Category Archives: Christian Delusion

Two Edged Sword: Loftus and Logic Don’t Mix

In a recent post on his blog, John W. Loftus made a very interesting assessment: People believe and defend what they prefer to be true.

While Loftus is only including believers in his argument by implication, he fails to provide a compelling reason to exclude atheists from this argument. Now, I’m well aware that Loftus claims that he doesn’t defend atheism purely because he wants it to be the case. John writes:

It’s argued that I reject Christianity because I prefer to live my life apart from God. Balderdash! Do I really prefer to live in a universe that is cold and uncaring, having only blind indifference toward me as a human being in which I can count on no divine help from outside of it, and no hope of an eternal life with my loved ones? Not a chance. Do I really prefer to reject the dominant religion of my culture to be ostracized by believers and hated for what I believe? No, not at all. (source)

However, a quick scan of some of his recent behavior would seem to contradict that assessment. After behaving like that in public, I’m assuming that John doesn’t want there to be a higher authority to whom he is answerable, since he has shown himself to be a jerk. More examples toward the bottom of this item, both of his lack of moral principles and his lack of honesty in arguing.

Loftus then follows it up with what can only be described as the most ironic post ever from an atheist. He says that the only two responses from believers either committed the ad hominem tu quoque fallacy, or took the form of “I’m the exception to the rule.”

I almost hit the floor laughing so hard. Hypocrisy within Christianity is one of the most frequent charges leveled at it in an attempt to discredit it, or else totally falsify it. That is the same fallacy that Loftus is accusing us of!

The problem is that as an atheist, there is no objective for moral standards. There is no way to appeal to a higher, transcendent authority since none can exist. There is only what is in atheism, not what ought to be. So, what standards can Loftus actually be held to? Hard for us to commit this fallacy when there are no standards of behavior inherent in an atheistic worldview.

Irony!!!

John W. Loftus’s purpose for creating the official site for The Christian Delusion, according to the site’s homepage, is as follows:

What you will find here in the future will be responses to the book’s critics, FAQs from the authors about the various chapters as questions are raised, published reviews of the book, and other items of importance to the book’s content. . . . As The Christian Delusion hits stores across the nation and questions and attacks arise, you will find the official responses here.(emphasis added)

Why is this ironic? Recently, the folks at Triablogue have compiled an e-book response to The Christian Delusion. Loftus asked the contributors if they should put together some responses for this work. They replied:

  • Count me out. It’s an endless treadmill.
  • I have looked over their objections, and they are pretty superficial.
  • I tend to agree that it is a fruitless venture, but if I have time I may inspect their work and see if there is a worthwhile response from my perspective. If so, I might attempt something.
  • It’s a treadmill because they don’t honestly care about what is real (which in their minds is a foregone conclusion)—just about winning arguments. I’d rather spend my energy writing for people who are engaged in some kind of growth process.
  • The “criticisms” are rather inept – they quote “scholars” who still assume Moses wrote the Pentateuch! I find it impossible that anyone who is aware even a little of modern biblical studies would take such criticism seriously. If they do, well, then one needs a book to educate them.

In other words, no one is interested in dialogue with our side. They are only interested in a monologue, presumably to people who already share their views. Got it. Good to know. I assume that the eventual critique site that I will compile will be met with the same wall of silence.

Triablogue Launches E-book Response to The Christian Delusion

Several of the contributors to Triablogue have launched an e-book response to The Christian Delusion, titled The Infidel Delusion. It is available for download from CalvinDude, here. I haven’t read it yet, but when I get a chance, I’ll probably comment on it.

It is telling that none of the contributors to The Christian Delusion care to comment on the refutation. They are interested only in monologue, not dialogue.

Loftus’s reaction, very emotional and not even in the same zip code as rational, can be found here. Two comments from Neal refute Loftus’s rebuttal perfectly. Here are the comments, combined for clarity:

“this is such a nice version of Christianity developed by angry men for angry men, isn’t it?”

What is evident from this posting is that the only one who appears to be angry is you.

“Over and over we read where atheists have no right to make moral judgments if there are no absolute objective morals. This is simply false. They are ignorant to say otherwise. But this is true of most Christians.”

I see you are a graduate of the Dan Aykroyd school of argumentation.

“Then too, the authors are Calvinists which I think is a reprehensible theology, as I posted here.”

You’d think that someone who touts the importance of scholarly creds wouldn’t make such an amateurish mistake as engaging in ad hominem fallacies. Or maybe you are just giving us autobiographical information here on your psychological makeup? What is not clear is what if anything it has to do with the truth or falsity of Christianity. You seem to think any argument from a Calvinist can be dismissed at the outset by the mere fact that it came from a Calvinist. In fact, this whole posting is nothing more than one ad hominem attack after another. Epic FAIL.

“Over and over the authors contrast their brand of Christianity with atheism which is left undefined but understood by them to be equivalent to metaphysical naturalism. I don’t think they truly know what atheism is, as I explained right here, and again here.”

Most people understand atheism as the belief that there is no God. Metaphysical naturalism is a consequence of atheism as it is usually defined. Your links failed to make any distinctions between atheism and metaphysical naturalism. As Hays said, metaphysical naturalism is a euphemism for atheism. If you disagree, how does atheism not entail metaphysical naturalism? And does not metaphysical naturalism entail methodological naturalism? It seems that you are merely attempting to escape some criticisms here.

