The Folly of Faith vs the Results of Reason

joekeysor again, who teaches at a university in Saudi Arabia:
I don’t believe I am disparaging reason when I say that there are things beyond reason, that its reach is limited and it cannot encompass all of reality. I believe this is a simple fact, not disparagement. I believe you overestimate reason, and seem to believe – correct me if I am wrong – that there is nothing of any importance beyond the reach of human reason. But even in the ordinary course of life there are many things we don’t understand. Reason is in fact often a very puny and unreliable instrument. I only claim that there are higher truths that cannot be found by reason alone.
John Loftus: It's the assumption of faith where you're wrong. Faith causes people with it to be anti-intellectual who reason like you. It causes people to fly planes into buildings because that's the logic of faith. When one has faith anything can be believed, anything can be justified and any horrible act can be done. People with faith can and do say what you have said to deny reason.

There are flaws in our reasoning because we didn't evolve to think in a completely coherent and logically manner. That's why there are people of faith like you in the first place. But we've discovered science. Science is the corrective to bad thinking. Science produces objective results that help us understand the world of nature. Utilizing science leads us to objective knowledge. So to reject the conclusions of reasoning is to reject the results of science and therefore to reject the only way to know about the world of nature. It's not that there is no better alternative. It's rather that there is no other objective reliable method. I don't know if there are things beyond the reach of science, since it's still in its infancy stage. We'll know better in a thousand years. In the meantime I'm willing to watch and learn.

On this issue I insist everyone reads the full text of a chapter in my anthology Christianity Is Not Great, titled The Failure of the Church and the Triumph of Reason.

Prolegomena to the Outsider Test for Faith


I'm Now An Indiana State Democratic Delegate!

I was appointed as a Democratic Delegate for the State of Indiana! My political career just started. I'm super excited, and grateful they noticed my superior intellect and political skills, having observed me online for about month or so. That makes me some sort of official in the Democratic party and I'm pumped. There will be changes now that Loftus is in charge, all the way up to the top. Watch out now!

Part of the real reason for my appointment was that they needed one more person to be a delegate. The other part was that they needed one more person to be a delegate. I guess that sums it up. ;-)

Seriously, I have a lot to learn. I think I rubber stamp whoever the party votes for, but it's still a higher level of political involvement than I've had before. It should be interesting. I hope to cast a historic vote for Bernie Sanders!

Responding to the Anti-intellectualism of Faith

joekeysor: I have read off and on some of the leading Christian apologists, but have not found them very helpful. They do have some good arguments I suppose, but it seems they rely too much on reason and logic, trying to meet the unbelievers on their own ground, when in fact Christians should inhabit very different ground. Paul says that the things of God are foolishness to the natural man (I Cor. 2:14).
John W. Loftus: Why do you disparage reason in your pursuit of truth? I'm reasoning with you now. Others do. We reason about politics, ethics, and about which house or car to buy, and where to go on vacation. Why does it stop when it comes to religion? ISIS fits that bill. The reason they believe along with the Hindu and the Mormon is primarily because of feelings that they're right in doing so. Private subjective feelings cannot be the basis our your faith either, since they produce so many false hits. In fact, if cultist came at your door and said what the apostle Paul said, that their faith is foolishness to the world, you would not accept that of them. So why do you put your brain at the door when it comes to church? You shouldn't.

I'll Be Debating Christianity In North Carolina On March 16th

Come out if you can. I don't know if they'll be streaming it or even filming it. Facebook Link.

Bernie Sanders is the Future of the Democratic Party!

LINK. There's no denying it and no turning back. So we might as well nominate him over Hillary Clinton now! In my opinion he is a once-in-a-lifetime candidate! I'm an old, not dead yet, white man, and I approve this message.

At Victor Reppert's Blog My OTF is Called A "Dangerously Stupid Idea"

Since I take the accusation of plagiarism seriously, I dealt decisively with him. I wrote:

Mattapult's Checklist For Criticizing Religions

What L Ron Hubbard wrote is wrong because _______.

What Joseph Smith wrote is wrong because ________.

What Jesus wrote...
What the disciples wrote...
What some anonymous author wrote 60 years later is wrong because _______.

