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In this anthology of recent criticisms aimed at the reasonableness of Christian belief, a former evangelical minister and apologist, author of the critically acclaimed Why I Became an Atheist, has assembled fifteen outstanding articles by leading skeptics, expanding on themes introduced in his first book. Central is a defense of his "outsider test of faith," arguing that b In this anthology of recent criticisms aimed at the reasonableness of Christian belief, a former evangelical minister and apologist, author of the critically acclaimed Why I Became an Atheist, has assembled fifteen outstanding articles by leading skeptics, expanding on themes introduced in his first book. Central is a defense of his "outsider test of faith," arguing that believers should test their faith with the same skeptical standards they use to evaluate the other faiths they reject, as if they were outsiders. Experts in medicine, psychology, and anthropology join Loftus to show why, when this test is applied to Christianity, it becomes very difficult to rationally defend. Collectively, these articles reveal that popular Christian beliefs tend to rely on ignorance of the facts. Drawing together experts in diverse fields, including Hector Avalos, Richard Carrier, David Eller, and Robert Price, this book deals a powerful blow against Christian faith.


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In this anthology of recent criticisms aimed at the reasonableness of Christian belief, a former evangelical minister and apologist, author of the critically acclaimed Why I Became an Atheist, has assembled fifteen outstanding articles by leading skeptics, expanding on themes introduced in his first book. Central is a defense of his "outsider test of faith," arguing that b In this anthology of recent criticisms aimed at the reasonableness of Christian belief, a former evangelical minister and apologist, author of the critically acclaimed Why I Became an Atheist, has assembled fifteen outstanding articles by leading skeptics, expanding on themes introduced in his first book. Central is a defense of his "outsider test of faith," arguing that believers should test their faith with the same skeptical standards they use to evaluate the other faiths they reject, as if they were outsiders. Experts in medicine, psychology, and anthropology join Loftus to show why, when this test is applied to Christianity, it becomes very difficult to rationally defend. Collectively, these articles reveal that popular Christian beliefs tend to rely on ignorance of the facts. Drawing together experts in diverse fields, including Hector Avalos, Richard Carrier, David Eller, and Robert Price, this book deals a powerful blow against Christian faith.

30 review for The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    The new atheists are like Tourette’s syndrome sufferers who’ve just recovered from having laryngitis for two thousand years. They’re not in a reasonable frame of mind. They can’t stop barking, like your neighbour’s really annoying dog. I’ve been avoiding them because I don’t like their table manners. They make me feel like converting to something oozing with 13th century eschatology just to annoy them. They’re the gang I don’t want to be in, too macho for me. But eventually I thought well, gonna The new atheists are like Tourette’s syndrome sufferers who’ve just recovered from having laryngitis for two thousand years. They’re not in a reasonable frame of mind. They can’t stop barking, like your neighbour’s really annoying dog. I’ve been avoiding them because I don’t like their table manners. They make me feel like converting to something oozing with 13th century eschatology just to annoy them. They’re the gang I don’t want to be in, too macho for me. But eventually I thought well, gonna have to beard the atheists in their foul den at some point. So here I am with John Loftus and his posse. DOCTOR OCTOPUS Religion is ten different things being expressed at once. It’s cacophonous and crude and quiet and subtile, it’s a form of ordering the material and the interior world. It’s tentacular. It provides a handy and much-loved convention for shrugging off unmediated contemplation of our existential terror of being thrown into a world we have no hope of understanding in which we are haunted by suffering and extinction minute by minute, hour by hour. Who does not wish for a plank across that terrible void? And here we are in a world in which the non-religious explanations are now completely beyond the wits of anyone without a physics PhD. We were okay with the idea of the Earth going round the Sun, the planets all clockworking around the firmament, the solar system in its beautiful galaxy. Not too many years ago astronomy was cosy. (a tiny orrery) Ain’t like that any more. Now they write books about the first three seconds after the big bang. They discover quasars and pulsars and dark matter and black holes, and maybe other big bangs and other universes. Heck, I don’t know. This thing called creation has got out of hand. It’s got so unnerving that a lot of people can’t take all this stuff, and never mind the geneticists and the in-eye computers and 3D printing and growing human ears on mice’s backs and all that. Hence religion is actually getting more popular. It doesn’t explain anything but it does provide some kind of rules – believe this book here, go here once a week, do this five times a day, etc etc, and you’ll be golden. Or does it? Hmmmm. BACK TO MONO According to religion, revelation is the only way we get to know about God. He appears to us; he embodies himself. It could be internally, or in a bush, or a talking wombat, hell, I wasn’t there. God tells us through revelation what his desires are. He issues memos. [There is a school of thought which accepts the existence of the omniscient creator God but rejects the notion of revelation. This is Deism. It believes that God has either no interest in any kind of human interventions or is beyond consciousness, like gravity, which does not assume human form and enquire after your health after you trip and fall. Well, that’s just cranky. What’s the point of a God if you never get to talk to him? ] You can see the three great monotheist religions as a project to pick up the phone whenever God calls. This is where John Loftus says well, the people writing down the messages have been grossly negligent over the years and have foisted a series of misheard misinterpreted half understood Chinese whispers onto us all, which has resulted in distressingly doctrinal denunciations and dozens of denominational disputes leading to many cranial fractures being rained down on Christians by Christians. The last 2000 years have witnessed vast amounts of Christian-on-Christian violence. Christians cannot be happy with the way things have panned out. But it takes two to tango. Sure, the message-takers were negligent. But God should have enunciated more clearly. EXAMPLES OF DRASTIC MISCOMMUNICATION Leviticus 25 Verses 44-45 you may buy male and female slaves from the nations all around you. Also you may buy slaves from the children of the foreigners who reside with you, and from their families that are with you, whom they have fathered in your land, they may become your property. Exodus 22 verse 25 If you lend money to any of my people who are needy among you, do not be like a moneylender to him; do not charge him interest The great majority of Christians today would tell you that slavery is evil; also they would have no problem with the concept of charging interest on a loan. So these two verses from the Bible are reinterpreted. And that’s okay, so they should be. But verses like those, and there are many others, provoke the reasonable question – in what way is the Bible the revealed word of God? Exactly how? Even if Christians reinterpret such passages to mean something other than what they appear to say, God is still proven to have been one of the worst communicators in history. All of this could have been prevented and clarified right from the start, and to the benefit of countless people, by even an average communicator, much less one with the alleged talents of a god. ATTEMPTS TO EXPLAIN GOD’S FAILURE TO MAKE IT CLEAR WHAT HE ACTUALLY WANTS Christians explain these drastic failures in verious ways. 1) the people who misunderstood stuff and did the terrible things like the Inquisition or the 30 Years War or the Albigensian Crusade weren’t really Christians – this would apply to a whole lot of people. Check out the goings on in Central African Republic right now, for instance - http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014...) 2) yes, atrocities did/do happen but you should have seen what the other lot were doing (this does not work when it’s Christians killing Christians as in the destruction of Constantinople by the 4th Crusade, 1204) 3) the Bible shows us a progressive revelation, moving away from the harsh eye for an eye Mosaic laws to the compassion of Christ. JL says : But what can morally justify how long it took God to do this, given the massive amount of carnage that took place in the meantime? All he had to do from the very beginning was to give them the correct morals the first time around. And all he had to do in Jesus was to be clearer to the church who even misunderstood him 4) we are fallen, corrupt humans, so what do you expect? We’re always going to screw things up. Well, I buy that, it’s true, humans are fairly dreadful, all right, but then, why bother with this whole revelation project then? It was bound to fail. And God knew that. It’s like – yeah, we failed. Big reveal. A CROSS-SECTIONAL, LONGITUDINAL FIELD EXPERIMENT So the more you think about this stuff, the more you get the impression that the whole thing looks like a cross-sectional, longitudinal psychology field experiment. God constructed a giant experiment with us instead of rats, beginning some time in the Bronze Age. He observes what we do when we are given difficult, obscure information at inappropriate times in our history. E.g. we’re told that we all have souls and if we don’t follow the correct moral path in our human life, we’ll be sent to Hell and this would like being burned forever. But like Milgram’s famous experiments, God’s human experiment is profoundly unethical. Whilst it might be argued that consent was obtained from Moses in his set-up meeting on Sinai, it’s disingenuous to extend Moses’ acquiescence on behalf of his tribe to the rest of us billions. Furthermore, we should have the right to withdraw from the experiment at any time, and of course, we haven’t, we’re stuck in it for life. And lastly, as I understand from my daughter’s psychology textbook “the participants should not be mentally or physically harmed”. On these grounds, God’s experiment should end now. I'LL BURN MY BOOKS!—AH, MEPHISTOPHILIS![EXEUNT DEVILS WITH BRYANT.] This is a very strong book which has some great essays in it to provoke and engage anyone interested in Christianity. It’s hampered by fighting too many battles at once. A lot of it seems to be taking up arms against evangelicals and their literal interpretations – that didn’t interest me so much. And along with all polemical tracts these writers come across as strident and patronizing quite frequently. I don’t think you can avoid that in writing from an atheist point of view, if you’re calling millions of people idiots, or heavily implying that they are. But however, this book will be useful for those in the penumbra of faith - it should bring some craved-for clarity. ALTERNATIVE ENDING Or instead of reading this, you could shell out for a fabulous box set of early gospel stuff You won't be disappointed. 6 cds, 200 page booklet - one cd is all sermons including "Black Diamond Express to Hell Parts 1 and 2" and "Death Might Be Your Santa Claus".

