If the Shoe Were on the Other Foot

What Christian wouldn’t be incensed by the following statement, especially if informed that it was made by a professor of philosophy at one of this nation’s venerated institutions of higher learning? The statement, ostensibly an attempt to explain the real reasons underlying the religious beliefs of millions of our fellow citizens, appears to be purposely disrespectful:

“Christian belief,” this professor declared, “does not arise from assessment of evidence, but from stubborn closed-mindedness; it does not have its origin in the desire for knowledge but in arrogance and contempt. Christianity is the suppression of truth by hatred, the outgrowth of small-minded prejudice. In short, it is bigotry that is the mother of belief.”

Even strong atheists might admit that this goes too far. No wonder so many religious individuals feel as if they’re under siege. These days, it really does seem that there’s a war on certain types of belief.

Atheistasis on Apologetics with John Loftus


The International eConference on Atheism is September 3-5 !!

Here's a discount code to get $4 off on this upcoming International eConference on Atheism. Come on! Join us! Just use: ifollowloftus This is gonna be good!! Just look at the topics and speakers! David Madison and I are among them. Hosted by the Global Center for Religious Research (GCRR) and open to believers and nonbelievers alike. 

When a Good Brain Collides with Bad Religion


…we get a happy ending

Christian fanaticism has been fueled by the apostle Paul, whose absorption in Jesus—whom he met in his visions—approached totality. He was sure that both body and mind had to yield to Jesus: “…those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). And loosely quoting a text from Isaiah 29, he disparaged thinking: “For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (I Corinthians 1:19-20). Even conservative scholar Ben Witherington has admitted that Paul would be considered a fanatic by many Christians today.

Is God Just?


[Another summer re-run.]

We nonbelievers claim that a perfectly good, loving being would never have created hell, but according to most Christians we are simply wrong. God is loving, they say, but he is also just — and justice demands that evil-doers be punished. Without hell, after all, where would the Hitlers, Stalins, and Ted Bundys of this world end up? In heaven?

This is a common argument, which means that many must find it persuasive, but my guess is that those who do simply haven't given it sufficient thought. It's very easy to see the flaws in it.

To begin with, hell isn't only for serious evil-doers: standard Christian doctrine maintains that we are all deserving of eternal punishment and that anyone who doesn't accept God's offer of salvation ends up there. A second thing to keep in mind is that even the worst evil-doers aren't necessarily sent to hell — not if at some point they become sincere believers. Ted Bundy, for instance, claimed to have accepted Jesus before being executed, and if that's true then on the standard view he did end up in heaven.

One therefore cannot justify hell on the grounds that evil-doers must be punished. But more importantly, can one still maintain that God is just given this doctrine? Does it make sense that all of us are deserving of eternal punishment, or that those who accept Jesus are forgiven?

"An Atheist Perspective" An Article I Wrote Just After My Deconversion

First let me share a photo that was take in 1985. Here are the two men I admired most, Drs. William Lane Craig and James D. Strauss, both at my graduation from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in June of 1985.
I had just earned a Master of Theology degree in the Philosophy of Religion under Craig, which was my third master's degree. I had earned the other two under Strauss. I had just been accepted at Marquette University the next school year for a PhD degree in Theology. It turned out that I only had the energy and finances for a year and a half of full time study there, so I took a Senior Minister position in Angola, Indiana. 
I had hopes I would return to finish my PhD, but something happened on the way to paradise. The rest is history, as they say. 
Now about that article. It was written twenty-two and a half years later. In January 2008 I had sent the following short essay to "The Christian Standard" for publication. I had previously published more than a dozen articles with them on various topics, and thought their readers might be interested. It was rejected. Anyway, I just found it and realized I had never shared it before. Enjoy. 

Bible Blunders & Bad Theology, Part 1


Everything you know about god(s) is (probably) rubbish

So, one day I’m crossing Park Avenue in Manhattan. The southbound lanes are separated from the northbound lanes by a wide stretch of flowerbeds and trees—our city’s answer to the Champs-Élysées. On this particular day a frenzied street preacher, near one of the flowerbeds, is yelling his message. You can’t miss a word: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. Whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.” This guy is stoked with anger. Well, why not? God is angry too.

Could My Great Grandfather Tom Loftus Be Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame? He Should Be!