Why Have I Never Seen Christian Apologists Post Something Like This?


Quote of the Day, By Luiz Fernando Zadra

The brain can be cheated. We do it all the time for several reasons. When I buy a lottery ticket, I do it pretending that the odds are reasonable. It's a pretend game, deep down I know I'm just fooling myself. But when I'm buying the ticket, I don't care because it feels good to think you are buying a reasonable chance of being rich. It's the same thing with some religious people. I know it because I did myself before becoming an atheist.

A Short Twitter Discussion On the OTF

MonRoe X: @loftusjohnw hey dude, just got done reading your book. Curious... Where can I take the outsiders test for faith? Can't find it online.
John W. Loftus: Do you examine your own faith with a different standard than the ones you reject?
Y or N?
MonRoe X: @loftusjohnw is that it? No. Did I pass?
John W. Loftus: No. Are you being honest? That will depend on subsequent debates. At least you've agreed you cannot punt to faith.

My Interview With Carlos Vazquez of the Circle of Insight

Recently Carlos Vazquez of the Circle of Insight interviewed me. It starts off with a few minutes of my debate with Dinesh D'Souza. Initially the interview sounds like my volume is too high but it seems better as you listen to it. Enjoy.

Por qué no creo en la sanidad divina/Why I Don't Believe in Divine Healing


Neumann murió cuando sus padres usaron solo la fe

En marzo del año 2008, Madeline Kara Neumann, una niña de 11 años de edad, murió en la ciudad de Weston en el estado de Wisconsin (Estados Unidos). Sus padres, los cuales son pentecostales evangélicos, creyeron que solo la oración la iba a sanar y no la llevaron a los médicos cuando ya estaba muy grave.
La enfermedad de la cual murió esa niña fue determinada ser diabetes, una condición que la medicina científica moderna puede controlar efectivamente. Sus padres fueron sentenciados por su crimen.
En octubre del 2015,  Dale y Shannon Hickman, una pareja de Oregon en Estados Unidos, fueron condenados por la muerte de su bebé, David. El bebé nació prematuro, y sufrió algunas complicaciones médicas. Segun un reporteUn médico testificó en el tribunal que si los padres hubieran llamado al 911 [cuando] apenas nació, existían ‘99% de probabilidades de que el bebé sobreviviera.’”
Kara Neumann y David Hickman son solamente dos de millones de personas que han muerto desde el principio del cristianismo cuando dependieron de la fe en lo que llaman "Dios."
Yo mismo oraba por los enfermos
En este ensayo explico por qué no creo en la sanidad divina aun despues de en un tiempo ser yo mismo un predicador pentecostal que oraba por los enfermos, muchos de los cuales testifacaron ser sanados despues de mis oraciones. La creencia en la sanidad divina carece de evidencia, y es tambien peligrosa.
Esta creencia se encuentra frecuentemente entre grupos pentecostales evangélicos modernos que usan pasajes bíblicos como Marcos 16:18 ("tomarán en las manos serpientes, y si bebieren cosa mortífera, no les hará daño; sobre los enfermos pondrán sus manos, y sanarán") para sostener sus  creencias.  Para estos grupos, la sanidad divina es una de las pruebas más poderosas de la existencia de Dios. 
A pesar de algunos experimentos científicos recientes que reclaman la efectividad de la oración, la existencia de este fenómeno no se ha podido establecer por los investigadores científicos o por los médicos independientes.
Y aun cuando existen sanidades extraordinarias, esto no podría demostrar que tales sanidades sean hechas por el dios de los cristianos.  Explicaremos más adelante también porque los experimentos científicos no pueden establecer la eficacia de la oración.

Anakin Tweet Tells Christians the Best $16 They Can Spend

Previously I've written about Anakin, who has nearly 25K Twitter followers, right here. He's John Matthew Leone, who has a Master's degree in theology from an Evangelical seminary and graduated with a 4.0. Seen at right is what he recently tweeted.

If you have $16 to spend for this one of a kind counter-apologetics book, here is the link: Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity.

