Quote For a New Year, Hey, This Time It's By Me!

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Science focuses on that which is detectable and its method is doubt. It is the skeptical adult approach rather than the gullible childish approach to an issue that if a god existed he would be pleased with. If God is not detectable and if he cannot be apprehended by such an adult attitude then I can't help him.

The 2011 Debunking Christianity Challenge

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Three years ago I challenged Christians to take the Debunking Christianity Challenge. Luke over at Common Sense Atheism developed a very nice Ultimate Truth Seeker Challenge. Luke equally selects the best Christian books for skeptics to read, which is something I don't do because it's for Christians to pick them rather than me. After all, Catholics and Protestants will choose different books as will Protestants and Evangelicals, or Calvinists and Arminians, so I'm not in the habit of giving preference to one professing Christian sect over the others especially since professing Christians themselves can't agree. Anyway, this year I'm proposing twelve college level books, one for each month. Make it your New Year's resolution to read the other side.

My New Computer Tower

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I want to thank everyone who donated to help me get a new computer. I bought a tower that cost me $425. It’s a Dell Inspiron 560 with a dual core processor and a dvd/cd writer. It has a whopping 320 gig hard drive! I’m getting it to where I need it, but this is a joy. Thanks so much!

New Dell Computer
And yes, that's my pool table. $10-$50 a game anyone? I need some more money. ;-)

What Nontheists Can Learn from the Success of the Homosexual Rights Movement

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Check this out written by Gregory S. Paul. On a similar note Robert Price insightfully argues that the thing that will sooner or later bring the Evangelical Wailing Wall down is sex. Because sex is such a problem, Catholics and Baptists are changing the rules so they don't lose members as Darrel W. Ray argues.

Quote of the Day by articulett

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Ugh... there's just so much wrong with the Jesus story. You have to be indoctrinated, skilled in apologetics, and unwilling to ask yourself a lot of questions even to try and get it to make sense. Link.

A Visual Study Guide to COGNITIVE BIASES

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This visual guide is excellent. Believers ought to study up on these biases and apply them to their faith. It is a great antidote to faith based reasoning. Follow this link. At the bottom there are arrows to turn the page. You might want to click on "Full Screen" icon too. I think a study of each one of them could be helpful to see how pervasive they are with people who claim to be rational and why the best bet we have for escaping these biases are the sciences.

What's Controversial About This?

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Anthropological studies show us that religion and culture are almost synonymous. Sociological studies confirm it when we look at the geographical distribution of religion. Psychological studies show we are self-centered gullible people who believe what we were initially taught and that we believe what we prefer to be true. They show us we are ignorant of our own ignorance. The conclusion is that given these scientific disciplines we should all be skeptics. We should trust the sciences even if they are sometimes fallible because there is no other way out of such a morass. The ONLY reason this is controversial is because believers know it undermines the rationality of what they believe. They kick against the goads not to join us and be skeptics.

Victor Reppert is "Irate" Claiming This is "Nonsense. Hogwash. BS."

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To what did he respond to? This comment of mine:
Vic, you get your "priors" from your upbringing. With different priors you would be defending something else. Link
Admit it Vic. You get your "priors" from your upbringing. This is undeniable. We were all raised as believers. Whatever our parents told us we believed. That's your starting place. Sure, we question them as we go, but we don't upchuck them all.

I'm the one telling you the truth. No, you do not believe what your parents told you anymore. But they did give you your initial priors. Did they teach you to sing "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so," or not!

My claim is that without your Christian upbringing you would not have the priors that make you believe all of the things you do. I want you to think chronologically about your priors. Ignore your upbringing. What would be an adequate defense of your faith starting from your most basic prior? List them in some kind of order. My claim is that there is no way you can assess the historical evidence for the Bible and come away with a "faith prior" because you need faith prior to coming to your historical conclusions.

Now don't get irate with me on this. Think through my questions and answer them.

The Trouble With Atheists

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1) We don’t provide a united front. We are a diversified bunch of people. Some of us support different atheist organizations, subscribe to different atheist magazines, while others don’t support or subscribe to any at all. 

2) We have no leaders. While there are certainly some standouts in the atheist community there are always disagreements on who we regard as our intellectual heroes.

3) We cannot agree on anything else but religion. We can’t even agree on what to call ourselves. We disagree on such things as the basis for morality (or lack thereof), on politics, and on whether or not Jesus existed (and if so, what we are to think of him).

4) We have no agreed upon causes. Some focus on the separation of church and state, others on politics, others on science, and still others on specific kinds of religion and/or paranormal claims.

5) We cannot agree about tactics. There are the friendly atheists, spiritual atheists, evangelical atheists, and others who merely want to educate, not necessarily persuade, believers.

We are human beings of every age, shape, gender, skin color, health, wealth, education and social social status. We simply do not believe. We think for ourselves based on solid evidence and good reasons. We cannot be herded like believing sheep. Nor can we be fleeced.

But this is our strength. We are everywhere. We are the wave of the future. There is no turning back the hands of time. We cannot be ignored any more.

News Flash: Victor Reppert Continues to Kick Against the OTF Goads

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Let's see if I can make a few numbered statements that might help him understand.

The Day America Told the Truth: Doing Polls on Religion Correctly

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Polling agencies like Gallup, The Pew Forum, and The Barna Group listen up. We need a new updated survey of religion in America to be modeled after the book The Day America Told the Truth.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Author of Infidel, at the 2010 Freedom From Religion Convention

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She received the "Emperor Has No Clothes" award from Dan Barker. She's talking about Islam and laughing about it. This is what we do with Christianity. We laugh at it too. Christian, watch and laugh with us and then see why we laugh at you. This is a great talk!

Link. Find "Day One" then click on the word "watch."

Santa Lives!

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Was Jesus Born in Bethlehem?

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[Written by John W. Loftus] Let's take a look at a few details in the Gospels with regard to the birth of Jesus.

Toby Keith's Remedy For the War on Christmas...Bah, Humbug to Him!

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He's a great song writer, but come on now...such ignorance knows no bounds:

The Five Most Asinine Christian Arguments I've Seen

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[Written by John W. Loftus] Although there are so many to chose from let me highlight five of the most asinine types of Christian arguments I’ve seen:

1) "You were never Christians."

This comes from Calvinists who think only real Christians will persevere and be in heaven. We've addressed this till the cows come home. Just look at our responses in our FAQ sheet. See especially my particular response. The problem with this claim is that the ones making it cannot do so based on what they believe. For all they know we really were/are Christians, saved in Jesus with our names written in the Lamb's book of life. It's just that right now we're backsliding. They have no idea whether or not we'll return to the fold before we die. But the bottom line is that we did in fact believe the gospel just as Christians now do. God never kept his promise to save us even though we believed.

2) "I know God in Christ exists because I've experienced him in my life."

The whole problem with using this repeatedly as an argument is that it does nothing to change the mind of a person who doesn't have such a religious experience. It's one thing to believe because of a religious experience, which can be had by people who have different and even contradictory ideas as a result of the same experience. But it's another thing entirely to argue that because you had such an experience I should believe. This is not only asinine, it's very annoying. You can believe because of whatever experiences you have had. But when you attempt to engage people who claim not to have had these experiences (or that they were not veridical) you must meet us on common ground. You must argue on behalf of what you believe with reason. When it comes to these religious experiences you must argue that yours are veridical and that others who claim them are not. This means you must provide a philosophical argument, not antecdotal evidence.

3) “You don’t understand what true Christianity is all about.”

