Warning! Warning! A Bit of Self-Promotion Ahead; Or, Why Oh Why Do Ignorant People Bother to Speak?

We're all ignorant about some things, I know. All of us. And if we're ignorant we will speak ignorantly. I've done my share of that too. But here's the deal. People who have never read my book Why I Became An Atheist, seem to come out of the woodwork to poo poo it whenever it's included on a list of recommended atheist books with the deservedly famous New Atheists, as if that's not saying much. While I am indeed happy to be on these lists, this poo pooing happens almost every single time. One such person, who thinks these other New Atheist books are "terrible," argued that
Books like "Arguing about Gods" by Graham Oppy, and "Logic and Theism" by J.H. Sobel are light years ahead of Dawkins et al. Being put on a list with them would be something to be proud of.
Okay, then take a good look at this list of the best atheist books of the decade. I think the reason my magnum opus tops several lists of popular AND scholarly atheist books is because it's both scholarly and also understandable to the intelligent general reader. That was my goal. But your opinion of it is the only one that counts. Carry on. Sorry for this interruption of your regularly scheduled show.


Brad said...

"But here's the deal. People who have never read my book Why I Became An Atheist, seem to come out of the woodwork to poo poo it whenever it's included on a list of recommended atheist books with the deservedly famous New Atheists..."

John your so-called de-conversion story isn't unique. Your arguments are just a slightly different seasoning of the same old, same old that have been tried and have failed for centuries.

So why should the average Christian apologist pick up your book when he already has several of these "famous New Atheist" works sitting on his shelf collecting dust? And why fault people for refusing to watch the same movie twice?

John W. Loftus said...

You goad me Brad, but I ain't taking the bait. As I said, the only opinion that matters is yours.

Nocterro said...

"People who have never read my book Why I Became An Atheist, seem to come out of the woodwork to poo poo it..."

I wasn't "poo poo"ing your book. Here's a part of my comment again:

"Although I have not read your book, I have read all of the other books on this list - and quite frankly, they're terrible.

I don't think you should be happy that you're on such a list, as these other books might make you look bad by association."

I was not saying anything at all about the quality of your book. I have not read it. For all I know, it's the best book ever written. I was merely commenting on its inclusion on such a list.

I also said:
"Being put on a list with them (Oppy and Sobel) would be something to be proud of."

And I stand by that. You should be proud that your book was included on the list at common sense atheism. This means that someone who knows what quality atheist books look like saw fit to include your book.

But, I also stand by my previous comment - the list which includes Dawkins is not something to be proud of. If someone happens to stumble upon such a list, he might think, "hmm...the person who made this list seems to have poor taste in atheist literature. I've never heard of John Loftus, but if he's on par with Dawkins, he can't be that good. I'll read something else instead."

John W. Loftus said...

Nocterro, I understand what you said, and I linked to it. What you need to understand is that when it comes to book recommendations I'll take all of them I can get. You would too. What are the alternatives, to get no recommendations at all? Or only be happy when people place my book in a list of Oppy's and Sobel's (which won't happen to most atheist books and doesn't happen much at all with my own)?

Remember my book is topping the lists which include the bestselling atheist books of all time! That means a lot of people have heard of these books and bought them. And a lot of people think they are great books too. That means there are a lot of readers who will subsequently be interested in reading my book. That's good enough for any book, don't you think? Or, is it the case that when you look at a half-filled glass of water you throw it away because it's not full?

So what if at that point it turns a smaller group of people off about my book? Why should I care even if I never got any better recommendations than the ones that compare my book to the so-called New Atheists. Why should I care? At least I'm getting recommendations.

Sorry to pick on you though. I'm using what you wrote to do a bit of self-promotion and that's about all there is to this. Thanks for being the foil.


Nocterro said...

@John Loftus:

Would you be happy if you found your book on a list like this-

1) Why I became an atheist
2) Green Eggs and ham
3) Refuting Evolution
4) the truth about 9/11, aliens, and the moon landing
5) Everybody Poops

Maybe you would be. I wouldn't, though. In your situation, I would have probably posted a comment on the list in question, disassociating my work from the poor material that is the rest of the list.

As for the "self-promotion" thing, well, you could have done that just as well without calling me ignorant :)

Side note: could you just block the IP of this "DM" troll? Or does he keep going through proxies?

John W. Loftus said...

Nocterro, but I said I am sometimes ignorant too! And *ahem* you admitted you were ignorant about my book since you commented without reading it.

In any case, the so-called New Atheist books and mine are all in the same genre of works aimed at the intelligent readers, which is different than the list you compiled. But if the books in your compiled list were bestsellers then yes, I would like being recommended in that same list, why not?

Oh, you must not be an author.

Now, I must get back to writing a chapter for a new book of mine.

And no, I cannot do much of anything to DM and he knows this. Blogger sucks in that regard.


T. A. Lewis said...

I don't see this great divide that some people draw between "popular" and academic works.

I never have. I read both with ease and see their respective worth.

