Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Christian Delusion

The Christian Delusion: Why Faith FailsTwo years in the making, controversial even before its launch, and perhaps the most definitive refutation of Christianity yet in print, The Christian Delusion (Why Faith Fails) is now available at Amazon and your local bookseller. Edited by John Loftus, TCD contains fifteen chapters by nine authors, including numerous experts with doctorates in their respective fields. Myself included.

It's a fantastic book. I loved it as I was reading it even in earlier drafts, and I have been anticipating its publication for a long time. You'll all want a copy, trust me. Buy it and read it. And if you like it, give it a customer review on Amazon, critical or laudatory. We'll need honest Amazon reviews to counter the inevitable Christian tactic of low-starring it and lying about it to dissuade fellow Christians from reading it. I'd rather have valid criticisms in there if any.

Following is a summary of the book, then at the bottom a link to a companion website for the book that actually has new additional articles by me and others (check it out!).


Why It's Awesome

Two of The Christian Delusion's fifteen chapters are mine. The first is Why the Resurrection Is Unbelievable, which is the most definitive refutation of warranted belief in the resurrection I have ever composed. It's a deliberate tour de force, such that I doubt I'll ever have to write another. It even takes down recent attempts to use Bayes' Theorem to argue for the resurrection, and it contextualizes everything so there just isn't any rational basis left for claiming the resurrection is historically proven.

The second is Christianity Was Not Responsible for Modern Science, which is another tour de force, conclusively taking down once and for all the claim that Christianity gave us modern science. If you didn't know Christians were arguing that, I give numerous quotes and citations. I expose their logical fallacies and factual errors, which are so egregious you'll agree advocates of the thesis must be delusional. My debunking of it is so decisive in this chapter, you won't need to refer anyone anywhere else.

I provided some editing assistance and peer review for TCD, so I can vouch for it all. John and I wanted this book to be conclusive, every chapter its own tour de force on each topic. And we achieved that goal. The book is superb. Every chapter is fantastic, some more than others, but all are great. It doesn't cover every subject it could have, but the subjects it does cover it covers thoroughly, leaving nowhere left to run. It's all readable (nothing will be above anyone's head). Much of it will even be fresh and new to you (and that's saying something). 

Most of all, taken together, its fifteen chapters are sufficient to establish that Christianity is a delusion. The Christian religion is so manifestly contrary to the facts, belief in it can only be held with the most delusional gerrymandering imaginable.The God Delusion That's a bold statement. I wouldn't have made it myself before reading this book, but now that I have seen it all in one place, I am forced to agree. Richard Dawkins was often criticized for dismissing "The God Delusion" on shallow arguments that didn't address common Christian "rebuttals." The Christian Delusion was specifically constructed to leave no such excuse.

The first four chapters alone are priceless, covering the psychology and cognitive science of human error, demonstrating that religious belief can only be maintained by relying on common causes of error, rather than correcting for them. Two chapters on this are by Dr. Valerie Tarico and Dr. Jason Long, and I learned a lot from them. At the same time, Dr. David Eller (an expert in the anthropology of religion) exposes how Christian missionaries use the science of anthropology to market the gospel in other cultures, and how they acknowledge how culturally relative religion is, even their own religion, yet irrationally fail to see how this actually makes their religion no more credible than the ones they seek to displace.Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity John Loftus contextualizes all of this by reiterating and defending his Outsider Test for Faith, which has been widely hailed as a devastating new argument against religion, and here he confirms its reputation. It's the lynch pin of the whole book, the fulcrum on which every other chapter does Christianity in.

Leaving The Fold: Testimonies Of Former FundamentalistsEd Babinski follows with a chapter proving the Old Testament assumes a flat-earth, three-tiered cosmology that everyone now agrees is wholly contrary to the actual physical facts. If the Bible can't even get that right, it can't be the inspired word of God. And if it isn't the inspired word of God, Christianity can't be true, because Christianity only makes sense in the context of the system of theology and salvation constructed in the Old Testament. Indeed, since the New Testament outright says that (where even Jesus quotes the Old Testament as the inspired word of God), disproving the OT proves the NT is just as much in error. 

Supporting that point is a chapter by Paul Tobin surveying some of the most egregious things mainstream scholars all agree is wrong with the OT and NT ("it is inconsistent with itself, is not supported by archaeology, contains fairy tales [and] failed prophecies [and] many forgeries"), and though you might have heard all that before, seeing such a succinct summary of it hammers home its significance. We can't let these things slide anymore. Because they disprove Christianity. Point blank. Excuses won't fly.

John Loftus caps the point with a chapter establishing that, indeed, excuses won't fly. We've all made the argument in casual conversation that making excuses for how the Bible says one thing but is supposed to mean another (the stock tactic employed by the delusional to maintain their belief that it's all divinely inspired and was endorsed by a perfect God) only proves that God is an incompetent communicator, and therefore not perfect (in fact, he'd have to be substantially retarded by the standards of even average human communicators). Loftus doesn't just say this. He proves it.

Next are two chapters proving the Old Testament God is evil. And both do so in a novel way. So if you think you've heard it all before, you'll love these. First Dr. Hector Avalos eviscerates Paul Copan, exposing his incompetence and delusional distortion of the facts in his already-absurd attempt to justify genocide and every other unconscionable brutality as 'alright if God says so'. You heard that right. The new Christian tactic now is not to deny that God commanded evil, horrible things, but to argue that evil, horrible things are okay. Well, good luck with that marketing strategy. Christianity is doomed if that's all they've got now. Avalos further shows how unremarkable the Old Testament laws are in their cultural context, no better or worse than (and suspiciously very much the same as) the manmade laws of surrounding civilizations, dispelling any belief that the OT was inspired by anything but ordinary, ignorant human beings.

John Loftus carries the point home with a more philosophical point: that vast and widespread animal suffering is so unconscionable if theism is true, its existence entails God is evil (or, of course, doesn't exist). This was one of the funniest chapters for me, because I never knew all the squirmy ways Christian apologists have actually tried to get out of this argument. Loftus digs up the most amazing apologetics, and eviscerates them all. You'll be amazed at how desperate the explanations are. You'll be amazed Christians have even realized it's a problem. And a problem it is. A big problem. And as Loftus proves, an insoluble problem. Christianity essentially falls on this argument alone.

The next section takes on Jesus. My least favorite chapter is by Dr. Robert Price, essentially a take-to-task pointing up the invalid leaps of faith disguised as objective reasoning in the recent Boyd and Eddy apologetic text The Jesus Legend. Not that he's wrong about them, indeed he is amusingly correct on every point. It's just not the slam dunk, tour de force the other chapters are, and I fear some readers will not understand the context of many of the things Price talks about (though reading his book would help). Nevertheless, it's only the worst of the best. Which means, still pretty darned good.

My chapter on the resurrection follows, and then the slam dunk of them all: John Loftus presents the "Duh!" argument that the Gospel Jesus (and insofar as we can honestly claim to know, the actual historical Jesus) issued prophecies that didn't come true. Which means he was a false prophet. Which entails Christianity is false. Done and dusted. The horns impale any attempt at escape: either the New Testament is full of error (and we cannot trust that Christianity is true on the word of such a wildly erroneous book), or Jesus was a false prophet (and Christianity is thereby refuted). Either way, Christianity falls. The only conceivable escape is back into the "God didn't mean that" fiasco, but then you get impaled on Loftus' earlier chapter. No way out.

The book concludes with examples of particular recent Christian delusions: that morality comes from Christianity (Dr. David Eller refutes that notion, and though he is a relativist and we disagree on the philosophical warrants for moral belief, everything else he says is spot on); that Hitler was an atheist and the holocaust is the legacy of atheism (Dr. Hector Avalos provides the most devastating refutation of this claim ever published, alone worth the price of this book; his tabulated comparison of Charles Darwin and Martin Luther may be the funniest thing ever); and that Christianity was essential to developing modern science (my chapter, summarized earlier). These delusions aren't required to be a Christian, but they illustrate how prone to delusions Christians are.

Companion Site

There is a companion website well worth bookmarking and exploring, where critics of this book will be responded to by the authors, and which right now has information about all the authors and contents of the book, a copy of the introductory chapter, praise for the book by over a dozen renowned experts (atheist and Christian alike), and several bonus chapters that didn't make it into the final edition for lack of space to include them. 

Two of those are written by me: The Will of God presents twenty four verses from the Old Testament that damn the book as so viciously immoral no sane, humane being could ever endorse it as God's word (which would have gone into Part 3: Why the Christian God Is Not Perfectly Good); and Christianity Was Not Responsible for American Democracy demonstrates that the U.S. Constitution was not based on Biblical principles at all, much less the Ten Commandments, and that it has far more to do with ancient pagan political philosophy (which would have gone into Part 5: Why Society Does Not Depend on Christian Faith). The latter is very much a companion piece to my chapter in the book on the origins of modern science, representing instead the origins of modern democracy.

Final Note

Prometheus Books screws over its authors. Loftus tells me they shafted him with a 2.5% royalty...no, that's not a typo (industry standard is 7.5%). They've done this to other authors I know. And a lot else that annoys me. So I'm not a fan of PB. But I believe in supporting authors, and the cause of knowledge and reason. So please buy this book. If you love it, buy more and give them to friends and libraries. The better it sells, the more attention it will get, and thus the more influence it will have. John and I are planning a sequel that will expand on this with even better material; but we'll be pitching it to another publisher, and great sales of TCD will help win them over. But read it first and decide for yourself.

[Update 2011: for a good summary of The Christian Delusion  and how effective its chapters are in conjunction see my entertaining Skepticon talk Are Christians Delusional?]

125 comments:

Matthew said...

Richard,

My copy of this book arrived today. I have been looking forward to this book for some time! I am looking foward to your chapter on the resurrection!

I am curious about something, though. There's no doubt in my mind that Christian apologists will rise up to critique this book and I am expecting big names in the apologetics industry ranging from William Lane Craig and Gary Habermas to lesser names like the loathsome James Holding. Will all the replies be hosted on the companion website?

