A Pop-Quiz for Christians, Number 4

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The questions are getting tougher   



Wouldn’t it be cool if Christians could settle their differences? What an embarrassment that they can’t agree on what their god is like and how he/she wants to be worshipped? Isn’t 30,000-plus different Christian brands a scandal? I’ve known strident evangelicals who are certain that Catholics are their worst enemy. 

 

Wouldn’t it be cool if Christians could suppress their urge to build more churches? Does the world really need more? There is so much hunger and poverty: why not put funds where they’re desperately needed? Yes, Jesus was a carpenter—supposedly—but was that an endorsement of construction-without-end?

 

Wouldn’t it be cool if Christians were in the habit of binge-reading their Bibles? Aren’t the gospels, especially, supposed to be the word of their god? If the devout really believed that, wouldn’t they be able to quote wide swaths of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John by heart?

William Lane Craig Utterly Fails In Searching For Truth Given the Human Propensity To Fool Ourselves

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Craig falsely claims there is a distinction between knowing Christianity is true and showing Christianity is true. He might legitimately say he knows he didn't do a crime he's accused of, since he knows he didn't do it despite the available objective evidence. But it is irrational for him to claim he knows Moses led the Israelites across the bottom of the Red Sea, or that a virgin birthed god's son, or that a savior arose from the dead regardless of any historical evidence. But that's what he's claiming when defending his Christian faith. He said:
A believer who is too uninformed or ill-equipped to refute anti-Christian arguments is rational in believing on the grounds of the witness of the Spirit in his heart even in the face of such unrefuted objections. Even such a person confronted with what are for him unanswerable objections to Christian theism is, because of the work of the Holy Spirit, within his epistemic rights—nay, under epistemic obligation—to believe in God.” [Craig, “Classical Apologetics,” in Five Views on Apologetics, ed. Steven B. Cowan (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), p. 35].
There are two major reasons to reject what Craig says. In the first place he's deceiving himself, and secondarily he's giving Christian believers permission to deceive themselves.

Cognitive biases are known for giving people permission to confirm our biases despite the fact they are false. So we must bring our reptilian brains to heel by demanding sufficient objective evidence that would convince an outsider. The mother of all cognitive biases is confirmation bias. It prohibits people from honestly seeking the truth.
Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one's prior beliefs or values. People display this bias when they select information that supports their views, ignoring contrary information, or when they interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing attitudes. The effect is strongest for desired outcomes, for emotionally charged issues, and for deeply entrenched beliefs. LINK.
We must question everything. That's the adult attitude. Be adults in your thinking. Children believe whatever they're told. To blindly believe whatever you're told is likely to produce false confidence in false ideas. You must require and even demand evidence sufficient for the claims being made. Period!

In my book The Outsider Test for Faith I argue we should approach our own (usually) indoctrinated religious faith from the perspective of an informed skepticism. This is something Craig utterly failed to do, and he utterly fails to tell others to do so in their search for religious truth:

Field of Dreams MLB Game Will Remind Me Of Baseball Great Tom Loftus

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On Thursday, August 11th, baseball fans will watch as the Chicago Cubs take on the Cincinnati Reds in the second installment of the Field of Dreams event at 7:15 p.m. ET on FOX. It will be played in Dyersville Iowa, located in Dubuque County. My great grandfather Tom Loftus was a lifelong resident of Dubuque, and was buried there.

John Pregler is a baseball historian who has written about my great grandfather Tom Loftus. Tom was a Major League Baseball player, manager, co-owner with Albert Spalding of the Chicago Cubs (Orphans), and one of three men who founded the American League (with life long friend Charles Comiskey, and Ban Johnson).

Pregler sent me a message recently, saying: "I'll be thinking of Tom Loftus this Thursday (8/11). One of seven men to manage both the Reds and the Cubs, and the only man to manage in 4 different major leagues. And he is buried 24 miles from the Field of Dreams. Both teams will drive by his cemetery and would be able to see his grave, if they knew he was there, rooting them both on. I've tried in vain to get MLB and FOX Sports to recognize this fact, but crickets."

I responded, "A movie script should be written about this."

How Should Atheist Critics and Counter-Apologists Be Ranked?

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On Facebook Ryan Downie deservedly recommended Johnathan Pearce's book, The Nativity: A Critical Examination. Then this comment by Pallmann appeared. I found his profile picture (with Tim McGrew) on Facebook (see below). Let it be said clearly that Tim McGrew and his wife Lydia McGrew are philosophers who are fundamentalists. What they believe is based on an alleged inerrant Bible. Anyone who is biblically literate should know there is no reason to be a Christian fundamentalist.

