free hit counter code God or Godless?: One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions. - GoBooks - Download Free Book
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

God or Godless?: One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions.

Availability: Ready to download

Perhaps the most persistent question in human history is whether or not there is a God. Intelligent people on both sides of the issue have argued, sometimes with deep rancor and bitterness, for generations. The issue can't be decided by another apologetics book, but the conversation can continue and help each side understand the perspectives of the other. In this unique bo Perhaps the most persistent question in human history is whether or not there is a God. Intelligent people on both sides of the issue have argued, sometimes with deep rancor and bitterness, for generations. The issue can't be decided by another apologetics book, but the conversation can continue and help each side understand the perspectives of the other. In this unique book, atheist John Loftus and theist Randal Rauser engage in twenty short debates that consider Christianity, the existence of God, and unbelief from a variety of angles. Each concise debate centers on a proposition to be resolved, with either John or Randal arguing in the affirmative and the opponent the negative, and can be read in short bits or big bites. This is the perfect book for Christians and their atheist or agnostic friends to read together, and encourages honest, open, and candid debate on the most important issues of life and faith.


Compare
Ads Banner

Perhaps the most persistent question in human history is whether or not there is a God. Intelligent people on both sides of the issue have argued, sometimes with deep rancor and bitterness, for generations. The issue can't be decided by another apologetics book, but the conversation can continue and help each side understand the perspectives of the other. In this unique bo Perhaps the most persistent question in human history is whether or not there is a God. Intelligent people on both sides of the issue have argued, sometimes with deep rancor and bitterness, for generations. The issue can't be decided by another apologetics book, but the conversation can continue and help each side understand the perspectives of the other. In this unique book, atheist John Loftus and theist Randal Rauser engage in twenty short debates that consider Christianity, the existence of God, and unbelief from a variety of angles. Each concise debate centers on a proposition to be resolved, with either John or Randal arguing in the affirmative and the opponent the negative, and can be read in short bits or big bites. This is the perfect book for Christians and their atheist or agnostic friends to read together, and encourages honest, open, and candid debate on the most important issues of life and faith.

30 review for God or Godless?: One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions.

  1. 5 out of 5

    David

    There is a memorable scene early in the classic book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, during which Arthur Dent is told that his house is to be demolished to make way for a freeway. Arthur is upset, though he is told the plans have been on file for quite a while had he wanted to travel to the correct office to see. Shortly after this aliens, the Vogons, appear over the planet and announce to all humanity that the entire planet is to be destroyed to make way for a galactic freeway. When the There is a memorable scene early in the classic book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, during which Arthur Dent is told that his house is to be demolished to make way for a freeway. Arthur is upset, though he is told the plans have been on file for quite a while had he wanted to travel to the correct office to see. Shortly after this aliens, the Vogons, appear over the planet and announce to all humanity that the entire planet is to be destroyed to make way for a galactic freeway. When the humans protest, the aliens respond that the order has been on file a mere few light-years away so they should have been ready! Ah, the hilarious irony. This scene popped into my head as I read God or Godless: One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions. In this book Christian Randal Rauser and Atheist John Loftus debate a variety of questions. Each one chose ten topics and the book proceeds in an easy-to-read debate format. This format is one of the best parts of the book, as a lot of ground is covered and both sides offer their thoughts on all twenty questions. Though there are a variety of questions, as you read a few common themes emerge. One of the early chapters is titled, “If There is No God, Everything is Permitted.” Here Randal, obviously, argues the positive. John responds saying a God is not needed: “Therefore, the ones doing the permitting are those of us on earth in our respective cultures. We do not permit just anything either. In every society we come up with moral rules just as we do when it comes to speed limits on our highways, regulations for food preparation, protocols for approaching different people, or criminal acts we consider harmful to the common good” (32). John argues that morality is arbitrary, created by cultures. I find this argument extremely unsatisfying. This is why I thought of the scene from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. What happens when another culture, more powerful then humanity, shows up? If truth is merely what has helped us adapt and survive, what happens if this more powerful culture needs to eliminate us to survive (perhaps for their galactic freeway)? The morality John offers gives us no ground to say why this would be wrong. We are left merely with a might-makes-right morality. Of course, using an invading alien civilization as an example may seem a bit far-fetched. But other illustrations of the shortcoming of this view could be found. Later in the book John talks of how cats will toy with their prey because that’s just what cats do. Yet if all there is is nature, what separates us from cats? We don’t think cats are “immoral”, so what makes humans immoral who commit vile crimes? If one society or civilization needs to exterminate another to ensure their survival, on what ground is this wrong? Immediately after the cat comment, John writes that, “morality evolves, and it finally caught up to judge what we see in God’s Bible as barbaric” (106). This sheds light on what, I think, is the assumption in John’s arguments, though he never clearly (at least not as I recall) illustrates it – the myth of progress. John believes that humans are getting better and better over the ages. This begs the question: if humanity is progressing from lesser moralities to higher ones, then the current morality we have now will be seen as lesser (barbaric? evil?) by future civilizations. With that in mind, how could we confidently call anything immoral today? Whatever the future morality of humanity holds, John is very confident that the morality of the Bible is basically evil, a relic of an ancient, vile past culture. The vast majority of topics chosen by John are meant to show the faultiness of the Bible. I think John does a good job here. Am I allowed, as a Christian, to say that? After completing this book I perused a few reviews on Goodreads and, predictably, atheist readers thought John emerged victorious while Christian readers saw Randal as the champion. Perhaps this says more about us as readers (we’re not so open-minded as we think) then it does about the book. Of course, we’re all biased to some degree. A large reason I found myself more in tune with Randal’s arguments is because I am a Christian. The arguments he makes are part of the reason I remain a Christian. But I will admit that John does do a great job. A lot of his points ultimately go back to the problem of evil. For example, John argues that God is an incompetent Creator, listing many flaws in the human body as well as a (nearly page long) list of diseases and ailments we are susceptible to. If there was a good God, shouldn’t we expect the world to be a bit less painful? Randal responds by suggesting that God could possibly have a reason to allow such suffering. Yet any reader’s visceral reaction to this is to wonder what sort of purpose that could be, in light of the horrific suffering. In the same way, when John talks of how the Biblical God commanded genocide and does not care much about women or slaves, he makes good points. The honest Christian ought to admit this is a huge difficulty. If there really were a good God, wouldn’t God command people not to have slaves? Wouldn’t God command people in patriarchal societies to treat women much better? What good is a God who can’t command the heights of morality? Randal does admit that this is a difficulty and presents as decent an answer as can be expected. Such challenges as John brings up ought to cause any Christian to pause. Whatever answers we give are tentative and a bit less than satisfying: I may believe progressive revelation, but it’d be nice if the Bible just outright condemned slavery from the beginning. At any rate, what this shows me is that no matter which path you choose – God or Godless – there are difficulties. Neither option presents kn0ck-down, full-proof answers. In the last word John ends with a complaint that this was “Christian vs. Atheist”. Who gives Christians the right to represent all religions versus atheism? Whatever merit there is in such a question, I found it curious in light of the chosen topics. The majority of Randal’s topics were generally theistic. The only specifically Christian one was the final one, on Jesus’ resurrection. Randal seemed to approach many of the topics with a more philosophical bent (“Is there meaning and morality without a God?”). On the other hand, John’s topics, for the most part, were attacks on the Bible. He approached it from a more historical or religious bent (“The Bible is flawed and thus shows it is not from God”). To some extent, this makes me think that even were John to convince me with his arguments, I would not join him in atheism. Perhaps I would move to a more liberal Christian perspective, or at most become some sort of Deist. In the same way, if I were already an atheist, Randal might not convince me to become a Christian, but his arguments go far in showing the shortcomings of a godless world and might lead me to think there is something out there. In other words, my (certainly not unbiased) verdict would be that this book is convincing in pointing to a God while offering enough flaws in the Bible to stop short of it being the Biblical God. Overall, I found this to be an excellent book. Its brevity could earn it readers who would not want to slog through larger tomes. Likewise, the debate format is inviting and makes for informal reading. Both authors know their stuff and manage to pack a lot in to the space allotted. I could see this book being used for discussions, whether in churches or coffeehouses. I work in campus ministry and I plan to highly encourage my students, Christian students that is, to read this book along with their peers.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Joshua

