It’s been a while since I’ve last posted, but I’ve still been hard at work.
Back in May of 2010, John W. Loftus began what he called a “reality check” series:
I’m going to start a series of posts describing what must be the case if Christianity is true. When done I’ll put them all together so Christians can see the formidable obstacles there are to their faith at a glance. (source)
In other words, assume:
- Christianity is false
- Naturalism is true
- Liberal interpretations of archeology are accurate and they prove the Bible 100% false
Those, of course, are all prospects that must be argued rather than assumed, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Loftus ended up with 30 propositions in that series and promised more as of 7/2010, but none materialized.
I had planned on answering all 30, even though I have noted several are not arguments and have no bearing on the truth of Christianity, nor on anyone’s interpretation of reality. I think Loftus believes all are self-evidently nonsense, and once stated immediately show how false they are. Which leads to a few questionable items, such as #2 — which is neither an argument nor a physical impossibility. Rather, it is one possible interpretation of God, most often associated with open theism.
I had copied all 30 into an open document text file, did some fancy bells and whistles with formatting (I’m particularly proud of the cowboy hat graphic that accompanies each of the top-level headings, since Loftus’s trademark is the cowboy hat), and prepared to answer them.
Then did absolutely nothing.
Now, over a year later, I decided to dust off the e-book file and actually complete it. I’ve been answering one or two at a time, and posting them on the e-book sharing site Scribd, under my account. A link now appears under promotional links on the right, but here are the documents so far:
- Nature of God
- God’s Eternal Decree
- Nature of Satan
- The Fall
- Existence of Similar ANE Mythology Disproves the Bible
That’s what I have so far. I may not have been active here, but I’m always writing. Check those out and give me some feedback, as when I complete all 30 I’m planning on releasing a final e-book copy, collating the full collection. Updated, of course, to reflect criticisms of my replies.
John W. Loftus discussed what it would take to convince him to believe. The discussion was prompted when Jayman, a Christian, asked Loftus if he witnessed a bona fide miracle, would he then believe in God? Let’s look at the hubris displayed in the answer:
I have said that it would take a personal miracle for me to believe. I didn’t say what kind of miracle nor did I comment on the other things that would have to accompany that miracle. Let me do so now. . . .
Let’s say the miracle was an anonymous one, like the resurrection of my cousin Steve Strawser, who died at 58 alone in the woods of a massive heart attack, or the skeptic Ken Pulliam who died in October. I would believe in a supernatural reality, yes, but an anonymous one. I don’t think I could conclude anything different. But it would be an anonymous god who did it. I could not conclude much about this god other than that he could raise the dead. (emphasis added)
Once telling us that a miracle would convince him, he qualifies that by saying that a miracle is only evidence of a supernatural entity, but the identity of said entity is still open for conjecture. Then he backtracks:
So I would need more than a miracle, even though that scenario is already far fetched to begin with. (emphasis added)
After the miracle, Loftus wants God to take credit for it, by making a personal appearance (of course). Loftus further considers that proposition:
But let’s say that along with such a miracle I am told by this deity to believe exactly the way Jayman does about Christianity. That presumes even more than that a miracle occurred, since there are so many brands of Christianity around, some accusing the others of heresy. Would I believe then?
Assuming that the miracle came, the worker of the miracle has shown himself and taken credit, then he tells Loftus to believe exactly as a specific Christian believes. Meaning God’s power has been demonstrated, and then asserts his authority. Does Loftus submit?
So, if I experienced a personal miracle I would require more than just that to believe in Jayman’s god. I have so many objections to the Bible and the biblical god I would have to reconcile what I know with what this deity told me to believe. I cannot even understand why any god would require me to believe in the first place! At that point I would be forced to chose between Jayman’s god and a trickster conception of god, and the trickster god would have to be my choice given what I know. (emphasis added)
Wow. Don’t miss Loftus’s this:
- An incontrovertible miracle occurs.
- God himself appears to Loftus and takes credit.
- God tells Loftus which Christian denomination is correct in all doctrinal points.
- However, Loftus doesn’t think that any branch of Christianity is correct.
- Loftus assumes that the deity who appeared and worked the miracle is now tricking him.
If I was convinced Christianity is true and Jesus arose from the grave, and if I must believe in such a barbaric God, I would believe, yes, but I could still not worship such a barbaric God. I would fear such a Supreme Being, since he has such great power, but I’d still view him as a thug, a despicable tyrant, a devil in disguise; unless Christianity was revised. (source, emphasis added)
This is quite educational. My conclusion: John W. Loftus is an arrogant and unrelenting narcissist who has put himself in place of God. In his own words, Loftus has said, “Even if God himself proved his existence beyond a reasonable doubt and told me that Christianity is true, I’ll believe it but I’m still not going to worship God.”
