I'll Be Teaching an Online Class Based On My Book "The Outsider Test for Faith" in November

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This is just a reminder. 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 framework
Sign up today!

Keith Parsons On The Amalekites and Options for Apologists

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Even though I have master's degrees in the Philosophy of Religion (PoR), I have argued this discipline doesn't deserve a place in secular universities. I've said why in that link (in reverse chronological order). Let me stress a major criticism of the discipline. It usually doesn't deal in concrete biblical examples, and when it does, it takes for granted what no reasonable person should. I prefer to deal in terms of concrete biblical examples by far, so I cannot grant for the sake of argument most of the things philosophers of religion do. PoR departments are dominated by Christians in America, and most of them are evangelical leaning professors. Most of the published work in this discipline is likewise written by Christians. It's the last bastion for evangelicals who cannot defend what they believe because of the evidence coming from evolution, neurology, archaeology, comparative religion analysis, and biblical criticism. Being a philosopher of religion specializing in the analysis of ancient religions and a biblical scholar to boot, Dr. Jaco Gericke has said, "The trouble with William Lane Craig and and Alvin Plantinga is that their philosophy of religion conveniently ignores the problems posed for their views by the history of Israelite religion. They might as well try to prove Zeus exists. People sometimes forget 'God' used to be Yahweh and it is possible to prove from textual evidence that 'there ain't no such animal.'" Evangelical PoR is simply a Fundamentalism on Stilts. In fact, all Christian PoR is special pleading by degrees. It is pseudo-philosophy just as much as creationism is pseudo-science.

Get Carolyn Hyppolite's Book, "Still Small Voices: The Testimony of a Born-Again Atheist"

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Carolyn Hyppolite has written what I consider a masterful first person account of her struggles with the Christian faith explaining why she came to reject it. In this intelligent book she highlights the intellectual hypocrisy of Christians, how their faith denigrates women, how it fails to deal honestly with religious diversity, the absence of God in the world, the problem of suffering, and more. Ultimately she highlights the irrationality of faith itself. She is not alone by any stretch. Her numbers are growing every day. She’s just sharing what so many of us have concluded on our behalf. Highly recommended! It deserves a wide readership.On Amazon she tells us:

The Friendly Atheist, Hemant Mehta, Writes About "Christianity is Not Great"

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If you click on the link you can read an excerpt of what I wrote: "Is Christianity beneficial or harmful to society?" LINK.

"Christianity is Not Great" Blasts Off With a Glowing Review By David Mills

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Today Christianity Is Not Great: How Faith Failsis available online! And it blasts off with a humbling and glowing review by David Mills, author of the bestselling book Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism.

Reverned Phillip Brown" Defends the Bible

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Since you had a problem with the phase conclusive evidence, lets narrow the debate down to:

Be it resolved: There is no historical evidence for any of the Hebrew Bible’s (Old Testament’s) Israelite personalities named in the New Testament.
(This would include among others, the Patriarchs, Moses, the Prophets, King David and King Solomon; all believed to have existed by Jesus.)  

The Very First Review of "Christianity is Not Great" by Aaron Adair

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Aaron Adair is an Assistant Professor in the Physics Department at Merrimack College, and author of the book The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptical View. He is the first to review the book Christianity is Not Great.You can see what he says right here.

Quote of the Day, By John Shelby Spong

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Episcopalian John Shelby Spong on hell and conservative Christianity. He is a humanist first and a religionist second. He's wrong, but less wrong than most other Christians. In this ABC interview he correctly says: "The church doesn't like for people to grow up because you can't control grown ups."

My Former Professor Daniel Maguire Bites the Bullet, Acknowledges No God

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Maguire argues in his book, Christianity without God: Moving beyond the Dogmas and Retrieving the Epic Moral Narrative, "that Christianity does not require its supernatural aspects." He thinks the ethical narrative of the Bible is what matters. ;-) And it looks like he caught up to the 1960's, which was the heyday of the death of God theology, or secularized Christianity. I found it quite a surprise that both of our books are ranked about the same among other atheist books. He should read mine if he thinks there is something to the ethics in the Bible. ;-) At least he's less wrong than most other Christians!

Frank Zindler, Eating Eggs, Blueberry Pie, Rhubarb, and Childhood Religious Indocrtrination

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I spent the weekend filming a few interviews with Frank Zindler, who has been the president of the American Atheists organization, and who earned the title of atheist spokesman of the year a number of times. He has debated a number of Christians including besting William Lane Craig in a debate, and now is the editor in chief of American Atheist Press. It was great to get his perspective on a number of things. I view him as a renaissance man who knows a lot about a lot of things. I call him "Mr. Atheist."

