- Paperback: 280 pages
- Publisher: Pitchstone Publishing (November 1, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 163431056X
- ISBN-13: 978-1634310567
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 36 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #916,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist Paperback – November 1, 2015
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"In this book John Loftus provides some insightful criticisms of arguments by Christian thinkers, including those having to do with the problem of evil." —Dr. Chad Meister, Professor, Philosophy, Bethel College; author, Evil: A Guide for the Perplexed.
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“How to Defend the Christian Faith" is an excellent and clever guide on how to defend the Christian faith from an atheist’s point of view. Accomplished author and former preacher John W. Loftus, offers some positive and negative advice on what apologists should not do. This ingenious 280-page book includes sixteen chapters broken out by the following three parts: 1. You Must Prepare for the Task, 2. How to Defend the Christian Faith, and 3. How to Defend God in a World of Pain.
1. An author with a proven track record of high-quality work. Well-written, well-researched.
2. What an ingenious idea for a book, apologetics advice from a person so well-suited to do so. Loftus was a preacher who studied under the best known Christian apologists and is an active atheist.
3. Excellent writing style that is engaging, provocative and accessible.
4. Makes perfectly clear early on what this book is all about. “The truth is that I really am going to offer some sincere honest advice to would-be Christian apologists, especially in Part 1. I’ll also be offering a lot of snarky tongue-in-cheek advice, especially in Parts 2 and 3. I’ll offer some positive advice for what budding apologists should do, as well as negative advice—lots of it—for what they should not do.”
5. Did I say provocative? It’s a Loftus trademark. “My argument is that God, if he exists, failed to effectively communicate his will. He failed to provide the sufficient evidence we need to believe.” This is what he calls, the Problem of Divine Miscommunication.
6. Discusses areas that apologists should not debate. “Evolution is a fact. Every scientist in every part of the globe knows it is a fact. It is not up for debate. The only thing left for would-be Christian apologists to do, based on the fact of evolution, is to deal with the implications of evolution honestly.”
7. Scientific implications. “In fact, neuroscience is destroying the notions of free will, sin, and the need for salvation. At the very least neuroscience is making it extremely difficult for believers to still claim that that we freely choose to sin, that we can freely choose to be saved, and that there is a wrathful God who will judge us on the last day.”
8. Sound advice backed by the best of our current scientific understanding. “My first and probably most important piece of advice is not to trust your brain. “
9. The Socratic Method and its value. “Over and over Socrates would ask them to clarify what they were talking about. The first question he would ask is, ‘What do you mean by that?’ He would also ask another question, ‘How do you know?’ You should be asking these two questions several times a day in various contexts by using differing words and sentences. These two questions can lead us to truth.”
10. The three indicators on how to detect indoctrination. “A key indicator that indoctrination is taking place rather than education is if you’re being taught something that goes against the consensus of scholars working in their respective fields.”
11. A look at the apologetic methodology. Loftus discusses the five most important headings. “I’ll argue that apologists who seek to defend the Christian faith must accept and defend nothing less than the need for sufficient objective evidence. This is the only honest choice.” “Sufficient objective evidence must be there for Christianity, or else reasonable people should not accept it.”
12. It wouldn’t be a Loftus book without the rational approach of the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF). “For believers who want to know which religion is true, if one is, I have proposed the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF).” “I argue that, by its very nature, faith cannot pass the OTF because faith is always unreasonable.”
13. The traits of an apologist. Provides great examples on how special pleading is used to defend the faith by punting to possibilities rather than sticking to probabilities. “From a purely historical point of view, a highly unlikely event is far more probable than a virtually impossible one.” “Possibilities don’t count. Only probabilities do.”
14. A look at the Bible. “We’re first and foremost arguing that the New Testament is so riddled with discrepancies and evolved layers of religious tradition from a superstitious era that it leaves a great deal of room for doubt—that it’s much more likely no one can know what happened, if we take the New Testament at face value—which means Christians have little basis beyond blind, irrational faith for believing Jesus rose from the grave. That’s what we’re saying.”
15. The virtues of methodological naturalism. “Methodological naturalism (MN) is a proven method whereby scholars assume there is a natural explanation for any event rather than a supernatural one.”
16. How apologists gerrymander for God. “The problem of suffering is one of the reasons why Process Theologians have conceded that God is not omnipotent. It didn’t take atheists to persuade them to abandon God’s omnipotence at all. The problem speaks for itself.”
17. Takes on Dr. David Marshall who interesting enough has made remarks to some of my own reviews admittedly in a respectful manner. The art of mischaracterization.
18. A fascinating look at the ubiquitous problem of suffering in the world. “Christian apologist William Lane Craig agreed with the force of the problem: The problem of evil is certainly the greatest obstacle to belief in the existence of God. When I ponder both the extent and depth of suffering in the world, whether due to man’s inhumanity to man or to natural disasters, then I must confess that I find it hard to believe that God exists.”
19. Some quotes just stay with you. “If Satan was the brightest creature in all of creation, and he knew of God’s immediate presence, absolute goodness, and omnipotent power like no one else, then to rebel against God makes him pure evil, suicidal, and dumber than a box of rocks!”
20. A look at illegitimate excuses for God. “The more suffering we find in the natural world, the less probable it is that a good, omnipotent God exists.”
21. Notes included.
1. Lack of supplementary material (tables, charts and/or diagrams) to complement the excellent narrative.
2. No formal bibliography.
In summary, I’m an admirer of Loftus’s work. He’s an eloquent author with provocative ideas that resonate with my kind of thinking. This clever book exemplifies what a five-star book is all about: an author with expertise on an interesting topic able to engage the public with provocative thoughts and ideas backed by sound science and logical thinking. Kudos! I highly recommend it!
Further recommendations: “Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity", "The End of Christianity”, and “The Christian Delusion” by John W. Loftus, “The End of Biblical Studies" by Hector Avalos, "Cruel Creeds, Virtuous Violence: Religious Violence Across Culture and History" and “Natural Atheism” by Dr. David Eller, "Man Made God: A Collection of Essays" by Barbara G. Walker, “Why I’m Not a Christian” by Richard Carrier, “The Dark Side of Christian History” by Helen Ellerbe, “Atheism for Dummies” by Dale McGowan, “The Atheist Universe” by David Mills, “Nailed” by David Fitzgerald, “The Portable Atheist” and “God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, “The God Argument” by A.C. Grayling, “50 popular beliefs that people think are true” by Guy P. Harrison, “Godless” by Dan Barker, “Moral Combat” by Sikivu Hutchinson, and “Society Without God” by Phil Zuckerman.
The only thing I would criticize about the book is that it is a little too condescending at times. While I realize that apologetics deserves it and the title of the book is satirical, I think it should have been written in a way that would encourage more aspiring apologist to read it and understand just what they are getting themselves into.
certainty and shows how the only exit to truth is through the small pass of rationality.
My only criticism is that of a bit too much repetition in places where getting the reader's attention with a 2x4 might be more efficient, but then
that works best on certain mindsets. All in all, he has done well what he set out to.
For a more expeditious route to religious sanity (if such a thing can exist), I recommend http://www.godisimaginary.com