    Neither one did an excellent job. Although there are 20 topics, Randal (a progressive evangelical)devoted most of his time to "X has no meaning without God". He presents the philosophical arguments for the existence of God but seems to dance around the hard questions with some rather poor storytelling. John (atheist and former Church of Christ pastor) doesn't seem to have much else to present except "the God of the OT is not a loving God". He avoids the philosophical objections to atheism that Ra Neither one did an excellent job. Although there are 20 topics, Randal (a progressive evangelical)devoted most of his time to "X has no meaning without God". He presents the philosophical arguments for the existence of God but seems to dance around the hard questions with some rather poor storytelling. John (atheist and former Church of Christ pastor) doesn't seem to have much else to present except "the God of the OT is not a loving God". He avoids the philosophical objections to atheism that Randal brings up and just keeps hammering on the areas where he feels confident of the upper hand (eg. the violence in the OT). Also, he spends quite of bit of time asserting that if God were REALLY real he would do x, y, or z to prove it. I did not find either of the authors particularly persuasive. I would have argued with some of the things each of them said, and remain unconvinced by many of the assertions of both sides. John may show the problems with the Bible but Randal shows the problems with atheism. In other words, someone reading this book could reject the Bible (or certain interpretations) but certainly still believe in God.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Lieske

    I really don't like to speak negatively about a work, especially when I feel that the hearts and minds of the creators of that work are in the right place. But, man, I have to be honest. This entire book is frustratingly pointless beyond belief. Though both of the gentlemen engaged in this debate appear to be well-read and intelligent, they just are not good debaters. At all. Neither, as far as I'm concerned, added ANYTHING of value or insight to the conversation. Case in point: Chapter 16, "The I really don't like to speak negatively about a work, especially when I feel that the hearts and minds of the creators of that work are in the right place. But, man, I have to be honest. This entire book is frustratingly pointless beyond belief. Though both of the gentlemen engaged in this debate appear to be well-read and intelligent, they just are not good debaters. At all. Neither, as far as I'm concerned, added ANYTHING of value or insight to the conversation. Case in point: Chapter 16, "The Biblical God is Ignorant about the Future." John "The Atheist" opens the debate by listing several instances where Biblical prophecies flat-out did not come true, including one by Jesus Christ, who is, according to Christian belief, supposed to BE God, and is thus, supposedly, omniscient. Okay, fair enough. Randal "The Christian" then proceeds to counter this argument by tying to prove, by some convoluted deductive reasoning, that we MUST believe God is omniscient. And that's it. What about John's assertions, though? you ask. Well, you need to wait until Randal's rebuttal, where he very briefly says, in essence, "anybody who got a prophecy wrong was a human prophet because God is obviously omniscient." What about the case in which John mentioned that even Christ got a prophecy wrong? Something an omniscient God would be incapable of? Oh, says Randal dismissively, Jesus was God in human form, so whatever, he got it wrong, big deal, he's still omniscient because I already proved that. WTF? Exactly. And EVERY one of the debates contained in this book pretty much leads to the same dead end. For the record, I only used the chapter 16 example because it was one of the most egregious. I actually went into this book ready and willing to hear good reasoned arguments from both sides. So please don't think I'm playing favorites here. I'm not. Neither side has anything of value to say, and both made me want to slam their heads together repeatedly just to see if I could shake a few sentences out of their mouths that actually made sense. Nope. This book, frankly, sucks.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Book

