Some Humiliating Reviews of the Book "God or Godless"

The book "God or Godless" isn't doing too well right now, even after the free promotion on July 1st and subsequent reduction of price through the month of July. The paperback on Amazon is ranked almost 600,00th, whereas the Kindle version is ranked 150,000th. In Canada it's doing better but not that well. I think it's because of the reviews. For the life of me I cannot understand why potential buyers place more weight on reviews by no-names over the blurbs written by credentialed scholars, but they do. Here are two humiliating reviews of the book on Amazon:

This one is by a young kid on Canada's Amazon named Steven Martins (just look at his picture):
Having one Atheistic Ex-Christian John W. Loftus debate with Randal Rauser in God or Godless was a pleasure to read, but it was also a horrifying experience. The concept was a great idea, the questions were truthfully controversial and intriguing, but its results were terrible.

They did a great job in nominating John W. Loftus for the atheist side of things, he exhibited great class and professionalism. Randal, however, was quite the opposite. His inability to answer hard and deep questions was embarrasing, considering I knew the answers to the questions being asked. He would revert to mud-slinging which ultimately robbed him of all class and respectability. Whoever nominated him for this book was purposely seeking to humiliate him. Nonetheless, a good read, and food for thought for my fellow apologists.

This one is on Amazon US by a Christian, CMM:
First I have to say that I very much appreciated the format of the book. As the authors suggested in the introduction, it was a lot more satisfying (and fun) than listening to a two-hour debate. Additionally, the twenty questions addressed in the book were mostly unique and interesting, and the strict format required that they stay on topic, leaving little room for rabbit trails or repetition.

For me, it's usually hard to name a winner in a formal oral debate, but much easier to say who wins when the arguments are on paper. I have to admit, even as a believer, that Loftus out-argued Rauser in at least 18 out of 20 topics (#15 on objective beauty, and #17 on miracles, were each pretty much a wash). I felt that each debater posed a couple of topics that were near irrelevant (e.g., Rauser's #15 on objective beauty, Loftus's #12 on the Bible's treatment of animals) because no matter the winner, the outcome had little impact on the overall debate.

Ultimately, Rauser's arguments failed because he refused to engage the biblical text in the same way Loftus did. At certain points (#s 4 and 6) Rauser punted, acknowledging Loftus's scriptural observations and responding with a half-baked claim that our best option for dealing with these troubling passages is to simply believe that they can't be understood the way they're written. I'm no philosopher, but I believe it's hugely problematic to argue the existence of God purely from philosophy when the entire Judeo-Christian belief system is derived from scripture. Rauser's willingness to cherry-pick biblical texts did him serious damage in these debates. Additionally, his tendency to overuse analogy, metaphor, and illustration began to seem like a silly way of avoiding the topics presented.

So why would I, a Christian, post a review claiming that the Christian debater lost? Because I think it's time that Christians who engage in such debates get their proverbial crap together and (1) stop relying on the same old tired arguments (that ultimate meaning requires belief in God, for example), and (2) figure out a convincing way to argue for the existence of God from history, scripture, and scripture's origins.

Overall, this was an interesting and worthwhile read.

Did I say these reviews were humiliating? ;-)

The thing is that Christians are more likely to buy this book than atheists. So when they read reviews like these they are less likely to do so. Rauser may have lost, depending on your theology, but I'm sure Randal could take these two reviewers to task quite easily if they sat down to discuss the book. These two reviewers probably couldn't answer his questions too well at all.

Here's the thing. Get the book. It may infuriate you depending on your views. But it will educate you depending on your level of understanding. As far as I can tell, Rauser's theology will be the evangelical theology of the future. If you want to know what that is then get the book. He provides a bibliography of books for further reading too. If you are a Christian and are unpersuaded of his theology in "God or Godless," then it behooves you to read a few of the books he lists at the end of it.

Nonetheless, here are more Amazon reviews, and they are humiliating as well:

From the Book Shark: "Loftus clearly won this debate, his command of the Bible suits him well for such debates."