While we were talking he told a story of how, as a child, he cracked open an egg and found that a baby chick was developing in it, and he was shocked and very upset. Well, his mother wanted to show him that was an extremely rare thing so she picked out another egg and cracked it open, only to find the same results. For a long time he would not eat eggs at all. Now, at the age of 75, he only eats hard-boiled, scrambled, and deviled eggs.

I had a similar experience when I was a child. One time I got a fork full of blueberry pie and out came a bug. Yep, a bug. On another occasion I found a patch of rhubarb and gorged on it until I was so sick I vomited. I wouldn't eat blueberry pie nor anything rhubarb for years afterward. I still have an aversion against eating them, although I do on occasion. I suppose many of us have similar stories.

What I want my readers to consider is that religious indoctrination can do the same thing to us, especially when it comes to the notion of hell. Marlene Winell and Valerie Tarico have written an excellent chapter for Christianity is Not Great on this subject. I consider it must reading. On her blog Marlene wrote about it saying:
The most difficult thing to overcome, by far, is overcoming the intense indoctrination of early years. As an adult, for example, the fear of hell can pop up and cause panic attacks even if a person rationally rejects the doctrine. LINK.
If children can fear eating eggs, blueberry pie and rhubarb, then how much more intense is the fear of doubting one's own religious indoctrination. It takes a special kind of person, someone who really wants to know the truth and will follow the evidence wherever it leads.

Quote of the Day, by Dr. James East

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He's beginning to write a series of posts on the resurrection of Jesus. He writes:
The burden of proof is on the apologist. The apologist should not demand a skeptic prove some specific “non-resurrection” hypothesis. Rather, the apologist needs to show that the “resurrection” hypothesis is more probable than the “anything but the resurrection” hypothesis. In my opinion, no apologist has ever succeeded in doing this, and this series will outline my reasons for coming to this conclusion. LINK.

Yuriy Stasyuk, On Why He Changed His Mind About Religion

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Yuriy Stasyuk, who describes himself as a "Husband, amateur theologian/philosopher, and the guy with more questions than answers," has written a really good 5-part series on why he changed his mind about religion. He asks
Do you ever question what you believe and why you believe it? I grant you that this is a hard thing to do, in fact it’s so hard that most people on this planet live their whole lives without questioning their dogmatic assertions. Billions of people have died holding very strong beliefs that they never questioned. This includes: Greeks who believed in a mythological plethora of gods, the Persians who held to an ancient form of monotheistic Zoroastrianism, the many Near East cultures who worshiped multiple gods such as Baal, Dagon, and Marduk, and the Egyptians who believed their Pharaohs were gods, among many other fictitious deities. As well as the Romans who, like the Greeks, held strong beliefs in a whole pantheon of many gods and many forms of Eastern religion from Buddhism and Confucianism all the way down to Shintoism. Even in our own lifetime, there are billions who believe in all manner of various things. In your lifetime millions of Chinese will have died thinking that their indigenous faiths were the true faith. Millions of Indians will die, fully expecting that they will continue in a vast cycle of reincarnation. Likewise, millions of Muslims will die, fully confident that the Quran holds the recorded words of Allah, rather than mere human scribbles.
He says:
This series will chronicle some of the experiences that led me to admit I was wrong on one thing or another, and therefore I had to wrestle with the cognitive dissonance and disillusionment, and forge an updated understanding of the universe. I will be honest, some of these shifts were the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I didn’t want to do admit I was wrong, but I was honest enough to know I had to. It was very difficult, because each time I encountered evidence which forced me to evolve my views, I lost friends, respect, belonging, affirmation, and affection. I didn’t make any of these paradigm shifts because I wanted to, I did it because I wanted truth with integrity, no matter the cost. LINK

I Just Wanted You to Know Your Jesus is a Liar!

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This favorite statement of rage was often made by a former Fundamentalist Baptist evangelist to any Christian he met carrying a Bible or witnessing either from door to door or on the streets of Greenville, often leaving them dumbfounded; but first some background information.

Dr. Hector Avalos's New Book Coming Out: "The Bad Jesus: The Ethics of New Testament Ethics"

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It looks like it'll be another tour de force! Hector doesn't mess around! And he knows his stuff. Looks like there will be no more room for Christian apologists to hide. I love it! LINK.

This is the flyer our publisher made for "Christianity is Not Great"

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Christians Are Leaving Christianity By the Droves Because of the Issue of Homosexuality

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John Shore (who makes sure to tell us he's straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question.He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians, and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog. John reports his two blogs receive about 250,000 views per month. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. And he's alarmed by what he's seeing. Here's the quote:

The Next Time Someone Says I'm Ignorant About Christianity Look Here!