Hillary Got Bern’d in Iowa

This race was never supposed to be close at all. She was supposed to sail to a win this time. The socialist Senator was supposed to be a blip. He’d won the expectations game. LINK

The Democrats Effectively Tied in Iowa, But Sanders Won the Future

Slate’s Jamelle Bouie:
Sanders is already a historic candidate—the first socialist in a century to build a genuine mass movement in American party politics. And whatever the Democratic Party is in the next 20 or 30 years, it will owe a great deal to Sanders and all the people—young or otherwise—who felt the Bern. LINK.

We Are About to Watch the Rise of Purple America!

Purple America is America, Bernie's America! This is Democratic Socialism. Who's to blame if this is the wrong direction for America? The Billionaire class for the most part, who couldn't keep their dicks in their pants and f*cked it all up! I don't think this is the wrong direction for America at all. But if someone thinks it is, then the blame lies mostly with the unbridled greed of the billionaire class. Others have been complicit in it too.

Another Quote of the Day by Clayton Caroline On Bernie Sanders

This is the first US election I've ever followed. (I'm South African) I can see how important Bernie winning is for America and for the world. I hope enough of you turn up and vote for the only hope for all of us.

Quote of the Day On Bernie Sanders by formerlutheran

I am 70 YOA (years of age) and for the very first time, I will not have to vote in an insect election (the lesser of two weevils) when I mark my ballot for Bernie Sanders. Elsewhere on the inter web, I have answered a questionnaire specifying my views on a variety of subjects. The results indicate I have a 98% alignment with Senator Sanders. A vote for Sanders is a vote against the oligarchy which now runs our country and is the ONLY vote which gives my children and grandchildren a chance of living a life as rich and wonderful as I have enjoyed. Thank you Mr. Loftus for your support of Senator Sanders.

Libertarianism, Anarchy and Totalitarian Communism Are Morally Bankrupt Views

This is what I think. I can defend what I think. I have lost three personal friends on Facebook because this is what I think. You will not change my mind, not because I'm stubborn or pigheaded, but because I'm right. I can defend it too.

I am a democratic socialist. I have thrown my weight in the corner of Bernie Sanders. I am in the process of becoming a state and a national delegate just so I can cast a historic vote to support Bernie's revolution. Getting Sanders elected might be the single biggest thing we as atheists can do to promote atheism.

However, I cannot argue for so many things at the same time. It would mentally task me more than I'm willing to bear. And yet I am passionate about Bernie Sanders. So what to do? Should I personally make my own arguments on behalf of Bernie Sanders for President, or do I just state my conclusions and link to the Bernie Sanders campaign, who are making them without me? For the most part I've decided to do the latter. I don't plan on arguing for Bernie Sanders. But I wholly support him. Since I regard libertarianism, anarchy and totalitarian communism to all be morally bankrupt, don't waste my time arguing otherwise here at DC. Go somewhere else. I regard these views as akin to creationism. Start your own forum about it if you disagree. This is not going to be up for debate here. Try to turn this site into a debate about these things and I'll ban you. This is John W. Loftus and I approve this message.

The Rise of Bernie Sanders In the Polls Has Been Phenomenal

Probably the biggest political storm you'll ever see begins in Iowa on February 1st. Social media toppled dictators and will topple the billionaire class in America. #feelthebern

Why David Rohl's Response Fails


David Rohl, the main "expert" behind Patterns of Evidence: Exodus, has now responded to my critique. His response is in the comments section of that link. My critique has clearly touched a nerve.
I was hoping he would come armed with facts that would definitively refute my evidence, but he came armed with speculation. I address some of his specific responses here.
RE: “The first idiotic statement from this so-called expert was that he couldn't find any Yahwistic names in the Brooklyn Slave Papyrus. This guy clearly knows his Bible, because he thinks there should by Hebrew names bearing the Yah or Yahu element in them BEFORE Moses has the sacred name revealed to him on Mount Sinai!”  

Note that Rohl does not deny that there are no Yahwistic names in the Brooklyn Papyrus.