My sincere congradulations to you! Keep up the good fight!

John W. Loftus said...

Thanks Richard! I too think it's a great book, not because of my contributions alone, but because of them all.

For the record, the royalties from books sold by Prometheus Books are 5%, but when sold through a wholesaler like Amazon at a discounted rate, they are only 2.5%. The problem is that most of these books will be sold through wholesalers. Still, I encourage readers to get the book at the least expensive price through Amazon via our website, since the most important thing to me is that this book gets widely read and discussed.

skeptic griggsy said...

Richard, I see I ought to tell Kurtz 2Face Book to get PB to give better royalties so as to get you keep you top-notced authors.
When you have time, you might checkout my blogs Carneades @ Bloggers, Rationalist @ Google Blog Spot in order to see how i argue and tell me if I'm over the top of the heads of most posters. You have my authority to use any material, with attribution, that you might find useful that by Googling skeptic griggsy.
Please use the atelic/teleonomic argument and the argumens from pareidolia and autonomy.,found @ Amazon Religion Discussions under the threads arguments for God and arguments about Him- that square circle, which two suffice for how I attacck those supernaturalist sophisms.
I'd appreciate any feedback about my baroque style due to neurological problems and- to my argumentation, my good friend. I'll conact you @ F.B. anon.
I have three threads eviscerting the character of that dead Galilean cult leader. One is the Buy-bulll and only a man, @ Amazon and another is J.Christ, jerk @ Skeptic Society Forums.
Ah, sweet retirement!
Yes, and now y'all confirm thateh?
I hope to get this book and his other new one soon.
It so amazes me that people can accept as true the stupid fables and- errantists like Spong find great value in them! At least, he recommends our humanist ethic!

skeptic griggsy said...

Sorry for the stupid typos.

josef said...

Richard, could you please use a smaller font on your blog?

It reminds me of emails in 24 point yellow comic sans from my aunt in new jersey.

Gilgamesh said...

Richard,

Did Hector Avalos include in his discussions of Hitler your work on the Table Talk? I remember that source as the only place anywhere that made Hitler look like an atheist, and yet you showed pretty well that it was likely forged in by a French translator.

Just want to make sure all guns were fired, or if new scholarship has questioned your conclusions.

The Uncredible Hallq said...

Sounds exciting. My copy should arrive from Amazon by tomorrow at the latest, really looking forward to it.

Brett said...

@Gilgamesh

Yes, Dr. Carrier's work on Hitler's Table Talk is referenced in the chapter on Hitler. I'll second that this was a fantastic chapter, the best I've read on the subject.

I finished reading the book a few days ago. I very much enjoyed part 1, topics I haven't read in any other pro-atheism book.

Dr. Carrier's chapters were very strong too. Worth the price of the book alone.

Gilgamesh said...

@ Brett

Thanks for the info. Now I know that the whole "Hitler was an atheist" comment will have a train dropped on it!

The Science Pundit said...

Sounds like great stuff! I can't wait to read it.

WKB said...

I just ordered it. Looking forward to it.

Matthew said...

I want to make a point of clarification about my previous post that I should've made earlier. When I asked about the companion website containing all replies to critics, I was wondering what weight should be given to what critics. There are some critics who are degreed scholars (Craig, Habermas, Geisler) who should be given a lot of weight.

There are others like Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong and Protestant apologist Jason Engwer. These guys are not degreed experts that I am aware of yet they are much better read than your typical Josh McDowell fan. How much weight should be given to guys like these?

Then there are apologists like James Holding and Hank Hanegraaff whose grasp of scholarship is so poor that it practically invites ridicule. I can imagine both of these guys writing critiques. Is it even worth the time to dignify them with a response?

In short, I am not sure how muh weight to give to some critics. So I am wondering if the companion website will respond to all critics or just the big guns in the Evangelical community.

Humphrey said...

Hi Richard

"The second is Christianity Was Not Responsible for Modern Science, which is another TOUR DE FORCE, conclusively taking down once and for all the claim that Christianity gave us modern science."

A little immodest :-)

"I will be speaking for the East Bay Atheists this April 18 (Sunday) at 1:30pm in the Berkeley Main Library....Subject: "Why Everyone Says Medieval Christians Invented Science."

This sounds very interesting. Two questions. Do you know if this will go up on youtube? Secondly, is this aimed at messers Stark and Jaki, or Hannam, Grant and Duhem.

Kind regards

H

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

Epic.

Pikemann Urge said...

Hmm. A little bit too aggressive, no? I mean, the exclusive truth claims of Christianity are obviously delusional. But by calling the whole faith delusional is quite a big statement.

I mean, there is a significant minority of Christians which I think is poisonous. When you corner a big, powerful, poisonous monster, he's going to let loose. Not a pretty sight.

My point: by taking down the aggression a notch, and focusing on specific issues (with specific books) rather than the faith as a whole, you'd be politically more agile and attract more curiosity.

Well, that's just my very humble 2c.

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

Pikeman Urge,

Aggressive. That is a good way to put it. I agree.

What say you, Carrier? How do you justify the high-strungedness? Just curious. Intentional? Or is that just how you roll?

Ben

Specious said...

I posted a "review" of the very popular book, "Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years" and I linked to "The Christian Delusion"
http://www.amazon.com/Christianity-First-Three-Thousand-Years/dp/0670021261/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

Lulz -- I may do more of that.

Josh said...

Is it available in an electronic format somewhere? I would like to read it on my kindle.

Brian_E said...

Let me guess, DM stands for 'Delusional Moron'.

The Nerd said...

Aww, DM, you're so warm and fuzzy. I have such a special place for you in my heart that I even gave you a 15-minute grace period before I banned you on Atheist Nexus, just so we could all say our fond farewells. Just so you know, you have a fan club. I bet you could make some serious cash signing these t-shirts and re-selling them: http://www.atheistnexus.org/forum/topics/get-your-dave-mabus-dennis?xg_source=activity

Richard Carrier said...

John, just FYI, industry standard is 7.5% at retailers, 15% when purchased direct from publisher. You are getting 2.5% and 5%. That's what I mean about getting screwed.

Richard Carrier said...

Regarding e-format: I don't know if Prometheus does that. Maybe John can find out and report (John, also check your contract to see what it says about it--any contract today should have terms for e-sale even when the publisher isn't yet offering e-versions).

Tangentially related spoiler alert: AuthorHouse just went electronic, so my Sense and Goodness without God should be available as an e-book by end of this year.

Richard Carrier said...

P.S. And my Not the Impossible Faith can already be purchased as a book-formatted PDF direct from the publisher online (Lulu.com). Someone recently told me even Kindle now can load and read PDFs. Not sure how one goes about doing that with a Kindle (or any of its competitors), but presumably if you have one you can find out.

Richard Carrier said...

Matthew: Will all the replies be hosted on the companion website?

Each author will do his own thing. I will follow my practice for The Empty Tomb: respectable critiques in print will get a straight-up reply (example: Stephen Davis Gets It Wrong which somehow has become a PDF download; it's supposed to be in HTML, I have asked the editors to fix that, and if they don't I'll move it elsewhere), while everything else will be responded to in a generic FAQ format without bothering to name or cite the originator of anything (example: ET Faqs), and even then I'll only respond to bona fide questions of fact and logic.

Richard Carrier said...

Skeptic Griggsy:

Sorry, I don't have time to read and vet other people's work on anything other than a paying basis. But I'm sure you'll enjoy The Christian Delusion.

Richard Carrier said...

Josef:

On my computer screen the font is small (exactly equal to 13 point Times in Word). I suggest adjusting the font display size on your browser. Or possibly changing the pixel dimensions of your monitor, if that's the problem.

Richard Carrier said...

Gilgamesh:

Yes. Avalos cites my work and discusses the Table Talk.

In actual fact the original German of the TT clearly reveals Hitler as a believer (just not a Catholic as he professed to be; he was evidently a secret advocate of the Nazi cult of Positive Christianity, which Avalos also discusses). The atheist quotes are indeed the fabrications of Genoud (in his French translation, which scandalously the English translators used instead of the original German, thus transferring Genoud's fraud into the English text everyone quotes).

Anyway, Avalos will direct you to my article and much else. Like I said, his piece is definitive. It's awesome. (He even, BTW, dismisses the Stalin and Mao examples in just two paragraphs that are a model of pwning the Christian with his own Bible; love it).

Richard Carrier said...

Just FYI Nerd et al., in case there is any confusion now, I deleted DM's elaborate lunatic rantings about Einstein. But I'll leave your replies, since people need to be aware of this kook's rep.

Richard Carrier said...

Humphrey said... [re: "another TOUR DE FORCE"] A little immodest :-)

Just a fact. I deliberately aimed to make it a tour de force (and we aimed to get every other author's chapter as close to the same). I wanted it to be a compact and definitive last word on the subject. I'm confident I succeeded. Just as I am confident Avalos did.

[re: Berkeley talk] Will [that] go up on youtube?

No.

[re: my chapter on science in TCD] Is this aimed at messers Stark and Jaki, or Hannam, Grant and Duhem?

Stark and Jaki (and all who use them as authorities...I cite a plethora).

I've been so overwhelmed with personal and writing projects that I haven't blogged yet about Hannam's new book (I'm ready to do a series on it), but if you set aside his treatment and assumptions about ancient science, almost everything else he writes is balanced and correct (I'm speaking of his book; his website I haven't vetted of late). My chapter in TCD will effectively correct most of Hannam's remaining errors, but they are not the egregious kind of errors promulgated by Stark's camp anyway.

Grant is better, and insofar as errors remain in his recent work on the subject, my TCD chapter will correct most of them (but still note esp. my final paragraphs, which show where in fact the likes of Hannam and Grant are correct; because I am a critic of both extremes, e.g. my blog about Flynn's Pile of Boners).