Regardless, what Pallmann said is something McGrew would say, which isn't bad. It's kinda nice to be grouped with Sean McDowell, J. Wallace Warner and Pearce. I'll take that! I suppose so does Pearce!

I'm just not a fan of his last words, that my (our) work is "...far from the best." I might have been okay with him saying my work is "...not the best", since I could name better critics than me, people who write for my anthologies, and those who write blurbs for them. What I want to know is if Sean McDowell and J. Wallace Warner are okay with Pallmann saying they are also "...far from the best", since that's the comparison.
Later, when asked who the best critics are, Pallmann mentioned the names Evan Fales, Graham Oppy, John Schellenberg, William Rowe, and Paul Draper. That too sounds like the fundamentalist philosopher McGrew. Notice the recommendations are all philosophers, and they have all done some good philosophical work. Of them I have a few bones to pick though. Evan Fales sent me a different chapter than I had asked him to write for my anthology, The Case against Miracles, which I thought was unpersuasive. Graham Oppy gets David Hume badly wrong. John Schellenberg incorrectly thinks our agnosticism about ultimacies should be total. Plus, I disagree with Paul Draper about the philosophy of religion. I have no criticisms to speak of about the work of ex-Christian philosopher William Rowe, even though he boasted of being the first "friendly atheist", and that his work wasn't comprehensive (okay, maybe a small nit pick, or two). Beyond them I have offered criticisms of other atheist philosophers elsewhere.

"HUME ON PROOF AND MATHEMATICAL PROBABILITY" by John W. Loftus

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What follows is the Appendix to my anthology The Case against Miracles (pp. 551-560). I consider several parts of that book to be a major defense of David Hume. I know there is some debate on Hume, but what Hume said on miracles withstands the criticisms leveled at him. They come from both Christian apologists and philosophers (as one would expect), but also from some atheist philosophers, like Michael Martin (Atheism: A Philosophical Justification, pp. 194-196), Michael Levine (The Cambridge Companion to Miracles, pp. 291-308), and Graham Oppy (Arguing About Gods, pp. 376-382), who strangely says "Hume's argument against belief in miracle reports fails no less surely than do the various arguments from miracle reports to the existence of an orthodoxy conceived monotheistic god" (p. 381). Agnostic/atheist John Earman thinks Hume's argument is an Abject Failure (as seen in his book by that title). And while J.L. Mackie defends Hume against some objections, even he thinks Hume's argument needs "improvement" (p. 25) by being "tidied up and restated" (p. 17) due to "inaccuracies" (p. 27), with one part he calls "very unsatisfactory" (p. 23).

Here's a brief introduction to the debate on miracles LINK. Now for my Appendix:

I've Written Three Books On How To Honestly Seek the Truth

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I've written three books to educate believers on how to honestly seek the truth and defend it: 1) The Outsider Test for Faith: How to Know Which Religion is True. In it I show honest believers how to approach their faith consistently without any double standards or special pleading.

2) How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist. In it I show Christian apologists how to correctly defend their faith, if it can be defended at all. Apologists should read it before writing another sentence in defense of their faith. In it I challenge apologists to stop doing what they're doing if they're honest about defending their Christian faith. The risk is that if they stop it they cannot defend their faith at all. But the risk is worth it if they're serious about knowing and defending the truth.

3) Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End. In it I show philosophers of religion and other intellectuals how to properly discuss and debate religious beliefs. What I cannot teach however, is to desire the truth. That comes from within. Taken together these three books are the antidote to the faith virus. The problem is almost none of them desire the truth, comparatively speaking. Here's hoping a few honest believers are reading who desire the truth.

5 Things That Disqualify People As Trusted Experts In Religious Matters

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1) Denying the need for sufficient objective evidence. Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig have argued that Christian believers do not need objective evidence for their faith. So they are disqualified from being experts in religious matters. They are clearly deluded no matter how brilliant their rhetoric is. Other Christian believers disagree with them on this, even highly noted apologists Norman Geisler and Paul Moser. If Geisler and Moser cannot be convinced then why should anyone else?

2) Rejecting the need to overcome the cognitive biases keeping us away from the truth. The only way to overcome these biases is to require sufficient objective evidence for truth, period. I wrote a post on Why Doubt Is The Adult Attitude And How Science Helps Us. In it I have complied a long list of books that prove this point. The evidence is overwhelming that our brain is uninterested in the truth, but rather primarily concerned in protecting its host. So we must require sufficient objective evidence for what we think is true. Plantinga and Craig brazenly eschew an objective standard that applies to everyone with Reformed Epistemology!

3) Rejecting the non-double standard requirement to approach all religious faiths with the same standard, as an outsider, a nonbeliever. Here is a primer on why we need it. Anyone who rejects this is not worthy of our trust as an expert.

