1. Jesus didn't stick to what "the Bible says," but read it with a creative flare that had little if any connection to what the biblical writer actually meant to say. 2. Jesus felt he could "pick and choose" what parts of the Old Testament were valid and which weren't. 3. Jesus read his Bible as a Jew, not an evangelical (or even a Christian).Other evangelicals would do well to listen to Enns. He's getting some things right. The Jesus that we find in the Gospels is doing exactly what Enns says. The significant problem unaddressed by Enns is what he says at the end of this essay in the Huffington Post:
The three ways Jesus read the Bible that Evangelicals are told not to do are these:
By John W. Loftus at 9/30/2014
Be sure to listen to General Jack Keane beginning at 1:09:13:
By John W. Loftus at 9/30/2014
We're familiar with the misogyny of the religion of Islam. The misogyny of Christianity is highlighted by Annie Laurie Gaylor in my book, Christianity Is Not Great: How Faith Fails,with a chapter titled: "Woman, What Have I To Do With Thee?: Christianity’s War Against Women."
Elana Maryles Sztokman stands against the misogyny in Israel:
Elana Maryles Sztokman stands against the misogyny in Israel:
Last week I traveled to the United States for the publication of my book, The War on Women in Israel: A Story of Religious Radicalism and the Women Fighting for Freedom.It was a whirlwind week -- I traveled to events and book signings across five cities in four states in 10 days.The three monotheistic religions show a hated of women. Why would any woman ever embrace the religion of their oppressors? It's akin to the Stockholm Syndrome. I call on all women everywhere to denounce these religions (as they have the freedom and security to do so).
The plane took off 20 minutes late because an ultra-Orthodox man was negotiating with passengers so as not to have to sit next to a woman -- me -- on the 11-hour flight. I asked myself if this was karma or poetic justice. After all, I had just spoken to hundreds of people about exactly these issues, and the way women are made to feel like second class citizens as a result.
If there is one thing that I would like to change in the world, it is this: I would like women to respect themselves enough to say no to all this. I want women to allow themselves to feel the impact of the silencing. I want women to be honest with themselves and to look at their lives and the places where they are powerless or oppressed, and to acknowledge that. Better yet, I want women to say no, I will not be silent or servile. I will not continue to absorb the insult as if this is all OK. I want women to say that they deserve better. I want women to believe that they deserve better. LINK.
By Jonathan MS Pearce at 9/29/2014
Counter Apologist has produced an awesome series detailing issues with William Lane Craig's Kalam Cosmological Argument, which is a pet obsession of mine. This must have succeeded enough, since it warranted a response from Craig himself. Here is Counter's response to Craig.
By Harry H. McCall at 9/28/2014
I want to both thank and credit Ed Babinski for posting this new You Tube video on his Facebook page.
By John W. Loftus at 9/28/2014
Of the two passages below, philosopher and apologist Paul K. Moser says on Facebook: "the person who tries to embrace both becomes a walking volitional contradiction, i.e., a train wreck."
Our choice, Jesus or the Psalmist:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven." (Jesus, Matt. 5:43-45)
"Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies. (Psalm 139:21-22)
By John W. Loftus at 9/26/2014
Yes, there really are people who live in the ancient past because of a male-oriented women hating holy book. Sheesh. This is appalling. Get rid of the holy book and there is no reason to think women are inferior. So let's get rid of it. It deserves no place in our society
An El-Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv was turned into an “11-hour nightmare” after hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jewish passengers refused to sit next to women.
According to those on board the flight descended into chaos because of their demands.
The flight was full with Israelis, secular, orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews – known as Haredim – flying home to celebrate Rosh Hashanah.
Even though the passengers had been pre-assigned seats before boarding, the ultra-Orthodox Jews refused to accept the arrangements because their beliefs required that men and women were segregated.
