This is How it's Done Right: Taking the "Debunking Christianity" Challenge for 2010

It appears that an amateur Catholic apologist has decided to take my Debunking Christianity Challenge. This is how it's done right! Any other takers? I said:
I have a challenge for Christians. It’s a challenge few will take up, but let me offer it anyway, even though many expert Christian apologists have done it without a loss of faith. Other Christian thinkers struggle with their faith because they have done what I'm about to ask Christians to do. Still others....end up rejecting our former faith. Do this. I’ll call this the Debunking Christianity challenge....read up on all of the top Christian apologetics books and then [decide] in fairness to read all of the top skeptical books....Come on…what are you afraid of? If your faith can withstand our arguments then you will be a better informed Christian with a much stronger faith. If your faith cannot withstand our arguments then your faith wasn’t worth having in the first place. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE! Link.
This is what he plans to do. A report of his findings would make it's own publishable book.

28 comments:

Brian_E said...

Nothing by Richard Carrier? I think you should convince him to get one of his books on that list.

Nevertheless, very impressive that he's doing this!

John W. Loftus said...

Well, Richard Carrier has two chapters in The Christian Delusion and three chapters in The Empty Tomb which are on his list. And if you follow his link and scroll down you'll see Carrier's book. I didn't choose his list and don't know how to contact him, but at least he's attempting to do what I asked.

James Pate said...

That looks like an impressive bibliography for both sides.

Micah said...

John,

I'd like to do it. I'm almost finished with my MA in philosophy, I've done a semester's work on an MA in theology, and I think I'd enjoy this challenge.

Quick question: What are the min. number of books that we need to read? Since I work as a minister,am a full-time grad student, and my first child will be born any day now, I don't know if I can commit to reading 100 books in the next year.

What min. number of atheist books (you can choose them if you'd like) would I need to read to complete the challenge?

John W. Loftus said...

Well Micah, if you follow the link where I issue this challenge I suggest ten books. But the point is to read the best on both sides. So if you use my list then choose ten of the best on the other side. Although I would think you have probably already read the ten best books on your side, given that you almost have an MA. Now it's time to read these.

But something like that.

And I think if someone does this and reports on it that this would make for a publishable book.

Cheers.

josef said...

John, you can find Richard Carrier's email address here:

http://www.blogger.com/profile/17577206926510030146

Micah, congratulations for taking up the challenge. Do you plan to publish your experiences as you walk through the challenge? For better or for worse, I guarantee you would have the attention of many atheists if you decided to do so.

And back to you, John, do you any sort of list or Hall of Fame to keep track of people who have completed your challenge?

Eric J.S. said...

We are all rooting for you, whatever your conclusion. I did this kind of thing a couple years ago. I study philosophy in my spared and hoped to major in it when I get in college soon.

Because I only started out as a person who understood God as an aspect that exists "necessarily" based on what I was taught. I thought up by myself, when I was a high school sophmore, things like the first cause argument and the "why something instead of nothing argument". So basically I was a deist because the Bible was not important to my understanding of the world. Reading a lot of beginer guides to philosophy and some more advance works, I learned why I cannot just fill gaps with something supernatural. I still used the supernatural for thought experiments, but they only aided to how I make intellectual choices.

Later, I studied the recession of the Bible (Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman), and it just confirmed with my belief that it was less than perfect--to say the least. I also understood what other many other major religions believe and how they developed. I basically saw religion from an academic point of view, so I was completely able to control what I believed in without bias (thanks to my kind parents).
The reason I think I became a non-believer on my own was because I am naturally a devil's advocate. I try to reduce the arguments for God to what was evident, logical, assumptions, or illogical. When someone presented a line of reasoning to me that was illogical, I found how I could use the same reasoning to create anything I wanted to say. When one assumes a omnipotent, very creative deity, I found that you could show that the universe could have started any time you wished or any physical phenomona may be dirently that deity. On this reason alone, I could not trust any "history" of a deity's works without referring to the infinite possiblities. Because the consistency of sense data (and ergo physical phenomona) I perfer looking for evidenced-based patterns, deriving information from them, and assuming the least possible. This is how people learn spatial depth and other things, but I mean it in the context of science.
Only recently did I run into more arguments for the existence of a deity. SOme have to do with the incomprehesibility of how such a being could come into existence or exist period. Some have to do with its characteristics, but you probably know about those.