“Besides, the options before us are not between their brand of conservative Calvinism and non-belief. The options are myriad with everything in-between. There is Arminianism, moderate and liberal Christianities, as well as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventists, Orthodox Judaism, Islam, and many eastern religions to choose from.”

But you titled your book “The CHRISTIAN Delusion”. Why should they be concerned about all these other religions in a refutation of a book that purports to be a critique of Christianity? And why should they respond to it in terms of what they consider to be weaker and heretical forms of Christianity?

“So it really does not make a whit of difference who is making a particular argument against their brand of Christianity. The argument either stands on its own or not.”

Hypocrisy. This coming from someone who thinks he can dismiss Calvinists because he doesn’t like “their brand” of Christianity.

“They cannot assert, for instance, that an atheist cannot make this or that kind of argument because he has no standard for morality, since Process Theologians can make that same argument as can Arminians like Christian philosopher Victor Reppert (which they have repeatedly attacked) or liberals like James McGrath.”

I thought you just said the argument stands or falls on its own, regardless of who makes it? Why do you bring up irrelevancies? Do atheists have an objective standard of morality or not? What process theologians and liberals have to say about Calvinism has no bearing on that question.

“In areas where it’s obvious we should expect a perfectly good God to communicate his will better, he didn’t do so, which caused a great deal of harm done in his name by the church (think Inquisition, crusades, witch hunts, Christian attempts at genocide during the Thirty Years War directed at other Christian groups, Slavery, the treatment of women, and denial of the democratic ideals of the freedom of religion and of expression).”

This argument is incoherent until you can demonstrate that you have an objective standard of morality by which you can judge all those things as evil. Until you can demonstrate that, your objection to those things amounts to little more than your personal preferences.

“On that same page Manata claims “the last two chapters have no bearing on whether Christianity is a delusion.” Really? Surely whether Christianity is beneficial to society bears some relationship to whether it’s true. I mean, you really wouldn’t want to hold to something as true from a perfectly good God if it wasn’t beneficial to society, or would you?”

Pragmatism is not a standard of truth. Something can be useful but be totally false. In order to determine whether something is “beneficial” or not, you have to have some objective criteria by which you can judge what is and is not beneficial. And atheism provides no objective criteria whatsoever. So even here Christianity is superior in that it provides objective foundations for society. The gulag was “useful” in Stalin’s Russia as were the gas chambers in Hitler’s Germany. Do you think these men did not have what they considered to be valid moral justifications? They each had a view of what would benefit their respective societies that I assume conflicts with yours. Why should yours prevail?

Answer to the Introduction is Up

The first of what I hope to be a barrage of new material has been posted.

I wasn’t even going to do an answer to the book’s introduction, but I changed my mind quickly.

After reading the introduction and suspecting that Loftus had either misunderstood or pulled them entirely out of context, I did some research on Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig. Turns out, Loftus was a bit unfair in categorizing his complaints of Plantinga’s properly basic belief and Craig’s exposition of the role of the Holy Spirit in relation to evidence. So I tried to set all of that straight here.

My Copy is Purchased!

I finally broke down, loosed the purse strings, and bought a copy of The Christian Delusion.

So, look for content to be added to the site within the next few days. Hopefully, we can at least add answers for 1 to 2 chapters per week, though that might be a tad bit ambitious considering all of the other writing work that I’m trying to do right now.

More Free Material Answered

I’ve answered Richard Carrier’s horribly argued “essay” on the will of God. I was also hoping to have Loftus’s essay “God and Animals” covered, but I didn’t get that far yet.

I’m hoping to start reading the actual book shortly and start getting my own answers to the essays in place. Right now, I’ve been following the book on Google Alerts and trying to get some relevant links up on the various pages. The only Christian I know who’s blogging through the book is Randal Rauser on his blog The Tentative Apologist. I’ve been putting the relevant links up as they become available.

Does God Exist? Loftus Doesn’t Care!

Loftus put up this post on his blog, and then appears to have modified it into an article on The Christian Delusion‘s official website, here. I have posted my answer here. I don’t care if John is a fundamentalist or not. I focus on his rather childish argument that if God exists, he doesn’t care. The answer to the question, “Does God exist?” literally defines how you live the rest of your life. Loftus doesn’t realize that; in fact, he so completely glosses over it that it is pathetic. I have tried to repent of using ad hominem attacks, but in this case it is more than warranted to make my point. It does matter what you think about the existence of God!

Loftus Found Us Already!

John W. Loftus found us already. He left a comment over at my blog:

Now here’s something interesting. You plan on writing a comprehensive answer to my book before actually seeing it. In other words, you know it’s wrong before considering it. I want you to think about what you’re doing. You’re not trying to come to a better understanding of the truth. You’re not interested in learning from us. You’re not interested in considering what we have to say at all. Is this what you’d do in any other area of learning?

I have read several atheist tomes. None of them have altered my faith or destroyed my confidence that Christianity is the truth. Now this book comes along and it will change my mind? Maybe, but I’m not counting on it.

Still, I will try to approach the book from a neutral perspective. Maybe it will change my mind.

Deleting the Answering Loftus Blog

All content from the blog Answering Loftus had previously been merged into this one. As of today, the old URL forwards to the Christian Delusion category on this blog. That will be the case until I lose the christiandelusion.info domain in May of 2011.

In 90 days, I will permanently delete the Answering Loftus blog.