Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity
For about two decades John W. Loftus was a devout evangelical Christian, an ordained minister of the Church of Christ, and an ardent apologist for Christianity. With three degrees--in philosophy, theology, and philosophy of religion--he was adept at using rational argumentation to defend the faith. But over the years, as he ministered to various congregations and taught at Christian colleges, doubts about the credibility of key Christian tenets began to creep into his thinking. By the late 1990s he experienced a full-blown crisis of faith, brought on by emotional upheavals in his personal life as well as the gathering weight of the doubts he had long entertained.
In this honest appraisal of his journey from believer to atheist, Loftus carefully explains the experiences and the reasoning process that led him to reject religious belief. The bulk of the book is his "cumulative case" against Christianity. Here he lays out the philosophical, scientific, and historical reasons that can be raised against Christian belief. From the implications of religious diversity, the authority of faith vs. reason, and the problem of evil, to the contradictions between the Bible and the scientific worldview, the conflicts between traditional dogma and historical evidence--and much more--Loftus covers a great deal of intellectual terrain. For every issue he succinctly summarizes the various points of view and provides references for further reading. In conclusion, he describes the implications of life without belief in God, some liberating, some sobering.
This frank critique of Christian belief from a former insider will interest freethinkers as well as anyone with doubts about the claims of religion.
"John W. Loftus’ book presents even greater challenges to the religious community than those presented by authors like Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris. The latter authors probably alienate many readers who are unaccustomed to reading anything written by authors who obviously never have had much sympathy with religion. Loftus not only presents logically tight arguments against religious beliefs but also confesses a personal journey from deep religious commitments to rational independence from all religion."
- Dr. Charles Echelbarger; Professor of Philosophy, State University of New York at Oswego
"Of the spate of books coming from the so-called 'New Atheists' that have appeared in the past few years--Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, et al--John W. Loftus’s critique of Christian theism is by far the most sophisticated. Where, say, Dawkins might be found attacking a man of straw, Loftus understands and assesses the arguments of today’s premier Christian apologists and philosophers. Evangelicals cannot afford to ignore Why I Became an Atheist.
- Dr. Mark D. Linville, Christian philosopher and contributor to the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology
"[John’s book] is a thoughtful and intellectually challenging work, presenting arguments that every honest theist and Christian should face."
- Dr. Norman L. Geisler, Christian apologist and author of The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics
"In this fascinating work you will witness the profound processes that led John W. Loftus out of a deep but finally wrong-headed commitment to Christ and the Christian worldview. There is no way the book will not be of great help with your own journey. For years, apologists have thrown down the gauntlet. Now it is being picked up--by their own students!"
- Dr. Robert M. Price, author of The Reason-Driven Life: What Am I Here on Earth For?; The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man; Jesus is Dead; and the Paperback Apocalypse: How the Christian Church Was Left Behind
"With excellent scholarship and thorough detail, Loftus powerfully and systematically dismantles the Christian religion, refuting long held arguments of apologists, laying to waste sacred and traditional beliefs of the faith."
- Joe E. Holman, founder of www.ministerturnsatheist.org, and author of Project Bible Truth: What Your Church Doesn't Want You to Know
"I truly enjoyed this book. Why I Became an Atheist combines a dose of Augustine's Confessions with a cauldron of unremitting rationalism to yield one of the most potent antidotes to Christianity on the market today. If there is such a thing as the New Atheism, then John W. Loftus is one of the standard bearers. Loftus is a former Christian evangelical apologist who became an atheist, and he tells us why in a detail and a depth worthy of the best atheist writers today. It is a well-written, informed, and potent critique of religion and Christianity.
- Dr. Hector Avalos, Biblical scholar and author of The End of Biblical Studies
"There is trend sweeping American culture today on the God question, with commentators on all sides ringing in with their opinions and theories about whether God exists or not, the origins of morality with or without God, and the origins and importance of religion. What is unique about John W. Loftus's book is his perspective: a one time Christian apologist who changed his mind and became an atheist. Here we get both sides of the debate between two covers, an honest and honorable look into the soul of belief and what it means to be a nonbeliever."
