Two More 5 Star Reviews of My Book.

There are two more 5 star reviews of my book, one from a Christian! I especially like the fairmindedness of people on opposite sides of the fence who are reasonable enough to think what someone writes is good even if they disagree, as I did when I reviewed Paul Copan's book That's Just your Interpretation.

Loftus blows over the Christian theology house of cards., March 14, 2007. Reviewer: Thomas A. Lewis.

John. W. Loftus is a serious thinker and philosopher, and while his self-published book lacks the professional style and editing that mainstream authors enjoy of their publications, his argumentation and critical analysis of Christian theology is top tier.

I can personally identify with Loftus in many ways, being a former evangelical myself. The process of de-conversion is a long and drawn out intellectual, thinking, and learning process, unlike the quick emotional rape that can be had at the alter of any fundamentalist church.

On page 24 Loftus says: "I was so sure and so confident in my faith that I didn't believe I could learn anything that would ever cause me to doubt my faith." I highlighted this sentence in my copy since it was so close to what I had thought at the beginning of my investigation of Christianity. I thought to myself: "I'll read these books by evolutionists and their arguments will fall like sand through the reason of the Bible." "I'll read about these other religions and see how silly and insincere their believers are." "I'll read about the psychology of religion and demolish their babble with sound doctrine."

Like Loftus, the results are quite contrary to what one expects as a Christian going in. Christian naivety and ignorance is revealed at every turn. The flimsy arguments of theistic apologists are blasted to bits in the strong wind of reason and evidence. Christian insularity is eroded away by sound knowledge. In the end, one is left feeling like Blade at the end of the second movie where he is holding a beautiful vampire that is soon evaporated into ash by the rays of the sun. To me, my religion had been like that vampire. Yes, you loved her. Yes, she was beautiful on the surface. But in the end you're glad that the sun rose, she is gone, and you awoke from the myopia of the night.

Still Keeping The Faith, March 9, 2007
Reviewer: Mrs. M.

Actually I changed from a 4 to a 5 star as soon as I began writing this review. While the author makes it an easy read (thank you I am not as intellectual as a lot of others on this board), I have mixed feeling. The part about hell and the evil were all questions I struggle with. I agree wholeheartedly and have a really hard time with a God that would not offer salvation to all of mankind. Punishing someone eternally really bothers me.As the author points out no one (as even in Hitler) should be in total agony forever and ever. Do I think a fair and just God would demand retribution as in, well let's use Hitler. Let him feel the pain and agony of people he burned alive, let him have his organs pulled out the way he did to the many Jewish and yes Christians that was part of his evil ways.Let him know.taste and feel the horror of what he did. Please do not think I am a Hitler sympathizer, I certainly am not. But eternity is a long time. And then.......I look at the stars, the moon, the beautiful deer in my yard and I know he is there.Do I fear what may lie beyond our mortal death,I don't know, sometimes, but I just can't believe that this is it.I was so blessed in this life I just know someone was looking out for me. I know the author was disappointed (for lack of a stronger word) at the so called "Christians and friends that turned their back on him.But these people are not your judges, that's what happens when people do the judging. I look forward to the day that I will see Christ and my loved ones. No one here knows all the answers, sometimes we just have to trust God. The book does raise questions though, and I will pray I get the answers.

23 comments:

Heather said...

I posed this question on another blog, but maybe one of the contributors here has an answer.

I know there are lots of deconversion stories where Christians investigated evolution, compared it to creationist claims, and that was a stepping point towards losing his/her faith.

But has there ever been anyone who has seriously studied both evolution and creationism (as in, the arguments as presented by both sides, and not evolution as presented by creationists or vice versa), and ended up changing from beliving in evolution to being a creationist?

Calvin said...

Heather,

I'm not sure about anybody changing into a young earth creationist. But there are some who are old earth creationists and some who are not DARWINISTS but believe in DIRECTED EVOLUTION. See the agnostic Michael Denton's Nature's Destiny How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe. He's not a Darwinist or Creationist of any kind.

Bertram Cabot, Jr. said...

There are deconversion stories on all sides. Atheists who become Christians, Christians who become atheists, Protestant who become Catholics, etc.

And what they have in common is that the side that was left always says, well, they weren't REALLY an atheist...or a Christian...or a whatever.

As for those reviews, so what? For all we know, you had them written.

Because, after all, as you admitted in your biographical description, you do lie.

