Philosophy of Religion's Focus is Wrongheaded

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Imagine university classes that take seriously the Mormon conception of a god who has a body with a plethora of wives living on the planet Koleb. Can you imagine atheist philosophers of religion bothering to teach such classes? I can't. Wouldn't doing so be to give those beliefs legitimacy in their own right? Now imagine an internet atheist who publishes the latest argument on behalf of this god, saying "Here's a new argument for the Mormon god I just discovered." Isn't this also silly? My guess is we wouldn't take atheists seriously who did these things, just as we wouldn't take seriously the arguments themselves. Why should we take any atheist seriously who thinks there is a good argument for the Mormon god? Why should we not transfer this same line of thinking to the Abrahamic gods?; or the Norse gods?; or the Greek gods?; or the Egyptian gods...? I think we should, thus destroying the philosophy of religion in the process. Yes, I'm serious. To read a more complete account of this see here.

Quote of the Day From My Book "Unapologetic"

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In Philosophy of Religion (PoR) one finds very little to count as a success. In fact, in PoR there aren’t any successes. Not one of the many PoR arguments of the distant past is accepted as put forth in its original form by modern philosophers of religion. This includes anything from Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Anselm, Descartes or the lot of them. All of the previous arguments in PoR lacked some important distinction, or failed to handle future objections adequately or needed to be revised due to the discovery of new evidence. So in order to understand the current state of PoR budding philosophers of religion must study its failures, because that’s all they’ve got to study! The whole discipline is a failure. Why then is it important to study Descartes if we want to gain knowledge about matters of fact? It has some minimal historical value to it, sure. But the PoR has never produced a fact. LINK.

Course at Marquette Discusses The End of Biblical Studies

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The End of Biblical Studies continues to be taken seriously in graduate courses in biblical studies. One example is at Marquette University, a Catholic institution where Dr. Julian Hills, a highly respected New Testament scholar, is teaching a course on New Testament Method. Here is the course description:

“In 1973, a young Walter Wink wrote, ‘Historical biblical criticism is bankrupt’ (The Bible in Human Transformation, p. 1). More recently a new young firebrand, Hector Avalos, has published a book announcing The End of Biblical Studies (2007) as an academic discipline with any sort of integrity — suggesting that scholars employ ‘a variety of flawed and specious techniques that are aimed at maintaining the illusion that the Bible is still relevant in today's world’ (cover blurb).

This course will be, I hope, a vigorous re-affirmation of the necessity and the rich fruit of appropriate method, or methods, in biblical studies. Of course, we shall want to hear what Wink and Avalos have to say; but not in a purely defensive posture. Instead, we shall examine a host of first-rate examples of biblical criticism well employed, and each student will write several exegetical papers that will correspond to the best canons of scholarly research and writing. In addition, we shall discuss the role of biblical studies in the academy (say, in a religious or secular university setting) and in the service of the Church.”


Most Atheists Just Talk to Themselves

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I've found it to be the case that most atheists just talk to themselves, as most Christians just talk to themselves. I can't back those statements up with any scientific polls, I know. But it seems true for all I know. If true, I have one answer as to why this is true. When people identify with a group, any group, they want to influence that group and want the recognition of that group. So atheists write about issues of concern to atheists and Christians write about issues of concern to Christians. There will always be fewer people reaching out to others because of this. Your thoughts please. *People have recently told me they cannot comment here, and I don't know what to do about it*

Brand Over Brain & Religion Over Brain

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The Ted Radio Hour on NPR is really good! I heard this program recently on the Brand Over Brain. There were some startling findings. We can be fooled, all of us, about which products are the best ones for the best price. We can be convinced that drinking an average cup of coffee is the best glass of coffee we ever drank. It's called branding. I think this hits religious beliefs hard, very hard. It's because one's own adopted religion was branded as having more value than the other religions in the world. Just like that cup of coffee, with branding people can come to believe their own religion is the best one in the world, the true one. The antidote to this cognitive bias is for young adults who leave the homes of their parents to demand hard cold objective sufficient evidence for what they were indoctrinated to believe. It's to take the Outsider Test for Faith.

