Showing posts with label "Dan Lambert". Show all posts
Showing posts with label "Dan Lambert". Show all posts

Dan Lambert Objects When I Said Christianity Made No Discoveries in 2013

Dan and I are friends. We live in the same city. He is a former professor at John Brown University who used my book, "Why I Became an Atheist" in one of his classes. He is also on record as saying "Christians should be reading John Loftus's Books." Still he thinks his faith is strengthened by reading them. Okay, I guess. Recently on Facebook he objected to a link I provided where I made fun of the fact that Christianity made no discoveries in 2013. Here is our exchange about it on Facebook. I think it is instructive. Enjoy.

"Why Christians Should be Reading John Loftus' Books," By Christian Professor Dan Lambert

Actually, the title to this post of his is much longer: Why Atheists Shouldn't Marry and Why Christians Should be Reading John Loftus' Books: Thoughts On Becoming an Atheist, Critical Thinking, and the Outsider Test for Faith. *Whew* that's a mouthful! [Disclaimer, Dan and I are friends. Yes I have them, in fact, most all of my family and friends are Christians.] I first met him as he was using my book in his class which I wrote about here. He joins other Christian intellectuals in having a guest post at DC, like Douglas Groothuis, James Sennett, Kenneth Howell, Craig Bloomberg, John Haught, and even William Lane Craig (by proxy). LINK. As with the others I'll post it in its entirety without comment (at least initially). So here is Dr. Lambert on the topic above. Comment as you will. He may respond.

Either the Garden of Eden Test Was a Sham or a Myth

In a previous post of mine I argued that the "supposed" test in the Garden of Eden was a sham. Then along comes my friend Dr. Dan Lambert who argued that we atheists have it wrong because "The Garden story is a myth invented to explain why people sin. Simple. End of story." At least Dan understands it for what it is. But if he's correct then how does this save his faith from refutation? Whether it's a sham test or a myth it doesn't matter. Why should any intelligent person base his faith on ancient myths? And there are lots of them in the Bible.

An Email Discussion With Dr. Dan Lambert

Dan and I are friends and he's using my book WIBA in his college classes. We carry on a discussion from time to time and with his permission this is one of them I thought was interesting.

What is the Difference Between an Education and Indoctrination?

[Written by John W. Loftus] When I went to Bible College I was not educated. I was indoctrinated. While other believers will protest that their Christian college was different, I wonder if that's true. In order to test this let me explain my experience, compare it with what a good education is, and see what you think. Okay?

Is Fundamentalism the Problem That Leads to Atheism?

Many people think this is true. Professor Dan Lambert thinks so as well. He wrote: "I have become more and more convinced that Christian fundamentalism has led more people to turn away from Christ and His Church than any anti-Christian belief or group ever could."

Is this correct?

Dr. Lambert can't actually say this is the case, only that 27 years of experience leads him to think so. But I think anecdotal evidence is just that, anecdotal. Until someone funds a scientific exit poll on ex-Christian atheists then we really don't know the backgrounds of the former Christians who become atheists.

As unusual as this might sound, perhaps evangelicals as a whole care more about their faith than most Catholics or liberals. Perhaps they think more deeply about the issues precisely because their faith means everything to them. And if this is the case it would stand to reason more evangelicals become atheists precisely because they care and think deeply about their faith. I think Christian people will more likely reject their religious faith once they care about it and think deeply about it. Evangelicals are more prone to do this so they are more likely to reject the Christian faith.

Besides, there are more evangelical (my term) Christians in America, so it stands to reason more people in America start out as evangelicals. Of the ex-Christians who become atheists more of them will be former evangelicals, by virtue of the demographics alone.

The evangelical critique of the liberals is that they have no reasonable place to stand, and as such, they might as well become complete secularists/atheists. Liberals too are becoming atheists.

In my own case I started out as an evangelical but when the underpinnings of it fell through the floor I took a step up in the direction of liberalism, but at that point I felt the force of the evangelical critique of liberalism. Having already rejected evangelicalism there was no place left to go but to agnosticism and then on to atheism.

I suspect many Christian people go through this same process. I suspect many of us travel the same road we see reflected in the history of modern western thought. First we accept evangelicalism on our Mama’s knees, then later we move on to deism, then to existentialism then on to agnosticism and atheism. Some others move on to pantheism and other sorts of things.

But until that scientific poll is done we will not know.

What is the Evidential Value of Personal Testimonies?

