Randal Rauser on The Christian Delusion

by Luke Muehlhauser on October 15, 2010 in Indexes

The Christian Delusion (ed. by John Loftus) is one of the top four books I recommend to Christians. It’s arguments against Christianity are devastating. Thus, I’m gratified that at least one theologian has tried to respond to the book.

Here is evangelical theologian Randal Rauser on The Christian Delusion:

War on Error is also blogging through The Christian Delusion, and has commented on Rauser’s posts.

Loftus’ Debunking Christianity has posted some responses to Rauser’s posts:

Finally, see the series on The Christian Delusion at the liberal Christian blog Biblical Scholarship.

Happy reading!

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Reginald Selkirk October 15, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Rauser is a fucktard.

From the second entry, “Do atheists care about the truth?”:

First off, this entire response is an ad hominem argument. He vacillates on whether atheists are motivated by a desire for immorality with impunity. Instead of wasting time on whether an ad hominem is relevant, deal with the fucking arguments.

Rauser: There is a popular notion that academics – philosophers and especially scientists – are driven by the pure desire to know. That’s baloney. As an academic, you stake a claim that a certain set of propositions is true, or more likely true, than another set (even if that set is the skeptic’s set which advocates withholding belief in other sets).

(Illustration: Mr. X tells you that your nation is an oppressor, your spouse is a jerk or your child is a monster. It is the rare patriot, spouse or parent that will respond to such a charge with a pure, dispassionate quest to know the truth…)

Bizarro. The argument is specifically drawn up for “academics – philosophers and especially scientists” – yet the illustration is distinctly not about science, nor even academics. Try harder. Sure, scientists get caught up in defending turf, just like everyone else. But when the evidence comes in, you had better be prepared to abandon that turf, or get written off as cranky and irrelevant.

Conclusion: I do not conclude that Rauser’s arguments are bad because he is a fucktard, rather I conclude that Rauser is a fucktard because his arguments are so bad. I don’t know why you waste your time on this.

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Reginald Selkirk October 15, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Part 1: “This book completely destroys Christianity.”

Wow, the fucktard wasted a complete post about a cover blurb?

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cl October 15, 2010 at 1:55 pm

FWIW, Jayman777 of Biblical Scholarship has also responded in depth to Loftus’ “devastating” arguments.

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Patrick October 15, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Yeah, Rauser exemplifies what I’ve always seen as the fundamental impossibility of the Christian project. On one hand, loving your neighbor is the command of utmost importance. But on the other, in order to make the theology work, Christians frequently find themselves compelled to make up bullshit lies and accusations about their neighbors. Which is of course incompatible with love.

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Wrath October 15, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Loftus is working on yet another book, The End of Christianity.

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John W. Loftus October 15, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Thanks for the mention Luke. I appreciate it very much. And I greatly appreciate the contributors who made the book what it is.

There will be more critics. I learn from them. But I just cannot think of anything they could say that would make me change my mind when I say Christainity is a delusion.

Cheers

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Randal Rauser October 15, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Thanks for the spotlight. For the record,

(a) John Loftus and I are on good terms and I think he’s a great guy;

(b) I wasn’t familiar with the term “fucktard” so I looked it up in the online Oxford English Dictionary. Alas, the answer came back:

“No exact results found for ‘fucktard’ in the dictionary.”

So I suggest Reginald submit “fucktard” to the OED editorial board for inclusion in the next edition.

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bossmanham October 15, 2010 at 5:16 pm

It’s hard for me to take posts that associates the words “arguments” and “devastating” with John Loftus.

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Frank October 15, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Philosopher Victor Reppert has systematically demolished the outsider test.. Loftus appears in several surreal comments threads on these posts.

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Thrasymachus October 15, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I can’t comment on the content of most of the chapters, but I’m a non-believer who doesn’t buy the OTF. To the degree I can make sense of it, it seems to be wrong.

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Thomas October 15, 2010 at 5:36 pm

It’s great that bossmanham has provided so many arguments for why one should not take seriously posts that associate John Loftus with “arguments.” I, for one, associate “arguments” with bossmanham’s clear, insightful, and rigorously argued posts, as they are always chock-full of arguments.