More Advanced Praise for My Upcoming Book "Unapologetic"

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As an introduction to the ever-growing frustration with so-called Christian philosophy among many secular ex-Christian authors, Unapologetic is invaluable reading material for any reader interested in the wide variety of polemical issues it deals with.
--Dr. Jaco Gericke earned PhD’s in Philosophy of Religion and Old Testament who teaches at North West University, South Africa. As a philosopher of religion who's also a biblical scholar he's not the only one to say such things. So do others, for which I am extremely grateful:

Dr. David Madison's New Book

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Dr. David Madison is part of a growing wave of openly atheist biblical scholars, and a signatory of The Manifesto for Secular Scriptural Scholarship and Religious Studies.
As a former believer, he knows how believers think. As an academically trained biblical scholar (PhD in Biblical Studies from Boston University), he knows how to detect the defects of apologetic arguments.
Dr. Madison now has published Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: A Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why you Should Ditch the Faith that provides a good survey of the basic problems with Christian belief. I highly recommend it.
Here is the published description.
 “An all-powerful God who permits unspeakable horrors and sent a Son who threatened more to come, forever, to those who don’t believe in him. An inspired holy book that turns out to be full of archaic nonsense, moral failures, and contradictions. A world of disagreement not just between Christians and other religions, but within Christianity itself. Blood sacrifice and a tale of the walking dead as the very foundation of faith. These are just a few aspects of Ten very Tough Problems that David Madison describes in this wonderfully deep yet humorous dismantling of his former faith. Combining rigorous scholarship with engaging personal reflections and refreshing wit, he offers understanding and even some laughs while walking with readers past the gravestones of Christian thought and belief.”

Annabelle & Aiden: The Story of Life, a Book by Joseph Raphael Becker

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This is a needed children's book on evolution, and it sounds fantastic!
In this inspirational storybook written in rhyme, Annabelle asks,

"Why do we look, the way that we do?
With hands and feet, in neat sets of two?
What made my eyes? And what made my nose?
And the shape of my body, from my head to my toes?"

A wise owl answers by taking the characters on an incredible journey through Darwinian evolution. Join our characters as they visit outer space, watch the Earth go through its earliest stages, and gaze in wonder at the earliest forms of life. Young readers will gain a basic understanding of evolution, and perhaps more importantly, what we can learn from it: to be kind to one another, as we are all related in the same family tree. LINK

I'll Be Speaking for Atheist Alliance of America at Dragoncon

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On July 21st I was elected to the board of Atheist Alliance of America (AAoA). On that night we elected Aron Ra as our new president. What is AAoA? Read about us at the Ra man's page right here. Yes, I'm very excited. It's a great organization. We have some visionary and talented officers and board members who have adopted some great goals. Since I may be done writing and editing books (who knows?), I'm now entering an activist stage. Stay tuned.

Soon after becoming a board member of AAoA I was quickly given some speaking engagements on Labor Day Weekend at the 2016 Dragoncon, in Atlanta, Georgia, September 2-5th. Dragoncon is the "largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction & fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the universe!" I've heard they're projecting 60,000 convention goers this year! You can see the schedule of skeptic events right here. The problem is the 2016 AAoA budget didn't include money for me to go, so I'm paying my own way from Fort Wayne, Indiana. Any help that allows me to go comfortably to Dragoncon without a big drain on my own limited resources at will surely be appreciated. If you care to do so, donate to me at PayPal by using my email address, loftusjohnw@gmail.com. Over the years I've been truly grateful to my peeps, who have financially helped me from time to time do what I do best. This will be no exception. Thank you, no matter how small your donation is, or how small the total amount comes to be.

Peter Boghossian did a yeoman's job on this app!

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Dr. John Goldingay on the Bible and Slavery

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Dr. John Goldingay of Fuller Theological Seminary is not a scholar that I would expect to agree with me on biblical ethics. He is a well-known evangelical biblical scholar and I am an openly atheist biblical scholar.
Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to read this passage on pages 42-43 of his book, Do We Still Need the New Testament?:
 “What difference did Jesus’ coming make to the world? It has been argued that ‘The Church has made more changes on earth for good than any other movements of force in history,’
including the growth of hospitals, universities, literacy and education, capitalism and free enterprise, representative government, separation of political powers, civil liberty, the abolition of slavery, modern science, the discovery of the Americas, the elevation of women, the civilizing of primitive cultures, and the setting of languages to writing.
It is easy to dispute this claim. The church resisted some of these developments just listed, some are not particularly Christian, and all were encouraged by humanistic forces and reflect Greek thinking as much as gospel thinking.
[Footnote 10]: On slavery in particular (even when one allows for overstatement) Hector Avalos, Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2011).”
Of course, Dr. Goldingay still thinks the Bible is generally a good set of books. But Dr. Goldingays comments show that even evangelical biblical scholars can acknowledge the powerful evidence that atheist biblical scholars have presented to refute the claim that biblical ethics led to abolition.