Literally, John Loftus has just told us that he knows better than God. Only on the Internet can you witness egos this big first hand. And, this proves that no one is in hell kicking, screaming, and crying to be let out (as I’ve frequently argued). Loftus would rather be there then to bow down and worship God.
I don’t think I can add anything further. This speaks for itself.
A strawman argument is basically arguing against something that’s easier to debunk than what your opponent actually said.
For example, John W. Loftus calls this one of the most asinine claims made by Christians:
It’s claimed that people like Dawkins, or Hitchens, or Harris don’t know enough to reject Christianity. How much should a person know about a religion or the various branches of it in order to reject it? Really. I’d like to know. (source)
If that’s the way that Christians actually articulate this objection, then yes, that’s asinine! However, I don’t think that anyone is saying this in spirit, even if they are in words.
What I think they are trying to get across is that Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris don’t know enough about Christianity to adequately criticize it. Dawkins is the prime example–one of the arguments central to The God Delusion is the second grade retort, “Well, who made God then?” That’s pretty sad coming from a man of Dawkins’s caliber. He’s a decorated scholar and an eminent scientist; you’d think he’d realize that philosophy has long progressed past that point.
It’s undeniable learned scholars such as Dawkins venture into territory which they are not as familiar with as they should be before taking the plunge. Maybe they know enough to confidently reject Christianity–they probably know at least as much about Christianity as I do about Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Roman Catholicism and I reject all of those.
However, before I try to criticize something, I attempt to become familiar with what it actually argues. These guys don’t. They stick to surface-level arguments and barely take a nick out of those. Much of what they do is argue by outrage, which is the direct opposite of the rational inquiry that they always call for.
I have no doubt that, in a slip of many tongues, Christians have probably said that the New Atheists don’t know enough about Christianity to reject it. However, that isn’t correct. These men don’t know enough about it to criticize it. I have a feeling that, while the formulation may have been incorrect, the articles by my fellow apologists would clearly explain that these men have seriously misplaced criticisms due to profound misunderstanding of basic Christian doctrines, theology, or arguments.
And that makes this a strawman argument from John Loftus.
Positively shocking. Loftus cough out a dumb argument? Unheard of.
Referring to this article, where scientists have discovered a gene that predisposes people to promiscuity, Loftus says:
While it isn’t a forgone conclusion that people with this gene will cheat on their mates, the presence of that gene makes such a temptation harder to overcome. Imagine that, some people (half of us) have a harder time overcoming such a temptation and yet God supposedly judges us all equally. That doesn’t seem fair now does it? I wonder if the incarnate Jesus gave himself that gene since he was “tempted in every way, just as we are.” (Hebrews 4:15) 😉 (source)
This argument (if you can call it that) is absurd.
This actually helps my position on homosexuality. I’ve argued that it is probably inborn, but by virtue of being inborn doesn’t automatically make it desirable. Nor should anything become socially acceptable based entirely on the fact that it is inborn.
Infidelity is a negative trait. So are addictive patterns of behavior, like alcoholoism. As is rage. So are many genetic illnesses like Alzheimer’s, certain cancers, emphysema, and heart disease. All of these things are hardwired into genetics, and no one is trying to argue for society to unconditionally accept people subject to those things on the basis of a genetic predisposition.
Things that are inborn, however, are undeniably part of the self. And what does Jesus call us to do when we become his followers? Deny ourselves (Lk 9:23).
And, turning to Paul’s writings, we see that sin itself is inborn: it is nature as well as action. Otherwise, the whole concept of the Christian becoming a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17) is meaningless drivel.
Loftus cranks out lots of posts, and most of them are mindless soundbite arguments. This is the dude who complained at Victor Reppert’s blog (in the comments here) that soundbites were all that comments allowed. Yet, when faced with the unlimited canvas of a blog post, he again argues by soundbite.
Perhaps that’s all he has?
It would seem since one of the arguments that he keeps harping on is that we can’t trust our brains to make sense of the world, since we approach everything with bias and defend that which we prefer to be true.
Which leaves us with a big question for Mr. Loftus:
Why should anyone believe that you offer the truth? You also approach with bias and defend that which you prefer to be true–being that you’re a human and accuse all humans of doing this. You admit it: “I have never claimed that atheists are more rational than believers” (source).