    God or Godless?: One Atheist, One Christian. Twenty Controversial by John W. Loftus and Randal Rauser “God or Godless?" is a book about debating twenty philosophical issues regarding the question of whether God(s) exists. The debaters, one an atheist, John W. Loftus and the other the Christian, Randal Rauser; each select ten debate statements in which they get to argue for the affirmative of their case. The cases are interesting and the book follows an easy format to follow. A great concept but o God or Godless?: One Atheist, One Christian. Twenty Controversial by John W. Loftus and Randal Rauser “God or Godless?" is a book about debating twenty philosophical issues regarding the question of whether God(s) exists. The debaters, one an atheist, John W. Loftus and the other the Christian, Randal Rauser; each select ten debate statements in which they get to argue for the affirmative of their case. The cases are interesting and the book follows an easy format to follow. A great concept but overall did not work as well as hoped for. This brief 209-page book is composed of the following twenty cases: 1. If There Is No God, Then Life Has No Meaning, 2. The Biblical Concept of God Evolved from Polytheism to Monotheism, 3. If There Is No God, Then Everything Is Permitted, 4. The Biblical God Required Child Sacrifices for His Pleasure, 5. Science Is No Substitute for Religion, 6. The Biblical God Commanded Genocide, 7. God Is the Best Explanation of the Whole Shebang, 8. The Biblical God Does Not Care Much about Slaves, 9. If There Is No God, Then We Don’t Know Anything, 10. The Biblical God Does Not Care Much about Women, 11. Love Is a Many Splendored Thing, but Only if God Exists, 12. The Biblical God Does Not Care Much about Animals, 13. Everybody Has Faith, 14. The Biblical God Is Ignorant about Science, 15. God Is Found in the Majesty of the Hallelujah Chorus, 16. The Biblical God Is Ignorant about the Future, 17. God Best Explains the Miracles in People’s Lives, 18. The Biblical God Is an Incompetent Creator, 19. Jesus Was Resurrected, So Who Do You Think Raised Him?, and 20. The Biblical God Is an Incompetent Redeemer. Positives: 1. There is not a more interesting topic than whether or not god(s) exist. 2. Excellent concept, solid and easy format to follow. The debaters agreed upon specific guidelines that thankfully kept the length of the book at a manageable level for most laypersons. 3. Informal, generally conversational and civil tone throughout. 4. I found my atheist worldview rarely if ever challenged by Mr. Rauser. Point after point, I found myself easily swatting away his arguments. 5. Loftus clearly won this debate, his command of the Bible suits him well for such debates...of course, it's a matter of opinion but I will back my claim with a series of positives geared around the idea that for the truth to have any value it must correspond to reality as closely as possible. 6. Rauser claims that God is restoring creation and has invited us to find our life's purpose for working for his "peaceable" kingdom. Really? Genocides, slavery, child sacrifices, does that sound peaceful? 7. Loftus makes many points that resonate with me, " There is no supernatural being out there. Therefore, the ones doing the permitting are those of us on earth in our respective cultures. We do not permit just anything either. In every society we come up with moral rules just as we do when it comes to speed limits on our highways, regulations for food preparation, protocols for approaching different people, or criminal acts we consider harmful to the common good. What kind of society could we possibly have where everything is permitted anyway?" On the other hand, Rauser claims we need a transcendent ground of meaning and purpose. On what moral ground does Rauser denounce slavery when the foundation of his morality endorses it? 8. Loftus really hammers Rauser on child sacrifices, leaving him basically to resort on "Admittedly this leaves me with a bit of a puzzle." You think? Loftus concludes with a resounding, " What good reason is there for God to accommodate people who thought children should be butchered in his name? Can’t he say “no, don’t do that,” like any good parent? This is a lame excuse for a God. This practice is barbaric by Randal’s own standards, which is the point." Checkmate. 9. Science versus religion...Loftus connects hard with, " Science has a method for arriving at the truths that religion has failed to give us." He concludes quite persuasively, " There is no worshiping science; we just trust its results. It has continued to produce the goods. I cannot trust religion to produce anything comparable by far. Why bet on religion? It’s a bet against the overwhelming odds. It’s a bet against reason itself." Rauser just plays verbal gymnastics poorly around a topic he brought up to begin with. 10. Loftus just pounds away at Rauser by using the very same instrument (the Bible) against him. There is no reasonable defense for genocide. Loftus, " And even if the number of noncombatants killed was exaggerated, how many women and children is Yahweh justified in having killed before it becomes immoral?" Rauser retorts, " I’m using my moral intuitions as a guide for reading the Bible." Really? I use my moral intuition and reason to reject the immorality that is the practice of genocide. 11. Rauser relies on the god of the gaps to arrogantly claim one while Loftus, "The best answer to the existence of the whole shebang is that we do not know fully—yet. Until science helps us solve this problem, we shouldn’t pretend to know." 12. Slavery, slavery, slavery...if there is one topic that destroys the Bible it's this one, "A religion should be judged based on how it treats the defenseless. Slaves are the most defenseless of them all. Given the cruelty toward slaves that we see in the Bible and that has been acted out in history, all civilized people should reject Christianity as nothing but a religion created in a barbaric era." 13. The biblical cruelty toward women exposed by Loftus, "There is a running joke among skeptics that sometime in the future when homosexuality and animals rights are fully embraced by Christians (something already in process), they will argue that Christianity was the catalyst for these social changes, just as they now falsely argue their faith was the catalyst for the origins of science, the abolition of slavery, and women’s rights. It’s only a matter of time, but it’s utter bunk." Once again Rauser relies on linguistic gymnastics to fog the issue. 14. Rauser accepts neo-Darwinian evolution, hooray! Since evolution is true, Adam and Eve never happened and the cruel and unnecessary sacrifice of Jesus was unnecessary...and original sin is well a myth. 15. Loftus on prayers, " Almost every scientific study done on prayer has shown that prayers are not statistically answered any better than luck." 16. The amusing case of the incompetent "designer". Loftus,"There is much more I could add, but thinking people get the point. There isn’t an intelligent designer. Even if Randal still believes there is one anyway, this supernatural force (or being) is not a benevolent one, much less an omnibenevolent one. To argue that this is all Eve’s fault in Eden is scapegoating." 17. Thought-provoking statements that will stay with me. Loftus, "This proves once again that believers must be convinced their faith is nearly impossible before they will consider it improbable, which is an unreasonable standard." 18. Good use of evolution by Loftus to continue his onslaught, " The reason we sometimes act like brutes is because we evolved from them. There is therefore no need for atonement." 19. The Last Word provides each debater an opportunity to tie things up. 20. Enjoyed the recommended readings. Negatives: 1. I didn't enjoy the debating style of Mr. Rauser. Even with an agreed upon limitation of 800 words per case he was able to ramble unnecessarily instead of staying on point. Loftus at times falls into the same trap but is ultimately able to get his points across. 2. I didn't end up with a clear picture of what Mr. Rauser believes and why he believes it. 3. Though easily winning this debate I think Loftus left some fruits behind, like the issue of compulsory love. 4. Rauser offends, "To cultivate genuine compassion for the suffering of animals within a consistently atheistic worldview is akin to cultivating rain-forest orchids in the driest desert. It can’t be done." Really? I love animals and I have some of the most GENUINE animal-loving friends who share an atheistic worldview. Sad. 5. Rauser baffles me until I realize that his mission is not to seek the truth but to defend his faith against all odds. Rauser, "The real question here is whether we can credibly believe that God revealed himself through a book that reflects a scientific view of the world that we no longer accept." The answer would be NO Mr. Rauser. "God" could have easily conveyed scientific ideas in such a way that is understandable even if they didn't have the scientific tools at that time to understand. Example, "There are tiny living things that live in your body some helpful and some that can make you sick. Future generations will be able to create tools that can help them see such things you can't see with the naked eye and confirm my word..." Was that so hard?? In summary, "God or Godless?" was an excellent idea for a book that didn't quite work as well I had hoped, the inability of Mr. Rauser to stay on point took a lot of the enjoyment out of the book. Any good movie needs a good hero and a competent villain...Mr. Rauser did not live up to his end of the deal. Be that as it may, I don't think many people will be swayed much one way or another despite my own biased account that this was a one sided affair in favor of Mr. Loftus. Believers are not reasoned into their beliefs so I don't expect many to be reasoned out of it but it's nice to care enough about your beliefs to read such books. I look forward to reading more books of this ilk albeit with a more formidable opponent than Mr. Rauser. Worth the read with the reservations noted. Further suggestions: "Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity" and "The End of Christianity" by John Loftus, "Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism" and "Why I'm Not a Christian" by Richard Carrier, "Natural Atheism", "Atheism Advanced: Further Thoughts of a Freethinker" by Dr. David Eller, "Man Made God: A Collection of Essays" by Barbara G. Walker, "The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values" by Sam Harris, "The Invention of the Jewish People" by Shlomo Sand, "The Portable Atheist" by Christopher Hitchens, "The End of Biblical Studies" by Hector Avalos, "Forged..." by Bart Ehrman, "God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist" by Victor J. Stenger, "Godless" by Dan Barker, "Christian No More" by Jeffrey Mark, and "The Invention of God" by Bill Lauritzen.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dave Schey

    I like the format of this book. Each author, John W. Loftus, the atheist, and Randal Rauser, the Christian, selected 10 questions to debate. The authors then took turns stating their position on the question limited to 800 words, followed by each giving about a 150 word rebuttal, and closing with a 50 word final thought. Personally, I got tired of the stories Rauser often used to start explaining his position.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Adam Omelianchuk