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Mazen Abdallah October 15, 2010 at 5:51 pm

I read patiently. First of all, the moron has no point. It’s just a gentle patronizing tone through and through in the interest of…well, nothing.
1st post: The blurb exaggerates
Wow, so i guess book titles like ‘The Twilight of Atheism’ are much more grounded in reality. It’s a cover blurb, it’s meant to hype
2nd post: Are atheists truth seekers?
I honestly didn’t see a point. Like, none. I don’t know what he’s trying to say. Is he saying atheists are only interested in denying God cause they want to do evil stuff. I just…i just don’t get it
3rd post: Aww, fuck it.

I just wish this douche would stay on the ‘Hitchens and Dawkins are idiots’ bandwagon and direct less criticism at books like the Christian Delusion. I did find a link to a post where Randy claims Dawkins is scared of William Lane Craig. Nice

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Landon Hedrick October 15, 2010 at 6:04 pm

I don’t understand some of the criticisms of Rauser here. So he has a blog post about the exaggeration of a blurb on the book, and the complaint is to just say “duh, it’s meant to hype”? Why is that a criticism of the blog post? Is it inappropriate for him to make this point? Or is it just unnecessary? But sometimes people write blog posts on things that are unnecessary. Does that show that there’s something wrong with the person, or with his critical analysis?

In any case, it seems like for the sake of being thorough it would be a good idea to clear up a misconception about the blurbs, given that more people read the blurbs than the book. So I wonder if some people are just looking for something to criticize here rather than focusing on the meat of Rauser’s critiques.

(That’s not to say I agree with Rauser, but give the guy a fair hearing.)

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JS Allen October 15, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Rauser’s posts are not bad; thanks for sharing them.

‘Christian Delusion’ is my top recommendation on the topic. I always tell people, “If you can read The God Delusion and see its errors, that means you have a brain. If you can read The Christian Delusion and see its errors, that means you’re a true Christian.”

But, yeah, the OTF is the weakest part of the book. It doesn’t make any sense.

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Hermes October 15, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Landon, I haven’t read Rauser’s blog yet. What blog post do you think gives the best or a good impression of Rauser’s examination of John Loftus’ book?

For what it’s worth, I have no problem with someone adding fire to the mix in their evaluations, or being uncharitable in their assessments, as long as they show that there is a justification to do so. For example, calling someone inept is fine with me if the critic shows how the person being criticized can be seen as inept. I don’t even require that the critic prove beyond doubt that their assessment is the only one that is likely just that it is plausible.

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Landon Hedrick October 15, 2010 at 7:27 pm

Hermes,

I haven’t read all of the posts. I recall reading some of them a while back and thought they weren’t bad.

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Steven October 15, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Cl, what on earth was that link? You said it was in-depth, but in clicking one of the “refutations”, it only amounted to “Author is a moral relativist, this does not bode well for theists. Oh, and he should have presented a specific set of ethics”. That’s hardly thorough or insightful; it’s just dismissing something without very good reasons for doing so.

—-

The most devastating arguments against Christianity I can think of are fairly simple:

1. God interferes in human affairs in the OT. This usually results in the mass-murder of many human beings. Christians argue that this is because God is ridding the Earth of some evil. Congratulations, you’ve effectively contradicted Free Will Theodicy and now the Problem of Pain now defeats your faith. (God even seems to make decisions for the Pharaoh!)

2. The Bible talks about a world-wide flood. There is no evidence for such a flood. Therefore the story is false and, by extent, the whole document.

3. The Biblical God defines himself as an unchanging being. For the Cosmological Argument to work, God must change from being atemporal to being temporal. Therefore, the Cosmological Argument is incompatible with the Christian God.

4. We can prove that the Sun was created before plants. Genesis claims otherwise. Genesis is wrong.

5. The Christian Theology claims he is omnipresent. Genesis states that he was passing through Eden. An omnipresent God would already be in Eden, making this claim seem incompatible with the Bible.

On an interesting side-note, if God is omnipresent, is he in hell?

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Keith October 15, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Thrasymachus I like your thoughts.

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JS Allen October 15, 2010 at 8:04 pm

@Frank – Yes, I watched those threads unfold and it was cringe-worthy.

Now I’ve been reading the comments threads at Rauser’s blog, and they are almost as much a trainwreck as the discussions on Vic’s blog.

The caliber of the atheists on Vic’s blog is an order of magnitude better than on Randal’s. Apart from Loftus, the atheists commenting on Randal’s blog all seem to be 12 years old.

