My name is John W. Loftus. Thank you, thank you very much! ;-)
Labels: Ending Philosophy of Religion
Chris Matheson's new book is a comedy about God from the biblical texts themselves, titled: The Story of God: A Biblical Comedy about Love (and Hate). I provided a sample of his book right here. It holds up for ridicule the God of the Bible. I wrote a blurb for it. It's laugh out loud funny. Read it and tell me what Chris did wrong, and/or about its effectiveness. My claim is that it's funny because with keen insight Chris accurately teaches us what's supposedly going on behind the scenes.
Since reading is a chore to some people, let's try two posters I think are funny. They're funny to me regardless of whether or not I share them. They're funny to almost all atheists. These kinds of things are what we laugh about at conferences. They are accurate and insightful.
David Bolen: Calling people deluded doesn't help them change their minds, and often prevents it.
John W. Loftus: Oh, okay then, indoctrinated minds, brainwashed minds. You see, deluded minds do not know they are deluded. Putting them in the same category of other people whom they are convinced are deluded, tells them what someone like me thinks of their faith. And no one can say I'm ignorant.
David Bolin: I agree, deluded minds do not know they are deluded. That is why calling them that just offends people and makes it more likely that they will not change their minds, even when they are actually deluded. That also applies to calling people indoctrinated and brainwashed.
John W. Loftus: I have earned the right to tell it like it is. That's my point. I put the full weight of my education and works into it. All they need to do at that point is learn who I am. It's not an ad hominem because I'm an expert, an intellectual on these matters. Now keep in mind I only do this on a mass basis, never in person.
David Bolen: I doubt you've convinced many people, with that method. Also, for all the people you have convinced, you probably made a lot more people more stubborn than ever. If you were more polite you could help a lot more people.
John W. Loftus: No. The people you're thinking about cannot be changed. Read this and then click on the tag 'Ridicule' below it. LINK.
Labels: Science and Christianity
Calls For Ending the Philosophy of Religion Are Doing Nothing More Than Advocating For the Secularization Of Our Secular Universities
My position seems to be the same as Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne, Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay when it comes to ending the Philosophy of Religion (PoR) discipline in the secular universities. The classes covered could be taught under the umbrella of the Philosophy discipline itself (with no need for a subdivision of PoR) or in the Comparative Religion departments, and especially science classes. Just think of it this way. We don't have PoR classes on Zoroastrianism, Gnosticism, Mithraism, Norse theology, Haitian Voodoo, Paganism etc., in any secular university that I know about. We don't see this for good reasons. Now think real hard about why, okay? The main purpose of the PoR discipline is to examine the evidence and the arguments for religion. Evidence. Arguments. Its main purpose is not merely to get students to understand religion. Rather, it seeks to assess the claims of religion by looking at the evidence (if there is any) and the arguments (if there are any good ones based on the evidence). By contrast, the main purpose of classes in Comparative Religions departments is to understand religion.
Labels: Ending Philosophy of Religion
Chris Matheson is a screenwriter whose credits include the movies Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, and Rapture-Palooza. If you have never seen the classic movie Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure do so soon, as it's EXCELLENT! The WIKI page for it is here.
Chris will release a book in just a month, where he writes a comedy about God from the biblical texts themselves, titled: The Story of God: A Biblical Comedy about Love (and Hate). I was very honored to see it beforehand and write a blurb for it, along with Jerry Coyne, Lawrence M. Krauss, Peter Boghossian, Michael Shermer, and others.
Below I'll whet your appetites with the lines from the first section of his hilarious and intelligent book. Humorously he points to some incongruities in the biblical text itself so we can laugh. This is satire and ridicule at it's finest and I highly endorse it. Will it convince people like Randal Rauser? *Cough* It's not meant to. [Rauser has still failed to respond to Tristan Vick's book, The Swedish Fish, Deflating the Scuba Diver and Working the Rabbit's Foot, for which I also wrote a blurb.]
Discussing religion freely and critically will desacralize it, with the result that the public professions of faith of which our politicians are so enamored will eventually occasion only pity, disgust and cries of shame! or, at best, serve as fodder for comedians. Faith should, in fact, become a “character issue.”