4) Rejecting, denying, or denigrating science in general. The highest degree of trust we can have is when there is a consensus among scientists about an issue. See these posts for more.

5) Refusing to accept the overwhelming evidence for evolution disqualifies someone from being an expert in religious matters. That's because evolution has a significant bearing on religious matters. If anyone rejects evolution they are ignorant, willfully ignorant, and unworthy of trusting as an expert. Evolution is an issue that has achieved a consensus among scientists around the globe from those working is different fields. Start reading Charles Darwin's, On the Origin of Species. Then read the books by Jerry Coyne, Why Evolution Is True, and Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution.Do not just read the works of Christian creationists, who themselves were indoctrinated to believe what they do. Go to the source. Compare the evidence yourself. Along this same line read Robert M. Price and Edwin Suominen's wonderful book, Evolving out of Eden. They will show you the inescapable implications of evolution: There is no original sin, no need for a savior, and no need for salvation.

Agreed? If not you're in too deep.

Jesus Doesn’t Want You to Fact-check

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The Bible is a fact-checker’s nightmare



We are able to get along in the world to the extent we grasp the importance of fact-checking. Whether it’s buying a house, a new appliance, insurance, or checking out colleges for the kids, we usually aren’t satisfied with taking the word of the salesman. We’re willing to do some research to find out the quality of the product or service. Even if it’s deciding what movies to watch, why not read the reviews? 

 

But this same level of scrutiny is seldom applied in the realm of religion. Those brought up in religious environments—Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Mormon, Jewish, or whatever—are not usually encouraged to challenge or question the “truth” imparted by parents and religious authorities. Indeed, religious indoctrination from an early age is meant to guard against the invasion of doubt or skepticism: “Here’s our god’s honest truth, hold fast to it your whole life—if you know what’s good for you!”

Stripped of its Philosophical Support William Lane Craig Sounds Bizarre: Consider The Holy Spirit's Role In Him Believing The Virgin Birth Tale

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Believers need to think for just one minute. Think about what should be the case, but isn't. Then you'll realize that if Christian belief is indeed reasonable, Christian intellectuals should tout the virtues of reason. But they betray themselves. See Case #'s 1 and 3 here. For the bottom line is that Craig's faith has become an intrinsic defeater to all defeaters against it. Reason is secondary at best(!) If reason and faith stand in conflict then according to Craig, "it is reason that must submit to faith, not vice versa.” [Craig, Apologetics: An Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press, 1984), p. 21.] Craig quotes the Bible as an authority on this, saying,

The Failure of Van Tillian Presuppositional Apologetics

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Guest Essay Written by Cat_Lord:


1.
Introduction

Throughout the course of Christian history, there have been many and various attempts to argue for the truth of Christianity. In this post, I will discuss one popular form of apologetic argumentation named presuppositionalism. The main points I want to write about are what this apologetic is as it relates to Cornelius Van Til, its relationship to what are called “transcendental  arguments” in the philosophical literature,  give examples of how presuppositionalists often proceed with their argumentation, and finally point out some problems with this apologetic.

Jaco Gericke: Fundamentalism on Stilts: A Devastating Response to Alvin Plantinga's Reformed Epistemology

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[First published 12/12/09] Dr. Jaco Gericke is a philosopher of religion and a biblical scholar to boot. He has written what can be considered a refutation of Plantinga's Reformed Epistemology. Gericke tells me, "The trouble with Craig and and Plantinga is that their philosophy of religion conveniently ignores the problems posed for their views by the history of Israelite religion. They might as well try to prove Zeus exists. People sometimes forget 'God' used to be Yahweh and it is possible to prove from textual evidence that 'there ain't no such animal.'" Dr. Gericke writes:
Not so long ago I was so irritated by a book of Alvin Plantinga's that I wrote a rebuttal from the perspective of a biblical scholar who happens to know what goes on in the philosophy of religion. It concerns the foundations of Plantinga's views and can be applied to William Lane Craig as well. Their philosophy may sound complex and formidable but if you know both the philosophy of religion and also the history of religion their smarts ain't nothing but Fundamentalism on Stilts.
Anyone who is biblically literate should know there is no reason to be a Christian fundamentalist. So with that in mind, below is a summary of Gericke's important points and a link to his pdf article. Enjoy!

