Did Jesus ever do anything wrong? Judging by the vast majority of books on New Testament ethics, the answer is a resounding "No." But since the historical Jesus was a human being, must he not have had flaws, like everyone else? According to Avalos, it shows that New Testament ethics is still primarily an apologetic enterprise despite its claim to rest on critical and historical scholarship. The Bad Jesus is a powerful and challenging study, presenting detailed case studies of fundamental ethical principles enunciated or practiced by Jesus, but antithetical to what would be widely deemed "acceptable" or "good" today. Avalos concludes that current treatments of New Testament ethics are permeated by a religiocentric, ethnocentric and imperialistic orientation. But if it is to be a credible historical and critical discipline in modern academia, New Testament ethics needs to discover both a Good and a Bad Jesus.
Basic Elements of the Argument
2. The Unloving Jesus: What's New Is Old
Loving the Enemy in the Ancient Near East
Love Can Entail Violence
The Golden Rule: Love as Tactical
The Parochialism of New Testament Ethics
3. The Hateful Jesus: Luke 14.26
Jesus Commands Hate
Hate as a Motive for Divorce
The Statistics of Hate and Love
The Semantic Logic of Love and Hate
4. The Violent Jesus
Matthew 10.34-37: Jesus' Violent Purpose
Matthew 5.38-42: Don't Victimize Me, Please
Matthew. 26.48-56: Non-Interference with Planned Violence
John 2.15: Whipping up Pacifism
Acts 9: Jesus Assaults Saul
5. The Suicidal Jesus: The Violent Atonement
Jesus as a Willing Sacrificial Victim
Mark 10.45: Self-Sacrifice as a Ransom
Sacrifice as Service: Transformation or Denial?
2 Corinthians 5.18: Anselm Unrefuted
René Girard: Sacrificing Apologetics
6. The Imperialist Jesus: We're All God's Slaves
The Benign Rhetoric of Imperialism
Christ as Emperor
The Kingdom of God as an Empire
7. The Anti-Jewish Jesus: Socio-Rhetorical Criticism as Apologetics
Abuse Me, Please: Luke T. Johnson's Apologetics
When is Anti-Judaism not Anti-Judaism?
When Did Christian Anti-Judaism Begin?
8. The Uneconomic Jesus as Enemy of the Poor
Jesus as Radical Egalitarian
The Fragrance of Poverty
Sermon on the Mount of Debts and Merits
9. The Misogynistic Jesus: Christian Feminism as Male Ancestor Worship
Mark 7//Matthew 15: The Misogynistic Jesus
Mark 10//Matthew 19: Divorcing Equality
The Womanless Twelve Apostles
The Last Supper: Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner
The Egalitarian Golden Age under Jesus
10. The Anti-Disabled Jesus: Less than Fully Human
John 5 and 9: Redeeming Jesus
The Ethics of Punctuation
Paralyzed by Sin
11. The Magically Anti-Medical Jesus
Miracles, Not Magic?
The Naturalistic Jesus
12. The Eco-Hostile Jesus
Mark 5: Animal Rights and Deviled Ham
Luke 22 and Matthew 8: Sacrificing Animal Rights
Matthew 21: Figuratively Speaking
Mark 13: Eschatological Eco-Destruction
13. The Anti-Biblical Jesus: Missed Interpretations
Mel and Jesus: The Hypocrisy of New Testament Ethics
Mark 2:23-28: Jesus as Biblically Illiterate
Matthew 19: Jesus Adds his Own Twist on Divorce
Isaiah 6:9-10: Integrating Extrabiblical Materials
The Ethics of New Testament Ethics
"This is a wonderful book! Unflinching in its courage, 'deep and wide' in its scholarship. The western world is suffering from a huge blind spot--the unquestioned myth that Jesus was all good. Where does that idea come from? I even know atheists who, while denying his divinity, still believe that the Christ was a great moral leader. After reading The Bad Jesus, they won't make that error any more."
- Dan Barker, Former minister and evangelist, Public Relations Director of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, author of Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist.
"The Bad Jesus is a 461 page monster of a book written by the prolific and indefatigable biblical scholar Dr. Hector Avalos. It's unlike any other scholarly book on the market today. It tells us the rest of the story of the Jesus we find in the four gospels, the dark side, the raw side that biblical scholars try to whitewash over because they think Jesus deserves special treatment. Dr. Avalos, a giant of a man, a scholar's scholar, challenges readers to see what Jesus was really like. My guess is that people won't like Jesus after reading his book. I don't."
- John Loftus, M.A. and M.Div. degrees, former minister, adjunct instructor in philosophy at Kellogg Community College, author of The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails, The End of Christianity and Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity.
"Dr. Hector Avalos has done tireless, faultless research into ancient and modern texts to expose Biblical literature as human, not divine. His patience and methodolgy have resulted in a work that should help serious Biblical Studies students and others gain a better understanding of the motives and methods behind the evolution of Christian philosophies and the false underpinning of its ethics. His ability to show how words can be manipulated, when taken at face value as 'factual,' is simply impressive. If this book doesn't change the thought processes for millions of readers, I can only surmise that they deliberately choose ignorance."
- Tom Harvey
All books are written for or against some point of view, and the books of the Bible are no different. Bible book authors were often motivated to write because they wanted to challenge or correct those who had written before them. As Helms explains, The Bible is a war zone, and its authors are the combatants. Paul said of Peter, "I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong" (Gal. 2:11). Helms notes that Jeremiah condemned the entire religious establishment of his time--the very same people that other Bible authors held in highest esteem: "prophets and priests are frauds, every one of them" (Jer. 8:10). Luke felt the need to write another gospel even though many writers had undertaken to draw up an account of the events (Luke 1:1). Luke obviously felt that Mark's gospel was filled with errors and edited it freely. Not even Mark's account of the alleged words of the dying Jesus was left unaltered.
"Randel Helms may be the world's most underrated biblical scholar. This is probably due to a few factors: First, the smoothness and accessibility of his writing; second, the brevity of his books relative to other scholarship; and, third, his primary approach of addressing the bible as literature, and examining it in terms of style, allusion, metaphor, and historical perspective. The Bible Against Itself delves into many of the outstanding contradictions in the bible, and helps explain them by showing how various books in the bible were written in opposition to other books, to dispute them and hopefully supplant them. Helms chronicles a history of literature that came into being as a result of the constant struggle within a people's culture to identify themselves and their god. This struggle was comprised of multiple opposing factions, each passionately dedicated to their points of view and as passionately opposed to the views of the others. The literature that espoused these views form a history of the development of Jewish and Christian laws and philosophy that is less concerned with historical truth than it is with persuading the culture to see things according to the writer's point of view. And this persuasion is generally accomplished through threats of damnation, insults, and other vitriol."
"Read this book. Read about the prophets calling the other prophets blasphemers, the Paulist Christians labeling the Jacobite Christians dogs and sinners, and vice versa, and the apocalyptic authors erring again and again, but continuing to predict anyway (using as their sources the errors of previous apocalyptic theories). You'll love it. It's a great book."
"It isn't a very long book, but there is so much in it I was amazed. Its the single best book I've read on the subject of the Bible. I think that believers need to read this book and think about the documents that make up the basis for their faith and where those documents came from. This book showed me the human side of the texts that make up the Bible, and why so much of the Bible is well, confusing. The author's style is very quick; I'd say, you dive right in without any apologies like in Dennetts Breaking the Spell. I liked that, it got to the meat of the matter and challenges the reader to keep up with the point the author was trying to make. Atheists and Believers should check this one out."
"Ever since I had Dr. Helms as a professor at ASU for the Bible As Literature course I have been fascinated with this subject. Helms had such a firm grasp of his knowledge that I knew his books would be engaging and insightful. This book is no exception as he tackled with ease this heavy subject."