The advances of science have rendered all vestigial belief in the supernatural more than just obsolete. They have shown it to indicate grave character flaws (among them, gullibility, a penchant for wish-thinking and an inability to process information), or, at the very least, an intellectual recklessness we should eschew, especially in men and women being vetted for public office. One who will believe outlandish propositions about reality on the basis of no evidence will believe anything, and is, simply put, not to be trusted.
Jay Michaelson suggests other numerous candidates for being the biggest hypocrites ever, like,
What about megachurch Bishop Eddie Long, who, while preaching against homosexuality, sexually abused at least three teenage boys in his charge? And what about megachurch pastor Ted Haggard who, while likewise preaching against homosexuality and drug use, bought crystal meth and had sex with a male escort/masseur for three years? Or George Rekers, who, while preaching similarly, was caught with a rentboy on vacation in the Caribbean? For that matter, what about the entire Catholic Church hierarchy, which, while preaching against homosexuality, covered up the systemic sexual abuse of thousands of boys in Europe and America—and still maintains a “gay mafia” in the Vatican today?Yes, that and more, like John Paulk, Larry Craig, David Vitter, Henry Hyde, Mark Foley, Bob Livingston, or TV evangelists Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, and a whole host of others!
So it’s not surprising that for many of us, there’s a profoundly gleeful schadenfreude when hypocrites are exposed. (Along with profound concern for the LGBT people in repressive regimes whose lives are now in danger thanks to the Ashley Madison hack.) Women, progressives, and queers have had to sit and listen to the likes of Duggar, Huckabee, Santorum, and Fischer talk about us, as if the outright lies they spread about our lives are somehow deserving of deference. So you can’t blame us for smiling when they take a fall.True Dat! But Michaelson isn't smiling. He's hoping mad instead, for two reasons.
Let's stipulate that someone is a philosopher who as a PhD in philosophy, or working on a graduate degree in philosophy, or having a regular appointment in a philosophy department LINKIn a similar vein, Dr. Hector Avalos recently commented on who should be considered a biblical scholar. Avalos tells us,
In general, a scholar is one who, at minimum, has the equipment needed to verify independently the claims made in the relevant field. Usually, it is standard to have undergone some certification process as reflected in graduate degrees and peer reviewed published work. Self-proclamation as a “scholar” is not standard academic procedure.The words for "philosopher" and "scholar" must have meaning, so philosophers and scholars working in those fields are best qualified to define them.
[Edit: When defending Jeff Lowder, Richard Carrier recently claimed he had a PhD in philosophy. That's what I saw. Later Carrier changed it. Since he changed it I've decided to delete what I said since I can't now verify the change.]
|An Apologist should not be confused with a "Scholar"|
How to Defend the Christian Faith is the Omega of literally thousands of years of intellectual history devoted to the defense of Christianity. It is the ultimate corrective mechanism for the Christian faith, and the definitive guide to Christian apologetics and for Christian apologists. You will never have to read another book about how to defend your faith—and, after reading this book, you may never want to.The other blurbs are reproduced below:
She wrote an essay based on a Søren Kierkegaard's diary entry of 1847, that applies to us today.
In an immeasurably insightful entry from 1847, 34-year-old Kierkegaard observes a pervasive pathology of our fallible humanity, explaining the same basic psychology that lurks behind contemporary phenomena like bullying, trolling, and the general assaults of the web’s self-appointed critics, colloquially and rather appropriately known as haters.What did Kierkegaard write? The money quote:
There is a form of envy of which I frequently have seen examples, in which an individual tries to obtain something by bullying.In Kierkegaard's case, people were envious of his fame. So they sneered at him until he paid attention to them.
If, for instance, I enter a place where many are gathered, it often happens that one or another right away takes up arms against me by beginning to laugh; presumably he feels that he is being a tool of public opinion. But lo and behold, if I then make a casual remark to him, that same person becomes infinitely pliable and obliging. Essentially it shows that he regards me as something great, maybe even greater than I am: but if he can’t be admitted as a participant in my greatness, at least he will laugh at me. But as soon as he becomes a participant, as it were, he brags about my greatness.Then Kierkegaard says, "That is what comes of living in a petty community."
Kierkegaard tells of three young men who sneered at him as he approached. He noticed they were smoking cigars and asked one of them for a light.