People making this claim think we’ve chosen an easy target when we debunk evangelical Christianity, and that Christianity is much different than that. Some of the most ignorant ones making this claim think that if we only understood true Christanity we would become believers (lol). I’ve seen this argued by existentialists, liberals, Catholics and other believers normally thought of as part of a "cult" by mainstream Christians.

Here is my usual response to these believers. Christianity is “a many splendored thing.” Like a chameleon it changes with the times and adapts to specific geographical locations (how evolutionary of it!). How can we debunk something that has these moving goals posts? We can't. So, we’ve chosen to debunk conservative, evangelical, or “Biblical” Christianity. It has the most obnoxious presence in politics and on the web. One former team member put is this way:
Not only is fundamentalist Christianity the greatest threat in the United States to science, tolerance, and social progress, but it is also the most prevalent form of Protestant Christianity to be found in our nation, whether you like it or not. It is the fundamentalist religious right that holds the reigns of the Republican party (which currently controls the nation, in case you didn't realize), and it is this same fundamentalist religious right that lobbies for the teaching of lies in public school and fights against funding for embryonic research that could potentially save the lives of millions.

Whether you like it or not, it is this flavor of Christianity that makes the loudest, most obnoxious, most dangerous impact on the world today, giving us plenty of good reason to direct the brunt of our attacks in its vicinity.
If you’re a liberal, existential or Catholic believer then we just might share some of the same criticisms of that which we take aim at, so join us in this goal, just like James McGrath does from time to time. Otherwise, start a Blog titled “True Christianity,” and invite all professing Christians there to hammer out your differences. If you can come to a consensus then come back here and we’ll debunk that consensus (lol). But don’t be so ignorant as to do that here. We know the differences. We just target a specific kind of Christianity because that’s the only way to be effective in debunking any of them. And don’t kid yourself, either. There are some aspects to our debunking that debunk all religions and all Christianities. Many of the beliefs we debunk are affirmed in the Apostles, Nicene and Athanasian creeds. So to you I say, if the shoe fits, wear it; if not, then don’t.

4) “Quoting Bible Passage X shows that we are wrong.”

These people I call the “Bible Thumpers." They are responding to our arguments with the very evidence we are questioning. A believer simply cannot reasonably respond to an argument that the Bible is unreliable by quoting from the Bible. If you don’t accept what I say about this then listen to Christian professor Dr. Dan Lambert, who told his students how to respond to the arguments in my book in these words: "You cannot use the Bible to try to refute his points or to support your own. You must use logic and critical thinking primarily." Here's the Link

5) For the most asinine Christian argument I've probably ever heard, here's a link.

Okay? Do you understand?

[First posted 6/16/09]

Richard Dawkins Debunks Noah's Ark

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Victor Reppert is Feeling the Heat of the Outsider Test for Faith

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Yep, just look at the title to his latest post: If I had been born in Saudi Arabia, would I have been a Muslim? Hell, no! "Hell No"? Hmmm. That's an expletive! To quote Shakespeare, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." A reasonable person would simply say "I don't think so," although that wouldn't be reasonable either. See Brenda's comment below, which is a perfect response:

Consider This, God is the Ultimate Troll ;-)

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If he speaks like one and acts like one then he is one! ;-) Link.

Thanks Again My Friends!

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I just want to offer a shout out to the skeptics here who help in answering the personal attacks on me and the arguments of some utterly ignorant Christians. It means a lot to me, really. What buffoons some of them are. I have no clue what they hope to accomplish but they certainly view me as a threat, and of that they are right. It's just that I'm reading what they write and it's completely ignorant for the most part. I would've said that as a Christian professor when I was teaching apologetics. It's a shame that with a Bible in hand they think they can answer us, isn't it? They are unaware how ignorant they are. Is there anyone else out there who can reason with us? Oops, sorry, they're all ignorant.

Most Christians are Brainwashed or Indoctrinated to Believe, Here's Proof:

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This Week In Holy Crimes

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What business do religious leaders have in telling us what to believe or do? Sheesh.

Joseph Lewis on the 10th Commandment

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I've written before about Joseph Lewis who was a pioneering American freethinker. Read this except from his monumental 644 page book The Ten Commandments concerning the 10th one, where he writes:
This Commandment was never intended to prevent envying another's possessions, but rather to avoid the evil consequences of "coveting" in the magical sense. Coveting was not mentioned as an undesirable trait to be avoided because it is unethical, immoral or antisocial; it was recorded and made part of the Decalogue because the superstition prevailed in Hebrew tribal society that envious thoughts would bring ill luck and misfortune, through sorcery and witchcraft, to the person against whose property the "coveting" was directed. Covetous desires, they believed, would call into existence the malevolent spirits of the "evil eye," which by devious and diabolical methods would cause the loss of the coveted possessions. Link.

The Positivist Canard

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Christian apologists keep crowing on about their criticisms of positivism as if that ends the matter. What best describes positivism:
Positivism refers to a set of epistemological perspectives and philosophies of science which hold that the scientific method is the best approach to uncovering the processes by which both physical and human events occur.Link
There is something to positivism these apologists have overlooked. We cannot offer a logical DEDUCTIVE proof that science is the only game in town. To criticize positivism as if it did is to knock down a straw man. Yes, the positivists did make sweeping statements so they fell prey to some criticisms. But what we really want to say is that it's very probable science is the only game in town. That cannot be refuted. And that is all we need to say. If they want to continue hanging their hats on what is "possible" time and again, have at it. That's the definition of faith. We will keep insisting on that which is probable not that which is possible.

Christian Apologists Must Denigrate Science and Scientists Themselves

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That's right. I've said this before. Anything apologists can do to denigrate science is what they'll do to defend their faith. That's why there is the science vs religion debate in the first place. That's why creative science had to fight an uphill battle against church censure and threats of violence. Case in point is Victor Reppert in disputing the results of the social sciences which have confirmed several biases we have as human beings, especially cognitive bias [<---READ THE LINK!] which has conclusively shown us we believe what we prefer to believe and when faced with contrary evidence we actually dig our feet in deeper into what we believe, depending on our vested interests. Now why does he feel the need to dispute these findings without offering any counter-evidence? It's because he has faith, that's why. Faith can be used to trump almost any evidence and if not, then just denigrate science--or scientists themselves. Hey, don't believe me? Then read what he said:

Gallup Poll: Four in 10 Americans Believe in Strict Creationism

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...and yet there is hope. The percentage of people who don't think a god was involved in evolution is climbing. Link

Are Christian Apologists Liars, Ignorant, or Blind?

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Keep in mind I'm talking here about credentialed Christian apologists and not the myriad numbers of hacks out there, some of which are liars for Jesus and certainly ignorant. My informed judgment of credentialed apologists, having been one of them, is what follows. If they are lying to defend their faith they are lying to themselves. This is not impossible to conceive given cognitive dissonance theory which predicts that when presented with falsifying evidence believers will deny it depending on how much vested they have in their belief. And they are certainly ignorant about many things, sometimes willfully ignorant. But none of this is done on a conscious level and for that reason they are not conscious of the lies or their ignorance. After all, only the ignorant are ignorant of their ignorance.

And yet I have known many Christian apologists who are clearly informed about many things. They face our arguments head on, or so it seems to them. Take for example Dr. Victor Reppert. In the following few sentences I don't think I've ever run across such a short yet adequate summation for the case for faith in the resurrection of Jesus:

Dr. James McGrath: "The War on Christmas"

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So to those in the English-speaking world who consider themselves Christians, my recommendation is this: stop complaining about the "de-Christianization" of a holiday that we ourselves stole (sorry, borrowed) from others and successfully hijacked for more than a thousand years. Link.