- Dr. Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine, and the author of How We Believe:Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God; The Science of Good and Evil; and Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design
"As a former fundamentalist minister who has followed a similar path from apostle to apostate, I empathize completely with the deep struggle Loftus had to make in order to shed his former cherished beliefs. I respect his scholarship, but more than that, I admire his courage. There are many treasures in this book, as well as provocative and controversial arguments, all presented with a crystal-clear and brutal honesty that is rare in religious scholarship. Loftus is a true freethinker, willing to follow the facts wherever they happen to lead."
- Dan Barker, author of Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist
"John W. Loftus is to atheism what Tiger Woods is to golf, or what Babe Ruth was to baseball. Loftus has provided, in this superb and entertaining volume, the crown jewel of the new atheist movement. As much as I admire and enjoy Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and Dennett, Loftus is, far and away, my favorite author on this riveting subject. Loftus' esteemed reputation within the freethought community is indeed richly deserved. But this book exceeded even my highest expectations."
- David Mills, author of Atheist Universe
"Christians routinely dismiss objections advanced by skeptics on the ground that they are outsiders who are not in a position to understand the doctrines they presume to criticize. Nobody can say that about John W. Loftus. As an ex-pastor and Christian apologist, he understands these doctrines from the inside and is able to expose the logical flaws of the arguments offered in support of them--textual, scientific, theological, and philosophical--with luminous clarity and devastating force. His scholarship is impressive, but he also knows how to write in a way that engages the non-scholarly reader. The result is a startlingly honest book that ought to be required reading for every Christian."
- Dr. John Beversluis, author of C.S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion
"Scholarly unbelief is far more sophisticated, far more defensible than any of us would like to believe. John W. Loftus is a scholar and a former Christian who was overwhelmed by that sophistication. His story is a wake up call to the church: it's time for us to start living in, and speaking to, the real world."
- Dr. James F. Sennett, Christian philosopher and author of Modality, Probability, and Rationality: A Critical Examination of Alvin Plantinga's Philosophy
"This is a wonderful book, responding to numerous aspects of the claims of religion. If Christians, who have the courage to explore challenges to their faith, asked me to recommend books, I would definitely include this one on the list. John Loftus’ alternating between his personal odyssey and technical arguments shows the reader how a life's journey, coupled with science and philosophy, can lead to freedom from the shackles of superstitious beliefs."
- Edward Tabash, Chair, First Amendment Task Force, Council for Secular Humanism
"John W. Loftus has written an important book that should be read by every Christian who cares about truth and reality. This is not the angry rant of some disgruntled former believer with an axe to grind. Loftus is thorough, fair and convincing. As a former Christian minister and apologist who became an atheist, he knows both sides of the belief question very well. The insights and detailed information contained in this book make for enlightening reading. The chapter on superstition in the Bible was nothing less than mind-blowing. I highly recommend this book.
- Guy P. Harrison, author of 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God
"Loftus writes with great honesty and candor about his experiences from both sides of the theistic/nontheistic landscape. His chapters on the problem of evil offer a fine overview of the complex historical debate over the obstacle that evil presents to rational theistic belief. His writing is admirable for maintaining conceptual accuracy while engendering accessibility for the non-technical reader. Highly recommended--both as a valuable sourcebook for all involved in religious debate, and as a good read."
- Dr. A.M. Weisberger, nontheistic philosopher and author of Suffering Belief: Evil and the Anglo-American Defense of Theism
"Loftus wrote his book primarily to explain why he ceased to be a believer, but its main value is that it spells out the falsifying evidence that finally cured him and will cure anyone who reads it. Loftus has brought together sufficient evidence of religion’s Achilles’ heel to cause all but the most intransigent believers to ask themselves: Could he be right?"
- Dr. William Harwood, author of Mythology's Last Gods: Yahweh and Jesus
"What is unusual about Loftus is his breadth and depth of research in defense of the Christian faith before finally rejecting his faith. Loftus applies himself in this book with the same intellectual rigor he had applied to defending the faith, and effectively dissects those very same arguments. I found myself marveling at the impressively contorted reasoning used by apologists through the ages in defense of their received traditions. They are worth reading from the standpoint of cognitive psychology alone."
- Dr. Valerie Tarico, author of The Dark Side: How Evangelical Teachings Corrupt Love and Truth
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