Is Belief In Plantinga's God Properly Basic? Dr. Matt McCormick Responds in Three Talks

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In the Preface to his monumental book, God and Other Minds: A Study of the Rational Justification of Belief in God [Cornell University Press, 1967], Alvin Plantinga tells us what he aims to do in it. He begins with these words: "In this study I set out to investigate the rational justification of belief in the existence of God as He is conceived in the Hebrew-Christian tradition." Now there isn't anything particularly wrong with examining the rational justification of any given religious tradition. But I think it's very important to discuss what that tradition is. There is a great amount of diversity in it. Furthermore, I think it's also very important to place any discussion of the rationality of religious beliefs into a global perspective. There is a great amount of religious diversity around the globe.

So it's fairly obvious to the rest of us that Plantinga will be special pleading his case for his type of fundamentalist Christianity. I have argued in chapter 7 of my book, How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist, that all apologetics is special pleading. If you watch the best magicians, they fool us. The better they are the better they fool us! That's also how apologists work. The better they are the better they fool us! Whether consciously or not, apologists bamboozle us with mind tricks. You have to pay attention to what they are doing, how they are doing it, notice what they're leaving out, consider how things could be different, and refuse to be distracted by other things.

Back to Plantinga's Preface:

Q #237 "Is Appeal to the Witness of the Holy Spirit Question-Begging?" A Primer On Plantinga's Religious Epistemology by William Lane Craig

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Bill Craig answers questions on his website Reasonable Faith. This one was published on October 31, 2011: Q #237 "Is Appeal to the Witness of the Holy Spirit Question-Begging?"

Christian “truth” in Shreds: Epic Takedown 8

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21 faulty ideas, doctrines, and faith practices



Pick a church, any church, and wait outside on a Sunday morning for people to come out of the service. You’re there to do a survey: ask random folks to describe their religion: “What are the basics of your faith?” Chances are, you’ll hear something like this: “Our lord and savior is Jesus Christ. He taught his followers how to lead righteous lives, and he died on the cross to save us from our sins. He resurrected from the dead on Easter morning, and now lives with God in heaven. His resurrection means that he overcame death, and we too will have eternal life if we believe in this amazing victory.” Of course, there will be many variations of this affirmation, since there are so many different—and differing—versions of Christianity.

More On William Lane Craig's Personal Testimony

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Previously I had examined Bill Craig's personal conversion testimony right here. Well now, in a podcast released on July 18th 2022, he tells us something very important about it. A guy named Kyle is struggling with doubt and asked him this question:
Christianity is not just a set of propositions that one holds, but it's a faith-practice, a way of life. With that in mind, wouldn't the smart thing to do is require very high epistemic standards before one decides they will dedicate their life to Christ? If you're going to live for Christ then wouldn't it be smart to actually meet Jesus Christ in person or even talk to his mother Mary or an angel? I know you often mention the witness of the Holy Spirit as a way that one can have direct access to God but I have done meditative prayer and deep meditation for years upon years and nothing has come up in terms of God speaking to me directly where I know it wasn't just my own imagination. Many of my fellow Christians have had similar concerns on this also. This is perhaps my biggest struggle and I cannot seem to get it out of my head as it is causing me to abandon the Christian life because I cannot have high epistemic confidence that Christianity is true. Kyle, United States.
Craig responded by saying:

Robert M. Price Shows William Lane Craig's Apologetics Is a "Sham"

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The following is the text of a portion of their 1999 Ohio State University debate on the question “Did Jesus of Nazareth Rise from the Dead?” the audio of which was published on October 17, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1vaqsnhgJY. This text was published as an Appendix in my book, Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End.

In 1981 William Lane Craig Admited "the Christian faith does not stand or fall on the evidence for the resurrection."

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William Lane Craig has admitted from the very beginning of his writing career that the historical evidence for the resurrection is not the basis for the Christian faith. Historical investigation into the evidence itself is not the reason for knowing, or for showing, Jesus arose from the dead. By extention, evidence itself is not the reason for knowing, or for showing Christianity is true. This makes Craig's whole apologetic work a sham. For saving sinners is all up to his god to do. Craig's god does not need apologetics to get that job done. Evidence is not needed. Historical research is not needed. Craig is not needed. Only belief is needed (unto salvation) and it does not have to be reasonable faith(!) based on sufficient evidence.

If this is true one might say, "No wonder there isn't enough evidence to accept the Christian faith!" Or, conversely, "Apologetics is logically fallacious empty rhetoric without substance." Craig's apologetics may be used by his god to convert sinners, but his god doesn't need apologetics to do this. His god already has an alleged inspired book of writings and the alleged spirit of the trinity to convert people. Since conversion is god's task, Craig's entire work ends up being written for believers who are already converted to strengthen their faith. But then it always has been that way. Anselm said it best, so let me translate what he said: "Faith seeks evidence"; "Faith seeks reason"; "Faith seeks data."