John W. Loftus said...

Bertram Cabot, Jr., I just admitted what the Bible says all men do. I was being honest. Will you lay your soul out on the table so that we can see just how filthy you are, and what you think about and do when no one is watching?

I won't allow anyone to sling mud here, so stop.

King Aardvark said...

You at least get some current Christians who claimed to be atheist, only converting once they studied the evidence. See, for instance, apologist Lee Strobel. The thing here is, as far as I can tell, most of the ones who claim to have switched are either selling something or were not provably vocal atheists beforehand. That said, there probably are quite a few people who do switch, and it's just hard to truthfully judge what goes on in peoples' brains.

Heather said...

**You at least get some current Christians who claimed to be atheist, only converting once they studied the evidence.** True, but one can be Christian and still believe in evolution. It's just a lot of the deconversion stories I've read dealt with fundamentalists creationists Christians becoming athiests. I've never seen one where an athiest becomes a fundamentalist creationist. And try typing that five times fast. ;) But I have read stories of athiests becoming mainstream Christians/conservative Christians.

I know that Lee Strobel is an example. But he seems to fall into the 'not very vocal/strong athiest' based on his books. They all seemed to be written for people who already believed his viewpoint, especially since he only interviewed conservative Christians. And I've read too many convincing rebuttals against his books. I think it would've been more convincing to show all viewpoints, and then let the reader decide which was more convincing. So it wasn't really examining all the evidence, just the evidence that already confirmed the viewpoint he had.

Dennis said...

Heather,

Here are some deconversion stories for ya. Many of them from scientists.

From my personal point of view, I find it hard to understand how someone could study both sides of the evolution/creation debate and come away impressed with the evolutionary argument. I have studied this long and hard. Yes, atheists may have some difficult philosophical arguments for creationists, but creationists have difficult arguments based on what we can directly observe that cause problems for atheists.

http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v19/i4/pressingon.asp
http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2/4328news6-16-2000.asp
http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2/4387news10-5-2000.asp
http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v21/i3/caving.asp

Heather said...

Dennis,

Thank you for the sources. I only read the ones you listed here. I have seen this site before. What I find interesting is that none of the people described how they viewed evolution before their conversion, and called everyone an "evolutionist." To me, that's kind of 'loaded language' and a red flag. It leads me wondering if they just originally believed in evolution because that's what was taught in school textbooks, and didn't actually study it. There were scientists included, but they were a chemist and a geologist (but you did meet the criteria I asked for, which was are there stories of athiests converting to creationism).

So I take it you've studied evolution as presented by biologists? (Based on your source, I think I'm safe in assuming that you have studied creationism as presented by creationists themselves, and not creationism presented by "secular" sources)

Dennis said...

So I take it you've studied evolution as presented by biologists? (Based on your source, I think I'm safe in assuming that you have studied creationism as presented by creationists themselves, and not creationism presented by "secular" sources)

Did you think I was going to post an evolutionist-to-creationist deconversion story from talkorgins.org? Answersingenesis.com seemed like a good place to go for that.

The last time I touched a biology book was in a university-level biology class I took back in college. I'm just not a nose in the book kind of guy. I have probably read just about every article on talkorigins.org and have spent a lot of time forum-debating with people who believe in Darwinian evolution (some of them with science degrees) so I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on the subject although I would never try to pretend them I have a scientific background by any means.

I understand your presumption that I was only familiar with the creationist viewpoint. Unfortunately for many Christians, that's all they get. The situation isn't helped by their Pastor's who have no science background and perpetuate bad arguments.

Since you say you are familiar with AiG, what is your opinion of them? Do you think they are dishonest? Do you think their bias prevents them from reaching logical conclusions? I am curious to know because I know a lot of creationists are stigmatized (for some that is deserved and for some it is unfairly imparted on them).

DagoodS said...

Dennis, have you argued on iidb in evolution/creation forum?

Thanks.

Dennis said...

Dennis, have you argued on iidb in evolution/creation forum?

Nope. I tend to stick with forums like Yahoo groups where there are fewer people and I can have longer dialogs with a smaller group of people. Haven't been to any of them in the past year. I just got tired of it after a while.

Heather said...

