism: “…God through Christ Jesus judges the secret thoughts of all” (Romans 2:16).

Failed to Death: If God Refused to Intervene During the School Shooting, Then Why Should the Police? By Dr. Darren Slade

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This Week We Celebrate 300 Posts By Dr. David Madison!

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Dr. Madison just reminded me of something important:
"My article posted today on the DCB represents a milestone. It is the 300th article I’ve written for the blog, and that’s not counting posts I’ve made about my book, or the 19 posts I did a while back in the series, 'Where was God when this happened?'-—which really weren’t articles."

Here is a photo of me taken today in Paris: I am toasting YOU for inviting me to write for the blog. Such a privilege it has been to write for this platform! Many, many thanks.
His first post was in September 2016. For my part, I'm the one privileged that he writes at DC. I cannot think of another better person to have writing here. We share the same passion. We try to get believers to "snap out of it" (as he would express it). We have studied our faith at the highest levels in different fields (me: philosophy/theology; him: biblical studies). We also share the same views on how to debunk Christianity, by going for the "knock-down punch" (as he would call it). We write to change minds. We write to convince. We are united in what we do and we complement each other nicely.

A TOAST: "May David live long and prosper in our shared goals to convince people of faith based on truth and grounded in solid evidence." Let him know below how he's helped you in your search for truth, and/or desire to convince others still in bondage to indoctrination and enculturation.

Gotta Love This Review of "God and Horrendous Suffering"!

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Here is a highly complimentary review of God and Horrendous Suffering, by John Mark Hannon. See link to Instagram below. JMH adds:

Absolutely outstanding! You crushed it out of the park. Everyone that contributed is to be congratulated, I think that what y'all achieved in concert together should really make the god notion difficult to maintain for people of empathy.

About JMH:

My parents were evangelical missionaries in Austria. My dad was a reformed baptist, so a Calvinist to his core. That was the God I was taught to see in the bible and at the age of 20 I had a crisis of faith where I just couldn't get around the problem of evil as I called it at the time. I started by reading Craig and Plantinga, but I found their answers insufficient for me.

Through Craig's footnotes, I found out about a philosopher by the name of Nelson Pike. His argument kind of cinched it for me that we couldn't be responsible for sin if god was an omni god. From there I jumped to Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Dennett, and then I found my way to you! The text of his review is below. Here is the LINK.

Isn’t the Good Book Supposed to Be the Best Book?

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Too often we wonder, “Why do we need to know this?”


Mark Twain said that it wasn’t the things in the Bible he didn’t understand that bothered him: it was the things he did understand. He has not been alone. It’s hardly a surprise that careful reading of the Bible has driven so many people away from Christianity. “Oh, but the Bible is perfect in every way”—so say the extreme apologists, who claim that their scripture is inerrant. God’s reputation requires it be so. Of course there are devout folks who accept that the Bible has errors—and far too many examples of bad theology, although they might not say so out loud. God drowned all the people and animals on earth—except for Noah and his family—because he regretted making humans, and his fury exploded. God killed all the first-born of Egypt to try to change Pharaoh’s mind. In Jesus-script in the New Testament, upon the arrival of the Kingdom of God, with the Jesus as the new ruler, there will be as much suffering as at the time of Noah.

God Failed to Make the Case for Jesus

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 There’s too much fake news and bad theology in the New Testament


There’s a fun song from the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operetta, The Pirates of Penzance, that always brings to mind the task of Christian apologists: “A Policeman’s Lot Is Not a Happy One.” How can apologists be happy about their lot, having to defend the faith—having to strain so hard—against increasingly heavy criticisms, against so much evidence that falsifies the faith? For centuries there has been the internal warfare, i.e., Catholic apologists have had to argue with Protestant apologists, explaining why their version of Christianity is the right one. Protestant apologists return the favor. Within Protestantism itself, there’s just as much struggle: Southern Baptist apologists must explain why their worship and piety are right—while the Episcopalians get so much wrong.

Additional Thoughts On Using Bayes' Theorem

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No one should expect that a good argument is one that convinces reasonable people. What we should expect is that an argument is a good one, or a strong one, or very strong one, irrespective of whether it is a convincing one. Even though I know this, I still try to come up with arguments that are convincing to most reasonable people. I expect kickback from Christian believers. What can annoy me is kickback from other atheists and agnostics, especially if they don't let it go after a while, until they say nothing new I haven't considered before. BTW: A person can annoy me on one issue but be very informative, completely delightful and insightful on most everything else. That describes Ignorant Amos. In fact, the commenters here seem to be the best I've seen anywhere!

