Bible Blunders & Bad Theology, Part 9

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How did Mark find out about the Last Supper?

I sometimes indulge the frivolous thought that New Testament scholarship might have derived some of its inspiration from great mystery writers, e.g., Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), Agatha Christie (1890-1976), and Dorothy L. Sayers (1983-1957). These authors imagined complex plots and their sleuths, Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and Lord Peter Wimsey, applied considerable ingenuity to discover whodunit. New Testament scholars, who have thrived when these authors were in their prime—and beyond—face one of the biggest whodunits ever, actually a multi-layered whodunit: how did Christianity come to be, how are the New Testament documents related, and how in the world can we figure out who Jesus really was, if he really was? Scholars have yet to agree on a methodology for identifying genuine historical data in the gospels—and they continue sleuthing to unravel multiple mysteries.

The Fueling of Christian Hate

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Arrogant and aggressive ignorance


When I gave up my ordination and left the ministry in 1977, I managed a successful transition to a business career. This was long before the existence of The Clergy Project, which today provides support for clergy who have become atheists and are trying to move on; I had to wing it reinventing myself. A couple of year before that I had also been divorced, after ten years of marriage. I had known since I was a teenager that I was gay, but in rural Indiana in the 1950s gay people did not exist. Well of course they did, but remained deeply closeted and out of sight. There were certainly no famous role models, such as Neil Patrick Harris, for example. Hence I had followed the script I was expected to follow—pretty perfectly too: I married a missionary’s daughter.

It's Hogwash To Say Deductive Arguments Produce Certain Conclusions While Inductive Arguments Are Weaker by Comparison!!

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Johannes Y K Hui recently claimed something odd:
(1) Every SOUND deductive argument’s conclusion is impossible to be false. [A sound deductive argument would be one that has all true premises and a valid form/structure. A sound deductive argument/reasoning would produce a conclusion that is impossible to be false; such a sound deductive conclusion would be guaranteed true with 100% certainty.]

(2) Every cogent/strong non-deductive argument’s conclusion is possible to be false. [In contrast, a cogent/strong non-deductive or probabilistic argument at best produces only a conclusion that is only probably true; its conclusion is always possible to be false.]

Because of the above, when the conclusion of a non-deductive or probabilistic argument contradicts that of a sound deductive argument, the conclusion of the non-deductive argument would be guaranteed false with 100% certainty.

Given the above two points, because there exists sound deductive arguments that produced the conclusion that “the God of Classical Christian Theism exists extramentally” (which would be guaranteed to be true with 100% certainty given the nature of SOUND deductive arguments), any non-deductive argument (such as all those evidential probabilistic arguments making use of the existence of sufferings) that concludes with “the God of Classical Christian Theism probably does not exist extra-mentally” would be totally negated.
As a former college instructor in logic and critical thinking who taught students who were police officers, detectives, and lawyers, allow me to teach you something useful. The only thing certain in a valid deductive argument is the logical structure of the argument itself. Many philosophy novices fail to get this point.

Remarkable Resistance to Rational Inquiry

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Knowing God for sure can be a health risk

Quite a few of the most vocal Christians in the land—of the TV evangelist variety—assured their fans that God told them Trump would be reelected; how did they get it so wrong? Many other Christian leaders have gone right ahead with large church gatherings during the pandemic, confident that faith is sufficient protection against the virus; they were enough in tune with God to know this. But their meetings turned into super spreader events; did God’s word get garbled? How does it happen that super devout folks are so sure that God talks to them?

Conspiratorial Theories and Religious Beliefs

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Here is a fantastic lesson in conspiratorial theories, and how to break free from them. It's an excellent case study! I liken conspiracy theories to religous beliefs. The same types of illegitimate justifications are used, and the refusal to admit they're wrong are exactly the same.

We just watched a Netflix Series called Crime Scene: The Vanishing at Cecil Hotel. It's four episodes long. It was riveting, having to do with the vanishing of hotel guest Elisa Lam. Lots of internet sleuths got involved when a video of her getting in and out of an elevator surfaced. All kinds of theories were proposed. One by one they were shown wrong by either the evidence, or the lack of evidence.

The sleuths slowly gravitated toward conspiracy theories as this happened. They thought coincidences were evidence, like the parallels with a movie called "Dark Waters". The fact is, coincidences are not equivalent to objective evidence, because if we look hard enough and long enough we will see plenty of them!