    Many thanks to Baker Books for supplying a copy to review! As the subtitle explains, God or Godless? is the product of one atheist, John W. Loftus, and one Christian, Randal Rauser, taking on "twenty controversial questions." Both Loftus and Rauser are popular bloggers who inspire vigorous disagreement among their respective readers, and it appears their book is the result of a friendship that was formed through occasionally sparring with one another. While both have published book-length argumen Many thanks to Baker Books for supplying a copy to review! As the subtitle explains, God or Godless? is the product of one atheist, John W. Loftus, and one Christian, Randal Rauser, taking on "twenty controversial questions." Both Loftus and Rauser are popular bloggers who inspire vigorous disagreement among their respective readers, and it appears their book is the result of a friendship that was formed through occasionally sparring with one another. While both have published book-length arguments in the past, this volume exhibits a pattern only bloggers can appreciate. Each author submits ten theses, which they either affirm or deny with 800 words of prose. They are then allowed 150 words of rebuttal, which is then followed by another 50 words of closing statements. Every exchange reads like a blog post with two follow-up comments. The skill of each author is on display as they both jam a lot of content into a short space, and for that I can appreciate how much I have to learn about the art of dialoguing with few words to spare (sadly, this introduction is already over 200 words). Instead of giving a blow by blow account of each argument, I want to make a few observations about the general strategy of the contenders along with some commendations and criticisms of what I took be the heart of their main arguments. I got the impression that Loftus had Christianity, and not so much God, in his sights. This is understandable, because he is a former Christian debating another Christian in a book put out by a Christian publisher; hence, all ten of his theses begin as criticisms of "the Biblical God..." No doubt, Christians as myself have a lot to account for when reading Loftus' criticisms of Yahweh, Jesus, and the New Testament writers, but at most, his arguments drive a wedge between the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the Being than which none greater can be conceived. While this is a compelling strategy to take against Christians, it doesn't really get him to godlessness. As I understand him, Loftus' argument goes like this: [1] If the God of the Bible is not worthy of worship, then God probably doesn't exist. [2] The God of the Bible is not worthy of worship. [3] Therefore, God probably doesn't exist. Assuming he is right about premise 2, is the argument sound? Well, following Loftus' favorite sort of response, premise 1 is possible but not probable, and a more probable inference would be that not everything in Scripture is God's revelation. That is to say, a weaker conclusion is more probable: regardless of whether or not God exists, the Bible is not inerrant. This is not to say that Loftus doesn't make any arguments against theism in general. To be sure, he hints at the problem of evil throughout the book when engaging Rauser's positive theses, but he doesn't formally spell it out anywhere in any great detail (the most articulate reference to it is found on page 145--a bit late to bring out atheism's biggest gun in my opinion). Thus, the bulk of Loftus' arguments will threaten only those who maintain a strong tie between the existence of God and biblical inerrancy; perhaps this explains why his most vociferous critics hail from the Reformed tradition and follow the apologetic method of Cornelius Van Til or Gordon Clark. Of course, Rauser is not among their number as he seems willing to concede that there are genuine conflicts between what the Old Testament says about the killing of children and our widely shared moral intuitions. Rauser maintains biblical authority by suggesting that Old Testament violence should be read as ironically condemning such behavior, but in any event, it seems clear enough that he (rightly) doesn't accept the premise that God probably exists only if inerrancy is true. So how does Randall make his case for God? By appealing to the so-called `transcendentals' of truth, goodness and beauty, none of which we would know about without the existence of God. Broadly, Rauser makes a cosmological argument to explain why there is something rather than nothing, and then makes a design argument from the fact that creatures like us exist with the cognitive capacities to know truth, perceive beauty, and be subject to moral properties. While many of these arguments can come across as tired and well-worn, Rauser deftly weaves their major claims into little stories or examples a middle school student could understand. That's no knock, and this reviewer, who has spent too many hours reading William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, and William Dembski, benefited greatly in seeing how their arguments could be boiled down to their essentials and elegantly deployed for apologetic purposes. Through his argumentation, Rauser is able to show that Loftus is left with an impoverished worldview where truth, beauty, and goodness are relative to the whims and wiles of an unguided and random process that can only induce cosmic despair. Intuitively assuming atheism's outcome has no existential fit, Rauser's arguments roughly go like this: [1] If God does not exist, then there is no truth, goodness, or beauty that could be objectively known. [2] There is truth, goodness, and beauty that can be objectively known. [3] Therefore, God exists. But what about the Bible? Rauser's defenses of Scripture are sure to leave some Christians dissatisfied. While it is true that he makes an effort to disabuse Loftus of his severely critical interpretations, his concessions with respect to the problem of Old Testament violence and biological evolution give the impression that there is something strange about holding to the authority of Scripture in this day of age. Why not just jettison it and search for a more adequate revelation of God? Rauser maintains that despite Scripture's oddities, God is a supremely competent author, but if Loftus has achieved anything in this book, it is that he creates some prima facie reasonable doubt for this claim. All in all this is a breezy read that feels like being hit with a scatter gun of truncated arguments. As a reviewer, I am used to reading longer, more sustained arguments, so I wasn't disposed to like this sort of format and I can't say I did (To their credit, the authors realize the shortcomings of their format and offer a nice "for further reading" section with excellent recommendations.). But if you are wanting to expose middle and high school aged kids to some of the challenges Christians and atheists face in making their respective cases, this book may be of some value. The atheists will appreciate Loftus' simple, if not blustery writing style, and the Christians will enjoy Rauser's snarky sense of humor and vivid storytelling.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Micheal

    The christian author didn't have an apologetic approach here , which was nice as it would be a real problem for me however I still have a lot of problems with the assumptions involved in these debates: First of all, Bible is a mockery of god and we cannot possibly with ,what little we know, assume such a big idea filled with even much more extraordinary assumptions that it has any accuracy in the sense theists use it. I wish the other side was a deist so only god/gods could be the subject. Dan De The christian author didn't have an apologetic approach here , which was nice as it would be a real problem for me however I still have a lot of problems with the assumptions involved in these debates: First of all, Bible is a mockery of god and we cannot possibly with ,what little we know, assume such a big idea filled with even much more extraordinary assumptions that it has any accuracy in the sense theists use it. I wish the other side was a deist so only god/gods could be the subject. Dan Dennet in his book Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking wrote about a new term called "Occam’s Broom" which can be used along with Occam's razor for a better magnifier of assumptions.in comparison with theists, Skeptics are more careful not to violate Razors in their arguments. Now of course I usually don't take it so far to claim certainty that the unnecessary assumptions shouldn't be made (it depends) but I will use them to find unsupported ones. The morality argument: I often dismiss it along with the fine tuning arguments.in this book however, I think neither of them had a great case. Loftus mentioned sth important ,that theists can't have it both ways ; if morality is objective then you can't say you prefer it "sometimes" over the scripture while accusing the other of being subjective or relativist ,moreover why is it assumed that god is giving us morality? why is it assumed that even If god given morality is true ,it's objective? why should we assume that even If both god and god given objective morality is possible , religion has anything to offer for it? While theists almost always claim objectivity ;they fail to realize that even IF we assume that it's true and they have access to it , then why is it that no two religion agree over issues (their moral doctrines)? considering all the religions and their different schools (and sub-schools) , all these diversity ...how is this not a relativist approach? and is not in contradiction with claiming objectivity? How is that objective when Rauser says "A Christian need not believe God ever commanded genocide. There are different ways to read texts" ,so then this is subjective as well, different for everyone yet objective is their claim. If we can reason through to the conclusion that morality is real, if reason can open the window to it, then it would seem that the original claim that morality must come from God is mistaken. I call these efforts "religious owning" it means that ,when they have no way of moving the goal post, they claim the ball (think of the fallacy/moving the goal post) , when they have no way to deal with reason, they claim that it is god given or when the atheist says the laws of nature are in play not god ,they say god made the laws of nature,when atheists say we have no faith ,they claim that every one has faith (whatever faith means) but the best one is when god was a violation of Razors and as a result it was unnecessary so,they claimed that god is a necessity.this is to show cowardice and dodge the burden. - God Is the Best Explanation of what we don't know , is either an argument from ignorance or a god of the gaps argument unless the argument can have an abductive basis in its reasoning as loftus mentioned: "it is wholly ad hoc since we have no experience of infinite causal regresses. Finally, it offers no explanation of what caused this mysterious, infinite, causal series, and thus it is really a pseudo-explanation." "...Thomas Aquinas argued that God was the unmoved mover in a series of contemporaneous events stretching hierarchically up some sort of great chain of being. But such an argument is rendered bogus in light of the concept of inertia, which does away with the need to explain motion as requiring either an infinite regress of causes or an unmoved mover. And so it goes for all of the other cosmological and design arguments to the existence of God—something I won’t pursue further here." Rauser then argued that: "....—and even time itself sprang into existence out of nothing 13.7 billion years ago. Science can study the universe once it exists, but it can never explain what brought it into existence." exactly "it can never explain what brought it into existence" and Rauser is subjected to the same experiences that anyone else is AFTER the big bang then how on earth does he KNOW what happened back then? How is he claiming that there is a BEFORE if "itself sprang into existence out of nothing 13.7 billion years ago" there is no before before that .. what is his source for this claim?! aside from the obvious Fallacy of composition here, he fails to support his claim. and further as Loftus mentioned : "To suppose this agent is a spiritual being who was timeless before creation actually makes things worse. ... When did this agent ever get a chance to choose his or her own nature or learn that which he or she knows? Can we really imagine a being who never learned anything? Can we really imagine a being who cannot think, since doing so means a conclusion has not been reached yet? How did this non-material agent create a material universe out of nothing unless there is some aspect that this agent shares with a material world? How did a timeless being create the universe in time, since the very decision to create it would be simultaneous with the act of creating it?" we don't have an experience from "before" the big bang. Rauser writes that :"faith is defined as “belief without evidence" " WTF? If you have no evidence you have to suspend your judgment , No Evidence,NO belief until some kind of evidence comes up. at its best its a case for agnosticism. The problem of Evil: Rauser says : "How does John calculate the probability that the suffering on our planet couldn’t be for some greater purpose? He doesn’t." of course he doesn't you should say why it is. it's like saying X killed a lot of guys and then answering it like : well ... we may not know now (why god did it) but he had his reasons. good points we're made in this book but overall I was a bit disappointed and I would like it more if it was only about god much more in a deistic sense.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Todd Martin