I have defended the use of Hitchens’ Razor over the use of Bayes’ Theorem (BT) when assessing miracles like a virgin birthed deity and the resurrection of Jesus. I have argued that BT cannot and should not be applied to claims which are nonsense, and that miraculous claims in the ancient Biblical past are all nonsense! They are all nonsense because there is absolutely no credible evidence for any of them. I have also argued that the goal of atheists should be to change minds, and that fewer minds are changed the more we respond with greater and greater sophistication. Doing so also legitimizes nonsense by giving believers undue credibility. I agree with philosopher Julian Baggini who said, "Converts are won at the more general level." [infidels.org/kiosk/article.] For responding to fundamentalist philosophy only encourages fundamentalist philosophers. On the general level even ridicule changes minds.

I don’t object to using BT when it’s applied appropriately to questions for which we have prior objective data to determine their initial likelihood, along with subsequent data to help us in our final probability calculations. It’s an excellent tool when these conditions obtain. So a new provocative question arises, one I didn't address: What is the best tool for assessing the possibility that a historical person existed behind the Jesus character in the Gospels?

A Former Theology Professor Who Turned Atheist Now Claims to be an Agnostic

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I received an email from a retired theology professor friend of mine who had previously embraced atheism, but now claims to be an agnostic instead. I'll share his email below, along with my response. But I think this video by QualiaSoup does a good job on his concerns.



Here is his email and my response:

Which Type of Anthologies Are Best?

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This Tweet is by The Non Alchemist:
Enjoying this so far. Covers a lot of ground, with essays for and against different positions. I prefer reading stuff like this where multiple perspectives are engaged and there is interaction.
This stands in contrast to all of my anthologies.

The Non Alchemist's point is an interesting one. Could that be why he hasn't yet recommended any of my anthologies? I don't know. But I think it's an interesting question nonetheless. Preference is subjective. Readers can have a preference for one type of book over another. I don't have a problem with that. Don't forget that a preference for something different is not a substantive criticism of my work.

I myself have a preference for truth in my anthologies, well-articulated, researched, and referenced truth. I don't think my opinion is subjective, but rather based on credible evidence, along with the abysmal lack of credible evidence from the Christian opposition. I have defended my opinion in 12 critically acclaimed anthologies.

But people do disagree, so let's set that all aside.

Review of "God and and Horrendous Suffering"

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Congratulations go out to all the authors in my anthology "God and Horrendous Suffering"!! That book is going to be a classic thanks to us all. 

I share reviews like this one to the left, because atheist books don't usually get that much promotion from publishers (GCRR is an exception). Please consider promoting it if you think it's a good anthology, like I do. 
 

For an introduction to the book, see this (Offsite).

Maybe the Apostle Paul Could Talk You Out of Christianity

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So much that he wrote is just plain wrong


How astounding is this: one of the founding heroes of the Christian faith wrote letters—he was obsessive about it—and we still have those letters today. Actually, the originals were lost, so we have copies of copies of copies, many generations of copies removed from the originals. Which means that quite a few errors crept into the text—some words also got left out by mistake—but it’s still quite something that we have what we do. For anyone who is genuinely curious about what Christian thought was like, right at the beginning, these letters are a treasure, preserved in the New Testament. It is a curiosity that Jesus himself didn’t think of writing letters, to codify his insights about God. After all, he was part of God himself, the divine trinity. If not letters, why not treatises? Just preaching words that evaporated into the air as he wandered Palestine seems so inadequate. Moreover, the Jesus-script that we have in the gospels probably was invented by their authors, writing decades later: there’s no way to verify any of the words attributed to Jesus. But, hey, the gospel writers had firmly held theological ideas about Jesus. So they’re worth reading, right?

Phil Bair On Atheism, Miracles, and Extraordinary Evidence

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No intellectual should expect that a good argument is one that convinces reasonable people. What we should expect is that an argument is a good one, or a strong one, or very strong one, irrespective of whether it is a convincing one. Even though I know this, I still try to come up with arguments that are convincing to most reasonable people. I expect kickback from Christian believers. What can annoy me is kickback from other atheists and agnostics, especially if they don't let it go after a while, until they say nothing new I haven't considered before. More on that in another post.