Quote of the Day, by Dr. John Shook

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"If God exists, then all is permitted." Link

My Oh My, Didn't Pre-Scientific People Believe in Some Strange Beings:

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Biblical Beings- Angels, Cherubim, Seraphim, Tetramorph, and others..

Serpents & Dragons- Dragons, Amphiptere, Amphisbaena, Basilisk, Chimera, Cockatrice, Hydra, Gorgon, Wyvern (also Lindworm), and others...

Part-Human Creatures- Centaur, Harpies, Ipotane, Lamia, Manticore (and Catoblepas and Leucrocuta), Moon-Woman, Satyr, Sphinx, and others...

Winged Beasts- Caladrius, Gansas, Griffin, Goose Tree, Hippogriff, Martlet (and Bird of Paradise), Opinicus, Pegasus, Peryton, Phoenix, Roc, and others...

Land Beasts- Bonnacon, Bunyip, Cerberus, Gulon, Ibex, Lamb Tree, Mantygre, Mermecolion, Musimon, Salamander, Su Unicorn, Yale, Yppotryll, and others...

Sea Creatures- Devil Whale, Kraken, Nereid, Mermaid, Scylla, Siren, Sea Bishop, Sea Monk, Sea Horse, Sea Lion, Sea Serpent, Siren, and others...

Link

The Evolution of Hell

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Religion in all of it's aspects has evolved over the centuries. So have notions about god, religious morality and hell.

Dr. Keith Parsons: What Really Happened on Easter Morning?

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As I have argued elsewhere (see my essay in The Empty Tomb), I do not think that we have enough information to establish ANY account about what really happened during "Easter Week." If I had to conjecture, I would imagine a scenario (and a scenario is all we can have) something like this: Click here for more.

David Eller's New Book "Cruel Creeds, Virtuous Violence" Reviewed

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Jack David Eller's new book, Cruel Creeds, Virtuous Violence: Religious Violence Across Culture and History has been reviewed by the Library Journal:
Taking on a highly volatile subject with admirable objectivity, Eller (anthropology, Community Coll. of Denver; Cultural Anthropology: Global Forces, Local Lives ) has written a thorough academic study of religious violence from an anthropological and sociological perspective. Drawing extensively on examples from the history of various religions around the world, he covers the full range of religious violence, going well beyond the current hot topics of war and terrorism to include sacrifice, self-injury, persecution, and ethno-religious conflict. He even devotes a chapter to nonviolence and religion. Overall, his argument is highly nuanced and avoids any temptation to oversimplify the complexities of human violence and its relationship to religion. VERDICT Eller makes a commendable effort to avoid taking sides or focusing too heavily on one particular religious tradition. Those seeking either a spirited defense of religion or a ruthless attack on it should look elsewhere. This book is ideal for those studying or teaching anthropology, sociology, and religion and looking for a scholarly and objective overview of a complicated subject. Brian T. Sullivan, Alfred Univ. Lib., NY.

John's Top Ten List of How to Deal With "The Christian Delusion" Book

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My anthology The Christian Delusion has been out for awhile. Based upon the Christian responses I've seen on Amazon and other blogs, here are the top ten ways to deal with it:

It's Possible to Change Minds Against the Overwhelming Odds

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Pardon me here. I'm not bragging. I'm just astounded that what I do is making a difference against the overwhelming odds, as I wrote about earlier. It's encouraging to me personally. Here are three such stories:
Well, I am (was) a five-point Calvinist, Reformed Baptist type, who recently lost my faith thanks to the two books by John Loftus (see? I didn't make it very far into the challenge). Losing your faith hurts a lot, and frankly, has made me angry because it feels like something very precious has been taken away from you. Then you think about it more, and it makes you even angrier and ashamed to be deceived into believing something so totally false and unworthy of the time and talents wasted on it. Then after some time, anger leads to depression. But I see a bright, glorious light at the end of the tunnel, and as far as I can see, it is not an oncoming train like the theists assured me I needed to fear. So, thank you, Mr. John Loftus. It's hurt like hell, but so far it's all been worth it! Link

The Free Will Fumble: Why Christians Treat it Just Like They do With Unanswered Prayer

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Christians have developed so many ways to escape the force of the evidence that it’s frustrating to those of us who are trying to reason with them. I’ve written about several of them before. There is the big one I call The Omniscience Escape Clause. Another one I haven’t quite developed yet I call The Faith Trump Card, which is leaping beyond the actual probabilities of the evidence itself. No reasonable person can leap beyond what the evidence calls for. If Christians conclude it’s 51% probable Jesus arose from the dead then they simply cannot conclude they know he did. That’s an unjustified leap. If I thought it’s 51% probable the Colts will play in the Super Bowl and win it this year (fat chance) I would be ignorant to say I know this will happen, especially enough to bet all my meager life savings on it (which is zilch).

Who Says We're Wasting Our Time?

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We're making a difference one person at a time.
One day I was at a Barnes and Noble browsing around. I got to the Philosophy section, and picked up The Christian Delusion. Part 2 of the book is titled "Why the Bible Is Not the Word of God." After reading about some historical, scientific, and moral errors I went to the Christian Inspiration section of the store to get a Bible so I could read the context of each verse. Finally, hours later I renounced my faith. Link

The Chronicle of Higher Education: "Among the Evangelicals: Inside a Fractured Movement"

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It appears that American evangelicalism is finally coming into its own as a subject of social research and academic attention well beyond the scope of those who identify with it as insiders...Yet as soon as evangelicalism becomes a subject, it splinters and splits. Indeed, taken together, recent studies by more-or-less outsiders show there is no such thing as evangelicalism. The term represents a broad range of significantly different theologies, practices, and religious movements within Christianity, and there are often tensions among and within them. Which is no revelation at all to most more-or-less insiders, who call themselves evangelicals, however qualified, and who argue as much with others who do the same as with those of us who don't. Link
Apparently even among people who claim the Bible is God's word it's like herding cats!

New Books to be Released Through May of 2011

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JP Holding Has Reared his Ugly Head Again

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The last time I said anything here about Holding was almost two years ago in a post I'll link to below. He has recently brought up the same old accusations about me and embellished on them as the time goes by, even though I had already answered them as gross mischaracterizations at best, to outright lies.

The two questions for his Christian supporters are as follows: 1) Why does he continue to repeat these old accusations when I have already reasonably answered them? and, 2) Why doesn't he stick to the arguments? See for yourselves. Sheesh. To answer him drags me down into the sewer with him. Sorry about this.

I’m Ready to Go With New Suit and Passport in Hand

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John with Passport

I want to thank the people who donated for me to get a new suit and a passport. The suit is a Calvin Klein one from Macy’s. The passport is for when I speak in Toronto, Canada, at CFI's Extraordinary Claims Panel Discussion. This means a great deal to me in the midst of the worst financial crisis I’ve ever experienced this past Fall. We’re climbing our way out of it with your help. Now if I could only get enough to pay for a new computer (see the ChipIn widget). Every little bit helps and will be equally appreciated. If not, I still appreciate the wonderful encouragement I’ve received over the years here at DC to continue Blogging.