"For the naysayers all I can say is read the book. Helms doesn't make claims without support. His book is heavily referenced so that you yourself could go those sections of the bible and see for yourself. Helms makes a very convincing argument and is so well supported that only the blind would not be able to see the truth behind his scholarship. Although this is perhaps a bit brief and could do well as a much larger book, I would certainly recommend this book to anyone interested."
Can you have guidance without God? This thoughtful, one-of-a-kind guide offers answers to all of your questions about atheism and nonbelief.
Have you ever wondered what religion and belief mean for your life? Maybe you believe in nothing at all. Does that mean you're an atheist? What does atheism even mean? Regardless of the religious background you grew up with, it's natural to question what you believe--or don't believe. Establishing your views about religion and spirituality is part of becoming an individual, but outside pressures can make it tough to know what is right.
What If I'm an Atheist? offers a thoughtful exploration of how atheism or the absence of religion can impact your life. From discussing the practical significance of holidays to offering conversation starters and tips, this guide is an invaluable resource about religion, spirituality, and the lack thereof.
This compassionate, nonjudgmental guide includes peer interviews featuring both religious and atheist teens and provides a safe space to find answers to the questions you may not want to ask out loud, so you can decide what you believe--or don't--for yourself.
"From veteran journalist Seidman comes a straightforward guide for the teen interested in contemplating atheism. A superbly written, smart and sensitive guidebook."
- Kirkus Reviews
"Journalist Seidman offers a guide for teens struggling with unbelief, particularly those who are likely to experience hostility or ambivalence about their change in convictions ... an excellent primer for teens needing guidance in navigating the culturally contentious and personally troublesome waters of religion."
- Publishers Weekly
"Seasoned journalist and prolific writer, Seidman claims to practice "a higher ... service journalism, [offering] information that can help change a life," and he delivers on that promise. With well-reasoned, meticulously researched, articulate, serious and lighthearted content, the book is delightfully teen friendly."
- Cynthia Winfield VOYA
"Thought-provoking, sometimes gut-wrenchingly honest, and chock full of real-world information, this is a book that both nonbelievers and believers will find stimulating and worthy of discussion."
- Anna Jedrziewski Retailing Insight
Perhaps the most persistent question in human history is whether or not there is a God. Intelligent people on both sides of the issue have argued, sometimes with deep rancor and bitterness, for generations. The issue can't be decided by another apologetics book, but the conversation can continue and help each side understand the perspectives of the other.
In this unique book, atheist (and former Christian minister and apologist with degrees in philosophy, theology, and the philosophy of religion) John Loftus, and theist Randal Rauser (associate professor of historical theology at Taylor Seminary) engage in twenty short debates that consider Christianity, the existence of God, and unbelief from a variety of angles. Encouraging honest, open, and candid debate on the most important issues of life and faith, each concise debate centers on a single proposition to be resolved, with either Loftus or Rauser arguing in the affirmative and the opponent the negative.
"This is a fascinating and sometimes humorous intro to twenty common debates between atheists and theists. You'll find countless rambling and confused versions of such debates online. But here you will find a clear, concise, well-written exchange on each. Keeping it short, the authors can't include every point to be made, but they make a good show of where each side stands on these questions and why. If you want to continue these debates further, start with this."
-- Richard Carrier, author of Sense and Goodness without God
"In God or Godless? Randal Rauser and John Loftus provide bite-sized discussions on a variety of topics. The discussions are very readable and provide helpful overviews. This book is an enjoyable and informative read that will challenge you to think about the issues discussed."
-- Michael R. Licona, associate professor of theology, Houston Baptist University; author of Paul Meets Muhammad
"The argument between skeptics and Christians has existed since the beginning of Christianity. Randal Rauser and John Loftus continue that argument with gusto, conciseness, and civility. This book should be the first stop for readers shopping for dueling voices from two of the most articulate advocates for Christianity and atheism." -- Hector Avalos, professor of religious studies, Iowa State University; author of The End of Biblical Studies
"This is not a quarrel, nor one of those flame wars of the deaf that rage across cyberspace then spill angrily into print, nor even that stuffy, artificial creation known as a 'religious dialogue.' What we have here is conversation: at times witty, at times tendentious, often humorous, and almost always engaged on emotional as well as intellectual levels. Rauser is master of parables with a philosophical point; Loftus makes an art form of heart-on-his-sleeve pragmatism. Both land blows, yet the book contains hardly a trace of bitterness. At its best, it reaches the level of a mythical, Platonic debate in a pub. Almost no one will fully agree with either writer, nor fail to enjoy the rhetorical flow."
-- David Marshall, founder of the Kuai Mu Institute for Christianity and World Cultures; author of The Truth Behind the New Atheism
"I have to admit, even as a believer, that Loftus out-argued Rauser in at least 18 out of 20 topics ..."
"Two very different philosophies shine through. Rauser's penchant for imagination and storytelling contrasts John's trust in cold, hard probability. It's classic, almost stereotyped ... great stuff."
-- Dubious Disciple
Written in a respectful and conversational style, this unique book is designed to promote constructive dialogue and foster mutual understanding between Christians and non-Christians. The author, a skeptic and journalist, asks basic questions about Christian belief.
- What is the born-again experience?
- Why would God want to sacrifice his only son for the world?
- Do miracles really happen?
- How reliable is the Bible?
- What is the Rapture?
- Why isn't everyone a Christian?
Each question is with commentary and analysis that is skeptical and tough, but never argumentative or condescending.
Christians will find the book useful as a basis for developing their apologetics, while skeptics will welcome Harrison's probing rational analysis of religious claims.
"The insight here into a skeptic's mind compares to theologian Gregory Boyd's Letters from a Skeptic. Both Christians and skeptics will enjoy this book for different reasons. Recommended for Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens fans as well as fans of apologetics such as Timothy Keller's Reason for God."
-- Library Journal
"A creative, witty, and engaging book ... Although (at least ostensibly) written for Christians, I urge atheists to read 50 Simple Questions. While the questions and answers themselves are entertaining, it is Harrison's approach that is most innovative and important. We skeptics would do well to adopt Harrison's method of encouraging the religious to question their beliefs, since respect, rather than clearly displayed contempt, is far more likely to win hearts and minds."
-- The American Rationalist
Every Christian on the planet should read this book. They will be pleasantly surprised by Harrison's respectful tone and sincere desire to enlighten. Far from an attack or a series of arguments, this book explains, in plain English, why some people are skeptical of Christianity. This book is nothing less than a rare opportunity to close the gap between believers and nonbelievers, and to bring more light and tolerance to the world.
-- Peter Boghossian, Instructor of Philosophy, Portland State University
In 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian, Guy P. Harrison balances respectful, critical analysis of myth, dogma and belief with the informative, fun and accessible style that he is renowned for.
-- Jake Farr-Wharton, author of Letters to Christian Leaders
With persistent, but gentle, words, Harrison injects logic, science and rational thinking into the discussion of Christian religions, asking only for consideration of facts without the emotional reaction of considering all questions as attacks ... well written and well thought-out ... deserves serious consideration by believers and nonbelievers alike.
--Nick Wynne, author of Florida in the Great Depression: Desperation and Defiance
Guy P. Harrison's new book is a sober, thoughtful and engaging series of inquiries for us Christians ... the kind of challenge we should embrace wholeheartedly.
-- Rev. Barry Lynn, author of Piety & Politics and The Right to Religious Liberty
"Carl Sagan taught us that we make life significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers. Harrison offers fifty such questions for Christians to better know their own religion. A thought-provoking, revealing, and friendly book."
-- Cameron M. Smith, author of The Fact of Evolution
"These are some great questions, and those serious about their religion should reasonably ask them at some point."
-- San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review
Deconverted: A Journey from Religion to Reason is a well-written autobiography told with humor and heart by an "average" person. It is the story lived by many thousands of people in America and around the World every day--a story that could very well be your story of doubt and loss of religious faith.