    God or Godless?: One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions. consists of a short debate between a Christian (Rauser) and an Atheist (Loftus). The questions cover such topics as morality, genocide, the existence of god, the Bible, child sacrifice and others. The e-book was available for free on Amazon for a limited time (though this no longer appears to be the case). It’s nice to see a civil debate on the topic, but the discussion really doesn’t cover any new ground and there is no God or Godless?: One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions. consists of a short debate between a Christian (Rauser) and an Atheist (Loftus). The questions cover such topics as morality, genocide, the existence of god, the Bible, child sacrifice and others. The e-book was available for free on Amazon for a limited time (though this no longer appears to be the case). It’s nice to see a civil debate on the topic, but the discussion really doesn’t cover any new ground and there is no meeting of the minds on any of the questions explored. I think what I found most interesting were the mental contortions that Rauser (the Christian) is forced to adopt in order to reconcile his worldview with reality. For example, Rauser repeatedly claims that, in the absence of the eternal truths regarding morality spelled out in the bible, that all moral acts are relative. If we derive our morality from our own internal intuition of right and wrong, then who’s to say that a serial murderer is wrong if they believe they are doing the right thing and enjoy killing? To counter this threadbare moral relativism ploy Loftus correctly points out (citing the specific passages) that the bible endorses genocide, slavery and infanticide and that these behaviors are now generally frowned upon by a civil society. Rauser responds in effect … yes, the bible does indeed contain this text, but doesn’t really mean it (textual interpretation is needed to obtain the true meaning of this text). But this raises the obvious question, how does Rauser know? He recoils from the moral depravity of these biblical passages because they are abhorrent, but as a Christian this creates cognitive dissonance. Therefore he must resolve the incongruity, and does so by claiming the bible means something different from what the words themselves plainly convey. Of course, Rauser is using his own moral sense (the same sense of right and wrong possessed by every human, including atheists) to reject the claims found in his own religious text. While this painfully undermines his argument that morality is in any way derived from religion, it is fascinating the extent to which he is oblivious to this fact. If nothing else, the mental gymnastics employed by Rauser provide stark testament to the power of motivated reasoning to undermine rational thought. From a scientific perspective, there are many good evolutionary reasons as to why morality exists and why so many tenets are common to all people regardless of their faith. Many animals have a sense of fairness and a range of behavior that is accepted within the group. As a social species whose chances of survival is increased through cooperation, it seems self-evident that in humans certain rules of behavior (aka ‘morality’) would be favored that act to promote social stability (while destabilizing behaviors are considered amoral or criminal). Of course, if religiosity actually led to moral behavior the world would be a very different place than what we find in reality. States in the US with higher levels of religiosity would have lower crime rates than less religious states (the opposite is true). Prisons would have a higher proportion of atheists than the general population (the opposite is true). Prison populations would consist largely of highly educated (and thus less religious) people (the opposite is true). And meetings of the national science foundation would degenerate into orgies of depraved wantonness (ok … that one IS true, but only if your idea of debauchery is sitting in a lecture hall listening to a scientific presentation on the sexual proclivities of the naked mole rat).

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lee Harmon

    Definitely a contender for The Dubious Disciple’s top-10 religion books of 2013. Even the cover is magnificent. John, an atheist, goes head-to-head with Randal, a Christian, on twenty controversial topics. Each topic is covered in debate fashion, with the contestants presenting their arguments, counter-arguments, and closing statements. It’s friendly for the most part, but the gloves do come off in a couple places. Two very different philosophies shine through. Rauser’s penchant for imagination an Definitely a contender for The Dubious Disciple’s top-10 religion books of 2013. Even the cover is magnificent. John, an atheist, goes head-to-head with Randal, a Christian, on twenty controversial topics. Each topic is covered in debate fashion, with the contestants presenting their arguments, counter-arguments, and closing statements. It’s friendly for the most part, but the gloves do come off in a couple places. Two very different philosophies shine through. Rauser’s penchant for imagination and storytelling contrasts John’s trust in cold, hard probability. It’s classic, almost stereotyped … great stuff. For my own amusement, I rated and tallied up the score. My scoring was 6-4, with 10 ties, in favor of…. Wait a minute. If there’s one single debate that is critical, that reaches to down the core of Christianity, it’s #19. Did Jesus rise from the dead. This is also head-and-shoulders the most interesting of the twenty debates. And the winner on this one is … unfortunately, nobody. A push. No decision. Another way to choose the winner is to read the book’s concluding remarks. Rauser’s passionate plea for meaning versus Loftus’s argument that Christianity has hardly risen to the surface above all the rest of the world’s religions to earn a debate against atheism. It was such a fitting close to the book that I couldn’t help awarding both contestants a win. Ah, well, I guess that’s why I’m known as an “agnostic Christian.” Thanks, John and Randal, for a great time.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Joy John

    This is solely my personal opinion. This was not that great, to he honest. For a starter this might be helpful. The way both people approached the issues at hand was rather "insufficient"? Like no one did their homework thoroughly before beginning to put God under the microscope. The arguments from both sides didn't satisfy. Maybe because I have heard and read more compelling arguments than this book. It felt like two college students were having a discussion on a free Saturday to pass the time?

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kendra

    If you're a Christian reading this, you'll probably remain a Christian. If it's an atheist reading it, you'll probably remain an atheist. It was an interesting discussion back and forth, but there wasn't any real changes in mind. I rolled my eyes over what the Christian kept saying, gave myself a headache.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Wardell4three

    “God Or Godless? One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions.” This is a short book co-written by John W. Loftus (atheist) and Randal Rauser (christian). The debate format of the book gives both writers an opening statement, a rebuttal, and a closing statement per chapter. Randal argues in the affirmative in the odd numbered chapters and John does in the even numbered chapters. There are a total of 20 debate topics: 1. If There Is No God, Then Life Has No Meaning 2. The Biblical Co “God Or Godless? One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions.” This is a short book co-written by John W. Loftus (atheist) and Randal Rauser (christian). The debate format of the book gives both writers an opening statement, a rebuttal, and a closing statement per chapter. Randal argues in the affirmative in the odd numbered chapters and John does in the even numbered chapters. There are a total of 20 debate topics: 1. If There Is No God, Then Life Has No Meaning 2. The Biblical Concept of God Evolved from Polytheism to Monotheism 3. If There Is No God, Then Everything Is Permitted 4. The Biblical God Required Child Sacrifices for His Pleasure 5. Science Is No Substitute for Religion 6. The Biblical God Commanded Genocide 7. God Is the Best Explanation of the Whole Shebang 8. The Biblical God Does Not Care Much about Slaves 9. If There Is No God, Then We Don’t Know Anything 10. The Biblical God Does Not Care Much about Women 11. Love Is a Many Splendored Thing, but Only if God Exists 12. The Biblical God Does Not Care Much about Animals 13. Everybody Has Faith 14. The Biblical God Is Ignorant about Science 15. God Is Found in the Majesty of the Hallelujah Chorus 16. The Biblical God Is Ignorant about the Future 17. God Best Explains the Miracles in People’s Lives 18. The Biblical God Is an Incompetent Creator 19. Jesus Was Resurrected, So Who Do You Think Raised Him? 20. The Biblical God Is an Incompetent Redeemer. I admit as an atheist I could be biased but I think John made the better arguments throughout the book. His chapter on child sacrifice gives Randal some trouble from what I could tell. One of my favorite quotes from John is on page 90 in the chapter about women, “There is a running joke among skeptics that sometime in the future when homosexuality and animal rights are fully embraced by Christians (something already in process), they will argue that Christianity was the catalyst for these social changes, just as they now falsely argue their faith was the catalyst for the origins of science, the abolition of slavery, and women’s rights.” I give Randal credit too. From what I could tell, his theology is somewhat progressive. I could be wrong but his defense of his faith had some apologetic answers that I wasn’t familiar with and I think Christians (conservative especially) need to give his work a read. Neither debater will have all of the answers you want to hear because it’s a small book. However, they leave resources at the end of the book for further reading of the topics covered in each chapter. “God or Godless” is a great conversation starter and it serves its purpose as that.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Candy Smith