Duhem is obsolete. No scholar today credits everything he argued as correct, and everything he argued that is still credited has become so immensely qualified as to no longer impress. His work is dead. No need to dig it up anymore.

Richard Carrier said...

Pikemann Urge:

I disagree completely. It was playing the game you recommend that kept them going. They don't deserve polite tactics that allow them to divide and conquer. We are going to call them out from now on: if you are delusional, we're going to say so. Their behavior which you predict will then prove our point, and thus make our message more successful, not less. That's what the whole New Atheism is about. And if you haven't looked at the Best Seller lists and poll numbers lately, word up: it's working.

Don't drop a winning strategy.

Andrew Ray Gorman said...

Dear Professor Carrier, I look forward to reading this book, as well as "Sense & Goodness Without God"(I just ordered both off amazon). Looking forward to what is in store for readers like me, and I'm sure the former book is very near perfect, if not completely. Hoping to give it a good review on amazon =)

DM, I see you on almost every blogger that identifies as atheist, or similar. You seem as if you do nothing but spam their pages, which is very rude, regardless of your personal religious stance.

Richard Carrier said...

P.S. That I and others will be doing this full frontal strategy now (anything that's true, we're going to say, regardless of who it outrages) does not preclude others from taking the flanking strategy instead. I don't begrudge you (Pikeman) or Ben playing the conciliatory, piecemeal, make-nice, "no, we don't think you're deluded, you're just mistaken" card. You can mop up whoever we don't mow down.

You can even tell them you hate us and gosh we're so mean. That neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. Just don't lie. I'll do the same: I'll be mean, but I wont tolerate saying anything I don't know to be true (and I'll correct myself whenever I find I'm wrong). That's been my ethic from the beginning, and that won't change.

So, in answer to Ben's question: yes, it's how I'm gonna roll. I'm tired of acting like they are just confused. They can't just be confused anymore. And give me five minutes of conversation with any one of them and I'll prove it to you: they maintain belief in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. That's a delusion.

Like drug addicts, the first step to a cure is admitting you have a problem. Pretending they don't have a problem isn't going to cure anyone. It just enables them.

Richard Carrier said...

Andrew Ray Gorman said... Dear Professor Carrier...

Thanks for the kind letter. It may seem trivial, but just FYI I'm not a professor. I have a Ph.D., but winning an appointment to a university professorship is a different kind of creditation. I'm not seeking that, unless and until they start hiring again in California. Anyway, if you want to be formal, I'm just Dr. Carrier.

I hope you enjoy both books! I have a hunch you will. Party on!

Matthew said...

Richard,

I am looking forward to your future book On the Historicity of Jesus Christ. Will this book contain a chapter on the resurrection that is anything like what you have contributed for this book?

Pikemann Urge said...

I guess that's fair enough, Richard. Some Christian apologists are indeed deluded, but not about all things.

One thing that Craig and Licona etc. don't understand: their experiences were for them, not for me. Divine revelation (if it exists, and to some extent I think it might) is for sharing (and I'm glad they do share), not for proving. Exhibit A: the fact that different kinds of Christians have different experiences. And that's great.

It isn't easy to express exactly what I'm thinking (although I'm sure I don't have to, you get the idea). But I note that Robert Price did not call his current book 'The Case Against Christ', but 'The Case Against the Case for Christ.' And I'm not sure he'd ever release a book with the former title.

macroman said...

I think the title word "delusion" is going to stop most people from even reading it. Maybe they weren't going to read it anyway, but I can't help thinking that agressive sounding title is going to restrict this to an exercise in preaching to the choir.

John W. Loftus said...

macroman, no, not at all! The title has name recognition since it's reminiscent of Dawkins's book, The God Delusion. In fact we argued with PB for this title. They thought as you do. But it's proving to be false judging from the sales on Amazon.

No, Christians won't like the title, but since many of them want to read the best critiques of their faith, they will. The interesting thing is that apologists have raced against each other to publish critiques of Dawkins's book, but they will hit a brick wall with ours! Since they seemed to so easily take Dawkins down they think our book will be as easy to take down as his. And THAT is funny to me.

Landon Hedrick said...

Imagine how the sales would skyrocket if you could get Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and PZ Myers to endorse this book on their websites. Get to it :)

Andre said...

I'm trying very hard, without any success, to get this image out of my head of DM as a crazed, drooling, squint-eyed, giggling false "prophet", bent over while ranting and shaking his fist at the atheists and trying to hold on to his fast receding worldview.

Of course I know that none of that is true, it just somehow sticks ...

Pikemann Urge said...

Andre, you obviously have not read Richard's post above. He is deleting comments by DM. Trolls thrive on attention. So don't give them any. Yes, I risk being hypocritical with this comment, but maybe you didn't get the memo.

Pikemann Urge said...

John, I forgot to mention it earlier, but I heard you say, very astutely, that if the devil existed, he'd have to be "dumber than a box of rocks" to challenge God's authority. And nobody in his position would be that dumb. You sure know how to cut to the point!

However I have heard it said of you that you wish to 'destroy' faith. I am not so impressed by this (if it's true). I mean, it isn't your business if others have faith. Of course, faith is not really the virtue that people say it is. But let this be discovered via dialogue, not enforced.

I recall on one forum a 20-something twerp boasting that his next book would destroy Christianity or some such nonsense. Then he boasted how damned smart he was. You can see why I hope that mature people like you are beyond such infantile thinking.

Winston Smith said...

Richard, I got the book and am somewhat disappointed.

You say each chapter covers each subject THOROUGHLY, your emphasis, and yet the chapters only average 20 or so pages, meaning a lot is going to have to be left out and the discussion will be of necessity be one sided.

And the footnotes are, I am afraid, weak.

I am afraid you have made a claim that is open to easy refutation, because each subject is manifestly not dealt with THOROUGHLY as you put it.

John W. Loftus said...

Winston Smith will deny this but he is KC_James over at Amazon.

Breckmin said...

"The interesting thing is that apologists have raced against each other to publish critiques of Dawkins's book, but they will hit a brick wall with ours!"

Every wall will eventually fall
just like the walls of Jericho.

Until you present Christianity accurately and give the real reasons for the knowledge of it - the brick wall will fall just like the straw man that it continues to present.

Those Christians who fall into atheism will glorify God and God's Faithfulness to them when He restores them back to faith through the knowledge of how to answer your book.

And we pray for this for you, John, because we love you and will welcome you back with open arms when you are finished with this emptiness.

Steven Carr said...

But all Breckmin has is an Old Book which describes how his imaginary God allegedly came to Earth and told people how to get free money by looking in the mouth of a fish.

And cured blindness by spitting on somebody's eyes.

Or is that Voodoo?

No , I was right the first time.

Christians believe their Saviour cured blindness by spitting on somebody's eyes.

While they themselves regard people as utterly deluded if they have a belief that a witch-doctor can do the same thing.

Christians apply the Outsider Test to every religon except theirs, and dismiss all other religions out of hand.

Christians hardly need to read 20 pages on Voodoo before they reject it as stupidity not worth considering.

While they themselves demand that people who don't believe Christianity must have doctorates before they will even debate them.

And even then they will often simply refuse point-blank to defend in public the idea that their Old Book is historically reliable.

Pikemann Urge said...

Steven, you are right except for the last statement. Christians most certainly are willing to debate the Bible's reliability in public. I'm sure you know this site quite well:

http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=50

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

Rick,

I respectfully disagree.

I challenged PZ Myers at Skepticon 2 with the question, "If it could be demonstrated empirically that the diplomatic approach was more successful than the in-your-face approach, would you stick to your strategy?" He managed to avoid answering my question. I was not amused.

I would be honestly willing to reassess if confronted with evidence to the contrary of my own success stories. At the very least, I would like to know that the in-your-face guys were *as effective* in just some other way and that "to each his own" mentality in the skeptical community actually is a virtue in this case. I'm not so sure it is.

Why is selling New Atheists books the measure of success? Polls don't seem to show mass conversion to atheism.

Ben

Andrew G. said...

The most obvious reason for why the "in your face" approach is necessary is the concept of the Overton window.

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

Andrew,

Are you saying that we need anti-religious bigots to make the basic acceptance of sensible irreligion more palatable?

Ben

stylo said...

>>Next are two chapters proving the Old Testament God is evil.

>>animal suffering is so unconscionable

How embarrassing!

I see you and Loftus are still preaching your sublimated Christian morality of good and evil while pretending to be atheists.

Aren't you embarrassed by this "holier-than-thou" approach that is completely without foundation?

Don't you get it yet? You cannot preach any derivative of Christian morality without the Christian god.

Therefore... ?

davmab11 said...

but you have NO ANSWER TO DEATH... therefore you FAIL...


THE DEATH TRAP

http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/FaceOff/
********

THE REAL QUESTION:

DOES ATHEISM HAVE A FUTURE?

AND THE ANSWER - NO!

http://engforum.pravda.ru/showthread.php?280780-the-Death-of-Ath*ism&p=3089433#post3089433

Winston Smith said...

By the way, Richard, I assume that you, like Lofus, are a vegiatarian.

Winston Smith said...

John Loftus!

You will deny it but you have posted comments over at Amazon under sock puppet names.

As to the Outsider TEST...John Loftus did not "deconvert" after taking the OUTSIDER TEST.

He clearly states that TWO of the THREE reasons he left were emotional, and it all started over his screwing some stripper.

The Nerd said...

Winston Smith, your comments are so full of wit, so to-the-point, I... I can't help myself, I just want to DO you!

Matthew said...

Matthew said...
"Winston Smith said...
Richard, I was highly amused by your mention of Prometheus books screwing over authors!!!

Bahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Imagine that! The ATHEIST publisher screwing over ATHEISTS!

That is so delicious! LOL!"

I am quite certain that I know who this "Winston Smith" character is and that he is a Christian. This being the case, his response here is just another reason why I can't imagine wanting to be a Christian myself. I smell the stench of arrogant mockery in his post.