The reader will receive a first hand account of the experience of someone who was raised in a very Christian home by loving, devout, Christian parents in a majority Christian community, in the Bible Belt of Midwestern America and who, as an adult began to question his religious faith.
Those who have doubts regarding their religious faith and religious dogma will find solace in knowing that it is indeed ok to question what you have been instructed to think by your parents, pastors and priests.
The faithful will gain an understanding in simple terms as to why their loved ones and friends can and do quit their faith and turn away from religious dogma.
"'...and then Noah loaded the dinosaurs onto the ark.' Assertions like these seem comical until you realize that many Christian parents aren't kidding when they teach them to their children as facts. Every day, impressionable young minds are conditioned to blindly accept wild biblical tales of floating zoos, talking shrubbery, 900-year-old humans, the undead, curses, levitation, demon/human hybrids and men who obtain superhuman strength from the length of their hair. Allegiance to these teachings is expected, often demanded. Curiosity is muted. Doubt is frowned upon as a sin. And for those who dare to raise a dissenting hand, the threat of Hell looms ominously. A former religious radio host raised in the cradle of Christianity, Seth Andrews battled his own doubts for many years. His attempts to reconcile faith and the facts led him to a conclusion previously unthinkable, and this once-true believer ultimately became the founder of one of the most popular atheist communities on the internet, 'The Thinking Atheist.'"
"Seth, like most atheists I know, did not make his decision lightly. His book tells his readers where his quest for the truth took him. I have followed Seth since his beginning into atheism and found his book to show his, honesty, compassion, courage and wit. I highly recommend this book. I started reading it and couldn't put it down until I finished it."
"One of the very best of the genre of believer-to-atheist books I have read. Seth knows how to tell a story, his story. Genuine, honest, open, kind to believers but never to belief. A privilege to read."
"I finished reading Seth's Deconverted the day I got the book in the mail. I was impressed seeing how long the process was for Seth as he went from televangelist radio host to the host of The Thinking Atheist. I admire Seth being able to move on and not be angry with people who made him the Evangelical he once was. This book is a great eye opener seeing the way the mind can change and how leaving religion inspired Seth to help many others leave their own religious beliefs ... This book is a great read and I suggest it even for the religious folks who are curious about the way nonbelievers view things or for a person struggling with their own faith."
An essential work on historical methods.
Almost all experts agree that the Jesus of the Bible is a composite of myth, legend, and some historical evidence. So what can we know about the real Jesus? For more than one hundred fifty years, scholars have attempted to answer this question. Unfortunately, the "Quest for the Historical Jesus" has produced as many different images of the original Jesus as the scholars who have studied the subject. The result is a confused mass of disparate opinions with no consensus view of what actually happened at the dawn of Christianity.
In this in-depth discussion of New Testament scholarship and the challenges of history as a whole, historian Richard C. Carrier proposes Bayes's theorem as a solution to the problem of establishing reliable historical criteria. He demonstrates that valid historical methodsâ€”not only in the study of Christian origins but in any historical studyâ€”can be described by, and reduced to, the logic of Bayes's theorem. Conversely, he argues that any method that cannot be reduced to Bayes's theorem is invalid and should be abandoned.
Writing with thoroughness and admirable clarity, Carrier explains Bayes's theorem in terms easily understandable to historians and lay people alike, employing nothing more than well-known primary school math. He then explores the theorem's application to history and addresses numerous challenges to and criticisms of this application. Common historical methods are analyzed using the theorem, as well as all the major "historicity criteria" employed in the latest quest for the historical Jesus. The author demonstrates not only their deficiencies but also ways to rehabilitate them.
Anyone with an interest in historical methods, epistemology generally, or the study of the historical Jesus will find Carrier's book to be an essential work.
"Proving History is a brilliant lesson in the proper proportioning of belief to evidence. Even minimal attention to Bayesian probability theory reveals just how much of Jesus scholarship confuses 'possibly true' with 'probably true.' The only miracle Richard Carrier has left to explain is why so few appreciate that extraordinary claims require extraordinary support."
â€” Dr. Malcolm Murray, author of The Atheist's Primer
"Carrier applies his philosophical and historical training to maximum effect in outlining a case for the use of Bayes's Theorem in evaluating biblical claims. Even biblical scholars, who usually are not mathematically inclined, may never look at the 'historical Jesus' the same way again."
â€” Dr. Hector Avalos, Professor of religious studies, Iowa State University, and author of The End of Biblical Studies
"Understanding evolution is the key to determining our planet's future." In this persuasive, elegantly written book, research geneticist Daniel J. Fairbanks argues that understanding evolution has never mattered more in human history. Fairbanks not only uses evidence from archaeology, geography, anatomy, biochemistry, radiometric dating, cell biology, chromosomes, and DNA to establish the inescapable conclusion that we evolved and are still evolving, he also explains in detail how health, food production, and human impact on the environment are dependent on our knowledge of evolution. Evolving is essential reading for gaining a fuller appreciation of who we are, our place in the great expanse of life, and the importance of our actions.
"With so many excellent books on evolution available, it's hard to imagine another one with anything new in it. Fairbanks succeeds with a whole array of original examples that demonstrate not only the truth of evolution, but also its impact on human life and society."
— Victor J. Stenger, New York Times bestselling author of God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion
"This book provides a compact overview of the results of many lines of research, especially in genetics, which continue to deepen our knowledge of evolution. Anyone who wonders about the practical value and importance of understanding the processes of evolution will benefit from reading it."
— Eric Meikle, National Center for Science Education
"This is an important book. Fairbanks presents an overwhelming case for the correctness of evolutionary theory. It is engagingly written, with many personal glimpses, and the technical material is clearly presented and understandable. Evolving should be essential reading for anyone who wishes to be an informed citizen."
— Allan Franklin, Professor of physics, University of Colorado, and coauthor of Ending the Mendel-Fisher Controversy
A novel critique that undermines Christianity and theism at their foundations.
Hundreds of millions of people believe that Jesus came back from the dead. Philosopher Matthew S. McCormick presents a decidedly unpopular view in this cogent, forcefully argued book—namely, that the central tenet of Christianity, the resurrection of Jesus, is false. McCormick asks a number of probing questions:
Is the evidence about Jesus as it has been relayed to us over the centuries of sufficient quantity and quality to justify belief in the resurrection? How can we accept the resurrection but reject magic at the Salem witch trials? What light does contemporary research about human rationality from the fields of behavioral economics, empirical psychology, cognitive science, and philosophy shed on the resurrection and religious belief? Can we use contemporary research about the reliability of people's beliefs in the supernatural, miracles, and the paranormal to shed light on the origins of Christianity and other religions? Does it make sense that the all-powerful creator of the universe would employ miracles to achieve his ends? Can a Christian believe by faith alone and yet reasonably deny the supernatural claims of other religions? Do the arguments against Christianity support atheism?
By carefully answering each of these questions, Atheism and the Case against Christ undermines Christianity and theism at their foundations; it gives us a powerful model for better critical reasoning; and it builds a compelling case for atheism. Without stooping to condescension or arrogance, McCormick offers persuasive arguments that are accessible, thoughtful, and new.
"A fascinating and well-crafted collection of arguments against the resurrection of Jesus and, more broadly, against the existence of God."
— Ricki Monnier, coeditor of The Improbability of God and The Impossibility of God
"McCormick's treatment of the psychological and epistemological aspects of the Christian outlook is the best I have ever seen."
— Theodore M. Drange, professor emeritus, West Virginia University
"An extremely good book. Without any technical flourishes, it makes the case against the Jesus story so compellingly that I cannot imagine anyone who takes the trouble to read it carefully and without prejudice being other than completely convinced."
— Colin Howson, professor of philosophy, University of Toronto
"Who should read this book? Theists, atheists, Christians, non-Christians, and those whose lives are affected by these overlapping groups—in short, everyone. It contains bold arguments ... [and is] plain speaking, fast moving, wide ranging, and hard hitting."