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Having also printed out the entire portion of this book, this is also another dishonest book with John W. Loftus. Pg. 24 Chapter13: Everybody has Faith John’s Rebuttal" “Here I am Lord, your servant Andrea Yates. Speak to me. What would you have me do today? Let’s see what’s in your Holy Book. Hmmm, you say, ‘Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.’ Really? What do you mean? You want me to kill my children? Why them? Yes, I know they are unrighteous, lacking a care f Having also printed out the entire portion of this book, this is also another dishonest book with John W. Loftus. Pg. 24 Chapter13: Everybody has Faith John’s Rebuttal" “Here I am Lord, your servant Andrea Yates. Speak to me. What would you have me do today? Let’s see what’s in your Holy Book. Hmmm, you say, ‘Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.’ Really? What do you mean? You want me to kill my children? Why them? Yes, I know they are unrighteous, lacking a care for godly things." In response to this liar, whose lying about a verse that has already been explained. He is dishonestly taken the verse out of context. As Skpetics always conveniently tend to do with this, they only read verse 9. Of course, when one reads verse 9, by itself, it sounds horrible by itself and that's why precisely the reason why Skeptics do it. But when one chooses to read the begining part of the chapter, verses 1-8, verse 9 suddenly makes sense and it isn't what Skeptics try to make it out to be. One will then actually understand why verse 9 is being said, instead of lying and saying that God wants us to do what it says, which it doesn't say (even say that). Let's read what Verses 1-9 says which is taken directly from the second article. "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion. We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it. For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, and those who plundered us requested mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth—if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy. Remember, O Lord, against the sons of Edom the day of Jerusalem, who said, “Raze it, raze it, to its very foundation!” O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed, happy the one who repays you as you have served us! Happy the one who takes and dashes your little ones against the rock!" There is a lot more that is said in the article so I would definitely recommend that you read it. But I just provided the entire verse starting from Verse 1 and then reading all the way to verse 9. https://carm.org/why-does-psalmist-sp... https://www.apologeticspress.org/apco... https://www.gotquestions.org/dashing-...

  14. 4 out of 5

    J.R. Coltaine

    A fun and brisk read that has all the classic marks of a theism debate in our generation. Randal Rauser is not only a clear thinking philosopher, he is an excellent writer. His prose is full of humor and clear illustration. This may frustrate some, but there is both art and feeling in Randal's writing. John Loftus is no slouch either, leveling many accusations against the Christian God with vigor and refusing to give any ground. Loftus is typical of many of the atheist spokesmen of our day. He i A fun and brisk read that has all the classic marks of a theism debate in our generation. Randal Rauser is not only a clear thinking philosopher, he is an excellent writer. His prose is full of humor and clear illustration. This may frustrate some, but there is both art and feeling in Randal's writing. John Loftus is no slouch either, leveling many accusations against the Christian God with vigor and refusing to give any ground. Loftus is typical of many of the atheist spokesmen of our day. He is enthralled with science. His intuition is that theism is improbable. And he fails to see the philosophical foundations of his worldview. Rauser consistently points past Loftus's insistence that evolution explains the world to the questions that science can't answer. Loftus consistently points past Rauser's arguments to the things in Scripture that offend modern values. The format of the book does not allow full discussions of any one point. It allows limited back and forth, and both sides have reason to feel frustrated or vindicated. While this book does feel like it has all the earmarks of a Christian philosopher debating a New Atheist enamored with science, the questions Rauser and Loftus sought to engage are not the same old topics you hear in debates again and again. They tread in familiar territory from time to time, but Rauser levels arguments for theism that you don't often hear in debate, and Loftus takes the opportunity in his volume of questions to address some particular issues of offense with the Scriptures. While Rauser's responses to objections to Old Testament morality may seem undeveloped to some, I am immensely grateful for the broad apologetic he chose, focusing on the whole story of God's redemption and emphasizing the message of Christ rather than defending specific incidents in the Old Testament. An entertaining and brisk read that will be especially rewarding for those familiar with these kinds of debates. For those who seek an in depth engagement, knock down collisions, or easy answers this book may prove frustrating. Rauser and Loftus argue past each other, with Rauser often arguing about foundations of meaning and value and Loftus often arguing about an intuitive improbability of Christianity that he seems to feel all honest people share.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lynne Modranski

    Not really impressed. If I was not a Christian, I wouldn't be convinced. John calls himself an atheist, but he shares more like a disgruntled agnostic. He gives no evidence that there is no God. All of his arguments imply he doesn't like the God Randall is talking about. He picks and chooses scripture to back his arguments and actually says that evolution is fact. As far as I've studied the origins of the earth have not been scientifically proven, and can't be. Randall does just as poor a job con Not really impressed. If I was not a Christian, I wouldn't be convinced. John calls himself an atheist, but he shares more like a disgruntled agnostic. He gives no evidence that there is no God. All of his arguments imply he doesn't like the God Randall is talking about. He picks and chooses scripture to back his arguments and actually says that evolution is fact. As far as I've studied the origins of the earth have not been scientifically proven, and can't be. Randall does just as poor a job convincing me Christianity is all it's cracked up to be. He leaves out facts like the Bible deals more with God building a relationship with individuals than it does in making cultural changes. He neglects to help John see that God rebuilding the original planned relationship with Adam will and has brought about the cultural changes that John complains about in his arguments. Randall completely ignores the truth that our loving heavenly Father put free will in place from the very beginning, knowing it would be a bad thing, but He did it because He wanted a relationship with His created and a relationship that is forced is no relationship at all. I'm no apologist, but when I brought a couple of John's points to my Bible Study group to discuss, they blew him out of the water in just a few minutes, something Randall never could do. The book is well written, but the arguments, the research and the theology are lacking. If you want a good book on apologetics, check out something by Tim LaHaye. Avoid this unless you're looking for insight into disenchanted past Christians and progressives that don't really understand the heart of the scripture.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Clinton Wilcox

