Does the Qur'an Promote Violence?

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Summary Answer:

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.
For a list of the top ten hateful verses in the Qur'an see here.

Nathan Phelps "I'm Not My Father's Son"

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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.

The Importance of a Secular Democracy for All

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Terrorism And "Moderate" Islam's Culture Of Irresponsibility

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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.)

Welcome to the Blog "Debunking Abrahamic Religions"

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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.

Jerry Coyne On ISIS Apologists: "What Is 'True' Religion?"

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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.

Samson: Bible Hero or Terrorist

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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.

Interesting and Provocative Books on Islam

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Sleepwalking Toward Armageddon, by Sam Harris

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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.
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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.
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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!

Sam Harris On 9-11 and Faith

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Let Ayaan Hirsi Ali Speak!

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Hemant Mehta reports:
Hirsi Ali, in her bestselling books Infideland Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations,made no secret of the fact that Islam, as interpreted by militants, extremists, and even (in some cases) casual believers, was not only untrue but harmful to the world. Between female genital mutilation, honor killings, the idea of martyrdom, and the murder of her friend Theo van Gogh, you could understand why she would courageously put her own life on the line to speak out against the horrors of the faith. In her mind, the problem wasn’t radical Islam. It was Islam, period. That’s why she was very blunt in a 2007 interview about her goal of trying to defeat Islam because she didn’t believe the “religion of peace” was capable of being saved in its current form.

Almost immediately after the announcement of her honorary degree, Muslim groups began to protest her selection. LINK
Enough with the liberal mindset that a religion, any religion, should not be criticized, enough!
Let Hirsi Ali speak, and students are welcome to respond and challenge her views. This notion that she’s unfairly critical of Islam is one that anyone is welcome to refute. She’s hardly someone who’s critical just for the sake of getting a rise out of people — she has plenty of reason to find fault with the faith.

I hope that these students who would rather she not be invited at all actually attend Monday night’s event. Don’t just protest outside and leave. Listen to her story and respond if necessary. That people are so sensitive to criticisms of Islam is reason alone for why her invitation is a welcome one.

Quote of the Day, By Loftus

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Believers have denied the evidence for so long they're projecting when claiming scientists would do the same if they found contrary evidence.

Is Radical Islam More Dangerous Than Radical Christianity?

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[Re-dated and renamed post from 3/27/08] I debunk Christianity, Evangelical or Fundamental Christianity, because I know the most about it. That being said, I think radical Islam is much more dangerous to civilization than perhaps any other religion, especially more dangerous than Christianity. There are four things that make Christianity less dangerous than Islam in my opinion.

One) Christianity has a Virgin Mary who helped bring in the redeeming Messiah. The Catholics have even made Mary a co-redeemer. This feminine Biblical example exalts women to some degree. Women aren’t entirely worthless chattel. Islam only has an Eve, who is known for being a temptress to Adam. She is weak, needing to be ruled over, who can be blamed for bringing upon the earth such misery.

Two) Christianity has its Jesus, who is basically seen as non-violent and who laid down his life for humankind. Islam has no corresponding figure. Mohammed was a political ruler, whereas Jesus had no earthly political power. So the Koran reflects the political goals of religion, whereas in Christianity it’s merely implicit.

Three) Christianity has gone through an Enlightenment beginning in the 16th century with the rise of science and modern philosophy. The only version of Christianity we see in today’s world is one reflecting various degrees of this enlightenment. As a result the only Christians we see are “cherry-picking” from the Bible based upon their modern experiences and understandings. They do not take the Bible literally. They do not think it honors God to stone adulterers, kill witches, or keep women in submissive silence at home. By contrast, Islam has had no Enlightenment. Muslims still take the Koran at face value, and there are some pretty hateful things said in it about infidels, Jews, and women, along with some barbaric ways to punish criminals.

