My Next Book: The Outsider Test for Faith

Hey, why not? I'll start work on it before too long. I have plenty of material. I'll combine into one book everything I've written about it. I would tell how I first came up with it, why it is objective and fair, why it's needed, who should take it and what it requires of people. I'll also provide some examples of how Christian apologists critique the religions they reject. Then I'll decisively answer every objection to it in some detail, and end the book showing what it does to the Christian faith. While I'd like to have it titled: The Outsider Test for Faith, and I may do so, I was wondering if there is a more catchy title that would better tell the reader what the book is about. Any suggestions?

51 comments:

EssEff said...

How about "The Martian Test for Faith" i.e., if a Martian landed on Earth & their culture had no concept of a god let alone whether there is one, how would they view human religions?

Lee Eddy said...

Here's a few different title possibilities, depending on the approach you want:

"Would You Believe If...?" (You can flesh this out in a subtitle and probably should, given the specific nature of the book)

"Does Your Faith Pass the Outsider Test?"

"Why Billions Don't Believe In Your God"

A few to think about anyways. Thanks for your work, John.


Lee

John W. Loftus said...

Yeah, I'm thinking of illustrating it with aliens, with judges who recuse themselves in court cases and even John Rawls's veil of ignorance.

If someone wants to be objective and fair with their own culturally inherited faith then there is no better way. Hey, after all, that's how every other religious person treats the faiths of those they reject.

=^skeptic cat^= said...

That sounds like a great idea! Of course I would buy it but you've already sold me.

All the objections I have seen to the OTF have amounted to conflating looking at one's own religious beliefs outside of its' cultural context with the error of evaluating another's beliefs in that way.

The problem with the latter, of course, is that it may lead to grotesque misunderstanding of certain doctrines, et..al. For instance, Buddhism strikes many as nearly incomprehensible because to understand it requires a cultural understanding of the East and of certain concepts unknown in the west.

My point being, it should actually be easier to evaluate one's own beliefs using the OTF than it is to evaluate the beliefs of others.

John W. Loftus said...

Thanks Lee! I like #2 and 3#. We'll see.

Chuck O'Connor said...

How about "Be honest and Call Yourself on Your Bullshit"

John W. Loftus said...

Ahhhh Chuck. ;-)

Ignerant Phool said...

Oh, Chuck gave me another idea.

Your Religion Is No Better Than The Other.

Fernando Aguilar said...

"Judge your own religion like you judge others" (subtitle could be: Why Christianity does not pass the Outsider Test)

I think that would be memorable; most people know about the golden rule, and agree with it, at least in principle.

Eric said...

John, how about something like, "Why Christians don't Believe in Zeus: The Outsider Test for Faith"?

Eric said...

Actually, maybe "Why Christians don't believe in Zeus: An Introduction to the Outsider Test for Faith" is better.

Eric said...

Or maybe,

Why Christians Don't Believe in Zeus (and Shouldn't Believe in God): An Introduction to the Outsider Test for Faith

John C-W said...

I gave Christianity the OTF before I read the term here. Of course, it failed.

I think it should be a title that would encourage religious people to read it.

Eric said...

if I keep going, I'll have the text of the whole book in the title alone... ;)

Louis said...

"Weak at the Knees: How Christianity Fails the Outsider Test"

Sort of a double meaning here. I know how John likes the phrase, "on your mama's knees" as in the religion we all learn on our mamas' knees.

Gandolf said...

Eeeny Meany Miny Mo - Modern Guide to Faith

EssEff said...

How about: "Do you see what I see?"

Natalie said...

Fernando, I like your ideas. Because of the general acceptance of the golden rule, I think it would make a marvelous stepping stone. I mean, what kind of person would be unwilling to exercise the golden rule, right? {wink}

So how about this, John. "Religion's Golden Rule: Judging Your Own Religion as You Judge Another's". The back of the book jacket could ask, "Could your religion pass an outsider test?" (Bait potential readers via the humility of a question.) Include a quote from someone who references the Outsider Test for Faith by name.

Glad you're writing this.

GearHedEd said...

How about

"Blasphemy is a Victimless Crime"?

DM said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Qohelet said...

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. - 1 Thess 5:21

You might be able to make that into a book title. :)

GearHedEd said...

You'll have to serve as God's proxy, DM, because God doesn't exist.

GearHedEd said...

Careful, DM, you're taking the lord's name in vain...

Romans 12:19

Luke said...

I've always liked (and used) the Martian analogy, but I think 'The Outsider Test for Faith' is best.

Ian Andreas Miller said...