  2. 5 out of 5

    Landon

    This book has been touted as the definitive refutation of Christianity, but potential readers should come to it with less lofty expectations. Some of the chapters in this book are well worth-reading. Most of them are at least interesting and informative. Some of them are excellent. I originally planned on writing a chapter-by-chapter review, but I don't have the time or motivation to do that at the moment so I'll briefly highlight some of the important points and sometime later will (probably) f This book has been touted as the definitive refutation of Christianity, but potential readers should come to it with less lofty expectations. Some of the chapters in this book are well worth-reading. Most of them are at least interesting and informative. Some of them are excellent. I originally planned on writing a chapter-by-chapter review, but I don't have the time or motivation to do that at the moment so I'll briefly highlight some of the important points and sometime later will (probably) finish my chapter-by-chapter discussion (chapter one is already completed below). The beginning of the book is full of interesting articles, but I still haven't figured out precisely what we're supposed to take from them. One chapter argues that Christianity is a cultural phenomenon, another two argue that the human mind has certain defects that should give us pause when we claim certainty about our religious beliefs (if we know about these defects), and another chapter argues that when evaluating religion we should use the so-called "outsider test for faith" (in other words, we should methodologically assume that our religion is false and consider it as if we were an outsider--in that situation, how much evidence would we require before we believe?). These chapters are interesting, but not the best of the book. There is a good chapter about ancient Hebrew cosmology, which argues that the authors of the early Old Testament documents believed in a flat earth (among their other cosmological beliefs). The implication here is that these stories were clearly myths written down by ignorant people. In my opinion, Sam Harris puts the point best in his book "The End of Faith": "The Bible, it seems certain, was the work of sand-strewn men and women who thought the earth was flat and for whom a wheelbarrow would have been a breathtaking example of emerging technology." There is also a really good chapter arguing that the Bible is full of myths, forgeries, failed prophecies, etc. John Loftus (the editor) ends this section with an interesting chapter which argues that if the Bible is God's word, then he is not a good communicator, because the message is not clear (indeed, thousands of years of differing interpretations has led to a great deal of bloodshed). Hector Avalos has an okay chapter arguing that Yahweh is a moral monster. Actually, Avalos spends the whole time simply trying to refute the argument by Christian apologist Paul Copan who argued that Yahweh isn't a moral monster. This chapter basically finds problems with Copan's argument. It's not required reading for most of us, but if you ever spend the time reading Copan's argument you should supplement it with this chapter. John Loftus follows this with an interesting and informative argument about animal suffering, which he calls the Darwinian problem of evil. The basic thesis is that there is so much animal suffering (especially suffering built right into the evolutionary process) that it is unreasonable to assume that an all-good, all-powerful, and all-knowing God exists. This is the classic problem of evil reformulated to deal with animal suffering. Robert Price has an okay chapter which responds to a book written by two Christian scholars which criticized Price's previous work. He's an entertaining writer, but the layman will be lost when reading this chapter and will only be able to retain a few points. This chapter really reads like something New Testament scholars would like to read, though it is not itself all that scholarly of a paper. Richard Carrier's chapter on the unbelievability of the resurrection is probably the best chapter in the book, and is one of the only chapters that actually fulfills the promise to refute Christianity. Every Christian should read this chapter, because it sums up in about twenty pages the main reason that skeptics reject the resurrection of Jesus (and it's probably a better summary case than you can find anywhere else). John Loftus finishes this section with another interesting paper, in which he argues that, at best, Jesus was merely a failed apocalyptic prophet in the first century. All of the legends were added later. David Eller has an informative but amateurish chapter about morality. Eller is an anthropologist and a moral relativist, and he claims that we can have morality without religion. Of course if we think of morality as relative, I don't know any Christian apologists who really argue otherwise. One of the main claims is that if there is no God, then there is no objective morality (which is not relative). Eller does nothing to address this issue, he merely argues that we can have moral standards even if we don't have religion. Avalos has another chapter, this time a much better one in which he criticizes Christian apologist Dinesh D'Souza for his claim that the Holocaust was caused by Darwinian atheism. Avalos argues pretty convincingly that Hitler was more influenced by Martin Luther than Charles Darwin. Lastly, Carrier has another great essay, this time taking on the claim made by certain Christian apologists that Christianity not only was the cause of modern science, but that it was also a necessary cause. Carrier is clearly in his element here, decisively refuting scholars like Stark and Jaki who claim such things. If you ever hear anybody making this claim, direct them to this paper. ----- Chapter 1: David Eller has a very well-written chapter on what he calls "the cultures of Christianities." He argues that there is no single "Christianity, but instead there are many different Christianities. He argues that religion and culture go hand-in-hand, such that changing one's religious beliefs is often best accomplished by undermining his cultural assumptions and worldview. This is something that missionaries know all too well. It's not enough to simply argue people out of their beliefs by presenting what you think are reasoned arguments. Often times you have to destroy the foundational culture that cements their current religious beliefs and construct a new foundation on which to promote the religion of the missionaries. Eller gives many examples of how religious ideas permeate all of culture. It's in our language, it's in our everyday habits, in our momentous life events, our understanding of time and space, etc. This is all well-documented by Eller in a small amount of space. Likewise, he argues that culture permeates religion. Religions tend to have local varieties depending on what cultural assumptions are read into them. Overall, this was an informative chapter.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bryant Rudisill

