Take the Debunking Christianity Challenge in 2010

[Written by John W. Loftus] What I’m engaging in here at Debunking Christianity is a huge challenge. I like big challenges. So let me offer one to Christians...

I have a challenge for Christians especially of the evangelical kind. It’s a challenge few will take up, but let me offer it anyway, even though many expert Christian apologists have done it without a loss of faith. Other Christian thinkers struggle with their faith because they have done what I'm about to ask Christians to do. Still others like Bart Ehrman, Hector Avalos, Robert M. Price, Michael Shermer, William Dever, Ed Babinski, Dan Barker, and others like me end up rejecting our former faith.

Do this. I’ll call this the Debunking Christianity challenge. Do what Andrew Atkinson did. He had read up on all of the top Christian apologetics books and then decided in fairness to read all of the top skeptical books. What he found was that the skeptical books ended his faith. They had better arguments.

Come on…what are you afraid of? If your faith can withstand our arguments then you will be a better informed Christian with a much stronger faith. If your faith cannot withstand our arguments then your faith wasn’t worth having in the first place. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE!

If nothing else, read a few of the top Christian apologetics books and then read a few of the top skeptic books. At least give those arguments an audience.

I find it interesting that one of the reasons Christians won’t do this is because there are expert Christian apologists who have read the skeptical books and stand as a testimony that those skeptical arguments are wrong. Christians simply trust those authorities on such matters. But trusting them doesn’t say whether they justifiably maintained their faith in the face of our arguments. Maybe they have alternative agendas, a reputation to uphold, or seek to maintain their employment within parachurch ministries like Campus Crusade For Christ? I’m not saying this is the case, and a Christian might unsuccessfully argue it could likewise be the case for skeptics who read the opposing views and are not impressed much by that literature too. But since you personally cannot say either way, it should cause you to investigate these arguments for yourself.

[Let me provide one example of an apologist in action. Norman Geisler reviewed my book which I commented on here. If you were to read my book and then read his review of it, you would come away wondering if he’s counting on his readers not to actually read my book! He does not actually engage my arguments. He merely repeats his arguments as if I never dealt with them in the first place. He does not answer me! He does not actually deal honestly with what I argued.]

Nothing short of reading the skeptical literature will give you a sense of what we’re actually saying. So take the Debunking Christianity Challenge. Come on. What do you have to lose?

Let me list the top ten skeptical books a Christian should read. These books will now officially be part of the Debunking Christianity Challenge. My focus here will be skeptical books for the evangelical Christian on a college level covering a variety of issues, in a selected order (I may revise the list from time to time):

1) First read my book, Why I Became An Atheist! Do what Andrew Atkinson did by starting with the book that first made him seriously consider he was wrong.

2) For a devastating critique of the Christian faith read the anthology I edited called The Christian Delusion.

3) For another general critique of Christianity, read Michael Martin’s book, The Case Against Christianity.

4) On arguments against the existence of God, read Nicolas Everitt’s book, The Non-existence of God.

5) Turning to Biblical studies in general, read Hector Avalos’ The End of Biblical Studies.

6) And do not miss Paul Tobin's magnum opus, The Rejection of Pascal's Wager: A Skeptic's Guide to the Bible and the Historical Jesus.This is a massive book deserving of your attention.

7) Turning to the New Testament read Bart D. Ehrman's book Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. This excellent book written for the layman introduces people to gospel criticism. It shows what we can know about Jesus. He was an apocalyptic prophet who thought the new age was just around the corner in his generation. This book puts Ehrman's whole work into perspective. You've got to read this book!

8) Then see how much of the New Testament cannot be trusted to be reliable by reading Bart D. Ehrman's book Jesus Interrupted. This is probably my favorite Ehrman book where he argues that the New Testament is a human, not divine book.

9) On the resurrection of Jesus, read Robert M. Price and Jeffery Jay Lowder’s book, The Empty Tomb.

10) Lastly see how diverse the early Christian community was which canonized the New Testament, by reading Bart Ehrman’s book, Lost Christianities.

Each of these ten books cites additional works for you to consult to study out in greater and greater detail. There are many books I would've liked to list, but I just limited it to ten. Start with these ten books and then move on to the list Andrew provides, as time permits.

Again, what do you have to lose?