— Russell DiSilvestro, assistant professor of philosophy, California State University-Sacramento
"In my judgment Matt McCormick's book is one of the best—if not the best—critique of the core of Christianity ever written. It is clear, comprehensive, cogent, and current. McCormick writes in a clear, straightforward manner and at the same time covers all the important points comprehensively."
— Michael Martin, philosopher of religion, University of Boston, author of Atheism: A Philosophical Justification and editor of The Cambridge Companion to Atheism.
"Finally, a first-rate philosopher weighs in and utterly demolishes any hope reasonable people have for believing Jesus was resurrected from the grave. Masterfully, he goes on to argue why atheism follows 'from the ground up' based on cognitive bias studies, religious diversity, the lack of compelling evidence, divine hiddenness, the problem of miracles, and the failure of faith. No other book presents a better case. Nothing more needs to be said."
— John W. Loftus, author of Why I Became an Atheist
"McCormick makes a fascinating and convincing case for generalized atheism."
— Raymond D. Bradley, professor of philosophy emeritus, Simon Fraser University
"This book very convincingly shows that most Christians are not justified in accepting the central doctrines of Christianity. . . . [It] should be read by anyone with an interest in the philosophy and history of religion."
— Eric Sotnak, associate professor of philosophy, the University of Akron
Christ's Ventriloquists is a work of investigative history. It documents and describes Christianity's creation-event, in the year 49 or 50, in Antioch (present-day Antakya, Turkey), 20 years after Jesus had been crucified in Jerusalem for sedition against Roman rule. On this occasion, Paul broke away from the Jewish sect that Jesus had begun, and he took with him the majority of this sect's members; he convinced these people that Jesus had been a god, and that the way to win eternal salvation in heaven is to worship him as such. Paul here explicitly introduced, for the first time anywhere, the duality of the previously unitary Jewish God, a duality consisting of the Father and the Son; and he implicitly introduced also the third element of the Trinity, the Holy Ghost.
This work also explains and documents the tortuous 14-year-long conflict Paul had had with this sect's leader, Jesus's brother James, a conflict which caused Paul, in about the year 50, to perpetrate his coup d'état against James, and to start his own new religion: Christianity.
This historical probe documents that the four canonical Gospel accounts of the words and actions of "Jesus" were written decades after Jesus, by followers of Paul, not by followers of Jesus; and that these writings placed into the mouth of "Jesus" the agenda of Paul. Paul thus effectively became, via his followers, Christ's ventriloquist.
The author explains: "What I am doing in this work is to reconstruct from the New Testament the crucial events that produced it, without assuming whether what the NT says in any given passage is necessarily true or even honest. Instead of treating the NT as a work that 'reports history,' the NT is treated as a work whose history is itself being investigated and reported."
"My skeptical ear detects a very distinct ring of plausibility in this gripping tale ... provocatively interesting ... and forcefully written."
— Richard Dawkins, Oxford University, and author of bestsellers The Selfish Gene, and The God Delusion
— Bruce Chilton, author of Rabbi Jesus, and Director of the Institute for Advanced Theology at Bard College
"Great writing; great forensic investigation."
— David Davis, participant in the Jesus Seminar's discussion group
"This book is an absolute must-read for anyone investigating the origins of Christianity ... insightful, well-written, and powerfully informative."
— Joe E. Holman, author of Project Bible Truth
"Presents a side of Paul that the general reader of the Bible, or even the scholars, miss."
— Oswald Schrag, Emeritus Professor of Religion at Fisk University, Fellow of the Jesus Seminar, and member of the Westar Institute
"It works for explaining Christian origins ... Paul has to do away with [Judaism's demand for] circumcision. That is so unambiguous."
— James Crossley, Sheffield University Professor of Biblical Studies, and author of Why Christianity Happened
"It is surprising to me that this view of Paul has not been previously written ... I love your boldness."
— Reverend Steven Michael Smith, Colona United Methodist Church, and a participant in the Jesus Seminar's discussion group
"An open-minded reader/juror will come to the conclusion that [Paul] is guilty of inventing a new religion, illegitimately appropriating Jesus."
— Abe Van Luik, Ph.D., former Christian fundamentalist
Magic takes many forms. Supernatural magic is what our ancestors used in order to explain the world before they developed the scientific method. The ancient Egyptians explained the night by suggesting the goddess Nut swallowed the sun. The Vikings believed a rainbow was the gods' bridge to earth. The Japanese used to explain earthquakes by conjuring a gigantic catfish that carried the world on its back—earthquakes occurred each time it flipped its tail. These are magical, extraordinary tales. But there is another kind of magic, and it lies in the exhilaration of discovering the real answers to these questions. It is the magic of reality—science.
Packed with clever thought experiments, dazzling illustrations and jaw-dropping facts, The Magic of Reality explains a stunningly wide range of natural phenomena. What is stuff made of? How old is the universe? Why do the continents look like disconnected pieces of a puzzle? What causes tsunamis? Why are there so many kinds of plants and animals? Who was the first man, or woman? This is a page-turning, graphic detective story that not only mines all the sciences for its clues but primes the reader to think like a scientist as well.
Richard Dawkins, the world's most famous evolutionary biologist and one of science education's most passionate advocates, has spent his career elucidating the wonders of science for adult readers. But now, in a dramatic departure, he has teamed up with acclaimed artist Dave McKean and used his unrivaled explanatory powers to share the magic of science with readers of all ages. This is a treasure trove for anyone who has ever wondered how the world works. Dawkins and McKean have created an illustrated guide to the secrets of our world—and the universe beyond—that will entertain and inform for years to come.
"Exhilarating. The clearest and most beautifully written introduction to science I've ever read. Again and again I found myself saying 'Oh! So that's how genes work! (or stars, or tectonic plates, or all the other things he explains).' Explanations I thought I knew were clarified; things I never understood were made clear for the first time. My favorite adjective of praise has always been 'clear,' and this book has clarity all the way through."
— Philip Pullman, author of The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ and the His Dark Materials Trilogy
"I am often asked to recommend good books on science for young people. From now on, I will not have to hesitate. The Magic of Reality provides a beautiful, accessible and wide ranging volume that addresses the questions that all of us have about the universe, separating often too-little known facts from too-frequently believed fictions. For this reason it should be a powerful resource for people of all ages, written with the masterful and eloquently literate style of perhaps the best popular expositor of science, Richard Dawkins, and delightfully illustrated by Dave McKean. What more could anyone ask for?"
— Lawrence Krauss is Foundation Professor and Director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University and the author most recently of Quantum Man and A Universe from Nothing
"I wanted to write this book but I wasn't clever enough. Now I've read it, I am"
— Ricky Gervais
"The questions have always been with us: Where did we come from? How did life begin? What makes earthquakes happen? Are we alone in the universe? Do we have a unique mission? As a scientist and science writer, Richard Dawkins approaches these questions with no less wonder than the most zealot believer or exalted mystic. 'I want to show you,' he writes, 'that the real world, as understood scientifically, has magic of its own—the kind I call poetic magic: an inspiring beauty which is all the more magical because it is real and because we can understand how it works.' An absorbing work enhanced by the imaginative paintings of award-winning artist Dave McKean."
— Barnes and Noble
"In this outstanding 'graphic science book,' evolutionary biologist Dawkins (The Selfish Gene) teams up with illustrator Dave McKean (The Graveyard Book) to examine questions in everyday science, such as: why seasons occur; what things are made of; and whether there's life on other planets. They explain the answers from mythological and cultural points of view before diving into the chemistry, biology, and physics—all in language that advanced middle school, or most high school, students can absorb. Rather than oversimplifying things, Dawkins's explanations demonstrate that life on earth is magical enough without tricks of the eye or supernatural theories. Appearing on every page, McKean's illustrations cover the gamut from prehistoric creatures along the evolutionary chain to a sequence showing how the immune system defends the body from a flu virus. This book may be exactly what's needed to increase science literacy for readers of all ages."