    As a Theist, I enjoyed the read for the greater part. (1) The book itself had a nice flow about it, making the transitions from chapter to chapter (and even part to part) fairly smooth in most places. (To be real specific, part 2 and its chapters all flowed so very well into part 3 and consequent chapters.) (2) The author's are definitely passionate learners with strong convictions and I fell in love with their angst. (Robert Price became a bit unbearable to the point of loosing his scholarly rese As a Theist, I enjoyed the read for the greater part. (1) The book itself had a nice flow about it, making the transitions from chapter to chapter (and even part to part) fairly smooth in most places. (To be real specific, part 2 and its chapters all flowed so very well into part 3 and consequent chapters.) (2) The author's are definitely passionate learners with strong convictions and I fell in love with their angst. (Robert Price became a bit unbearable to the point of loosing his scholarly reserve, while Hector Avalos and Richard Carrier seemed to know just when and how to make verbal stabs at Christianity and religion.) (3) Paul Tobin's essay "The Bible and Modern Scholarship," along with Hector Avalos' "Yahweh Is a Moral Monster" were some of the best and most devastating of all the book. Their essays were refreshing and the most scholarly presented of the rest. (4) Christian's should really take into consideration the essays "Atheism Was Not the Cause of the Holocaust" and "Christianity Was Not Responsible for Modern Science" by Avalos and Carrier, respectively. I found many many places for agreement and only relatively few that could be considered beside the point. (5) Loftus is a fun read--a bit too relentless at times--but he tends to make up for it in his writing. While I can't say I was particularly impressed (cognitively) by any of his essays, his one "The Outsider Test for Faith Revisited" is a must read for Theists and presents a very thoughtful Loftus; in other words, he's not just regurgitating others works, he is seriously trying to be original in thought (it's certainly debatable how original the OTF is in principle, but Loftus does some cognitive surgery and refinement that is all his), and this is most commendable. (6) One of my favorite features of this compilation was Loftus' (and a couple others, however, more indirectly) assault on Christian doctrinal variance. Most non-Theists I have interacted with fall prey to the self-defeating notion of Christianity being a close-minded religion. My second move in response to this (after pointing out the self-refutation) is to herald the diversity among (and, dare I say, open to) Christian theology. Loftus takes every opportunity to turn this on its head, arguing from the diversity of doctrine to (what he sees as the logical consequence for every believer) skepticism. Beautiful! (7) Babinski's article "The Cosmology of the Bible" was an exciting read for me personally, seeing that there was much to agree with or, at least, use as a propaedeutic to rethinking certain issues. Believer's, as a number of orthodox biblical scholars themselves have (I think of former RTS professor Bruce Waltke), need to be more open to accepting the ANE as a backdrop to few (or many) OT narratives without coming to the non-sequiter conclusion that the flame of Inerrancy has been distinguished. From much of what I've seen Christian's need to study the doctrine of Inerrancy and relinquish the Bible-belt notion of it that gets passed on. There is certainly much more good that could be said of the book, but I'll move on to a more negative critical approach. Since parts 2-4 contain the only chapters pertinent to the dismantling of the Christian faith, I will only provide a critical overview of these and deal with part 1 and 5 in my first passing point. Keep in mind I will be just as general in my negative assessment as I was in my positive one above, for this is no space for a long syllogistic refutation of every statement I did not concur with. (1) Part 1, chapter 1-3, were my least favorite and the least convincing of all the book. Like a joke, their punch lines just didn't land. Loftus' fourth chapter was a fun read and definitely showed a maturing thinker, however, I found his principles unnecessary, inconsistently applied on a definitional basis (to be specific, his definition of faith), and waxing into the region of special pleading. I've already spoke of the joy I had in reading part 5 above (point 4 above). (2) Chapter 5 I discussed in point 7 above as in interesting and informative read. I did love this chapter. But this is the time for my negative assessment, which consists primarily in this: the orthodox understanding of Inerrancy could quite easily accept almost entirely what was written without being intimidated. (3) Chapter 6 was definitely a challenging essay and presented in a scholarly fashion. I must admit I do not have the depth of knowledge in the field to competently answer all the questions raised for believers here (one of the reasons I want to praise it so highly). That said, a major logical pitfall I saw sown throughout this chapter was "no secondary evidence, thus event falsified." As others have commented on using this sort of historical methodology in such a negative fashion, how damaging would the same methodology be to the author when its been applied to all of his works--there would be little left to believe by him. (4) Chapter 7, by Loftus, not just a verbally potent chapter (in a way enjoyable) but a cesspool of critical rejoinders to the Christian faith. Unfortunately much of his argument relied on Christian misinterpretation and misapplication of biblical passages, while the others could have been very easily removed from the list by an understanding of the Bible's teaching on the distinction between Israel and the Church. (5) Chapter 8, one of my personal most favorites by Dr. Avalos, is a critique of Christian apologist Paul Copan--and what a critique it was! The only negative thing I can say about this chapter is the unnecessary conclusion that Christians are moral relativists. (6) Chapter 9, another Loftus attack, was primarily a great read. More thought should definitely go into the questions herein raised. I was glad to see him critique many Theistic solutions that were entirely untenable. To be nit-picky, though, I'll mention that I found Loftus to be a little too stringent on what he's expecting from Theism--no one can answer every question, however, if the Christian God exists, then we can work with the assumption that He has a purpose for the animal loss of life; and this answer is perfectly consistent with the Christian worldview. Secondly, Loftus made the statement, "...a triune God who sent one third of himself (?) to become incarnate in Jesus..." The question mark is his, and this either shows a terrible understanding of fundamental Christian doctrine (unlikely knowing his Theistic past), or, which makes me sad to see from him, an intended low-blow at Christianity by misformulating the central doctrine of the Christian faith in an attempt to poison the well for readers not so informed on Christian dogma. (7) Chapter 10 is Robert Price's verbally violent tour de force on Eddy and Boyd's apology for the historicity of Jesus and the Gospels. It was an unbearable slaughter-house of jest-making the likes of King's "Pennywise the Dancing Clown" and if the reader isn't careful he'll end of rushing through the essay at the raging speed you can picture the author writing it in. There was a great deal of excellent critique, however, in his writing--especially in relation to Eddy and Boyd's own work. Since that was his focus (Eddy and Boyd's work, that is) then that is where his arguments land--in their lap. (8) Chapter 11, the work of my author favorite contributor, Dr. Carrier, is intellectually challenging for sure and I would invite Theists of all likes to come and challenge themselves. Unfortunately, Carrier relies heavily on Bayes' theorem--extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims. However, the principle begs the question in analytically ruling out extraordinary events from the start. What makes an event extraordinary is that it is not something that ordinarily happens, so one cannot expect to find surmounting recurring evidence of the extraordinary event--once this happens the claim is no longer extraordinary and neither is the evidence used to support it! (9) Chapter 12, the last chapter I will discuss, and another by Loftus himself, is one I found to be easily refuted by the "traditional" (as opposed to it's progressive counterpart) Dispensational system--one incorrectly defined by Loftus as he seems to have mixed Dispensational Premillennialism up with Historic Premillennialism. With a proper understanding of the distinction between Israel and the Church, the flow of Christ's ministry in the offering of the Kingdom to the Jews and subsequent rejection all the way into the laying of the foundations for the soon-to-be Church; much of the confusion could have been cleared away.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rachael

    While a couple of essays are thought provoking, too many of them feel snotty. One author felt the need to note multiple times in one short essay that Christians must be stupid because they believe in a "book that has a talking donkey." (That's kinda how I felt about him when I finished it.) I suppose when it comes down to anyone trying to persuade me through the written word, I don't have a lot of patience for name-calling, or pettiness. Share your argument and let your argument do the talking. S While a couple of essays are thought provoking, too many of them feel snotty. One author felt the need to note multiple times in one short essay that Christians must be stupid because they believe in a "book that has a talking donkey." (That's kinda how I felt about him when I finished it.) I suppose when it comes down to anyone trying to persuade me through the written word, I don't have a lot of patience for name-calling, or pettiness. Share your argument and let your argument do the talking. Same goes on both sides.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Graham