Atheist 2 Star Review of The Christian Delusion: "This is not an awful book"

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What a resounding accolade! ;-) Maybe we can place it on the front cover for the next printing? See my response in post #18. 33 people thought this review was helpful, eh? What do you think? I can take justified criticism even though it's difficult, but he's faulting the book for what it wasn't supposed to do. You can see this in his last paragraph as well as his 2 star rating. In other news I finally learned how to herd cats:

Quote of the Day, by William Lane Craig

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Anyone who fails to believe in God by the end of his lifetime does so only by a stubborn resistance to the work of the Holy Spirit in drawing that person to a knowledge of God. On the biblical view people are not like innocent, lost lambs wandering helplessly without a guide. Rather they are determined rebels whose wills are set against God and who must be subdued by God’s Spirit....The unbeliever is like someone dying of a fatal disease who refuses to believe the medical evidence concerning the efficacy of a proffered cure and who rejects the testimony of his doctor to it and who, as a result, suffers the consequence of his own stubbornness. He has no one to blame but himself. Question 191.
And to think, some skeptics here are blasting poor little Debbie for saying the same kinds of things. I wonder where she gets these platitudes? Bill exhibits a stubborn refusal to actually listen to us as real people with real doubts, choosing to believe the Bible instead. What nonsense! Bill is the one who stubbornly refuses to see the truth written on our faces.

Jonathan Pearce's New Book on Free Will

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I have not read it yet to recommend it. Here is Jonathan Pearce's Amazon Profile Page. Here is a link to his book: Free Will?: An investigation into whether we have free will, or whether I was always going to write this book. The following is what he emailed to me about it:

Professor Johnnie Terry is Using "The Christian Delusion" in His Class

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Johnnie Terry is a professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Sierra College in Northern California--just outside of Sacramento, CA. He created an Introduction to Atheism course a few years ago that he now teaches to about 60 students every spring semester. This year he's requiring them to read The Christian Delusion. Other required texts are How to be a Good Atheist by Nick Harding, and The Portable Atheist edited by Christopher Hitchens. He'll probably also require students to listen weekly to Dan Barker's and Annie Laurie Gaylor's Freedom From Religion podcast. He tells me he's very excited, as am I.

He's not the only one using my books. Christian professors are doing so. Dr. Dan Lambert from John Brown University is using my book, Why I Became an Atheist, as I wrote about before, and so is Dr. Richard Knopp of Lincoln Christian University, my Alma mater. If you're a Christian professor maybe you should consider doing the same by educating rather than indoctrinating your students. Cheers.

Sex, Sex Toys, Sexy Girls, Naked Girls, Strippers, Porn, XXX, Lesbians, Adult Games, Threesomes and Orgasms

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Welcome to DC. Put your dick away for just a minute. You can get back to it later. Since porn is such a multi-billion dollar industry most of the searches for the words in the title above are done by Christian men. You feel a bit guilty for this but you do it anyway. You may even publicly condemn pornography, homosexuality, lust, and even masturbation, but here you are doing what you're doing. You rationalize your behavior away by thinking to yourself God will forgive. In my opinion Christianity is sexually repressive. God supposedly created you with this strong desire and then forbids you to express it. He wants you to be celibate except in a monogamous heterosexual marriage, even though most people are not in that kind of relationship at the moment. For some Christians there is to be no oral sex, no adult toys, and no contraception.

Sex will be the undoing of Christianity.

Here are a few links for you to look at before getting back to business: ;-)

Quote of the Day by R. Joseph Hoffman

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On defining a fundamentalist: “You have to have a book that you take deadly seriously, and you have to forget that the book has a history.” Link.

Hat Tip: James McGrath.

Ha! This is Funny But True, Beware of a Little Curiosity

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Come on Theists, just admit it, you're a little curious. We know it. You know it. You wouldn't be here otherwise.

Just come out and admit it. It's okay. We're not bad... not really. ;) If you're a Theist and are spending time lurking on /r/atheism or Pharyngula or Debunking Christianity or any of the other Atheist websites out there, you're almost one of us already. If you're a Theist and are spending time actually COMMENTING on Atheist websites, you're just a half step away from being a full fledged baby-eating scourge of humanity. Link

Religion - The Bad Parent

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This is an interesting and provocative video you must watch:

What Happens When I Write So That More People Can Understand Me?

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I am able to reach more people, that's for sure. But I also get a lot of believers who think they can answer me who are best described as Unskilled and Unaware of it. But no, that's not true of these believers, right? They can answer me easily! ;-)

Alvin Plantinga Gives Philosophy a Bad Name

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Hell yes! So argued PZ Myers. Okay, this is a bit of old news, but hey, I'm getting up there in years.

Jon Stewart: The Gretch Who Saved the War on Christmas

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Link. In it we hear of yet another victory, this time in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Shirley Phelps-Roper Interviewed

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Atheist vloggers MannixThePirate & xCrowMagnuSx sat down with Shirley Phelps-Roper (daughter of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps). As you watch this 14 minute video you'll see quite plainly that a person can be intelligent and at the same time delusional (part 1, I'll not bother you with any more). Watch as she answers every query with a quote from the Bible. The Bible says it, that settles it for her. She doesn't trust the sciences, nor anyone else but what she thinks the Bible says. She is absolutely confident in the Bible as she knows it. This sounds exactly like most Christians. Yet she is regarded by most all other Christians today as delusional. If we set aside what the sciences have forced Christians to accept over the last few centuries I'm confident most medieval Christians would agree with her about most things. And I don't see much difference between her and other Christians who quote mine the Bible for answers without thinking, reasoning and learning from the sciences. At that point the only difference is how Christians interpret it. The question is why Christians think she is delusional when they are not.

Dr. Matt McCormick, "Is Naturalism a Scientific Thesis?"

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Quoting from an article by Penelope Maddy:
[I]s naturalism itself a scientific thesis? I think the right answer to this question is that naturalism is not a thesis at all, but an approach. The naturalistic philosopher is the Neurathian sailor, working within science to understand, clarify, and improve science... Link

*Sigh* Such Ignorance and a Waste of Money

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I'm serious!

The Top Ten Occupations That Lead People to Become Atheists

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Keep in mind there are others I could mention and trying to rank them's a bitch:

Why Do I Bother? It's Who I Am.

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Apparently I'm a lightening rod. I get slammed almost daily by people on all sides. So why do I bother? It's who I am.

“10 Reasons I’m Extremely Hesitant to Debate Christians”

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So says The Wise Sloth. See what you think:

Atheism is Winning Despite the Fact That it Shouldn’t Be

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I previously wrote on 10 Reasons Why Atheism Can't Win where I highlighted what seems to be the enormous challenges facing atheism in America. I’m not oblivious to the fact that Europe is mostly a secular continent having faced these challenges and won. Nor am I oblivious to the fact that more young Americans are becoming non-believers than ever before. You can see stories about this phenomenon in The Economist, and in other places with titles like Young Americans Leaving Churches in Droves, and Young Christians Desert Churches.

Ten Reasons Why Atheism Can’t Win

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Greta Christina’s post on How Atheists Can't Win, tells us why we can’t seem to win in our debates with believers. I’m going to give ten reasons why atheists can’t win at all because we are against the overwhelming odds—so much so that a post title like this is deserved. The odds are so against us that it should be shocking when believers change their minds by leaving their culturally inherited Christian faith. I think religion is here to stay and that’s why atheism can’t win.

Irreducible Complexity Cut Down to Size

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Writer's Block and Open Mike Night

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I've been focused on another book project so I've got nothing for my blog. Let me just link to something funny that James McGrath found about writer's block in a peer-reviewed journal...and then open it up for anything you want to highlight or argue about. Enjoy.