Rohl also has missed the fact that I addressed this issue. Please note my statement in my essay: This late occurrence is odd because the Bible says that Yahweh was the name that began to be used during Adam’s generation (Genesis 4:26) and was used by the Patriarchs (see Genesis 12:7-9, in contradiction to the statement in Exodus 6:3).”

We know that there are different traditions as to when the name Yahweh was first known. Rohl simply picks and chooses which narratives tell the true history of when that name was first used or revealed. Aside from avoiding what I said, it is actually Rohl who does not believe what the Bible says.
Rohl chooses to believe that the name was revealed to Moses (e.g., in Exodus 6:3ff), but chooses not to believe that it was used since Genesis 4:26 and by other pre-Mosaic figures.

My Next Book "Unapologetic" For People Like Paul K. Moser Who Have Lost Touch With Reality

There is only so much a person can take when dealing with people who have lost touch with reality. Must we always maintain a patient attitude when we already know their arguments? Must we always respond in a dispassionate manner to people who are persuaded against reason to believe something delusional? We know this about them based on everything else we know (i.e., our background knowledge). I for one, see nothing wrong with dispassionately discussing the beliefs of philosophers who do little more than build intellectual castles in the sky without any solid grounding to them. I do this all of the time. But sometimes I don't. Sometimes I get too fed up with the pretend game of faith with its ever receding theology.

I don't intend to write this new book with the jaded attitude I have today, so this is probably just for today. I'll not apologize for arguing it's time for the philosophy of religion to end though. It's time to put the hammer down hard on pseudo-intellectuals.

PATTERNS OF POOR RESEARCH— A Critique of Patterns of Evidence:Exodus


I received an e-mail recently asking what I thought of a new documentary called Patterns of Evidence: Exodus produced by Timothy Mahoney in 2015 (See film trailer). I had not seen it, and I was curious to learn if apologists actually had something new to say.
I ended up suffering through about two hours of repackaged arguments, many of which I thoroughly considered and rejected decades ago.  
The documentary is largely based on the book, Exodus: Myth or History? (St. Louis Park, MN: Thinking Men Media, 2015) by David Rohl, whose book cover describes him as an “Egyptologist, historian and archaeologist specializing in the historical relationship between Pharaonic Egypt and the Bible.”
Otherwise, Rohl is known for espousing other theories that are not widely accepted by most scholars.
Ron Wyatt’s The Exodus (1998)  and Simcha Jacobovici’s The Exodus Decoded  (2006)—see Dr. Chris Heard’s excellent critique here )— are also part of this genre.

Patterns has this general structure found in other apologetic documentaries:
 A. A documentary filmmaker professes to seek the “truth” in a fair-minded and “scientific” way.
B. Skeptics of biblical historicity are interviewed.
C. Advocates of biblical historicity are interviewed.
D. The conclusion claims that the evidence favors C.
This is a fairly routine approach found in the written works of Lee Strobel (e.g. The Case for Christ [1998]) among others.
We can trace this style of apologetics at least as far back as Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853), the Harvard Law professor who put the Bible on trial, and called witnesses in his The Testimony of the Evangelists, Examined by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice (1846). The verdict was predictable: The Bible is historically reliable.
The problem is that most of these documentary filmmakers often don’t have enough expertise to know which expert is offering good information. Mahoney cannot read any ancient languages that are crucial to evaluating some of the claims made, nor does he have the mastery of archaeology and Near Eastern literature necessary to detect the nonsense that Rohl offers him.
In reality, Mahoney did not evaluate carefully even the very archaeological artifacts and reports that he displays for the camera.  He omits a lot of countervailing material (e.g., the Amarna letters, as I will explain).
To his credit, Mahoney admits that he is not an expert. I also will credit him for at least admitting that the majority position among scholars is the one his documentary opposes. But this will not save his documentary from some of the fatal flaws that were obvious to me upon first viewing.