Dennis,

The problem I have with AiG is that they take the creation stories in Genesis literally. So as you find it difficult to see why someone can accept the evolutionary argument, I find it difficult that someone can accept the Adam and Eve story as literal truth. As well as God creating the earth in six literal days. For one reason, it's written to show that the sky is blue because there was water up there. So when the flood occurred, the waters pour out of the sky because nothing is holding the water back.

I also have difficulties with the language they use: evolutionist and anti-creationism. It's the same as saying pro-choice is the same as pro-abortion/anti-life.

I don't know enough on evolution/creationism to comment on the content of their arguments. I would approach them in a state of disbelief, though, based on the reasons above. ANd some of what I have read is inconsistent. I also know a lot of people who The reason I asked about if you were familiar with evolution as presented by biologists is because in all of the Fundamentalist/Creationist Christian to athiest deconversion stories I read, they set out to read the evolution argument from a variety of biologist stories, and very in depth. That's when they saw the differences between how creationism presented evolution, and how evolution was actually presented. They provided examples.

Calvin said...

Heather,

When the bible talks about the waters above it is refering to the rain clouds.

Psalms 147:8 - He covers the Heavens with clouds; He prepares rain for the earth.

Psalms 104:3 - He lays the beams of His chambers on the waters; He makes the clouds His chariot.

Surely the Hebrews were aware that the clouds are what brought the rain and not the blue sky.

Also, I believe in a literal creation story and I don't believe the earth is young.

Heather said...

Calvin,

No, in Genesis, they thought the sky was blue because water was up there -- that same water that poured down in the floods. Genesis 1:5. "Let there be a dome in the middle of the water; let it divide the water from the water." God made the dome and divided the water under the dome from the water above the dome."

Calvin said...

Let there be a sky. God cleared away the clouds that were covering the land and made the sky. The waters above are the clouds.

Let there be light.
Light caused evaporation and the separation of the two waters.

Job 38:8-9 talks about the cloud cover that caused the thick darkness of Genesis 1:2.

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth....or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds it's garment and thick darkness it's swaddling band.
The sky is not only the place where the stars are but it is also the place where the birds fly. The Hebrews were well aware that rain came from rain clouds and not the blue sky. Where did the water go when it became night time and the sky turned black?

Heather said...

Calvin,

I am reading the text as one must do if interpreting it literally. God didn't create land until the third day -- there was no land until that moment. There's no mention of God clearing away the clouds. Genesis pictures originally a watery chaos, and then God creates a space within the waters for humans to exist. I'm not talking about where the rain came from -- I am saying that the text is written with the belief that the firmament is holding the water back. In the flood, the "windows of the sky" opened -- which goes back to the dome.

You can argue that light caused the evaporation, but that still leaves you with God saying, "let there be a dome in the middle of the water; let it divide the water from the water." It's flat-out identified that there was water above and water below.

You're inferring the thick cloud cover based on scientific knowledge and a reading of Job. For those who wrote Genesis, they didn't see it that way.

**Where did the water go when it became night time and the sky turned black?** If thinking in their terms, water does look black when there's no light shining on it. Look at lakes during night. They believed the water didn't 'go' anywhere.

Calvin said...

Heavens - 1. Visible dome of the sky above where the birds fly and the place where the clouds move

2. The place where the celestial bodies move

3. The spiritual realm where God and the angels are.

When Heavens and Earth are used together it refers to the whole universe.

In the beginning God creates the whole universe.

"The Land" is without form and void and darkness is over the suface of the deep because there is a thick cloud covering. Job 38

Light penatrates the dark shroud covering "The Land"

God forms the sky in "The Land" by separating the waters above (clouds) from the waters below.

God removes the waters and the dry ground appears in "The Land"

God furnishes "The Land" with fruit trees and seed bearing plants.

The sun, moon and stars appear in the sky to serve as time keepers for man

"The Land" is the land God promised to Abraham and His descendents.

During the days of creation God is preparing a homeland for His people.

Calvin said...

The descripton of "the land" as formless and empty in verse 2 plays a central role in the creation account because it shows the condition of "the land" before God's gracious work has prepared it for humanity's well being. Deut. 32 draws on the same imagery
to depict Israel's time of waiting in the wilderness before their entry into the good land. The prophets also drew on the same source to depict God's judgment of exile. When Israel disobeyed God, "the land" became again formless and void, or an uninhabited wasteland and the people were sent into exile: "I looked at the land and it was formless and empty and at the heavens and their light was gone...the fruitful land was a desert. Jer. 4:23-26. The land after the exile was depicted in the same state as the land before God's gracious preparation of it in Creation. The land lies empty, dark, and barren, awaiting God's call to light and life. Jer. 25:7 shows that later biblical writers read Gen.1 as refering primarily to the "land" promised to the Patriarchs and Israel. The days of creation are refering to the preparation of the Promised Land as the "Good Land" of humanities dwelling. Gen. 1:1 describes the creation of the universe and 1:2-2:3 narrows the readers focus to the land promised to Abraham and his descendents.

