Day Nine of the Thirteen Days of Solistice

We're celebrating the 13 days of Solstice rather than the 12 days of Christmas. I'm done writing and editing books, so I'm highlighting each one of them in reverse chronological order, leading up to the 25th of the month. Stick with me to the end of this series when I write about my experiences in book publishing, the need for self-promotion and how to do it right (if it can be done right), plus what royalties authors can expect.
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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. That's instructive, since he didn't research into how formidable of an opponent I might be.

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 to Amazon above, you'll find four blurbs from Michael R. Licona, David Marshall, Richard Carrier and 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 from others.

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 includes debates on the following topics. We alternated back and forth. Rauser's were the odd numbered ones (in black) and mine were even numbered (in blue).

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


You can read my closing thoughts right here. See what you think.

My strategy in the book centered around the biblical god Yahweh and the problem of suffering (or evi). I didn't ask about the philosopher's god--the classical theistic god. I figured Rauser would ask about that god in his 10 questions. But more importantly if the philosopher's god doesn't originate from the Bible then it's a completely made up deity without any foundation. So after discussing how Rauser's god was originated in Q 2, and after I argued how barbaric that particular 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 (Josh McDowell's wayward disciple) agreed. Then came some more humiliating reviews for Rauser 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! [Turns out 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 Victor Reppert, David Marshall, Matthew Flannagan, and Don Camp. I can only take so much willful(?) 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:
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 atheist philosophers stressed there's not much else to say. How can we mantain a prolonged dialogue over these two facts, especially the first one? These two major points are the subjects of chapter 1 in my anthology God and Horrendous Suffering.

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 budding 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? in order 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. Then Rauser rewarded Jeff Lowder with a chance to dialogue in a chapter for a book of his, that didn't go well in my opinion. In it Lowder made an ignorant claim that a majority of naturalists hold to naturalism dogmatically and unreflectively. Lessons taught. Lessons learned.


John W. Loftus is a philosopher and counter-apologist credited with 13 critically acclaimed books, which are not very popular judging from the meager sales. At this season I'm retired with a fixed income and would appreciate a one-time solstice gift to help me get by. If my work has benefited you at all, it would encourage me to keep doing what I'm doing for as long as I can. My marriage has suffered because my wife often complains I spend way too much time online. But if I could make a little money doing what I do she probably wouldn't complain any more, and you would see me writing more.

Please support my work this season by sharing my posts, or by subscribing, donating, or buying my books at Amazon then telling others about them! As an Amazon Associate John earns a small amount of money from purchases made from Amazon. Buying anything through them helps fund my work here, and is greatly appreciated! The ads here don't bring in much money at all. Since most people use an adblocker I'm thinking of doing away with them altogether. I hope this season of the year brings you cheer, peace, good health, and healthy relationships! Thanks for your support!