What Apologetics And Counter-Apologetics Books Do I Recommend?

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I was asked for books I might recommend that would fall into the category of "best arguments for God/Christianity" and "best arguments against Christianity." I was asked because "I know you read and analyze these books fairly often, so I want to see the best both sides have to offer." My response follows. You may be surprised by it!

Announcing the GCRR International eConference on the Historicity of Jesus

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Richard Carrier announces the GCRR International eConference on the historicity of Jesus next month on July 24th to 25th. You ought to sign-up! LINK.

The Biggest Christian Obfuscation of Them All, On Faith, Destroyed by Tweets

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Here is the biggest Christian obfuscation of them all about--you guessed it--faith. It's stated and destroyed in a few short back-and-forth Tweets! 

Christian Belief: “How Weird It All Was”

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An ex-vangelical star on TikTok


For a while, after my book was published in 2016, its Facebook page attracted attention—and elicited comments—from Christians. Much of it was on the hate/rage end of the spectrum, with predictions that I’m headed for hell. But one of the most common reactions was that I never really had been a Christian, despite my upbringing by in a conservative Methodist home and my nine-year stint as pastor of two parishes.

What About High Profile Conservative Right Leaning Atheists?

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Given some high profile atheists who have conservative right leaning moral and political positions I have to agree with this quote--seen below--even though I am still of the strong opinion that an atheist cannot justify these conservative right leaning positions from the adoption of science and reason, the very things leading reasonable atheists to non-belief in the first place.

Another way to think of it is to ask what atheists in the distant past might have concluded about these same moral and political positions, as well as what todays atheists in places like Iran, China, Africa, and South America might conclude.

Surely atheists have a wide diversity of opinions on everything except our agreement that there are probably no Supreme Being(s), gods, goddesses, demons, angels, or supernatural religions with their miracle claims.

That seems like a factual statement as far as I know.

Furthermore, even though I'm a Bernie Sanders progressive democrat and support everything he says, I'm not going to disassociate myself from any conservative right leaning atheist who has different views than me on moral and political positions, so long as they help me reach believers, my target audience. Discuss. 

Where Was God When This Happened? Part 7

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The scandal of divine negligence


Christianity is totalitarian monotheism: God is watching carefully.

Nothing we do escapes his notice: “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.” Matthew 12:36-37

Moreover, prayer works because God can even read our minds. Christians believe in, love, worship, and sing songs to this God who pays such close attention to every human being.

Abortion and "The Christian Abuse of the Sanctity of Life"

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There is a very informational and very heated debate about abortion taking place between commenters at DC right here. One thing that strikes me is the inconsistency of claiming abortion should be considered murder with a pro-life position. If abortion is murder, then why shouldn't a mother who pays for an abortion be charged with accessory to murder, just like someone who hires a hit man to kill someone? Also, why shouldn't the abortion provider be charged with first degree murder? If the pro-lifer reduces the penalties for murder due the fact that it's a controversial issue to specify the exact moment when a fetus is to be granted personhood, and that there is no black and white answer to what kind of penalties should be given, then why not just let the woman decide and be done with it all, by making abortion legal on demand? I think women can decide for themselves. I think women should decide for themselves. One cannot hide behind what the laws stipulate on this point since the pro-lifer needs to either defend the laws, or get them changed.

The Criminality of Earliest Christianity

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Until the spread of Christianity, the Roman government held a remarkably tolerant and inclusive range of policies regarding ancient religious practice and assembly. Indeed, these pluralistic attitudes survived from the late Republic only to broaden and further solidify in the early Empire under Julius Caesar and Augustus in the first century B.C.E. Such strategies helped to maintain governance over Rome’s far-flung, expanding empire, particularly in the Greek East. The oriental cults of Cybele, Isis, and Osirus, for instance, enjoyed considerable state-sanction and embrace, despite mos maiorum and foreign competition with the politically established Roman pantheon. Albeit, considerable senatorial restrictions followed the youthful rise of Bacchanal nighttime assemblies, particularly with the licentiousness and various crimes associated with such gatherings. 

Bible Blunders & Bad Theology, Part 12

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A genuine Houston-we-have-a-problem moment

Christopher Hitchens read a verse from Paul’s letter to the Philippians at his father’s funeral:

 

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

 

This prominent atheist explained why he quoted from the Bible:

A new round of abortion battles have started by people who don't really care about babies or women!