Here is a fantastic, and for me fascinating interview with baseball historian John Pregler, concerning the role my Great Grandfather Tom Loftus played in the early history of Major League Baseball. 
Listen here: https://sportsfh.com/
Even if this topic may sound boring to you, there's so much that is utterly fascinating you should listen to it! It aired on "Sport's Forgotten Heroes." Enjoy. I did! He's even being suggested as a future inductee into the Baseball Hall of fame!

Jesus Reboot Fail: Resurrection Doesn’t Work


As we can figure out from the Bible itself

“A man ascending vertically from the Mount of Olives, by whatever means of miraculous propulsion, would pass into orbit.” So observed British scholar A. N. Wilson, gently ridiculing the story of Jesus’ departure into heaven described in Acts 1:9, “…as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” As reported later in Acts 7:55-56, the about-to-be-martyred St. Stephen “…gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” So, an orbiting Jesus wasn’t part of these fantasies.

Yet Another Bible Chapter: More Trouble than It’s Worth


Blending superstition and bad theology

“For years my congregations sang the Gloria Patri which ended ‘Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.’ I sang about a ghost. As a grown man.” So said D. B. Ramsey recently on Twitter; he was a Baptist minister for ten years, and his book, Speaking of God: We Don’t Know Sh*t will be published in October. Yes, religion has a way of getting adults to do childish things; images of Casper the Friendly Ghost come to mind.

The Gathering Storm: Will Christianity Be Held Accountable?


Enough is enough

This comment was posted recently on one of my articles:

“In what year did you become not just an atheist but a crusader against Christianity?
In what year did you acknowledge yourself as a homosexual?”

I found these questions about chronology a bit puzzling, but then it struck me that there was another agenda: to identify me as a zealot, and to make sure people know that I am gay. After all, what could be worse than an outspoken gay atheist?

On Trump, Covid-19, Cognitive Bias, and Evangelicals

[Sorry about all the ads. I think I got rid of them. Wait for it.]
As we know by now Donald Trump is a narcissistic sociopath. Not only can we tell by watching and listening to him speak about his rating "numbers, and his lack of empathy for the victims of Covid-19, two people who should know have come out in public saying so. His niece Mary Trump, as we should all know by now. But also Trump's ghostwriter for the book "The Art of the Deal." Tony Schwartz has written a devastating piece on Trump, warning us all about him, titled The Psychopath in Chief. He says,
Understanding what we’re truly up against — the reign of terror that Trump will almost surely wage the moment he believes he can completely prevail — makes the upcoming presidential election a true Armageddon. Vote as if your life depends on it, because it does.
The Atlantic Monthly has put out a few great articles on Trump, Evangelicals, and the Coronavirus. The most important one is a theme of mine about cognitive bias with regard to faith and religion:

My Great Grandfather's Major League Baseball Legacy Has Been Settled!

Finally! 110 years after he died, my great grandfather's efforts in the early years of baseball has been acknowledged and noted! Here is a picture of him I hadn't seen before.
The recent Spring 2020 issue of the Baseball Research Journal has a story written by John T. Pregler titled, "Tom Loftus: The American League's Forgotten Founding Father." He was famous in his day, very much so!
Tom's son was named John. His son's name was Tom, my dad. From Tom to John to Tom to you know who! My older brother's name was Tom. Cool, eh?
To read the article Click Here. To see a photo of the Journal cover and first page of the article see below. Yes. it's exciting!

Sex and the Celibate Priest


Turning religion into an ordeal

I wonder how often Christians rate themselves; that is, do they reflect on how they measure up as followers of Jesus? What standards do they use? How often do they embrace the apostle Paul’s claim, as stated in his letter to the Galatians?

“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (5:24)

Suppose They Found PROOF Jesus Existed


What difference would it make?

Most laypeople are probably stumped at the claim that there is no proof that Jesus existed. How can that be? If you get yourself to Israel you can visit the places where Jesus was born and baptized. Catholics know about the relics of Jesus, e.g., fragments of the cross, thorns from the Crown of Thorns—even the foreskin of Jesus is venerated: “At various points in history, a number of churches in Europe have claimed to possess Jesus’s foreskin, sometimes at the same time. Various miraculous powers have been ascribed to it.” (Wikipedia)

Hitler’s American Christian Friends


Can Christianity clean up its act?