I officially gave up religion five months ago even though my family (knowing of my secularism) insist I go to church. They are not pushy or anything, there are just some specific issues with Boy Scouts and stuff like that. I used to call myself a agnostic to my peers, some of whom told me that I was going to Hell,but they tolerate me. Now I openly tell people I am an atheist, which some may think is dangerous in Texas, but people respect me as they respect the people of all different faiths and non-faiths in my school (with small deviation). Currently, I am just meeting more and more atheists and skeptics(there is about one to two in each of my classes of thirty).

If anybody questions how I have any morality or how I live with myself, some of that is just natural, some I get from my vast readings (including Albert Camus's works). I am also submitting posts to Young Freethought (I got published three time there so far). I am currently working on the problems of freewill and multiplicity of being (or polylateral identity).

I know this is a messy post, but I hope it has some constructive value.

Thnk you.

Daniel said...

So what are the top ten best Christian defences of theism? We all know the bad ones, but what are the best but ultimately, to some, unsatisfying titles?

Micah said...

John: Thanks for the speedy response. I've only read parts of the books listed, though I've read academic articles from most of those authors. I've also been exposed to many of the areas discussed.

I look forward to the challenge. I'll read those ten, but I also own several anthologies and books that I'd like to read through.

During my senior year of my undergraduate work, I took a class from James M. Robinson (Editor of english tradition of Nag Hammati texts, editor of Critical Edition of the Q gospel) on the historical jesus. I really enjoyed the readings in that class, though when Dr. Robinson would stray into philosophical topics I don't think he did too well. We had several philosophy professors sit in on the class-both theist and atheist--and they were disappointed with his philosophical forays. Though overall the class was very interesting. I had lunch with him several times, and he is an extremely nice and courteous person--not to mention intelligent.

Anyway, I'd like to read more carefully through the materials he assigned.

I'll keep up with this on my blog. And I might even structure the project so that it can be turned into a book if I so desire at the end.

My blog is The Small Rivers

Would you like me to keep you updated through email, John? I won't barrage your inbox with long emails. I can just let you know the progress I've made in the reading.

Thanks for the challenge. And I enjoy the blog. I think it is the best atheist blog on the net.

Rob R said...

This is a crappy challenge because the so called best books written for Christian apologetics don't necessarily represent the best writings that Christians could read that would demonstrate the virtues and strengths of Christianity.

Focusing on the veracity of belief in God and the claims of the gospel is myopic and short cited. Any conclusion made on the grounds of your typical book on Christian apologetics (your "best books" whatever that means) for the excellence and veracity of the Christian faith is short sighted. This focus also runs the risk of mistaking the great challenge of faith as confronting non-belief and the idea that belief in God is the goal to which we strive and which we must maintain. This is a warped view of Christianity which mistakes Jesus call to believe in him when in the mannerisms of his day, it meant to follow him. In other words, the fulcrum of our faith isn't about reading books and judging between arguments. It's Jesus we're talking about, not Plato! It's about building his Kingdom and growing towards loving God with all our being and our neighbor as ourselves. The intellectual aspect is only one part of that, pervasive, but we can't nor should we all think that every single Christian can do it. The body of Christ is multifacited body. So what if some people excel at doing good works for the needy, imprisoned, sick or what have you and yet never pick up a book written by an atheist nor are they that good at critical thinking to begin with. Someone's gotta do that critical thinking bit, but certainly not everyone. As Paul said, the body has many parts.

As for books missing from the list linked above, I would've added a book like Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand and Lament for a Son by Nicolas Wolterstorff which demonstrates the strength of Christianity and the power of the presence of God for those who persevere.

Also for the Achilles heal of the new atheists, their uncritical embrace of modernism and poor philosophy of Science, I would suggest Nancy Murphy's Beyond Liberalism and Fundamentalism (as well as other writing's of murphy on postmodernism where she makes the case that the relativistic kind of post-modernism (which she does not endorse) is actually the corrupt fruit and outgrowth of modernism (course those are also on my reading list as I know of them and have not yet read them myself)) and Del Ratzch's Science and its Limits.

Of coure one book on NT Wright was there, though Simply Christian was missing which is his general book on apologetics. And his first Volume of his 3 part series is missing which deals with his approach to history and epistemology, though I would look at Mark Allen Powell's over view of the historical Jesus studies to see just how revolutionary a thinker Wright happens to be.

Samphire said...