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With heartbeat laws limiting abortions in nine states, a new round of abortion battles have started by people who don't really care about babies or women. SOURCE

See these four abotion memes below, and please share!

Tom Flynn's Review of "The Case against Miracles"

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Tom Flynn is the editor in chief of Free Inquiry magazine, published by the Center for Inquiry. Has anyone seen his review of my anthology "The Case against Miracles" yet? I heard it is a very positive one! Congrats to every author who made it possible! It's probably the crowning work of my writing/editing career so far! LINK. To see some blurbs for it click here.

Where Was God When This Happened? Part 6

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The scandal of divine negligence


Christianity is totalitarian monotheism: God is watching carefully.

Nothing we do escapes his notice: “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.” Matthew 12:36-37

Moreover, prayer works because God can even read our minds. Christians believe in, love, worship, and sing songs to this God who pays such close attention to every human being.

On Memorial Day Let's Remember The Tulsa Race Massacre and The Civil War

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The Tulsa Race Massacre was a horrific event which took place 100 years ago today. The truth about it was suppressed for decades. Here's a well-done news report about it. We need to understand these terrible acts of white supremist violence to heal our country.



It was the same racist violence in the form of slavery that provoked the Civil War. If you want to see the lies that white supremacists tell themselves about the Civil War, along with some very persuasive rebuttals, read The Atlantic essay, Why Conferderate Lies Live On.

Two Concise Books that Demolish Christianity

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Handy guides to quick deconversion



I suspect many Christians weren’t quite prepared for the battering their faith would take in the 21st century, some of which is self-inflicted. Recently we’ve seen evangelical Christianity in suicide mode in its devotion to Donald Trump…of all people. What a bizarre turn of events. Trump, with no religious sensibilities whatever. 

 

But in the first decade of this new century, we saw the emergence of outspoken, articulate atheism. Books by Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens were best-sellers, and the impact has been substantial—at least in one respect: these works seem to have prompted a surge in atheist publishing. Sometimes I’ve been tempted to call it a “boom,” but perspective is needed. This surge/boom is still dwarfed by the ongoing glut of devotional books written by preachers intended for the mass market. In one pharmacy near me, there is a rack of devotional books—with an emphasis on the power of prayer—right by the counter for picking up meds.

Feser's The Last Superstition

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Lately, there's been quite a bit of talk here regarding Edward Feser's Five Proofs of the Existence of God. It might therefore be interesting to also consider an earlier work of his which covers some of the same ground, The Last Superstition. (The real reason I'm writing this, though, is that I haven't read Five Proofs, but just finished Superstition.) Billed as an answer to the New Atheism, Feser's earlier book is in reality a condemnation of pretty much all things modern — where by “modern” what is meant is everything since the days of Hobbes and Descartes. Feser regards the Enlightenment and all that followed as a disaster for humanity, and actually seems to regret the fact that we no longer live in medieval times. As one example of where he's coming from, consider what he says about Kant. He doesn't find everything about the old German professor bad: “His views on sexual morality and the death penalty, for example, are totally reactionary; that is to say, they are correct” (216-7). However, Kant's insistence on the autonomy of the individual and on treating persons as ends-in-themselves (as opposed to treating them as mere means), are, he says, “gruesome fortune-cookie expressions of modern man's self-worship” (219). (As Dave Barry used to say, I swear I'm not making this up. Feser really appears to find individualism repulsive.)

Where Was God When This Happened? Part 5

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The scandal of divine negligence

Christianity is totalitarian monotheism: God is watching carefully.

Nothing we do escapes his notice: “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.” Matthew 12:36-37

Moreover, prayer works because God can even read our minds. Christians believe in, love, worship, and sing songs to this God who pays such close attention to every human being.

Rauser Lacks Understanding, But That's What Faith Prohibits

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Finalized Book Cover of "Varieties of Jesus Mythicism: Did He Even Exist?

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Dr, Robert M. Price and I co-edited a book titled, Varieties of Jesus Mythicism: Did He Even Exist? 
We're publishing with Hypatia Press. It will probably be available in a few short months, just after The Global Center for Religious Research (GCRR) hosts the 2021 International eConference on the Historical Jesus
We now have the final book cover. Thanks for the comments and votes. 
Here we are in about 2007.