One must consider what could be the case, but is acknowledged by Craig that it isn't the case. What if there were sufficient evidence for Christianity? What then? Well, then Craig would not have to make excuses in advance for the fact that the evidence is insufficient to rationally accept the Christian faith. That's what! He's admitting the evidence is lacking, in advance, even before he presents it with all the research he can muster.

The following text comes from Craig's book The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus (Chicago: Moody Press, 1981; reprint, Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2000): pp. 7–8.

William Lane Craig: "Christian belief is not based on the historical evidence." In fact, it's not based on evidence at all.

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Let's examine what Craig says:
A vast majority of the human race down through history don't have the training, the time, and the resources to conduct a historical investigation of the evidence for Jesus. If we insist on a historical, evidential foundation for faith, then we consign most of the world’s population to unbelief. To me this is unconscionable. Therefore, if one’s religious beliefs are to be rational, there must be some other basis for them than the evidence. We are therefore not dependent on historical proofs for knowledge of Christianity’s truth. Rather through the immediate, inner witness of God’s Holy Spirit every person can come to know the truth of the Gospel once he hears it. Through an existential encounter with God Himself every generation can be made contemporaneous with the first generation of believers.LINK.

The climate crisis: The time to act is now

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Richard Carrier's Take Down of "The Argument from Reason" Is Comprehensive and Irrefutable!

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In a clearly written post taking dead aim against the Argument from Reason, Richard Carrier exposes one of the most used apologetical "god-of-the-gap" ploys. "Where does logic come from?" asks the apologist seeking to conclude that logic can only be accounted for if God exists. Carrier's post is comprehensive and irrefutable!
One question atheists tend to be bad at answering, because they rarely give it much competent thought, is the ontology of logic: what, physically, does it mean to say that logically impossible things can’t ever happen or exist? Or as a theist might pose the question: if physicalism is true, and only physical things exist (and in our observed case, that means “nothing but” arrangements of matter-energy in space-time), how is it that anything obeys the “Laws of Logic”? Those aren’t, supposedly, laws of physics, right? And in any event, laws of physics are contingent—they could have been different. What keeps Laws of Logic from having been different? Why are they special? And how is it that anything in a purely physical universe obeys them?

Of course a lot of silly apologetics then spins off of the typical “you can’t answer that” God-of-the-Gaps approach here. We need God, you see, to make sure things obey logic, or for logic to even exist as a compelling force over reality. Because, you know, logic is “mental,” or something, yet it governs everywhere, so there has to be some supreme mind manifesting it, which would be God. Yadayada. You get Presuppositionalism out of this; as well as variants of its less loony cousin, the Argument from Reason. As usual, the approach is bogus. Because it simply isn’t true that “you can’t answer that.” One actually can show why logic will be an inalienable governing property of anything that could ever exist. No gods—or minds—needed.

For Religious Advocates, Honesty Is Rarely the Best Policy

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The Book of Acts ends with bad theology and a cover-up



Promoters of religions, by which I mean missionaries, priests, preachers, evangelists, do not believe that honesty is the best policy. As they proclaim their cherished religious truths, they don’t bother to inform their audiences that hundreds of other religions have different ideas about god(s)—sometimes drastically different. What preacher, standing in his/her pulpit, is going to say, “Be aware, I am paid by my denomination to advocate our version of the truth, so, in your own best interest, be sure to comparison shop. Check out what other religions believe.”  Nor do the preachers encourage study of the negative aspects of their religions.

William Lane Craig's Answer To Lessing's Ugly Broad Ditch

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German critic Gotthold Lessing (1729-1781) wrote about an “ugly broad ditch” he could not cross over, no matter how hard he tried. It was between the probabilities of historical knowledge and the truths we can know from reason. Lessing argued, “Miracles, which I see with my own eyes, and which I have opportunity to verify for myself, are one thing; miracles, of which I know only from history that others say they have seen them and verified them, are another.” “But I live in the 18th century, in which miracles no longer happen. The problem is that reports of miracles are not miracles....they have to work through a medium which takes away all their force.” LINK.

The problem is that if I see a miracle I have evidence that it happened. But if I hear of a miracle from someone else, I have to trust that person’s word on it. And if I read about a miracle in the ancient past, I have to trust the document that reports it. The historical probabilities diminish in terms of verification. One cannot verify a miracle claim in the ancient past comparable to the conclusions of reason.

Bill Craig acknowledges this problem. But look at his answer.

An Interview About My Last Book, "God and Horrendous Suffering"

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Here is a written interview I did about my last book, "God and Horrendous Suffering." You'll have to scroll down through a few blurbs and an intro to get to it. Enjoy! LINK.