A good post, Rob.

Except for: "It's about building his Kingdom and growing towards loving God with all our being...

which is a bit difficult for those of us who don't think that he exists.

"...and our neighbor as ourselves."

which does not require 2,000 years of Western theology to accomplish.

John W. Loftus said...

Micah thanks for the compliment about this blog. You seem reasonable too. You can email me if you'd like, yes. Why don't you write your reflections on your blog or start one just for this purpose? If you do this after reading each book you'll have something to work from if you wanted to turn it into a book. And no matter what you conclude I'll write the Foreword for if you want me to.

Cheers.

Lynn said...

I think this is the coolest thing! Can't wait to hear the results, no matter what they are.

Oh, and a detailed plan for reading, with time limits, is exactly what I did for my New Year's Resolution. It's working very well.

John W. Loftus said...

Ha! I just noticed at that amateur Catholic apologist's site that he has a "Current Faith-O-Meter," which presently reads +20 on a scale of +20. I like that. We can watch as this changes, if it does.

Rob R said...

which is a bit difficult for those of us who don't think that he exists.

Those would not be the Christians whom John is challenging.

which does not require 2,000 years of Western theology to accomplish.

That's fine. theology is not what builds the kingdom of God though it is an important tool. However, with a dedication of working through the lives of free persons and communities (the best way to restore creatures who's brokenness is fundamentally on a personal/relational level), who retain that freedom through unfathomable personal developement along the way, who's to say how long that ought to take?

Russ said...


This is a crappy challenge because the so called best books written for Christian apologetics don't necessarily represent the best writings that Christians could read that would demonstrate the virtues and strengths of Christianity.

This is wrong in a couple of obvious ways.

For one, this is actually a very good challenge. Most of those calling themselves Christians here in the US care so little for their supposed faith that they never - read that as NOT EVER - open a Bible. Only about 1 percent of those so-called Christians feel compelled to occasionally open their holy book. It's only around 5% for active clergy. This comes from studies at the Princeton Theological Seminary.

What people value is reflected in their behavior. They do not value the Bible. They're socially pressured into saying they do, but they don't. Christians love American Dad and The Simpsons more than their Bibles. Christians love video games and hip hop music more than their Bibles. Christians love violent movies and internet porn more than their Bibles.

The Bible is not even necessary for Christian clergy. Now, there are web sites with canned sermons on them for clergymen to borrow from or plagiarize.

I have an uncle, now retired Christian clergy, who says that after a while, the Bible became a stage prop. When personal computers became widely available, he put all the sermons he ever preached in a database. In the mid-90's I showed him how to run queries on the database. Seeing that he could easily sort and search the data, he extracted all the Biblical passages he had ever used. What he discovered really surprised him. In forty years of ministry, 240 verses accounted for more than 95 percent of his Bible citations. He'd spent forty years repeating himself. It was his own observation that the remainder of the Bible seemed to be irrelevant.

The quote above also errors when it refers to "the virtues and strengths of Christianity." Anything one considers a virtue or strength of any of the Christianities will be something it shares with the rest of humanity. Anything one considers a virtue or strength of any of the Christianities will be something shown to be a human virtue or strength long before the myths, legends, and fables of the Bible were inherited from others of the same and jotted down. That those defending the Christianities assert human virtues and strengths to be caused by their Christian-specific beliefs does not make it true; that is, in fact one of the many lies Christians repeat to each other. That we observe these same virtues and strengths throughout the human community - 85 percent of which is not afflicted with some Christianity - tells us undoubtedly that such virtues and strengths derive from something much greater than the self-centeredness of the Christianities. They are part of our evolved human character.

Love is a virtue more common to mankind than it is to what's written in the Bible, and love is a virtue more common to mankind than it is to the Christianities.

Christians have a comically rosy self-assessment which is contradicted by real world data. Their words simply do not square with what is observed. As such no one should believe any of their supernatural mumbo jumbo.

Russ said...

The damaging nature of Christian thought is apparent if we listen to their own words and compare them to what non-Christians say in concerning the same situations. Christians send missionaries to Africa and claim that the missionary wouldn't do the humanitiarian work if they weren't Christian. Atheists do the same work because the recipients of such aid are people in need. Those we help are our brothers and sisters who are worthy to receive help on that basis alone. Our innate human compassion is enough to motivate us to act. We don't need hocus pocus inducements of otherworldly eternal rewards, and the thriving of our fellow man is reward enough.