This post will concern Phil Bair, a good guy who engages me on Facebook from time to time. He's spent 40 years by his count, studying these issues. He even wrote a book. His target is atheism.

Christianity in the Light of Science: Critically Examining the World's Largest Religion

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This is one of my favorite anthologies! People who say I repeat the same old arguments have not read my works!
In this indispensable volume, John Loftus and his colleagues demonstrate all the different ways in which science undermines and threatens religious belief. The only way you can rescue God from this book is if you force him to retreat so far that you might as well stop believing in him. I defy you to read this volume and still believe that religion and science shall ever meet. John Loftus will never receive the Templeton Prize, but he should. This collection alone will further our understanding of science and religion more than all the previous winners combined.

—Dr. Maarten Boudry, philosopher, Ghent University. --LINK.

Just Released: "A Statistical Critique of the Minimal Facts Apologetics of Gary Habermas and Michael Licona." -- Written by Michael J. Alter and Darren M. Slade

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SHERM Journal just released a publication whose full correct title is, "Dataset Analysis of English Texts Written on the Topic of Jesus’ Resurrection: A Statistical Critique of Minimal Facts Apologetics." It was co-authored by Michael J. Alter, and Darren M. Slade. In a nutshell, the article disproves (for the first time using actual data) the common apologetic assertion that 90% of "critical scholars" accept the historicity of certain minimal facts about Jesus. Abstract:
This article collects and examines data relating to the authors of English-language texts written and published during the past 500 years on the subject of Jesus’ resurrection and then compares this data to Gary R. Habermas’ 2005 and 2012 publication on the subject. To date, there has been no such inquiry. This present article identifies 735 texts spanning five centuries (from approximately 1500 to 2020). The data reveals 680 Pro-Resurrection books by 601 authors (204 by ministers, 146 by priests, 249 by people associated with seminaries, 70 by laypersons, and 22 by women). This article also reveals that a remarkably high proportion of the English-language books written about Jesus’ resurrection were by members of the clergy or people linked to seminaries, which means any so-called scholarly consensus on the subject of Jesus’ resurrection is wildly inflated due to a biased sample of authors who have a professional and personal interest in the subject matter. Pro-Resurrection authors outnumber Contra-Resurrection authors by a factor of about twelve-to-one. In contrast, the 55 Contra-Resurrection books, representing 7.48% of the total 735 books, were by 42 authors (28 having no relevant degrees at the time of publication). The 42 contra authors represent only 6.99% of all authors writing on the subject.
The leading defenders of the minimal facts approach are Gary Habermas and Michael Licona. One of the authors of this Sherm Journal Article is Dr. Darren M. Slade. He studied under Habermas at the doctoral level, and took many classes with him. He even debated him. You can find the article's webpage Right here. Below is an excerpt from the article's conclusion.

Christian “Truth” in Shreds: Epic Takedown Number 7

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…god really isn’t all that great 

Oft-repeated items from childhood stick in the mind. Our mealtime grace was “God is good, God is great, thank you for this food. Amen.” Full-blown, industrial strength, Sunday School naivety about religion. Drivel. I’m tempted now to ask, “What were we thinking?” —but of course we weren’t thinking at all. How is it even remotely possible that the creative force that (supposedly) runs the Cosmos requires/desires/appreciates being told by countless humans that he/she/it is good and great? What a useless idea. Moreover, instead of the word “God,” we could just have well have said “our food supply chain” is good and great. If you didn’t eat everything on your plate, the clichĂ© we heard was, “Think of all the starving people in China.” If God is good and great, how could that happen? We were fortunate to have a well-functioning food supply chain.

I didn’t expect this!

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Any author or editor wants their work to be acknowledged as being good and helpful. But I never expected this from the most recent Freedom From Religion Foundation's newspaper.

Have you gotten that book yet? It's one of a handful of my favorites: Christianity Is Not Great.

Christianity Is Not Great: How Faith Fails

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Anthologies are not easy to organize. Contributors have to be recruited, and they may not all be available at the time you need them. Scholars have to respect you enough as an editor to join your project if they are available. Over the past few years, John Loftus has demonstrated his ability to recruit the best scholars and scientists to his anthologies. The present anthology, Christianity Is Not Great, is no exception. Scholars representing fields as varied as physics and anthropology are here.