A Christian Flunks Pop-Quiz Number 3

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It’s a big fat F



So far I have posted three Pop-Quizzes for Christians here on the DC Blog (One    Two   Three). My motive has been to coax, to prod Christians to read the Bible, to study the gospels especially. Surveys have shown that most can’t be bothered. I encourage readers to share these pop-quizzes with their church-going friends and relatives. 

 

A few weeks after Pop-Quiz Number 3 was posted, a Christian who identifies as Oreo Pagus offered his comments on the post. The first question on the quiz is about science: What was Carl Sagan referring to when he described The Pale Blue Dot. Oreo Pagus gave the correct answer: Planet Earth, about which Sagan had observed:

 

“Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”

Examining William Lane Craig's Personal Testimony

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In 2008 William Lane Craig shared his personal testimony of how he became a Christian [reproduced in its entirety below, with a link]. I have previously weighed in on the value of Christian conversion testimonies as compared to deconversion/defection testimonies of former believers right here. It's time to look at what Bill Craig says.

Bill tells us he wasn’t raised in a church-going family. But when he became a teenager in the sixties he asked typical teenage questions, like “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” and “Where am I going?” He searched for answers by attending a Christian church, not a Muslim Mosque, nor Jewish Synagogue, nor Hindu Temple, because he was raised in a Christian culture which set the limits of answers he could accept. Of this church, all he saw with his young prudish judgmental eyes were “a pack of hypocrites” who were “pretending to be something they’re not.” Apparently, *ahem* the young Craig could read people’s minds. Usually the person claiming to do this is only revealing his own mind. Regardless, Bill became very bitter and angry toward the people in that church, and arrived at the fallacious hasty generalization that “Nobody is really genuine.” People were “all just a bunch of phonies” he says. So he “grew to despise people” saying “I wanted nothing to do with them.”

Bill goes on to admit that he was just as much a phony as they were. “For here I was, pretending not to need people, when deep down I knew that I really did.” So he became angry at his own hypocrisy, which is a religious guilt trip he placed on himself, that led him to falsely say, “I couldn’t see any purpose to life; nothing really mattered.” This is such an unjustified either/or fallacious conclusion. There can be plenty of purposes and plenty of things that matter in one’s daily life (like family, friends, and meaningful work), without needing one single final absolute unchanging purpose in life.

Then Bill met a girl. Her name was Sandy. She “always seemed so happy it just makes you sick!” he tells us. Upon asking Sandy why she was so happy, she told him “the God of the universe loved him and wanted to live in his heart.” Sandy also introduced him to other Christians. Of them he said, “I had never met people like this! Whatever they said about Jesus, what was undeniable was that they were living life on a plane of reality that I didn’t even dream existed, and it imparted a deep meaning and joy to their lives, which I craved.”

Two Confusions of My Book "Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End"

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“I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” -- Richard Nixon

It's sad that too many people misunderstand my book "Unapologetic." Let me address two of the biggest confusions.

ONE) Some people might conclude I have nothing but distain for the discipline I majored in, the philosophy of religion, even though I have contributed several books based in that discipline.

I do nothing more than what the late biblical scholar Dr. Hector Avalos did in his book calling for The End of Biblical Studies. He called for the end of them AS THEY WERE BEING PRACTICED! The reason I say this is because Avalos and I both know that how our respective disciplines are being practiced won't change anytime soon. So we seek to undermine them, to expose them as the sham they really are, by doing our part to end them.

Avalos wrote:
From my perspective, there are really only 3 alternatives for what is now called biblical studies.

1. Eliminate biblical studies completely from the modern world.
2. Retain biblical studies as is, but admit that it is a religionist enterprise.
3. Retain biblical studies, but redefine its purpose so that it is tasked with eliminating completely the influence of the Bible in the modern world.
Dr. Avalos argued it's unreasonable to think biblical scholars could achieve alternative #1. Like the automobile it's here to stay, so long as there are Christians. Likewise, when it comes to the philosophy of religion. So long as there are Christian philosophers in defense Christian theism, they aren't going away either. Option #2 is already being done in seminaries. They actually consider biblical studies to be an extension of Anselm's dictum, "faith seeking understanding." When it comes to the philosophy of religion, merely acknowledging that it's a religionist faith-based enterprise made subservient to apologists is not good enough. For then we'd be found to enable foolish, delusional thinking, with the dubious goal of having a discussion for discussion's sake when we need to change minds.