Many Christian people think that by sharing their personal religious experiences with us that this is some kind of evidence to those of us who don't believe. They claim to know God in a personal way. They claim to feel him, experience him, and so forth and so on. But of what import is that to people who don't believe? Nothing I can see at all.

I would like for these Christians to learn something from Professor Dan Lambert, who is using my book in his class at John Brown University. In his class he makes his students think through my arguments. You see, if I have not had these personal experiences then what value does telling me about them do for me? All I can say is that if I had these experiences then I would believe too. The problem is why God doesn't give me those kinds of experiences. God surely knows what it would take to convince me, okay? If he wanted to convince me he could easily do this and doing so would not depend upon me at all. That I have a stubborn or hard heart does not matter, for if God appeared to me like the Bible says he did to Moses, Gideon, or Paul, then I would believe even if I was not receptive to him.

So when dealing with our arguments do what Prof. Dan Lambert said:
"You cannot use the Bible to try to refute his points or to support your own. You must use logic and critical thinking primarily."
I'm sure Dan would also say you cannot refute our arguments by referring to personal experiences which we have not had.


"In a world without God...why does evil exist?"

Christian professor Dr. Dan Lambert is using my book for a class introducing the students to atheism at John Brown University, which is an evangelical college. I've mentioned this before. His students wanted to know my answer to the above question.

Dan's full question is this:
Many of them want to know how you answer the problem from an atheist perspective. So, in a world without God, created and sustained by purely natural laws and evolving as scientists explain it, why does evil exist?
The short answer is that objective or ultimate evil does not exist. Everything that happens is natural. Nature destroys people on whom the existence of millions of lives depend as well as it destroys people who want relief from their painful existence. Nature is indiscriminate in its dealings with us without any meaning or purpose. This best fits what we experience, I think.

However, just because there isn't any ultimate evil doesn't mean there isn't suffering for which we think is unnecessary. On this view evil is suffering, intense suffering, suffering that turns our stomachs. If your students have a hard time contemplating this then don't use the word "evil" at all. Just use the word "suffering." I don't like to suffer. I don't want my loved ones to suffer, nor do I want their friends to suffer. As a human being who is part of the natural world who can reflect on this world I can have a say about the sufferings of myself and others. Since I don't like suffering I want to help alleviate the sufferings of others. I think that by doing so it increases the amount of pleasure for me in this world, since a world that doesn't have as much suffering is a world where I and the ones I love can have more pleasure. And pleasure, holistic Aristotelian pleasure, is it's own reward needing no additional justification.

A Lesson From Dr. Dan Lambert on Dealing With My Book

[Written by John W. Loftus] Dr. Lambert is a professor for John Brown University; what looks like a good Evangelical college. He's using my book in a class titled: "Capstone Seminar in Christian Life." He sent me an email about the class:
The class I’m using your book for is a special May Term class. Only 4 weeks long and about 30 class hours. I have chosen to only use your book and no others since it’s such a short class. You give readers enough to digest without adding in others like Flew, McGrath, or Dawkins (yea, I chose you over them!). It’s a senior-level class and we typically have 5-8 students take it in May. I have 15 students this time due to the topic. We have met twice already and they are engaging well, so I am excited to see where we go.
He also sent me his syllabus where he offers some great advice to his students and to Christians everywhere who want to deal with the arguments in my book. I consider his advice to be a model for Christian would be apologists:
Reading Reflection Papers: Read VERY thoroughly the assigned chapters for each day. Use a highlighter or pen to mark in the book. Write one page on each chapter about what you read. Do this in a format as if you were having lunch with Loftus and discussing his book with him. You cannot use the Bible to try to refute his points or to support your own. You must use logic and critical thinking primarily. THIS WILL BE MUCH HARDER THAN YOU ANTICIPATE!
Whether it'll be much harder than they anticipate I don't know, but read again what this Christian professor said:
You cannot use the Bible to try to refute his points or to support your own. You must use logic and critical thinking primarily.
I especially like the fact that Dr. Lambert did the reasonable thing by forbidding Bible quotes to refute my points, since if they did so it will not have an effect on someone who doesn't believe the Bible. Kudos to him on that. I think this is the difference between ignorant Bible thumpers and intelligent Christians. Lambert wants to educate and train intelligent Christians for ministry, not Bible thumpers.

I appreciate his intellectual integrity and congenial spirit toward me on the issues that separate us, which is also something Christians can learn from him. We have a somewhat shared background but we have never personally met. He's sending his students here to DC to check us out. Welcome to you all.