— Publishers Weekly
The Fifth-Century Political Battles That Forever Changed the Church.
In this fascinating account of the surprisingly violent fifth-century church, Jenkins describes in bloody detail the battles over "right belief" that had a far greater impact on the future of Christianity than the much-touted Council of Nicea convened by Constantine a century earlier. Jenkins argues that were it not for these controversies the papacy as we know it would never have come into existence and today's church could be teaching something very different about Jesus.
"Are you hungry for a rip-roaring tale of theological intrigue filled with conspiracies, Byzantine plots, murder, and mayhem? Or are you longing for a solid, informative, and accurate history of the development of Christian orthodoxy? If your answer is yes to both, Philip Jenkins' Jesus Wars ... is your book."
— Christianity Today
"In showing general readers how he finds fresh ideas and the resurrections of past teachings invigorating to religious studies, Jenkins provides an accessible book ... [which] enlightens readers on the backstory to current Christian divisions."
— Library Journal
"Jenkins ... has done a remarkable job of documenting this little-understood slice of history. There's lots of excitement and plenty of intrigue, and Jenkins does a fine job in his recitation of this strange story."
— Publishers Weekly
"Jenkins condenses centuries of church and imperial strife with admirable clarity."
"Jenkins manages to explain very clearly why people in the early Christian era were so passionately concerned with issues of high theology."
— The Economist
Lee Strobel arguably is now the leading apologist in America for evangelical, fundamentalist, benighted forms of Christianity. Although not an authority himself in any of the fields in which he defends his faith, he has produced a series of best-selling The Case For... books in which he consults alleged experts to obtain "evidence" and problematic information with which to prop up dubious beliefs he has adopted. He does not appear to have done any competent investigation on his own or consulted any genuine authorities on the relevant subjects. It is fair to say that all of Strobel's books are long exercises in applying the fallacy of informal logic known as "The appeal to authority." Originally published in 1998, The Case For Christ "has now bamboozled and hornswoggled the better part of a generation of Americans. Something needed to be done!"
Professor, author, and New Testament scholar Robert M. Price—one of America's leading authorities on the Bible—has taken umbrage at the cavalier manner in which Christian apologist Lee Strobel has misrepresented the field of Bible scholarship in his book The Case for Christ. Because Strobel has drawn upon the best known and prolific apologists alive today and brought their arguments together for easy reading, Dr. Price has used the opportunity to wipe out the entire field of apologetics in the course of refuting Lee Strobel. With penetrating humor, Price has created a book that can be used as a handbook by anyone who is troubled by the claims and importuning of Christian apologists.
"I would like it if my book could wind up in the hands of anyone who has read Strobel's The Case for Christ! I just hate to see so many truth-hungry, well-intentioned people swindled by phony scholarship no better, really, than the drivel in The Da Vinci Code. Actually, it hardly matters whether one has read Strobel, since he is simply passing on material by numerous conservative Christian apologists. I would love it if apologists and their fans read my book and were prompted to reexamine the issues."
— Robert M. Price
"This book incinerates Lee Strobel's book along with the evangelical apologists he interviews, including Craig L. Blomberg, Gregory Boyd, Ben Witherington III, D.A. Carson, William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas, J.P. Moreland, and others." Bob is preaching to the choir for the most part, or at least people willing to learn. But what a wonderful sermon it is! It'll make you laugh as well as think, which is what a good sermon ought to do. Too bad these apologists can only make us laugh—at themselves. Price makes the case against Strobel's case in such a convincing manner that these apologists must be willfully ignorant."
— John W. Loftus, Th.M.
"The Case Against The Case for Christ by Dr. Robert M. Price ... is nothing short of an intellectual breath of fresh air."
— David Beason, Alexandria Atheism Examiner
"A nice point-by-point refutation of born-againer nonsense, focusing on the writing of Lee Strobel."
Drawing on the findings of modern physics and cosmology, numerous authors have argued that it would have taken only slight changes to some of the universe's physical parameters to make life, as we know it, extremely unlikely or even impossible. But does the seemingly "fine-tuned" nature of the universe also suggest that there must be a creator god who intentionally calibrated the initial conditions of the universe to assure that life on Earth and the evolution of humanity would inevitably emerge? Some influential scientists, such as National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, think so. Others go even further, asserting that science "has found God."
In his in-depth and highly accessible discussion of this fascinating and controversial topic, physicist Victor J. Stenger looks at the same body of evidence and comes to the opposite conclusion. He states at the outset that as a physicist who is dedicated to the scientific method he will go wherever the evidence takes him, even if it leads him to God. But after many years of research in particle physics and cosmology and careful thought about their implications, he finds that the observations of science and our naked senses not only show no evidence for God, they provide evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that God does not exist.
Dr. Stenger argues that many of the claims made by theists are based on misunderstandings of the science. He looks at the specific parameters that brought about our universe and the life forms that inhabit Earth and shows that plausible reasons can be found within the existing standard models of physics and cosmology for the observations of science and the conclusions it has reached about our origins. These models are introduced in detail so that readers will gain the background needed to understand the role of the cosmic components that theists claim to be fine-tuned and to judge the veracity of the arguments on both sides of the issue.
He also sheds much-needed light on related topics such as whether or not the universe had a beginning and what quantum mechanics implies about the involvement of human consciousness in affecting reality.
Although Dr. Stenger has touched on the subject of fine-tuning in other books, this is his most thorough exploration of the topic, one that continues to intrigue scientists and the lay public alike.
It is often said, even by critical scholars who should know better, that "writing in the name of another" was widely accepted in antiquity. But New York Times bestselling author Bart D. Ehrman dares to call it what it was: literary forgery, a practice that was as scandalous then as it is today. In Forged, Ehrman's fresh and original research takes readers back to the ancient world, where forgeries were used as weapons by unknown authors to fend off attacks to their faith and establish their church. So, if many of the books in the Bible were not in fact written by Jesus's inner circle—but by writers living decades later, with differing agendas in rival communities—what does that do to the authority of Scripture?
Bart D. Ehrman, the New York Times bestselling author of Jesus, Interrupted and God's Problem reveals which books in the Bible's New Testament were not passed down by Jesus's disciples, but were instead forged by other hands—and why this centuries-hidden scandal is far more significant than many scholars are willing to admit. A controversial work of historical reporting in the tradition of Elaine Pagels, Marcus Borg, and John Dominic Crossan, Ehrman's Forged delivers a stunning explication of one of the most substantial—yet least discussed—problems confronting the world of biblical scholarship.
Ehrman's fascinating story of fraud and deceit is essential reading for anyone interested in the truth about the Bible and the dubious origins of Christianity's sacred texts.
The evocative title tells it all and hints at the tone of sensationalism that pervades this book. Those familiar with the earlier work of Ehrman, a distinguished professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and author of more than 20 books including Misquoting Jesus, will not be surprised at the content of this one. Written in a manner accessible to nonspecialists, Ehrman argues that many books of the New Testament are not simply written by people other than the ones to whom they are attributed, but that they are deliberate forgeries. The word itself connotes scandal and crime, and it appears on nearly every page. Indeed, this book takes on an idea widely accepted by biblical scholars: that writing in someone else's name was common practice and perfectly okay in ancient times. Ehrman argues that it was not even then considered acceptable—hence, a forgery. While many readers may wish for more evidence of the charge, Ehrman's introduction to the arguments and debates among different religious communities during the first few centuries and among the early Christians themselves, though not the book's main point, is especially valuable.