Instantly, all three doffed their hats and it would seem I had done them a service by asking for a light. Ergo: the same people would be happy to cry bravo for me if I merely addressed a friendly, let alone, flattering word to them; as it is, they cry pereat [he shall perish!] and are defiant… All it amounts to is play-acting. But how invaluably interesting to have one’s knowledge of human psychology enriched in this way.Of these petty people who disrespected him until they could participate in his greatness, Kierkegaard later wrote: "They show me respect precisely by showing me that they don’t respect me."
Now this doesn't describe why all haters hate, but it describes a very interesting phenomenon to me. Petty, small-minded, envious people will hate. So hating is an indication that one is a petty, small-minded, envious person. Conversely, in order to turn haters around--to flush them out so to speak--acknowledge them, ask them for a hand, or a light. That's if YOU care. ;-)
Former clergy here sir. Your writing strongly helped me through my deconversion which came to a head on my deathbed with stage 4b cancer. I had hoped I would get a chance to express my gratitude. I appreciate the add.Interesting, eh? It sometimes works in reverse! I thanked him for his encouragement and wished him well with his health, he additionally wrote:
If you received any encouragement from my message it is only a partial payback for "Why I Became an Atheist". I recognize the tremendous amount of research and reflection that went in to that book. You took a large hit for the rest of us. Great work. You are to be admired.
I do think that there is a fundamental divide between people who think that atheists and theists have a common goal, a goal of understanding one another better, and those who think that the only legitimate goal is the partisan goal of advancing one's own viewpoints. I think that is the dividing line between people like Loftus and people like Lowder.Whoah there! What a load of false propaganda crapola! Did he just say I don't want to understand theists? That is laughable and one of the reasons I think ridicule is an important response to such drivel. I don't care if Vic has a doctorate, either. Here's a clue Reppert, see chapter 3 in my seventh published book in seven years, How to Defend the Christian Faith, which highlights the honest search for truth as the priority for us all, and I mean it. Furthermore, the whole reason my writing gets such wide acclaim is precisely because I do understand Christianity. In fact, I have spent the better part of my waking hours doing so for years, and decades. And did Reppert just say I think the only worthy goal is a partisan one of advancing atheism? Again, refer to what I just wrote above. I'll go farther to state that I'm the last atheist on the planet to say atheists should all do this or that, that there is one one way to be an atheist, that all atheists should do it my way or get to the highway. Cookie cutter mentality is the last thing I have. Of course, since I stand against cookie cutter mentality then Jeff Lowder and I have problems because it's JEFF who seems to think all atheists should be like him, and THAT is our problem. It's also our problem when he calls himself a philosopher when he is not, because he uses that unearned accolade to gain credibility when criticizing me for not boot stepping in complete sync with him.
I don't think there's just one divide between us anyway. There are several of them, which I think are very instructive:
Having convictions can be defined as being so thoroughly convinced that Christ and His Word are both objectively true and relationally meaningful that you act on your beliefs regardless of the consequences.Well now, that quote would be a good inspiration during the witch hunts wouldn't it, what, with the blood curdling screams, the welts and the smell of human flesh and all. Or, think Crusades.
Happy birthday Josh McDowell. He's 76 years old today.
The real problem of religious faith is the global and geographically situated religious diversity among thinking adults who reasonably disagree with each other. When religions collide it's like meeting one's anti-matter twin.Then comes the intervention, as Peter Boghossian calls it:
Prayed Up, But Not Paid Up! A 92 Year Old Woman (Whose Membership Spans 50 Years) Kicked Out of Her Church
Peter Boghossian is making a huge-huge-impact! His concepts and persuasive strategies are changing how atheists deal with Christians such that he could be considered to produce a sort of Copernican revolution. I recently wrote the book How to Defend the Christian Faith. If I was asked to write a book on how to deal with believers with the goal to change their minds, I would say Boghossian has already written it, titled A Manual for Creating Atheists. Taken together these two books kick ass, so say I about his book, so say several others about mine.
Labels: Peter Boghossian
When I consider the original "Outsider Test for Faith," (OTF) by John Loftus, I get it. It's a self-check to test yourself for bad reasoning such as special pleading (your religion alone should be given a pass against the tough questions, but not the religions of others), confirmation bias (counting the hits, but forgetting the misses), cherry-picking (selecting the bits that suggest an idea is true, but neglecting the bits that cast doubt) or arguing that an idea must be true simply because it's popular. As long as there are outsiders to Christianity who reject its tenets, (quite aside from the truth values of Christian claims), doesn't it seem reasonable for a Christian to want to understand the objections of an outsider to Christianity?