Based on the conversations on Randal’s posts, I’m starting to paint a clearer picture of the disrespectful attacks on Loftus by some commenters on Vic’s posts (for example, see comment #54 in this post). It seems that some people got worked up and carried their beef across multiple message boards.

@Hermes – Start by reading the posts and comments threads that Frank linked to, and then read the arguments on Randal’s blog. Be sure to get a big bowl of popcorn and a comfy chair.

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Garren October 15, 2010 at 8:14 pm

The Christian Delusion has some very interesting standalone chapters, but I would never recommend it to a Christian. It’s written as a by-atheists for-atheists anthology which starts with the declaration that Christianity is false and then seeks to explain why people would believe something false.

Somehow Loftus completely lost his sense of how to speak to Christians which he definitely had in Why I Became An Atheist. I absolutely would recommend that book to (fundamentalist) Christians.

Also, when is the Outsider Test going to stop needing a special “don’t apply me to Atheism” proviso? I think there’s something to it, but hypocrisy is not a strong selling point.

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Patrick October 15, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Regarding the outsider test of faith: I feel like it relies a bit on a sort of default naturalism or evidentialism (in a loose sense of the two terms).

On one hand, the apologist could argue that they don’t see why naturalism should be default, and could argue in response that naturalism or evidentialism fails the outsider test if you define the outsider as someone who believes in some form of reformed epistemology (or as it was known before Plantinga tried to make it sound intellectually respectable, “I just knows it!”).

On the other, naturalism or evidentialism really does seem to be the default position for most people, even religious ones. Its the point of view you use to, I dunno, make toast, or cross a busy intersection. And naturalism or evidentialism in a loose sense is the default position of basically everyone, including people who believe in religions other than Christianity. Additionally, there’s some value in getting people to occasionally admit that there really is nothing you can do to logically convince someone of the truth of Christianity.

Anyways, I’m a little favorable towards the Outsider Test because it reminds me a lot of Rawls. But its kind of got the same flaws as Rawls as a result, and the sad thing about the Outsider Test is that it won’t convince many outsiders.

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Hermes October 15, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Randal Rauser, I am glad you are here. I hope that you are willing to answer some questions. If you are, here’s a simple one;

Is there a particular document or blog post that you consider to be most representative of your own views of Loftus’ book?

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Hermes October 15, 2010 at 8:38 pm

JS Allen, thanks for the recommendation!

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Hermes October 15, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Patrick: On the other, naturalism or evidentialism really does seem to be the default position for most people, even religious ones. Its the point of view you use to, I dunno, make toast, or cross a busy intersection.

Yep. Even if someone harshly rejects naturalism as an absolute, they can’t reject basic reality that naturalism tends to be in concurrence with. Attempts to do that always struck me as a form of solipsism.

That said, I have no problem with someone saying something similar to this;

Naturalism is true, but is not exclusively true, because there are other things that naturalism does not cover that are still true for these reasons … [and provide the list of other things and reasons].

Conversely, I don’t see a justification for saying something like this;

Naturalism is not even partially true [for these reasons], and thus these other things [list] that naturalism does not cover are by necessity true due to the failure of naturalism in general.

Even if a case for the second statement can be made, support for the other things must be provided or it opens up the possibility for allowing any claim to be granted without proper support.

While that is the case, what I tend to encounter are attacks on naturalism as an end-run around having to provide support for the other things. It’s very frustrating.

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Steven October 15, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Hermes, I couldn’t agree more on your last post. It always irks me when someone just dismisses naturalism on some ground or another, and apparently, this somehow ends up justifying some other idea on the grounds that, under certain conditions, it is seen as a “better explanation than Naturalism”.

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Randal Rauser October 15, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Hey Hermes,

I can’t recommend any blog post because I don’t remember all that I wrote. But the basic problem with the book is that most of it doesn’t even attempt a positve atheological apologetic. Rather, it simply assumes that theism is false and reasons on that basis. (Thus I find myself pretty sympathetic with Garren’s take on the book in this thread.)

I should say however that I am only midway through the book and some of the strongest essays are yet to come including Loftus on natural evil and Avalos on biblical violence.

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Ben October 15, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Thanks for the plug, Luke. I’ve also responded to all of Rauser’s posts on Babinski’s chapter here.

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Ben October 15, 2010 at 9:44 pm

And actually the easiest way to find all my posts on Rauser’s views on TCD is by using the Rauser tag. :)

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Camus Dude October 15, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Did I miss where TCD was supposed to be a constructive atheist project, rather than an anti-Christian book? Apples and oranges?