— Publisher's Weekly
So what is the book about? It is about forgery in early Christianity, with primary (but not exclusive) interest in the New Testament. The most distinctive component is summed up well by the book's title: Ehrman argues throughout that the attempt to sugar-coat pseudepigraphy as something acceptable, non-deceptive—in short, something other than forgery—is problematic. As Ehrman himself puts it, "The Bible ... contains what almost anyone today would call lies. That is what this book is about" (p.5). The irony that Christianity historically presents itself as being focused on and offering "the Truth" is highlighted throughout.
— Dr. James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis.
According to leading biblical scholar Bart Ehrman, many of his contemporaries have it wrong when it comes to the Bible. Instead of calling biblical forgeries what they are—lies—they often fall back on safer scholarly terms, stopping just short of the word "forgery." Ehrman, however, is not afraid of breaking rank with his fellow scholars and speaking the truth. In his new book, Forged: Writing in the name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (HarperOne; April 2011), the New York Times bestselling author debunks many popular myths about the Bible's forged books and letters, including the idea that "writing in the name of another" was a common, accepted practice in antiquity. According to Ehrman, forgery was just as disgraceful then as it is today.
"Ehrman's career is testament to the fact that no one can slice and dice a belief system more surgically than someone who grew up inside it ... There's something delicious (for nonbelievers, anyway) about the implacable, dispassionate way that Ehrman reveals how the supposedly 'divine truth' of Christianity was historically constructed."
"Ehrman's clarity is something to emulate."
— Lisa Miller, Newsweek
This book reveals how, for well over a millennium, across three continents—Asia, Africa, and Europe—non-Muslims who were vanquished by jihad wars, became forced tributaries (called dhimmi in Arabic), in lieu of being slain. Under the dhimmi religious caste system, non-Muslims were subjected to legal and financial oppression, as well as social isolation. Extensive primary and secondary source materials, many translated here for the first time into English, are presented, making clear that jihad conquests were brutal, imperialist advances, which spurred waves of Muslims to expropriate a vast expanse of lands and subdue millions of indigenous peoples. Finally, the book examines how jihad war, as a permanent and uniquely Islamic institution, ultimately regulates the relations of Muslims with non-Muslims to this day. Scholars, educators, and interested lay readers will find this collection an invaluable resource.
"[P]rovides a comprehensive history of jihad."
— Middle East Journal
"Bostom's book amply documents the systematic and destructive character of Islamic jihad, refuting the much-repeated argument that jihad is a "rich" concept that has many meanings and that jihad first of all signifies "inner struggle." Jihad is first of all war, bloodshed, subjugation, and expansion of the faith by violence. The book implicitly devastates the fashionable but uninformed opinion that all religions are elaborations of the Golden Rule. Jihad is everything the Golden Rule is not."
— Dr. Johannes J.G. Jansen, author of The Neglected Duty: The Creed of Sadat's Assassins and Islamic Resurgence in the Middle East, and The Dual Nature of Islamic Fundamentalism.
"[A]n impressive compendium that meticulously documents the terror that is jihad ... an unparalleled documentary history of nearly fourteen centuries of jihad, and of the non-Muslims who have been subjugated as a result of that relentless campaign. His account is a sober warning of the mortal challenge posed to free societies by the ongoing jihad of the militants."
— National Review
"Bostom's 759-page volume ... could be called 'Everything Westerners Need to Know about Jihad—But are Afraid to Ask.' Often letting the jihadists' ferocious words speak for themselves, the book chronicles thirteen centuries' worth of Islamic attempts to conquer and slaughter non-Muslims. The scholarly articles and original documents—some published in English for the first time —debunk the popular ahistorical, superficial explanations for the current Islamicist terror wave ... [an] invaluable volume."
— Canadian Jewish News
The existence of God is a subject that has occupied individual thinkers and entire schools of philosophy for thousands of years, and it remains one of the greatest debates of our day. In The God Debates: A 21st Century Guide for Atheists and Believers, John Shook, Director of Education and Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Inquiry, and a self-professed "fair and open-minded skeptic," explains prominent arguments about God's existence in a nontechnical manner and justly analyzes the chances of their success. Shook challenges believers and nonbelievers alike to engage in an informed dialogue about the existence of God.
All major traditional and contemporary arguments for God are included in the following sections:
Debating Religion (a guide to terminology and debating)
Five Types of Theologies (an introduction to the ways of arguing for God)
Theology From The Scripture (can we trust its accounts of Jesus?)
Theology From The World (should we supplement science with God hypotheses?)
Theology Beyond The World (does cosmology need supernaturalism to explain the universe?)
Theology In The Know (grounding religious knowledge on certain first principles)
Theology Into The Myst (letting religious experiences of the divine lead the way)
The final section on Faith and Reason compares today's worldviews struggling to reconcile rationality and fidelity.
This book is aimed at people who want to know what is going on with all the God debating, people who want to learn the arguments, and their pros and cons, as efficiently as possible without encountering too much technical philosophy or theology.
"The God Debates is a clear, accessible, up-to-date account of philosophical wrangles about the existence of God. Shook reorganizes the arguments in an interesting way ... [and] takes on more-esoteric arguments such as the claim that we must presuppose the existence of God if we are to engage in reasoning and scientific inquiry. In all, this is a lucid, concise, up-to-date, yet comprehensive account of intellectual debates about the existence of God. It is easy enough to be used by senior high school students, and could certainly be useful in undergraduate courses in philosophy of religion."
-- Metamagician and the Hellfire Club, October 2010)
"If you've been puzzled by the complexity of the recent debates for and against God, this is the place to start. Shook lays out the questions, controversies, and schools of thought with amazing clarity, gradually building his case for a 'staunchly naturalistic yet faithfully ethical humanism' ... Clear and blunt, with a light touch of irony."
-- Philip Clayton, author of In Quest of Freedom and the Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science
"Knowing for sure is not necessarily a virtue. By mapping scriptural, intellectual, and mystical theologies as well as naturalistic ethical worldviews, John Shook helps us to understand the rich range of human ideas and arguments, and hence ourselves and our neighbors. Shook invites us all to become winners when he writes in the preface 'real winners are those who think about the questions, reflect on proposed answers, and come up with new questions.' A most interesting and valuable book."
-- Willem B. Drees, professor of philosophy of religion, Leiden University; editor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science; author of Religion and Science in Context: A Guide to the Debates
"The Center for Inquiry's John Shook, author of The God Debates, will discuss effective ways for nonbelievers to engage believers over that very question: 'Does a god exist?' Maybe it's not the old, familiar arguments themselves, but new strategies and tactics that make the atheist message get heard and produce results."
-- Science in the City, February 2011
This book considers the historical veracity of Jesus' resurrection with special emphasis on the rise of the earliest known Christian beliefs and traditions: Jesus died for our sins, was raised on the third day, and appeared to many people (1 Corinthians 15:3-7).
Chapter 1: The Discovery of an Empty Tomb, Fact or Fiction?
Chapter 2: An Obscure Burial
Chapter 3: The Belief Jesus Died for Our Sins and Was Raised
Chapter 4: The Appearance Traditions
Chapter 5: Raised on the Third Day
Chapter 6: A Short Summary of the Hypothesis
Chapter 7: A Comparison to the Resurrection Hypothesis
Chapter 8: Conclusion and Meaning.
Appendix: Myth Growth Rates and the Gospels
"Rare is it when a lay author puts in the effort of wide research, gathers the references to every point together, interacts with the leading disputes, and offers something soundly argued that hadn't been so well argued before. Komarnitsky does all of that and presents a surprisingly excellent demonstration of how belief in the resurrection of Jesus could plausibly have originated by natural means. Though I don't always agree with him, and some issues could be discussed at greater length, everything he argues is plausible, and his treatise as a whole is a must for anyone interested in the resurrection."
— Richard Carrier, Ph.D. Ancient History
"If you liked my book Beyond Born Again, you're going to love this one by Kris Komarnitsky! He shows great acuity of judgment and clear-eyed perception of the issues. He does not claim to have proof of what happened at Christian origins, but he does present a powerfully plausible hypothesis for what might have happened, which is all you need to refute the fundamentalist claim that things can only have gone down their way. By now it is a mantra—it is also nonsense, and Kris shows that for a fact."