The Importance of Atheist Activism

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Making the world a better place 

Christianity has been in our faces for centuries, thanks to confident, aggressive missionaries. Their obsession was celebrated in a hymn published in 1896, We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations. “We’ve a song to sing to the nations…we’ve a message to give to the nations…we’ve a Savior to show to the nations…” This enthusiasm is grounded in words attributed to Jesus himself:

 

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

 

“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.’” (Mark 16:16)

Richard Carrier is On Fire!

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Richard Carrier with Me in Lafayette, Indiana (2013)
Richard Carrier is one of our most brilliant atheist scholars. Recently he wrote a debunking of the book of Daniel as a forgery, where he summarizes the reasons why all mainstream scholars think the Book of Daniel is a forgery. Especially see what he says about the disingenuous ways apologists ignore the truth in favor of their delusions! He also wrote a powerful essay debunking Thomism. Enjoy! Finally, Carrier wrote a blurb for my anthology on horrendous suffering:

Loftus has again produced a brilliant gallery of informed experts, now addressing the problem of evil from every angle, and with such power and depth that it shall be required reading for anyone promoting or opposing evil as a disproof of God.

Randal Rauser On Hitchens' Razor

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I've recently defended Hitchens' Razor. I think it's a superior viewpoint when looking at miracle claims. Breaking News!!! Randal Rauser doesn't think so, at all. Want to know why? It has to do with the evidence for an external world. Here it is, along with my argumentum ad twitter responses. I think it's one of my best Twitter taken downs.

Where Was God When This Happened? Part 4

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The scandal of divine negligence


Christianity is totalitarian monotheism: God is watching carefully.

Nothing we do escapes his notice: “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.” Matthew 12:36-37

Moreover, prayer works because God can even read our minds. Christians believe in, love, worship, and sing songs to this God who pays such close attention to every human being.

Incurable God-Addiction

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The church is the drug dealer

Last month the Gallup organization reported that, for the first time in America, membership is houses of worship had fallen below fifty percent. As Hemant Mehta pointed out, this doesn’t necessarily mean that people have become atheists; they may have dropped out of church but still believe in a god. Still, this confirms other data that indicate that the number of “nones” has been increasing, i.e., people who claim they have no religious affiliation.  

 

The grip of religion is slipping, and I suspect this may be traced to several causes:

Various Quotes of Mine On A Variety of Subjects

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Atheistic counter-apologists who argue online, or person-to-person, or through essays and books, ought to be given a more prominent place in secular/atheist organizations. These organizations either focus inwardly by trying to create better atheist communities, or they focus on helping to create a secular society from the top down through law and public policy. While these twin goals are important they neglect to reach outward to people trapped in their religious delusions.
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When I argue that an omnipotent God should be able to do perpetual miracles, Christians ask how I can know what is metaphysically possible for an omnipotent God to do. Now it might be the case that the attribute of omnipotence is incoherent, but if we take our examples from what Christians interpret in the Bible, then we read of miracles like creation ex nihilo (out of nothing), a world-wide flood, a virgin birth and a resurrection from the dead. If such a God did those kinds of miracles then I see no problem for him doing a host of other things when it comes to naturally caused suffering. Take creation for example. Christians argue that a sustainer God is necessary for the continued existence of the universe, per Thomas Aquinas. This then, is an example of a perpetual miracle. If he can do this I see no reason he should not be able to avert all earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions and pandemics too.

On Faith, Evidence, and Prejudices

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The act of accepting a proposition is not one of belief, or faith, if we have sufficient objective evidence for doing so. We nonbelievers proportion our conclusions on the strength of the evidence, per David Hume. We think in terms of the probabilities, not faith.

The way nonbelievers think of these terms is to equate the words belief (or faith), with blind belief (or blind faith).

This is not just a semantical argument. The way believers actually use these terms leads nonbelievers to this conclusion. That believers define them as involving some sort of trust, based on some level of evidence, is not how they actually use them in practice. If however, faith is trust, then there is no reason to trust in faith​.

Faith is hoping your god will rescue you, help you, answer your prayers, and\or save you based on insufficient objective evidence.