In fact, we find it morally repugnant to assert the causes and motivations that Christians do. Pat Robertson, bearer of insights from his version of a Christian god, tells us he knows why his Christian god brought disaster to the Haitian people: they sold their soul to the devil. Useful, huh? Sort of like astrology. Really? Funny that a god told that to Pat Robertson, but not the Pope. Christian aid workers go to a place awash in starving and dying people, like the slums of Calcutta, and tell these already desperate people that they have inherited the imaginary obligation for imaginary crimes commited in an imaginary place by imaginary people. Those Christians call this obligation, Original Sin, and they claim that only they have the antidote for this poison. Suffering people need a clear sense of how the world really works, not some gobbledygook like human sacrifice or eternal torment that even Christians themselves don't and will never agree on. This is vulgar. This is cruel. But, that's Christianity.

Provide for them completely naturalistically - feed them, clothe them, and help them reestablish their sense of wellness and community - and their bodies, hearts, and minds will flourish; and, their 100 percent supernatural-free spirits will be lifted.

Rob R said...

Hi Russ,

good to see your reading my posts. I can't say the same for yours.

Rob R said...

Alright, I read it. As always, much that is worth discussing, perhaps food for thought, and nevertheless not really a response to what I actually said.

Russ said...

Rob R,
John Loftus threw down the gauntlet and this person took it up in dramatic fashion. You denigrate it as a "crappy challenge." Why do you do this? Of course! He's not going to read the books you would have read. How utterly stupid and uninformed of him? How dare he not consult you to get the unassailably correct book list! Did you fail to notice that his web page is hosted on a site titled "Evangelical Catholic Apologetics"?

Despite your strident admonitions he chose as well as one could be expected to given that no two people calling themselves Christians view Christianity the same way. Being Catholic he's likely not even reading the same Bible you read. In fact, he may not read it at all. Many Catholics chuck the entire OT, except of course for hating homosexuals and original sin. Without a doubt, given your doctrinal differences each of you is heaven-bound by your own lights, and each of you has reserved a ticket for the other on the bus to hell. You do not accept each other's dogma, so his choice for apologetics will be different than yours. Get it through your thick skull: you do not represent all things Christian and to suggest that you do is intellectually dishonest. You do not even speak for a large fraction of Christians.

You are a Douglas Adams puddle. You see everything from your perspective only. You are at the center of all that is. And, you see all of the universe as fitting you perfectly, just like Adams' puddle. You fail to account for the egocentric and self-serving mental ductility you tap into to maintain the vision you have of you as the center of the universe and your surroundings made to fit you perfectly.

You have this all completely backwards. As much as you fetishize the notion, you're not center of some divinely created universe tailored to fit you perfectly. I'm sure your egocentrism results directly from your religion. "It's all about you," they've told you since childhood. "There's a god who created the universe with you at the center," they tell you yet. Sure you'll dispute it, just to dispute it, but that won't change the fact that that is what your words keep saying.

Unequivocally, humans evolved: first to better suit their environment, including terrain, flora and fauna. Then, they evolved further to where they could adapt their surroundings to fit themselves. This is not 1800. Mankind's understanding has moved beyond Paley's design inferences. We know that evolution creatively conforms populations of organisms to their environments, and that we humans are one of those populations so conformed.

Having your head down and your eyes closed has certainly caused you to loose sight of the world around you. It is a statement of fact that your religious views as you relate them here at DC are out of touch with Americans, out of touch with other Christians, out of touch with mankind as a whole, and you're certainly out of touch with the vast store of reliable information, called science, that mankind has built up.

You always seem willing to ignore, deny, or throw out real world data and engage others on theological esoterics. This alone tells us that neither you nor the version of Christian god you put your faith in care about those living in the real world where we cannot know each and every member of our often huge societies. Statistics reflect a sincere effort to grasp the needs of the populace, and to permit us to evaluate our effectiveness. The numbers don't speak well for Christianity, but that does not mean there's an anti-Christian conspiracy involving all statisticians.

Russ said...