Four) Christianity does not have the same political power that Islam has within any country in the world today. There are whole countries ruled by Islamic law. There are no countries ruled by Christian law, although there is a heavy influence of Christianity in America, the most powerful nation in the world. Even many Christians think it’s best to have the separation of church and state. But in this nuclear age with WWD's, all it would take to destroy millions of lives is a rogue Muslim state or a small group of militant Muslims who gained access to them.

What do you think?

Jerry Coyne: "We can dismiss a physical Adam and Eve with near scientific certainty."

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He writes:
[T]here’s one bedrock of Abrahamic faith that is eminently testable by science: the claim that all humans descend from a single created pair—Adam and Eve—and that these individuals were not australopithecines or apelike ancestors, but humans in the modern sense. Absent their existence, the whole story of human sin and redemption falls to pieces.

Unfortunately, the scientific evidence shows that Adam and Eve could not have existed, at least in the way they’re portrayed in the Bible. Genetic data show no evidence of any human bottleneck as small as two people: there are simply too many different kinds of genes around for that to be true. There may have been a couple of “bottlenecks” (reduced population sizes) in the history of our species, but the smallest one not involving recent colonization is a bottleneck of roughly 10,000-15,000 individuals that occurred between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago. That’s as small a population as our ancestors had, and—note—it’s not two individuals.

Further, looking at different genes, we find that they trace back to different times in our past. Mitochondrial DNA points to the genes in that organelle tracing back to a single female ancestor who lived about 140,000 years ago, but that genes on the Y chromosome trace back to one male who lived about 60,000-90,000 years ago. Further, the bulk of genes in the nucleus all trace back to different times—as far back as two million years. This shows not only that any “Adam” and “Eve” (in the sense of mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA alone) must have lived thousands of years apart, but also that there simply could not have been two individuals who provided the entire genetic ancestry of modern humans. Each of our genes “coalesces” back to a different ancestor, showing that, as expected, our genetic legacy comes from many different individuals. It does not go back to just two individuals, regardless of when they lived.

These are the scientific facts. And, unlike the case of Jesus’s virgin birth and resurrection, we can dismiss a physical Adam and Eve with near scientific certainty. LINK.
In another place he adds:

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

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I'll be teaching an online class based on my book "The Outsider Test for Faith" in October at secularactivism.org. Of it Dr. James Lindsay says:
The Outsider Test for Faithis a silver bullet argument for under-standing 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!

Does the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics Disprove Evolution?

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Hell no!

The Atheophobic, Islamophobophobic Left Rears Its Ugly Head Again

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This is a guest post by the author of "No Cross No Crescent" who writes for Skeptic Ink Network:
I have already written about my amazement at the frequent flirtations between Islam and the western political left, which, ideologically one would think, should be each others' worst nemesis. But this is not the kind of cognitive dissonance that is going to go away any time soon; every once in a while, we get reminded that tearing atheism apart is perfectly politically correct, while the same is not true for Islam. (No one, perhaps, exemplifies this dichotomy in the political left more blatantly than the revolting Noam Chomsky.) And on cue, they have delivered again.

Steve Novella on consciousness: dualism is the new evolution for theists (Part 1)

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I was listening to a Reasonable Doubts podcast from a few years ago, and it was, as ever, cracking. This one was about consciousness, its hard problem, dualism, and how it, and neuroscience, are being co-opted as a philosophical area to argue for the "God of the Gaps" style argument in the same vein as evolution in the creationist and intelligent design movements

Sept. 4, 2014: UK: Woman beheaded in broad daylight by machete-wielding Muslim, police rule out terrorism

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This too is the kind of political correctness that makes me nauseous. LINK.

You Think ISIS is the Exception When it Comes to Barbaric Acts? Not So!

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How can people continue to say Islam is a religion of peace? It defies the facts when so many Muslims act in barbaric ways and justify these acts from the Koran! This makes me nauseous! LINK

Quote of the Day, By Ed Brayton

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As I’ve said many times, we need to stop thinking that there is such a thing as Christianity or Islam. There are multiple versions of each that differ from each other in hugely significant ways. Decent, compassionate people find all the support they need in those holy books to justify being decent and compassionate. Violent, hateful people find all the support they need in those books to justify being violent and hateful. They all pick and choose the parts of their religion that they like and find ways to explain away or ignore the rest. It’s also not reasonable to claim that one or the other of these versions is the One True Religion. LINK.