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These are only a few of the apologetics books I have read and/or refer to. I have dozens more as ebooks. I used a few of them in my college classes. I might be wrong but I'm clearly not ignorant. Don't think for a moment there is anything significant you can tell me I have not considered before.

A Plague of Stupidity at Answers in Genesis

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While a number of Christian leaders and radio personalities are gleefully hailing the recent Ebola outbreak as a sign of the “End Times” or perhaps the means by which God will purge the Earth of homosexuals, atheists, and other types which fundamentalist Christians love to hate, Ken Ham's Answers in Genesis sees a different silver lining:  a chance to proclaim their God’s goodness (and the literal truth of Genesis). I’m not kidding.

David Mills Is The First Person I Know To Get "Christianity is Not Great"

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On Facebook he shares a picture and writes:
Portrait of a very happy man! My new John W. Loftus book just arrived Priority Mail. I was privileged to read this book during its pre-publication and offered the following comment as a cover blurb:

"Loftus's latest is a compendium of the world's most iconic freethinkers and science writers at their finest. This may very well be John's most celebrated work--which is saying a great deal indeed." -- David Mills, author of Atheist Universe.

Richard Carrier Talks Up Our Latest Anthology, CNG

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I really appreciate Richard doing this, and for his kind words. LINK. Of three of my own chapters he writes:
Each is an excellent and cite-worthy survey of how Christianity shares a lot of blame for three pervasive social evils that have wracked Western society. If you want a one-stop shop for these kinds of arguments, this is the place to start.

Ebola is Coming! Praise God!

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Airline Traffic From Infected Areas
As a bit of sarcasm that Voltaire would appreciate let's all praise God for the Ebola virus! It's been long overdue.

If the Ebola virus is a punishment sent by God then God's punishments are good, aren't they? We're all sinners so we deserve to die prematurely a horrible death. People deserve what happens to them because Adam and Eve sinned, or because our parents sinned, or because of original sin (whatever that can possibly mean in this context for children). God's goodness and glory are displayed in the sufferings and deaths of its victims along with the grieving surviving family members. In any case, it's disasters like these that God sends to draw people to him, sort of like beating your wife in order to get her to love you, right? God is perfectly good. Glory be to God! He always does that which is perfectly good. So this is not a tragedy, not a disaster, not an "evil". This is all good! Praise God! Evil is nothing but a privation anyway, according to Augustine. It doesn't really exist!

In addition, the Ebola virus can be considered as a perfectly good divine method of population control. Every once-in-a-while God just has to do this because populations get out of hand, and because of this they might upset the so-called perfectly fine tuned ecosystem he created. Never mind for a moment that a more humane way to control population is to control our sex drives, or female ovulation cycles, so that we don't even have a population control problem in the first place. And never mind that there is no reason for a miracle working God to be concerned with a fine tuned ecosystem when he could sustain the world and control population growth by means of several perpetual miracles, such that the coming Ebola virus isn't needed at all in his perfectly good plan. No, God knows what he's doing and his ways are the very best. We cannot even fathom how good God's ways are since he's omniscient and knows best. He has perfectly good reasons why he remains hidden. We know this by faith because we certainly cannot figure it out using the rational powers he created in us, even given his perfectly good revelation in the Bible.

Besides, Jesus told us that when we see such things we should look up into the sky dome of heaven and be thankful, for this is yet another sign that Jesus is coming. Just ignore the pandemics that took place in history, like the Spanish Influenza outbreak of 1918 and the failed apocalyptic predictions that came with it of the end of the world. In fact, let's hope and pray things get worse because we'd rather be in heaven than here on earth. And ignore also the fact that there are many of these people who will burn in hell forever. God's patience cannot last forever. Who cares if they die prematurely I don't. I only care about me. I want to go to be with God soon, today if possible. The people who wind up in hell deserve what they get, even those who die from the Ebola virus. Let them burn. I'm just thankful that in God's graciousness toward me he didn't end the world before I got saved. Isn't God so full of it [grace, that is]? It's simply amazing!

So let's thank God and do nothing to prohibit the Ebola virus from spreading because it's God's will. And let's look to the sky for Jesus and help raise money for doomsday ministries that tell the world of the coming Ebola virus upon the sinners, heathen, atheists, homosexuals, criminals and child molesters for whom this disaster is surely being sent as a punishment. We'll be raptured out of this mess soon, and even if not, God's grace is sufficient for us. We know where we'll go when the time comes.

Be thankful and praise God in all things!

The Table of Contents to "Christianity is Not Great"

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Here's the Table of Contents to Christianity Is Not Great: How Faith Fails, to be available in just one week!