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lukeprog October 15, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Camus,

No, TCD is definitely just an anti-Christian book.

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Garren October 15, 2010 at 10:11 pm

There is a distinction between anti-Christian books which are aimed at encouraging Christians to question their beliefs and anti-Christian books which just preach to the unbelieving choir. As a whole, TCD is the latter sort.

The first essay kicks things off with “every argument in support of religion has been shown to be inconclusive or demonstrably false” (p 25). The falseness of Christianity is thus presented as the book’s premise, not its conclusion.

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Eric October 16, 2010 at 1:45 am

In the introduction, Loftus explains that the book is not trying to tackle general belief in the Christian God. That was the point of his first book. In fact he recommends reading his first book for that topic. TCD is exactly what it claims to be, a book that tackles various christian delusions. Part 1 takes a look at prior biases (OTF), as well as human psychology. It is not meant to tackle apologetic arguments for God. It is just meant to help the reader understand certain “rationality blockers.” The rest of the sections deal with various other beliefs Christians have, not necessarily their belief in God.
The first book assumes the person reading believes as a Christian. The second book does not take that assumption, although I don’t think it necessarily assumes the reader already thinks Christianity is false. It just doesn’t assume the reader necessarily thinks its true.
Overall I don’t understand the chief criticism of this book; that TCD did not do something the book was never intended to do… That’s why I tend to recommend his first book to anyone interested in reading TCD.

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JS Allen October 16, 2010 at 11:16 am

@Garren – I would never recommend Loftus’s first book (WIBAA), when TCD is available.

His first book covers the same arguments as TCD, but less skillfully, and in Loftus’s paraphrase. It starts right out with his OTF and makes a big deal of it, which sort of cast a pall over the rest of the book, for me. And overall, it reads like an attempt by someone to provide rationalizations for his atheism by proof-texting snippets from infidels.org. For someone who is ignorant of the arguments for atheism, it might be temporarily persuasive, but bound to backfire when the person realizes later that Loftus’s paraphrased version of the argument was highly selective. In more than one way, it reminds me of the Mitchell Heisman 1904-page “book” on nihilism.

In contrast, while TCD opens with OTF and makes a big deal of it, the OTF is formulated better in TCD and not such an immediate turn-off. And then each argument gets treatment from a person who is an expert on the topic, so you can give each argument its best hearing. If Avelos annoys you, you can still take Babinski seriously (for example — I’m not saying Avelos is annoying).

I also disagree with the assessment that TCD is preaching to the atheist choir. Any Christian who wants to test the foundations of his faith will need to be able to contend with the arguments raised in TCD.

You can give WIBAA to a typical Christian, and I think he’ll be able to fairly quickly dismiss it; for the reasons I gave above, and more. But TCD collects the best arguments in discrete packages, and even if a Christian can easily dismiss all of them but 3, that’s 3 more troubling things the Christian has to contend with.

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Garren October 16, 2010 at 12:44 pm

JS Allen, it may depend on the sort of Christian we’d be handing books to. I come from a very fundamentalist Bible-is-perfect background and my believing family and friends are all like that. WIBAA is great in that context because it does a good job of pointing out internal conflicts in fundamentalism and thus how it fails even an insider test.

Now, suppose we’re talking about non-fundamentalist Christians who are already involved in the apologetics discussion. Some chapters are highly appropriate this audience, e.g. (4) The Outsider Test, (7) Failure to Communicate, (8) Yahweh is a Moral Monster, and (11) Why The Resurrection Is Unbelievable.

But my complaint is that in order to get to those chapters, you have to get through things like that chapter 1 quote where Christianity is declared defeated and fellow Atheists are pretty clearly the target audience. Same goes for chapters 5&6 which appear to be aimed at fundamentalists, though I don’t think they’d be effective at that. Overall, the problem is a total lack of focus about target audience.

A single book could handle a wide audience focus if it were explicit about it. You could, for example, start with a section on what’s wrong with fundamentalism, but be sure to tell liberal Christians to skip ahead to chapter X if the first part is already obvious to them. I’m not sure how you’d make the transition from targeting liberal Christians to talking to Atheists about Christianity, but I’m pretty sure you don’t do it by making that the first chapter.