We must follow the objective evidence wherever it leads, regardless of the consequences for our current faith, prejudices, worldviews, religions, and moralities. It is irrational to reject objective evidence in favor of our current faith, prejudices, worldviews, religions, or moralities.

"You Wouldn't Be An Atheist If You Were Born in a Different Time and Place."

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Bonus: Quote from Robert G. Ingersoll below!!
If I had the time I would start a whole series of quotes with my responses to see how you would respond. Here's a Tweet by @EscapingAtheism · Apr 23:
Almost all atheists today wouldn't be atheists if they were born someplace else, in say, pre-Columbian America, or seventh century Africa.
My Tweet in response: 
This is true if we were indoctrinated in a religious culture without knowing any alternatives, and without being taught to think according to logic and reason based on objective evidence. Got it! Religious indoctrination that stifles doubt and eschews evidence is the problem.
A follow-up Tweet:
The sociological fact that we believe whatever religion we were raised to believe leads us to the null hypothesis of doubt. The burden is upon us all to follow the objective evidence wherever it leads if we wish to be honest seekers of truth. Most people are oblivious to this need.

Once Again On Childhood Indoctrination

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Childhood religious indoctrination should be rejected by all honest parents who believe their religion is shown to be true by the objective evidence, and is bolstered by a caring god who will  bring their children to salvation. That should go equally for Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Catholics, Protestants,  Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and every other religious sect.
Instead, all honest parents should just provide the thinking tools that will eventually lead their children to come to accept their religious faith.
The problem is that they cannot do this. They cannot trust their faith to be shown true by the objective evidence. They cannot trust their faith will be bolstered by a caring god who will  bring their children to salvation. Most importantly, they cannot specify the thinking tools that will eventually lead their children to come to accept their religious faith.

Where Was God When This Happened? Part 3

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The scandal of divine negligence

Christianity is totalitarian monotheism: God is watching carefully.

Nothing we do escapes his notice: “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.” Matthew 12:36-37

Moreover, prayer works because God can even read our minds. Christians believe in, love, worship, and sing songs to this God who pays such close attention to every human being. 

If God is so attentive—actually, so intrusive—then he cannot evade responsibility for our wellbeing. How can he just watch so many of the really horrible things that happen? Wouldn’t he want to do something?

Systematic Mythology 101

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“Welcome, students, to Systematic Mythology 101!” With little imagination, we humanists may readily describe a more honest human species, one better disciplined by discernment between reality and fantasy. In truth, such a species would never dignify any domain of human thought that is not yet under the governance of rational evidence and scientific method as even being informative in the enterprise of the mental construction of reality.
That more rational state of humanity may seem altogether unrealizable. Yet, we as a species appear to have little confusion when discerning the mythosystems of other societies, whether ancient or modern. Consider the shameless absurdity of Christian apologists who would have us believe that one, yes but one, garden-variety Iron-Age tribal society became the only ancient civilization not ever to have produced a central system of mythology, no folk-beliefs, no cultic deities, no myths of origins, no superhuman heroes, no ethnic tall tales, no religion. Unlike all of their ancient neighbors (e.g., the Sumerians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks, and Persians), indeed, unlike any known pre-secular society, the classical Hebrew peoples produced no mythology; instead, they had a relationship with the only actual ontological god, knew the true origins of humankind, and, also altogether unique in ancient society, experienced and passed down purely historical accounts of supernatural phenomena. The apologist would have us dismiss the nigh-endless analogues and permutations of similar myths shared across the regions of ancient neighbors, insisting on a measure of otherwise unseen impermeable cultural isolation. And, of course, the Christian Bible, quite contrary to any other sacred collection of texts, preserves the survival of those alleged ontological truths for all of human posterity.

Almighty God? Not by a Long Shot, Actually

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Has he lost power since Bible days?

Devout folks who are even passingly familiar with the Bible know for sure that God acts boldly in human affairs. He wants to have his way, so he interferes and intervenes. This pattern was established right from the start; he used his stupendous power to create the heaven and the earth by decree, “Let there be light.” Eventually, among the humans he had created, he designated a “chosen people,” and ordered them about: “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse.’” (Genesis 12:1-3) This was a hands-on God.