Another Review of My Book: "Christianity Has Been Debunked"

Again for people tired of reading these reviews I'll place it below. It's for people new to DC:
If there was one book that I would recommend to a Christian to make him see his religion from the outside it would be this. It's written in a language that a Christian would understand.

John chooses to attack Christianity from a sceptical bias and uses the tools of philosophy and even theology itself to give increasing credibility to the extremely low probability of the existence of the theistic god.

Step back and think... dear Christian, if Christianity were true it couldn't be attacked on any front. I believe that John's approach is the best and more notably I think it will have the greatest affect on the Christian. My only reservation is that they just won't read it because John doesn't have the mass-media appeal of Dawkins, Dennet, Hitchens and Harris. The approaches used so far are: the open scepticism backed with keen insight from Harris; the openly acerbic attack of Christianity's core professed by Hitchens; the cowardly philosophical, softly-softly approach of Dennet and the overtly scientific approach used by Dawkins. John's approach wins hands down and he even explains why.

This is a well rounded work as each argument is laid out and the responses to it from the intellectual Christian community (sounds like an oxymoron to me) are given and John duly gives his responses. The writing and argumentation shows many years of dealing with the debate at the highest level.

It's written for a university level undergraduate audience. John writes that many lecturers in courses in theology and philosophy have recommended the book for reading and study. The level that it is aimed at maybe off-putting and heavy-going for the more general audience. However, I feel if its depth of study was lessened then John would be accused of attacking a strawman version of Christianity.

Come on Christian, read it. You won't encounter a better attack of your faith. If your faith is the sort that doesn't stand up to attack then it is a faith not worth having. If it does stand up to the attack then you can rejoice and your faith can grow. Link
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17 comments:

edson said...

Frankly speaking I dont see how Christianity has been debunked by skeptics. All they are capable of doing is to do just that, to be skeptical of every christian claim; what if God does not exist, what if Jesus does not exist, what if Jesus didn't resurrect, what if..., what if... In some desperate attempts, I read about one skeptic attacking Jesus that he said the mustard seed is the smallest seed while botanically it is not, so Jesus was not God. Please skeptics come with something better at least to be considered as worth opponents.

John W. Loftus said...

edson, so you're looking for a worthy opponent, eh? Try the arguments inmy book, okay? At least that's what both skeptics AND Christians are saying about it.

RtPt said...

Of course you don't see that Christianity has been debunked. It isn't "what if", it is "what proof". There is no proof of existence of God. The onus is on Christians to come up with some proof. Until then, it is just blind belief or faith. I am not going to waste my time on fairy tales. So go ahead...prove God and the rest of the metaphysical mularky.

RtPt

Russ said...

edson,

To reasonably consider whether "Christianity" has been debunked, one must define it first. Such a definition is hard to come by since it must include all of the distinct Christianities in the world which now number nearly 40,000, according to the World Christian Encyclopedia, and today a thousand new ones are added each year.

Your definition of Christianity must, of course, include the theistic Christianities and the atheist Christianities -- yep, the ones that don't believe in a god. It's got to include the ones that claim Jesus was/is divine and the ones that say Jesus was not/is not divine. It must somehow make it appear that Biblical literalists and inerrantists are reading the same book as the Biblical metaphorists and allegorists. It must include those who say the Bible is the ultimate authority and those Christians who do not use the Bible at all.

Your definition must demonstrate that Mormons and Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox and Creation Scientists and Jehovah's Witnesses and Pentacostalists and Baptists and Fred Phelps and Benny Hinn and Robert Schuler actually do all believe the same things. They don't themselves think so, but your definition must make it appear as though they do.

Fact is, edson, there exists no point of doctrine common to all Christianities: not a god, not a savior, not hell, not heaven, not faith. There is no single Christianity. Rather there are thousands of local Christianities.

So, edson, you can't even define Christianity; the task is impossible. At best you could give a list of what you say or claim that you believe, but even that list would be distinct from the lists made by others in your same congregation.