As the aircraft prepared to take off, the haredi men, distinguishable by their black suits and in many cases wide-brimmed black hats, stood in the aisles rather than sit down, delaying the departure. LINK
By John W. Loftus at 9/26/2014
By John W. Loftus at 9/23/2014
A majority of Egyptian Muslims favor democracy, are against suicide bombings and Islamist extremism, but also favor segregation of men and women in the workplace, stoning adulterers, flogging and cutting hands off thieves, and executing apostates. LINK.
I wasn't going to comment on the so-called wars taking place among atheists but I think I have something to say others have not yet said. I also want to respond to Christians who seem to be reveling in our disputes. I know that in this politically charged atmosphere there is probably little that can be written that won't draw personal attacks of its own. That's too bad. All I can do is hope for a charitable reading of what I'm going to write, which, if we at least tried doing that it could go a long way toward easing tensions. Here are three links to acquaint my readers with the atheist wars out of the many being written (sorry if anyone thinks I chose the wrong ones, since I haven't read them all). Mark Oppenheimer's essay asks, Will Misogyny Bring Down The Atheist Movement? Michael Nugent responds to blogger Adam Lee, who previously argued that "Richard Dawkins has lost it: ignorant sexism gives atheists a bad name." [Nugent links to other essays, including one from Jerry Coyne where he says, "Enough is enough" along with an earlier essay where Nugent tried to be conciliatory]. Then creationist Vincent Torley caught wind of this and wrote one titled, The New Atheists: A House Divided. Torley asked whether the atheist house is crumbling and seems to revel in our so-called demise.
On September 5th I changed the name of this blog to "Debunking Abrahamic Religions." Since that time the number of hits to this blog has dropped an average of 1570 a day! So in the interests of reaching more people I've changed the title back to "Debunking Christianity." The numbers dictated the results. It will stay that way no matter what topic I write about. There are lots of blogs with a title where the author(s) write about a wide variety of subjects unrelated to the title. So will I. Stay tuned. I'll writes them as I sees 'em.
I don't have Sam's new book yet, but he is always thoughtful and interesting when he writes, and I suspect there will be a number of people who will be better off having read his new book, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion.To read a generous review of his book click here.
Here is Michael Shermer's excellent and fitting tribute to the late Victor Stenger, LINK. Don't miss reading Stenger's latest book, God and the Multiverse: Humanity's Expanding View of the Cosmos, which is now out.Stenger also wrote a chapter for Christianity Is Not Great: How Faith Fails,which should be out in one month!
By Harry H. McCall at 9/21/2014
By John W. Loftus at 9/21/2014
Her speech begins at about 10:30:
By NoCrossNoCrescent at 9/20/2014
|"Breivik in Not a Christian. That's Impossible."|
If there is one thing that unites both ends of the American political spectrum today, it is their capacity for hypocrisy and deceit, including self-delusions. Their tendency to defend religious faith is a close second-even though we may be talking about different faiths, depending on which end of the spectrum we are talking.
And recent events have raised this "division in oneness" to comical levels.
I recently wrote about the wrong headed left wing pundits and journalists, the allies of Islamic organizations in echoing the latter's mendacious and presumptuous claim that Islam should not be blamed for atrocities committed by ISIS. As it happens, even I had underestimated the size of these leftists' egos, and the reinforcement power of their echo chamber.
By John W. Loftus at 9/18/2014
By John W. Loftus at 9/16/2014
I'll be teaching an online class based on my book "The Outsider Test for Faith" in November at secularactivism.org. Of it Dr. James Lindsay says:
The Outsider Test for Faithis a silver bullet argument for understanding how to grapple with the religious diversity of our world and how to answer the central question raised by it: How can we know which religion, if any, is true?”Dr. Richard Carrier says of it:
Though this idea has been voiced before, Loftus is the first to name it, rigorize it, and give it an extensive philosophical defense…The end result is one of the most effective and powerful arguments for atheism there is. It is, in effect, a covering argument that subsumes all other arguments for atheism into a common frameworkSign up today!
