on April 10, 2010
This newly published book is an anthology containing 15 chapters written by 9 scholars, most of which were at one time conservative Christians. It surveys the problems with Christianity from a number of different angles--sociological, psychological, scientific, historical, and biblical. It is the probably the single best volume available today to debunk evangelical Christianity. It brings together a variety of arguments into one work, that prior to its publication, would have required one to sift through dozens of books to find them. While there are some areas that still could be covered, for example, the immoral and illogical nature of the atonement (a topic near to my heart), nevertheless, it covers most of the bases.
Chapter One is written by anthropologist David Eller and discusses how Christianity is a phenomena that can be understood purely on cultural and sociological grounds.
Chapter Two is by psychologist Valerie Tarico who examines the concept of belief (or faith) as it is presently understood by neurologists and shows that it is rarely based on evidence or arguments.
Chapter Three is by pharmacist Jason Long who deals with how religious ideas develop in people and how they hold on to them regardless of the evidence.
Chapter Four is by former Pastor and Christian apologist John Loftus who explains his Outsider Test for Faith. He invites people to "step outside" of their belief system and evaluate their religion in the same way they would evaluate a religion that they do not hold.
Chapter Five is by librarian Ed Babinski who has studied Young Earth Creationism extensively. He clearly presents the pre-scientific understanding of the cosmos as held by biblical writers and shows that it is impossible to reconcile that understanding with what is currently known in science.
Chapter Six is by author (The Rejection of Pascal's Wager: A Skeptic's Guide to the Bible and the Historical Jesus ) Paul Tobin who shows that the historical criticism of the Bible reveals that it contains errors, inconsistencies, myths, legends, and forgeries.
Chapter Seven has John Loftus returning to demonstrate how the Bible fails to communicate clearly. He shows how interpretational conflicts over the meaning of Scripture has led to millions of deaths as well as untold suffering through the ages. He argues that one would expect an omniscient God to be able to communicate his will in a much better fashion.
Chapter Eight is by biblical scholar Hector Avalos and discusses why the God of the Old Testament is a cruel and monstrous tyrant in spite of Christian apologists attempt to justify him.
Chapter Nine is my favorite chapter in the book. In it John Loftus returns to lay out the problem of animal suffering and examine 8 different ways Christians have tried to reconcile that suffering with a good God. He shows convincingly that each Christian answer fails and that there is no reconciliation possible.
Chapter Ten is by NT scholar Robert Price who, in his own unique and sarcastic way, demolishes the attempts by evangelicals to wiggle out of the implications of biblical criticism.
Chapter Eleven is by historian Richard Carrier who applies the Outsider Test of Faith to the "historical evidence" put forward by Christian apologists for the resurrection. He demonstrates conclusively that if one treats the NT as historians treat every other ancient document, the teaching that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead is untenable.
Chapter Twelve brings John Loftus back again to show that Jesus of Nazareth is but one in a long list of failed apocalyptic prophets. He demonstrates that Jesus taught the world would end in the lifetime of the disciples and that all of the first century believers including Paul thought Jesus would return at any moment. He goes on to show how Christians have had to rethink their eschatological ideas in light of the failure of Jesus to return.
Chapter Thirteen is a repeat performance by David Eller in which he explodes a commonly held myth that morality must be based on a divine being. He proves that morality is merely an expression of one's culture.
Chapter Fourteen has Hector Avalos returning to deal with the argument put forward by Christians that the holocaust and the other atrocities committed by Adolph Hitler were a result of Darwinian or atheistic ideology. He shows that instead Hitler's motivating factors were actually the example of the Roman Catholic Church and the teaching of Martin Luther about the Jews.
Chapter Fifteen is another essay by Richard Carrier in which he shows the absurdity of the Christian claim that modern science is based upon the precepts of the Christian worldview.
Once again, this is an excellent volume and I highly recommend it to anyone who is willing to examine the evidence and think seriously about the Christian faith. I am sure many Christians will be afraid to read it or even advised by their leaders not to read it. But as Socrates is reported to have said: "The unexamined life is not worth living."
on April 5, 2010
I purchased this book expecting it to be a review of material I had already become familiar with through authors like Bart Ehrman and Dan Barker. While there is some overlap, there is a wealth of additional material here that goes beyond the usual points raised in the critical examination of christianity. The inclusion of substantial content from the perspectives of psychology, anthropology and ancient history makes this book more than just a polemic; it's a nice anthology that provides the buyer with a broad range of discourse that has very uncomfortable implications for theism. All of the authors provide thorough references for their contributions, which is a plus for the intended audience of this book, i.e., any critical reader who is loath to take a statement or an assertion "on faith", regardless of which side (or the middle) of the fence you sit. Another plus for this book is the fact that the authors take time to examine various lines of apologetics with respect to several of the chapter topics and why they believe they are philosophically untenable, historically implausible or distort scientific fact.