Calling the new atheist books (like Dawkins') terrible is to miss a very big point of authorship and communication. Different texts are meant to be read in different ways by different audiences.

Calling one terrible and the other great is like saying that a hammer is terrible in comparison to a nail gun.

Yes, in one sense it is, in others though, the nail gun is terrible such as in tight spaces or when using an entire range of fasteners.

MKR said...

Editor: We're looking for a new food critic, someone who doesn't immediately pooh-pooh everything he eats.
Homer: Nah, it usually takes a few hours.
—From The Simpsons, season 11, "Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner"

Do not confuse deprecation (pooh-poohing) with defecation (poo-pooing).

pink_monkey said...

I'm sick of the bashing of Richard Dawkins like he is some fool. Have you ever read one of his books on Biology?

Read The Selfish Gene

Read The Extended Phenotype

Read The Blind Watchmaker

Read The Greatest Show on Earth


Richard Dawkins is brilliant. <---emphasis on the PERIOD.

Should you actually read his books you might understand why he rather nonchalantly brushes off the idea of God. He doesn't see a need to engage in kissing your ass because you believe in a perfect heavenly father.

Kids do need to grow up one day.

That's right, I forgot, my apologies. You're suffering from The God Delusion...again, I'm sorry.

And you should read that too...after the others. Then you might just comprehend where the author is coming from.

And as far as John goes. His book tops lists precisely because it DOES engage in kissing your ass. He does this because he understands how self righteous "Christians" are; he knows that you won't even consider his viewpoint otherwise. Dawkins tells it like it really is. Loftus tells it with the understanding of how you, and at onetime he [and alot of us here], want it to be. He's offering you a piece of candy that's sweet on the outside and something you'll initially describe as bitter in the middle. Dawkins just smacks you in the face and says, "No candy for you". <---just like the soup nazi

John has a much more powerful book for educating Theists, but it doesn't very well explain "nature". By "nature" I mean why there couldn't possibly be a designer that we humans would actually consider intelligent. Of course, w/ the caveat of "what we have examined to this point." That's right, some of us do not depend on divine revelation for our understanding of the world around us. Thought you might need to know that.

And Brad. As you describe Atheist arguments as,"...same old, same old that have been tried and have failed for centuries." Please give me ONE [only one] Theist argument that has been successful. I, and most of the others here, have failed to be convinced by the veracity of any Theist's argument[and not for lack of looking, or trying]. Perhaps you could educate me for a change, I often feel like I'm doing all of the "educating" when conversing w/ reality deniers. <---yes that's you.

Not only do you believe in things we can't possibly know exist, you talk to yourself for the benefit of others aka pray, deny that humans affect their environment by producing massive amounts of waste aka climate change, think that women come from a rib of a man, and men from mud rather than a process [from "living" material I might add, not "dead" minerals,<---although we can broadly define the substance we know as mud to be organic]of decent w/ modification. aka Biology

You deny much more than I can even list. You even deny that John here authored an important book. But then, you also deny the importance of Richard Dawkin's life work w/o reading it. Oh well...I suppose it's well evidenced that that's par for the course w/ you.

At least you're consistent. Ignorance is no crime; we all are of many things. Fortunately for you, we are all here to teach you, specifically John. It is his life's work. Don't just ignore it as you have others. They're trying to help.

John W. Loftus said...

Wow pink monkey. Give it to 'em!

Nocterro said...

@Pink Monkey:

FYI, I'm a deist. And I've read all of Dawkins' books save one(Extended Phenotype).

You seem rather hostile towards God-believers. Why is this?

pink_monkey said...

sorry Brad, most of my comments were directed at Nocterro, for some reason I thought you were one in the same.

You'll find that most of us here do indeed seem hostile towards religion. Perhaps it is that we feel betrayed or duped. Perhaps it's the hypocrisy. Perhaps it's the willful ignorance that it's followers display and their intent on legislating morality. Perhaps it's because we Atheists are a discriminated against minority. On and on the list goes Brad. Ask Chuck, Russ, and John if you can't figure it out...they're all fairly outspoken about what they find unsatisfactory and what makes them hostile some of the time.

I find Deism to be a rather limp position. You're really just a watered down Atheist from where I sit...taking the least abrasive path. A pragmatic Atheist at least, so what's really the difference.

I find it very unlikely that you have read and comprehended the works of Richard Dawkins. Had you, you'd understand that Richard is not writing to the same audience as John, and your argument fails accordingly. John's book is written to the "believer", to influence them [or at least an attempt to] in their own "language". None of the other "new" atheists are writing to that specific audience[although they're fine for the audience they're intended for]. His book is NOT one in the same w/ Dawkins, Hitch, Dennett, Harris, or Coyne for that matter. How do you miss this?

Perhaps start w/ John being a former "man of the cloth" with a M.Div. while Dawkins holds a PHD in Biology. It should be obvious then the type of arguments put forth by each author. And no Brad, again, they are not the same.

pink_monkey said...

wow...i just can't keep you two straight. the post above is directed at both of you, and i retract my apologies to Brad, I thought he was the deist. lol

Nocterro said...