Richard had made it clear that Prometheus Books doesn't have very good management. Yet "Winston" here makes it sound as though it's deliberate. A secular bookpublishing company out to purposely screw over Secular Humanists. This is not the case.

The disrespectful and arrogant mockery in his post is just one more reason I am not a Christian. I wouldn't want to be associated with people like him. I can't stand these extremely macho, very cocky, disrespectful, and rude people. If there was an eternity, I sure as hell wouldn't want to spend it with people like "Winston" here. I find him deathly creepy as I do with all of these other people like J.P. Holding and his buddies.

Matthew

Winston Smith said...

Matthew, we can thank GOD that atheists don't engage in direspectful and arrogant mockery!

No sireeeeeeee!

I mean, can you tell me where you EVER see atheist using mockery and ridicule as a substitute for argument?

Perish the thought!

Winston Smith said...

Hey Matthew, look at the third post in this thread...by Skeptic Griggsy.

(April 8th 4:31 p.m.)

Such Gems as,

"Dead Galilean Cult Leader"

"J Christ, Jerk"

"Buy bull"

"eviscerate"

etc.; can't you just feel the force of his rational argument?

Winston Smith said...

Matt, the very title of the book "Delusion" is mockery.

And in the book, Richard says that anyone who does not accept HIS evidence is "off their rocker".

"off their rocker"...his words, just like the old Totalitarian governments of the former Eastern Block used to call anyone with religious leanings "insane" and subject to "treatment".

Reason number 14 NOT to be an atheist.

Joe said...

Did you include a chapter where Dr. Craig soundly defeated (or shall I say "owned") you in your debate with him? He made you look very silly.

Matthew said...

" Winston Smith said...
Matthew, we can thank GOD that atheists don't engage in direspectful and arrogant mockery!

No sireeeeeeee!

I mean, can you tell me where you EVER see atheist using mockery and ridicule as a substitute for argument?

Perish the thought!"

This is wonderful! You're just like J.P. Holding. Whenever you are criticized for your flaws, instead of doing the right thing and apologizing for your wrong-doings, you always appeal to the wrong-doings, whether real or imaginary, of other people as if that excuses or even justifies your own-wrong doing. That's a classic response of many Christians like yourself!

What is the problem, here? Are you too cowardly to admit to and apologize for your own bad behavior? Or are you too egotistical? With Holding, it's because he is way too arrogant. If he apologizes for his own wrong-doings, it tarnishes the reputation that he wants as the "bad boy" of Christian apologetics. He's convinced me that he's interested in nothing but victory and even having to apologize for his faults means having to concede that he is wrong. He doesn't want to do that. Perceived strength is real strength to him. Winning an argument is the most important thing in the world to him.

Secondly, you point the gun at atheists for being disrespectful, arrogant, and mocking. I don't deny that a number of them are. If I saw examples of such, I would criticize them as much as I criticize you. That being the case, why does it matter if they're being disrespectful, arogant, and mocking? I thought that atheists had no morals without your deity and, therefore, that they had no reason to behave morally.

This being the case, why do you feel the need to sink to their level? If they're being arrogant and disrespectful, that is their problem. Why do you need to make it your problem as well? The sad fact is that you don't have any answers to this. Like Holding, whenever you are insulted, you have to return the insult, contrary to what the Bible teaches. You have to insult and mock people regardless of whether they insult and mock you first because you are obssessed with this "macho Christian" mentality, huh?

Nice Christian guys finish last and being respectful is for girly-boys, isn't it? You would rather be mean, nasty, and disrespectful because that is what macho warriors for Christ are supposed to be like, isn't it? To hell with the wimps! You want to be a "bad boy" for Jesus. Congradulations on that. I guess you figure that you can't be holy without being an asshole.

Matthew said...

" Winston Smith said...
Matt, the very title of the book "Delusion" is mockery.

And in the book, Richard says that anyone who does not accept HIS evidence is "off their rocker".

"off their rocker"...his words, just like the old Totalitarian governments of the former Eastern Block used to call anyone with religious leanings "insane" and subject to "treatment".

Reason number 14 NOT to be an atheist."

I don't see any mockery or anything disrespectful about using the word "delusion". It's judgmental, to be sure, but I feel that the judgment is warranted. If Carrier feels that people are "off their rocker" than that is his judgment to make if he is expert enough in history to make such a conclusion.

If Carrier mocks people or is direspectful towards people out of spite, then I will criticize him for it.

Matthew said...

Skeptic Griggsy,

You wrote:

"I have three threads eviscerting the character of that dead Galilean cult leader. One is the Buy-bulll and only a man, @ Amazon and another is J.Christ, jerk @ Skeptic Society Forums."

Christians are going to complain that these words are disrespectful and seem mocking. Is it your intent to sound as such? One Christian has complained to me and in fairness I must address it. Is "dead Galilean cult leader" said with an attempt to mock? If so, I have to ask you stop and apologize for this. I'm serious.

It isn't fair for me to criticize the nasty behavior of Christians and not criticize any skeptics or atheists for the same beahvior. I read parts of your post and them skimmed over the rest and I missed the parts that "Winston" complained about but I must address them here.

What do you mean by "J.Christ jerk"? "Buy Bull"? If you are intentionally being disrespectful and mocking, I have to ask you to stop and apologize. It's only fair. Again, I am serious.

Pikemann Urge said...

Joe, I don't think Richard has any problem with losing debates. Craig is a very good debater, and he's won some and lost some. Surprise, surprise (I think he won the debate with Hitchens, but I haven't seen it yet; and I've heard scientists lose badly to IDers). But as long as the debate was engaging, it matters not.

Matthew: good show, old chap. :-)

Winston Smith said...

Matt, I have not engaged in mockery.

What I have said is warranted, and are my conclusions to state.

Winston Smith said...

Also, Matt, I feel you have tried to ridicule me.

Now, if you were to apologize, I might take another look at things.

Matthew said...

"Winston Smith said...
Matt, I have not engaged in mockery.

What I have said is warranted, and are my conclusions to state."

You have not engaged in mockery? What struck me as mockery was the following:

"
Winston Smith said...
Richard, I was highly amused by your mention of Prometheus books screwing over authors!!!

Bahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Imagine that! The ATHEIST publisher screwing over ATHEISTS!

That is so delicious! LOL!"

That sounds like mockery to me. You are mocking an atheist publisher for "screwing over atheists". If that is not mockery then what is that?

John W. Loftus said...

Hi Matthew, in my opinion it's fruitless to engage Winston Smith (or, KC James, Andrew, D. Christensen, Anna B, or whatever name he comes up with next), just as it's fruitless engaging DM. I've tried. It doesn't work. There is nothing you can say.

David Eller said that people like him have "a different set of eyes than we do, and they cannot see what we see. Criticizing them, even poking them in the eye, simply does not improve their vision. They are deep inside a Christian box, and until they see the box and the world outside of it, their view is fatally limited."

If we have to engage him then so be it. But only then.

Steven Carr said...

PIKEMAN URGE
Steven, you are right except for the last statement. Christians most certainly are willing to debate the Bible's reliability in public. I'm sure you know this site quite well:

CARR
NO, Craig flat out refused to defend the historical reliability of the Gospels against Richard Carrier.

Matthew said...

Matthew said...
" Winston Smith said...
Also, Matt, I feel you have tried to ridicule me.

Now, if you were to apologize, I might take another look at things."

Woa! Hold the phone! You feel that I have tried to ridicule you? Why do you feel that? I haven't ridiculed you one bit. I have criticized you but nothing was said with the intent to ridicule. Therefore, I see nothing to apologize for so far.

What I particularly love about your response is that it is utterly evasive. I said that your posts had the stench arrogant mockery. I commented on your attitude. You didn't address one question, you just evaded everything I said and then, in typical J.P. Holding fasion, instead of answering the criticism, you turned it around and made it sound like I was the one with the problem (i.e. ridiculing you).

"Winston", what is it going to take for Christians like you to apologize for your behavior? Seriously! To be completely fair, I will examine every case that you feel secularists have acted unjustly towards Christians and if I agree with your case, I will criticize the secularists in question and ask them to apologize.

The thing is that I doubt this will do any good. Here's why: Christians like you and Holding are usually too prideful to accept criticism and apologize for what you are being criticized for. You will do something wrong or something "sinful" and when you are criticized for it, you always appeal to the wrong-doings or "sins" of other people as though that excuses or even justifies your own wrong-doing.

I suspect that if I criticized every secularist who has wronged a Christian, be it yourself or others, and they refused to apologize for their wrong-doings, you would just respond in an evasive manner: "Well if these atheists refuse to apologize for their wrong-doings, I refuse to apologize for mine".

A much better route would be to take the higher ground by setting a better example. The problem, I suspect, is that this requires more humility than your used to and it requires too much pride on your part to swallow.

I figure that most criticism, even if perfectly legitimate and proper, is just going to be dismissed by you and Holding. The debate over Christianity and atheists is more about winning arguments to you than it is about character. At the end of the day, it's doubtful that you care about how much your character suffers as long as you win an argument so you can walk around with your nose up in the air, and feel very smug and cocky knowing that you not only won the argument but you got the best of the atheists. It's all about proving yourself "smarter-than-thou".

Winston Smith said...

Matthew, you say "I haven't ridiculed you one bit."

Of course you have.

You said I want to be a "bad boy for Jesus" and called me an asshole, etc. (If find the "bad boy" remark particularly offensive.)

You are operating with a double standard, Matt.

But then you say nothing you have said was done with an intent to ridicule.

But Matthew, nothing I have said was done with an intent to ridicule either, and I certainly haven't called you any names.

HOWEVER, I can see that my crack about Prometheus books could be taken that way, although it was inspired by Richard's comments, and FOR THAT I APOLOGIZE.

How about you? Can you see how some of your remarks could be taken for ridicule?