— Robert M. Price, Ph.D. Theology, Ph.D. New Testament
"Komarnitsky is addressing an important topic in a considered and rational way. This book offers the open-minded reader an opportunity to work through some of the key questions surrounding the Easter mystery that lies at the heart of Christian faith."
— Gregory C. Jenks, Ph.D. FaithFutures Foundation
"Clearly written and well argued, Doubting Jesus' Resurrection lays out a plausible and intriguing case for a non-supernatural explanation of the New Testament resurrection accounts. Don't be put off by the fact that Komarnitsky is not a scholar—his book makes a solid contribution to the historical-critical understanding of these immensely important texts. This book deserves serious attention from scholars and all those interested in Christian Origins."
— Robert J. Miller, Professor of Religious Studies, Juniata College
"Proving the exception, this book shows that if a layman takes the time to investigate a topic, including learning how the relevant disciplinary tools are applied and familiarizes themselves with what experts have already written on a subject, they can draw balanced and even insightful conclusions that enhance the conversation. Those interested in a plausible natural explanation for the birth of Christianity will want to seriously consider this book."
— James F. McGrath, Associate Professor of Religion and Clarence L. Goodwin Chair of New Testament Language and Literature, Butler University
"In this book Komarnitsky provides a compelling and convincing account of how the early Christians came to believe in Jesus' resurrection. Building on my own research and documentation of a modern-day Jewish movement that rationalised their dead Messiah would resurrect from the dead, Komarnitsky argues clearly and concisely that the same basic cognitive process could have given birth to the Christian resurrection belief two thousand years ago. This book contains a wealth of biblical and social scholarship, and it is an important contribution to the study of early Christianity."
-- Professor Simon Dein, Social Anthropologist, Durham University, Author of Lubavitcher Messianism (2012)
"As Kris Komarnitsky notes in his book, I am on record with an explanation of the belief in Jesus' resurrection that is essentially identical with his own. The difference is that I merely proffered this explanation, while he provides a full, vigorous, and nuanced argument for it. Not surprisingly, I am persuaded."
-- David Berger, Ruth and I. Lewis Gordon Professor of Jewish History and Dean, Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, Yeshiva University
In his bestselling book, The Language of God, Francis Collin--the scientist who led the National Institutes of Health's Human Genome Project--attempted to harmonize the findings of scientific research with Christian belief. In this response to Collins's work, fellow geneticist George C. Cunningham presents a point-by-point rebuttal of The Language of God, arguing that there is no scientifically acceptable evidence to support belief in a personal God and much evidence that discredits it.
Written with admirable clarity for the nonscientist, Decoding the Language of God covers much of the same ground addressed by Collins in his book:
• Do moral behavior, altruism, and similar moral standards across cultures indicate that humans are somehow in touch with a divine lawgiver, as Collins argues? Cunningham cites data from behavioral genetics that suggest a purely naturalistic explanation for morality.
• The existence of evil, both natural and human-caused, has always been a major stumbling block for religious apologists. Cunningham points out how Collins fails to adequately address this issue and the difficulty of reconciling belief in a good God with the existence of evil.
• Collins refers to the origin of the universe and anthropic coincidences as evidence of God as creator of all of reality. By contrast, Cunningham notes that there are naturalistic interpretations for the big bang and the fine-tuning of the universe, which adequately explain this evidence.
Cunningham also devotes chapters to the unreliability of the Bible as a basis for belief; the conflict between naturalistic explanations of reality, which are anchored in scientific research, and supernatural interpretations, which are not; and the many difficulties in conceptualizing the origins of the universe in terms of a personal God.
Unlike recent hostile attacks on religious belief, Cunningham's respectful, well-reasoned discussion will appeal to open-minded people across the whole spectrum of belief and unbelief.
"This is a wonderful book--sound, elegant, and readable. If you are looking for a common-sense explanation for matters generally taken on faith, this is it."
-- Barbara Oakley, author of Evil Genes
"The Language of God by Francis Collins is a good example of how a minority of scientists compartmentalize their thinking and blinker themselves to the contradictions between their faith and their science. This timely and complete analysis lays bare the many weaknesses in Collins' thinking and the paucity of his knowledge of theology, philosophy, and any science outside of his own narrow speciality."
-- Victor J. Stenger, author of the NY Times bestseller God: The Failed Hypothesis
"I have to admit that at some points while reading this book, I felt so much sympathy for Collins that I didn't want to read on. Cunningham absolutely eviscerates him."
-- Author of Kaleidoscope
50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists presents a collection of original essays drawn from an international group of prominent voices in the fields of academia, science, literature, media and politics who offer carefully considered statements of why they are atheists.
• Features a truly international cast of contributors, ranging from public intellectuals such as Peter Singer, Susan Blackmore, and A.C. Grayling; novelists, such as Joe Haldeman; and heavyweight philosophers of religion, including Graham Oppy and Michael Tooley.
• Contributions range from rigorous philosophical arguments to highly personalâ€”even whimsicalâ€”accounts of how each of these notable thinkers have come to reject religion in their lives.
• Likely to have broad appeal given the current public fascination with religious issues and the reception of such books as The God Delusion and The End of Faith.
"In their excellent collection of essays exploring and defending the philosophical stance of atheism, Russell Blackford and Udo Schuklenk had an inclusive vision. Contributors to the book range from those with science-fiction backgrounds to modern-day philosophy."
-- Kirkus Reviews, October 2009
"By turns witty, serious, engaging and information, it is always human and deeply honest, and immensely rewarding to read."
-- Times Higher Education Supplement, December 2009
"The contemporary relevance,and timeliness of this book is unsurpassed. It is ... an account of various well known nonbelievers [and] personal viewpoints, directed at a popular audience. Very approachable at all levels, containing a wide range of stories, anecdotes and personal statements about why each of the authors considers themselves to be a non believer. Overall, this book is well suited for a mainstream audience interested in questioning the power that religion holds over our lives. It [also] has good references ... which will also serve to guide the reader if further information is wanted. Thus, I recommend this book to anyone (regardless of their views concerning religion) interested in understanding why different people hold certain views concerning religion."
-- Metapsychology, April 2010
"For many who have spent some time involved in any form of engagement in these matters, the names should appear familiar: from the great AC Grayling to the revolutionary Maryam Namazie. Finally, in one book we can hear their storiesâ€”if not about themselves, then about the aspects of religion or lack thereof they find most important. If all these contributors were speakers at a convention, it would be sold out many times over."
-- Butterflies and Wheels Blog, October 2009
"I am strongly recommending it as a present for anyone who has an interest in atheism/theism from either side of the debate. It's just a great read, from great authors."
-- Stephen Law Blogspot, October 2009
"It's a very good book, and I recommend it for all of us godless onesâ€”or those who are considering abjuring the divine. It's far more than just a collection of stories about 'How I came to give up God.' Many of the writers describe the philosophical and empirical considerations that led them to atheism. Indeed, the book can be considered a kind of philosophical handbook for atheists."
-- Why Evolution is True Blog, October 2009
"Wow! A book about atheism and it's not written by Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett or Harris! So this book is welcome partly because it helps break that knee-jerk reaction. But it's also welcome because many of its contributors advance interesting ideas. There's plenty to choose from. And one advantage of a collection like this is that you can dip into it wherever you want. There is something for everyone. And there is the opportunity to discover new ideas."
-- Open Parachute Blog, October 2009
"In more than 50 brief statements organized by Blackford and philosopher Schuklenk ... contributors share viewsâ€”their routes toward nonbelief and their feelings about the place of religion in the world ... including James (the Amazing) Randi, a well-known magician and debunker of spurious psychic phenomena. Considering the popularity of Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion, Christopher Hitchens's God Is Not Great, and Sam Harris's The End of Faith, [these] memoirs and observations will be of interest to disbelievers."