@ Pink monkey:

You shouldn't be hostile toward ALL religion. Yes, some religious people do hurt society (like the westboro baptist church). But to generalize all religious people into a negative category is a massive error. For example, here's a quote from the Dalai Lama:

"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."

Furthermore, you should be very careful about claiming *willful* ignorance. Perhaps all religious people ARE ignorant of some things - but not all are so on purpose. What of a young teenager raised in a conservative household, who has never been exposed to contra-religious thought? Such a person would not even know that cases against his religion even exist. We can't say he's being willfully ignorant here - he's ignorant of his own ignorance.

Regarding Deism - the fact that you find it "limp" has no bearing on its truth :)

Regarding finding it very unlikely that I've read and comprehended Dawkins' work - well, I guess you just have to take my word for it. If you think I've misunderstood something he's written, please explain. However, don't say I haven't read it - because I have. To deny this is to call me a liar. Yes, I understand Dawkins is writing to a different audience than John is. And yes, I still think TGD is a poor case for atheism. And no, I don't think ALL cases for atheism are poor - in fact, some are very good.

nate said...


This website is geared towards combating a specific form of Christianity, the Conservative Christian Right Evangelical Fundamentalists. John has mentioned this many times in the past mainly because it is quite an impossible task to combat all mutations of Christianity. This is the brand of Christianity I find most deplorable, and when I comment on this site, this is the brand of Christianity I am referring to. Perhaps I should have made that clear, but I assumed you were familiar with the purpose of this site.

As far as Deism goes, you're still a Pragmatic Atheist. I don't see much of a difference between you and I other than that you would like to believe in some sort of Divine Ordering that no evidence supports. Again I will reiterate that to the best of our understanding there are many wasteful processes of nature that we can not possibly consider intelligently designed. In many cases we humans could do a better job designing than what we observe. About all you can offer is fine tuning, and that's a failure to explain a deity as well.

I remain skeptical about your claims to having read all of Richard Dawkins works minus the extended phenotype. I have read nearly all of his popular writing but it is rather field specific to me. Unless you work in biology I find it rather unlikely that you plowed through all the thousands of pages of biological jargon. Dawkins work as a whole builds up his case for Atheism. It is not just TGD. He in fact alludes to arguments from other works often times throughout the book. This is why I doubt your claim to being familiar w/ the convergent lines of evidence he offers.

And WTH took you so long to finally acknowledge that they are writing to different audiences. With that understanding I'm not sure why you seem to think John shouldn't be proud of being on a list which includes dawkins.

I'm sorry Noc. You're FOS. You've read all of the books on that list but not the one John wrote[which would be most relevant considering who you're criticizing]. You obviously knew you couldn't snow the author so you admitted something. Further, you found them all "terrible" but yet slogged through them just the same. Then you are equally unimpressed w/ Mr. Dawkins but yet read all of his works as well. Quite irritation to put oneself through, especially when you don't even read w/ comprehension.

So yes, I'm calling you out, and I'm not interested in what you have to say back. You've said quite enough. Actually read something you claim to, that'd be a better usage of your time.

Nocterro said...


Ok, lots to address here.

No, I guess I was not aware that "This website is geared towards combating a specific form of Christianity, the Conservative Christian Right Evangelical Fundamentalists."

The name of the website is, after all, 'Debunking Christianity'.

As for the "no evidence" thing, well, that's another conversation. I think there is. My email is Nocterro42@gmail.com, if you would like to discuss what I think is good evidence for the existence of God.

As for your doubt regarding my claim to having read Dawkins' books..well, there's not much I can do about that, is there? I'm not really sure why you don't believe me, considering I admit when I have not read a book (such as the extended phenotype, and Loftus' book).

I also never said they didn't write to different audiences. I don't see how this is relevant at all. Again, he should not be proud because the rest of the books on the list are lackluster. It has nothing to do with who is writing to which audiences.

"I'm sorry Noc. You're FOS."

This seems to be unwarranted hostility. Why?

And, once again, my criticism was NOT directed at Loftus' book itself. Rather, it was his attitude toward being placed on the list. It's not even really criticism. If he wants to be proud of being on such a list, so be it. I was just offering my perspective on it.

And yes, I read some books, then concluded they were terrible. And? Should I have formed an opinion on them without reading them?

For the record, I'm not unimpressed with Dawkins' entire body of work; just TGD. I like biology. It's interesting. And Dawkins is a good biologist. He is not, however, a good philosopher.

Anyway, as you're apparently not interested in what I have to say, I'll just end this post by expressing pity for such close-mindedness, and pointing out (lest you decide to say I'm wasting my time) that I'm writing this post not for you, but for everyone else reading.

Have a nice day.

pink_monkey said...

Well good advice Noc...hopefully John has read your comments and renames his blog, "Debunking the 10000+ extant Christianities, and the one you come up w/ next as well."

rolls off the tongue, ehh?