(To be fair, you should note that although you called me mean, Richard has himself said that he is going to start being mean to drive his points home.)



ON a side note, your pal Loftus weighs in with false accusations against me; he has now taken to accusing almost any one who comments in opposition to him at Amazon as being the same person. I find that INCREDIBLE.

And yet we know that he makes stuff up about people; the Holding blog fiasco is well known, so I think even a lot of atheists know what his tactics are, whether they admit it here or not.

Winston Smith said...

By the way Matt, you should probably reread Richard's April 9th, 4:02 pm post.

He clearly states how its going to be from his side. (He mentions himself "and others"...so he may be refering to the other contributors, I am not sure.)

Frankly, I appreciate his honesty in letting us know and warning us.

I have long suspected this, but have rarely seen it expressed so openly by an actual author of an atheist book.

(By the way, the comparison to drug addicts, is an interesting touch, don't you think?)

Winston Smith said...

Oh, and Skeptic Griggsy seems to be ignoring you.

Pikemann Urge said...

CARR
NO, Craig flat out refused to defend the historical reliability of the Gospels against Richard Carrier.


In their one debate, yes. They may in future. Maybe you know something I don't.

Loren said...

DM and davmab11 and atheismwar post suspiciously like a certain David Mabus, who has been banned from some messageboards for posting that sort of trash and never bothering to respond to critics. So I think that DM and davmab11 and atheismwar and anyone who posts like them ought to be banned from here also.

Lenny said...

I have a question about one of the contributors: Is Dr. David Eller the same one listed here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Eller

If so do you guys worry about being associated with someone with his "record"?

John W. Loftus said...

On my Blog people whose Blogger profiles cannot be viewed are suspect. KC James (or Andrew, Lenny, etc) starts them at will again and again.

The David Eller in TCD is a different person. He was never a Christian. His full name is Jack David Eller.

Nice try at slander, Lenny. You tried smearing him at DC but I didn't allow it there and I won't allow it here.

Lenny said...

John,

I apologize for the confusion, I really was trying to ask this as a legit question (no intentional slander here).

I did not realize this was a different person and for that I do apologize (atleast I was taught no question was taboo).

I am a real member (just not a blogger) of Google accounts..

You can view my FB account if you want to know im a real person, not out to slander.

PS, I do not know what DC is.

Again, sorry.

tom said...

Loren-
I think they get banned, but the user creates new accounts. He is the same guy who sent PZ Meyers death threats (PZ has reported him to the police). Google searching the name you gave or any of his aliases will give you plenty of info.
Just ignore him though, it's not like anyone (atheist or Christian) takes any of his posts seriously, and Carrier gets around to deleting all the spam every now and then.

Winston Smith said...

Loftus has been known to create false blogs.

Remember the one about J.P. Holding?

Loftus has a double standard, and has no room to talk.

In his book, he says his own family members did not trust him. I wonder why?

John W. Loftus said...

Winston, if that's all ya got then I'm good to go. Matthew (above) suggested that Winston may be none other than Frank Walton. It's hard to tell because Frank lies for Jesus as most of us know, and if so, will deny it.

But I must say THAT was a decisive refutation of my arguments if I ever saw one. Nice Frank. That's all you ever do.

Landon Hedrick said...

I suggested on Amazon that KC James might be Frank Walton, but my comment got deleted when he edited his review.

John W. Loftus said...

Landon, I don't remember you saying that, although I don't doubt that you did. Matthew emailed me about it.

JD Curtis said...

Christianity Was Not Responsible for Modern Science, which is another tour de force, conclusively taking down once and for all the claim that Christianity gave us modern science

Let's see here, I can only name the following....

"Antiseptic surgery, Joseph Lister

Bacteriology, Louis Pastuer

Calculus, Dynamics, Isaac Newton

Celestial Mechanics, Johannes Kepler

Chemistry, Gas Dynamics, Robert Boyle

Comparative Anatomy, Georges Cuvier

Computer Science, Charles Babbage

Dimensional Analysis, Model Analysis, Lord Rayleigh

Electronics, John Ambrose Fleming

Electrodynamics, James Clark Maxwell

Electromagnetics, Field Theory, Michael Faraday

Energetics, Lord Kelvin

Entomology of Living Insects, Henri Fabre

Field Mechanics, George Stokes

Galactic Astronomy, Sir William Herschel

Genetics, Gregor Mendel

Glacial Geology, Ichthyology, Louis Agassiz

Gynecology, James Simpson

Hydrography, Oceanography, Matthew Maury

Hydrostatics, Blaise Pascal

Isotropic Chemistry, Willam Ramsey

Natural History, John Ray

Non-Euclidean Geometry, Bernard Riemann

Optical Mineralogy, David Brewster

And on it goes. All of these founders were Bible believers...."

Kennedy, D, James and Jerry Newcombe: WHAT IF JESUS HAD NEVER BEEN BORN?, pg 101, Thomas Nelson Publishers

tom said...

"All of these founders were Bible believers...."

Any argument intended to establish that "Christianity gave us modern science" will need a few more premises. Feel free to construct it.

Loren said...

In that list, there are plenty of Catholics and Anglicans and others that fundies would not consider True Bible-Believing Xians. Fundies may like Sir Isaac Newton's interest in Bible prophecies, but will they agree with him that God is not a Trinity?

I'm not denying that some notable early-modern scientists had some theological preoccupations, but it has to be significant that theology dropped out of mainstream science. Most likely from discovering that it was unproductive in scientific research, instead of some vile conspiracy against all that is good.

Given that science was more-or-less invented in the Greco-Roman world, we ought to consider converting to Hellenic paganism. Science got revived only under the influence of the rediscovery of those Greco-Roman authors. It's not for nothing that we use oodles of Latin and Greek words in our technical terms.

Our host, Richard Carrier, proposes that science involves these three values:
1. Curiosity - it's good to learn new things
2. Empiricism - observation and experiment are important deciders
3. Progress - it's possible to learn what one's predecessors had not known

He also proposes that neither is present in traditional Xian epistemology. Certainly, one can't find in the Bible anything like

Thou shalt be curious
Thou shalt be empirical-minded
Thou shalt recognize progress over previous generations

Gabriel said...

Blaise Pascal did not invent hydrostatics. Archimedes did that long before Jesus came around. Is "non-Euclidean" geometry an actual branch of science? Geometry is and certainly was not founded by a “Bible believer”.

Earl said...

Interesting review and comments on The Christian Delusion, Richard. It’s too bad you have to see your blog page hijacked by rampaging Christian trolls, but I know myself that this comes with the territory. I wonder that the new book does not have a chapter on the greatest delusion of them all, that Jesus of Nazareth actually existed (can’t tell from your description whether Price addresses that). For that story, I guess the reader will have to go to my new book, “Jesus: Neither God Nor Man”, a considerable expansion (814 pages) on my earlier The Jesus Puzzle. (And while I would not presume to call it such myself, Michael Martin, author of The Case Against Christianity, has called it “a tour de force”.)

On the question of whether one ought to be polite even to people like DM or Winston Smith or apologists like J. P. Holding—and a host of others we have both encountered many times—there is no doubt that the average fundamentalist defender on the Internet deserves no such consideration. And the stronger the New Atheism movement becomes and the more widely known its writings, the more the worst is brought out in such defenders. We can take this as a good sign, as such reaction is born of increasing desperation. We have entered a new era of courage and rationality, when old respected religions have become tarnished and exposed for the failures and frauds that they are. The trolls can hear the foundations crumbling as well as we can, but they can’t bring themselves to admit it.

Another favorite delusion of mine is the idea that the Christian God would be willing to sit back and do nothing about the great scandal of our time, the sexual abuse of children by God’s own ministers—not just in the Catholic Church, and of course undoubtedly having gone on for centuries. That alone should discredit all faith and reliance on religious claims. (I’ve just posted a new comment on my Age of Reason website on this scandal, a humorous satire titled “Does the Catholic Church Need a New Inquisition?” It’s at http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/AORComment22.htm.) Incidentally, if you or John want to send me a review copy of TCD, I’d be happy to review it for the site.

Anyway, I can only recommend my own book as an ideal companion piece to The Christian Delusion (“Jesus: Neither God Nor Man” on Amazon). If it can be demonstrated (and it can) that the Gospel Jesus is a fictional character, that Paul and other earliest Christians did not believe in a human Jesus who had lived on earth, and that we have all been led down the garden path for the last two millennia, Christianity will be well and truly dead. It’s long overdue.

Earl Doherty

Pikemann Urge said...

Nice to see you here, Earl. Hope you're doing well.

I don't care whether apologists like Holding are pure jerks or not - it's what they claim that counts and if it's true, it doesn't matter whether it comes from their toilet or from their kitchen. If it's false, no amount of whipped cream can make that apple pie palatable.

One thing you must be careful about, though. Don't give people the impression that just because you don't like Christianity, that therefore Jesus must be a fiction. Rather, if Jesus is a fiction, therefore that is one reason why you don't like the faith. Don't become an atheist version of Holding. There are already enough of those.

Mark said...

Earl, you were the first person I read on the Jesus Myth. I came across Carrier writings later on but they never materialized into the "definite" book like some claim ;-) Anyway, glad to see you have an update on your thesis in this new book.

JD Curtis said...

Any argument intended to establish that "Christianity gave us modern science" will need a few more premises. Feel free to construct it

OK Tom, what religion stacks up favorably against Christianity in the number of founders of particular branches of science? Feel free to "construct" a reply.

In that list, there are plenty of Catholics and Anglicans and others that fundies would not consider True Bible-Believing Xians

Hair splitting in that although there were quite emotional and profound differences between their beliefs, they all fell well within mainstream orthodoxy.

JD Curtis said...