Dr. Avalos preferred the option #3.
I prefer the third option. The sole purpose of biblical studies would be to help people move toward a postscriptural society...What I seek is liberation from the very idea that any sacred text should be an authority for modem human existence. Abolishing human reliance on sacred texts is imperative when those sacred texts imperil the existence of human civilization as it is currently configured. The letter can kill. That is why the only mission of biblical studies should be to end biblical studies as we know it. LINK to Excerpt.
When it comes to debunking Christianity I seek to use all the tools available, all of them, including the philosophy of religion. Just take a look at two books I had published AFTER I wrote the book Unapologetic: The Case against Miracles along with God and Horrendous Suffering. They have sections in them that fall squarely in the philosophy of religion area. My goal in them, my focus, is to change minds. I seek to help reason people out of their faith, even though I know it's extremely hard to reason people out of that which they were never reasoned into, who have a tribal motivation to stay within the confines of their cultural indoctrination. I also know such a goal gets tougher and tougher the more educated people become in their delusion.

My focus is on the irrationality of faith itself, and the lack of any relevant objective evidence for any of the miracles in the Bible. My focus is on five powerful reasons not to believe.

The best online excerpt explaining the goal of my book is probably the one Hemant Mehta posted just after its release, right here.

I argue toward what anthropology professor Dr. David Eller advocates in his next book to be published, Liberatheism. It's the third book in a trilogy that includes Natural Atheism (2004) and Atheism Advanced (2007) [See my review of this book!] Eller explains this third book in his Preface:
Natural Atheism was an explanation, examination, and defense of atheism on the premise that humans are born without any religious ideas or beliefs and hence “natural” atheists. Atheism Advanced Further Thoughts of a Freethinker, as the name suggests, pushed atheism in new directions, especially beyond argument about the Christian god, for instance, emphasizing that there are many other theisms and many other gods than Christianity and its god, and noting how arguing about god(s) in a Christian context still has us “speaking Christian.” This current book pushes further still, envisioning a future when we no longer fight about god(s) because we are free of god(s)....

The first step in this process, in theism-dominated societies, is atheism—saying no to god(s). The eighth chapter describes the profound damage that religion has done to philosophy, the oldest form of rational inquiry. It condemns the academic field of philosophy of religion as little more than an adjunct to Christian theology and apologetics. An ultimate betrayal of the commission to analyze and critique our pet ideas and concepts, as well as a colossal waste of brainpower and resources, philosophy of religion is encouraged to liberate itself from its role as a defender of Christianity to become a genuine philosophical approach to the question of religion. The tenth chapter provides some practical advice on how to change people’s minds from theism to atheism, taking advantage of the best knowledge and practices in psychology, education, marketing, and behavioral economics. The chapter invites us to think in terms of “attitude change” and away from conventional confrontational tactics like argument and debate.

The next step is liberatheism—getting free of god(s). The final step is not talking about god(s) at all. The goal is to accelerate toward the day when we no longer argue about god(s) but live free from god(s), when god(s) are simply not worth talking about anymore.
TWO) Some people might conclude I advocate ridicule to the exclusion of reasoned arguments, and that this would be counter-productive toward my goals of reaching believing Christians. I have documented the effectiveness of ridicule in several blog posts. But the evidence of my writing on this blog and in my books should dispel this confusion easily, since in them I exclusively reason with believers. I advocate telling our debate opponents the truth even though it may offend them, but only if it's based on good sound arguments, something philosopher Dr. Stephen Law has argued in an essay I agree with completely. He offers five morals that should guide debates between atheists and believers. I don't advocate ridiculing people to their faces, and I almost never do so. But as a general rule ridicule is good and effective. Comedians do it all the time. It can even be considered venting, and in that case why should we not do it in public? If people don't want to come to the show they don't have to do so.

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John W. Loftus is a philosopher and counter-apologist credited with 12 critically acclaimed books, including The Case against Miracles, God and Horrendous Suffering, and Varieties of Jesus Mythicism. Please support DC by sharing our posts, or by subscribing, donating, or buying our books at Amazon. Thank you so much!

Dr. Alex Rosenberg On The Principle of Sufficient Reason

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Dr. Alex Rosenberg is the R. Taylor Cole Professor of Philosophy at Duke University and head of the philosophy department. This comes from his debate with William Lane Craig, "Is Faith In God Reasonable":