From Chris Crawford: "The bottom line is, and this is coming from a Christian, John gets the better of this debate."

From Steven H Propp: "Rauser is perhaps not the best (or at least, not the most forceful) advocate for the Christian position."

From Karl A. Ross: "...none of Rauser's arguments could begin to faze an atheist."

From Jordan T: "...the clear winner was the Atheist John Loftus."

From Jerry Wilson: "The bottom line is that it was not John's arguments that strengthened my atheism; it was the weaknesses in Randall's reasoning. If Randall could read his arguments from a neutral position, he probably would be embarrassed."

From So,so: "I found the Christian half of this argument very lacking."

From Bob Terrace: "Not an even match at all. The format of this book is excellent as an introductory book on the topic of a god's existence. Unfortunately, the discussion was all one sided - John Loftus ran circles around Randal Rauser."

From MSgt Jim Hall USMC (Ret.): "I've always liked Loftus' work, but this one might be my favorite. I can't believe his opponent allowed it to be published, it is a slam-dunk in the case for atheism."

From Tom Rafferty: "Loftus was the clear victor. There virtually was no debate topic that loftus did not win handedly. Rauser only presented the usual weak apologetics that have been refuted by skeptics multiple times in the past."

From 2ndamendmentman78: "Rauser's attempt to defend Christianity is an embarrassment to believers. Loftus totally destroys the foundation of Christianity, and Rauser does very little to nothing in response."

From Mister Rainer: "A clown talking to an intellectual. In God or Godless? John Loftus and Randal Rauser debate issues of theistic philosophy and Christian apologetics. John arguing the naturlaist's point of view, Randal being the Christian apologist.

I don't know who initiated this book. If it was John, he chose a lightweight opponent, if it was Randal, he took on a fighter two leagues above. 'Winning' is not actually the aim of such discourse, but here, Randal is knocked k.o. in every round.

John gives amazingly rich arguments in short space with facts and quotes while Randal is telling silly stories on the intellectual level of an 8 year old."

From Tiffany V: "Not very strong arguments. I find myself in debates with atheists (I consider myself a strong believer in God) every now and then, so I saw this book and thought maybe it had some good pointers from both sides. I didn't hate the book, I just got to the point that I thought maybe Randal was not the best debater that could have been in this book. He does make some good points in his cases, but never really is able to drop the hammer and answer convincingly any atheists questions to these topics."

From Johnathan Pearce: "John was at great pains to point out the inconsistencies in the Bible; the internal contradictions and problematic claims which make particularly the Old Testament impossible to adhere to and remain morally praiseworthy. As John rightly pointed out in virtually all of these sections, Randal punts to possibility not probability. This has LONG been an issue of mine. What it effectively means is that no matter what the evidence, the empirical data, there could still be a reason that God might act so, or allow such and such to happen. So Randal could be the last person on Earth, could have seen his whole family tortured over a 50 year period. Seen all the animals and plants of the world around him die, and still, God might have a reason for these horrors to promote a greater good. As long as this logical notion exists, there is apparently good reason to believe. Which entails that there is NO evidence that could ever contradict the existence of God. Randal has, as John points out, made his position unfalsifiable. I found that, on balance, John's arguments were stronger and they really were, as he claims, more probably true."

From Daniel S. Hummel II: "Goliath whips David like a red-headed step-child with bad breath and no friends. I was initially excited to get this as a free Kindle download, but much to my disappointment, I quickly realized that the two authors were far from evenly matched.

I was sincerely hoping for an evenly matched debate between two honest and intelligent individuals, but that was definitely not the case, in my opinion. The two went toe-to-toe for 20 rounds and in the end John Loftus is the clear winner by one punishing K.O. after another.

John Loftus argues his points fairly well and addresses the challenges and rebuttals of his opponent. Randal Rauser makes one unfounded and contradictory assertion after another while ignoring the points made by his opponent, to the point of making this reader seriously question Rauser's honesty and integrity.

