66 of 75 people found the following review helpful
Strongest entry yet from Loftus and company.,
This review is from: The End of Christianity (Paperback)
I was somewhat critical of the previous Loftus-edited collection of essays, The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails, mainly for its unevenness. I find "End" to be a more consistently excellent work, with several clear instances of lucid, original thinking, well-presented.
Carrier continues to distinguish himself in essays on intelligent design and non-relativistic morality (though I confess that I do not have the requisite training to understand fully the formal logic he employs in the morality essay), and Robert Price extends his tradition of advancing fresh ideas in punchy, accessible prose. Hector Avalos performs something of a miracle, making nearly as strong a case in his brief essay as he does in The End of Biblical Studies (though of course at great loss of the sort of supporting material a scholar would insist on reviewing before agreeing with his thesis).
Even Loftus, who I have not always accorded the highest respect, shines in his essays. I still think his "Outsider Test of Faith" has an "every problem looks like a nail/I have a hammer" quality to it, but I admit that he has demonstrated surprising versatility with this tool, and his prose continues to grow more acute and incisive, even as the language seems to flow better and better.
For those reasons and more, I hope that--despite this being termed the completion of a sort of "trilogy"--Loftus continues the good working of gathering interesting voices to criticize Christianity. Much of the literature coming out of New Atheism (and its relatives) comes from the sciences and philosophy), but while Carrier in particular touches on such issues, this is largely a work of theological and biblical criticism. As someone who himself deconverted mostly due to theological conflicts (my appreciation of science and atheistic philosophy came years later), I see a crucial place for this type of literature. In reading "End," I found it increasingly difficult to imagine any honest Christian engaging with the material and not coming away with serious doubts, if not outright skepticism regarding her faith.
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 30, 2011 2:32:53 AM PDT
Wayward Son says:
FYI there is another book in the works where Loftus is the editor. Saw it on his blog with the list of authors and proposed chapters.
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 30, 2011 10:33:14 AM PDT
Posted on Aug 21, 2011 10:43:52 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 21, 2011 1:53:18 PM PDT
David Marshall says:
Greg: Your review is one that, normally, I would feel a great deal of confidence in: clearly you know what you're talking about, and unlike most skeptics I've encountered, show a capacity for self-criticism, or at least criticism of people espousing your own views. The book is on order; I'll soon find out if you're right.
It's interesting to me, though, that you focus on Avalos, Price, Carrier, and Loftus -- the very authors I mainly focused on in my Amazon review of the last book, and with whom I've tangled quite a bit in the past, finding their arguments grossly lacking, by and large. (Though all four have their merits, and are capable on occasion of decent stuff.) Apparently they're the stars, here. So maybe I'll begin with their chapters, again.
BTW, is there really a place called Brooklyn Park in Mongolia? That seems hard to believe.
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 21, 2011 5:44:46 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 23, 2011 8:03:57 AM PDT
Hi, David. No, Brookyn Park is in Minnesota--but when some Amazon ap converted my MN into Mongolia I thought it was funny and left it. Because wouldn't it be fun if it really WERE in Mongolia?
Thank you for the very kind words of confidence.
Loftus is unlikely ever to completely win me over because I find that even when he writes something I agree with, the tone hits me wrong. But obviously a lot of people don't agree with me on that, though. I have come to appreciate Carrier, though. I think he writes cogently and accessibly, and that's mostly what I look for in general audience books of that sort.
I'll be very curious to learn what you ended up thinking of this book. Please, when you're done, I'd like to read a comment on it.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 12, 2011 5:21:28 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 14, 2011 10:09:52 AM PDT
John W. Loftus says:
Greg, out of curiosity, have you read my book "Why I Became an Atheist" where my tone is very respectful toward Christianity? When one participates in these debates on a daily basis for over six years it has it's effect on those of us who do it. You can see the same level of frustration coming out in Bob Price's degenerating tone. Case in point is his book "The Case Against the Case for Christ" where he blasts Christians with a tone that I haven't yet achieved. At some point we realize the devout are not listening so we turn to those who are.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 13, 2011 8:55:06 AM PDT
No, John, I admit I have not read Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity. I have no doubt that your tone was respectful in that book. Clearly this is just a subjective reaction on my part. Perhaps because I've spent some time with Bob and feel I know him a little, I hear his (very jovial, even when frustrated) voice when I read his stuff and it impacts how I "hear" it in my mind's ear. I don't know. My review of The Case Against The Case For Christ: A New Testament Scholar Refutes the Reverend Lee Strobel says it sounds like Dr. Price is getting frustrated, and who can blame him--so I know what you mean. And while I don't have your substantial public platform, on a purely interpersonal level I know what it's like to feel frustrated when confronting people with things that are obviously, verifiably true and have them reject them out of hand for no reason whatever (other than a desire to cling to a tradition or dogma or whatever).
I appreciate the work you do, John, and find much of it invaluable. All I can say is that I try to use these reviews and comments to report my sincere thoughts and reactions, and they will just be my opinions and don't mean anything beyond that. People like David seem to think that my efforts to be at least as tough on the people I agree with as those I don't give me some credibility. I hope that's the case.
I'll read anything new you put out, John, and will try to circle back to "Why I Became" sometime soon. I don't demand that any artist or writer's tone ever "hit me right" for me to find their contributions meaningful. For the record, it's not being respectful of Christians or th religious that I have in mind, though. I mean, I rave about Tim Minchin's music, and I can't imagine anyone being any less respectful of Christianity than he is. There is some other element that just isn't what I resonate to. But that doesn't mean anything. It's not even a criticism. It's purely a taste thing. I think you can safely ignore it and perhaps be glad that some people trust my opinion enough that when I say I really like one of your books, it gives them incentive to check it out.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 14, 2011 10:11:33 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 18, 2011 1:38:55 AM PDT
John W. Loftus says:
Thanks Greg. When you decide to read "Why I Became an Atheist" and review it, I'll be interested.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2011 5:30:19 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 1, 2011 5:42:01 AM PST
Bruce R. Bain says:
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2011 8:16:40 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 1, 2011 1:50:03 PM PST
"...Failed to obtain a logical exposition...." = "pseudo-intellectual word salad"
You've said nothing, Brian, and I'm not convinced you read the book. And serving the "needs of humanity for guidance and explanation" is a feature of virtually all religions; to borrow Loftus's outsider test of faith motif, you don't think that makes them all objectively valid, do you? Of course not. You criticize subjectivism. The real question relates to the quality of the guidance (which is hit and miss--there are some wonderfully humane principles in Christianity that agree with compassionate reason, and also a bunch of fear-mongering, misogyny and homophobia, plus a failure to condemn slavery, amidst other imperfections), and explanation. Talk about dismal. What explanation does Christianity make that is any way superior to a "naturalistic" one?