    If you are looking for a critique of the Christian religion, The Christian Delusion makes a much better case than The God Delusion. Loftus and his authors (the book is a composite of essays) do an excellent job of covering multiple problematic facets of Christian belief. A section on falsifiability and a less combative tone would have made the book worthy of five stars. The first set of essays concentrates on the role religion plays in a believer’s life. One of the better points made is that most If you are looking for a critique of the Christian religion, The Christian Delusion makes a much better case than The God Delusion. Loftus and his authors (the book is a composite of essays) do an excellent job of covering multiple problematic facets of Christian belief. A section on falsifiability and a less combative tone would have made the book worthy of five stars. The first set of essays concentrates on the role religion plays in a believer’s life. One of the better points made is that most people do not acquire their religion from persuasive argument. Rather they are born into it, taught by their parents, and the teachings are reinforced by the society in which they live. Instead of being argued into religion, most are encultured into it. This is the explanation as to why most believers cannot be argued out of it, as they weren’t argued into it in the first place. It is then shown that missionary training manuals are aware of the culture over logic angle, and exploit it. Also discussed, is how, because religion is cultural, modern Christianity is very different than it used to be and the religion itself changes regularly over time. Not only does one have to believe that modern Christianity is correct vs. all other religions, but that modern Christianity is correct vs. all previous and future versions. After the introduction, the main author of the book, Loftus, contributes his Outsider Test for Faith, or OTF for short. This is simply the application of the same level of scrutiny to one’s own religion that one would use when evaluating others. Loftus believes this is convincing to anyone that objectively evaluates his/her own faith. While it is a valid test to ask someone to evaluate one’s own culture, it is probably a tall order for most. The next few chapters discuss how the cosmology of the Bible is incorrect and instead reflective of the cosmology common at the time of its authors (flat earth, heavens being held up by columns, etc.) The section following cosmology was one of the more interesting, in that it shows cases of the Bible directly contradicting academically accepted history. Examples include Nazareth being outside of Judea, and thus would not be subject to a Roman census, and the discrepancy between Quirinius’s census (6 CE) and Herod’s death (4 BCE), yet Jesus is allegedly born under Herod’s rule after the census. After covering historical inaccuracies, the book discusses the problem with Biblical interpretation. Interpretation of biblical passages varies widely, even within sects, and it is here that the author questions why an omniscient deity would create a text knowing that humans would misinterpret it so grossly, especially given all of the killing that has happened due to its misinterpretation. Furthermore it seems that the method to determine the meaning of a passage is quite arbitrary and depends on the mores of the generation reading it (for instance discarding all of the Biblical approvals of slavery). Next the book approaches the topic of how the Old Testament God is immoral. The genocide of the Canaanites and their children is a major concentration. Also covered is the biblical approval of slavery. This is followed by a chapter on how animal suffering is difficult to understand given a benevolent creator, especially given no reward of an afterlife. The next section covers how the resurrection of Jesus is only documented in the Bible, the authors of the Gospels are completely unknown, the Gospels were written long after the alleged resurrection, and supporting texts in the Bible are widely accepted by Biblical scholars to be forgeries. The section concludes with showing the voracity with which Jesus and his early followers espoused his supposedly imminent apocalyptic prophecies. The last three chapters correct some arguments used by some Christians against atheism. First is that Christianity is necessary for morality. This is shown not to be true by using comparative religion of the same and preceding time periods of early Christianity and by referencing Frans De Waal’s Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved (an excellent read) showing that non-human primates most similar to us have many of the precursors of human morality. Another argument covered is that Nazi Germany was an atheistic regime. This idea is soundly defeated by showing that the Nazi policy against Jews was almost identical to Martin Luther’s and that Hitler espoused belief in God and Positive Christianity in Mein Kampf, while there are no references to atheism or to Charles Darwin. The last chapter is an answer to a peculiar recent idea that modern science was made possible by Christianity. This is historically utterly false. Several Greek scientists are shown to make amazing scientific discoveries prior to Christianity. The Christian Delusion won’t convince any true believers, but if you are looking for a consolidated assessment on the logical problems of Christianity, it is definitely worth a read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Eric Wojciechowski

    “The Christian Delusion” is considered by the authors supplemental material to Richard Dawkins', “The God Delusion”. But of course, as the title implies, dealing primarily with Christianity. Filled with numerous essays on this subject, several in particular deal a severe blow to the very heart of Christianity. The one, without a doubt, is “Why the Resurrection is Unbelievable” by Richard Carrier. That is the crux of Christianity, isn't it? As it is written in 1 Corinthians 15:14, “And if Christ “The Christian Delusion” is considered by the authors supplemental material to Richard Dawkins', “The God Delusion”. But of course, as the title implies, dealing primarily with Christianity. Filled with numerous essays on this subject, several in particular deal a severe blow to the very heart of Christianity. The one, without a doubt, is “Why the Resurrection is Unbelievable” by Richard Carrier. That is the crux of Christianity, isn't it? As it is written in 1 Corinthians 15:14, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” Well, Carrier and the other contributors to this collection of essays do a superb job showing why perhaps the entire New Testament is myth and not history. I also really like John W. Loftus', “The Outsider Test for Faith Revisited”. I read his book, "How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist" which is an expansion on the OTF so I'm quite familiar with it already. This shorter essay in the present volume does just fine explaining it. In summary, the OTF is the position one should take before adopting a religion. In practice, what you do is examine your religion as if you were not part of it. Review it from the perspective of an outsider and see if it still holds up. The religious do it all the time but with other religions, rarely their own. For instance, a Christian could probably tell you why Islam is wrong and vice versa. So it's simple, apply the same skepticism honestly to your own faith and see what happens. Also examined are why the Bible is not God's word. Obviously, all one has to do is read the thing to see this couldn't possibly come from an omnipotent being. It contradicts itself in advice and the “proper” way of living. It is full of errors that only human writers of the time would have made. And it's been forged, meddled with, added and subtracted to so much that it's clearly the work of hundreds (thousands?) of authors and not any divine word. And finally it wraps up with why Christianity isn't necessary for, nor does it provide any good basis for morality. This is an excellent collection of essays here on the God Delusion which doesn't seem to be fading away any time fast.

  7. 4 out of 5

    David Melbie

    The latest and greatest from some wonderful critical thinkers of the 21st century! I especially like the chapter, "Atheism Was Not The Cause Of The Holocaust," by Hector Avalos, Phd. Also quite revealing is one of the four chapters contributed by Loftus called, "At Best Jesus Was A Failed Apocalyptic Prophet." First read: July 11 - 30, 2010 Read it again in October, 2010.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    One of the worst pieces of atheology on the market. This is fundy village atheism at its finest. Here's my thoughts in the book: http://www.calvindude.com/ebooks/Infi... One of the worst pieces of atheology on the market. This is fundy village atheism at its finest. Here's my thoughts in the book: http://www.calvindude.com/ebooks/Infi...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Seth

    The Christian Delusion by John Loftus happens to be the first book on atheist philosophy that I’ve ever taken the time to read. Prior to reading this book, I assumed that all philosophy was far outside my realm of understanding and that I’d never be one to buy such literature. However, I feel as though The Christian Delusion was fairly accessible to a teenage reader, such as me. That isn’t to say that it was an easy read; in fact, I found that if I tried to read this as quickly as I do with othe The Christian Delusion by John Loftus happens to be the first book on atheist philosophy that I’ve ever taken the time to read. Prior to reading this book, I assumed that all philosophy was far outside my realm of understanding and that I’d never be one to buy such literature. However, I feel as though The Christian Delusion was fairly accessible to a teenage reader, such as me. That isn’t to say that it was an easy read; in fact, I found that if I tried to read this as quickly as I do with other books, I retained little to none of the information. I’ve learned that with philosophy, it takes time to let the ideas truly sink in and resonate with the reader. I realize that many of my classmates do not share the same beliefs as me (or lack thereof), but I would still encourage them to read this book because I honestly feel like it was intended to be read by theists as well, not solely atheists. One of my favorite aspects of this book is that it deals with human nature in general, thus explaining our tendencies and actions. An example of this would be when Loftus speaks of how humans in general search for patterns and simple explanations in order to understand the world around us. He writes, “Such a practice results in an incorporation of elements that fit into an understandable answer and neglect of elements that do not.” He goes on to say, “With respect to religion, people will often remember ‘answered’ prayers but will forget or rationalize the unanswered ones.” This has always been an idea that I’ve played around with in my head and even brought up in conversation with my older brother, who is also an atheist. So, I was quite pleased when I discovered that Loftus had highlighted this same point in his book. Aside from searching for simple explanations, people are determined to defend their beliefs from attack. It is for this same reason that most people will deem an argument invalid as soon as they learn it backs a different standpoint from their own. It is for this reason that most theists who see this book would immediately label it as sacrilege and not bother to read it because they’ve already determined it to be false. However, I believe atheists are just as guilty of this tendency as well. I know for a fact that I don’t take many pro-religious arguments seriously because I already feel confident that I’m right. It is for this reason that I respect Loftus, for he raises many arguments posed by theists and counters them with his own logic. While he does still ultimately deem them to be incorrect, he gives them honest thought and in a few instances even notes that they are interesting challenges to his own arguments. One of the major points that Loftus stresses in his book is what he calls: the outsider test of faith (OTF). The OTF is essentially asking a theist to critically examine their faith through the viewpoint of someone who does not share the same beliefs as them. Just as they dismiss religious beliefs other than their own as incorrect, the OTF requires them to use the same critical judgment on their faith. The person taking the OTF must use rational logic and actual proof that doesn’t stem from their beliefs to back them, so, in the case of Christians, this means no quoting from the Bible as a source of information. Ultimately, Loftus is hoping that after going through this process, theists will realize that there is no true way to rationalize their beliefs and thus abandon them because he went through this very process himself. However, I feel he is too optimistic in this hope. I doubt that many people can truly take this test and give up something that has such a large part in their life and ideology. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Christian Delusion. A few portions were a bit above my comprehension, but on the whole, I was fairly able to understand Loftus’ points. For my first book of philosophy ever, I’d say it was an interesting read. I’m not sure if I’d pick up a book of this caliber on a regular basis, but every now and then, I could see myself reading something like this again. As I said before, I would recommend others to read this book, and, for theists, to actually try and take the OTF if they feel so inclined. That being said, I’m not trying to force anyone to become atheist and I’m certainly not trying to insult anyone who is religious. I just feel like it would be an interesting experiment. Either way, I’m giving this book five stars because I personally found it enjoyable.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Book