Tweet Tweet, I tawt I taw a puddy tat!

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I may regret this but I just joined Twitter. I'm new so be patient, and I don't know what to say exactly, but here goes into the 21st century. @loftusjohnw

Here are my first four tweets:

If Jesus is the answer to life's most important questions then how does one go about getting a good paying job? Bible citation please.

One cannot extract a religion from a religious culture, and some religious cultures are barbaric, contrary to the liberal propaganda machine.

The irrationality of faith: "Trust in the LORD...and lean not unto thine own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Humanity is much better off if we could just subtract the religion, greed, militarism, racism, sexism, homophobia, speciesism, and so on. [Commentary: Let's start with the religion, my focus. It probably contributes somewhat to other harmful attitudes and actions, especially with regard to militarism, racism, sexism, homophobia, and speciesism.

Quote of the Day, By Matthew Cobb About Earth's New Address

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Looking the immense scale of the universe portrayed in the video [below], and the fact that not only is our solar system on the non-descript edge of our galaxy, but our galaxy is in a dull suburb of Laniakea, it is hard to feel that there’s anything special about where we are. And even less that any supernatural being should have been particularly interested in us. I am even tempted to feel that there really must be life elsewhere out there, even if I know that, for the moment, we only have evidence that life appeared once, in our boring fractal surbubia, nearly 4 billion years ago.

A Review Of My Book WIBA On Amazon Says, Skip the First Two Chapters!

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The best book I've read yet that compares and contrasts the arguments for and against a Christian God. Loftus takes an even handed approach in presenting both sides. Believers and non-believers alike should read this book to see if they can learn to strengthen their own arguments for or against. This is a very well researched book. I recommend readers skip the first two chapters and read them last or not at all. They really detracted from the meat of the book in my opinion. I picked the book up several times and put it aside after losing interest trying to get through the first two chapters. After the first two chapters, the book really takes off! LINK
Well alrighty then. In case others might feel the same, okay, have at it. ;-)

Quote of the Day, By Dr. Keith Parsons

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The qualities that make religion matter so much to people are the same ones that make it so dangerous. LINK.

ISIS Beheads Another American After a Mother's Plea for Mercy; Is It Their Religion Or Their Culture?

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In my lifetime have never heard of the kind of brutality coming from ISIS by anyone other than sociopaths and serial killers like John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy. The difference is that these serial killers did their nefarious deeds in secret for fear of being caught and punished, whereas ISIS as a whole group of people is proud of what they're doing and video tapes their barbaric deeds for the whole world to see. ISIS began as an acronym for the Islamic State of Syria which represents a Sunni jihadist group in the Middle East. Through Amir al-Mu'minin Caliph Ibrahim, the group was renamed simply the Islamic State. From Wikipedia:
A caliphate is an Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader known as a caliph – i.e. "successor" – to Muhammad...under Islamic law (sharia). ISIS claims religious authority over all Muslims across the world and aspires to bring much of the Muslim-inhabited regions of the world under its political control, beginning with Iraq, Syria and other territory in the Levant region, which includes Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus and part of southern Turkey.
So let me get this straight, okay? ISIS wants to establish an Islamic theocracy under sharia law ruled by a caliph and this isn't a religion? Every important aspect of ISIS is religious in nature. Remove the religion and it guts everything important they hope to achieve. Without the religion there would be no ISIS. With no theocracy, no sharia law and no caliph there would be no ISIS. Their religion provides the rationale, the agenda, the justification, and the motivation to do what they are doing. It doesn't matter whether other Muslims around the world reject their religion by saying it doesn't represent true Islam. It still is a religion, a hybrid if you will of Islam, in the same way as other types of Christianities are still representative of Christianity in general. Just call it the religion of ISIS then, if you still disagree. It is a religion. To see this just ask yourself what would happen if we extracted their religion from them, every aspect of it. Would they still seek to set up an Islamic theocracy based on sharia law under an Islamic caliph? No, they wouldn't.