Frankly I wouldn’t care if TCD where a little known anthology for skeptics. But it’s on the shelf at Barnes & Noble with a Christian-luring title. I worry that books like this and The God Delusion do more to confirm Christian suspicions that Atheism can be safely ignored. It’s like how the New Testament starts with a book which immediately quotes the Jewish scriptures in such a terrible way that any curious Jew who picks it up would be justified putting it right back down with suspicions confirmed.

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JS Allen October 16, 2010 at 12:53 pm

@Garren – LOL, anyone who is coming from a fundamentalist background and can’t already see the glaring contradictions and problems with fundamentalism on his own, does not have the critical thinking skills to be persuaded by either book.

Maybe you’re right, but it just strains credulity for me. Do we have existence proofs of anyone like that? “Just last week, I was telling people that the earth was created in 6 days, and then I read WIBAA, and it shook me to the core!”

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Garren October 16, 2010 at 2:00 pm

@JS Allen

I am, in fact, claiming there are fundamentalists with critical thinking skills who would change their mind if they had the right sort of things pointed out to them.

Let’s suppose I’m right that there are both reasonable and unreasonable fundamentalists. What would we expect to happen to those fundamentalists who engage significantly with skeptical ideas? The reasonable fundamentalists will stop being fundamentalists, leaving a preponderance of unreasonable fundamentalists who are engaged with the debate.

At this point I can see why skeptics would incorrectly think unreasonableness is a defining characteristic among fundamentalists because these are the kind skeptics are usually directly arguing with. Skeptics would be failing to count the ex-fundamentalists.

What I don’t want to see is the skeptical community giving up on anyone who is currently a fundamentalist, or worse: giving reasonable fundamentalists who pick up a skeptical book a reason to put it back down feeling that’s all skepticism has to offer.

My big complaint about The God Delusion is similar. Christians who are fine with evolution could easily get the impression from Dawkins’ book that skepticism is only about attacking evolution deniers. A reasonable progressive Christian may then have a reason to come away from The God Delusion feeling more secure in her faith.

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Silver Bullet October 16, 2010 at 2:27 pm

I’ve been following and interacting at Randal Rauser’s blog for a few months now and I find him to be engaging, smart, and funny. Best of all, he’s a polite Canadian.

He’s just misguided, and that’s were we can help him out! If you do visit over there, know that you are in good company: most of the posters Randal interacts with (by far, it seems) are atheists or agnostics. It’s quite a gang-bang on poor Randal.

His new blog site is just up and running today: http://randalrauser.com

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cl October 16, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Ah, it’s always refreshing to hear oh-so-rational atheists compose “arguments” using words like “fucktard,” “douche,” and “moron.” What high caliber scholarship!

Landon Hedrick,

So I wonder if some people are just looking for something to criticize here rather than focusing on the meat of Rauser’s critiques.

Ya think?

Steven,

Cl, what on earth was that link?

Uh, I think you answered your own question there. Perhaps you were speaking rhetorically.

You said it was in-depth,

Correct. When an author devotes a chapter-by-chapter critique of another author’s work, I consider that sufficient to be labelled “in-depth.”

…in clicking one of the “refutations”, it only amounted to “Author is a moral relativist, this does not bode well for theists. Oh, and he should have presented a specific set of ethics”. That’s hardly thorough or insightful; it’s just dismissing something without very good reasons for doing so.

That you were not persuaded by one of twenty posts [note I did not use the word "refutation" as your quotes imply] does not mean the entire set of posts is not thorough.

As for your points 1-5, I’ll try to be brief:

1. Murder is unjustified killing. Using the example of the Canaanites, we don’t know whether God’s killing was unjustified or not. I’m sure you’ll be tempted to respond along the lines of, “when is it ever justified to kill a baby.” I would ask, what’s your stance on abortion?

2. Your claim that “there is no evidence” for the flood is false. Luke already wrote a post about this, and in the end, he said “fair enough” in response to my argument that multiple accounts from independent witnesses is a mark in favor of authenticity.

3. The cosmological argument need not work in order for Christianity to be true. You’ve offered a false dichotomy.

4. We cannot prove that the sun was created before plants. We can only make assumptions based on the assumptions of uniformitarianism and metaphysical naturalism. There is no reason an all-powerful God could not have created plants first.

5. You wrote,

The Christian Theology claims he is omnipresent.

