I have a challenge for Christians. It’s a challenge few will take up… even though many expert Christian apologists have done it without a loss of faith. Other Christian thinkers… end up rejecting [their] former faith.
Do this. I’ll call this the Debunking Christianity challenge… Read up on all of the top Christian apologetics books and then [decide] in fairness to read all of the top skeptical books…
What are you afraid of? If your faith can withstand our arguments then you will be a better informed Christian with a much stronger faith. If your faith cannot withstand our arguments then your faith wasn’t worth having in the first place. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE!
Phil has a page setup to track his progress and the effect of his journey on his own personal “Faith-O-Meter.”
I have a few words for Phil and those who might also like to try reading the best of both sides.
First, Phil is way too ambitious. Look at all the books on his list! He’s planning to start 2-4 new books every 2 weeks! Sure, some of these books are short and easy. But starting in April he plans to read, for example, Mackie’s The Miracle of Theism and Martin’s Atheism: A Philosophical Justification in the same week! And then two weeks later he’s going to add four more books to his plate, including Swinburne’s The Existence of God! What is he thinking? Those are long and difficult books that could require several months each of dedicated study.
Second, Phil plans to read too many crappy books. Seriously, I would just scrap all 20-or-so books of the New Atheism and their critics. They’re not worth it.
Third, Phil is a pretty cool dude for trying this. Obviously. I have no idea where he finds the time, but Phil is obviously a guy who cares whether or not his beliefs are true, and is willing to devote some serious thought to the formation of his own worldview.
So, what books would I recommend that people read if they want to seriously compare the rational merits of supernaturalism and naturalism, Christianity and atheism? I’ve made my own variation of Loftus’ Debunking Christianity Challenge, called The Ultimate Truth-Seeker Challenge…
Here are my carefully chosen picks, in the order you should read them:
Introduction via a flurry of arguments
1. Guy P. Harrison – 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God (354 pages, beginner, skeptical)
2. Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli – Handbook of Christian Apologetics (406 pages, beginner, apologetic)
Intermediate cumulative cases
3. John Loftus & others – The Christian Delusion (385 pages, intermediate, skeptical)
4. William Lane Craig – Reasonable Faith (416 pages, intermediate, apologetic)
5. C. Stephan Layman – Letters to Doubting Thomas (240 pages, intermediate, apologetic)
6. John Loftus – Why I Became an Atheist (428 pages, intermediate, skeptical)
That Jesus guy
7. Greg Boyd & Paul Eddy – The Jesus Legend (480 pages, intermediate, apologetic)
8. Bart Ehrman – Jesus, Interrupted (304 pages, beginner, skeptical)
9. Richard Carrier – Sense and Goodness Without God (444 pages, intermediate, skeptical)
10. J.P. Moreland & William Lane Craig – Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (653 pages, advanced, apologetic)
Getting serious now
11. Michael Martin – The Case Against Christianity (256 pages, advanced, skeptical)
12. J.P. Moreland – Scaling the Secular City (288 pages, advanced, apologetic)
13. Robin Le Poidevin – Arguing for Atheism (184, pages, advanced, skeptical)
14. James F. Sennett & others – In Defense of Natural Theology (336 pages, advanced, apologetic)
Is God a good explanation for the world?
15. Richard Swinburne – The Existence of God (376 pages, advanced, apologetic)
16. Gregory Dawes – Theism and Explanation (222 pages, advanced, skeptical)
The final slog
17. Nicholas Everitt – The Non-Existence of God (352 pages, advanced, skeptical)
18. J.L. Mackie - The Miracle of Theism (278 pages, advanced, skeptical)
19. Michael J. Murray & others – Reason for the Hope Within (429 pages, advanced, apologetic)
20. Michael Martin – Atheism: A Philosophical Justification (541 pages, advanced, skeptical)
21. Paul Copan & others – The Rationality of Theism (304 pages, advanced, apologetic)
22. Graham Oppy – Arguing About Gods (472 pages, advanced, skeptical)
23. William Lane Craig & others – The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (704 pages, advanced, apologetic)
24. Jordan Howard Sobel – Logic and Theism (676 pages, advanced, skeptical)
25. Alvin Plantinga – Warranted Christian Belief (528 pages, advanced, apologetic)
That gives 4,896 pages of skeptical literature and 5,160 pages of apologetic literature, and quite an intellectual journey! If anyone actually completed this project and studied each book closely, he could probably write and sell a book describing his journey! If someone did the whole project in one year, he or she could publish a book in the very popular “My Year Of…” genre.
So go for it! Take the Ultimate Truth-Seeker Challenge!
And if you do, please tell us all how it goes.