My Credentials Are My Arguments

Since I don't have a doctorate and the title to my blog is an attention getter some Christian scholars don't think much of me when they first hear of me. Don't misunderstand me. I do have some credentials. To see them just click on my profile page (later Dr. Hector Avalos is going to compare my credentials with those of Jim West). As an atheist I have been honored to speak at a Midwest regional meeting of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, and was a panelist for the annual Society of Biblical Literature last year. In February I'm debating Dinesh D'Souza at the University of Illinois. So this should all say something I'd guess. But to those still unpersuaded let me show you the respect I have gained from some Christian scholars because of my arguments. I have regularly engaged Christian philosophers and apologists here at DC, some of whom you know.

Some Christian scholars who have never read anything I've written just think I must be a bombastic atheist, I guess. Maybe they need to see my review of the Evangelical Philosophical Society 2008 Apologetics Conference how I interact with Christian scholars.

I have invited Christian scholars to post unedited blogs on DC too, which I allow from time to time, like Prof. John F. Haught, who responded to a review I did for his book, which can be read here. There are others I've allowed to address my readers, like William Lane Craig seen here, and Douglas Groothuis seen here, and James Sennett, seen here, and Craig Blomberg, seen here.

Perhaps before Christian scholars think I am easily dispensed with they should first see how I responded to up and coming apologist Mary Jo Sharp, seen here. Or how I interacted with Christian philosopher Shandon L. Guthrie seen here. Maybe that will make them think twice about me, who knows?

I have many Christian scholar friends and pastors who know me and they know I am a force to be reckoned with. I carry on email exchanges with them all of the time, too many to name drop here.

So to these other Christian scholars who have not heard of me before and dismiss me out-of-hand, let me say this: I don't care what deluded people like you think of me, although I'd rather be friends. ;-) It's your choice. It's also your choice whether you engage me. Dismiss me all you want to, but so long as you do I can go on my merry way unhindered as I help change the religious landscape, unfettered by those of you who think you can effectively rebut my arguments. They are my ultimate credentials and I'm just getting started.

That I have gained the respect of skeptical scholars goes without saying. Just look at the blurbs for my books and the contributors to my forthcoming book, The Christian Delusion, which I am honored to have them write for it.

17 comments:

Rex said...

It never ceases to amaze me that just because someone has a bunch of letters after their name, they are supposed to be above reproach when they present an argument that is obviously deluded and self serving and circular and flawed.

Well, I don't have any extraneous letters after my name, but I can still tell what B.S. smells like!

I always go back to my favorite Ghandi quote: An error can never become true no matter how many times it is repeated. The truth can never be wrong, even if no one hears it.

Guido said...

that's great, rex... now maybe you can learn to spell "Gandhi" with all that book learnin' you seem to have...

Eric J.S. said...

I am glad to hear that John W. Loftus debating D'Souza. I seen him debate a lot, and it scares me that he has so much disrespect for science. D'Souza has some good questions, but has some very outspoken accusations of agnostic atheists. He likes Neitzsche's version of atheism better than "new atheism." In debating him, one must show how being critical of religion is justified, why evidence-based reasoning is important, and what scientists have discovered.

Arguements and evidence for or in believing in God I have seen him use is: "so many people believe in God, have some faith in the human intellect", near-death experiences of the afterlife, and the importance of absolute morality. He will probably reference and quote Nietzsche.

None of this scares me, or should any rational person, but I would really like to see John W. Loftus win or at least instill doubt into D'Souza.

Doug Groothuis said...

John:

Not to be picky, but my first name is spelled Douglas (not Douglass); Craig spells his last name Blomberg, not Bloomberg. I write as one who often makes typos on my blog.

And, yes, I do read your blog from time to time. Thanks for posting my brief article some months ago, but I was not too impressed by the incivility and reactionary quality of many of the responses. But my forthcoming book will have a long chapter on the fine-tuning design argument, which is more more sophisticated that what I offered in my short essay.

John W. Loftus said...

So sorry Doug, I've got it fixed now.

Gandolf said...

To me it almost seems its a bit like running a marthon, you need to work out the best longterm strategys for ease of winning each race, which often has many differing conditions to contend with along the way throughout each race course.

And some opponents! strategy used against you also at times, will be trying to psychic you out and wind you up somehow.A way to try to ruin your game plan if possible.

Each time you run the marathon even times when you dont win,you take what you have learned from it and try working on new and better ways you can reinvent a better race plan next time.

jbudrdanl said...