When the truth came out in the fourth episode we see the sleuths having a hard time accepting the truth, since they had so much invested in the case.

Don't research this case first, as it will spoil it. Watch this series first. Then think of Trump and those who continue believing his lie that his last election was stolen from him.

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PS Isn't it telling that since Dominion Voting Systems has sued people to the tune of billions of dollars that Trump has stopped calling the election a fraud?

What Does the Problem of Suffering Conclude?

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As the editor of a forthcoming anthology on God and Horrendous Suffering, an apologist said this to me:
John I’m so so confused why you believe that an argument against God using evil is very effective. At best it would only bring into question what kind of God.
My response: Two things: 1) The argument from evil shows your SPECIFIC god doesn't exist. 2) The cavalier manner in which you respond like this reveals something very important, that you would believe in a different god if the argument succeeds, one that does evil, rather than give up your faith. That means above all, you value faith for faith's sake. Since this is quite clear, no argument can persuade you to abandon faith itself. You would simply continue moving the goal posts. Given this FACT a dialogue with you is a waste of my time. It is YOU who needs to get honest by fact checking your faith against the objective evidence. I have already done so.

Answering Two Objections Against Miracles

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As I'm the editor of a highly acclaimed anthology on miracles, Phil Bair wants to debate me. He has some impressive credentials. So I asked him what his objections were. He offered two of them.
You already know one of my objections: you have no criteria for identifying what qualifies as "extraordinary evidence" for an extraordinary claim. If there is no criteria, that presents three problems. 1. your principle is subjective, 2. you have no basis for telling us our evidence is not extraordinary enough, and 3. we have no way of knowing whether our evidence would satisfy anyone who holds to this principle because they are unwilling to give us any guide for determining this. If you expect us to satisfy the requirement, you have to give us a way of measuring that aspect of the evidence.
In answer this is what I call obfuscationist apologetics. The attempt is to get sidetracked into interesting issues that are beside the point. Rather than clarifying the issue to be addressed the goal is to distract us away from it, or to muddy the waters for the unwary.

First, this is not my problem. This is a problem for Bair's god. His god should know what would be convincing for rational people who cannot believe. The question then becomes why such a god who wants us to believe or be damned, is not providing it. Second, if I were to go further I would say it must be sufficient objective evidence. The reason why this is the case is because there's no objective evidence at all for any of the miracles that form the basis for Bair's Christian faith. Third, as to offering criteria goes I would offer clear-cut obvious concrete examples instead, like the unevidenced belief that a virgin gave birth to the second person of a Trinitarian god in an ancient pre-scientific superstitious age, best described as one of Kooks and Quacks of the Roman Empire. Then I would ask Bair to state his criteria for believing such an extraordinary claim, to see if included, was any objective evidence at all, which isn't. Hence I could simply dismiss his claim, which should be the end of it, per Hitchens' Razor.
The other objection I have is that your rejection for miracles does not rest on the principles endemic in the discipline of historiography. They rely on philosophical presuppositions rather than historiographical principles. That philosophical bias does not establish a basis for rejecting historical claims that don't conform to it. This forces the investigator to accept explanations for historical events even if they are false, and forces him to reject explanations even if they are true. Based on this, my contention is that you are simply defining historical methodologies out of existence in order to defeat them in a way you find convenient but not in a way that honestly addresses the merits of the evidence.
Will someone please tell me why Bair accuses me of that which Bair is guilty of doing? Methinks he doth protest too much. This link of arguments should refute such an unfounded hypocrtical claim. Let me just quote one passage from that previous link, something Dr. Bart Ehrman said in his book, Jesus Interrupted, about the historian and miracles here:
Why was the tomb supposedly empty? I say supposedly because, frankly, I don't know that it was. Our very first reference to Jesus' tomb being empty is in the Gospel of Mark, written forty years later by someone living in a different country who had heard it was empty. How would he know?...Suppose...that Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea...and then a couple of Jesus' followers, not among the twelve, decided that night to move the body somewhere more appropriate...But a couple of Roman legionnaires are passing by, and catch these followers carrying the shrouded corpse through the streets. They suspect foul play and confront the followers, who pull their swords as the disciples did in Gethsemane. The soldiers, expert in swordplay, kill them on the spot. They now have three bodies, and no idea where the first one came from. Not knowing what to do with them, they commandeer a cart and take the corpses out to Gehenna, outside town, and dump them. Within three or four days the bodies have deteriorated beyond recognition. Jesus' original tomb is empty, and no one seems to know why. Is this scenario likely? Not at all. Am I proposing this is what really happened? Absolutely not. Is it more probable that something like this happened than that a miracle happened and Jesus left the tomb to ascend to heaven? Absolutely! From a purely historical point of view, a highly unlikely event is far more probable than a virtually impossible one..." [See pages 171-179]

Ravi Zacharias Was a Sexual Predator

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Surprise surprise! Ravi Zacharias was a sexual predator, and his organization refused to believe his accusers, or to seriously investigate them, until after he died. Now they have done so, and they find him guilty, and ask forgiveness for not investigating them.

I've known of Ravi since my graduation at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 1985, when he was honored by being the commencement speaker. I remember being very impressed with him at the time. That was the day this photo was taken of me with my two mentors, Dr. Craig and Dr. Strauss.

The Curious Lack of Christian Curiosity

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Bible skepticism is risky business


How is history written—real history? What is the labor required to give accurate accounts of events in the past? David McCullough’s The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris provides a good example. His 450 pages of text—describing the Paris sojourns of Mary Cassatt and Samuel Morse, among many others—are followed by 76 pages listing his sources: exactly where he found the information. McCullough spent a lot of time digging in libraries and archives.

Jesus and the Capitol Insurrection

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We’re Still in Deep Trouble 


“Jesus 2020” and “Jesus is my savior, Trump Is My President.” These were two of the big signs I saw during TV coverage of the Capitol insurrection. I wondered just how many of the insurrectionists thought of themselves as Christians. Many evangelical leaders have identified Trump as a godsend—literally. So maybe these were Christian soldiers, “…marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before. Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe; forward into battle, see His banners go!” Contemporary crusaders.

The “Atheist” Misnomer

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Atheist. Let us problematize the term just for a moment, shall we? In classical Greek etymology, the alpha prefix denoted sheer negation, precisely equivalent to the Latin “non.” “Theos,” of course, meant “deity” or “god,” and the Greek suffix “-ismos” became applied in Latin and, as such, pulled up into early English, conveying “adherence toward” or “belief in.” So, an atheist is one who is not a theist, that is, one who does not hold a belief in the existence of any deity.


We often find in the false rhetoric of Christian apologists and of Christian pseudo-intellectuals the claim that atheism is itself a belief. I cannot count how many times and contexts I have come across this ridiculous claim, a claim akin to smokers alleging that non-smokers are also themselves smokers.. Ummm.. huh? No. By very fundamental definition, atheism entails no belief. Indeed, the term affirms nothing other than the negation. By comparison, in the phrase “The man is not a bingo player,” we affirm nothing about the man, except what he is not!


In early Christian rhetoric, as Christianity gained its place as the sole state-sanctioned religion of the Roman world, even if by force, those not yet converted came to be labelled the “pagans” (Lat. pagani, “the hicks, rednecks, or unsophisticated rural folk"). This derogatory label persists to this day in ancient history study for those who were not specifically part of the later hegemonic / dominant group, namely, the Christians. Thus, ironically, Cicero, Caesar, Sappho, Plato, Homer, Cleopatra, Zeno, and all of the host of other towering figures of classical antiquity shamefully obtain the epithet “pagan” in Western scholarship.


In like fashion, the appellation “atheist” stamped upon us has served as a rhetorical misnomer, the binary recessive determined by exclusion vis-a-vis the dominant group, to follow the parlance of Jacques Derrida. Where else do people play such a game with language? Atheism is a non-group, a namespace only by negation. We may as well call ourselves the adrogonists or the alephrechaunists, inasmuch as the very identity “atheist'' tacitly legitimates the patently ridiculous, as though a genuine rational debate exists between two opposing sides. To carry on with non-belief in fairies, leprechauns, ghouls, gods, angels, genies, or phantoms is merely to be reasonable, not to stake a position in any legitimate debate to be waged in society. The moon is not made of green cheese, and the dismissal of such a “Mother-Goose” characterization of reality does not earn one the tag “a-green-cheese-moonist,” but merely one who is “reasonable.” For, belief in mythology is and always has been a conscious, willful indulgence, not a compelling, evidence-driven conclusion; the latter we instead properly term “knowledge.” So, when it comes to the matter of deities, in a more honest world we “atheists” instead would be known merely as the reasonable (in the most literal sense of the term), that is, those compelled by a mental construction of reality determined rather exclusively by evidence and reason.

Bible Blunders & Bad Theology, Part 8

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Paul’s poor advice on good citizenship


When I was growing up in rural Indiana in the years following World War II, one of our primary sources of news was The Indianapolis Star. Its masthead included a quote from the apostle Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, 3:17: “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” This allowed us to infer that Paul had been a champion of freedom—and yes, even of democracy itself; Paul was on our side. But that’s not quite what Paul had in mind. In this text he compares the new spirit bestowed by Christ to the letter of the old law that kills: that is the liberty/freedom Paul was talking about.

Introduction to "The Incompatibility of God and Horrendous Suffering."

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I'm finishing up my very last anthology on The Incompatibility of God and Horrendous Suffering. As always this takes a great deal of my time. Here's something from my introduction for your consideration:

 The goal of Part 1 A Prolegomena to Horrendous Suffering is to provide the reader with some background knowledge that can help assess the arguments in this anthology. No one approaches the issues in this book without having some previously held views, called background beliefs or background information, or just priors. They help readers evaluate what they’re reading. So believers don’t evaluate the problem of horrendous suffering in a vacuum either. They do so against their prior background beliefs, which are largely culturally indoctrinated ones. But only background knowledge counts, which is based on evidential reasoning. So in chapter 1 I’m providing a large dose of it by defending Hitchen’s Razor. When taken together with the chapters that follow I consider this anthology to be a refutation of Christianity, even though I’m aware that “refutation” is a very strong word. It’s not the central argument, or only argument in my case against Christianity. But it’s pretty damned powerful, an ironclad case if there is one, even though I realize there’s no silver bullet that can kill blind faith since cognitive biases are in near total control of the believing mind.

The goal of Part 2 Philosophical and Apologetical Problems, is to challenge apologists and philosophers on behalf of Orthodox Theism to admit that horrendous suffering renders it exceedingly improbable to the point of refutation for a perfectly good, all-knowing, all-powerful, omni-everything god to exist. Theists treat God just like Poseidon’s son Procrustes did to dead bodies. He amputated their limbs in order to force them into iron beds he had previously made. Theists are forcing their god into a Procrustean bed of their own making, divorced from prior conceptions of god behind a Veil of Ignorance (see chapter 2), and from unadulterated conceptions of god stemming from ontological arguments, and from honest conceptions of the god we find in an honest exegesis of the Bible. Instead, conceptions of their supposed omni-everything god are based on whatever can exonerate him from charges of incompetence, ignorance and indifference in light of the ever-present massive amount of horrendous suffering in this world. This must stop!

The goal in Part 3 Theological and Religious Problems, is to show the relationship of horrendous suffering to different theologies and religious faiths. We never find the orthodox theistic god in the abstract. That kind of philosopher’s god is the one extracted from a multiple number of religious faiths purely for discussion’s sake. It doesn’t exist except in the minds of a few people in the world, just as there is no such thing as “mere Christianity”, given the number of Christianities in the world. Only sect-specific theological gods exist, one’s that have a whole religion, or a complete theology as baggage. So they should be discussed within the context of their sect-specific religions, as is done here.

The goal of Part 4 Biblical, Historical and Personal Issues, is to demonstrate the horrendous nature of the Bible’s god, the horrendous actions of faith, and how these considerations can personally lead us away from religion. They provide the necessary backdrop for understanding the philosophical arguments, something lacking in almost every strictly philosophical discussion of the problems addressed in this book. 

How NOT to Convince Us About God

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A favorite theological scam


I never, ever visit Christian websites or blogs to advocate atheism; I don’t invade the online space of any religion. I’ve always thought this would be a waste of time and keystrokes—but moreover, it would be bad manners: it would be like walking into a church on a Sunday morning to argue with the preacher. Bad manners. I don’t want to be a troll.

Atheist & Christian Book Club with John Loftus On "The Case Against Miracles

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I know this is a long podcast, just over 2 hours. But I think I raise a number of good points, some of which came out in the last half hour or so.

A Tsunami of Christian Hate

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What can happen when a prophet gets it wrong

The Prophet Jeremiah—not the one in the Old Testament—but the Prophet Jeremiah Johnson of North Carolina appears to have fumbled the word of God; he had predicted the reelection of Trump. Hemant Mehta, in a post on The Friendly Atheist blog, quoted Johnson’s follow-up:

“My aim in this public apology is twofold. First, I would like to repent for inaccurately prophesying that Donald Trump would win a second term as the President of the United States. I refuse to blame the saints and say, ‘It didn’t come to pass because they did not pray enough.’ Nor will I proclaim, ‘Donald Trump actually won, so I was right, but now it has been stolen from him.’ I believe the first statement seeks to alleviate the prophetic messenger from the responsibility of what he prophesied, and the second statement is filled with potential pride and an unwillingness to humble himself and admit he was wrong.

Jesus and the Celestial Teapot

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Weighing probabilities

January 6th 2021 Was a Historic Day.

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Remember this day: January 6th 2021. Jan. 6, 2021. 1/6/21. 

It's the day Democrats take both houses of Congress with two duly elected senators. It's the day Republican influence is marginalized for decades to come. It's the last day evangelicals hold political power in America. It's the day Trump's malignant narcissism is recognized and condemned by every reasonable American intellectual and politician. 

We just lived through one of the most historic days in modern history. The results are good!

In Defense of a Thoroughly Secular New Year

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“Christianity is not too big to fail”

As of today, a fifth of the 21st century is now behind us. How are we doing? Does the famous Charles Dickens sentiment express how we feel these days? 

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

No, “age of wisdom” doesn’t sound right. Certainly there are reasons to suspect that foolishness and incredulity are in the ascendancy these days. Tom Rafferty, owner of the blog, Understand Reality Through Science, noted this week on Facebook, “Unless religion is marginalized, humanity will be up the roaring and rocky creek without a paddle.”

First Few Blurbs For My Very Last Book!

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Dr. Richard Carrier was probably the first scholar who recognized my work as important. He wrote blurbs for my books along with several chapters. I'll always be grateful to him. He's also the first person to recommend my last book, The Incompatibility of God and Horrendous Suffering:
Loftus has again produced a brilliant gallery of informed experts, now addressing the problem of evil from every angle, and with such power and depth that it shall be required reading for anyone promoting or opposing evil as a disproof of God.
-- Dr. Richard Carrier, author of Jesus from Outer Space and Sense and Goodness without God.
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This volume contains many excellent, accessible essays on the problem of evil. If you want to get a sense of the scale of the problem, then this volume is a great place to start. John Loftus is exceptionally well qualified to produce such a book. Having followed his work for years - including his valuable Debunking Christianity blog - I know him to be not only a highly knowledgeable and careful thinker, but also someone who can bring philosophical issues and arguments to life. John tells me this is his last book, which is a shame. He is certainly finishing on a high note.
 -- From the Foreword by Dr. Stephen Law, author of Believing Bullshit.
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If you still believe in God after reading this book, it’s a miracle. The arguments in it against faith are so strong, that no logical reading would allow faith to stand up to them. But then, faith isn’t logical.
-- Linda LaScola, co-author with Daniel C. Dennett of Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind.
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The most pressing challenge to belief in God today is undoubtedly the problem of pain. One only needs to read the provocative array of essays in this volume of leading atheists and other non-theists to see why this is such an ongoing problem for those of us who believe that God is real. Whatever one’s beliefs or worldview, and whether one agrees or disagrees, I commend all seekers of truth to read and reflect on this significant work that John Loftus has so skillfully edited.
-- Dr. Chad Meister, Professor of Philosophy at Bethel University and co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to the Problem of Evil.
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Loftus’ previous book, The Case Against Miracles, is the final nail hammered into the coffin of magical, miraculous beliefs. This book on horrendous suffering should permanently inter that coffin, and with it morally absurd reasoning in defense of religious faith.
-- Dr. Peter Boghossian, author of A Manual for Creating Atheists, and co-author of How to Have Impossible Conversations.
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As a Christian apologist, I can say that there is no intellectual objection to Christianity more daunting than the problem of horrendous suffering. In this important new book, John Loftus has gathered a diverse collection of voices that seek to build a comprehensive, multi-pronged critique of Christianity based on this most difficult problem. No Christian apologist can afford to ignore it.
-- Dr. Randal Rauser, Professor of Historical Theology, Taylor Seminary, and co-author of God or Godless.
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I’m not sure there is anyone out there right now who articulates atheistic augments as well as John Loftus does, and this book on horrendous suffering is no exception. In it Loftus has done a great job in marshaling a stellar group of scholars in offering one of the best attempts at criticizing the Christian faith in a more comprehensive way with regard to the problem of evil. Believers who hold to a theistic perspective should seriously--and more deeply--study the alternative perspectives and questions that this anthology poses for theism. They should especially be more mindful of these kinds of criticisms when speaking with people who do not believe like we do that the Christian God is so good.
-- Dr. David Geisler, President Norm Geisler International Ministries, and Adjunct Professor, Southern Evangelical Seminary and Veritas International University.
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For centuries upon centuries believers have wrestled with the existence of God given horrific suffering in this world. But the excuses they offer for God twist our moral sensibilities. They frame suffering as good, inexplicable, or inevitable, and absolve themselves of harms that they themselves inflict, or passively ignore. This book makes that impossible. In chapter after chapter, the excuses get shredded before a jury of rational jurors. As a result, God vanishes, leaving the blood-stained Church to face conviction alone.
-- Dr. Valerie Tarico, author of Trusting Doubt.
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One of our oldest myths is the tragic story of Job. Faithful to God, who had blessed him with a wonderful life, Job tried to understand why so many disasters suddenly befell him. One after the other, increasingly horrific tragedies destroyed Job’s estates, his family, his health, his happiness. He cried out to God for an explanation. There was none. Job’s lament has echoed across the millennia but no answer has ever come back. In this ambitious anthology, John Loftus and his colleagues argue the response to Job’s lament can only be “God does not exist.”
-- Dr. Karl Giberson a Scholar-in-Residence in science and religion at Stonehill College and author of The Wonder of the Universe and Saving Darwin.
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John Loftus has a voluminous back catalogue of superb counter-apologetics books. This latest one on suffering is equally powerful as well, clearly and decisively showing that belief in God should not coexist with the huge gamut of pain and suffering in the world. From the thorn of horrendous pain Loftus fashions a spear, piercing theism’s side from which certainty, belief and religious adherence should rationally gush forth. It presents ample evidence that classical theism is dead and buried, so in one hand, Loftus is holding a spear, and in the other, a spade.
-- Jonathan MS Pearce, publisher of Onus Books, and author of Not Seeing God: Atheism in the 21st Century, and Did God Create the Universe from Nothing?
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In this book, Patterson’s chapter had me imagining myself as a default future human, not yet assigned a sex or race or even historical era, and then seeing how any God who made such an assignment wouldn't abide by my own innate sense of fairness. Loftus's chapter on Calvinism exposes the book of Job as an outrageous horror story in a way I didn't really appreciate until now. The clear-eyed explanations of the many writers Loftus has assembled would have forced me as a troubled Christian to confront some major issues with my faith. What a gift that would have been to bypass those difficult doubting years!
-- Ed Suominen, publisher of Tellectual Books and co-author of Evolving Out of Eden.
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What’s the collective word for sage? An encyclopedia of sages? Whatever it is, John Loftus has corralled one to create his latest anthology. This book is a wide-ranging and insightful look at the problem of evil, which is as relevant (and unanswered) a problem for Christianity as it has ever been.
-- Bob Seidensticker, author of Cross Examined blog at Patheos.com.

"How the Gospels Became History", A Review by Dr. Richard C. Miller

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The Ancient Christian Gospels as Historiae: A Secular-Critical Evaluation of M. David Litwa's "How the Gospels Became History".

Miller writes: "In the article I contend, contra Litwa, that the Gospels were not written or originally read as chronicles of factual historical events."

To provide him some feedback you can find him here: https://m.facebook.com/Dr.RichardCMiller; or email him at: dr.richard.c.miller@gmail.com

In Defense of a Thoroughly Secular Christmas

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“Maybe leave the manger in the basement”


So, what to talk about on this Christmas Friday? I could discuss the Jesus birth narratives in Matthew and Luke, i.e., that they cannot be taken seriously as history—and all the reasons why; that virgin birth is a borrowed concept, which most of the New Testament authors rejected. These birth narratives are so deeply embedded in the Christian psyche—baby Jesus in the manger—that the faithful are usually unwilling to examine them critically. So much has been researched and written on this, so I’ll take a pass on it today. But check out the article that John Loftus posted here yesterday, Johno Pearce (aka the Tippling Philosopher) Debunks the Nativity Narratives!

 

Johno Pearce (aka the Tippling Philosopher) Debunks the Nativity Narratives!

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Johno Pearce is an indefatigable debunker of all things Christian. Recently he did a fantastic job of showing that "the infancy narratives are not historical and were later-developed embellishments." Johno is your man! Read his essay then get his book The Nativity: A Critical Examination.

Johno recently had a debate over the infancy narratives with Lydia McGrew, a fundamentalist Christian apologist, which he writes about here. Listen to the debate and see for yourselves.

Atheistasis! with John Loftus Christian Resurrection and Religious Relics

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Enjoy this discussion! Jenna writes: "I got to learn from John during this discussion, in depth, what we know about the likelihood of a man coming back from the dead a couple thousand years ago. We talk a bit about religious relics and how to determine legitimacy. Very interesting discussion to be discussed in detail further immediately following this premiere on my discord server, link to be shared in chat."

Bible Blunders & Bad Theology, Part 7

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Train Wreck Bible Verses

The Bible is a dangerous book, actually—from the standpoint of preserving the faith. Conservative scholar Ben Witherington once made a stunning confession, concerning Paul’s Letter to the Romans, i.e., that “…the goal of understanding this formidable discourse is not reached for a considerable period of time.” Wait a minute: Isn’t God’s Word supposed to the clear, its meaning obvious? Perhaps the Gideons have been on a fool’s errand for so many decades, giving out Bibles for free—more than a billion so far—on the assumption that the Word of God is accessible; it’s right there, just read it and “get it.” Witherington knows it’s not that simple, and the problem goes much deeper than that.

The Five Most Powerful Reasons Not To Believe

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I'm still being approached on Facebook Messenger by Dr. David Geisler in his attempt to change my mind. He's an Evangelical scholar/leader and the son of the late Norman Geisler. His focus is on philosophical arguments to the existence of his god, especially the ones his father made. Those kind of arguments bore me to death, especially since Christian apologists Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne and John Feinberg don't place much stock in them. Over on Twitter there are a cadre of atheists who love to debate these philosophical arguments with Christians back and forth, to what effect I don't know. So I asked them in a Tweet: "Let me know when you're having a discussion about the value of debates with fundamentalist Christian philosophers over beliefs that have no objective evidence." I'm still waiting for that discussion. My take is they don't want to deal with the arguments in my book, Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End

So after getting yet another attempt by Dr. Geisler to change my mind, I've put together the five most powerful reasons not to believe, and they're not philosophical arguments per se, but evidential ones. Keep in mind it's brief for effect:

Does the Bible’s God Cross the Depravity Baseline? by Dale O'Neal

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Written by Dale O'Neal:

           To assess the morality of a culture, one must determine the point at which any culture crosses the line from simply bad behavior into rank depravity.  As difficult and subjective as this is, given its importance, attempting to do so would seem to be an essential exercise, especially given the biblical god’s threat of eternal punishment.  While pondering where to begin to answer such a question, I ran across something outside the biblical context that helped me quite a bit by establishing what I refer to as a depravity baseline.  I believe most civilized people will acknowledge this as an acceptable reference point, so comparisons can then be drawn by referring to it.

Religious Studies On William Vanderburgh's Book, "David Hume On Miracles, Evidence, and Probability"

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Religious Studies recently reviewed the book by William Vanderburgh: David Hume on Miracles, Evidence, and Probability. In the Appendix to my own book on miracles I reviewed it very favorably as well. Here are some snippets from the short review:
In David Hume on Miracles, Evidence, and Probability William L. Vanderburgh presents a concise defence of David Hume’s ‘Of Miracles’. By providing a more in-depth look at the relevant biographical details of Hume as well as an expanded investigation of Hume’s broader epistemology, Vanderburgh argues that many commentators, both historical and contemporary, have either misunderstood or misrepresented Hume. At the heart of Vanderburgh’s defence of Hume is the rejection of the arguments put forth by Hume commentators such as Richard Price, John Earman, and others who have attempted to interpret ‘Of Miracles’ from a Bayesian perspective. Vanderburgh argues that approaching Hume’s epistemology from this perspective is fundamentally wrong and that Hume’s argument ought to be interpreted using a non-mathematical probability framework.

Christianity Keeps Hitting New Lows

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Its capacity for “Crazy-Making”   


Is my title a dangerous generalization? How could there be new lows after the Crusades, the Inquisition, and televangelism? Of course we know that many of our Christian friends and neighbors do their very best to lead good lives and help others; aren’t there thousands of good deeds done every day? But it’s not hard to spot the new lows because some Christians manage to grab headlines in the worst possible ways.