Consequently, these anthologies are some of the most substantive collections of rebuttals to theistic arguments, and specifically to Christian theistic arguments, in existence. They signal a new era insofar as atheists are organizing coherent and scholarly responses that are wide-ranging in scope, instead of just focusing on a few traditional issues (e.g., philosophical arguments against theism or creationism). These anthologies touch on, among many subjects, history, sociology, psychology, and biblical studies.

Christianity Is Not Great swiftly demolishes one of the greatest and subtlest myths promoted by believers. The demolished myth is that Christianity, even if it cannot be proved to be true, has at least been good for the world.

Aside from the wonderful contributions, this volume is an indirect tribute to Loftus himself. John Loftus is an indefatigable laborer for atheism. He represents one of those voices who still has not received the honor he deserves. Yet few modern atheists have provided as much useful service to educating the masses about atheism as he has done.

--From the Foreword by Dr. Hector Avalos.

Bill Burr Speaks the Truth About Religion

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Sound familiar? This video has been watched 2.6 million times. Burr is reaching millions more people than I could hope to do. Here is a snippet to tease you into watching this 9:48 minutes of pure genius.
Everybody else's religion sounds stupid. The first time I heard the story of Scientology I was like, that is the dumbest shit I have ever heard in my life...while simultaneously still kind of believing that a woman who never got f*cked had a baby that walked on the water, died and came back three days later. Yeah, that made total sense to me. So it just hit me one day. Why doesn't Scientology make sense and my shit does? I think it's because I heard their story when I was an adult. I heard my story when I was four years old. What was I going to do? I had to make a decision. Just let go of it. Let go of it like that creepy moment in curling... That's what I did with my religion. I just let go of it. It just floated away.

Bible Study to Help You Get Over Christianity

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So much of scripture undermines belief


There are zealous Bible apologists—of the evangelical/fundamentalist variety—who try to make the case that the Bible is inerrant: It’s the perfect word of their god. Their followers are confident that, opening the Bible to any page, any chapter, god’s wisdom and guidance are there without fail. They can gerrymander even the worst texts to come up with lessons that fuel their piety. But we know that there are many Christians outside these circles who aren’t so blind. They recoil with horror at so many Bible stories and teaching—as much as secular readers do. And they know that too much of the Bible should not have been included in the canon, although they wouldn’t quite agree with Hector Avalos’ suggestion that 99 percent of the Bible would not be missed.

The Outsider Test for Faith

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Formulating and extensively defending the OTF is Loftus’ greatest contribution to the philosophy of religion and atheism. The basic idea is that you can only have a rational faith if you test it by the same standards you apply to all other competing faiths; yet when you do that, your religion tests as false as the others, and the same reasons you use to reject those become equally valid reasons to reject yours.

This is the greatest book Loftus has ever produced. It's without question a must-read for believers, and atheists who wants to debate them. Superbly argued, air tight, and endlessly useful, this should be everyone's first stop in the god debate. Loftus meets every objection and proves the Outsider Test for Faith is really the core of every case against religious belief, and the one argument you can't honestly get around. It takes religion on at its most basic presuppositions, forcing the believer into a dilemma from which there is no escape: either abandon your faith or admit you don't believe in being logically consistent. After reading it, and sincerely applying its principles, anyone who really wants to be rational will be on the road to atheism in no time.

Though this idea has been voiced before, Loftus is the first to name it, rigorize it, and give it an extensive philosophical defense; moreover, by doing so, he is the first to cause a concerted apologetic to arise attempting to dodge it, to which he could then respond. The end result is one of the most effective and powerful arguments for atheism there is. It is, in effect, a covering argument that subsumes all other arguments for atheism into a common framework. LINK.

-- Dr. Richard Carrier, author of Why I Am Not a Christian: Four Conclusive Reasons to Reject the Faith.

“The Rationalization Hypothesis: Is a Vision of Jesus Necessary for the Rise of the Resurrection Belief?” — by Kris Komarnitsky

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I had previously highly recommended an essay by Kris Komarnitsky in my chapter on the resurrection for The Case against Miracles.