I was thinking "Dubita Te Ipsum," "Doubt Thyself."

Lee said...

Playing off Descartes, "I think, therefore I don't believe".

Lynn said...

How about "Your Faith: True? Or Just Familiar?"

Lynn said...

It's funny-DM has gone from creepy to predictable and boring!

Joe Staub said...

John, what is your motive in doing this? Is it a positive or negative motive? Destroy Christianity? Save people from Christianity? Just curious about what is in your heart?

Joe

Tristan D. Vick said...

For what it's worth I suggest:

"From the Outside: The Outsiders Test for Faith Revisited."

John W. Loftus said...

Joe, one way to take the OTF is to take the DC Challenge. Come on now, what do you have to lose?

John C-W said...

@joe

I'm not longer a christian, but I don't want to destroy it or rip it away from others. Many of my good friends [and my wife] are still Christians.

I do hope that those who are ready, would consider the OTF. If they take it seriously, they will become atheist/agnostic or they will become very liberal Christians [borg/spong/crossan].

I suppose some will "pass" the test and "strengthen" their faith. Even these will have begun to think about it in a different way.

I'm not sure if i have pure motives....it's probably a mixture. I do know I would like to recommend this book to all of my religious friends and I know the ones who need it most won't touch it if the title is aggressive.

Alexis said...

Hey John, Have you thought about writing a book discussing the atonement doctrine.

Toby said...

Joe,

I think you may be asking the wrong question. If you examine anyone, you will find both good and bad. Those who are more similar to you, you will recognize their good more readily. While John's motivations do matter, his motivations should be considered separately from the truth or goodness or his words or deeds. For example, if a bad person does a good thing, does it change the fundamental nature of that good thing? No, it is a good thing still, just as John's outsider test of faith should be judged on the merits of the test, not his motivation.

I think you should take the Outsider Test of Faith and tell us all about. However, it is a lot of work and may not interest you. Let us know!

John C-W said...

oops I thought Joe was talking to me - damn common name

Chuck O'Connor said...

You could also entitle it "Boobquake".

Toby said...

"Boobquake" I got a good chuckle out of that one!

Maybe DM would write an endorsement for you! Afterall, he is a prolific author in his own right.

Gandolf said...

One Faith Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest-Faith Revisited Mk101

Gandolf said...

Maybe somebody could create a new party game an name it

< Faith-Twister >

It could sort of be remodled around this game http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twister_(game)

And folks could all simply try and see if maybe they can twist and contort themselves enough, to fit into all different types of faiths.

Rob R said...

John, you know, it's not your outsider's perspective that makes your work worth taking seriously, more seriously than so many of thetheologically and philosophically inept new atheists.

It's that you had a well informed insider's perspective (granted well informed from one set of an evangelical way of doing things).

goprairie said...

If I were Christian, this 'test' failure would not bother me. Here's why: I would simply claim that God was something we are incapable of comprehending. So we make models of God in our religions and each of us gets something right and somethings wrong. But since no human can fully comprehend and get it right, we may as well just worship and pray via one that is acceptable to us. And liking the culture may be a reasonalbe means of chosing which 'wrong' version to use in order to do the praying and worshipping.
Let's talk about house cleaning for a minute to understand this concept in a different context. We have vacuums that have bags that you take out and throw away with your dust and that is wasteful and sends it all to the landfill and we have vacuum cleanera that have no bags and just put it into a bin, you can dump it into your compost bin or a garbage can but it is messy and you run the risk of dumping it accidentally onto your floor when you go to empty it. So there is no perfect weay to remove dust but we choose one that is good enough. Using an imperfect way is better than letting it build up.
Or let's talk learning chemistry. We had that old model of the rings of electrons and we said that each layer 'wanted' to have a certain number and that is why bonds happened because one electron complemented the gaps in the other or something like that and it isn't exactly how things really are but we can't really comprehend how they really work, so it is a workable useful model to help us understand more than we did before, even if we understand it a bit 'wrong'.
So given there is a God and we want to worship him/her out of thankfulness and that we believe hs/she might have some power to direct the universe, we want to meditatively mindfully ask for things, i.e. pray, then any number of versions of that is acceptable, so we go with the one we grew up with or one where we like the people or the architecture or the music. If I beleived in God, it would be okay with me that my version of worship and prayer was no more perfect than all the others.
So I think the issue of whether the God cocnept is viable and self-contradictory is more the issue than OTF.

Alan said...