--From his first statement:
Many of the arguments that Dr. Craig gave tonight and which he has given repeatedly in the past rest on the first cause argument. An argument that goes back certainly to St. Thomas Aquinas and probably to Aristotle and it rests on, of course, the principle of sufficient reason. The principle that everything that exists must have a cause. Now, the remarkable thing about this argument and the principle of sufficient reason as it is called on which it rests is that the principle is plainly false. OK? It is refuted trillions of times every second throughout the universe. It is refuted in this room and I will give you a pretty full explanation of why. Take two uranium-238 atoms that are absolutely indistinguishable. In a given moment these two indistinguishable atoms – atoms of exactly the same mass and energy state – have the following difference: one produces an alpha particle spontaneously and the other doesn’t and there is no cause whatsoever for that difference. That is what quantum mechanics tells us. Suddenly one emits an alpha particle and the other doesn’t and there is no cause whatever for that difference between them. Now, you might think that that is not a very important fact of nature but one mole – one Avogadro’s Number of uranium-238 molecules – emits three million alpha particles a second. And every helium atom on this planet is one of those alpha particles. And the smoke detectors that operate all through this auditorium to protect us from fires – those operate because of the indeterminate, unexplained, completely spontaneous appearance of an alpha particle out of a uranium atom in these systems. For Dr. Craig to insist on the arguments that rest on the claim that every event had a cause that had to have brought it into being is just bluff. It is not a principle accepted in physics. And you can’t argue from its intuitive attractiveness.

Christian History Should Be as Big a Turnoff as the Bible

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So many crimes done in Jesus’ name


“If you read the scriptures and are not shocked out of all your religious beliefs, you have not understood them.” Oh how I wish these words could be mounted in stained glass, in churches throughout the world. This is a quote from Dr. Jaco Gericke’s essay, “Can God Exist of Yahweh Doesn’t?” in the 2011 John Loftus anthology, The End of Christianity. But that kind of honesty is missing. Instead, via stained glass, sermons, ritual, and hymns, the folks in the pews are familiar with feel-good Bible verses—and even many of those reflect bad, incoherent theology; with just a little careful thought, most people could figure out that John 3:16 is deeply flawed. Many years ago, when I—as a pastor—led Bible study classes for my parishioners, I advised a generous helping of skepticism when reading the Bible. But no, the Bible is the word of God. Folks read the Bible to anchor their faith, so they welcome the pious filters that keep them fooled. Of course, many of them skip Bible reading altogether, and priests and preachers breathe sighs of relief.

How Do Civil Wars Start? Is America On the Verge of One? What Would It Look Like?

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Anne Applebaum wrote the book, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism. In the following interview she explains why some of her contemporaries have abandoned liberal democratic ideals in favor of strongman cults, nationalist movements, or one-party states. At the 10:43 mark onward she talks about former President Trump's lies and more. For an Authoritarian, lies are a test of party loyalty. Loyalty is everything. If you're willing to lie publicly, you're "on my team." Once you repeat the lie you can't go back to normalcy.



You should read her essay in The Atlantic, "A Warning From Europe: The Worst Is Yet to Come: Polarization. Conspiracy theories. Attacks on the free press. An obsession with loyalty. Recent events in the United States follow a pattern Europeans know all too well." LINK.

Now consider Barbara F. Walter. She is a political science professor at the University of California at San Diego. She has spent over three decades studying civil conflict. In her new book, How Civil Wars Start: and How to Stop Them, Walter examines the rise of violent extremism on a global scale and warns of the increasing likelihood of a second civil war breaking out in the United States. She answers my three questions in the title of this post in the following interview, which will be the best 33 minutes you spend on these questions.



Let's focus on my third question, which Walter answers as Q#6 elsewhere:

"The Supreme Court is laying the groundwork to pre-rig the 2024 election"

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This is an opinion piece that argues how the Republican Right may steal the next Presidential election. It sounds about right, and it's scary. I hope to hell some key people help stop this train wreck upon our nation. Apparently we never settled the Civil War. This may be a prelude to it, which historians will label CWII. Keep in mind it took two wars to settle the problems sourrounding Germany. Southerners are angry. The good news is that doomsday scenarios don't always turn out as predicted. Sometimes they're worse though. LINK.

Christian Scandals Keep Coming, Oh My!

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I don't usually point out major Christian scandals, since there are so many of them to report. Nonetheless, sadly, here are two more. People of faith lack the requisite skeptical thinking skills to spot and expose terrible people.

Ex-Students Reveal Abuse at ‘Christian Torture Compound’.
Former residents of AgapĂ© Boarding School opened up...about claims of systematic abuse as they demand the state immediately shut down the Baptist facility. It's a climate more like Lord of the Flies, where staff were given free rein to restrain and beat students, and where some kids were emotionally and sexually abused. They claim AgapĂ© has functioned like a “cult” and “Christian torture compound” for decades, allowing adults to manhandle teenagers and withhold food, water, and proper clothing—apparently without most parents ever knowing.
The World's Second Biggest Lie. "Trump’s big lie is that he won the 2020 presidential election, which he did not. The Vatican’s big lie, which it’s been spreading since World War II, is that Pope Pius XII did everything he could to stop the Holocaust, which he did not. He did nothing." Why are we not surprised, at all?

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.