Calvin said...

In the Pentateuch and the Old Testament the writers refer to the Promised Land as "the land"

In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth

Now "the land" was without form and void and darkness was over the surface of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
A thick shroud covers the waters causing darkness in "the land."
God forms the sky by seperating the two waters. The waters above the sky and the waters below the sky. Then God clears away the clouds so that the sun, moon, and stars become visible in "the land."

Also notice in Ezek. 32:7 when God brings judgement against Egypt

I will blot you out, I will cover the Heavens and make their stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give it's light. All the bright lights of heaven I will make dark over you, and put darkness on your land.

Job is clear that the reason there is darkness in 1:2 is because the waters are swaddled in a cloud cover. The cloud is not only way up in the sky but it clouds the whole atmosphere and is wrapped around the waters themselves. God then seperates the two.

I'm sorry if I am repeating myself but I'm trying to clarify my position better. I didn't make it clear enough the first time and I caused some confusion.


The expanse holds water above the land. In verse 8 the expanse is called sky. The expanse is not only the place where the stars are but it is also the place where the birds fly. Verse 20, "upon the surface of the expanse of the sky".
So the waters above the sky is likely a reference to the clouds. That is the view that comes from the reflections on latter biblical texts. The flood refers to the windows of the sky, when opened pour fourth rain. see also 2 Kings 7:2, Pss. 104:3, 147:8, 148:4.

Bertram Cabot, Jr. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Heather said...

Calvin,

We're once again at a point where there's no sense in continuing. Anything I post at this point in relation to the subject will just have a two or three post refution, and then I'll respond and it'll just go in a circle.

I've studied scholars familiar with these texts, familiar with the Hebrew language, and familiar with the other creation stories that existed at that time. Half the Bibles I own are written in the context that there was originally just chaos, and God formed order. He seperated the waters, using land and firmament to hold them back. I have books with graphs showing how the creation was originally pictured --which is how I'm describing it. I'm not just saying that the Bible has this one sentence that infers the sky is blue because it's holding back water. I'm basing this on people who have spent years studying those texts. As it is, some of the Bible verses you're providing do support the viewpoint those same scholars put forward.

But overall -- please don't assume that I haven't studied what I'm talking about, or haven't read the Bible. You may not be doing that and I may be inferring incorrectly. The reason I say this, though, is because in your three posts you lay out the creation story as though I've never seen it before. And most of the creation story isn't relevant to what we were discussing -- we were just focusing on the seperation of the waters and the firmament. But I've found that when discussing matters with those who take a literalist/fundamentalist view towards the Bible, they assume that I haven't read any portion of the Bible when I disagree with them. And that is so far from the case.

Calvin said...

Heather,

I wasn't trying to say that you have never read the creation story or havn't studied it. I was just trying to give you a picture of my interpretation. I'm sorry I made three posts but I was worried that you wouldn't understand what I was trying to say. I was trying to make my points clear so I kept going back over it trying to make it where you could understand it. I have spent a great deal of time studying and working on it. I really believe that this is what the text is saying. I also study scholars who are familiar with the Hebrew language. My interpretation is mainly influenced from the Hebrew scholar John Sailhammer. I tried to lay out the whole creation story because it all runs together. I'm not sure what you mean by fundamentalist view of the Bible. Young earth creationists would not be happy with what I presented. They would consider it a compromise with "evolution". I think that the more we study the Bible and all the creation stories in the Bible the more we learn and have a better understanding of it. One of my principles is that I'm always reforming. Did you understand what it was I was trying to say?

Calvin said...

Heather,

Have you ever heard of Robert Newman? He wrote his master's thesis on day two and he shows how the waters above are a reference to the rain clouds. I have his website if you are interested. I'm sorry you don't want to continue talking about it. This is my favorite part of the Bible. I've studied it for about 15 years. Anyway, I had fun talking with you about it.