Do I think you're a bad person? I don't know. I lack sufficient information about you to conclude much about you. But, I have the things you've said here as reference points, and they do offer some insights. Your staunch defense of an undifferentiated "Christianity" makes it seem that you are defending all of today's ongoing Christian-specific atrocities. Then too, when you defend "religion" as a whole you make yourself seem even more unsavory. You might be a very nice person, but throwing in with all things "Christian" or all things "religious" leaves the rest of us no way to distinguish you from a child rapist, a witch killer, or a suicide bomber. Lots of detail would help us to sort these things out, but the words "Christian" and "religion" are far too nebulous to provide us such distinctions. If you're a good person, you neither need nor deserve "Christian" or "religious" as a labels.

As I continue I'll be citing some statistics. I know your first impulse will be to reject this serious work done by honorable scholars using any justification you can, but I urge to thoughtfully consider this work since it really does reflect the attitudes, feelings, thinking, values, wants, needs and desires of those inhabiting this world. It's true that the numbers cannot provide us a flawless image of any particular human concern. However, these data are the best we have for learning the tendencies of populations en masse. This kind of data is used by public policy makers and the general public alike. We often hear the religious spouting statistics to support their point of views on gay marriage, health care, global warming, condom use, and abortion. Why do they use them so freely? Because they accept the data as compelling and expect it to compel others to understand their point of view. I use statistics because it paints a much clearer picture of the world and its peoples than do anecdotes, faith, religion, hearsay, myth, or wishful thinking.

Pat Robertson uses statistics when he says we've killed over 40 million unborn babies in America. Sounds impressive until you understand that, verifiably, of all the human zygotes that have ever been formed, most of them have gone out of this world in menstrual flow. In the past few decades humans have performed abortions, but your god has been dumping fertilized human eggs down the toilet for all of the 200,000 years of human history. Science shows us that your god doesn't give a shit about the unborn, and, apparently never has.

In your response to me you said I hadn't addressed what you actually said when in reality I did. You stated your thesis about the best writings that would demonstrate the virtues and strengths of Christianity, and I responded by showing your thesis to be wrong. Should I have continued? Should I have pointed out your internal contradictions. For instance, "Focusing on the veracity of belief in God and the claims of the gospel is myopic and short cited" contradicts "It's Jesus we're talking about"? Of course, you put on lots of apologetics gravy, but it still contradicts itself. Your thesis did not hold and so the rest failed along with it.

Moreover, pointing out how Christians don't read their Bible supports my refutation of your thesis. Americans in general are reading less and less. Some interesting numbers in that regard:

1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.
80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
57 percent of new books are not read to completion.
(Source: Jerold Jenkins, www.JenkinsGroupInc.com)

Russ said...

Americans don't do much reading and those who do don't read the Bible or religiously related material. Americans read more of psychic Sylvia Brown and New Agey Deepak Chopra than they do Christian-themed books. Americans embrace all kinds of superstitions, not just religious superstitions. They spend far more time watching TV shows about mediums, psychics, and non-religious supernatural entities than they spend in all their religious activities. They read astrology columns far more faithfully than they engage Christianity. To ignore, deny, or reject this is to be out of touch with what's called Christianity in America. From the website

[http://www.theologicalstudies.org/page/page/1572910.htm],

we see that of those who do bother to read their Bibles,

According to the Barna Research Group, those who read the Bible regularly spend about 52 minutes a week in the scriptures. (Barna, "The Bible," 1997.

It's even less now in 2009. Those who do care about it, don't care much.


Each day in the U.S., people spend 4 hours watching TV, 3 hours listening to the radio and 14 minutes reading magazines.
(Source: Veronis, Suhler & Associates investment banker)

American Christians intentionally give many things far greater priority than they give their religion. More to the point, that they don't read much of anything also means they do not read books on Christian apologetics. Those books you cited are not headlining the best-seller lists. In fact, some have sold only a few thousand copies to the 270 million American Christians. As much as they lie to the contrary, Americans do not care about Christianity.

Here's a link to a wonderful article that underscores the lack of concern Americans have for Christianity. [http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/06/18/america-s-real-literacy-crisis-it-s-the-bible-stupid/]

Please read it and think it through. The numbers cited in it are supported independently elsewhere.

12 percent of Americans believe Noah's wife was Joan of Arc.

Only 50 percent can name even one gospel.

Only 37 percent could name all four.

Most do not know that someone named Jesus delivered the sermon on the mount.

More than half do not know that the first book in the Bible is Genesis.

Christians are so poor at articulating a clear message that half of high school seniors in one survey thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were married, and a 2000 survey showed 60 percent of evangelicals thought Jesus was born in Jerusalem instead of Bethlehem. "Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem" seems never to have sunk in.