    Special thanks to Baker Books for the free copy to review. This book has a very interesting premise. Instead of a book with one long debate about whether or not God exists, this book contains twenty short debates on a variety of topics, everything from whether or not life has meaning apart from God and whether science is a substitute for religion to whether or not God cares about women or if He is ignorant of the future. The book can be consumed in large quantities or in bite-sized chunks, readi Special thanks to Baker Books for the free copy to review. This book has a very interesting premise. Instead of a book with one long debate about whether or not God exists, this book contains twenty short debates on a variety of topics, everything from whether or not life has meaning apart from God and whether science is a substitute for religion to whether or not God cares about women or if He is ignorant of the future. The book can be consumed in large quantities or in bite-sized chunks, reading one or two debates at a time. It should be stated that since the debates are short (this was by design), then not everything that can be said on these topics are said. So this should really be treated as more of an introduction to these topics, and each debater does give books for further reading on all of the topics if you wish to look more into them. This is actually my first experience with Randal Rauser. I have read one of Loftus' books where he quotes Rauser, but I am unfamiliar with his writings or his stances on certain issues. So I was looking forward to this book, not only because of the back and forth exchange, but so that I can familiarize myself with another Christian philosopher. Admittedly I am no fan of John Loftus. He's simply a poor philosopher, despite having once taught a class on the subject. The fact that in the very first argument of the very first debate he starts taking potshots at Christians makes me very hesitant to take him seriously, especially since his argument is just dead wrong (the argument is that since Christians are deluded and Christianity offers a false hope, it motivates Christians not to care about social ills. This is simply patently false, especially since Christians have consistently been on the forefront of opposing and ending human rights violations, everything from slavery to civil rights, to opposing the current human rights violation of abortion.) Loftus also makes the ridiculous assertion that religion has never solved any problems or answered any questions, whereas science has. This is simply uneducated nonsense. Before the 1900's, science was a Christian pursuit. Scientists were motivated by their faith in God to study the universe that God created, because by studying it they would learn about God. Religion motivated the development of science as we know it today. Plus, philosophy has sometimes preceded science. When Al Ghazali formulated the Kalam Cosmological Argument, he argued that the universe had a beginning using philosophical arguments that an actual infinity of time couldn't exist. It was later that a Belgian monk discovered the Big Bang. Lest you think I am harsh on Loftus because he's an Atheist, that's certainly not the case. I just think a much better thinker could have been selected to support the Atheist side. For every poor Atheist philosopher like Loftus, Richard Carrier, or Richard Dawkins, there are good Atheist philosophers like Graham Oppy, Kai Nielsen, or Quentin Smith. The debate remains very cordial, which is refreshing for such a controversial topic which has the capacity for turning very ugly (although the debate on whether or not the Biblical God cares about slaves seemed to get a little bit heated near the end). However, as I have read many of the reviews on Amazon, it seems that many people are put off by Randal's style. John has a more upfront approach, just giving his arguments. There's nothing wrong with this. Randal prefers a more literary style, telling a story or giving an analogy to illustrate his point. There is also nothing wrong with this. In fact, authors have a long tradition of using works of fiction to illustrate philosophical points. Take George Orwell's 1984, Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, and Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, to name but a few. Randal's story-telling doesn't take away from his arguments, it elucidates them. John does have a frustrating habit of ignoring Randal's arguments altogether and just repeating his earlier points. As I stated earlier, I do view that many of these debates are one-sided just because Randal's points are so strong and most of John's arguments are just not well-reasoned at all, as becomes apparent early on. John rejects Randal's arguments just because he's an Atheist and he needs to find any reason to support his Atheism, not because Randal's points are bad. That being said, I do think John makes some good points, so they're not all bad. As I mentioned earlier, Randal does make some major mistakes in his theology, such as supposing that a perfect God, one who cannot lie, would allow false statements about himself into the Scriptures that he supposedly inspired. And while I believe Randal was the clear winner in most of these debates, I think John did have the upper hand in a few of them. I obviously have many gripes about John Loftus. But while fewer, I do have some about Randal Rouser. First is the position that he rejects Biblical inerrancy. I think this is dangerous for a Christian to do and is why I don't think I could recommend him as a philosopher, and this is something that John does call him on a few times. Second, Randal apparently doesn't know what "begging the question" is (it's an informal logical fallacy). Randal keeps saying "that begs the question" when he obviously means "that raises the question." It's a common, and possibly understandable, mistake for a layman, but one that a professional philosopher shouldn't make. You should look elsewhere if you're looking for a more academic treatment of these issues. However, I did find the book an enjoyable and easy read, and I think it's a good book to introduce yourselves to many of the topics presented here.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    I liked the debate-styled format but I think it may have been beneficial to cut down the number of questions so that the remaining ones could have fleshed out more and preserve the length of the book. You could definitely tell they were trying to stick to a word count. I've enjoyed several of John Loftus' books previously so was familiar with his style and arguments already. Randall's arguments really didn't have much meat to them. He seemed to rely on semantics and definitions more than getting I liked the debate-styled format but I think it may have been beneficial to cut down the number of questions so that the remaining ones could have fleshed out more and preserve the length of the book. You could definitely tell they were trying to stick to a word count. I've enjoyed several of John Loftus' books previously so was familiar with his style and arguments already. Randall's arguments really didn't have much meat to them. He seemed to rely on semantics and definitions more than getting to real answers. But I guess in this subject, no one has the definite complete answer.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cory

    Great introduction to all of the topics presented, but no real meat. That's the way the authors intended, I know, but I still would have enjoyed more. Both Randal and John liked to ignore the other's point and go in a different direction for each topic. John was frankly the worst offender, but Randal did it often. Overall enjoyable and a quick, light read. I do recommend it to anyone who wants a good introduction to very heady topics and hopefully it will encourage the reader to research deeper in Great introduction to all of the topics presented, but no real meat. That's the way the authors intended, I know, but I still would have enjoyed more. Both Randal and John liked to ignore the other's point and go in a different direction for each topic. John was frankly the worst offender, but Randal did it often. Overall enjoyable and a quick, light read. I do recommend it to anyone who wants a good introduction to very heady topics and hopefully it will encourage the reader to research deeper into topics that interested them.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chris Branch