Actor Danny DeVito Supports Bernie Sanders

I’m into Bernie Sanders. I think Bernie Sanders is somebody that we really have to focus on—especially now,” he says. “Whether or not the money buys the other contenders, we still have to stay together on Bernie because Bernie’s got the goods. He really knows what he’s talking about and he’s got all the issues down. He gets all these little donations because he doesn’t want to be beholden to anybody. Bernie will give us the best shot at getting equality for men and women, African Americans, and all people of color; he’ll give us the best shot at healthcare; he’ll give us the best shot at the international situation so that we don’t start blowing things up, and to try to pull back a bit on the Imperialism. We need to pull back on it. We can’t keep dealing with regime change and all this shit! You guys—the young people—have to look at this and say, ‘Enough of this crap!’”

He adds, “I think a lot of people are starting to Feel the Bern—that’s a funny saying, but people are starting to feel the heat and the responsibility that we all have to at least give the planet a shot. We want to try to keep the Earth in a stable position for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. LINK.

Curiosity, Superintelligence, and the Benzene Molecule: Some Notes on a Personal Philosophy

As many readers of this blog may know, I have a forthcoming book called The End: What Science and Religion Tell Us About the Apocalypse (Pitchstone Publishing 2016). It brings New Atheism into conversation with Existential Risk Studies, arguing that, on the one hand, advanced dual-use technologies will make religious extremism unprecedentedly dangerous in the future and, on the other, of all the risks within the categories of error and terror, religion is the most serious. In other words, it’s crucial that secularists pay attention to the field of existential riskology, and that existential riskologists pay attention to secular critics of religion. For reasons I explicate in the book, drawing from a wide variety of scholarship, I genuinely don't think it’s hyperbole to say that our survival through the current century may depend on it.

Got A Title for My Next Published Book

Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End. To be published by Pitchstone Publishing in November 2016.

A Picture of John W. Loftus

I finally decided to get a professional photo done of that rascal named John W. Loftus (anyone know him?). It was taken today. Put it on a coffee mug. Use it as your wallpaper. Or pin it to a dart board. When arguing against him use it. When agreeing with him use it. I'm John W. Loftus and I approve of this message.

How To Best Attack Ancient Religious Mythological Beliefs

More and more I'm finding that atheist intellectuals and philosophers of religion are granting too much when dealing with the coherence of such mythological nonsense as the existence of Yahweh, Satan, hell, the virgin birth, incarnation and resurrection of Jesus. It's like we skip a very important step, even a crucial one in my opinion, when we grant ancient beliefs that don't deserve any respect at all. Anyone who looks into the historical evidence for Yahweh, Satan, hell, virgin births, incarnations and resurrections will see these beliefs come from the ancient mythological past. The best way to kill such barbaric and utterly ignorant beliefs is to look at their mythological origins, and no appeal to the genetic fallacy can help the honest believer here.

When we take seriously an idea we give it some sort of respectability just by doing so. For instance, I doubt very much that philosophers would try to show why Mohammad could not have ridden a horse around the solar system by offering a detailed analysis of physics and horses.

There is a two pronged attack we shouldn't neglect. When we're dealing with an ancient religious belief we should first attack it by linking it to the mythological past where it belongs, and then we can attack its philosophical coherence. If I were to do just one and not both, I would link the belief to the mythological past. If my focus was on the philosophical coherence of the concept I would still write a paragraph or two about its mythological origins and footnote a few books on it (seen below).

Stephen Law's Five Morals To Guide Atheists and Believers In Our Debates

You'll find Dr. Stephen Law online all over the place. He seems indefatigable in the goals of educating people and helping them escape from faith-based reasoning. Today I discovered he's an active writer at the site for Center for Inquiry. What's more I found his most recent essay to be something I agree with completely, where he offers five morals that should guide debates between atheists and believers. This is refreshing to me personally, having participated in daily discussions/debates with believers for ten years now. So here they are with my comments, along with a link to what he wrote from a forthcoming book chapter. His focus is on issues that might cause offense between us that could potentially shut down our debates, having atheists mostly in mind. [He uses the name Peter to refer to a Christian believer.]
1. There's a tendency among the religious to take offence at comparisons drawn by atheists between religious belief and other supernatural beliefs such as belief in ghosts, fairies, etc. No doubt some atheists do just want to belittle and bait the religious by making such comparisons. However, it seems to me that drawing such a comparison can be very appropriate. I certainly intend no offence by drawing it. I don't think the religious should take offence.