    The Christian Delusion by John W. Loftus “The Christian Delusion" is an extension of sorts to his previous great book “Why I Became an Atheist” but instead of going solo this time around John Loftus brings along some of his friends and these are good friends to have. A series of interesting essays by fantastic authors that support the main thesis of the book, that Christianity is a false belief. This 422-page book is broken out into the following five parts: Part 1. Why Faith Fails, Part 2. Why t The Christian Delusion by John W. Loftus “The Christian Delusion" is an extension of sorts to his previous great book “Why I Became an Atheist” but instead of going solo this time around John Loftus brings along some of his friends and these are good friends to have. A series of interesting essays by fantastic authors that support the main thesis of the book, that Christianity is a false belief. This 422-page book is broken out into the following five parts: Part 1. Why Faith Fails, Part 2. Why the Bible is not God’s Word, Part 3. Why the Christian God is not Perfectly Good, Part 4. Why Jesus is not the Risen Son of God, and Part 5. Why Society Does not Depend on Christian Faith. Positives: 1. A well-written and high-quality analogy. Highly accessible to the masses. 2. Fifteen great essays from nine great authors and an excellent Forward by Dan Barker. 3. A fascinating topic in the hands of a master. Many thought-provoking ideas and concepts. 4. Great format that allows readers to jump from one topic to another. I also like how the contributors tackle popular apologist’s points of view. 5. The false sense of certainty that comes from faith. Many angles taken. 6. An analysis of Christian culture. 7. A brief history of Christianity. 8. The power of Christian belief under the scrutiny of cognitive science. Many misconceptions put to rest. 9. The inefficacy of prayers. Psychology and neuroscience to good use. 10. The compelling outsider test for faith. 11. The Bible put under the scrutiny of scholars. What their examinations “reveal” to the rest of us. The inconsistencies, bad cosmology, fables, failed prophecies, forgeries, and the lack of supporting historical evidence. 12. Slavery one of the strongest arguments against the biblical god. Moral relativism. 13. God’s problem of Miscommunication. 14. The problem of evil as denoted in the Bible and the amount of animal suffering. 15. The false beliefs held by Christians. The failure of miracles. The myths. 16. How modern society does not depend on Christianity for morality or science. 17. How human morality evolved. 18. Debunking the false notion that atheism was the cause of the atrocities of Hitler. 19. How Christianity has evolved. 20. Common fallacies including that Christianity lead to science. 21. Great quotes throughout, “Christians are not easily argued out of their religion because, since it is culture, they are not ordinarily argued into it in the first place”. 22. Comprehensive notes at the end of each chapter. Negatives: 1. No kindle links. 2. Requires an investment of time but so well worth it. In summary, “The Christian Delusion”, is yet another excellent book by John Loftus. The essays are compelling, thought-provoking and fun to read. If you are a Christian, and you care that your beliefs correspond to reality as closely as possible then you must take a look at this book. I highly recommend it! 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" and "Cruel Creeds, Virtuous Violence: Religious Violence Across Culture and History" 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.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jc

    A well-written and well-selected series of papers criticising christian theism and basic christian beliefs (with an emphasis on conservative Protestantism). The authors are well known authorities in their respective fields (e.g., anthropology, pscychology, NT-era history), and the papers all work well together to reveal issues with philosophical, historical, behavioral, and other aspects of christianity. Specialists in a any academic field can attest to the tendency in any collection of papers t A well-written and well-selected series of papers criticising christian theism and basic christian beliefs (with an emphasis on conservative Protestantism). The authors are well known authorities in their respective fields (e.g., anthropology, pscychology, NT-era history), and the papers all work well together to reveal issues with philosophical, historical, behavioral, and other aspects of christianity. Specialists in a any academic field can attest to the tendency in any collection of papers to contain some papers are just a waste of the readers time. In this case, of the 10 authors (plus a Dan Barker introduction) and 14-15 papers, I only found one that I thought was poorly written (required having another book open to read in parallel), and one paper that didn't interest me that much (not badly written, but redundant from Loftus' previous work). The others were all of great interest to me and well written -- including a chapter by David Eller, the anthropologist who wrote "Natural Atheism" (see my previous review of that work). I would recommend "The Christian Delusion" to three groups: 1)Those interested in social/historical/psychological and other aspects of the christian movement and how it infiltrated European/American cultures. 2)Atheists/agnostics who are looking for better understanding of the arguments involved in theistic thinking, particularly christian thinking, and the limitations of those arguments. 3)Self-identified "christians" who are having some doubts and are curious of other ways of viewing their religion.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

    3.5 stars, really. This book addresses some very challenging topics/questions regarding the Christianity familiar to many in the United States of America. Definitely biased towards a skeptic/atheist mindset at many points, sometimes unfairly so, but this fact does not discredit the many valid points raised. Chapters are written by different people from various fields of study, providing a wide range of opinions and perspectives. Some chapters are better than others. At times the arguments made a 3.5 stars, really. This book addresses some very challenging topics/questions regarding the Christianity familiar to many in the United States of America. Definitely biased towards a skeptic/atheist mindset at many points, sometimes unfairly so, but this fact does not discredit the many valid points raised. Chapters are written by different people from various fields of study, providing a wide range of opinions and perspectives. Some chapters are better than others. At times the arguments made are weak and some Bible verses are clearly taken out of context, but many (in my experience so far, all) Christian authors addressing these issues make similarly flawed/strawman arguments so it is definitely still worth hearing the opposing viewpoint. A few chapters stand out by presenting thought-provoking points, with less of the usual direct rebuttals/attacks on opposing viewpoints. One chapter discusses the cultural context that the Genesis creation account came out of, specifically the influence of Sumerian, Egyptian and (later) Babylonian cosmology and how it may have affected the Hebrews' concept of the world. Others address the reliability of Scripture and examine the historicity of various bible accounts and statements. Worth reading if you've ever come away from the Bible, a sermon or a lecture with more questions than answers. Essential reading for anyone who wishes to make a defense of 'American Evangelical Christianity' or the inerrancy of the canonized Bible.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    If you've ever wondered why "nones" (persons with no religious preference) have been the fastest growing "religion" in the USA over the 2010s, books like this one are surely part of the reason. Religion in the USA (which predominantly means some of the over 40,000 varieties of Christianity) has simply lost the argument. On more levels than most people can imagine. Read this book (and the dozens of others like it) and you'll see that religion is running on fumes, mainly kept alive by the function If you've ever wondered why "nones" (persons with no religious preference) have been the fastest growing "religion" in the USA over the 2010s, books like this one are surely part of the reason. Religion in the USA (which predominantly means some of the over 40,000 varieties of Christianity) has simply lost the argument. On more levels than most people can imagine. Read this book (and the dozens of others like it) and you'll see that religion is running on fumes, mainly kept alive by the functional illiteracy of the masses. Most people don't read books like this, so the ideas therein have to diffuse through society by slower methods. While very few committed religious people will read this book, it's awesome for the millions of nascent "nones" out there. Anyone who has come to question their received religion of Christianity for whatever reason should feed their newly opened mind on this book (and more like it). That's the fastest way to root out residual delusions instilled by years of religious brainwashing, by learning just how comprehensively ridiculous the religion fraud is.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    John Loftus, who happens to be the first atheist writer AFTER Hitchens whom I read ("Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity"), edits a collection of previously published essays which systematically address some of the more frequent arguments by apologists. If nothing else were to "sell" this book as one worth reading, the inclusion of two of my favorite academic atheist writers, Richard Carrier and Robert Price, does it nicely. As with "The End of Christianity," which foll John Loftus, who happens to be the first atheist writer AFTER Hitchens whom I read ("Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity"), edits a collection of previously published essays which systematically address some of the more frequent arguments by apologists. If nothing else were to "sell" this book as one worth reading, the inclusion of two of my favorite academic atheist writers, Richard Carrier and Robert Price, does it nicely. As with "The End of Christianity," which followed this book, the collection is a bit challenging for the casual reader, requiring both a knowledge of scripture and of apologetics. The frequent targeting of apologists such as W.L. Craig or C.S. Lewis gives the reader intellectual ammunition to confront the arguments from the religious. But, as Richard Carrier has said repeatedly, it is not out of hatred for Christians that we dismantle their arguments. It is out of love for humanity, out of a desire to free people from intellectual chains.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michael Philliber