Extraordinary Claims Hogwash, Remix

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Our conceptions of what makes for an extraordinary event have changed in each subsequent century/generation with the advancement of science. It has repeatedly forced believers to change their views on the matter. In the ancient world they knew axe heads don't float, that women were not turned into pillars or salt, or that donkey's can't talk. But to the pre-scientific ancients most every event was in some sense an extraordinary one, from the birth of a child, to the rising of the sun, the rainfall, to a bountiful crop. Extraordinary events occurred for them almost daily. They couldn't understand how these events could take place within nature's laws. Since they could not explain them they concluded some deity did them. Then one by one these events were explained naturally by science and consequently one by one they were taken out of the realm of the extraordinary and placed into the category of the ordinary course of events.

Scientists Find the Fountain of Youth

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Do you want to know why I trust science rather than religion? Because science delivers the goods. In an amazing feat scientists have been able to reverse the aging process in mice. "These mice were equivalent to 80-year-old humans and were about to pass away," said Ronald DePinho...After the experiment, "they were the physiological equivalent of young adults." Scientists say we may be able to expect this with human beings in 15-20 years! No wonder Christians accuse us of worshiping science (which we don't)--because it produces amazing results. I must live longer. I must live another 20 years. I must.

Had this science been around a century ago my famous great grandfather could have lived longer. He died at the age of 53 from throat cancer. When I say he was famous I mean he's the stuff of a Hollywood movie. He was a lifelong friend of Charles Cominskey and also managed the Chicago Cubs (then the Orphans) under owner Albert Spalding (with part ownership). Had he lived longer he could've seen baseball enter the "live ball era" with the likes of Babe Ruth, and he could be as instrumental in that new phase of professional baseball as he was in the tumultuous phase he lived through. At least he was able to see the Cubs win back to back World Series a century ago!

Why I Don’t Believe the Bible is God’s Word.

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According to Calvinists I don’t believe because God has determined from the beginning of time that I should not believe. It’s God’s secret will for me. I cannot believe unless God wants me to believe. It doesn’t bring him as much glory if I believe, so this is what he wants. He does not want me to believe the Bible is his word. For the Calvinist this is the end of the discussion. For me, it presents an additional reason why I don’t believe, for not only do I not see the evidence to believe, I also reject the supposition that God would both call on me to believe and at the same time secretly desire that I should not believe. What does God really desire here?...that I don’t believe…that’s the bottom line. My unbelief is exactly what God desires. It brings him the most glory. Calvinists should praise God that I don't believe. But what kind of God is this? See here.

Debunking Christianity Ranked in 5th Place on Both Sides of the Divide

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This site has a unique status on both sides of this debate, for it's ranked in 5th place on the Society of Biblical Literature's Bibliobloggers list and among atheist blogs. While it's hard to continually have the ears of both sides, I'll take that. It's what I want.

Dr. James Sennett's Review of My Book, "Why I Became an Atheist"

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In the recent issue of the Stone-Campbell Journal Sennett says, among other things:
He presents a compendium of well-reasoned arguments (wrapped together nicely in a steadily developed “cumulative case”) against the central beliefs of Christianity...Loftus’s arguments are not the easily-refuted caricatures so often offered in Bible college textbooks and Sunday school materials. They are the genuine article – clear, well-articulated statements of plausible arguments by one who finds them overwhelmingly convincing. I dare say very few preachers, teachers, and Bible students have its likes on their shelves. And it should be there.

A Discussion I Had With Dr. Victor Reppert

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Is he just dense, or what? See what you think.

A Discussion I'm Having with Dr. Thomas Talbott (and others)

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See what you think. It begins toward the end of a long discussion of my OTF started by Victor Reppert. Click here.

Debate: Does the Universe Have a Purpose?

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Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer, and Matt Ridley recently debated William Lane Craig, Douglas Geivett, and Rabbi David Wolpe on the topic: Does the Universe Have a Purpose? in Mexico.

Triablogue Caught in a Web of Deception

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How to Fight Cyber-Bullies and Win

Let the War on Christmas Begin!

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I you have my book, The Christian Delusion, in chapter one Dr. David Eller shows why language and culture matter to Christianity. In a Christian culture with Christian language people will be inclined to accept Christianity as true. But as our culture changes so will our language, and that is a good thing even if like a chameleon Christianity will learn to adapt. In fact I'm in favor of being proactive about this. There are just too many secularists, too many Jews, too many spiritualists, too many people of different faiths in our country that the language of this holiday needs to be changed. And one place we can insist that it be changed is how retailers market their products. Call it "The Holidays," or just "December 25th," but let's have done with the word "Christmas," especially when we describe it.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

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Believers wonder who an atheist has to thank at this time. I thank my lucky stars that I was born and enjoy the good life that I do. So many others don't, based on factors like when and where they were born.

Thom Stark on the Joshua Delusion

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A new wave of evangelicals have two new strategies for interpreting the Canaanite genocide texts in Joshua. 1) They are "hyperbolic," not meant to be taken literally because the accounts are exaggerated. 2) They are "hagiographic" or "mythical," "to make a moral point to encourage a certain type of orthodox religious behavior among the faith community who gathers to hear the book as sacred scripture." Thom Stark destroys both strategies.

Science Saved My Soul

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Unbelief by Default and Selective Credulity

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Chris Hallquist: "Recently, Victor Reppert claimed that, 'as the OTF [Outsider Test for Faith] is typically presented, it attempts to give a kind of special default status to the denial of religion, and in doing so it starts to engage in anti-religious special pleading.'"

"This sounds like a fair criticism...but it misses the point that...unbelief by default is already the attitude many Christians have to most religions. To be more specific: many Christians, when they hear non-Christian supernatural claims–or even Christian supernatural claims made outside the Christian canon–are skeptical by default. Some even say so explicitly." Link.

How Science Leads to Naturalism (At Least For Me)

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We should be skeptics of extraordinary claims of miracles in the ancient past. Tell me why we shouldn't? There are too many of them in every culture, too many mythical stories.

Six Anti-Secularist Themes: Deconstructing Religionist Rhetorical Weaponry by Dr. Hector Avalos

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          Spirited debates in scholarly fields usually involve a mixture of substantive argumentation and rhetorical weaponry. Rhetorical weaponry is intended to detract from the real substance of arguments, as well as to appeal to the emotional side of the audience. Rhetorical weaponry and substantive arguments are not always easily distinguished, and participants may sometimes be unaware of the difference.    
          Here, I concentrate on the rhetorical weapons that are being deployed by religionist biblical scholars against efforts to reform the field of biblical studies so that it might function like all other fields in modern academia---a completely secular enterprise with methodological naturalism at its core.
          These rhetorical weapons may be seen as literary tropes or themes, insofar as they depict fictional, rather than actual, villainy on the part of secularists. The purpose of these tropes and themes is to marginalize secularists rather than to address real arguments.  They represent creative versions of the ad hominem fallacy.

Quote of the Day, by exrelayman

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The natural world is all that we can detect with our 5 senses and instruments used to interact with those senses when the scale of perception surpasses the limitations of those senses. The supernatural world then would be that which we cannot detect with senses or instruments (at the present time). This means that at the present time there is no evidence which we can discern supporting the supernatural. If and when we become able to detect the supernatural, it will have moved into the realm of the natural, as we can then detect it.