    One thing I have to agree with the Christians about is that if we're going to postulate an omniscient, omnipotent creator of the universe who exists outside of time and space, then it's probably not a valid argument to question or claim to know the motives of such a being. Loftus does that numerous times in these debates, for example: "If God was truly concerned with the welfare of animals, he would have consistently stated, 'Thou shalt not mistreat or abuse animals.'" Yes, from a human point of vi One thing I have to agree with the Christians about is that if we're going to postulate an omniscient, omnipotent creator of the universe who exists outside of time and space, then it's probably not a valid argument to question or claim to know the motives of such a being. Loftus does that numerous times in these debates, for example: "If God was truly concerned with the welfare of animals, he would have consistently stated, 'Thou shalt not mistreat or abuse animals.'" Yes, from a human point of view, he certainly would have. But a Christian can legitimately respond that we humans cannot possibly presume to know what God would have or should have done. However, there are two problems with this conclusion. - One: this is such a strong argument that it can (and logically should) be used to shut down ANY argument presented from the atheist side, which makes any debate pointless. No matter what logical points an atheist might make about life, the universe, and everything, the religious can always claim that this human logic cannot be used to know the mind of God. - Two: the entire Christian worldview is based on claiming to know God's motives! The contents of the Bible, although written by humans, are generally claimed to represent the actual message of God. The same argument can be used here: who are we to conclude that this particular collection of myths and legends is really the word of God? Just because a story has been successfully passed down through the centuries to a large number of people says nothing about its truth. Rauser, meanwhile, falls into the trap of believing something because he wants it to be true: "...if you delete God from your worldview... Away goes any standard to judge a life well lived. Gone as well is any sense of an objective moral standard. So too we find objective beauty disappearing from view." Well, yes, that's true - and it's just as true whether we're happy about it or not. So for me, these debates, like all debates of this type, seem like two participants talking past each other. Having said that, it's certainly the case that some people are convinced to change their views based on reading well-stated arguments against their position. I'm not saying that's necessarily a logical thing to do - after all, there may be an argument (such as the "can't know the mind of God" one) that they just haven't thought of. But this book is worth reading for those interested in seeing the philosophical arguments from both sides. For me, though, the question of whether or not there's a god just doesn't deserve all the attention it's gotten over the years. Rather, the important questions are the ones we ask in an effort to learn and understand what is true about the world, and how the universe works. In the distant past, the existence of gods may have seemed like a logical answer to some of our questions. But now history has shown that using science, we're quite capable of finding answers that don't depend on anything supernatural. And when we do encounter things that are currently beyond our scientific understanding, we have to recognize that these things are simply unknown for the moment. Maybe we'll find answers to them eventually, or maybe we won't, but there's never any need to fall back on hypothesizing a god to fill in the gaps in our knowledge just so we can claim to have all the answers. (Note that I read the Kindle edition of this book, obtained from Amazon on July 1st when it was available free. Thanks to Jerry Coyne at http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/ for alerting readers about this deal.)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    I hate to give such a low review because I really wanted to like the book due to it's friendly, conversational nature (though it wasn't particularly friendly, actually -- both authors took a few shots at each other throughout). I would've loved to be able to recommend this to people (Christians in particular) to get some discussion going and introduce them to a perspective (Loftus') that they hadn't thought about before. Unfortunately, it's just not worth it. Rauser's arguments are dismal through I hate to give such a low review because I really wanted to like the book due to it's friendly, conversational nature (though it wasn't particularly friendly, actually -- both authors took a few shots at each other throughout). I would've loved to be able to recommend this to people (Christians in particular) to get some discussion going and introduce them to a perspective (Loftus') that they hadn't thought about before. Unfortunately, it's just not worth it. Rauser's arguments are dismal through the book. It's actually embarrassing, and it quickly became difficult to read his sections because they were so poorly argued. Also, his style of writing long-winded (given the space constraint) stories/analogies to make his point was frustrating to get through. They often were unnecessary and seemed to be there to fill up space when he could've made his point plainly. Let's take one example from the very beginning of Rauser's choice for Chapter 3, "If There Is No God, Then Everything Is Permitted." Rauser, the Christian, writes: \\ The rain is falling steadily outside. As he steeps his cup of tea, he reflects aloud: “It has been a good career, but perhaps it is time to retire. After all, being a serial killer is hard work, especially when you’ve still got a day job.” With a sigh he then smiles, “At least I’ve got much to show for all my efforts.” Indeed, keepsakes from his various crimes litter his cramped home: panties in the bedroom closet with dark stains from blood spilled years ago, a collection of lipsticks buried in the bathroom medicine cabinet, and a few body parts stashed deep in a basement freezer. // Can anyone seriously tell me that was necessary to make his point? His entire first statement continues this way. He writes stories for nearly every chapter of his and makes use of stupid analogies throughout to make his bad arguments. Between this style and Rauser's awful arguments and strawmanning, I just can't rate the book any better than two stars. The two stars I do give to the book are solely for Loftus. Don't get me wrong -- I didn't think all his arguments here were perfect, nor did I think his tone always was. This book is for reaching across to people who may otherwise not bother reading an atheists' arguments. It seems to me it called for a lighter touch, but Loftus occasionally comes off a bit harsh when it just doesn't seem to call for it (one example is his multiple uses of "delusional" or some form of the word). And I don't think he does the best job discussing morality in chapter 3, which would leave many Christians feeling dissatisfied. Still, overall, his arguments are solid and much, much better than Rauser's. He calls Rauser out multiple times for continually punting to "possibly God did it for this reason -- even though that's a stretch and not an argument based on any actual evidence, since I'm just trying to let God off the hook somehow." At a certain point, that's all Rauser had, and "God's ways are higher than ours" is a pathetic argument. Anyone can just make up some potential explanation to anything when we're dealing with an almighty being, but these arguments just aren't convincing to anyone but Christians who want to believe and will take anything to wiggle out of facing the facts. At a certain point, I was just reading on to see just how consistently bad Rauser's arguments were. In that sense, he did not disappoint. I love Loftus' "Why I Became an Atheist (2012 Revised and Expanded Edition)" and I like his "The Outsider Test For Faith." In fact, I'd highly recommend steering clear of this book in favor of one or both of those.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    God or Godless features twenty questions, ten raised by each an atheist and a Christian. Both parties then have a brief debate about the topic raised and the items raised by one another. Honestly had the format been any different it might have become entirely too tedious. However, I must note that some of the questions, or should I say the phrasing of them, were odd on the part of the Christian. For instance: Love Is A Many Splendid Thing, But Only if God Exists (the "support" for this was one o God or Godless features twenty questions, ten raised by each an atheist and a Christian. Both parties then have a brief debate about the topic raised and the items raised by one another. Honestly had the format been any different it might have become entirely too tedious. However, I must note that some of the questions, or should I say the phrasing of them, were odd on the part of the Christian. For instance: Love Is A Many Splendid Thing, But Only if God Exists (the "support" for this was one of the more convoluted and stupid of the bunch) and perhaps my favorite, God is Found in the Majesty of the Hallelujah Chorus (okaaaay then). I imagine you are saying, but these are not questions! No they aren't, but they are how each "question" was put forth. One of the more disturbing aspects of the book was the number of times the Christian (Randal) alluded to atheists having apparently GREAT potential to be serial killers. Or, well, being lumped with them at least. Because if you don't have god, then what is holding you back from murdering freely? What an incredible argument! (Except, not.) It must be noted that the majority of people that commit crimes? They believe in god, so the whole idea is incredibly indefensible, although he sure tried in his convoluted way. Both the individuals I felt had weak arguments, but the Christian definitely had the far weaker ones. His little stories and analogies were just absolutely awful most of the time and it made his parts even more tedious to read. This debate will definitely not convert anyone to Christianity or atheism, but it did remind me not to debate this crap with religious people--I can only say "you've got to be kidding me" so many times. P.S. Randal apparently thinks "Knock Three Times" is a CREEPY song....am I the only one that finds this absurd? How can I take someone seriously after that?

  22. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Magee

    Ok for a quick read through. A few decent quotes and ideas but nothing massively insightful. "If there is a loving God who knew the future of how his sincere followers would inflict so much pain, oppression, and death on others, then he should have been very clear from the beginning about how they should act. He should have unequivocally condemned slavery, the oppression of women, and the abuse of animals. But he didn't. God also should have specified more completely what Christians should believ Ok for a quick read through. A few decent quotes and ideas but nothing massively insightful. "If there is a loving God who knew the future of how his sincere followers would inflict so much pain, oppression, and death on others, then he should have been very clear from the beginning about how they should act. He should have unequivocally condemned slavery, the oppression of women, and the abuse of animals. But he didn't. God also should have specified more completely what Christians should believe doctrinally. But because he didn't, eight million Christians killed each other in the wars following the Protestant Reformation over issues most Christians today think are silly."

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

    More of a 3.5. The format was interesting, and the actual questions raised were twists on a lot of classics. It was nice to read a "debate-style" book on this topic, hearing from both sides, as nobody was allowed to gloss over inconvenient details. That being said, I'm not sure the version of Christianity that was being represented was one that pretty much anyone I have met shares, it would be great to see someone more mainstream have this type of discussion. He gave up a lot of ground that I kno More of a 3.5. The format was interesting, and the actual questions raised were twists on a lot of classics. It was nice to read a "debate-style" book on this topic, hearing from both sides, as nobody was allowed to gloss over inconvenient details. That being said, I'm not sure the version of Christianity that was being represented was one that pretty much anyone I have met shares, it would be great to see someone more mainstream have this type of discussion. He gave up a lot of ground that I know is precious to many.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Passable but not great. The format does the book no favors. Neither author successfully argues any of their points in the book, probably because of the very tight space constraints they imposed on themselves, combined with the fact that at times each chooses to ignore the point he suppose to be arguing for and instead goes off on an unrelated tangent. I do like the idea of a debate style book, I just don't think it worked particularly well in this case. The upside is that because of the limitatio Passable but not great. The format does the book no favors. Neither author successfully argues any of their points in the book, probably because of the very tight space constraints they imposed on themselves, combined with the fact that at times each chooses to ignore the point he suppose to be arguing for and instead goes off on an unrelated tangent. I do like the idea of a debate style book, I just don't think it worked particularly well in this case. The upside is that because of the limitations it kept the page count down and made for a quick read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    John Hanscom

    Maybe 3 1/2, to be fair. Basically, it was exactly the same book as co-author Randal Rauser's previous book, The Swedish Atheist, the Scuba Diver and Other Apologetic Rabbit Trails, except John Loftus is a real person, as opposed to the imaginary debater in tje other.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Steve Goble

    A decent read, in a short debate format. Anyone who has read polemics from either side most likely will be familiar with all the arguments made here, on both sides, but this book might make a good primer for someone who knows only one side of the debate or who is just wading in.

  27. 4 out of 5

    A'Llyn Ettien

    Moderately interesting coverage of some big questions: probably not likely to change the mind of someone who's already either atheist or Christian, but perhaps helpful for someone who's never really thought about the arguments one way or the other.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nate Claiborne

    3 stars for Rauser's apologetic method/arguments, 5 for the format of the book. Full review coming soon at the blog.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Rauser pathetic attempts at apologetics were brain numbingly awful, Loftus easily clobbered this non opponent . After a while I found the apologetics aka liar for Jesus stuff nauseating .

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lyndon

    Mixed bag. Some conversational debate that helped elucidate positions, but some wacky reasoning on both sides prevented this from being much more than a conversation starter.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.