    Hot-headed, hostile, irascible, irritable & pugnaciously petulant. That about sums up the tone of the book. & then the contents of most of their "evidence" is bombastic blow-hard balderdash. The editor, John Loftus, has a piece on his Outside Test of Faith (OTF) that is an interesting twist. But there is a logical fallacy between points 1-2 & 3 that don't necessarily follow, but he builds his case on it anyway. Now that I've blown off some steam, I have posted a real book review on my blog. Give Hot-headed, hostile, irascible, irritable & pugnaciously petulant. That about sums up the tone of the book. & then the contents of most of their "evidence" is bombastic blow-hard balderdash. The editor, John Loftus, has a piece on his Outside Test of Faith (OTF) that is an interesting twist. But there is a logical fallacy between points 1-2 & 3 that don't necessarily follow, but he builds his case on it anyway. Now that I've blown off some steam, I have posted a real book review on my blog. Give it a look-see. http://mphilliber.blogspot.com/2013/0...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Chapters on diverse topics, such as biblical criticism, neurology, and philosophy. Definitely worth a read for Christians and non-Christians alike.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chris Bonds

    A superb collection of essays on problems with the Christian religion.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Apart from the title, it's the best counter apologetics book out there. Actual scholarship rather than just opinion writing.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    The first thing I want to say about this book, The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails, is this: It’s an absolutely excellent book with an unfortunate title. While I understand they were having some word play with Richard Dawkins’ best seller, The God Delusion, I feel that the title automatically guarantees that the vast majority of average Christians will, out of fear or revulsion, never even crack it open to give it a chance. And that’s unfortunate because the information contained within thes The first thing I want to say about this book, The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails, is this: It’s an absolutely excellent book with an unfortunate title. While I understand they were having some word play with Richard Dawkins’ best seller, The God Delusion, I feel that the title automatically guarantees that the vast majority of average Christians will, out of fear or revulsion, never even crack it open to give it a chance. And that’s unfortunate because the information contained within these pages is incredibly valuable intellectual and philosophical meat to chew on, and is precisely what every Christian should familiarize themselves with whether they seek to defend their faith or to find alternative answers to the canned, water-downed responses they get from church leadership (which is rarely questioned or examined critically). However, as one who was formerly a part of the evangelical church body, I feel begrudgingly confident in saying that the title alone will likely ensure that most Christians never dare to read the combined work of the scholars, historians, philosophers, psychologists, and biblical experts who contributed to this anthology, and that is truly unfortunate. It will be another book "preaching to the choir" so-to-speak. Having said that, if one makes it past the title, the factual information within is fantastic and worth not just a single read, but several, keeping handy a highlighter and ready to google and fact check the numerous references. I'll compose this review more as a summary of what to expect. The book is divided into five sections. Section one sets the stage for us by examining the role that culture plays in religion and faith, and how religion and faith are in fact, a facet of culture. We see how there never was any such thing as a single, unified Christianity, but that from day one, culture, religion, faith, and even politics, were all forces pulling and pushing on matters of faith, doctrine, and belief as numerous varieties of Christianities struggled to become the orthodox teaching. It is convincingly shown that adherents to any particular version of Christianity have not become so because of reasoning their way into the faith, but due to this cultural-religion feedback loop. As section one progresses, we take a look into the cognitive side of belief and how our minds are not as reasonable as we might presume. Chapter two and three venture into the psychology of belief, why irrational belief gets rationalized and how numerous cognitive biases make us err toward belief rather than reasoned skepticism. The section ends with a means to overcome our own irrationalism and cognitive biases by reviewing John Loftus’ Outsider Test for Faith. Here is where everyone – not just Christians or theists – have an opportunity to learn how to test their faith and/or beliefs by stepping outside and viewing them as an outsider, intentionally being aware of, and setting aside, our biases to critically determine what is or isn’t true. This is something incredibly valuable to anyone wanting to understand if they truly believe out of reasoned arguments and convincing evidence, or merely because it’s what they were taught and now merely seek to defend, bolster, and protect from outside critique. Section two takes us into the beginning of critical examination of the bible. Chapter five opens up and critiques the bible’s terribly incorrect cosmology and creation accounts, while chapter six moves into the critique of biblical scholarship. This involves reviewing some of the numerous errors, contradictions, poor apologetics, and various reinterpretations of scripture to decisively demonstrate that no honest person could possibly hold to the inerrancy doctrine. Chapter seven closes section two by examining the type of evidence we would see if any remotely godlike entity desired to communicate a coherent message without confusion, and comparing that to the awful mess of confusion that has resulted from the bible. It’s shown that blaming it on the failure of mankind to understand is fallacious, as the communicator is the one who actually failed, if any such omnipotent communicator were real (as opposed to numerous cultures and communities all impacting the religion/faith at various times in various ways). Along with revealing the terribly confusing and contradicting communications alleged to be directed to mankind within the bible itself, the chapter briefly explores some of the most egregiously immoral teachings of the bible as well. Following on the heels of chapter seven, chapter eight opens up section three with a stinging indictment of Yahweh in what is probably my favorite chapter. Do you think Yahweh, the god of the bible was the ultimate moral agent and highest moral law-giver? Well, think again. Dr. Hector Avalos takes on Paul Copan’s arguments for biblical morality in Chapter eight and utterly eviscerates them, showing the horrid morality of Yahweh and of the bible. Avalos dismantles Copan’s rationalizations and justifications so soundly and authoritatively that one cannot help but to feel embarrassed for Copan and wonder how he can continue to push his failed apologetics without shame. The section closes with chapter nine in an examination of one of the facets of the problem of evil in the form of animal suffering, referred to as the Darwinian Problem of Evil. In a theodicy of its own, the Darwinian Problem of Evil is shown to be incompatible with the Christian god as defined in the bible. Section four looks into some of the more specific claims of the Christian soteriology. It begins with chapter ten, which is supposed to look into the mythos and legend behind the rise of the Jesus messianic claims. However, while I respect Dr. Robert Price, this is easily the weakest chapter in the book. It is a rambling, name drop extraordinaire with Price dropping no less than 39 names of other authors in this short chapter – and that doesn’t even count the two whose arguments he’s addressing, nor the numerous ancient authors he also mentions! There’s good information in the chapter, but it’s simply laid out terribly, with no coherent flow, and unfortunately completely muddied by the incessant name dropping and obscure references. The good news is that section four picks up strong again in chapter eleven with an excellent evaluation of the miraculous resurrection claim and what evidence, if any, there is for it. The section closes in chapter twelve by taking into consideration who the real Jesus could have been if such a man did in fact exist, and makes a strong case that the only plausible answer is that he was just another one of the many failed apocalyptic prophets common in that time and place. The final section of the book focuses on the place of Christianity in society and opens with chapter thirteen focusing on the claim that Christianity lays to the foundation and origin of morality. The chapter thoroughly debunks any idea that morality originated with, or is dependent upon, Christianity, and further goes to show the evolutionary basis for morality and its exhibition in numerous other species as premoral social evolution. Chapter fourteen addresses modern atrocities in a broader social morality and brings a damning case against any claim that Nazism and the Holocaust were somehow related to atheism, and in point of fact reveals how Nazism was a solidly Christian ideology derived directly from Martin Luther’s own seven point plan of rabid antisemitism. The arguments and poor research of Dinesh D’Souza are soundly refuted. Section five, and indeed the book, wrap up with chapter fifteen which thoroughly rebuts any notion that Christianity was responsible for scientific growth and modern scientific development. It is shown that in fact, the opposite is true and the return to ancient Pagan ideas of reason, logic, and scientific exploration is what freed the modern scientific revolution from the shackles of a thousand years of Christian darkness. In the end, this entire package presented is an excellent primer on dismantling many of the lies and half-truths that Christianity has either promulgated or been ascribed with, as well as gaining great knowledge on the origins and evolution of Christianity as it exists in its current form today. It is not a knock down of the Christian religion – and I don’t believe that is its purpose – but is more along the lines of a multi-faceted knocking down of many of the crutches that have falsely propped up and fostered Christianity for so long. If you’re a nonbeliever reading this book, then you have more intellectual and factual ammunition in the quest and fight for truth, and if you’re a believer – particularly a Christian – then you have a challenging road ahead to integrate these facts and logical arguments into your belief system and either formulate much better apologetic responses, or adjust your belief according to the evidence. Or of course, to simply ignore it and pretend you never read it while picking up the next book by Strobel or Copan. Regardless of your current beliefs or position, I highly recommend that everyone willing to confront sometimes uncomfortable facts and data and at least ponder the deeper implications of said data, to pick up this book and give it a thorough reading. Whether you agree, disagree, or find some ground each way, you won’t regret reading it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mike Day