You use the word “the” as if there is only one Christian theology. Can you clarify the particular Christian theology you’re alluding to?

An omnipresent God would already be in Eden, making this claim seem incompatible with the Bible.

You say “incompatible with the Bible” but you fail to identify specific scriptures. If you can identify specific scriptures and flesh out your claim, perhaps we can continue.

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Steven October 16, 2010 at 11:50 pm

I consider something in-depth when it addressees claims with a point-by-point, but no matter:

1. You miss the point. I’m saying that if God was justified in killing the Canaanites on the basis of their evil, he is willing to interfere with free will, and therefore, free will theodicy is violated. Although wholly off-topic, my stance on abortion is that it is wrong to harm a person, but not human DNA or cells (unless special circumstances arise, such as a person (look up the word in the dictionary) who goes into a comma but who has friends who want to keep him alive, but I wont get into that). By this way, a fetus who is just a mass of cells, indistinguishable from hair follicles, has no special rights unless the woman accepts this mass of cells and grants value to it–only she can do it, no one else. I would say not even God, but he seems to be fine killing unborn babies too (story of David and his punishment for being an adulterer).

2. What “multiple witnesses” do you refer to? The number of mythological accounts of floods, or the number of accounts from various civilizations within the Mediterranean area? If the former, then that doesn’t amount to evidence of a world-wide flood due to contradicting details and that floods were/are common occurances and, as such, mythology naturally developed out of it. If the latter, then I agree that a serious flood did occur in the Mediterranean region of the earth. There is overwhelming evidence for this. However, this flood is nowhere near the scale of Noah’s flood.

3. Sorry, I forgot to elaborate. I feel as if modified versions are the only (near) reasonable justifications for Theism (argument from design has been debunked by evolution and the ontological argument is fallacious), and as such, without this, Christianity is pretty much without justification (unless you pickup Plantinga’s Reformed Epistemology, but that’s another matter) and to be wholly discarded.

4. You’re essentially saying that God stands outside the laws of physics, logic, etc. and can modify them at will. The problem with this is that now you have a whole new world of absurdity. We may as well posit that God can create triangles with four angles and other such nonsense. I just feel that this argument you pose is very childish; no better than saying “Well, Bob the Giant Cougar doesn’t have to adhere to gravity, therefore he floats!”. But on a scientific note, we CAN scientifically prove that plants were created later (read up on cosmology and evolution) than the sun. To deny this is to deny the most basic empirical data.

5. “The Christian Theology” was just a typo =P I just meant most Christian Theologians claim God is omnipresent. I’ll get quotes if you REALLY want me to back it up with scripture.

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Steven October 16, 2010 at 11:52 pm

*Ugh, allow me to fix the last part of my response to point number 1, since it got muddled when I tried to fix it up.

1. Although wholly off-topic, my stance on abortion is that it is wrong to harm a person (look up the word in the dictionary), but not human DNA or cells (unless special circumstances arise, such as a person who goes into a comma but who has friends who want to keep him alive, but I wont get into that). By this way, a fetus who is just a mass of cells, indistinguishable from hair follicles, has no special rights unless the woman accepts this mass of cells and grants value to it–only she can do it, no one else. I would say not even God, but he seems to be fine killing unborn babies too (story of David and his punishment for being an adulterer).

There, that makes much more sense.

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John W. Loftus October 17, 2010 at 3:59 am

Garren wrote: But my complaint is that in order to get to those chapters, you have to get through things like that chapter 1 quote where Christianity is declared defeated and fellow Atheists are pretty clearly the target audience.

What you said is far too simple here, Garren. Please do tell us all what kind of books evangelicals will read. I’d like to know. Randall Rauser is reading it. There are a number of wannabe Christian apologists who will read it.

I don’t know of any single book that will change the mind of the believer. No single book will probably do that. If that’s what you want then forget it. Then are people who are on the road to doubt who will read it though. What’s wrong with targeting them? And what’s wrong with arming the atheist with good arguments? What’s wrong with confirming what they think?

Stop faulting a book for what it’s not supposed to do, okay? Or write your own.

Another criticism this book has received quite frequently is that so and so did not write a chapter for it. Please, everyone, keep in mind that as an editor I could not get just anyone to write a chapter for me. There were a few skeptics who never responded to me, while several others declined.

As far as the OTF I find it very strange that some people don’t know what it is and think it’s unfair. No, I will not bother showing why it is here. I do plan on writing a whole book about it.