"Credentials" are ridiculously overrated IMHO. I use John's book in my classes because he is the only atheist author I have encountered who presents straightforward, well-researched facts with a minimum of straw man, ad hominem, or over-the-top rhetorical arguments. If someone questions another's credentials, it's because they don't know how to respond to ideas intellectually and must resort to character assassination.

Will said...

I have just discovered your blog, and I must say I am intrigued. You appear to be a well-spoken, articulate person that thinks before they write. I have not read all of your posts non fact, I have only scratched the surface). I have seen you take a few swipes at people for spelling/grammatical issues. Before you do so with me, please note that I am typing this with a cell phone. While it is my intention to be as accurate as possible, fat fingers and little keys are not a good combination. I beg that you take that into account before blowing off my questions with ad hominin attacks on my English skills.

I am curious, why did you choose to attack Christianity specifically? There are hundreds of religions you could go after. Why not attack Judism? Why not attack Islam? Or eastern religions? Is it because you consider Christians fair game? Is it because Christians are more vocal in their outreach? Or is it because "intellectually," you feel less comfortable with the Christian message than with others?

I always find it fascinating that some people believe Christians are delusional because we believe something they don't. Are you saying your lack of belief in any way swings the balance of the discussion one way or another? I can give you specific instances when God has and has not conversed with me, both in answered and unanswered prayers. These instances are just as real and provable as any argument you can use against them.

As a Christian, it is very easy for me to dismiss your arguments against Christianity, because I believe your mind is closed to the possibility of a God. Of course, anyone with a closed mind will not be able to accept any proofs for God. Even what I would consider overwhelming evidence. In fact, it almost ammuses me that anyone who denies God would use their own opinions as an argument against God. Doesn't it make logical sense that God would choose to deny revealing Himself to someone who refuses to accept Him in the first place?

If you have gotten this far in my query and are still reading, please understand that I am not going to try and convert you, because, I do not believe that is possible until you are willing to approach the question with a reasonably open mind. I am merely attempting to understand your mindset so that I can engage yourself and others like you in a rational discussion.

Finally, I do want to let you know that like you, I too was once a non-believer. My path to faith in Christ was slow and deliberate. I have studied numerous proofs for and against the Christian faith, I have studied Christian apologetics and I have developed proofs and arguments on my own that I feel support my position, but I am certain that my support for these proofs has more to do with my pre-suppositions. If you would care to discuss these in a friendly, non-aggressive manner, I will gladly discuss them with you, however, if not, I will continue to puruse your blog on occassions.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you. May I post a link to your blog from mine, as, from what I have seen, it is an articulate, well written discussion of the difficulties with Christianity?

Will

John W. Loftus said...

Will, thanks for visiting. I cannot answer these questions over and over since I'm asked about them most every day here. or by email. If you're really interested in learning what I think then please read my book linked on the sidebar, WIBA. Then if you have any additional questions I'll be happy to entertain them.

Cheers.

Will said...

I understand. Perhaps one day I shall purchase your book, in the meantime, I will continue to read your posts.

May I link to your blog?

John W. Loftus said...

Will, link away.

Clint and Ashleigh said...

I don't understand how you can say you "rather be friends" but you call us "dilluted" I will be your friend, you do not offend me, though I am a Christian. I am curious what your purpose is? Why do you feel that you need to debunk Christianity? I am not angry, I am not alarmed just curious.

Wayne D said...

Will, I was raised a Christian, and defended it fervently. However, later in life, I began to have misgivings. It just did not make any sense to me why Jesus would be fervently preaching for the people to prepare themselves for the coming Kingdom if it was not supposed to come until millenniums later. I tried to get answers from religious sources, but with little results. It was not until I bought the Teaching Company course on tape, The Historic Jesus, by Bart Erhman, that I finally got answers. I don’t have all the Biblical passages memorized, but one important one is from the oldest Gospel of Mark, Ch 9:1 which is a response from Jesus as to when the ‘end times’ are supposed to occur. Jesus’ response in this passage was as follows: "And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.” Will this passage blew Christianity out of the water for me. Here is Jesus, who is supposed to be God himself, stating that it was all supposed to happen then, i.e., God’s kingdom was supposed to come down to earth and the poor and downtrodden, who followed God’s laws, were to be elevated to this kingdom, and the rich and powerful, i.e., the cruel Roman rulers, were going to be put down. Even Paul indicates this when one of his Churches asked if they should help the poor, and Paul responds no because they are soon going to be elevated to God’s kingdom which he expected to happen in his lifetime. Will, there is no way of beating around the bush, Jesus was simply another failed prophet.