    Loftus (and other authors) make arguments for why Christianity is false. Some of the arguments are really good. Many of the arguments are thwarted by the facts surrounding the Restoration of the gospel - the fact that God has restored his Church to the earth. For example, Loftus talks about the OTF, the "Outsider Test of Faith" - in other words, how an outsider would view your faith is how YOU should view your faith. He says, "it is very likely that adopting one's religious faith is not merely a Loftus (and other authors) make arguments for why Christianity is false. Some of the arguments are really good. Many of the arguments are thwarted by the facts surrounding the Restoration of the gospel - the fact that God has restored his Church to the earth. For example, Loftus talks about the OTF, the "Outsider Test of Faith" - in other words, how an outsider would view your faith is how YOU should view your faith. He says, "it is very likely that adopting one's religious faith is not merely a matter of independent rational judgment but is causally dependent on cultural conditions... hence the odds are highly likely that any given adopted religious faith is false... the best way to test one's adopted religious faith is from the perspective of an outsider with the same level of skepticism used to evaluate other religious faiths. This expresses the OTF." (p. 82) He then says that religious faiths are inherited, not chosen: "religious faiths are not chosen by us. They are given to us. We inherit them..." (p. 83) In the case of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this is false. Probably half of the members of this church are first generation members. With the current missionary program across the world, there will be an additional 1 million members in the next three to four years. Outsiders are testing the faith. Outsiders are believing. As an aside, Loftus argues that DNA evidence shows us the Native Americans did not come from the Middle East, so he is confused why the church even exists. This is a claim the Book of Mormon does not make. In fact, if read carefully, the Book of Mormon demonstrates that there were other indigenous tribes in the Americas when the Lehite colony arrived: https://www.lds.org/topics/book-of-mo... https://ojs.lib.byu.edu/spc/index.php... http://www.bmaf.org/node/552 Another argument made by one of the authors, Richard Carrier, in chapter 11 "Why the Resurrection is Unbelievable" can be answered by historians familiar with the Restoration of the gospel. On page 297 Carrier says, "Curiously absent from the record are any actual eyewitness accounts of what Jesus said or did, either in life or at his resurrection, any records of events by historians or authorities or correspondents from the same time and place, any inscriptions erected or documents composed by the earliest churches, any neutral or hostile accounts from outsiders observing the originating events of the Christian religion, any court documents from the many early trials reported in Acts, or anything written by Jesus himself- or in fact any of his disciples, since hardly any scholar today believes Peter's Epistles are authentic (and not believe his Gospel is authentic), and no other document in the NT claims its author was a disciple- not even the Gospels, contrary to common assumption... We don't have that alleged source document, any more than we have Joseph Smith's heavenly gold tablets." (p. 297) On the surface, this looks like a powerful argument. As an aside, it is interesting that the authors of this book use my faith to blast Christianity. Several times the authors essentially say, "You Christians reject Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, well... look in the mirror! You are making the same claims!" As someone who is LDS, I find this amusing because the authors are in a way, making a valid point. Modern evangelicals reject angels, prophets, healing, miracles, revelation, and divine guidance while claiming to believe in the Bible which contains angels, prophets, healing, miracles and revelation. But back to my argument - The whole point Carrier is making is that we do not have primary evidence from witnesses that Jesus rose. This is the entire point of the Restoration of the gospel: we HAVE them! We have witnesses (not just Joseph Smith!) that saw God, angels, and miracles. We have documented miracles, healings, and visions. We have court cases (Joseph Smith was taken to court several times!) See: http://www.fairmormon.org/perspective... The Restoration of the gospel has a mountain of evidence that the atheist claims he must have to "pursue the evidence and see where it takes him"... They just choose to reject it. Every objection raised on page 297 of this book is completely obliterated by the Restoration of the gospel and its source documents. The argument that there are too many views, too many Christian churches is also answered by the Restoration. See chapter 7 "What we've got here is a failure to communicate" (catchy title!). I love where Loftus says, "He (God) could've said that the only thing important to him is that Christians agree on several essential matters of faith and then specifically named them and articulated them. Then God could've said the rest is nonessential, a matter of opinion and speculation, that other things don't matter much to him for their salvation." (p. 201) Done! Go and see the Articles of Faith: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/a-... Tobin's arguments on problems with the Bible is excellent (chapter 6). I love how Peter Enns has dealt with many of these issues (See: The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It). As a Latter-day Saint, my faith does not rest on the infallibility of the Bible. I get that human hands have touched it. That is totally cool, and expected, so Bart Ehrman, or Paul Tobin do not worry me at all. This, for the most part, is an excellent chapter. I would say that saying the "Exodus never happened" is a stretch, rather, I would probably argue that you could say that the Exodus as depicted exactly in the Bible probably did not happen that way. But either way, we cannot prove that nothing like the Exodus did not happen with scientific means in my opinion. Loftus' Darwinian problem of evil in chapter 9 is an excellent argument. Essentially he is saying that because animals eat each other and experience pain, no God would've created this type of world, at least any kind of God that we would be interested in knowing. Right from the surface this is an excellent argument. Animals (and humans) do horrible things to each other. The world is rife with pain and suffering (which are different). The best counter argument to this is found in Dinesh D'Souza's "Godforsaken" pages 135-155. Dinesh does an excellent job answering Loftus on all points. I will say that in my opinion, the "Problem of Evil" is the best weapon against theism. Those who are attacked by this argument would do well to read Dinesh's book, at least this chapter. Overall, I really liked this book. I want to know the arguments that the militant atheists of our day are using to destroy faith. I want to defeat these arguments. The atheists of today are different from those of a generation ago. They are everywhere, especially in the colleges where we are sending our children. This is where they work on our families, this and in the secular media. We as Christians MUST be aware of their tactics, and be prepared to defend our faith against these arguments. For this reason, I would recommend this book. Though this book does not give you the tools to defeat their arguments, it shows you their main points in full color. Having the tools to defeat them depends on you. Some excellent resources in defense of Christianity and Latter-day Saint Christianity are: "What's so great about Christianity?" - Dinesh D'Souza "Godforsaken" - Dinesh D'Souza "Inspiration and Incarnation" - Peter Enns "The Bible Tells Me So" - Peter Enns "Here We Stand" - Joseph Fielding McConkie "Sons and Daughters of God" - Joseph Fielding McConkie "Shaken Faith Syndrome" - Michael Ash "Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon" - Donald Parry