By John W. Loftus at 9/16/2014
God may have done a plethora of miracles in the ancient past and may do so again in the future, but as Hittell argued in 1857, following David Hume, there isn't any reason for us to accept these miracle claims unless miracles are taking place today. This is the only reasonable conclusion. People who believe anyway are not being reasonable. To the question of whether miracles happen today, which ones are convincing to outsiders? Which ones have solid objective evidence for them? Which ones are not performed by tricksters and/or magicians? Which ones can be understood as self-healing via the placebo of faith? Where has an amputee's leg ever been made to grow back? Which ones are merely the result of chance? Required reading on the chance factor is David J. Hand's book, The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day.As yet, not one religious apologist worthy the name has dealt with Hand's book. They would prefer building intellectual deductive castles in the sky unrelated to the actual statistical analysis of rare events, which happen every single day.
By John W. Loftus at 9/15/2014
Summary Answer:For a list of the top ten hateful verses in the Qur'an see here.
The Qur'an contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule. Some are quite graphic, with commands to chop off heads and fingers and kill infidels wherever they may be hiding. Muslims who do not join the fight are called 'hypocrites' and warned that Allah will send them to Hell if they do not join the slaughter.
Unlike nearly all of the Old Testament verses of violence, the verses of violence in the Qur'an are mostly open-ended, meaning that they are not restrained by the historical context of the surrounding text. They are part of the eternal, unchanging word of Allah, and just as relevant or subjective as anything else in the Qur'an.
The context of violent passages is more ambiguous than might be expected of a perfect book from a loving God, however this can work both ways. Most of today's Muslims exercise a personal choice to interpret their holy book's call to arms according to their own moral preconceptions about justifiable violence. Apologists cater to their preferences with tenuous arguments that gloss over historical fact and generally do not stand up to scrutiny. Still, it is important to note that the problem is not bad people, but bad ideology.
Unfortunately, there are very few verses of tolerance and peace to abrogate or even balance out the many that call for nonbelievers to be fought and subdued until they either accept humiliation, convert to Islam, or are killed. Muhammad's own martial legacy - and that of his companions - along with the remarkable stress on violence found in the Qur'an have produced a trail of blood and tears across world history. LINK.
By John W. Loftus at 9/14/2014
Can you imagine saying you are not your father's son? Nathan Phelps does. His father was founding pastor of the Westboro Baptist--"God Hates Fags--Church, who died not long ago after being excommunicated.
Would you want to know the story of how Nate (pictured on the right) and his brother escaped Westboro Baptist Church? Watch this documentary trailer, make a donation, and help them complete "Not My Father's Son." Donate if you will for a good story and cause. I did. Nate also contributed a chapter for Christianity Is Not Great: How Faith Fails, titled "Abusive Pastors and Churches."When writing on this subject he knows what he's talking about from personal experience.
By NoCrossNoCrescent at 9/14/2014
On the thirteenth anniversary of the attacks of September the 11th, sadly, there is no shortage of Islam-related news: whether it is Nigeria or Iraq, Syria or Pakistan, Islamic Jihadism continues to claim victims in the thousands (mostly Muslims, as it happens). But the "moderate" Muslims, whom we are told nonstop we should court because they are our allies in fighting terrorism, are turning out to be more and more part of the problem every day. Because for any change in the situation, recognition of the problem would have to be the first step; and yet Muslims who are not involved in violence, rather than ever admitting that Islam has anything to do with the motivation of the Jihadis, continue to come up with every conceivable excuse to disassociate the two, hence delaying the reforms that their faith needs to move on past being recognized as the religion most often synonymous with violence. (Which is precisely what Christianity went through in the 17th and 18th centuries.)
Among the most popular fallacies among such people: making the claim that the Jihadis are "unislamic". In effect what they do is "excommunicate" the Jihadis. (No word on how they got the authority to excommunicate anyone.)