In Defense of Steve King

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Steve King (R-Iowa) is a congressman from the fourth congressional district in Iowa. In other words, he is my congressman. I have written a newspaper column about his belief that white Christian culture is superior to all others. His first remarks of note on this issue were on MSNBC.









The Islamic State is a Preview of Apocalyptic Terrorism this Century

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Terrorism is one of the most salient problems facing Western civilization today. And it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon. As the director of the FBI James Comey recently stated (echoing claims by terrorism scholars), as the Islamic State’s territory shrinks, we should expect a “terrorist diaspora” into the West. We’ve already seen evidence of the Islamic State shifting its strategy from building a robust caliphate (according to a prophetic hadith) in Iraq and Syria to attacking the West.

My Books are Hogging Up Too Much Shelf Space at Barnes & Noble ;-)

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Nate Christensen took this photo when visiting his local Barnes & Noble store. It's of the atheism bookshelf. I never expected this when I started writing and editing books, but it sure looks good to me. My magnum opus is on the left and my four anthologies in the middle. Every one of my books does something that few other atheist books have done before them (to my knowledge anyway). [See below for why I say this.] This isn't about me though. It's about arguing the Christian delusion into the ground. Most Christians are not paying attention but they should.

The Bad Jesus, Love, and the Parochialism of New Testament Ethics

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I have published a new article at the Bible and Interpretation website that is based on my most recent book, The Bad Jesus: The Ethics of new Testament Ethics (2015). Here is the abstract:
Many scholars of New Testament ethics claim that Jesus brought an innovative teaching when he urged his followers to love their enemies. Hector Avalos, author of The Bad Jesus (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2015), argues that such a claim is historically untrue, and reflects the parochialism of New Testament ethics, which often degrades the ethical accomplishments of pre-Christian Near Eastern cultures in order to enhance the ethical “advances” of the putative founder of Christianity. As such, New Testament ethics is still situated within an ecclesial-academic complex that is more engaged in apologetics than it is in historical-critical scholarship.

Michael Brown Debates Bart Ehrman On the Bible and Suffering

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As mentioned by Hemant Mehta today, this debate took place in 2010. Apparently it was just released. It’s a debate between Brown and Ehrman on "Does the Bible provide an adequate answer to the problem of suffering?" Quick answer? No! Hell No! It was written in a barbaric era where God-concepts were modeled on what they knew about their kings. No one expected kings to be kind and humble or even good. They were sometimes cruel and vindictive. In the tale of Job we find the lead character complaining about his suffering. He could not find a reasonable answer for it. Yet his god-king basically told him to shut up and believe despite the evidence. What secret knowledge did Michael Brown receive that Job didn't receive, even though Job actually talked with God? *wink* Again, God said Job should trust him despite the evidence. Or, to personalize it, "trust me despite the evidence!" This cannot be an adequate answer to suffering unless you're a dolt. See below:

Robert Conner - Jesus the Sorcerer. Magic in Early Christianity

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I find this interesting. For your consideration.

Advanced Praise for My Book "Unapologetic"

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Unapologetic offers the Philosophy of Religion the swift, ugly end it has long deserved. This single book will cause the death of a discipline.
-- Dr. Peter Boghossian, philosophy professor at Portland State University.

What questions would YOU ask of Richard Swinburne?

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FINALLY! You Can Now See Inside the Book of My New Anthology "Christianity in the Light of Science" on Amazon!

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LINK.

On The Death of False Prophet Tim LaHaye, by Robert Conner

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Here's a guest post on the death of Tim LaHaye, who was a false prophet, written by Robert Connor:
  
Baptist preacher, weapons grade homophobe, conspiracy theorist—of course the Illuminati wrote your local school’s curriculum! Don’t be silly!—founder of the Institute of Creation Research, and co-author of the Left Behind novels, Timothy “Moonbat” LaHaye has (finally) died. But there’s more Good News: Jesus Didn’t Come Back again. And again. And some more times. Many, many more times. Like all the other times Jesus Didn’t Come Back.