God on Trial: The Verdict

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See below:

David Eller's New Book on Religion and Violence

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Jack David Eller's book Cruel Creeds, Virtuous Violence: Religious Violence Across Culture and History, is massive and sure to be a good one. Be sure to get it. I plan on doing so.

What You Can Find Here at DC

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I get new readers everyday so let me welcome them and briefly tell them what to expect here at DC. I am not a news source. There are lots of religion related news stories but I mostly comment on the high profile or interesting ones. Nor do I post many stories about the crimes or infidelities of pastors. They happen everyday and even though some of their abuses make our heads spin I mostly comment on high profile or interesting cases. Nor do I share many testimonies of deconversion, although I do so from time to time. And I don't post a great deal of obtuse philosophical arguments, or a great many things about science or cosmology. They are all useful, no doubt, and I do so from time to time.

Are We Angry Atheists?

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Someone recently wrote this about us here at DC: “I find it amazing how much anger there is on this board.”

I find this to be an interesting charge. People have said this before. Is it true? If it is, does it imply anything important?

I don’t think it’s true, at least not with me. I am not an angry atheist toward anyone. If I have ever shown anger it’s because I was responding to what I considered to be willful ignorance, idiocy and/or attempts to belittle me.

But what if I am angry, and what if others here are angry? What then?

My Talk at the Texas Freethought Convention

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It was on the Outsider Test for Faith. Enjoy. I followed Darrel Ray who wrote the book The God Virus. His talk can be found there as well. He talked for a bit about sex and the triggers that cause people to believe. In my talk I mentioned Robert Price's essay on sex. Here it 'tis. This was an amazing convention and I highly recommend it for all skeptics. Don't miss it next year. It's put together very well. The people are awesome!

Why Young Earth Creationists Must Deny Gravity

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Both parts are below:

I've Changed the DISQUS Settings to Flat vs Threaded Comments

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Is this better? It's more like Blogger.

The Best Optical Illusion in the World!

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It's about prayer, and this video is awesome!:

Dr. Matt McCormick on the F - Word

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Be sure to click on his Powerpoint slide presentation on Faith. This is awesome! See here.

A Dialog With A Good Christian Friend

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I get contacted from Christian friends I've had over the years who want to discuss why I rejected Christianity. Here is a brief email exchange I had with a dear friend from the past:

Dr. Hector Avalos Interviewed by the Iowa State Daily News

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While growing up, Avalos' zealous belief in God ignited an intense study of the Bible. "Most adults, up until recently, usually end up in the religion they were raised in," Avalos said. "It's not because they came to that religion through a long period of study or research, but they were just raised that way. To me that was not satisfactory. I wanted to know whether it was true or not." "I started by trying to defeat the arguments of the other side," Avalos said, "and in the process I realized that my own arguments were not very good." "One thing led to another, and I realized that I did not believe in Christianity or that the Bible was the word of God, or that the Bible had any kind of divine origin." Link

Atheist Controversy Solved: "What Evidence Could Make Us Believe?"

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While PZ Myers and Greta Christina and others banter this question back and forth I have already decisively answered this a long time ago when it comes to Christianity, right here. Q.E.D. If only they would come listen to the master! Sit at my feet children. I teach you. Place some coins in my jar with gratitude for once again decisively solving yet another dispute with precision. Thank you. Thank you very much. ;-)

James Sennett: "It would not take much to turn me into a Buddhist -- Theravada, that is."

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As many of you know Dr. Sennett and I have been friends since seminary days. He has recommend my book. He has written/edited some significant apologetic/philosophical books and articles. He teaches at Brenau University. In March of 2009 he wrote a blog post at DC where he maintained he was still a believer. Now on Facebook (if you can access it) this is what he said in a post about "25 Random Things About Me." It's number 17. Anyone see a trend here? It's somewhat the same trend I went through (although I went from being a liberal to an agnostic to an atheist). Where will he end his intellectual journey? Who knows? But he is no longer an evangelical, that's for sure. James, I wish you well my friend.

"You Might be a Fundamentalist if..."

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Jeff Foxworthy's line is "You might be a redneck if.." Below are ten suggested answers to this other line that were emailed to me. Got some of your own?

Quote of the Day, by D. Newman

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I and many others are in Christian eyes little lost sheep. I look forward to being found by the good shepherd!!! He has not found me yet though and does not seem all that interested in looking either! (I am sure he is busy, washing his hair or something).

John Shimkus, R-Ill is presently running for Chairman of the House Energy Committee. He should be stopped NOW!

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Hat Tip: Jeffrey A. Myers

I Know More Than You Do! Na Na Na Na Na NA!
Or, You Don't Know Jack Shit.

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Christians have faulted the so-called New Atheists with ignorance. They do the same thing with me. If only I knew this or that I would see the error of my way and believe again. But think about this. How much philosophy should Richard Dawkins know to rationally reject religion? How much science should Christopher Hitchens know? How much Bible should Daniel Dennett know? How much theology should Sam Harris know? How much should we know to rationally reject religion? How much? What if we know very little? What if all we know is that God did not save our child and she died from Leukemia? What if a scientist rejects religion because s/he cannot adequately test supernatural hypotheses? What if a historian rejects the claims of a religion because as a historian s/he must assume a natural explanation for the events in the past? What then? Are they culpable for doing so when this is all they know to do? When can it be said that a person can rationally reject a religion? Surely the theist cannot possibly demand that nonbelievers must know all that can be known before their rejection of religion is warranted.

To put it in terms of the Outsider Test for Faith, how much should someone know in order to reject Mormonism, or Catholicism, or Islam, or Orthodox Judaism, to name a few. How much do YOU know of them?

Atheist Ministers Struggle With Leading the Faithful

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"I am an atheist," says "Jack," a Southern Baptist with more than 20 years in ministry.

"I live out my life as if there is no God," says "Adam," who is part of the pastoral staff of a small evangelical church in the Bible Belt.

The two, who asked that their real identities be protected, are pastors who have lost their faith. And these two men, who have built their careers and lives around faith, say they now feel trapped, living a lie. Link

I've switched to DISQUS Commenting System Because Blogger Sucks

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I'm following the lead of Mike D The A-Unicornist.

My Review of Karen Armstrong's Book "The Case for God"

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My review was just published in Philosophy Now magazine (follow the link). If the link doesn't work an earlier version is on Amazon. You'll see I made the same arguments against her liberalism that I made against John F. Haught's book, God and the New Atheism, against Cheryl Exum and Dennis MacDonald at last years annual SBL meeting, and that I make against Thom Stark's book The Human Faces of God, Robert Wright's book, The Evolution of God, and Mark Roncace's book Raw Revelation. See what you think. Let's have done with the notion that I don't understand liberal versions of Christianity. I do. I just reject them.

Roger Nygard's "The Nature of Existence" is Wonderful!

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I just finished previewing a copy of this documentary to be released Nov. 23rd. It is fascinating as we hear from people around the globe what they think about the meaning of existence. This link does a great job telling you what it's about. Nygard goes on a quest to know the answer(s) and he comes back with a few meager suggestions when all is said and done. It's well done, contains some great humor, and is very educational.

I'm Headed to Canada and Need a Passport.

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Pam Walls, Executive Director for the Centre for Inquiry, Ontario, Canada, invited me to speak on January 21st about the extraordinary claims of Christ. I originally had to turn her down because the date was set for November 19th and I had no passport. So she graciously moved the date I'm supposed to speak. Now I have time to raise the money and get one. There is a ChipIn in the sidebar to contribute toward my passport and a new suit. Help if you can--immediately so I can get it. I do appreciate anything you can donate.