It's easy to find books that bash religion (or atheism, for that matter) on superficial levels, and while some parts of this book have an aggressive tone, none of the authors resorts to trite or ad hominem arguments to make their points-they rely on depth of scholarship which makes this a highly readable, if sometimes complex, addition to the increasing body of works critical of christianity and religion in general.
on December 5, 2011
I thought the coolest thing in my copy would be Richard Carrier's signature. But, it actually taught me quite a lot. It's the weirdest feeling. It's been years since one piece of media has seriously enlightened me on more than one or two topics. It's a rare gem to find something that dispels a misconception or suddenly clears up some issue, or corrects a mistake, or changes one's mind but this book did all of those things.
When I read the God Delusion, the criticisms of which spawned this book, it was mostly old hat. Dawkins was a perfectly fine author but most of his stuff was basically remedial. And many criticized Dawkins on the grounds that he was discussing topics for which he was not an expert and the work wasn't scholarly. But largely it was all stuff I already knew, and learned years ago. It was entirely review. In the Christian Delusion, the essays fit together nicely and those writing them actually are experts on the topics they are writing on and the book as a whole is devastating to Christianity, and actually taught me quite a lot. It's rare to run into a few bits of new info but this book is full of em.
Though a very small group, if you found the God Delusion to be boring because it was so much review, buy this book. I cannot even fathom how jawdropping it would be for somebody who hasn't spent years already studying this stuff.
on April 14, 2010
My only complaint is there wasn't a hardback version. If there is a book that warrents a hardback edition, it it this one. That is really my only criticism. I too am a former Christian. In fact, I came from the same religious fellowship as John Loftus. I like his writings because he tends to approach topics from the same point of view I do. His book 'Why I Became an Atheist' was thorough and handled some issues that other writers from more mainline evnagelical writers tend to overlook. I always love the work of Richard Carrier and Robert Price. The chapter on the resurrection by Carrier was strong as usual. It was like a small preview of his own upcoming book on the historicity of Jesus which I know will be awesome. Babinski's chapter on Biblical comsmology was very informative. The more I learn about other ancient religions I see parallels in creation, not only from Genesis but all over the Old Testament. In this chapter Babinski lays out not only the references to the non-biblical texts but also lists the ones found in the Bible; dealing with everything from the creation stories to the flat earth, etc. This proves to me that any claim to inspiration by an all knowing god is foolishness. Why would god describe in his guide book to a lost humanity a false picture? He being all knowing, he should have seen that one day mankind would find out the truth concerning the spherical nature of the earth. I let me guess; he's testing us. Right! I hope this book will be read by many and highly circulated. I bought three just so I could loan them out to those lost in the darkness of confusion.
on October 6, 2011
If you are questioning Christianity this is the first book you should read. Since it contains essays on many of the important topics, it will give you a broad overview of the problems with Christianity and why you might want to rethink your Christian faith. Also, since each essay is written by a some of the best "New Atheists" it will give you a feel for each author and also, if you don't like one subject or style of the essay, you can quickly move on to another.
If you want a higly readable and understandable concise book that explains why your Christian Faith might all be a delusion, then this is the book for you. It is the best one I have read. (Although I haven't read the new book The End of Christianity). I also highly recommend the chapter which explains the cosmology of the bible. It explains what type of world and earth the bible readers are describing. It is really a pre-scientific view of the earth and the heavens but it makes understanding the bible a bit easier when you can understand the context in which the bible writers were writing. Plus it makes more sense than the fundamentalist claims that the Bible does not contradict earth science).
Some of the other New Atheist books are generally critical of religion (rather than focusing just on Christianity) but this book is on point in its criticisms of Christianity and directly counters many of the claims made by Christian apologists.
Seriously, if you are looking a reason and a tool to clear your mind and life from the nagging voice that you MUST be a Christian, then start with this book!
on March 21, 2013
This book is, so far, the most complete, thoroughly cited, and comprehensive collection of knock-down arguments to Christianity and religion as a whole that I have read. This is probably a result of the fact that each author had the ability to focus on making his or her respective chapter as complete and succinct as possible. Here a quick list of some of the things you can expect out of this book:
1. A better understanding of both modern and ancient Christianity and the common misrepresentations of Christianity that Theologians push, trying to re-write history.
