Day Five of the Twelve Days of Solstice

We're celebrating the 12 days of Solstice rather than the 12 days of Christmas. I'm done writing and editing books. So I'm highlighting each of my twelve books leading up to the 25th of the month when we party. I'll tell you something about each of them you probably don't know. [See Tag Below]

Today I'll tell you about my co-written book with Dr. Randal Rauser, God or Godless?: One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions, published in April, 2013.

The first thing to say is that Rauser contacted me to co-write the book without first reading my magnum opus Why I Became an Atheist. I think that's instructive, since he didn't research into how formidable of an opponent I might be. More on that a bit later.

Rauser had an agent who pitched it to Christian publishers. It took nine months to find a publisher, as I recall. I was quite pleased though, when I learned it was picked up by Baker Books and would be in the brick and mortar Christian book stores. If you follow the book link above, you'll find four blurbs. There are two from Christians, Michael R. Licona & David Marshall, and two from atheists, Richard Carrier & Hector Avalos. Although you find these blurbs online, they were not put on the back cover or inside the book itself! That helped to kill the book since it was placed in Christian book stores without any real name recognition from either Rauser or myself, or recommendations.

Since Rauser invited me I basically let him steer the ship. We were to each come up with ten questions. The person who suggested a question wrote an opening statement of 800 words, followed by the other who wrote his own opening statement of 800 words. We agreed to send them to each other at the same time. Then we each wrote a rebuttal of 150 words, and a closing statement of 50 words. This brief 209-page book debates the following topics. We alternated back and forth. Rauser's were the odd numbered ones and mine were even numbered.

1. If There Is No God, Then Life Has No Meaning

2. The Biblical Concept of God Evolved from Polytheism to Monotheism

3. If There Is No God, Then Everything Is Permitted

4. The Biblical God Required Child Sacrifices for His Pleasure

5. Science Is No Substitute for Religion

6. The Biblical God Commanded Genocide

7. God Is the Best Explanation of the Whole Shebang

8. The Biblical God Does Not Care Much about Slaves

9. If There Is No God, Then We Don't Know Anything

10. The Biblical God Does Not Care Much about Women

11. Love Is a Many Splendored Thing, but Only if God Exists

12. The Biblical God Does Not Care Much about Animals

13. Everybody Has Faith

14. The Biblical God Is Ignorant about Science

15. God Is Found in the Majesty of the Hallelujah Chorus

16. The Biblical God Is Ignorant about the Future

17. God Best Explains the Miracles in People's Lives

18. The Biblical God Is an Incompetent Creator

19. Jesus Was Resurrected, So Who Do You Think Raised Him?

20. The Biblical God Is an Incompetent Redeemer.

Our debates progressed like this:

Randal's Opening

John's Opening

Randal's Rebuttal

John's Rebutal

Randal's Closing

John's Closing


This was reversed when I went first, following the same back and forth.

I think that format was confusing, and could've helped kill the book. I should have put up more of a fuss to change it to this instead:

Randal's Opening

John's Rebutal

Randal's Closing


Then on that same question we do it again in reverse:

John's Opening

Randal's Rebuttal

John's Closing

My strategy in the book centered around the biblical god Yahweh and the problem of evil. I didn't ask about the philosopher's god. I figured Rauser would ask about that god. But more importantly if the philosopher's god--the classical theistic god--doesn't originate from out the Bible then it's a completely made up god without any foundation. So after discussing how Rauser's god was adopted in Q 2, and after I argued how barbaric that god is in Q's 4 & 6, I went after the three divine attributes that make the problem of evil so problematic. Q's 8,10 & 12 show god doesn't care. Q's 14 & 16 show god is ignorant. Q's 18 & 20 show god to be incompetent.

Out of it came a series of three debates between us which I enjoyed. The last debate took place in Dr. Rauser's home church in Edmonton, Canada, on June 5, 2013. We were joined by Myron Penner.

Penner's views were strange. I considered him to be a big distraction. He wasn't part of our two earlier debates and there's no video of them.

Then the reviews of our book came in. I thought as we were writing it I was clobbering Rauser with every debate. Many people agreed, even Christians. You can see the Amazon reviews online in that link above. That's sure to kill a book since Christians have more book buying power. Just think if instead he had clobbered me?

Robert M. Price wrote a nice review for Free Inquiry magazine where he said I clobbered him. Russell Blackford and Dustin Lawson agreed. Then came some humiliating reviews of the book on Amazon.

After just a few years, in March of 2016, we were told the book was going out of print, which provoked another debate between Rauser and I as to who was at fault. Hint: It was him! [As I see today it's still in print. Get one quick, who knows?]

I eventually grow tired of people who argue on behalf of an unevidenced revelation from an unevidenced god that makes no sense at all, such as Matthew Flannagan, Victor Reppert, David Marshall, and Don Camp. I can only take so much blind ignorance. So it got ugly between us until Rauser blocked me for a few years. He unblocked me this year, then after just a few months I decided I don't need his toxicity in my life.

I've argued in my book Unapologetic that atheists play nice with Christians by not stressing two simple facts of our case. It's like this:
1) There is no objective evidence for the Christian faith, much like conspiracy theories from QAnon have no objective evidence for them.

2) The doctrines of the Christian faith make no sense at all. They are absurd, just like conspiracy theories from QAnon.
If that's what we stressed there's not much else to say. How can we mantain a prolonged dialogue over these two facts, especially the first one? Atheists play the game of dialogue to get noticed by Christians and the perks that come with it. It's especially true with non-published and/or low credentialed wannabe atheist philosophers. Since Rauser was willing to debate me, some of them saw an opportunity. Chris Hallquist, Justin Schieber, and Jeff Lowder warmed up to him. Now I'll admit I was quite peeved that neither Hallquist nor Schieber nor Lowder said I beat Rauser in God or Godless? to win favor with Rauser. So I was in an irrate mood when Rauser rewarded Hallquist with a debate that he lost. Rauser also rewarded Justin Schieber with a co-written book that he lost. Rauser also rewarded Jeff Lowder--whose highest degree is a bachelor's degree in computer science--with a chance to dialogue in a chapter that didn't go well. Lesson taught. Lesson learned.

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