When a group calls itself a "Christianity," all you can be sure that they hold in common with some other "Christianity" is the use of the word, "Christianity." Christianity holds no specific meaning. It is self-debunking, edson.

Gus said...

Edson,

The deal about the mustard seed might be a minor caveat, but if the mustard seed isn't the smallest seed, and Jesus said it was, then Jesus was wrong. If Christianity and the Bible are completely true, then Jesus shouldn't be wrong! The skeptic's case need not rely on this one point, however. There are plenty of others.

Harry McCall said...

Edson,
You want proof that Christianity has not been debunked? Fine! Then go to my last post and prove to me Jesus is not a lair and the very foundations of Christianity are not build on a lie!

Jesus is caught with his immoral and unethical pants down in my post, let's see if you can now debunk my post!

Eric said...

RtPt, the notion that Christians necessarily bear the burden of proof is not at all obvious. There are countless complications that the common, infamous and false 'internet' rationales (e.g. the burden of proof is on the side making the positive claim; you can't prove a negative; etc.) simply fail to consider. Let's look at a quick example: Solipsists claim that you (and everyone else) don't exist. You claim that you do. Do you have the burden of proof in such a debate? It's far from obvious that you do, but it is obvious that simple minded appeals to who is making the positive claim, or to the notion that negatives can't be proven, won't settle it. In short, all I'm saying is that questions about where the burden of proof lies, or whether it's shared, are often very complex.

Russ, see Wittgenstein on family resemblances. Even if we grant your claims for the sake of argument, your conclusion doesn't follow. To take Wittgenstein's famous example, there's no one characteristic or set of characteristics all games share, but it doesn't follow that we can't speak meaningfully about games.

Gus, your point (which you acknowledge is but one point among many) at best refutes certain conceptions of biblical inerrancy. However it doesn't even come close to refuting Christianity as such.

RtPt said...

It is very obvious that Christians do bear the burden of proof. God exists. Okay, go ahead and prove this.

The Solipsism is another lame philosophical idea that nothing can be proven. The claim is that nothing exists outside their mind. The onus is on the solipsist to prove this.

I am willing to accept either claim if they can prove them. Since they haven't been able...nor was I able to prove the claim of God's existence/solipsism, it is logical to take the position of atheist/empiricist.

Now comes the assertion that nothing is provable. Yes, nothing is absolutely true, but we can prove ideas within a reasonable doubt(or up to that line of proof). Wanna say everyone is agnostic/relative because of this? Go ahead, those terms are basically meaningless. The wonderful thing about the truth is it is fluid, it can change, it is what is true at this moment. The scientific method is a fantastic tool in the hunt for the truth.

In short, Christianity and other bad philosophical ideas have debunked themselves.

Ritch

Gus said...

"Gus, your point (which you acknowledge is but one point among many) at best refutes certain conceptions of biblical inerrancy. However it doesn't even come close to refuting Christianity as such."

Perhaps not, didn't say it did. If Jesus didn't say it, though, is anything else attributed to him in the Bible that he didn't actually say? How would we know? If he did say it, was he mistaken, or spreading false information?

Eric said...

"It is very obvious that Christians do bear the burden of proof."

It's not 'very obvious' to me. Do you have anything resembling an argument to support this claim?

goprairie said...

I have friends who call themselves Christian, yet do not believe the bible is literal, are not sure the whole easter thing happened, think the bible was written by people who may have captured a grain of truth now and then but not true history and lots of error. When pressed, they say god resides in the space between what physics knows about, the classic 'god of the gaps' where god gets farther away with each scientific explanation. Fine, maybe God is there, maybe God is some spark of life that started the big bang. But if you regress God that far, it is irrelevant whether or not you believe, whether or not you pray (that god is very much non-interventionist), whether or not you worship. So these people are unwilling to give it up, but have redefined it so much as to make it pointless. You cannot PROVE their god does not exist, but you can certainly make a significant case for such a god being irrelevant to our lives.