The Coming Muslim Wars And What Might Hopefully Be The Result

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Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently said of Muslim countries in the Middle East: "I think we're looking at kind of a 30-year war," arguing that the withdrawal from Iraq created a vacuum that allowed ISIS to rise. The reference to a 30 year war may be intentional. Three months earlier Richard N. Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, compared the coming Muslim wars to the European 30 Years War (1618–1648 AD). He briefly described the European war in the 17th century as "a religious struggle between competing traditions of the faith...fueled by neighboring rulers seeking to defend their interests and increase their influence," where "civil wars and proxy wars become impossible to distinguish." As we know, the loss of life "was devastating." Such a description, he went on to say, "could be a description of today’s Middle East."LINK.

Douglas Murray, writing for The Spectator even earlier in January, also wrote about this parallel:
There are those who think that the region as a whole may be starting to go through something similar to what Europe went through in the early 17th century during the Thirty Years’ War, when Protestant and Catholic states battled it out. This is a conflict which is not only bigger than al-Qa’eda and similar groups, but far bigger than any of us. It is one which will re-align not only the Middle East, but the religion of Islam.
For a primer on the European 30 Years War click here. There are some major differences of course, like the use of modern weaponry and the outside influence of the USA in the Muslim wars, but one similarity is striking. Both European Christians in the 17th century and today's Middle East Muslims were/are extremely intolerant of religious differences to the point of killing each other because of them.

There is hope, if we can survive being draw into a world war, or a nuclear war.
One of the most significant consequences of the Thirty Years War is that it was, essentially, the religious war to end all wars. After this point, religious differences were no longer of primary importance. LINK

Sam Harris: "Islam is the Mother Lode of Bad Ideas"

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What is the Evidence for Evolution?

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On "Moderate" Muslims

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Anti-ground zero mosque protest
Ever since the Islamic atrocity of 9/11 (some would argue even before that), it has become fashionable to run after "moderate" Muslims, to court them, to highly value their views, to appease them to the point of losing freedoms won through centuries of bloodshed and activism. And yet at some point we must ask ourselves, have we been chasing a mirage all along? Fareed Zakaria explains:
Over the past decade, the United States helped organize Iraq’s “moderates” — the Shiite-dominated government — giving them tens of billions of dollars in aid and supplying and training their army. But, it turned out, the moderates weren’t that moderate. As they became authoritarian and sectarian, Sunni opposition movements grew and jihadi opposition groups such as ISIS gained tacit or active support. This has been a familiar pattern throughout the region.
For decades, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has been to support “moderates.” The problem is that there are actually very few of them.

See What Happens When Testing Faith From An Outsider's Perspective?

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Practice the Virtue of Authenticity

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Peter Boghossian says we need to practice the virtue of authenticity. To be authentic people means we should never pretend to know something we don't know. If someone asks us a question and we don't know the answer, we shouldn't pretend that we do. As an atheist like myself, we think most Christians lack this virtue, because people cannot be authentic who say they are 100% confident in their faith.

Research Question On Christian Apologetics

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How would one go about finding the actual percentages of Christian thinkers who accepted different apologetical systems of thought? What percentage of them accept Presuppositionalism, Evidentialism, Classical Natural Theology, Reformed Epistemology, Fideism, or Cumulative Apologetics? Is there a poll somewhere? Should we count the number of essays, books, and schools of thought out there along with the number of students who graduated from those schools? Are there denominations largely associated with them? I'm beginning to research and write something about these schools of thought, their numbers, how they defend the faith, and what we can make of this diversity. If anyone wants to buy one or more of the first few "highest priority" books off amazon for me as I research and begin to write on this topic, I'd appreciate it. [Do a "Sort by" search for the highest priority to the lowest for these ten books].

Inquisitive Minds Starts Discussion of Dr. Avalos' Fighting Words

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Inquisitive Minds, which is produced by Dr. AndrĂ© GagnĂ©, Brice C. Jones and fellow scholars of religion in Montreal, Canada, has begun a series of podcasts on my book, Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence (2005).

The topic is as timely as ever, given recent events in the Middle East and elsewhere. As usual, the thoughtful and expert hosts generate great discussions. Please check out their podcasts on other subjects, as well.

It is very encouraging to see more secularist biblical scholars and scholars of religion entering into public discussions of important social issues and world events.

Science and Morality: Michael Shermer TAM 2013

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Russell Blackford - We have the extraordinary evidence! TAM 2013

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Hector Avalos On The “True Religion” Trap

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Concerning President Barack Obama's speech delivered on Sept. 10 concerning ISIL Hector wrote a wonderful essay for the Iowa Ames Tribune, saying among other things that
President Obama will either have to admit that his own Bible does not represent a “religion,” or he will have to surrender the belief that no religion condones the killing of the innocent. LINK.