The Agora Movie is Wonderful Food for Thought

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The 2009 movie titled Agora is one I recommend very highly. It takes place in Alexandria around 391 CE, and portrays Christians like we picture the Taliban today. The city's Christians gain political power and burn the great books of the Library of Alexandria. Then a few years later Christians enforce their so-called morality. First the Jews are their obstacle, then women. From the Boston Globe: "Fanaticism, no matter who’s doing the preaching, is this movie’s gravest sin, against which the enlightenment of science and learning has always struggled and always will." There is much food for thought here. As you watch the movie ask yourself how Christians actually conquered the minds of people. No, really. Ask yourself. Do you think whole cities of people change their minds that easily in a few decades without being forced to do so? That means people were killed for Jesus. Ask yourself how Christians argued in those days when it came to science. No, really, ask yourself. You'll see the same arguments used today in the face of science. The difference is that you'll recognize how bogus that type of reasoning is when Christians defend the Ptolemaic solar system by deferring to their God to solve the problem of planetary epicycles. Ask yourself how literate these people were too. You know the masses could not have copies of the Bible, nor read it. They had to depend on what church leaders told them it said. This is very interesting to me even though the movie takes poetic license with some of the facts. If you think about it though, this movie makes some pretty good conjectures. Fascinating stuff.

The Blag Hag on "Where Are All The Atheist Women? Right Here!"

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Cheryl Pulliam's Comments on Ken's Funeral

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I've written about my friend Ken's death before, both here where I announced it, and here about his funeral. Cheryl, his widow, expressed her thanks to me on Facebook for our thoughts and kindness, below:

Did I Ask Boring Questions?

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Leah thinks so and offered her own questions.

Realism and Religion: A Physicist Examines the Basis for Belief

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Physicist Milton Rothman examines the relationship between science and religion and the extent to which a scientist should apply his belief in realism to all aspects of our knowledge of the universe. Link.

Update on a Proposed Co-Written Book with a Christian Scholar

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It's not always easy coming to terms about a book proposal. Here's the new proposal he made to me:
I propose that each debate consist of 750 words arguing the affirmation, 750 words arguing the denial. At that point we exchange our brief opening arguments and then write 100 word rebuttals. Then we exchange those brief rebuttals and write 50 word closing statements so that a single debate is about 1800 words total. With an introduction and 20 debates that would put us at about 38-40,000 words which is a nice little 160 page book.
So we're going to begin by writing on three questions each. Here they are:

Contact Info If You're Interested in Having Me Speak or Debate

If you're interested in obtaining me for a speaking engagement, please send me an email at johnwloftus dot frontier dot com for arrangements and details.

Funeral Services for Kenny Regan Pulliam

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Funeral services for my friend Kenny Regan Pulliam, 50, of Loganville, GA, who died Friday evening, October 29, 2010, will be Wednesday at 2 PM at the Ginn Funeral Home chapel, with the Rev. Todd West presiding. Internment will be in the Franklin Memorial Gardens. The body is at the Ginn Funeral Home, Carnesville, GA. Visitation will be at 1 PM before the service.

I have been shaken by Ken's death at the young age of fifty. It's causing me to rethink why I spend so much time on a computer when there is a life to be lived at my age of 56.

Time Magazine Interviews Michael Coogan About Sex

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Biblical scholar Michael Coogan's new book God and Sex is one I heartily recommend (see my review at Amazon). Time magazine interviewed him recently about it.

DC Ranked in 5th Place on the SBL's List of BiblioBlogs

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Only the top 50 blogs are ranked even though there are 400+ of them between us. The late Ken Pulliam's blog made it into the top 50! Boy I'm going to miss him. Apparently he's scheduled some blog posts ahead of time so keep going back to his blog to see what his final posts will be.

Dr. Ken Pulliam is Dead

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My good friend and fellow ex-Christian former minster is dead. His wife Cheryl announced this today on Facebook:
This is Ken's wife. My husband passed away suddenly and unexpectedly yesterday from a massive heart attack. I thought you would like to know. He was 50. Cheryl
This was Ken's Facebook page. This was his Blog page.

This is a Facebook page dedicated to his memory.

He will be personally missed by me as the first skeptic I met online and one of my greatest encouragers. Be assured that people will know of him and remember him. Just days ago he submitted his chapter to me for the anthology The End of Christianity. He was writing a book about the atonement. That work would have been a tour de force unmatched by anything produced so far. His keen intellect and grasp of the issues were evident in everything he wrote. I will miss him, and I wish his family the very best during this time of grief.

25 Hot Topics for a New Book

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I'm coming up with 25 hot topics for a Christian scholar and I to discuss in a book. I think I'll separate my questions into different categories: science, epistemology, ethics, history, psychology, Bible, theology (soteriology, Jesus, eschatology, hermeneutics), and so forth. This particular scholar is a new breed of evangelical who won't be caught off-guard with your typical fundamentalist stumpers. Thanks for all your suggestions so far. Don't assume if I use what you suggest that I didn't already think of it.

25 Hot Topics for a New Book

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I had previously mentioned that a Christian scholar and myself are co-writing a book. We've just made it out of the planning stage. We had to have a book proposal with a promise of appealing to readers. Well, we've settled on one tentatively titled "God or Godless? Fifty Five Minute Debates." It will be designed for people who want some short answers (500 words each) to hot topics surrounding the theist/atheist debates. I am to come up with 25 hot topics and he will come up with 25 more. While I don't think short answers get the job done right, they can be interesting and informative just the same. Which ones would you suggest for me?

Sin: Something Critics of Christianity Should Talk About More

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So argues Chris Hallquist. Yes, let's preach a bit more about sin, brothers and sisters. Do I hear an Amen!?

Newspaper in Canada: "Take the Outsider Test for Faith"

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Hey, I think this is way cool. Just think, even though the OTF has been "refuted" so many times by so many people it still survives! Perhaps this reporter hasn't seen the refutations, eh? ;-)

Why Catholicism is Child's Play

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Our modern perception of the Roman Catholic Church as the janitor of old buildings and the provider of a different geriatric every few years to amuse us with his favourite tricks whilst hiding behind bullet proof glass, is in itself a testament of the degree to which we have separated ourselves from the theocratic oversight of this institution. None of the twenty thousand who were slaughtered at the Massacre of B├ęziers by Papal instruction could have dreamed of a time when the Holy See’s authority would be reduced to a symbolic figment of an ignorant past. Yet the indoctrination and violent imposition that shaped dark age Europe and resisted the development of our secular modern societies so violently still retains much of its grotesque authority.

The Atheists are Coming...

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Indicative of a larger pattern, atheist and agnostic students will return to campus this fall with a better chance than ever of finding groups of like-minded young people. The Secular Student Alliance (SSA), a national organization devoted to supporting nonreligious student groups, reported having a record 219 campus affiliate groups, up from 159 in 2009 and 100 in 2008.

"And a little child will lead them..." Isaiah 11:6

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Watch this if you want to see something spooky:

Skeptics and Another Natural Explanation for the Resurrection Narratives

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Christians claim that until skeptics can agree on an alternative natural explanation to the resurrection accounts told in the Gospels that the Gospels should be accepted as the truth. They further claim that by offering other natural explanations to these accounts it shows that skeptics are merely grasping at straws to reject the claims of the gospel. But these accusations are Balderdash! They're not even close...not even in the ballpark...not even on the radar.