2. A better understanding of the human brain and why we are so easy to fool.
3. The Outsider's Test for Faith, which asks religious people to look at their own religion from an outsider's perspective to test their claims without bias.
4. The vastly ignorant and incorrect picture that The Bible paints of the Earth and the cosmos.
5. The problem of bad communication and the invisibility of God.
6. Evidence that the God of the Bible (Old and New) was a capricious, monstrous character.
7. A very enlightening chapter on the Darwinian problem of evil.
8. A series of chapters that thoroughly proves that it is unreasonable to believe that Jesus was the son of God, resurrected from the dead, or anything more than a failed apocalyptic prophet.
9. Learn how Christianity is not THE basis of morality or even a good source of morality.
10. Proves that The Holocaust was a result of religious fervor and a long history of Christian antisemitism, and had nothing at all to do with Atheism or Darwin.
11. Finally, the myth is dispelled that Christianity was the cause of, or even necessary for, modern Science, and actually was the cause of a millennium of intellectual darkness.
Each of these points is so thoroughly proven through logic and cited facts that anyone reading this book, by the end, should be able to see why Christianity is a delusion. If that reader is a Christian, and his or her faith is not shaken, then it will pretty clear that he or she is deluded.
To any Christians out there, it is important to note that every Christian argument refuted in this book is a pivotal argument being advocated by top Theologians in the field. After reading this book, many Christians will think that, probably, the Theologians quoted in these pages are the bottom of the barrel, easy targets. This is not the case. That feeling you have that there are Christian scholars who have figured it all out, and have all the answers you don't have the time to figure out. Well these are those guys. And their answers have been thoroughly dismantled, and they have been shown to hold no water. There are no other, smarter, better arguments for Christianity out there.
Being deluded, as explained in this book, is not an insult, but is a capacity we all have. You may be deluded that Bush, or Obama were perfect presidents. And if you feel that way, you will engage in avoidance behavior to avoid a feeling of cognitive dissonance. It is important to know we are capable of these mental gymnastics in order to discover if what we feel certain about is really true, or if we simply assume that it is true. This book proves eloquently, and with scholarly professionalism, that Christianity is a delusion.
on June 3, 2013
This is a collection of essays by some of the great thinkers of our time who are challenging humanity to move above and beyond the limited religious thinking of our past. Each states a different perspective; focusing on several historical texts, from Hammurabi's Code to biblical errors. We can grasp and understand more when we put things in context and each author details their logic and reasoning extremely well. Dan Barker writes the introduction and can speak with authority since he emerged from a theological background into one of the country's leading spokesmen of freethought. I highly recommend this book to any person who is part of the emergence of the non-believer. The future is ours to write and great minds are pointing the way!
on May 14, 2010
The Christian Delusion is the answer to most of those little holes left over after The God Delusion. Red Herring topics that frequently come up in debates, like the claim that Hitler was an atheist, or that Christianity is the basis of our morals (both false, by the way) are answered firmly and confidently. Instead of writing the whole book himself, Loftus chose to make The Christian Delusion a compilation of essays, each covering a specific subject. This was a very intelligent decision for two reasons: first, it allows for an A-list authors that would sell out any Atheist convention, including: Richard Carrier, David Eller, Robert M. Price, Hector Avalos, Edward Babinski, Paul Tobin, Valerie Tarico, Jason Long, and, of course, John Loftus (there is also a forward by FFrF's Dan Barker). Second, the mutli-author technique allows each contributor to stay focused in their specific field of interest. The common apologist defense of questioning the qualification of any critical writer is thereby diffused. And credentials really are a moot point with this book; of the 10 authors, 6 of them have PhDs in their field and several of them are former Christians that turned to atheism after years of study.
The book is divided into 5 sections, each containing 2-4 articles. Some of the writing does get a bit dry at times (they are, after all, tackling some pretty challenging subjects), but the layout of the book easily allows the reader the opportunity to take one subject at a time.
1. Why Faith Fails - This section is probably one of the most needed in the world of Atheist/Christian dialogue. Instead of just pointing out perceived flaws in religious belief, these articles seek to understand and explain religious experiences through the social sciences. The articles explain how religion mixes into (and often gets confused with) the culture around it, how cognitive experiences, like a Transcendence hallucination, can easily can get confused with a supernatural experience (often called a "born again" experience), and how the human mind itself is wired to trick us and that without an emotionally detached method of looking at the world, like science, we would all be nothing but bias machines.