When it came to my chapter 18 on the resurrection of Jesus I mentioned the theories that help explain the origins of the belief in Jesus' resurrection. I stressed one theory above all the rest:
One theory has recently been defended by Kris Komarnitsky, author of "Doubting Jesus’ Resurrection: What Happened in the Black Box ?" He has done an excellent job of showing what could have happened in an online post on Mathew Ferguson’s blog titled, "The Rationalization Hypothesis: Is a Vision of Jesus Necessary for the Rise of the Resurrection Belief?" I find it to be the most detailed defense of this theory, making it worth considering, complete with four real-life examples of it in history. He takes issue with the bereavement visionary hypothesis of the disciples, widely regarded as a plausible naturalistic explanation for the data, and argues instead for what he calls the cognitive-dissonance-induced ration- alization hypothesis. The question he discusses is whether bereavement visions produced the belief that Jesus arose from the dead, or whether the resurrection belief came first due to cognitive dissonance reducing rationalizations, favoring the later. Go read it. Now! Forget the swoon theory that Jesus didn’t actually die, the conspiracy theory that the disciples purportedly concocted to perpetrate a hoax, the impersonation theory that someone impersonated Jesus, or the unknown tomb theory where the disciples went to the wrong tomb.
Then I linked to it. It has now been released again, for which I thank Matthew Ferguson! “The Rationalization Hypothesis: Is a Vision of Jesus Necessary for the Rise of the Resurrection Belief?” — by Kris Komarnitsky.

Arguments Against God: 10, 20, 30, 50, and Counting!

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Christianity’s unfortunate embrace of incoherence


Following the publication of my book, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Faith six years ago, one of the most common questions I got from atheists was, “What, only ten?” Of course, there are far more, and I explain that I sorted the many problems into the ten categories. There’s a certain appeal of top ten lists. But others have taken a different approach. In 2014, Armin Navabi published his book, Why There Is No God: Simple Responses to 20 Common Arguments for the Existence of GodGuy P. Harrison has a good brand going with these titles, 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God, 50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True50 Simple Questions for Every Christian

 

All of these books are included in the Cure-for-Christianity Library I have been building since the publication of my 2016 book. There are now more than 525 titles, most published since the year 2000. The devout may be wondering—if they even know about this surge in atheist/secular publishing— “Why do these heretics keep writing?” From behind their high stacks of frothy, sentimental devotional books, churned out year after year, they cast contemptuous glances at atheist books that might come to their attention. They may wonder how there is anything more to be said against god and believers.

Follow the Money Trail: Faith-Based Education and Publishing in Apologetics, by Michael J. Alter

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Michael J. Alter is an independent researcher and author of The Resurrection: A Critical Inquiry (2015), A Thematic Access-Oriented Bibliography of Jesus's Resurrection (2020), and the forthcoming text from GCRR Press, The Resurrection and Its Apologetics: A Critical Inquiry, Vol. 1.

Alter has written a two part essay at the Global Center for Religious Research titled, "Follow the Money Trail: Faith-Based Education and Publishing in Apologetics. Highly recommended! Nonbelievers seeking an education and a publisher are not out-gunned, they just have less opportunities when up against the massive amount of resources of Christian organizations, colleges and publishing houses. I know this all to well.

Recent Trends in Apologetics, Part 3

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To read Part 2 in this three part series click here.

From the outset I should say that a great many Christian theologians don't think highly of apologetics, following in the footsteps of Karl Barth who thought natural theology was a failure. In their colleges there is no apologetics department, or apologetics classes! According to them, Natural Theology is a failure. God is his own witness. Stands to reason, right? Only God can reveal God. Revelation from God can only come from God, or as Barth himself said, "the best apologetics is a good dogmatics". [Table Talk, ed. J. D. Godsey (Edinburgh and London, 1963), 62]

I should also say that most apologetics books are just more of the same old, same old thing. I can't tolerate reading any more them, as they rehash what others have already said, for the umpteenth time. It can even be seen in their annoying and false book titles, using words like Evidence, even though there is no direct or objective evidence, Eyewitness, even though everything we have is filtered down via 2nd-3rd-4th hand hearsay, and Comprehensive, even though the chapters in those books are superficial treatments.

"Evidence"

J. Daniel Hays, A Christian's Guide to Evidence for the Bible: 101 Proofs from History and Archaeology

Allen Quist, Evidence that the Bible is True: The Apologetics of Biblical Reliability

"Eyewitness"

Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony [Expanded and Updated], 2017.

Daniel P. Buttafuoco, Consider the Evidence: A Trial Lawyer Examines Eyewitness Testimony in Defense of the Reliability of the New Testament

"Comprehensive"

Joseph M. Holden, ed., The Comprehensive Guide to Apologetics, 528 pages. I did a search inside this book for Dawkins, Harris, Barker, Price, Stenger, Carrier, Avalos, & Loftus. None of these names are mentioned. Barker is quoted as saying there isn't any evidence for their faith. Dawkins is quoted the most, someone admittedly untrained in philosophy or theology.