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael Liggett

    It's a collection of essays about why Christianity doesn't make sense using everything from psychology to anthropology to philosophy and some other "y's" I forget. One of the essays was written in response to someone else's article published elsewhere and gave no real sense (that I could detect) of what the previous article was about so I skipped it...which they probably should have, too. It was an interesting read overall and got me thinking about the more cognitive and behavioral aspects of rel It's a collection of essays about why Christianity doesn't make sense using everything from psychology to anthropology to philosophy and some other "y's" I forget. One of the essays was written in response to someone else's article published elsewhere and gave no real sense (that I could detect) of what the previous article was about so I skipped it...which they probably should have, too. It was an interesting read overall and got me thinking about the more cognitive and behavioral aspects of religion and people in general. This led me to other books and other ideas so they should get credit for that! One thing I didn't like was the air of superiority about some of the writing; as though the authors were all standing around behind one author typing and saying "slam dunk, bro" and high fiving each other when one had finished. Though I am no longer Christian and find serious flaws in the religion and the culture around it I never was traumatized by it so I don't feel the need to seek intellectual revenge like some people do. I realize it's hard to take someone who believes in angels and unicorns very seriously but letting the snark bleed into the conversation isn't going to win anyone over. Overall, though, it was thought-provoking and worth the read. It's also worth having on the bookshelf by the dinner table when my parents are over for dinner. I know they see it but they pretend they don't!

  22. 4 out of 5

    John Michael Strubhart

    If being Christian means that you follow the more compassionate teachings attributed to Jesus of Nazareth, then none of these essayists has a bone to pick with you and neither do I. If, however, you have never critically read The Bible, accept it as infallible and think that Christianity is better than all other religions (including no religion at all), then these essayists beg to differ. Some of the essayists do come off as heavy handed, but none ore mean spirited and all of them are done by pe If being Christian means that you follow the more compassionate teachings attributed to Jesus of Nazareth, then none of these essayists has a bone to pick with you and neither do I. If, however, you have never critically read The Bible, accept it as infallible and think that Christianity is better than all other religions (including no religion at all), then these essayists beg to differ. Some of the essayists do come off as heavy handed, but none ore mean spirited and all of them are done by people with impressive credentials in theology, philosophy, bible studies and history. Most importantly, the authors ask the conservative Christian to take a look at their extraordinary claims from the point of view of someone who didn't grow up being aware of them. From that vantage point, it all seems just as crazy as believing that Thor is in your heart, because you can feel him hammering on your ribcage and besides, there's this book ..... Fundamentalist Christianity is certainly delusional to the point of being pathological, and the authors make a very compelling case to support that claim. Highly recommended for those who measure the validity of a claim through evidence and reason. If faith is your bag, none of this will convince you of anything.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dan Joseph

    More of an academic text discrediting the entire Bible than one that focuses purely on the New Testament. In fact only the final third of the book is specifically about Christianity. Chapters 8-14 could have stood alone and made The Christian Delusion a very worthwhile read. Chapters which argue that the God of the Old Testament is very clearly a genocidal monster, that the Resurrection of Christ is thoroughly implausible, that Jesus failed in his apocalyptic predictions and that Atheism was not More of an academic text discrediting the entire Bible than one that focuses purely on the New Testament. In fact only the final third of the book is specifically about Christianity. Chapters 8-14 could have stood alone and made The Christian Delusion a very worthwhile read. Chapters which argue that the God of the Old Testament is very clearly a genocidal monster, that the Resurrection of Christ is thoroughly implausible, that Jesus failed in his apocalyptic predictions and that Atheism was not, in fact, the reason for the Holocaust are particularly convincing. Unfortunately, the editor wastes a lot of ink on chapters that aren't necessary to prove his fundamental argument. As a result I can only recommend this book to those who already have a fundamental understanding of the Agnostic and Atheist argument. Read Dawkins and Hitchens first.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Loftus does a good job of collecting essays concerning the ongoing topic of Christian belief and those who accept the claims thereof. While I have read many such collections, I think that Loftus' collection captures the exasperation of those who realize that religion no longer offers valid arguments or warranted claims. While most essays are written from an atheistic point of view, there are a few that present softer claims of agnosticism. What makes this collection a bit different than others i Loftus does a good job of collecting essays concerning the ongoing topic of Christian belief and those who accept the claims thereof. While I have read many such collections, I think that Loftus' collection captures the exasperation of those who realize that religion no longer offers valid arguments or warranted claims. While most essays are written from an atheistic point of view, there are a few that present softer claims of agnosticism. What makes this collection a bit different than others is the informal tone of most of the essays. This collection is easy to read and accessible; mostly written for those "on the fence" about their faith, or simply interested in lesser philosophical reasoning concerning faith in general.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Fifteen chapters, each written by one of 13 top scholars, debunking various aspects of Christian dogma and beliefs. Everything is thoroughly researched and documented, and I found the work persuasive. One outstanding chapter examines morality, defines it, and shows conclusively that it is NOT dependent on Christianity or any other religion. The final chapter left me shaking my head. Apparently there is a new Christian belief being promoted that says Science did not exist prior to Christianity. N Fifteen chapters, each written by one of 13 top scholars, debunking various aspects of Christian dogma and beliefs. Everything is thoroughly researched and documented, and I found the work persuasive. One outstanding chapter examines morality, defines it, and shows conclusively that it is NOT dependent on Christianity or any other religion. The final chapter left me shaking my head. Apparently there is a new Christian belief being promoted that says Science did not exist prior to Christianity. Not until Christians established that god was the creator of the entire cosmos was science even possible!? Clearly a delusion!!!! You must be open minded reading this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Russell

    This is an excellent collection (edited by John Loftus) of essays from an assortment of ex-christians turned atheist. Not all of the essays are perfect, but they're mostly outstanding. Together I think they present a devastating critique of Christianity. Of course, most believers will not even read this book, and many who do will not fully consider the implications. So the end result will undoubtedly not be as devastating as it should be. But if the subject interests you at all, I can highly rec This is an excellent collection (edited by John Loftus) of essays from an assortment of ex-christians turned atheist. Not all of the essays are perfect, but they're mostly outstanding. Together I think they present a devastating critique of Christianity. Of course, most believers will not even read this book, and many who do will not fully consider the implications. So the end result will undoubtedly not be as devastating as it should be. But if the subject interests you at all, I can highly recommend this book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Steve Smith

    A very scholarly yet readable book that is quite different than the works of either Hitchens or Dawkins. It rather demolishes the arguments for Christianity using meticulous and thoroughly supported research. I would note that some of the later chapters struck me as a bit less self-critical; some of the statements supporting secular viewpoints could have been better made. The work probably only deserves 4.5 stars, but as I still consider the work an essential read for any serious skeptic, I can A very scholarly yet readable book that is quite different than the works of either Hitchens or Dawkins. It rather demolishes the arguments for Christianity using meticulous and thoroughly supported research. I would note that some of the later chapters struck me as a bit less self-critical; some of the statements supporting secular viewpoints could have been better made. The work probably only deserves 4.5 stars, but as I still consider the work an essential read for any serious skeptic, I can give the 5 star rating without any qualms.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dan Henk

    This book was...ok. It has mostly very valid arguments, and some are even well written. But it's not for the armchair philosopher. Too many are needlessly repetitive, and overburdened with little, technical details. A few are sloppily written, and come across as too angsty or too coy. Overall, it's a bit dry, a bit long winded, and spends too much time making it's various points. All of which are definitely valid, it's just a shame they aren't better scripted and more concise.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michael Mikowski

    Collection of articles by various scholars disputing/debunking various claims regarding Religion generally and, frequently, Christianity specifically. The scholarly credentials of all of the authors and the soundness of their arguments make the articles well worth reading, although several of them will not win friends based on the tone that they take. My impression of that: too bad! What you’re saying is far more important than how you’re saying it if you actually care about the truth.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mike Martos

    This is a great book, some chapters are easier to read than others, there is no single author but different authors taking care of each chapter, but the flow is good. The book attacks Christianity from every angle not leaving any doubt in my mind at least... If you are like me looking for answers and questions... This is the book...

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