I marvel that I was sheltered from Christian extremism, even as I was brought up in the 1940s and 1950s in a conservative Christian home in rural Indiana. My devout mother couldn’t stand Billy Graham, which, it turns out, was a big clue why I wasn’t aware of the hateful Christianity that had been in vogue in the decades before my birth.

Bradley Dalton reviews the book "God or Godless"

LINK.He says of it that it's "Good for getting the conversation started!"

Bradley Dalton Reviews "Christianity is Not Great"

Here's a nice book review on my anthology, "Christianity is Not Great", if you were thinking of getting it.

"A Must Read for ALL Truth Seekers!" by Bradley Dalton, who says, "This is one of my favorite books. It’s the go to book regarding the pragmatism of Christianity."

Regarding my chapter 8 on Christianity and the Savagery of Slavery, the reviewer writes:

"This is my favorite chapter in the book. In it Loftus discusses the topic of slavery in the Bible. I recommend referring Christians to this chapter if they try to say that the slavery in the Bible wasn’t that bad. Loftus goes through the Bible passages and debunks the common apologetics used to defend biblical slavery. He also shows how the Bible was interpreted to justify slavery in the United States."

Biology Defeats Theology


…and it’s not even close

I was born just about fifteen years after Edwin Hubble determined that Andromeda is a galaxy outside the Milky Way; this disproved the argument of some astronomers that our galaxy was the extent of the universe. What a gift this was for our understanding of who and where we are! For the first time humans had insight into the inconceivable vastness of the Cosmos.

Baseball Research Journal: Tom Loftus is the American League’s Forgotten Founding Father.

Here is the link to the long awaited article: Tom Loftus: The American League’s Forgotten Founding Father. This is my Great Grandfather Tom Loftus! I've written about him before. He's finally getting the recognition he deserves. He was widely hailed in his day as important to Major League Baseball, especially his role in helping to start the American League and in navigating through the baseball wars of 1899-1903. I'm so thankful to have lived long enough to see this day! Here are a few snippets:

Calls For Ending the Philosophy of Religion Are Doing Nothing More Than Advocating For the Secularization Of Our Secular Universities

Recently Jerry Coyne wrote about the Philosophy of Religion:
Insofar as "theology" includes courses that presuppose the existence of the divine, take seriously the existence of God or Jesus, or prepare people for the ministry or to promulgate religious beliefs, then those courses not only have no place in a University, but are exercises in delusion. Now I think the higher-class divinity schools, like Chicago's and Harvard's, have very few of those courses, but there are some. They should not be part of a secular university. Maybe I'm missing something here, but it seems to me that Hitchens's razor is correct: "What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence." That applies to any form of theology that takes gods or superstitions as real. Universities should not be in the business of taking seriously those myths that have no evidence behind them. They can, of course, teach myths, but at no point should they imply that there is evidence for their truth. LINK
I've written on this topic several times before, collected here. But I don't think I've articulated my viewpoint in any single post better than I do in this one. I'm not surprised there is still a lot of misunderstanding about what I'm talking about. So here's another attempt--a book may need to be written on it.

My position seems to be the same as Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne, Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay when it comes to ending the Philosophy of Religion (PoR) discipline in the secular universities. The classes covered could be taught under the umbrella of the Philosophy discipline itself (with no need for a subdivision of PoR) or in the Comparative Religion departments, and especially science classes. Just think of it this way. We don't have PoR classes on Zoroastrianism, Gnosticism, Mithraism, Norse theology, Haitian Voodoo, Paganism etc., in any secular university that I know about. We don't see this for good reasons. Now think real hard about why, okay? The main purpose of the PoR discipline is to examine the evidence and the arguments for religion. Evidence. Arguments. Its main purpose is not merely to get students to understand religion. Rather, it seeks to assess the claims of religion by looking at the evidence (if there is any) and the arguments (if there are any good ones based on the evidence). By contrast, the main purpose of classes in Comparative Religions departments is to understand religion.

Matthew Enhances the Cult Playbook


His disservice to Christianity

What does devotion to the Ancient Jesus Mystery Cult look like today? As is clear from comments made on this blog a few days ago by one of the cult devotees, it still embraces magical thinking in its refusal to accept death:

The Gateway to Doubting the Gospel Narratives Is The Virgin Birth Myth

There is an often repeated argument that marijuana is the gateway drug leading to dangerous drugs. [I think it's largely false but don't get sidetracked on it.] There is however, a gateway to doubting the whole Bible that I want to highlight here. Lately I've been focusing on the virgin birth claim because this is the gateway to doubting the gospel narratives, just as Genesis 1-11 is the gateway to doubting the Old Testament narratives. It was for me anyway. You can see this double doubting of both Testaments in the list of the five most important books that changed my mind.