A Rare Picture of Me Without My Cowboy Hat, and an Interview

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In the picture I was pretty much sauced at the recent Texas Freethought Convention, which was absolutely wonderful! I sobered up for the interview a week or more later with the Oklahoma Atheists podcast. *hiccup* Enjoy.

Christopher Rollston on the Rise of Monotheism in Ancient Israel

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Monotheism in ancient Israel was a late(r) development, certainly not part of early Israelite religion. Within this article, the basic biblical and epigraphic evidence is employed, with frequent reference to seminal secondary studies. Link to a pdf.

There are Honest Christians Who Want Real Answers to Real Questions

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What the Bible Really Says About God and Sex

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Michael Coogan's book God and Sex was a page turner for me. Not only is it about two of my favorite subjects *ahem* but it is a one stop shop to learn about a complete range of sexual issues in the Bible by a biblical scholar. We learn about sexual terminology in the Hebrew culture like "hands" "feet" "flesh" "nakedness" and "to know." When Ruth uncovered Boaz's feet (Ruth 3:7-8) guess what she was probably doing folks, yep, probably giving him some head--Yeahhhh baby!!!!

Was Jesus Wrong? by Franky Schaeffer

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This is a review of The Human Faces of God by Thom Stark. It's also a request to Christians: admit that the Bible is a mess and stop passing on its toxicity to us.

Thom Stark begins his book like this: "In the beginning was the Argument, and the Argument was with God, and the Argument was: God. God was the subject of the Argument, and the Argument was a good one. Who is God? What is God like? What does God require of us?"

Stark shows that the Bible isn't just self-contradictory on a few historical details but that within the pages of the Bible is an argument and not just an argument with the outside world: The Bible is an argument with itself.

If you want to be informed about what the Bible really says and how Christianity came into existence -- if you want to know how to respond to Evangelicals trying to convert you to their brand of fundamentalism, read this book. If you're a former Evangelical, or a former Christian, who gave up on faith because you just couldn't reconcile your moral and intellectual integrity with the mythology and immorality-touted-as-righteousness that is pervasive throughout the Bible, then read this book. Link

Christians, Where Are the Real Answers to Real Questions?

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Having heard it all--quite literally--Christians have no answers to the questions that need to be answered. When someone wants to know some real answers to real questions of theirs, all they get is circular logic, Socratic definitions pursued down the rabbit hole, splitting hairs, logical gerrymandering, re-framing the questions differently to suit one's faith, The Omniscience Escape Clause, The Faith Trump Card, and so many logical fallacies it can make one nauseous. The interesting thing about this is that only when someone decides they want real answers to real questions do they see this for what it is. And at that point it's easy to see through the platitudes and non-answers offered by Christians in response. Here's another example of someone looking for real answers to real questions, and you can see the end result.

What's It Like Dealing With Mormons Every Day?

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Well that's what I've been doing for two months shy of five years here on a daily basis. On day one these Mormons tell me I don't know what I'm talking about, that I was never a Mormon, that I'm not criticizing their kind of Mormonism, that I have not shown their faith to be impossible, which is an impossible standard, and so forth, coming from the scholarly types as well as the kids in Junior High who think they can argue against me. They use non-sequiturs, red herrings, special pleading, begging the question, and either/or fallacies then beat their chests and crow about how they have refuted me and all atheists. Then comes day two, which is more of the same ignorance. Then comes day three. For nearly five years. I'm tired of playing nice. I'm turning over to the dark side. They are buffoons, utterly devoid of the ability to recognize they are brainwashed who repeat platitudes as if they are something new and profound which I have never heard or thought of before.

How to Avoid the Question: Lessons from Professor Rauser

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Don't get me wrong. I like Professor Randal Rauser. I think he's creative, intelligent, and a nice guy to boot. But he doesn't seem to care at all that Anne Askew was tortured and burned at the stake even though God had a multiple number of ways to keep that from happening. I wrote about Anne here.

So far he does not want to deal with her case. He wants me to chase him down the rabbit hole of definitions about what kind of a revelation God should have produced, sort of like following a Socratic method, which would end up being more interesting to him than the particular case before us. He'd rather play Pharisee by discussing what it means to work on the Sabbath day rather than help someone in need. I'd rather discuss concrete examples, people, good people who suffered because his God was inept. He doesn't get it. He's far too gone as the brainwashed person he is. He cannot be helped, not by me. So I write for other people who are reading this exchange. I do this quite a bit, really. Here then is the problem he fails to see with regard to the Anne Askew's of this world.

Thom Stark Interviewed About His New Book

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Q. Who is the Yahweh of the Israelites?

A. Well as scholars like Frank Cross, Chris Rollston, Mark Smith and others have demonstrated and have known for some time, the earliest texts in the Hebrew Bible give a strong indication that the early conception of Yahweh was that he was an ancient Near Eastern tribal deity. As I argue in my book, following Rollston, the Song of Moses in Deut 32 indicates that Yahweh was believed to have been one of the children of the Canaanite deity El Elyon (God Most High). The song describes how the nations were originally formed, and what it says is that the peoples of the earth were divided up according to the number of El Elyon’s children (the junior members of the divine pantheon). Yahweh, Israel’s patron deity, was one of Elyon’s children.

The best evidence suggests that Yahweh did not begin as the “only true God” of later Jewish monotheism; he did not begin as the creator of the world. Yahweh began as a young, up-and-coming tribal deity whose prowess among other gods mirrored Israel’s aspirations vis-a-vis surrounding tribes and nations.

Quote of the Day, by Silver Bullet Concerning Randal Rauser (and it applies to many Christian Scholars)

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Randal believes that the Christian god would have his bible written by people so that it is indistinguishable from any other book that people have written - full of contradictions, depicting the flawed human knowledge of the time, unclear, employing the same technics that people use when they write, like irony, etc.

In fact, Randal believes that the Christian god didn't even interfere in any way with the actual writing and compilation of the Christian bible - that was all done by people and people alone. Randal has written that he believes that the Christian god, when he created the universe, did so with the full foreknowledge that people would evolve billions of years later to independently write exactly the book that the Christian god would want them to write, full of human flaws and appearing as an all too human creation, as his bible.

Where's Waldo? I'm Right Here...

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...arguing with professor Randal Rauser. See what you think.

I'm Back On the Marriage Market

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I've married plenty of women in my days. No I'm not a polygamist. I've performed many weddings. I never thought I'd do so again even though I've been asked more than a dozen times, and turned them all down. Until tonight. For as a newly ordained minister with the First Church of Atheism I'm conducting my first wedding in years. If anyone would like me to perform your wedding just contact me and I'll get the job done without the religious mumbo jumbo. For a secular humanism church I'm also a minister with the Universal Life Church whose only creed is an "adherence to the universal doctrine of religious freedom: 'Do only that which is right.'"

I'll also do atheist funerals with dignity and respect for those who have lost loved ones without the religious mumbo jumbo.

Did God Do Anything to Rescue the Chilean Miners?

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The Chilean miners had spent a record 69 days in the heat of the collapsed mine who were believed to be dead for the first 17 days and then found "miraculously alive" we're told. Mario Gomez had said, "We are going to get out with God's help." When rescued Alberto Avalos said, "This is a miracle from God."

But was this a miracle? I for one am ecstatic they were all rescued. The rescue itself is an amazing story of the massive effort by engineers and scientists around the world. But we should give thanks where thanks are due, and I see no evidence God did anything to save them. Believers simply count the hits and discount the misses. If this is seen as a hit, then believers must also count all of the misses. The recent Pakistan Flood is one such miss.