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Reginald Selkirk October 18, 2010 at 6:47 am

Of Plato and Poultry Poop
Posted by Richard Wade… on May 22nd, 2009
Richard Wade here.

A few days ago, Hemant brought to our attention an article written by Randal Rauser, “Atheism: A Cost/Benefit Analysis.” He is an associate professor of historical theology at Taylor Seminary, Edmonton, Canada. Hemant’s post brought on a small avalanche of well-crafted rebuttals both on this blog and over on the site where Mr. Rauser had published, the Christian Post.

Now it appears that Mr. Rauser has re-posted his exact same article, but all the comments and arguments that very adroitly countered his assertions have been deleted. My registration for commenting there, and apparently those of other people have been eliminated. So far, no new comments have been posted, if they can even be posted.

Rauser’s response to these incidents:

No Censorship of Atheists (or Christians) Here
Currently there are rumblings on a few blogs that I censored the comments on some of my recent posts, from atheists in particular. Not true. As best I can surmise, it seems that the Christian Post website crashed on Tuesday and I lost all the dozens of comments to my posts after May 8th. That includes my own comments, as well as those of people supporting me and those calling for my public flogging in the town square.

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cl October 18, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Loftus,

To Garren, you wrote,

[There] are people who are on the road to doubt who will read it though. What’s wrong with targeting them? And what’s wrong with arming the atheist with good arguments?

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with targeting them, nor do I think there’s anything wrong with an atheist offering what he believes to be good arguments. He can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Garren’s point is that puffed-up exaggerations might not be the best way to persuade those on the road to doubt.

Steven,

You miss the point. I’m saying that if God was justified in killing the Canaanites on the basis of their evil, he is willing to interfere with free will, and therefore, free will theodicy is violated.

The extermination of the Canaanites does not violate free will theodicy. It’s not that I “miss the point,” it’s that you haven’t met the burden of proof – so I deny your claim.

…I agree that a serious flood did occur in the Mediterranean region of the earth. There is overwhelming evidence for this. However, this flood is nowhere near the scale of Noah’s flood.

Well that’s good; we’re closer to agreement than I thought. We could have a discussion about whether those accounts refer to the Noahic flood or not. Of course, given the different assumptions we both bring to the table, we may never agree. Further, even if I say those accounts don’t refer to the Noahic flood, that you see no evidence for the Noahic flood does not logically entail that the Genesis account is false. That would be jumping to conclusions.

I feel as if modified versions are the only (near) reasonable justifications for Theism (argument from design has been debunked by evolution and the ontological argument is fallacious), and as such, without this, Christianity is pretty much without justification…

People feel lots of things. That doesn’t make them true. Consider what you wrote:

The Biblical God defines himself as an unchanging being. For the Cosmological Argument to work, God must change from being atemporal to being temporal. Therefore, the Cosmological Argument is incompatible with the Christian God.

Though it would be nice if you’d include citations as opposed to expecting your interlocutor to simply take your word for it, I think Hebrews 13:8 justifies your first premise: “God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” If you are implying that creation entails a change in God’s nature that would violate Hebrews 13:8, I disagree. Creation doesn’t change God’s nature; it changes God’s surroundings, and nothing in the Bible says God can’t change His surroundings.

You’re essentially saying that God stands outside the laws of physics, logic, etc. and can modify them at will. The problem with this is that now you have a whole new world of absurdity.

No. The problem is that you find it absurd, but I’m under no obligation to be persuaded by your argument from incredulity.

We may as well posit that God can create triangles with four angles and other such nonsense. I just feel that this argument you pose is very childish; no better than saying “Well, Bob the Giant Cougar doesn’t have to adhere to gravity, therefore he floats!”

Well, then I’m content to leave that part of our conversation right there, because, nothing I’ve said entails the claim that God stands outside the laws of logic. Of course, I would never claim that God could create triangles with four sides. Your “Bob the Giant Cougar” retort is the real childish argument, IMHO, and not very charitable at all.

I’ll get quotes if you REALLY want me to back it up with scripture.

Just be thorough and precise, such that you won’t have to go back and make all these additions. That’s all I’m asking. Oh, and also that you’d ask me if my argument entails X before you claim that my argument entails X. I’d appreciate the quotes if you have them. Else, we’re arguing in vague generalities – and as I’m sure you can see – that doesn’t work too well.

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