The event that started me on my loss of Catholic faith was an exercise similar to the Outsider Test of Faith. In a small group at a church camp in high school, my group had to explain the entire Catholic mass to the instructor who was posing as an alien from another planet. This "alien" was to have just arrived to Earth, and was curious about what this service was all about. Needless to say, having to explain it this way made me realize that so much didn't make sense, at least for a good reason. The kicker was explaining that I though the bread and wine was actually being turned into blood and flesh. I cannot wait for this book now!

Joe Staub said...

Why are you guys being so pompus toward me about my request? All I asked for, in what I thought was a respectful request, was John, what is your motive for doing this? What is your internal drive? What's is it that you are trying to accomplish? What motivates you? Is it a desire to destroy Christianity? To save people from there stupidity, or mental disorder? Are you on a mission? What ever you want to call it. I'm not asking if it's right or wrong to be a Christian or an atheist. It's a person question.

Also, I did take the OTF over a year ago. John forgot. I interacted with him a few times about it. This is a sincere and respectful request.

Joe

John W. Loftus said...

Joe Staub, my motivations are varied just like everyone else.

But to see what they are, follow this link and read the posts under the heading, "What Motivates Us to Debunk Christianity?"

Cheers.

Toby said...

@Joe,

Your comment, "Why are you guys being so pompus with me?" brought a smile and a chuckle. I have absolutely no idea what comment made you feel the way you do. I actually thought your question prompted some nice discussion! But then again, I'm a pompous ass!

Joe Staub said...

Thanks John. I didn't know you had such a post on motives. I do appreciate this, because motives do matter to me. Why people do what they do is intriguing and facinating! Obviously, an intelligent man like yourself could be doing any number of influential things with your life, so there are motives that compel you to do this particular thing.

Peace,

Joe

Kev said...

John,

I think it would be best to call it "The Outsider Test For Faith". I think that is the most descriptive, and I think that because you are popularizing this test I think it would be good to call it that. It really is descriptive and it'd be an excellent name for a book.

Lynn said...

Alan,

I really like the idea of having to explain your faith to someone who would be totally unfamilair with it. It does help you see how absurd some of the stuff is.

I remember thinking this very thing when I was considering inviting my neighbor to come to a small group meeting at church. I thought she would like the people cause they were very nice and friendly, but I thought she would find silly some of the things we seemed to truly believe. She is well-educated and level-headed.

Anyway, I really like that exercise you mentioned and wish we could get lots of Christians to perform it. It could open their eyes. They would have no familiarity with all our little phrases and what they mean. We'd have to explain in detail. The silliness or unliklihood would show forth.

I think those from other faiths could also get somewhat embarrassed if they had to explain the beliefs in their own faith to an outsider.

So I guess John is wanting the Christian to ask the questions of Christianity, where maybe he should have them instead write out their faith to present to a class of foreigners. Wait, I guess many Christians do this when they are witnessing. That act must get some of them thinking?

Chuck O'Connor said...

I find the dissent Rob offers via Common Sense Atheism that the New Atheists philosophical and theological chops are inept to be a weak contention.

Most believers do not depend on sophisticated theological or philosophical arguments to assert their oppositions to science (e.g. Intelligent Design advocates and evolution deniers) or civil rights (e.g. gay rights opponents). The work of the New Atheists simply offer more intelligent means of decision making contra-religion and they are working in the long tradition of cultural intellectual practice NOT theology or philosophy.

Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig (and their fan boys like Rob R) can be secure that their arguments for Christianity are solid within the academy of theology and philosophy relative to the work of the New Atheists but, I'd guess that most practicing Christians don't know what their arguments or who the men are.

Recent polling data indicates an uptick in declared atheism and I would venture it strongly correlates to public intellectuals like Harris, Hitchens, Stenger, Loftus, Dennett, and Dawkins speaking intelligently in a publicly digestable way.

Rob R, you yourself have admitted an evolved Christianity based on some of the same contentions these men argue which, you also admit, is considered unorthodox to some of your fellow church goers.

I'd say your intellectual curiosity and willingness to mutate your theology (open theism) in line with current ethics and morality is similar to the call for a way of knowing that does not elevate the bible as our best repository of knowledge (a central claim of many of the new atheists).

Emory said...

Maybe you could work this into a subtitle:

"Who TOLD you the grass wasn't greener on the other side? A refutation of anyone's claim that their's is the one true religion."

Also, John, could you manage to write this new book at a high school level instead of college level? It think it would reach more people.

Thanks for all that you do.

Dakota said...

I would like to be a Christian that can offer counter-arguments. I would like to hear some of your material, and would be willing to offer respectful and valuable feedback.