David Marshall takes this "Outsider Test" and turns it on its ear to come up with four, or perhaps eight different "debugged and polished up" OTFs (I am unable to reconcile his "theses" to his "tests")....If the OTF were a smog test, and Marshall's Chevy Jesus with bad rings and a lazy catalytic converter didn't pass the first time, instead of fixing his car, he's decided to jimmy with the test itself. And when will this test be ready? When it's finally a test his out-of-tune Chevy Jesus can pass. This is how Marshall gets Jesus to "pass" his re-engineered OTF.
How is this even a test anymore? Isn't it a validation of the blue smoke emanating from the tailpipe? The purpose of the original smog test was to keep the skies cleaner by making it illegal to operate a polluting vehicle. Marshall, in this volume argues that dirtier skies are actually better. And now that he's tinkered with the test, lowering the bar to allow it to pass, if his religion now seems to pass, should that come as a surprise? If other religions also seem to pass, we also shouldn't be surprised. That's what happens when you make a test super easy to pass. Isn't this a reflection of his amazing test-designing skills? Too bad this tells us nothing about the emissions of vehicles. As a result, he seems only to argue that people ought to want to have at least a certain amount of pollution in their intellectual skies...In the process of lowering the bar, he appears to argue that all religions pass his re-jiggered OTFs because he feels that they all more or less are true. At first, one might think that Marshall is going to propose that by rationalizing the most universal aspects of religions, it would be possible to form a mosaic religion that is either the original religion, or else one that is truer than any one existing religion. But instead, he argues that Christianity already IS that religion. If he wanted to avoid special pleading, here's where he proved he couldn't do it.
Labels: Marshall's Book
For years I have despaired about the sorry state of Christian apologetics, and even sorrier state of Christian apologists. If there be Christian truth, it lies beyond the reach of rational inquiry, and perhaps that is OK. In How to Defend the Christian Faith,John Loftus lays waste to a colosseum full of bad arguments, including my own tentative efforts at the problem of evil. (Loftus says I am “ignorant” but less ignorant than Ken Ham, which was a relief.) Believers should read Loftus’s engaging assault on their intellectual champions. They will be dismayed at how often they agree. I know I was.Karl Giberson is Scholar-in-Residence in Science & Religion at Stonehill College, and author of Saving the Original Sinner: How Christians Have Used the Bible's First Man to Oppress, Inspire, and Make Sense of the World.
I wrote a chapter on the problem of animal suffering for The Christian Delusion (chapter 9). I sure wish I had known of the following quote of Ingersoll's so I could include it. Turns out, professor John Schneider sent me the quote yesterday and prefaced it with these words:
I have a killer quote from him that should intimidate any thoughtful believer in the Christian God and make them think along lines that evangelical theology cannot even begin to do, much less cope with the problem he raised in the light of Darwinism.Here 'tis:
John: You called two of my friends, honest men both, "liars." That does bother me, because they ARE my friends, because it is false, and because I hate to see you acting like that. If you have some special meaning for the word "liar," of course you can't expect the wide world to be cognizant of that - it looks like a cheap smear from here.David, in my new book I have a whole chapter titled "When All Else Fails Lie." It's a fact that people whose brains lie to them will in turn speak lies. A fact. Your brain lies to you, so you also lie. You don't know that's what you're doing but you do. That's the sense in which I say you or Tim McGrew or Tom Gilson and others lie. It's nuanced but accurate. It's what deluded people do.
Don't you think more Christians would be willing to participate in these sites if the atmosphere was a little more welcoming? I know you are an advocate for ridicule, but it's kind of a turn off. If the stray christian wanders onto this blog, comments, and then gets blasted with crude, rude, insulting, ridicule.... how many do you think will stick around for the rest of what you have to say?My response:
I'm an extremely avid reader, and I can say with confidence that you haven't gotten half the attention your work deserves. The Christian community needs to grapple with what you have to say. I think that more Christians would engage here if they felt like it was a safe place for them to dialog...
Fair enough kenneth. Thanks. I appreciate your kind words. I do wish people would use less snark and ridicule and more dispassionate reasoning. I do think the commenters here are better on average than anywhere else. I should take what you say to heart. It's just that I used to be as you describe. I'm just jaded after nearly ten years of suffering what I consider to be fools.