Given western oppression they might want to reestablish some territorial boundaries we carved up for them in the past, granted. And given human nature they might still use force to do so. But the end result would not be an Islamic theocracy based on sharia law under an Islamic caliph. They might only want to establish a dictator over these territories, not an Islamic theocracy based on sharia law under an Islamic caliph. The rationale, the agenda, the justification, and the motivation to do what they desire to do would be much different, and precisely because these things would be different they would have to come up with reasons for what they desire to achieve. The means to achieve their goals would be different. The end result itself would be different. For instance, I doubt very much they could justify such wanton brutality perpetrated on innocent non-combatants, or be so certain that what the world community thinks is irrelevant so as to broadcast this butchery like they do.

Cultures create religions. Religions create cultures. Religions change in response to cultures. Cultures change in response to religions. Religion itself is a culture. Culture itself is a religion (most of them up until recently anyway). The religious culture of ISIS is doing what we see. It is utterly barbaric to the core. But they see nothing wrong with what they're doing precisely because it's their religion that justifies what they're doing.

Quotes of the Day, by the Prolific Victor Stenger

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I didn't research to find where these quotes can be found. Nonetheless here are several of them as posted by roedygreen:

Vic Stenger On the Principles of New Atheism

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Vic wrote the book titled, The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason.He has a website that has a great many gems on it to be found here. I found this poster there. I'm supposing someone created it for him based on his book. Again, he will be missed greatly.

Victor Stenger, Physicist and Prolific Atheist Author, is Dead at 79

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Hemant Mehta wrote a fitting tribute to Stenger which included a statement from me. He will be greatly missed but he changed the world for the better. LINK.

On Ending the Philosophy of Religion; That's What I'm Talking About!

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Johnnie Terry of Sierra College, CA, tells me he's using Jerry Coyne's book, Why Evolution Is Truefor his critical thinking classes this semester! He says:
As the Philosophy 4: Critical Thinking class satisfies the college level reading requirement, I'm having the students read both "Why Evolution is True" and "Monkey Girl." Coyne's book provides excellent support for scientific reasoning, verificationism and falsificationism.
That's what I'm talking about when it comes to ending the philosophy of religion subdiscipline in secular universities!

Jesus Behaving Badly: The Fig Tree Incident

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It’s hard to act mature all of the time… even for the Son of God.  The gospels contain a number of incidents in which Jesus gets annoyed or angry.  Today, we are going to look at two versions of a story about how Jesus gets pissed off and kills a fig tree.  I don’t want to be too hard on Jesus, because he was hungry and I know how cranky I get, when I’m starving, but nonetheless, shouldn’t we expect better behavior from someone who is supposed to be God in human form?

Has Any Atheist Deconversion Happened Quite Like This?

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John Lloyd was my Youth Pastor when I first became a Christian. A couple of years ago I had lunch with him, which I wrote about here. Today I found a video of him doing a talk at the church he had founded, where he described his conversion and early ministry (starting at about 9:04), of which I was involved. My question to you is this: Has any atheist deconversion happened quite like this? I think not. It was purely experiential while he was on prescription medicine. And yet John Lloyd knows that he knows that he knows that his faith is true. It's a shame, really!


This Weekend is the PA State Atheist/Humanist Conference

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I'll be speaking at this fine conference on Saturday morning about my book The Outsider Test for Faith: How to Know Which Religion Is True.As I'm finalizing my talk I've been re-reading my book again, and although I do say so myself, this book is dynamite! ;-) If you don't already have it, get it and read it. I'm very honored and grateful to be a speaker for this conference, especially given the other speakers who will be there. If you can come out, do so. Here is a link telling you all the details. Hope to see ya there!