RtPt said...

"It's not 'very obvious' to me. Do you have anything resembling an argument to support this claim?"

Of course it isn't obvious to you...but it is up to you to prove the point. I have no such burden. I await your proof...even if this isn't obvious to you. You can do it, I have faith in you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tRpbkpNpgw

Watch, this will save me time reaching you. I am 6.999999999 of 7 on the atheist scale. I am sure you can understand "the obvious".

RtPt

Eric said...

RtPt, I was referring to the burden of proof issue. You claim that it's simply obvious that when theists and atheists debate the veridicality of religious claims, that the theist has the burden of proof. I said that this isn't obvious to me, and asked you to provide an argument to support your claim about the burden of proof. I'll ask again: do you have an actual argument here, or merely an assertion? (And please, no more youtube videos -- especially ones that involve treacly interviews with Richard Dawkins in which blatant lies are told about people like Francis Collins. You did see the following episode of Real Time where Maher issued an apology for misrepresenting Collins's views, didn't you?)

RtPt said...

"You claim that it's simply obvious that when theists and atheists debate the veridicality of religious claims, that the theist has the burden of proof."

Exactly, it is a "religious claim". The atheist doesn't make any claim whatsoever.



"Do you have an actual argument here, or merely an assertion?"

My argument is that the onus is the individual making a claim. The theist makes a claim. So it up to them to prove it.

Of course after you finally agree that the individual should back up their claim, then you will assert that nothing is ultimately provable and everything is a theory. Correct? Hence the youtube...Dawkins said it very well when defined atheism. Atheism is right up to the line of certainity that theism cannot prove their assertion because they haven't yet. It is being 99.9999999% certain that theism and any other supernatural nonsense is false because has not been proven. Religion is faith, religion is blind belief. Either you have it or you don't it. But you know, and I know that it isn't provable. So you can talk and talk and talk some more, that is the bottom line. It is faith. You have this reasonable, I find it illogical.



"You did see the following episode of Real Time where Maher issued an apology for misrepresenting Collins's views, didn't you?"

I did. I didn't care when he said one thing or another about Collins..doesn't matter at all.

Have a nice day. RtPt

Eric said...

"The atheist doesn't make any claim whatsoever."

Are you kidding?

Dawkins makes no claims in his 416 page book, 'The God Delusion'?

Harris makes no claims in his 256 page book, 'The End of Faith'?

John makes no claims in his 428 page book, 'Why I Became an Atheist'?

That's over a thousand pages among three books alone, all of which were written by atheists about atheism and theism, and you're telling me that there's not a claim to be found in any of them? It sure sounds like that's what you're saying:

"*The atheist* doesn't make *any claim* **whatsoever**."

Now, do you have a sensible position to defend?

RtPt said...

I should specify...Dawkins, Harris and John do not reflect all of the views of the atheist community. They do not reflect most of my thoughts. There is nothing to defend, because it is nothing that should or needs to be claimed, period. I am not making any claims, but I will happy to listen to any religious person who can prove God. This hasn't happened and it is 99.9999999% that it will never happen. Dawkins had that correct. They are missing the major point...they have nothing to defend. Atheism is a given and religious claims have to be proven. An atheist (or anyone for that matter) should try to prove supernatural power/beings and make a decision from that. Go for it, I await the proof of your claim.

RtPt

RtPt said...

Excellent post. I agree with most of what you are saying. Some people do have fill in the unknown (gap) with the supernatural force/being. It is okay to say we cannot prove something 100%, but we definitely can up to a point 99.999999%. When we get up to that line, some people can accept the limitation. The supernatural is just a stop-gap. Everyone is .0000001% agnostic, but that is the human condition...obviously we cannot know everything. I find it misguided when a religious or agnostic individual makes that unknowable assertion to justify beliefs.

Some people are willingly to make that leap, but the question is why? In that is some interesting psychological and sociological ideas.

RtPt