Think about this when you fall into using the word "Christian." Is this your Christianity? Can you name the four gospels? Most other American Christians can't.

On this site, [http://www.centerforbibleengagement.org/index.php?Itemid=7&id=23&option=com_content&task=view]

we read,

The Christian community in the United States is in a major crisis and for the most part is unaware. Our research indicates that if current trends of Biblical disengagement among youth and men, especially, continue, within the next 30 years the Bible will be a “thing of the past” for most people who claim to be Christ-followers.

and

Most Christ-followers do not engage (read or hear) from God (the Bible) on a daily basis because it simply is not important to them-thus, establishing a habit of Bible reading is not (statistically) a probability using current methodologies.

Wow! Statistics and probabilities!

Your fellow American Christians don't read much at all, and, again, that includes Bibles and books on Christian apologetics. Your fellow American Christians don't look at Christianity the same way you do and they do not care about Christianity the way you appear to. So, it is intellectually dishonest to contend that you speak for them.

Russ said...

The numbers also provide insights when we look at the site Religious Tolerance,

[http://www.religioustolerance.org/rel_rate.htm]

The article at this link is "How many North Americans attend religious services (and how many lie about going)?"

As the article points out, Christians lie a lot when it comes to their religious practices. The polling data says 40 percent go to church, but actual counts show only about half that attend church services. Barna showed that while 17% say they tithe, only about 3% actually do. If they lie about church attendance, and they lie about how much they give to their churches, we certainly have good reasons to question their self-assessments in other areas.

Looking at the rest of the world, we see many cultures that have no religion and many that have had it and subsequently rejected it. Your religious views offer these people, these cultures, nothing. The Amazonian Piraha and the Tanzanian Hadza people have no religion and no gods. They are completely self-reliant and need nothing at all from modern civilization, especially Christianity.

Telling these people they are inherently afflicted with original sin by your religion due to errors by others in ancient times does no one any good. Their languages don't have words for times too far past or future. They remain unimpressed by human sacrifice since it's such a stupid thing for a father to do. Here's a link to a lecture about one man's experience with the Piraha,

[http://fora.tv/2009/03/20/Daniel_Everett_Endangered_Languages_and_Lost_Knowledge]

It's called, "Daniel Everett: Endangered Languages and Lost Knowledge." He also authored a book called, "Don't Sleep: There Are Snakes."

For cultures like the Scandanavian ones, neither they nor those their generosity and compassion aids stand to gain from Christianity's yarns and tall tales. Read the United Nations Human Development Reports. They're online. You can discount them all you like, but the numbers should put anyone back on their heels who thinks that Christianity is a panacea - it's not, or that Christianity makes people better than their fellow man - it doesn't. That's only a Christian delusion.

Christians, including clergy, are provably liars. Christians lie about science. Christians lie about the natural world. Christians lie about answered prayers. Christians lie about their own church attendance. Christians lie about their giving to their own church. Christians lie about miracles. Christians lie about atheists and other non-Christians. Christians lie to the poor and destitute. Simply put, Christians lie, and, so should not be trusted.

Today's fast reacting information systems promise a well-spring of troubles for Christianity. Any group or person unable to demonstrate that their claims lead to observable benefit for mankind will be held to account by observers. Those same information systems will fell the protective barriers behind which the absurd and profoundly stupid like Pat Robertson, and the profane and vulgar like the current pope and his legion of rapists find safe haven.

Russ said...

Christians started their reign of terror in the year one. Historical contingencies gave Christians essentially absolute political power in the West for more than a thousand years and the resulting human suffering was manifold. Science emerged in the 1600's and Christianity used its iron fist to subdue and control it and claim its fruits as its own. Then, in North America in the late 1700's the United States was forged as a secular nation, with no mention of supernatural bullshit like God in its Constitution. Finally, there was a place that a man's mind was less encumbered by the bonds of religious lunacy, but people were still subject to the unverifiable nature of religious claims about the natural world, and still under its spell of power and authority. Now, in the twenty-first century with somewhat mature information systems, the flaws and failings of religion fall under the light of empirical data. Where once mankind lived under threat of death for simply asking questions Christianity couldn't answer, man now, at least in modern secular societies, has the capacity to assess the validity of what the religious say without fear of torture or execution.