Given that science was more-or-less invented in the Greco-Roman world, we ought to consider converting to Hellenic paganism

"Dr Malcolm Jeeves ponders the question why the Greeks never went further in their scientific queries in his book The Scientific Enterprise and the Christian Faith. He points out that a unique blend of Greek thinking with a specific strand of Christianity-namely, the Reformed faith-birthed modern science. Jeeves writes:

"It was with the rediscovery of the Bible and of its message at the time of the Reformation....that a new impetus came to the development of science. This new impetus, flowing together with all that was best in Greek thinking, was to produce the right mixture to detonate the chain reaction leading to the explosion of knowledge which began at the start of the scientific revolution in the sixteenth century, and which is proceeding with ever-increasing momentum today"

Not only did science not develop with the Greeks, but it is also true that science would not have originated among the Hebrew people-it did not and would not-for the simple reason that to the Hebrews, as you recall in Psalms, theworld was simply an occaisionfor praise to the Creator. "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork" (ps 19:1).

Nor could modern science ever have come into existance among the Arabs, because of the Muslim religion. The writings of Aristotle, when lost to the Western world from about A.D. 500 to A.D. 1100, were kept by the Arabs of north Africa and finally reintroduced into Europe in the 1100's and 1200's. Aristotle-unlike Plato-had a philosophy that would lend itself to the scientific type of study because it was more inductive than Plato's deductive kind of reasoning. Plato would get an ideal and deduce all manner of things from it. Aristotle would tend to look at the particulars and induce principles from them. Because of the Aristotelian thought they had access to, the Arabs-including Nestorian Christians-generally made greater scientific and mathematical advances than the Europeans during the Middle Ages.

But during all of that time the Arabs never introduced nor created any real science. Why? Because of their religion. Because of the fatalism that dominates the Muslim religion. Since everything is fatalistically determined, obviously there is no point in trying to manipulate the natural world to change anything, because all things are unchangeable."

JD Curtis said...

"Science could never have come into being among the animists of central or southern Africa or many other places in the world because they never would have begun to experiment on the natural world, since everything-whether stones or trees or animals or anything else-contained within it living spirits of various gods or ancestors.

Nor could science have originated in India among the Hindus, nor in China among the Buddhists, for both Hinduism and Buddhism teach that the physical world is unreal and that the only reality is that of the world's soul and that the greatest thing anyone has to learn is that the physical world is not real. Therefore, there would have been no point in spending one's life fooling with that which had no reality in the first place.

It waited for Christianity to come and take several of the different strains and weave them together to produce in the sixteenth century the phenomenon we know know as modern science. It was because of a number of basic teachings of Christianity. First of all is the fact that there is a rational God who is the source of all truth, and that this world is a rational world. This gives rise to the possibility of scientific laws.

It is interesting to note that science could not originate in the philisophical view prevelant in the world today. The prevailing philosophy of the Western world is existentialism, which is irrational. It would not be possible for science to develop in an irrational world because science is based on the fact that if water boils at 212 degrees today, it will boil at 212 degrees tomorrow, and the same thing the next day, and that there are certain laws and regularities that control the universe. This all stems from the Christian concept of the god who created the world-a God who is rational and who created a rational world."



Kennedy, D. James and Jerry Newcombe: What If Jesus Had Never been Born?, pgs 94-95, Thomas Nelson Publishers

Source cited in the above by Kennedy-Newcombe:

[1] Jeeves, Malcom; The Scientific Enterprise and the Christian Faith, pg 13, Downers Grove

tom said...

"OK Tom, what religion stacks up favorably against Christianity in the number of founders of particular branches of science? Feel free to "construct" a reply."

My initial point will do, though evidently it needs to be made clearer. Even if every single such "founder" was a Christian, you'd still have to argue for some causal link between Christianity and the scientific contributions of those individuals to establish that Christianity "gave us" modern science. That's the role of the additional premises I suggested you would need.
No one claims that racism "gave us" modern science, but given the culture in which modern science arose, it is probably a safe bet that the bulk of it's founders were racists, by modern standards. (If this turns out to be less historically accurate than I assume, still the point is made, and another analogy can be easily imagined). An argument is required to establish that one's beliefs about this or that issue are not simply incidental to one's contributions to science.
I haven't read Carrier's chapter yet so I can't address the specific claim you want to contest, but the above point suggests an absolutely basic burden of proof that is unmet by our producing competing lists.

JD Curtis said...

Even if every single such "founder" was a Christian, you'd still have to argue for some causal link between Christianity and the scientific contributions of those individuals to establish that Christianity "gave us" modern science.

To be more specific, I would state that post-Reformation protestantism helped bring about science as we know it.

"James Moore of the Open University, Milton Keynes, England, writes that there is "distinct and plausible evidence that Protestantism gave rise to modern science".[1] For example, Lutherans were inimately involved in the subsidization, publication,and dissemination of Copernicus's book De Revolutionibus.[2] Moore points out that in the seventeenth century it was the Calvinists who led the way.

One of the great organizations that helped to propel science and scientific advances was the Royal Society of London for Improving Knowledge, founded in 1660. Most of it's members were professing Christians. The Royal Society began in a Christian College, Gresham College of London. In fact, Gresham was a Puritan college: therefore it was purely Bible-orientated. Moore writes:

"There [at Gresham College] in1645, Theodore Haak, inspired by Moravian educator J.A. Comenius,[3] commenced formal gatherings which in 1661 became the Royal Society of London. Seven of the ten scientists who formed the nucleus of those meetings were Puritans. In 1663 sixty-two percent of the Royal Society wer clearly Puritan in origin-at a time when Puritans were only a small minority in England. [4]

Moore concludes that the exact reason why Protestantism "encouraged the birth of modern science" is disputed, but that some historians view the Protestant emphasis on the priesthood of all believers as a significant factor. He also points out that there were important scientists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries who were Roman Catholic.[5]



Kennedy, D. James and Jerry Newcombe: What If Jesus had Never Been Born?, pg 98, Thomas Nelson Publishers

Sources cited by Kennedy-Newcombe;

[1] Dowley: A Lion Handbook: The History of Christianity, pg 48

[2] Ibid

[3] From the end notes: "Comenius was also a committed Christian. As you will recall from Chapter 4 on education, this bishop in the Moravian Church is often called "the father of modern education

[4] Dowley: A Lion Handbook: The History of Christianity, pg 48

No one claims that racism "gave us" modern science, but given the culture in which modern science arose, it is probably a safe bet that the bulk of it's founders were racists, by modern standards. (If this turns out to be less historically accurate than I assume, still the point is made, and another analogy can be easily imagined)

But I don't believe that racism is a religious framework. It may affect how one looks at the world, but it is too general of an abstract concept that is ill-defined.

To what extent is a society racist? Is it racism against all other peoples to be found in that society or only certain groups? does it constitute systematic extermination of certain people(s) or merely mild disdain? Etc.
Christianity is something a bit more tangible that we can work with and examine.

the above point suggests an absolutely basic burden of proof that is unmet by our producing competing lists

Tom, would the complete inability of anyone to even provide a competeing list to the one I cited above be something we could enter into evidence to assist us in forming our conclusions?

tom said...

After reading your response I've concluded that we'd likely have to exchange ideas at great length before the conversation became constructive.

In short: The material you're reposting does at least attempt to make the sort argument that I initially criticized you for not making, but I find it to be paper thin and unconvincing, and even silly. Your other two responses - i.e. 1. Racism is not a religious framework & 2. You've still got the best list (and not just the best, but the best by a mile) do not engage the points I made, and this is the second or third time I've tried to make them.
When a disagreement starts this way it tends to just get messier and messier.

Andrew Ray Gorman said...

DM, are by chance spamming on facebook now? Pretty sure I saw your ramblings on the boobquake event.

Matthew said...

My apologies for my tardiness in responding. This is my latest reply:

"Winston Smith said...


“Matthew, you say "I haven't ridiculed you one bit."

Of course you have.

You said I want to be a "bad boy for Jesus" and called me an asshole, etc. (If find the "bad boy" remark particularly offensive.)”

What I said was not with the intent to ridicule. I can understand that perhaps you got the impression that I was ridiculing you. But when I asked these questions, it was not with the intent of ridiculing you, but, rather, I was feeling irritated and I got very sarcastic. For my part, I am glad that you find the “bad boy” mentality offensive. There are a number of Christians out there who do feel that they cannot be Christians without being some macho jerk for Jesus. If you resent this kind of Christian, good! I hope you will join with me in condemning this behavior in other Christians.

Perhaps I have misunderstood you. Granting so, I retract my remarks. Seriously. If you hate the “macho Christian” mentality as much as I do, then I got the wrong impression from you and I regret that. Maybe we have simply misunderstood each other. I apologize for my remarks; I realize that they were based on my misunderstanding.

“You are operating with a double standard, Matt.”

I am not trying to operate with a double-standard even if I am doing so. Nothing I said was with the intent of ridiculing, mocking, or making mean-spirited comments. I do want to say that I have encountered Christians who do have this “macho mentality” like J.P. Holding. It’s my opinion that Holding is mean-spirited towards those have views he doesn’t like and he loves to abuse people for his own amusement. It’s Christians like him that I resent. In my judgment, he is a world-class jerk and he seems to love being a jerk just for the fun of it.

“But then you say nothing you have said was done with an intent to ridicule“.

It’s true.

“But Matthew, nothing I have said was done with an intent to ridicule either, and I certainly haven't called you any names.”

Okay. I accept that. I thought you were trying to be a jerk and mock people just for your own amusement. I realize that this is not the case and I retract what I said. Just for the record, I didn’t mean to come across like I was calling you names. I asked you a few questions implying that you were behaving like an asshole but I was trying to be careful as to not directly name-call you. I was trying to shame you and I was wrong to do so.

To be continued...

Matthew said...

Continuing...

“HOWEVER, I can see that my crack about Prometheus books could be taken that way, although it was inspired by Richard's comments, and FOR THAT I APOLOGIZE.:

Good! I accept your apology!

“How about you? Can you see how some of your remarks could be taken for ridicule?”

Yes I do. And like you, I am apologizing for my remarks.