2. Why the Bible is Not God's Word - Critique of the Christian Bible occasionally takes too much of a center stage in Atheist writing. Responsible analysis of any ancient document takes a lot of patience and the discipline, not surprisingly, tends to to lose some people (either Christian or Atheist). I enjoy it, personally, but only because I genuinely find the subject matter interesting. I wouldn't actually use Biblical Criticism to argue an Atheist standpoint. Conversations that focus on Biblical critique can get messy and lead down alley ways that would require a find their way out. Loftus, though, cleverly keeps the focus of the 3 articles in this section very focused and to the point. Instead of pointing out every possible contradiction or mistranslation, the writers stay on task and make it quite clear that the Bible could not possibly be a reliable source of knowledge about a supreme being. I believe that this section would prove very beneficial to any Christian that believes the Bible to be "revealed knowledge".
3. Why the Christian God is Not Perfectly Good - Hector Avalos kicks off this section by refuting a past article by Paul Copan called "Is Yaheh a Moral Monster?" Hector concludes that he is. He does this by showing that Hebrew law code was not superior to that of the surrounding tribes and that biblical morals are unclear at best. John Loftus finishes it up with an article that points out how animal suffering in the world cannot be part of an omniscient god's plan.
4. Why Jesus is Not the Risen Son of God - Robert M Price examines (and refutes) Paul Eddy and Greg Boyd's apologetic book, "The Jesus Legend", which attempts to argue for an historical Jesus. Then Richard Carrier tells us "Why the Resurrection is Unbelievable" with enough clarity to make anyone ashamed to have ever bought into the idea to begin with. John Loftus then gives us a best case scenario for who a man named Jesus at the center of a 1st century religious movement could have been. Hint, the answer has more to do with social rebellion than it does saving souls.
5. Why Society Does Not Depend on Christian Faith - The topic of this section is a big one lately, when every religious zealot with a television camera pointed at them has been making the astounding claim that Christianity is the glue that holds society together. Aside from this being a bigoted and xenophobic viewpoint to make, it's also false. David Eller shows that not only is Christianity not a necessary basis for morality but, no religion is. In "Atheism was Not The Cause of the Holocaust", Hector Avalos shows that not only was Hitler not an atheist, but that he had expressed that he expected to be rewarded in heaven! This will be a very handy article to pass on the persistent trolls that still like to claim, despite loads of contradictory (and easily available) evidence, that Hitler was an atheist. Richard Carrier then closes the book by completely blowing apart the bogus assumption that Christianity was (somehow?!) responsible for modern science.
The Christian Delusion is, all in all, a very well thought out book. It covers most of the arguments one might run up against when conversing with apologists that aren't covered by the more broad "The God Delusion". While none of the articles will be the final word (the subject of each article could very easily fill a book of their own), all the authors have meticulously sourced their articles to make any further research easy. And, let's face it, at this point, anyone still adhering to any form of literal Christianity just isn't paying attention.
on November 29, 2015
I should have reviewed this before, but I was lazy. It's a good book and I recommend it to Christian cult members all the time. If you're so sure you aren't in a cult, then you should read this book and try to explain how it is you know the other guy is in a cult but not you.
The brainwashed don't know it.
Well, I've been out of the Vineyard cult for a bit over three years. Still in recovery as they are a hateful bunch of evil people that lie and steal and hurt children, BUT there is escape. If you'll only open your brain.
It's easy. Imagine all the people...
on February 15, 2011
I don't think any atheists believe any one book will destroy a global religion in like a year. Atheists know it will be a process. I think anti-theists can be proud of their accomplishments however. They've already dropped enough hammerblows on religion to the point where only a very small % of Christians would seriously try to say the Bible is literally true. Christianity has just become meaningless in Europe and it's well on it's way in the US. Christianity is so bankrupt in the US that books are written by insiders yearly decrying the pathetic state of Christianity in the US. Joel Osteen is the "leader" of the US church and I don't think he has even read the Bible. "Christless Christianity", "Christianity-lite", the prosperity gospel, biblical illiteracy rule the US church. The dirty little secret of American Christianity is that true Christianity is losing. It's dying. And it's thanks to books like this we can look forward to a future of an irrelevant church. That alone is read this book. Anyone who has questions or doubts owes it to themselves to read this book. This book is a fantastic tome that starts with the cognitive gaps that allow religion to build in the first place, and then drops atom bombs on the Christian faith. Many will seriously doubt and even lose their faith as a result of this book. About as savage attack on Christianity to be found by people who can do the best job at, former believers..