Will, are you trying to say that there is overwhelming evidence that a God exists? If so, I would love to hear what it is. I am an agnostic because there is no way to scientifically prove or disprove the existence of a creator. Due to our complexity and the feeling that we must have digestion, elimination, circulation, respiration, a flap to cover our lungs when we swallow to keep food from our lungs, and reproduction all at once. That seems to nullify the possibility that it came about by chance over a long period of time. And if you managed to get all of the above except reproduction, the individual would eventually die and the whole process would have to start all over again. (John, feel free to comment on this.) So, I lean heavily towards a creator, but I am still an agnostic since my belief cannot be scientifically proven. You say it can be proven. I strongly disagree, but am open minded to what you have to present as your ‘proof’. Many have had experiences which seem to have been preplanned, however, there is really no way of determining if these experiences are actually nothing more than coincidences.

John W. Loftus said...

Will, I too think that at best Jesus was a failed apocalyptic prophet. Some theologians like James D.G. Dunn accept it and still embrace Christianity but I just don't see how.

As far as a creator goes what's to stop the supposition that there was a supernatural being who created the quantum wave fluctuation that started our universe as his last dying act before killing himself?

You see we really don't know. We really don't. And even if such a God exists we can live fruitful lives without him for a distant God is no different than none at all.

We simply do not need the God hypothesis.

Cheers

Gandolf said...

Clint and Ashleigh said..."I don't understand how you can say you "rather be friends" but you call us "dilluted" I will be your friend, you do not offend me, though I am a Christian"


Hi Clint and Ashleigh.

Even in real life we can have friends or acquaintance's who we suspect might have been very misled or come to believe some delusion.

Maybe your concern is more about whether its quite so PC for people to be publically stating a delusion as being a delusion.

Delusion :-"a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact: a paranoid delusion."

What say our friends were following the faith of gambling and shooting up heroin,seemed to think it was always quite safe.Not really a problem.Not anything people should consider possibly harmful or dangerous etc.And even when evidence is all around them how harmful it often has been,they argue no its actually quite fine.

Have they just got their thoughts a little wrong for a few short moments?,or are they more likely to be slightly "deluded" about matters.

Do you think it should be thought PC ,to simply tell our faithful friends who are gamblers and heroin addicts quite plainly.My friend im sorry i have to be quite honest and say i think you are a little deluded if you really think this faith of shooting up heroin and gambling is actually safe.I think you are deluded, if you think it should be quite ok to promote it as totally safe.

Just because sometimes we say things our friends might not really enjoy hearing,doesnt "always" do anything to prove it as not being friendly.

Some best friendships/partnerships in life often contain the strength factor of great importance for possibility to always be completely honest with each other when need be.It aids humans in making progress.

dguller said...

Wayne:

Why does the fact that we are complex biological organisms with multiple organ systems preclude the possibility that we evolved through natural selection?

I think that if you read Jerry Coyne's and Richard Dawkins' recent books on the evidence for evolution, then you will see that there is absolutely no need to postulate a creator to explain our complexity.

In fact, the assumption of a creator appears to fly in the face of the multiple "design flaws" that exist in human beings, including the recurrent laryngeal nerve, a backwards facing retina, and so on. It is all best explained through evolutionary processes.

Wayne D said...

Dguller,
The fact that we are complex organisms does not preclude the possibility that we evolved through natural selection. I never said that. In fact, I said that I am an agnostic with leanings towards a creator because there is no way of proving or disproving a creator.
I have read a number of books on evolution, and I definitely believe in it since there is so much fossil and now genetic proof. That said, I still feel that someone had to start it off, and the fact that it appears that too many things must have come about simultaneously that natural selection could not entirely explain it no matter long a period was involved . Scientists have experimented with what they feel early earth atmosphere consisted of and then subjected it to electricity. They did manage to create amino acids, but still no life. Therefore, there is still no proof that life could have started by chance.
The assumption of a creator doesn’t necessarily fly in the face of the multiple ‘design flaws’ that exist in human beings. Your statement assumes that, if a creator exists, he would be infallible. That is the Christian belief. I submit to you that, if this being exist, it might not be infallible and may have had to keep redoing it until it got it right, or it simply set up evolution with something a bit better than chance. This could explain why we ended up with everything we needed simultaneously.