“(To be fair, you should note that although you called me mean, Richard has himself said that he is going to start being mean to drive his points home.)”

I think Richard is irritated for the most part. This is just my opinion but I think that if he’s going to be mean, it’s not because being mean is fun, but because he feels that he’s at his rope’s end and doesn’t know what else he can do. Maybe he feels that he’s exhausted all reasonable attempts at dialogue, discussion, and debate, and despite all of his best attempts and efforts to educate people, it’s simply not working. Maybe he feels that this is his last resort as all other options have been attempted without success.

Anyways, I am just speculating on why. I personally think Richard is a great guy and I think it’s completely out of character for him to be mean just for the pleasure of it. Come to think of it, I am not sure I can even blame him. If I were in his shoes, I think I might do the same thing if I am right about my speculation regarding his policy. If you were Richard, what would you do?

“ON a side note, your pal Loftus weighs in with false accusations against me; he has now taken to accusing almost any one who comments in opposition to him at Amazon as being the same person. I find that INCREDIBLE.”

I personally haven’t been reading that many reviews of this book or others on Amazon. I do read some reviews. I know that Loftus feels as though there has been one person who has been trolling on Amazon and creating multiple accounts, giving people the false impression that many people don’t like this book. Where has he accused you of doing this? What evidence has he presented? What evidence do you present in your defense?

“And yet we know that he makes stuff up about people; the Holding blog fiasco is well known, so I think even a lot of atheists know what his tactics are, whether they admit it here or not.”

Loftus made a mistake here. He admitted to making a mistake and, as I recall, he apologized for it. I accept that Loftus is just as human as the rest of us. I remember one time I had an exchange with internet apologist Jason Engwer and I made some comments and even an accusation that I regret having done so. I apologized to him and to my knowledge, he forgave me for it. Loftus made a mistake and it was out of frustration at Holding, IIRC, and while I didn’t approve of what Loftus did, at least I can understand his reaction. Eventually, he did the right thing and I am proud of him for that.

John W. Loftus said...

Winston Smith (Frank Walton, et al.) just made a veiled threat about several negative reviews that he claims will be posted about this book on Amazon beginning on Tuesday. See here. As I said he has many email, Amazon and Blogger accounts and uses them in an attempt to smear me and this book because he's threatened by it and cannot answer it. He's NOT worth talking to. He is deluded. He thinks the Christian truth must be defended by a host of lies, and THAT should give him pause to think he is one of the brainwashed ones, but he's so brainwashed he won't even consider this possibility.

Dave said...

Richard,

The book arrived today.

drdave

Andrew G. said...

My copy finally arrived and was duly enjoyed.

One thing that strikes me in discussion of Bayes' theorem is that it's quite a lot easier, for me at least, to do eyeball estimates of the numerical properties if you use the odds-likelihood formulation:

O(H|E.B) / O(H|B) = P(E|H.B) / P(E|~H.B)

where O(X) is the betting odds on event X, i.e. P(X)/(1-P(X)).

This makes a number of the numerical properties much clearer, especially the fact that, since P(E|H.B) is no greater than 1, the only way to overcome a low prior is for P(E|~H.B) to be very small (on the same magnitude as the odds, since O(X) and P(X) are approximately equal if they are less than 0.1 or so).

For example, if we figure our prior odds as 1000:1 against, that means that P(E|~H.B) must be at least as low as 1/1000 in order to bring the posterior odds to around 1:1, and at least as low as 1/10000 in order to bring the posterior odds to around 10:1 on, even if P(E|H.B) is approximately 1.

Loren said...

I recently got that book, and I must say that it's excellent, even if some of it is rather familiar territory to me. I particularly like Richard Carrier's contribution, and how he debunks the Xianity-caused-science delusion. It was around for over a millennium before the Scientific Revolution, so why didn't it happen after Constantine or Theodosius or Justinian?

Loren said...

Another problem with the hypothesis of the super scientific medieval Church: what did they say about the supernova of 1054? Some Irish monks may or may not have recorded it, but Chinese and Japanese very recognizably recorded this "guest star". Chinese and Japanese astronomers/astrologers also recorded in detail some other supernovae that medieval Europeans barely mentioned.

Anders Branderud said...

I recommend you to read an article in my blog (http://bloganders.blogspot.com/2009/08/proof-of-existence-of-intelligent-and.html). It contains a formal logical proof, based on scientific premises, that proves the existence of an Intelligent and Perfect Creator of this universe (i.e. the Prime Cause of this universe (the cause of Big Bang)); and it also proves that His instructions are found in Torah, and that His purpose of humankind is for us to practise those Instructions in Torah.

That the Jewish Bible contains some statements that contradicts science, does not imply it is not inspired by the Creator. It was written by humans. Humans are fallible; but using formal logic based on science one can filter out human mistakes. And remaining is the Perfect Instruction Manual from the Creator.

Pikemann Urge said...

Anders, I look forward to reading your article. Any comments I have will be on your blog, not here, unless Richard is okay with it.

Pikemann Urge said...

Anders, I've read your main proof and I've been reading your replies to counter-arguements. Very briefly:

1. I'm sure you could filter out 'human mistakes' from any religious text and get a core document which is 'perfect'.

2. Your arguement, or proof, is no better or worse than the other ones (ontological, teleological, cosmological). They are not necessarily false, but all of them have equally good counter-arguements.

Richard Carrier said...

Anders Branderud said... I recommend you to read an article in my blog (http://bloganders.blogspot.com/2009/08/proof-of-existence-of-intelligent-and.html). It contains a formal logical proof, based on scientific premises, that proves the existence of an Intelligent and Perfect Creator of this universe

Thanks for proving how delusional believers can be. None of the premises you give are in any sense "scientific" and your argument violates the basic principle of the law of excluded middle (you fallaciously equate "cause" with "intelligent cause," when the set of all possible causes contains many things that are not intelligent).

That theists can affirm supremely confident belief on such patently illogical arguments is precisely what "delusional" means.

Richard Carrier said...

Andrew G. said... One thing that strikes me in discussion of Bayes' theorem is that it's quite a lot easier, for me at least, to do eyeball estimates of the numerical properties if you use the odds-likelihood formulation

Laymen don't know any of that, or how to see ratios so simply (hardly anyone is actually an experienced gambler). Your approach is also not useful when you want to show how P(H|E.B) is derived and from what, which was the objective I had in that chapter.

Otherwise, your subsequent point is exactly what I argue (in much easier-to-grasp terms) in the section in that chapter on extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence. In the notes there I even make the specific point you do about the consequent probability of the evidence on ~h having to be lowered to make a claim credible.

Richard Carrier said...

Matthew said... ...your future book On the Historicity of Jesus Christ... Will this book contain a chapter on the resurrection that is anything like what you have contributed for this book?

No.

Richard Carrier said...

Stylo said... Don't you get it yet? You cannot preach any derivative of Christian morality without the Christian god.

You didn't read Eller's chapter in TCD refuting exactly that statement, apparently. But even apart from that claim being false, you are failing to grasp the actual argument: Christianity is internally incoherent. I do not need to believe in Christian morality to prove that the facts of the world combined with Christian theology contradicts Christian morality. That inconsistency makes Christianity irrational. It doesn't matter whether Christian or any other morality is true. Christianity is still proved to be irrational.

Winston Smith said... By the way, Richard, I assume that you, like Lofus, are a vegiatarian.

Why do you assume we all have monolithically identical beliefs? I don't have to agree with Loftus's personal moral philosophy to agree that his chapter on animals proves Christianity incoherent.

Indeed I find it very strange how Christians assume atheism is some sort of singular faith that should adhere to one single dogma. We're empirical freethinkers. We actually (shock!) debate issues such as what's right and wrong and why.

At any rate, one needn't be a vegetarian to believe animals could and should be humanely treated, which is all the premise Loftus' argument actually requires, so your implied logic is flawed anyway.

Richard Carrier said...

Joe said... Did you include a chapter where Dr. Craig soundly defeated (or shall I say "owned") you in your debate with him? He made you look very silly.

I don't see how. He didn't address half my arguments, and spent most of his time rebutting arguments I didn't make in that debate. I didn't have time to rebut every claim he made, but one does not measure truth by a clock. Hence my TCD chapter does decisively refute Craig. Because there I wasn't stopped by any clock.

Richard Carrier said...

Lenny said... I have a question about one of the contributors: Is Dr. David Eller the same one listed here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Eller. If so do you guys worry about being associated with someone with his "record"?

Good grief, no! Different guy. Our Dr. Eller is much younger, and an anthropologist, not a religious studies professor (our Eller is the author of a leading textbook in the anthropology of religion).

Richard Carrier said...

Earl said... I wonder that the new book does not have a chapter on the greatest delusion of them all, that Jesus of Nazareth actually existed (can’t tell from your description whether Price addresses that).

Price's chapter in TCD addresses the presence of myth-making in the Gospels (which, as you know, is a confirmed, uncontroversial fact accepted by all mainstream scholars who aren't fundamentalists). He doesn't address there whether the whole thing is a myth. Because it needn't be to make his point (that Christians can only deny the presence of mythmaking in the Gospels by deploying a number of patently delusional tactics, as he there summarizes).

Believing in the historicity of Jesus is not a delusion (merely, at most, an error). Thus it isn't pertinent to the argument of TCD.

Richard Carrier said...

JD Curtis said... "Christianity Was Not Responsible for Modern Science, which is another tour de force, conclusively taking down once and for all the claim that Christianity gave us modern science"

Let's see here, I can only name the following....


Did you even read my chapter?

Evidently not.

Because you clearly don't even know what it argues.

None of your evidence has anything to do with my chapter. And indeed, what your evidence proves, is directly acknowledged in my chapter anyway (read the last paragraphs).

Likewise, the fallacy you just deployed is dissected there in detail (read the first paragraphs).