By John W. Loftus at 9/12/2014
At the suggestion of team member Harry McCall I've changed the name of this blog from Debunking Christianity to the one you now see. After all, many of the arguments we make equally apply to all three of the major monotheistic faiths. Why focus on just one of them when they all come from the same cognitive bias of faith? The blog name might not stay that way, but for now I like it.
By John W. Loftus at 9/12/2014
As ISIS slaughters its way though Syria and Iraq, it became inevitable that we’d hear from the apologists who claim that ISIS is not in fact “true Islam,” and that its depredations are due to something other than religious motivation. Those motivations, say the apologists, are political (usually Western colonialism that engendered resentment), cultural (societal tradition), or anything other than religion.
The apologists have yet another form of denial. Yes, they say, jihadis may be motivated by Islam, but it’s not “true” Islam. True Islam is peaceful, and its adherents would never slaughter apostates, behead journalists, or forcibly convert non-Muslims. Their religion is simply a perversion of “true’ religion.
Well, if ISIS is not Islamic, then the Inquisition was not Catholic. The fact is that there are no defensible criteria for whether a faith is “true,” since all faiths are man-made and accrete doctrine-—said to come from God, but itself man-made—-that becomes integral to those faiths. Whatever “true faith” means, it doesn’t mean “the right religion: the one whose God exists and whose doctrines are correct.” If that were so, we wouldn’t see Westerners trying to tell us what “true Islam” is....Everyone who is religious picks and chooses their morals from scripture. And so, too, do religious apologists pick and choose the “true” religions using identical criteria: what appeals to them as “good” ways to behave. The Qur’an, like the Bible, is full of vile moral statements supposedly emanating from God. We cherry-pick them depending on our disposition, our politics, and our upbringing....By all means let us say that ISIS is a strain of Islam that is barbaric and dysfunctional, but let us not hear any nonsense that it’s a “false religion”. ISIS, like all religions, is based on faith; and faith, which is belief in the absence of convincing evidence, isn’t true or false, but simply irrational....In the end, there is no “true” religion in the factual sense, for there is no good evidence supporting their truth claims. LINK.
By J. M. Green at 9/11/2014
Since leaving Christianity, I have become acutely aware of the strange disconnect that believers have with the violent acts of the Bible. It seems that no matter how horrid the atrocity, once sugar-coated with divine approval, Christians swallow it quite easily. Another factor in Christians’ blithe acceptance of violence is that the blood-soaked events in the Bible have been depersonalized and spiritualized; reduced to mere props in service of religious lessons. Empathy for the suffering in stories such as the worldwide destruction of living creatures in the flood story, the killing of the Egyptian firstborn, and the genocidal stories of Canaanite conquest is pretty much absent from the thinking of the average Christian.
In a new post Sam Harris argues against what President Obama said in his recent speech. Here's a few money quotes:
A belief in martyrdom, a hatred of infidels, and a commitment to violent jihad are not fringe phenomena in the Muslim world. These preoccupations are supported by the Koran and numerous hadith. That is why the popular Saudi cleric Mohammad Al-Areefi sounds like the ISIS army chaplain. The man has 9.5 million followers on Twitter (twice as many as Pope Francis has). If you can find an important distinction between the faith he preaches and that which motivates the savagery of ISIS, you should probably consult a neurologist.------------
Understanding and criticizing the doctrine of Islam—and finding some way to inspire Muslims to reform it—is one of the most important challenges the civilized world now faces. But the task isn’t as simple as discrediting the false doctrines of Muslim “extremists,” because most of their views are not false by the light of scripture. A hatred of infidels is arguably the central message of the Koran. The reality of martyrdom and the sanctity of armed jihad are about as controversial under Islam as the resurrection of Jesus is under Christianity.
The idea that any book was inspired by the creator of the universe is poison—intellectually, ethically, and politically. And nowhere is this poison currently doing more harm than in Muslim communities, East and West.------------
Religion produces a perverse solidarity that we must find some way to undercut. It causes in-group loyalty and out-group hostility, even when members of one’s own group are behaving like psychopaths.Bravo Sam!