An Angel with a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card


Pushing Christian theology into fantasy land

Not too long ago I read the claim by a Christian apologist that Luke was a first-rate historian. Such confidence is no doubt based on the first four verses of that gospel:

“Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.”

I'm Skyping into the Apologetics class of Dr. Gary Habermas

This Wednesday I'll be Skyping into a class of PhD students majoring in Apologetics under Dr. Gary Habermas. I'll be interacting with the students who were assigned to read my new anthology, "The Case against Miracles." These are the future apologists! It's a good opportunity! What points would you make if you were me?

A Final Sermon in a Time of Pandemic


What does disease tell us about God?

I gave up on Christianity because it claims too much and explains too little. We know so little about the Cosmos we’re floating in—our home is one solar system among trillions—yet theologians brag and posture about God, as if they had some way of knowing: they claim too much. And when they brag about how good the Christian God is, they can’t tell us—in any even remotely convincing way—why there is colossal human and animal suffering: they explain too little. Even as I served two parishes in the Methodist Church, and plodded along on my PhD program in Biblical Studies, these deficiencies kept haunting me. Finally, I walked away.

I Unequivocally Without Qualification Condemn Systematic Institutional Racism!

My wife and I protested peacefully in Fort Wayne, Indiana, over the murder of George Floyd. I unequivocally without qualification condemn systematic institutional racism! That being said, I neither condone nor condemn the violence of a few people who protested across the country. There's a lot of anger from decades and decades of systematic institutional racism that have not been adequately solved. The black community and those who seek justice are fed up. If you were born black you would feel this injustice. You might conclude property owners and society itself are to blame. We are all complicit to some degree as this situation continues to exist. Peaceful protests don't work, you might conclude. So you too might consider burning it all down. No worries here since it's all covered by insurance anyway. I understand this sentiment. You should too. While I understand the need for law and order. I also understand the outrage, and I'm on the side of the outrage right now. We might simply ask ourselves what level of priority is systematic institutional racism on the agenda. From my perspective it hasn't been high on my list of priorities, I'm so sorry to say. To be silent is to be complicit.

Discuss. I know good people disagree. WATCH THESE TWO EXCELLENT VIDEOS FIRST!!

Is There Evidence That There Are No Gods?


I was recently involved in an online discussion in which a reason I hadn't previously seen was offered for preferring negative to positive atheism. (By negative atheism, I mean the mere lack of belief in any gods, and by positive atheism, the belief that there are no gods. And the fact that one usually needs to explain this is one reason I prefer the traditional terminology.)

There are better and worse reasons for being only a negative atheist. But the one that was argued by my opponent in the discussion was pretty weak — and if it is accepted by others who call themselves atheists, they really should be aware of that.

Briefly, my opponent's argument was that one should only believe when there is evidence; that there is no evidence that there are no gods; and therefore that to positively disbelieve in such beings is completely unjustified.

On the Hunt for Jesus in the Old Testament


The manufactured prophecy miracle

Religious folks have a vested interest in managing expectations about miracles. Taking them at their word, that God is powerful and good—and has our wellbeing in mind—secularists can suggest miracles that should have happened. A year before the Sandy Hook School massacre, Richard Carrier wrote this:

Benjamin Blade Speed Watkins On Faith and Reason

Benjamin Blade Speed Watkins, Host/Producer at Real Atheology - A Philosophy of Religion Podcast, posted something for discussion: "Faith without reason is blind, but reason without faith is impotent. I’m came up with this little gem, or at least I like to thing I did. Who have I unknowingly ripped off? How unoriginal am I actually being? Philosophy friends, ASSEMBLE!" [For my response see below. For a more robust defense see this on Facebook].
There is only blind faith, that is, faith without reason. So reason doesn't need faith at all. *Why do I bother* There is reasoning based on faith, but that's equivalent to reasoning based on the conclusions of delusions and wishful thinking. By contrast, reasoning about the nature of nature, its workings, and origins is based on logic and objective evidence.