And your quotation from What If Jesus Had Never been Born? is exactly the kind of travesty of errors and baloney my chapter refutes in meticulous, thoroughly-referenced detail. Nothing your quotation claims about antiquity is factually correct. In fact, it's so blatantly false the authors of that book can only be fantastically delusional--or farcically incompetent (or just bold-faced liars).

Which, BTW, is exactly the actual thesis of my chapter. Go figure!

JD Curtis said... ...what religion stacks up favorably against Christianity in the number of founders of particular branches of science? Feel free to "construct" a reply.

My chapter already did. Hence, again, you evidently didn't read it.

Indeed my chapter in TCD provides only the short list (e.g. mechanics, pneumatics, optics, hydrostatics, cartography, zoology, mineralogy, botany, anatomy, physiology, neurophysiology, planetary astronomy, etc.). Many branches of science founded in antiquity (by, of course, pagans) were completely forgotten by Christians in the Middle Ages (none of the texts on those sciences surviving) and had to be reinvented (e.g. apiology and oceanography), and others survived only in fragments and tertiary literature (e.g. volcanology and paleontology), or we have early texts but not the more advanced ones subsequently written (e.g. dynamics and kinetics).

Richard Carrier said...

Pikemann Urge said... It isn't your business if others have faith.

When that faith controls their vote and how they treat their neighbors, it becomes my business.

(After all, there's a reason no one bothers writing The Amish Delusion. Although even they have caused remarkable and shocking harm to their own, and if you have compassion for the welfare of other human beings, even the Amish faith should be your business)

Richard Carrier said...

Macroman said... I think the title word "delusion" is going to stop most people from even reading it. Maybe they weren't going to read it anyway, but I can't help thinking that agressive sounding title is going to restrict this to an exercise in preaching to the choir.

Tested marketing theory proves the contrary: more people will read it precisely because the title pisses them off. Just like that funny line in Private Parts: most of Howard Stern's audience share consisted of people who hated his guts. Likewise the more Christian authorities denounce it, the more Christians who will become curious and want to read it (especially younger Christians who have been imposed upon by their parents and thus aren't really committed Christians--which is, by the numbers, most actual Christians, and who obviously constitute the future of Christianity, and thus whose attention matters more in the long run).

Some people will avoid the book (just like one of my Christian friends' parents refused to let him watch the original Battlestar Galactica series simply because it featured a robotic villain named Lucifer). But many more will read it in the effort to convince themselves the title isn't true. It will nag at them until they do, the more so as the book is cited and quoted at them online and in conversation. So unless they hide from hearing other points of view completely (and many people do--but such people would not read the book whatever it's title), they are going to read it eventually.

This will become increasingly the case the more we keep mentioning the fact that they can't claim to be informed unless and until they've read it. Make it the book you recommend to every Christian who asks why you aren't a Christian. In book exchanges with Christian relatives, go ahead and take their C.S. Lewis and read it, if they'll promise to read TCD. Etc. That's how it will have impact.

Richard Carrier said...

P.S. The additional utility of TCD is as a resource for atheists active in the public debate, e.g. they need the references and facts Avalos and I catalogue regarding the claims being made in various media about Hitler's supposed godlessness and Christianity's supposed invention of science; they will find very useful all the facts and resources I provide on the resurrection issue, that Babinski provides on the biblical cosmology issue, that Loftus provides on the animals issue (even just his extensive documentation of Christian theological squirming on this issue is priceless). Etc.

In other words, there is also utility in preaching to the choir. Because we don't preach. We teach.

That in fact is the difference between atheists and priests.

Richard Carrier said...

War on Error I challenged PZ Myers at Skepticon 2 with the question, "If it could be demonstrated empirically that the diplomatic approach was more successful than the in-your-face approach, would you stick to your strategy?" He managed to avoid answering my question. I was not amused.

Since he already went on public record agreeing the strategy works and he isn't opposed to it (you were, I believe, in the audience at the time), I don't quite understand what you are bothered by here. That he didn't more clearly affirm a commitment to empiricism? I'd examine whether I inadequately posed the question before accusing him of avoiding it.

I would be honestly willing to reassess if confronted with evidence to the contrary of my own success stories.

You seem stuck in a fallacy of black and white thinking here. It's fallacious to conclude that method B doesn't work because method A does. We all agree A and B both work, and I have tons of personal evidence of both working. The issue isn't which one works. The issue is which one is more effective in the long run, and which one we're most effective at.

All the public evidence so far supports methods that are honest but in-your-face. The poll numbers aren't shifting because of quiet diplomacy; yet you have to argue it's in spite of rising in-your-face-ity; that's arguing against the evidence, so really the burden is on you to prove it's in spite of and not because of.

And generalized effect measures won't be sufficient, either, since skillsets and comfort zones differ (hence you may have inadequately posed your question to PZ). I can't lie or bullshit people, it makes me very uncomfortable and I feel slimy. So diplomatic approaches are not an option for me--I can't do it, I have no ability in it and lack the comfort to ever acquire ability in it. I'm not going to liars camp. Nor would I perform well there if I did. Thus, in my hands, I can have more numerical effect by in-your-face than diplomatic approaches, simply because I am much better at the one and am comfortable doing it. Perhaps if I could become a skilled liar and bullshitter I could get better numbers diplomatically, but that's like saying we could lower the crime rate if we gassed all the prisons. True, but not exactly an option we're going to consider, is it?

Richard Carrier said...

Polls don't seem to show mass conversion to atheism.

Yes they do. The recent national religion survey (sample size over a hundred thousand) shows we've doubled our numbers in less than twenty years. We've outpaced every other religion in net growth in America. Every single one. Our gains are particularly increasing among youth, i.e. those converts more recently acquired, and among the population most open to exploring in-your-face media.

Re: Andrew referenced The Overton Window. He's right. See wiki entry. Psychology has verified this: attitudes change the more the new option becomes acceptable and the old option becomes vilified. In direct proportion. In other words, the more people who make the new option "cool" and the more people who make the old option an object of ridicule, the more of the remaining population convert to the new option, especially among the youngest (and thus most important) generation. The movements against racism and homophobia are classic examples of this. This is also why religious communities attempt to hold the center by isolating members and creating their own praise/villify matrix to attempt to hold them in. The problem is that this necessarily fails in a free society: you cannot prevent hemorrhaging of your population sub-group into the broader group. It thus will inevitably shrink. Polls show this is what's happening to most religious sects in America (Catholicism especially), and is the reason the Quiverfull movement will not only fail, but will actually guarantee our success: as Myers explained at Skepticon last year, mathematically, all they are doing is giving us more people to convert.

Are you saying that we need anti-religious bigots to make the basic acceptance of sensible irreligion more palatable?

No. And you are committing another fallacy again. You are fallaciously equating in-your-face honesty with religious bigotry. The truth is not bigotry. Bigotry never becomes cool on a wide enough scale in a free society to progress (which is why it always declines). But the truth does work. Vilifying racists, for example, is not "anti-racist bigotry." It's just telling the truth, with feeling. And it works. And it will work in any and every other case--as long as the truth is on it's side.

Richard Carrier said...

Winston Smith said... I mean, can you tell me where you EVER see atheist using mockery and ridicule as a substitute for argument?

There's a difference between using mockery and ridicule as a substitute for argument, and using mockery and ridicule to emphasize a logically valid and sound argument. Matthew called you out on a fallacious, vacuous argument you made, which exposed the cruel and mean soul you have, and concluded (from, as one can infer, many other cases like yours) that Christianity rots people's souls. It turns them into mean, irrational people, who can't see the truth of things and who prefer to ridicule what they don't understand than to ridicule what actually is ridiculous.

That's why Christian fundamentalists aren't funny. There is never any fundie humor that isn't boring or juvenile. Because they have no sense of the ridiculous. If they did, they wouldn't be fundies.

Winston Smith said... Matt, the very title of the book "Delusion" is mockery.

No, it's a clinical statement of fact. Delusion as a scientifically established mental state is defined and discussed in the early chapters of the book, and the rest of the book proves empirically that the term applies to Christianity.

Winston Smith said... And in the book, Richard says that anyone who does not accept HIS evidence is "off their rocker".

Nice fallacy again. Here you dishonestly give the impression that I said this of anyone who disagrees with any of my evidence. That's simply a lie. And that makes you a liar.

Richard Carrier said...

Winston Smith said... You say each chapter covers each subject THOROUGHLY, your emphasis, and yet the chapters only average 20 or so pages, meaning a lot is going to have to be left out and the discussion will be of necessity be one sided.

Let's test that hypothesis.

Pick a chapter. What was left out?

retep said...

the book is great thanks richard and john, i had to get it mail order to australia but well worth it. would lie to be able to use some quotable bits in the forums around the traps..

well done thanks

Buster said...

This really tickles me.
"We've outpaced every other religion in net growth in America. Every single one."
Even Atheists now appear to have become religious.

Go have another look at the Agnostic/Atheism Forum and weep at their circular arguments, even giving advice to a young man who is having problems with His FANATICAL Christian parents, by telling him to - Shank the ...... -, i.e Murder his parents.
There as many FANATICAL Atheist as FANATICAL Christians on that site.
You judge by the few so why can't they do the same ?

Buster said...

" Richard Carrier said...
Winston Smith said... I mean, can you tell me where you EVER see atheist using mockery and ridicule as a substitute for argument?"

Don't think all are like you. Look at my previous comment. You will find more than plenty of that on the mentioned site.

There are some good guys there (Atheists and Christians). When people argue to justify their views then they are in fact doubting their views and seek confirmation that they are right and the other guy is wrong. Totally illogical is it not?

Richard Carrier said...

Buster said... You judge by the few so why can't they do the same?

Because that would be a reverse fallacy ad populum, which we can call the fallacy ad minoritatem: agreeing with the few merely because they are the few. Numbers are a red herring. We side with those who have rational, evidentially well-founded arguments, regardless of how many there are. That they just happen to be the few (at present, and in America) is irrelevant happenstance. Hence we reject irrational atheists, too.