Randal Rauser--like most professional Christian apologists--doesn't do Christians any favors by presenting empty assertions, emotion-driven propaganda, poor analogies, and contradictory positions (i.e. one minute the Bible is inerrant, the next minute he tosses out a number of verses that he doesn't think were in any way inspired by God--even when the text explicitly says that God is the one speaking!). I suspect that this man is 1. very confused, 2. ill-equipped to argue his position, or 3. a dishonest man trying to cash in on religion. Perhaps a combination or all three.

This book is good if you want to read some average arguments against Christianity and the Bible, or if you want to read some absolutely terrible arguments supportive of Christianity and the Bible. But in all honesty, I can't recommend this book to anyone; there's no point in reading a one-sided debate. I'm equally disappointed in both writers, as I think John Loftus should have found a better opponent--at least a more honest one."

From chandlerfan: "This is a very good book. John Loftus (a former pastor) uses his time and space to clearly answer (and solve) each question using scientific rationale. Aside from engaging in rambling stories and taking Richard Dawkins out of context for his own nefarious purposes, Rauser accomplished nothing much at all. The book is def worth reading even if Rauser's contributions frustrate the reader (and Loftus, ha).

Loftus provides clear and concise scientific evidence (as well as a decent dose of common sense) in favor of a godless universe. I would also recommend The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins if you are interested in this subject and any of his books if you have an interest in science/evolution. After reading this book, I will certainly read everything Loftus has written."

From Timothy R. Campbell: "Entertaining and annoying at the same time! This is an annoying book. Or at least half of it was! Ok, to be fair, depending on where you sit on the teeter-totter between deep-held belief in God (specifically the Christian Biblical God) and complete disbelief in at least that particular deity, most of you will be annoyed by at least half of this book. Which half is up to you!

As an admitted atheist (I do not believe in man-made tribal gods, i.e. Yahweh), I will state now that the Christian apologist viewpoint and opinions offered by Randall (the Christian) annoyed me. Obviously, I am biased, but I will also claim that I attempted to read Dr. Rauser's views with an open mind. Sorry, but he made that attempt difficult if not impossible. John Loftus (the atheist) was polite and carefully avoided trying to insult Dr. Rauser's "logic", but I am under no constraints other than those of normal civility. In a word, I found Dr. Rauser's arguments to be patronizing, horribly biased, ill-informed, dishonest, and insulting."

From Lindon L:"Apologist disappoints. Randal Rauser couldn't win an argument against my corgi. Were there no other christians who would take on this project? I would love to read an apologist who actually makes an argument and doesn't say cringe-worthy nonesense. This book promises but doesn't deliver."

From nothingsperfect: "Godless wins the debate. I found John W. lotus to be the most informed and persuasive by far in this series of questions. His opponent, Randal Rauser, ignored most of points made and came over as completely inadequate. I'd certainly recommend this book to Christian and Atheist alike to judge for themselves. The 20 questions covered are succinct but to the point."


There are plenty of reviews that mention our civility and 
that we both did well, or bad, or they argued against one of us. This one is typical:

From JR. Forasteros: "Sometimes Randal is the clear winner; other times it's John. Always, both men have clear, well-thought-out positions and treat each other with kindness and respect (excepting the occasional fun snark). I'm currently rereading the book with a group of 20-somethings. Some of us are Christian, some are atheist or agnostic. But reading and discussing God or Godless together is helping us to build transformative friendships founded on mutual love and admiration. Plus, it's a lot of fun. BOTTOM LINE: God or Godless is for anyone who wants to take earnest questions and civil dialog equally seriously. An easy, fun read that's well worth your time."


But none of them said the same things about my 20 debates as they said about Rauser's.


Except for one reviewer, Clint:

"Admittedly I am no fan of John Loftus. He's simply a poor philosopher, despite having once taught a class on the subject. Lest you think I am harsh on Loftus because he's an Atheist, that's certainly not the case. I just think a much better thinker could have been selected to support the Atheist side. For every poor Atheist philosopher like Loftus, Richard Carrier, or Richard Dawkins, there are good Atheist philosophers like Graham Oppy, Kai Nielsen, or Quentin Smith."