William A. Dembski, Joseph M. Holden, Casey Luskin, eds., The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith, 656 pages.

Now on with the show.

Holding On to a Horrible God

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“…remarkably resistant to rational inquiry”


There are some human tragedies that prove unsettling to even the most devout folks. Faith is shaken because events seem to shatter confidence that there’s a god who has “the whole world in his hands.” His eye is on the sparrow, he even knows how many hairs are on our heads. That god is paying attention. So how do big tragedies happen, right under his nose—so it would seem? The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami killed more than 225,000 people; a huge percentage were infants and toddlers—crushed and drowned by the waters. In 2012, at Sandy Hook School in Connecticut, a gunman murdered twenty kids (six and seven-year-olds), and six members of the staff. In 2000, a Concorde aircraft crashed in flames on takeoff from Charles de Gaulle airport: 109 people on board were burned alive. These horrors remain firmly in my mind.

Recent Trends in Christian Apologetics, Part 2

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To read Part 1 in this three part series click here. Now on with the show.

I'm going to begin at the beginning, what's considered to be the resurgence of Christianity touted by Christian apologists. Over at Patheos, there is a page for Evangelicalism that offers little more than self-congratulatory bluster for its philosophical and apologetical achievements in the recent past, given the religious diversity in the world. Atheist philosopher Quentin Smith was quoted as saying that God "is now alive and well in his last academic stronghold, philosophy departments." That's the LAST stronghold. "God" has already been ousted from most every other department in the university. So why on earth would evangelicals be quoting Quentin Smith on this, or feeling good about what he said? The bottom line is that you cannot have a religious trajectory that will last very long without a good solid foundation. What evangelicals will have to come to grips with is the lack of a Biblical foundation for what they believe. It simply is not there. They have completely and utterly ignored this fact.

I'm here to remind them that Natural Theology is dead, so their philosophical renaissance is nothing more than fundamentalism on stilts, as Dr. Jaco Gerike argues. I especially love Gerike's chapter 5 in my anthology The End of Christianity titled, Can God Exist if Yahweh Doesn't?

One problem with answering the philosophical arguments of WLCraig, Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, and company, can be seen in Craig's response to the atheist literature over the last few decades that trounced their fundamentalist arguments. A fine summary of that atheist literature can be read here. Craig seems jubilant about it all, saying:
You have masterfully surveyed for us the current philosophical landscape with respect to atheism. You give our readers a good idea of who the principal players are today. Moreover, I hope that theists, especially Christian theists, who read your account will come away encouraged by the way Christian philosophers are being taken seriously by their secular colleagues today. The average man in the street may get the impression from social media that Christians are intellectual losers who are not taken seriously by secular thinkers. Your letter explodes that stereotype. It shows that Christians are ready and able to compete with their secular colleagues on the academic playing field.
In other words, responding to fundamentalist philosophy only encourages fundamentalist philosophers!

Jim Jefferies - God is drunk at a party

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Maybe Jesus Himself Could Talk You Out of Christianity

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There’s so much he shouldn’t have said!


A few years ago I asked a prominent Italian journalist: “Can it possibly be true that the Vatican hierarchy really believes the wacky ideas that the church promotes?” For example, transubstantiation, papal infallibility, immaculate conception, the bodily assumption of Mary into heaven. He responded, “Oh, maybe half of them do. Don’t forget, it’s a business.” The primary product of this business is Jesus, and for twenty centuries the church has worked hard to hype the product. The apostle Paul got the ball rolling with his message that he’d had private conversations with the dead Jesus, whom he was convinced was alive in heaven. Paul was confident that believing in resurrected Jesus was the key to salvation. This is a perfect example of magical thinking: believe something and voilĂ , you get your wish. Decades after Paul, the gospel writers wrote their stories about Jesus the Wonder Worker.

Recent Trends in Christian Apologetics, Part 1

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I'm going to revisit this topic for a Part 2. I already have a draft to post. Help me out. What are some trends in apologetics that you've noticed?

[First Published 11/13/19]. As the author of a book that offered good advice to Christian apologists, How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist, I should keep up with how they're doing. Given that Evangelicals concede they are losing in the marketplace of ideas, and that they partially blame this on the rise of the internet, no wonder apologetics is in demand. Everyone is doing it, or so it appears. This is a sign, all by itself, that Christianity of the evangelical kind is dying. For apologetics is necessitated by the need, and the need is dire.

