Dr. Hector Avalos Has Died. He was a one man demolition machine when it came to debunking Christianity!

My heart just broke at the news that Dr. Hector Avalos just died. I wept at the news. My heartfelt sympathies go out to his wife Cynthia and other loved ones and friends. I loved this man. I loved his scholarship. I loved him for his support of my work. I loved his demeanor and resolve. He was the greatest scholar I've ever personally met and known. He should go down in history as the greatest biblical scholar in our generation. You may disagree but that's my assessment. He made a huge difference. He will be greatly missed.
Here's what I wrote about him in the dedication to my book, How to Defend the Christian Faith, as one of the scholarly friends who greatly influenced my thinking:
I dedicate this book to Hector Avalos who is expertly leading a second wave of atheist biblical scholars following the first wave of new atheists. His writings are multidisciplinary in scope (covering biblical, scientific, ethical and political issues) utilizing a variety of venues (scholarly books, journals, blog posts and newspapers), and cross-cultural in scope (in both English and Spanish). He is a one man demolition machine when it comes to debunking Christianity and its influence in today’s world. 
I first gained Hector's attention when I highly recommended his book The End of Biblical Studies. Then he joined the team of writers here at DC. Here are a few of his early postsHe was relentless in countering ignorance when he was maligned. He responded with scholarship, firmness and as a gentleman. I liked how he would almost always ask his opponent a few hard questions to answer at the end. 
We had a mutual admiration for each other. He came to my defense several times when I was under attack, for which I was thankful. Imagine having a biblical scholar defending you as a verbal pit bull!  
In honor of his legacy I'm asking people buy up his books. See the marquee of his books pictured at the header of this blog. Get his flagship book, The End of Biblical Studies, plus Slavery, Abolition, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship, then The Bad Jesus; The Ethics of New Testament Ethics, and also The Reality of Religious Violence.
I have a picture of us together and I'm trying to locate it. For now I'll post the Foreword Hector wrote for my book Christianity is Not Great: Why Faith Fails. I share it to let readers know what he thinks is important. He thinks my work is important. If you value his opinion perhaps you should too. 
---------
Foreword by Dr. Hector Avalos, Professor of Religious Studies, Iowa State University:
Anthologies are not easy to organize. Contributors have to be recruited, and they may not all be available at the time you need them. Scholars have to respect you enough as an editor to join your project if they are available. 
Over the past few years, John Loftus has demonstrated his ability to recruit the best scholars and scientists to his anthologies, including The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails (2010) and The End of Christianity (2011), both published by Prometheus Books. 
The present anthology, Christianity is Not Great, is no exception. Scholars representing fields as varied as physics and anthropology are here. Unfortunately, illness and previous commitments kept me from contributing to this one. But one reason that I have contributed in the past is that he will allow me, as a scholar, to be as technical and as detailed as I need to be to make my arguments.
Consequently, these anthologies are some of the most substantive collections of rebuttals to theistic, and specifically to Christian theistic arguments, in existence.  They signal a new era insofar as atheists are organizing coherent and scholarly responses that are wide-ranging in scope, instead of just focusing on a few traditional issues (e.g., philosophical arguments against theism, or creationism). These anthologies touch on, among many subjects, history, sociology, psychology, and biblical studies.
Christianity is Not Great swiftly demolishes one of the greatest and more subtle myths of promoted by believers. The demolished myth is that Christianity, even if it cannot be proved to be true, has at least been good for the world.  It has supposedly freed slaves and fostered science.
On the contrary, Christianity is not Great shows that Christianity has been bad for the world precisely because its ungrounded beliefs interfere with a realistic view of our world. Unrealistic views of the world cause unnecessary pain and suffering, and those views should be rejected. Furthermore, it's simply not true that Christianity deserves credit for freeing slaves, fostering science, and other positive developments that believers usually ascribe to this religion.
Aside from the wonderful contributions, this volume is an indirect tribute to Loftus himself. John Loftus is an indefatigable laborer for atheism. He represents one of those voices who still has not received the honor that he deserves. Yet, few modern atheists have provided as much useful service to educating the masses about atheism as he has done.
Just think of all he does. He manages a biblioblog. He organizes anthologies. He writes his own solely authored books. He speaks around the country. He maintains himself current about religious issues, and he is generally well read. And he does it all while holding a regular job. Yes, indefatigable would be what he is.
Each of those activities on behalf of atheism is serious and substantial in both scope and quality. For example, he presides over a biblioblog, Debunking Christianity, that is consistently ranked at or near the top in a world where most biblioblogs are managed by people with religious affiliations. Yet, this blog has become a major showcase for some of the best atheist scholarship today.
Christianity is not Great reflects the comprehensive and substantive manner in which Loftus aims to promote atheism. He knows that you cannot just say Christianity or religion are flawed. You have to engage in the laborious scholarship that shows that to be the case.  
His past anthologies have addressed the problems and flaws in Christianity’s arguments. This volume, while not neglecting those problems and flaws, concentrates on how Christianity harms some of our basic human institutions, such as politics, science, and our moral system.  
The anthologies John Loftus organizes show the vitality and comprehensive intellectual approach to atheism as a way of life. That comprehensive critique of religion, and defense of the atheist worldview, is one of the hallmarks of what is called The New Atheism.
Christianity is Not Great is summarized by its very title, and substantiated by the excellent collection of essays that owes its existence to the indefatigable John Loftus.

Click on the tag "Avalos" to read more of his writings. 

0 comments: