Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Guest Book Review: Loftus' How to DEFEND the Christian Faith

By David Madison*

According to one estimate, by 2030 there will be a billion Pentecostals on the planet, so I am not optimistic that Christianity is going disappear anytime soon. It has two thousand years of momentum, and the faithful are disinclined to perform proper due diligence on their own religion.

But I do have hope that Christianity will lose its appeal because it has been critiqued so thoroughly by serious thinkers, especially Richard Carrier and John Loftus. Carrier’s monumental scholarship has demonstrated that Jesus probably never even existed, and Loftus—well, Loftus is almost a force of nature, judging from the energy he has put into showing that Christianity has been falsified.

Like myself, Loftus is a former minister, and his book, “Why I Became an Atheist” is tour-de-force explanation of his departure from the faith. And he followed this volume with three massive anthologies, “The End of Christianity,” “The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails,” and “Christianity Is Not Great: How Faith Fails.” For any Christians who ARE up to the task of due diligence, this ‘Loftus library’ is mandatory homework.

In this new book, Loftus turns his focus to the peculiar industry that was spawned by the church, i.e., the apologetics industry, whose sole purpose is to make excuses for God—and for all of the egregious flaws in Christian theology.

The apologists are custodians of denominational doctrine; they have to find ways to make it look plausible and respectable. Ancient alchemists strove to turn lead into gold; apologists have their own lumps of lead, and they too haven’t managed to work it out.

There’s a lot at stake, of course: Christianity is a multi-billion dollar business, with thousands upon thousands of buildings to maintain, bureaucracies and clergy to sustain, troubling doubts to sweep under the rug. Hence churches and seminaries pay for scholars (well, pseudo-scholars, too much of the time) to come up with reasons to cling to faith despite all of the evidence that Christianity is an amalgam of pagan borrowings, errors and follies—and that it will eventually take its place with thousands of other religions that have faded from human memory.

The apologists make so many mistakes, they resort to so many shallow arguments, and Loftus rises to the task of warning them to come up with something better to do for a living. The title is ironic, of course: “How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist.” Because none of the defenses work—and Loftus shows exactly why that is the case. He was once an apologist himself, so he knows the cast of characters and the works they have churned out—and skewers them with precision. He offers plenty of examples of their favorite sleight-of-hand maneuvers, e.g., special pleading, ‘punting to possibilities,’ gerrymandering, mischaracterizing—and just plain old lying [see his chapter titles in Part 2 of the book].

He comes down especially hard in Part 3, which deals with the massive gratuitous suffering that is part of life on Earth. How can that be squared with the claim that there is a good god who loves the world? …and has the power to do the right thing? He highlights some of the mind-numbing arguments that theologians have come up with to get God off the hook. They try…oh, how they try. I was especially delighted that Loftus refers bluntly to one of C. S. Lewis’ arguments as “asinine.”

Loftus maintains a delightful conversational style in this book. It’s as if he is sitting across the kitchen table from us, saying, “Come on, let’s get real, enough with the silly excuses: the Christian god isn’t all he’s cracked up to be—and we’re too smart now to be fooled.” If we could just get all those Pentecostals to read his books….

Paleolibrarian good friend and colleague, David Madison is a former Methodist minister and current atheist activist. His recent book “10 Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: a Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith” is well worth reading and will be out shortly. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Today's Google Doodle - A Tribute to "Lucy"

Thank you to the folks at Google. Thank you for remembering and paying tribute to our human origins. 

Today's doodle links to information about Australopithecus Afarensis better know as "Lucy." 

Uncovered in 1974 by a team lead by paleontologist Don Johansen, the fossil is an almost complete hominid (very rare) and provided (and still provides) great insight into our early evolution. 

The find, along with those of the Leakey's reinvigorated the science, exploration and study of our human origins.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Freaks Really Do Come Out at Night

The post on my FB wall that started it all.
How I do enjoy the unintended benefits of insomnia. 

Last night I couldn't fall asleep, so I was bouncing around on Facebook when an Evangelical troll came over to my page. I had fun with this one. My hands tied behind my back (which made it difficult to type on my laptop's keyboard).

Here's the transcript if you're interested in reading the fun retort with this individual named "Diane." I wonder if she knows that the billionaire founder of FB, Mark Zuckerberg, is also an atheist? Hmmm....

I harbor no ill will towards Diane and her fanatical associates so long as they don't attempt to interrupt my and everyone's right to live secularly.  Perhaps you shouldn't either but that's up to you. 

After all, the tide and times are now firmly in our godless favor.