So what's recently been happening in the apologetics publishing world? Let's look at some books.

1) Apologists are making apologetics more accessible to readers.

We've seen the advent of apologetics study Bibles. The first one to be published was The Apologetics Study Bible: Understand Why You Believe, by Holman Bible Publishers, 2007. 

I Got a Letter from a Jehovah’s Witness!

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A short letter packed with bad theology


In pre-COVID days I occasionally saw Jehovah’s Witness missionaries standing by their literature tables in the New York City Subway—and even too, once, just outside a Paris Metro Station. But that’s the closest I ever get to them: I live in an apartment building, so they’ve never had access to my front door. COVID must have made knocking on doors even more unpopular. So sending letters is an alternate strategy.

An Outsider Test for Polytheism

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On Twitter:
Ben Watkins:
That any particular religious belief is geographically and temporally predictable based on local facts about culture and familial relations is more likely given naturalism than theism. Despite the insistence of some apologists, this likelihood judgment is not a genetic fallacy.
Ocean:
This would very much be a monotheism objection. With polytheism one would expect localized variations.

Can Atheists Criticize God on Moral Grounds?

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“In the minds of Christian apologists, atheists cannot rationally criticize the Christian god for immoral behavior if an objective moral standard does not exist. I haven't seen a good atheist comeback on this issue. Does anyone have a good, concise, bullet-proof comeback?” — Gary M.

The underlying argument here is that one cannot justifiably criticize something on moral grounds unless one accepts an objective moral standard; that only God provides such a standard; and that therefore atheists cannot consistently claim that the biblical God is immoral — not even when he commands genocide.

Christian Dependence on Propaganda Fantasy Literature

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Other religions make the same mistake


It would be hard to name a book that has been hyped more than the Bible. During the last couple of centuries its status has slipped among those who study it critically, but still today there are extremist Christians who insist that it is a holy book, free from error. Even more moderate Bible editors know that the hype still sells, so Holy Bible is the title they choose for the cover. But this is undeserved, as devout scholars themselves admit—although maybe not out loud, or too loudly.

The Problem of Evil and Moral Choice

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Lately, there've been quite a few discussions about morality in the comments sections. With that in mind, I thought I'd re-post one or two old blog posts that deal with a moral topic.

The following is from 2016, before my first post here at DC:

According to most solutions of the problem of evil, bad things are allowed by God because in the long run — as Dr. Pangloss put it in Candide — “all is for the best.” In other words, each terrible event is justified as the means for bringing about a result that more than makes up for its badness. For example, one such view claims that evils are necessary in order to provide us with the opportunity for moral growth. Thus, the apologist Richard Swinburne, a proponent of this idea, maintains that if even “one less person had been burnt by the Hiroshima atomic bomb... there would have been less opportunity for courage and sympathy...” (The Existence of God, p. 264). The death of all those people — or of the millions killed by the black plague, for that matter — was, all things considered, a good thing. Otherwise, God wouldn't have allowed it to happen.

On The Fundamental Objection to the OTF

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[Republished post from 3/03/ 2012]
In a very well-written comment EricRC, a Ph.D. student in philosophy with promise, sums up what he calls the fundamental objection to the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF). Before sharing and then critiquing what he wrote let me refresh my readers on what it is:

Jim Jefferies, "Stand Up About Religion"

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Australian atheist Jim Jefferies, "Stand Up About Religion." this" is funny stuff!

 

Christians, Please Learn These Two Words!

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To understand why the faith is in great jeopardy


“How do you know your religion is the right one?” It’s not hard to guess what kind of answers we’d get if we posed this question to people coming out of church on Sunday morning. Usually, the answers would be variations on, “I feel it in my heart,” which in turn is based on trusting what they’ve been told by ministers, priests, and parents about the Bible, visions, and prayers. These respected authority figures make sure their cherished religious “truths” are drummed into young minds. But rarely, if ever, do devout folks—seized with genuine curiosity or skepticism—ask, “How do you know these things are true?” Another way to ask this is, “What is your epistemology?” The purpose of epistemology is to sort out the ways of knowing that are reliable and trustworthy. Ministers and priests resist teaching epistemology to their parishioners, because that would involve the search for reliable, verifiable, objective data to substantiate belief (and theists have never been able to agree on where such data can be found). So, all ye Christian faithful, please learn this word: epistemology—and try to put it into practice.