- Paperback: 428 pages
- Publisher: Prometheus Books (August 21, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1591025923
- ISBN-13: 978-1591025924
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 76 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,311,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity Paperback – October 30, 2008
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"With excellent scholarship and thorough detail, Loftus powerfully and systematically dismantles the Christian religion, refuting long held arguments of apologists, laying to waste sacred and traditional beliefs of the faith." --Joe E. Holman, founder of ministerturnsatheist.org, and author of Project Bible Truth: A Minister Turns Atheist and Tells All
About the Author
John W. Loftus (Angola, IN) earned M.A. and M.Div. degrees in theology and philosophy from Lincoln Christian Seminary under the guidance of Dr. James D. Strauss. He then attended Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he studied under Dr. William Lane Craig and received a Th.M. degree in philosophy of religion. Before leaving the church, he had ministries in Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana, and taught at several Christian colleges. He has an online blog at debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com.
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This book is not an emotional rant along the lines of "this is why Christians are fools" or "this is why religion is the source of all evil." While not unbiased, it does address the difficulties of Christianity in a way that is more sincere than I have seen in other books challenging the Christian faith. In other words, this wasn't written for entertainment value.
My only criticism (and the reason for 4 stars instead of 5) was that there were some cases where the book did not adequately acknowledge the stronger philosophical arguments for the Christian position on that issue.
I would recommend this for sincere, devoted Christians who are willing to face an honest challenge to his or her deeply held beliefs or convictions. It will either cause them to dig deeper into Christian apologetics (to find answers to John's challenges) and come up stronger or it will cause them to see the world differently.
He suggests, "one should never said that she 'knows' Christianity to be true, because just like me, she might later come to believe she was wrong. I've tested my experience of the purported witnesses that I had, and found I was mistaken." (Pg. 219) He argues, "It's very interesting to me that Christians will believe in the miracles recorded in the Bible... but if I claimed I saw one of these miracles yesterday, they would not believe me... What I want to know is why the Christian maintains a double standard... Why does she believe the biblical stories but would reject those stories if she lived in that era?" (Pg. 125)
He concludes, "an outsider to the Christian faith would not believe God raised Jesus from the dead with the paucity of historical evidence there is for it... Given the immense problems I have with believing in the incarnation, the supposed atonement by Jesus on the cross... I see no reason why I should also accept the claim that God raised Jesus from the dead." (Pg. 374)
He admits, "My aim here is to poke holes in the arguments that show God exists, and I've done that. But I'm not certain God doesn't exist. Some kind of designer God might possibly exist. I just don't think so." (Pg. 93) Later, he states, "by declaring myself an atheist it can be seen as a protest against a religiously ambiguous world. I don't think there is a supreme being of any kind, but even if I can't be sure... I still proclaim myself an atheist... [I] am shaming God, if he exists. I am an atheist to protest the fact that even if he exists he has not revealed himself clearly to his creatures... I will shame him for not providing sufficient evidence and reasons to believe." (Pg. 404)
Loftus's book will not convince many Christians, but is a comprehensive critique that will be very helpful to anyone (including Christian apologists!) wanting to read an up-to-date critique of the faith.
The book is definitely written at the level of a college textbook, so it might be a difficult or less enjoyable read for some. It is, however, a book that will make you think about the subjects he writes about.
To me, the one glaring omission is the lack of an index. A book of this type and size (over 400 pages!) would be much more useful as a reference if it was easier to refer back to the topics throughout the book. However, this omission should not preclude any person, atheist or theist, from reading this book.
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