If you give any of this material a moments thought I hope you understand that while you say you build your life around Christianity and you take the theology your sect has worked out very seriously, most US Christians are more drive-through Christians, the quick-in, quick-out sort. Most don't read the Bible, apologetics, or anything else. Most don't go to church. Most would have no capacity to explain what their preferred sect means by Christian. So, I hope you see that you do not represent all, most, or even many Christians. You represent you only and you would do well to make that distinction clear to keep yourself from being lumped in with the Christians who institutionally sanction child rapists or the Christians who torture and murder their own children as witches.

John's DC Challenge is a wonderful challenge and anyone who takes it and takes it seriously will be rewarded for their efforts. They might not lose their faith, but they will have gained a lot of insight.

Peace.

Rob R said...

Thanks for the effort Russ, but I've discussed things with you before and I know there is no fruit in it.

Skimming it, I see that once again, you seem to think all topics lead to something like witch burnings which of course could be swapped for anything else of irrelevence that you are likely to bring such as religious wars, inquisitions, Westboro Baptists etc.

So let me tell you something Russ. The human brain weighs eight pounds.

Russ said...

Rob R,
You declared,

So let me tell you something Russ. The human brain weighs eight pounds.

Wow! Wesleyan Christian facts! Again, you assert as fact things you know nothing about. Google "weight human brain." You'll find you're high by a factor of almost three.

You said,

I've discussed things with you before and I know there is no fruit in it.

Discussion is predicated on the existence of common ground. Your religious views remove such common ground.

Common ground can't exist when you absurdly assert yourself using the word "Christian" when you don't even share a small patch of common ground with other Christians. Your discussions might seem to move right along with others of the Christian ilk, but realize that you're not actually resolving anything related to the place people live - reality. Simplifying assumptions can certainly clarify philosophical interlocution, but when your simplification is that of eschewing reality in favor of theology, you can have a rip roaring good time, but you've abandoned the only common ground you have with the rest of humanity.

Your insistence that all that is good in mankind derives from your version of a Christian god is observably false. So, there too we lack common ground since I'm not interested in discussions revolving around the denial of what is universally observed. Human goodness preceded formal religions and holy books by many millenia so we know that Christianity is not a cause of human goodness. Man's virtues and strengths are man's, not religion's, not Christianity's. All those places we look today where Christianity is absent, we still see the same human goodness. Why? Human goodness in no way depends on the teachings or assumptions of the Christianities.

In the above paragraph I mentioned, "the denial of what is universally observed" which I expect you would want to seize on to assert, "Religion is universally observed!" Actually, no, it's not. It makes the religious feel they're onto some fundamental truth, but it's not true. There are around 7000 languages today, about half of which are written. More than half of those remaining 3500 languages are spoken in societies having no religion. None. Some of the remaining 1700 or so have religions that were imposed on them like Christianity(lots of Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists), Islam, and Hindu. In some of those Christianities, Jesus is a snake or a mountain or a tiger, not a deity's sacrificed son. Some of that same 1700 now have religions, like cargo cults, resulting from the collision of modern man with an unadvanced society. While you might like to make everyone in your own religious image, religion is not a human universal. Not by a longshot.

Russ said...

When you say "I know there is no fruit in it" I have to say I agree. The fruit I wish to bring to the world is peace. You wish to impose religion on people while you assert a superstitious mantra like "No Jesus; no peace. Know Jesus; know peace." Jesus and Christianity do not bring peace. Assert all you like because that's all you've got. Asserting does not make true. Assert eight pound human brain? Wrong! Sign slogans and soundbites might be cute and memorable, but they do not make it true.

You tell us that the Christianities, their Jesuses, and their Gods cause people to be more moral, more caring, but I don't see it. For instance, you said,

Skimming it, I see that once again, you seem to think all topics lead to something like witch burnings which of course could be swapped for anything else of irrelevence that you are likely to bring such as religious wars, inquisitions, Westboro Baptists etc.

That you would say, no doubt guided by your mighty Christian morals, that your fellow Christians killing their own children as witches - a Christian teaching ... can't suffer a witch to live, don'tcha know - is an irrelevancy tells me still more about you, and the beloved version of Christianity you practice.

Rob R said...

When you say "I know there is no fruit in it" I have to say I agree. The fruit I wish to bring to the world is peace. You wish to impose religion on people while you assert a superstitious mantra


So do you not like john Loftus that you have so little regard for his topics?