-- Library Journal, October 2009
In this anthology of recent criticisms aimed at the reasonableness of Christian belief, former evangelical minister and apologist John W. Loftus, author of the critically acclaimed Why I Became an Atheist, has assembled fifteen outstanding articles by leading skeptics, expanding on themes introduced in his first book.
Central is a defense of Loftus' "outsider's test of faith," arguing that believers should test their faith as if they were outsiders with the same skeptical standards they use to evaluate the other faiths they reject. Experts in medicine, psychology, and anthropology join Loftus to show in four chapters why, when this test is applied to Christianity, it becomes very difficult to rationally defend.
Three chapters follow that demonstrate errors and superstitions throughout the Bible, making any claim of the Bible being God's word nearly impossible to sustain. Two chapters expose the immorality of the biblical God, with an innovative argument from animal suffering and a cogent reply to Christians who attempt to defend the depravity of the Bible's God. Three chapters then focus on why it is unreasonable to believe that Jesus is the risen son of God.
Finally, three popular Christian claims are dispatched. The contributors show why Christianity does not provide the basis for morality, why atheism was not the reason Hitler murdered so many, and why Christianity was not responsible for modern science. Collectively, these articles reveal that popular Christian beliefs tend to rely on ignorance of the facts.
Drawing together experts in diverse fields, including Hector Avalos, Richard Carrier, David Eller, and Robert Price, The Christian Delusion deals a powerful blow against Christian faith.
"I'm quoted in this book as saying that treating the arguments of others fairly is simply an application of the Golden Rule. Christians regularly ask atheists to listen to their arguments and read their books. If a Christian wishes to return the favor, this volume offers atheist views on a range of subjects, presented respectfully (for the most part) yet with conviction. Christians who wish to critically examine and reflect on their beliefs will benefit from the outsider perspectives offered here. I join with its authors in encouraging you to dare to doubt. If you follow that courageous path, you may at times draw the wrong conclusions. If you do not, you will certainly be wrong at least as often."
— Dr. James F. McGrath, Associate Professor of Religion and Clarence L. Goodwin Chair of New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, and author of The Only True God: Early Christian Monotheism in Its Jewish Context
"The contributors to this book have interesting, important, and controversial things to say to conservative Christians: It isn't true that modern society has Christian foundations; it isn't true that there is significant historical evidence for the Resurrection; it isn't true that scripture portrays a perfectly good God; it is untenable to suppose that the Bible is the Word of God; and there are many new challenges to the believability of Christianity in contemporary sciences: psychology, sociology, cognitive science, archaeology, and the like. This book is a fitting successor to Loftus' book Why I Became an Atheist, and merits a similarly broad readership."
— Dr. Graham Oppy, Associate Dean of Research and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in the Faculty of Arts at Monash University, author of Arguing About Gods (2006), and coeditor (with Nick Trakakis) of The History of Western Philosophy of Religion, 5 vols. (2009)
"John Loftus and his distinguished colleagues have certainly produced one of the best—and arguably the best—critique of the Christian faith the world has ever known. Using sociological, biblical, scientific, historical, philosophical, theological and ethical criticisms, this book completely destroys Christianity. All but the most fanatical believers who read it should be moved to have profound doubts."
— Dr. Michael Martin, Professor of Philosophy Emeritus and author of The Case Against Christianity and Atheism: A Philosophical Justification
Not the Impossible Faith is a tour de force, dissecting and refuting the oft-repeated claim that Christianity could not have succeeded in the ancient world unless it were true. Dr. Carrier surveys a whole range of topics regarding the origin of Christianity and its cultural context, demonstrating that its success has entirely natural explanations and nothing to do with whether its supernatural claims were true.
Though framed as a detailed rebuttal to Christian apologist J.P. Holding (author of The Impossible Faith), Carrier takes a general approach, answering many questions on the history and sociology of the ancient world, making this a valuable work for understanding the religion and society of that time. Along the way, many questions are answered, such as: How did Christians approach evidence? Was there a widespread prejudice against the testimony of women? Was resurrection such a radical idea? Who would worship a crucified criminal? And much more.
Even if you have no interest in the refutation of an already dubious Christian apologetic, you will find this book both fascinating and illuminating. Written with occasional humor and an easy style, thoroughly referenced, and with many entertaining "gotcha!" moments, Not the Impossible Faith is a must-read for anyone interested in the origins of Christianity.
The Dark Horse Rides...9
The White Knight Responds...10
Dark Horse Dead in the Water...11
1. Who Would Believe in a Crucified God?...17
Precedents and Distinctions...17
How Converts Differed from Critics...24
How Things Really Looked...31
Many Expected a Humiliated Savior...34
2. Who Would Follow a Man from Galilee?...51
Two Key Problems...51
Getting the Context Right...53
A Working Class Rabbi...55
The Galilean Connection...63
The Gospel of John...66
Holding Steps into a Trap...71
The Role of Messianic Prophecy...74
Why a Virgin Birth?...76
3. Was Resurrection Deemed Impossible?...85
The Popularity of Resurrection...85
Defending the Zoroastrian Connection...90
How the Pagan Mission Changed Christianity...105
Was There a Better Idea?...116
4. Was the New Always Bad?...129
5. Who Would Join a Moral Order?...135
Pagans Are Moral People Too...135
Christians Aren't Perfect Either...139
The Appeal of Communism...140
6. Who Would Join an Intolerant Cult?...147
The Popularity of Intolerance...147
Second: Systemic Failure...151
Demons & Elite Corruption...152
Managing the Family...154
A Stigma of Atheism?...156
Which Is It, Jews or Judeans?...157
7. Was Christianity Vulnerable to Disproof?...161
The Problem of Differing Research Paradigms...164
The Problem of Luke's Methods as a Historian...173
First Example: Luke on Paul's Trial...187
Holding's Argument Backfires...192
Second Example: Luke on Agrippa's Cause of Death...197
Public Miracles & the Problem of Finding Witnesses 201
8. Who Would Want to be Persecuted? 219
The Social Foundations of Martyrdom 219
Paul and Tertullian 225
Where Holding Gets it Wrong 230
What Hebrews Actually Says 236
Where Holding Gets it Right 240
9. Was a God Incarnate Always Repugnant? 247
Incarnation Among the Jews 247
Incarnation Among the Gentiles 252
10. Would Groupthinkers Never Switch Groups? 259
Getting it Backwards 259
What Do Malina & Neyrey Really Say? 261
How Christianity Fits the Malina-Neyrey Model 273
Malina and Neyrey on the Role of Revelation 281
Lack of Evidence for Holding's View 285
11. Did No One Trust Women? 297
There Is No Evidence Women Were a Problem 297
The Testimony of Women Was Trusted 300
Why Mark Places Women at the Empty Tomb 312
12. Did No One Trust Illiterate Laymen? 323
13. Would the Facts Be Checked? 329
Boiling away the Hyperbole 329
The Conversions in Acts 332
The Evidence as Reported in Acts 341
The Indications from Early Apologists 352
14. Who Would Follow an Ignorant Savior? 369
15. Who Would Follow an Executed Criminal? 373
16. Were Christian Teachings Too Radical? 375
Fallacies Galore 375
Misrepresenting Malina—Again 378
17. Did Christians Encourage Critical Inquiry? 385
Holding's Bogus Evidence 385
Method as Revealed in Paul 388
Survey of Passages Relating to Method 391
The Bankrupt Methods of J.P. Holding 397
The Last Ditch 401
18. How Successful Was Christianity? 407
Numbers: What the Texts Say 410
Numbers: What the Experts Say 42
With Whom Did Christianity Begin? 429
The Rise of World Christianity 435
Extended Contents 449
"This book is a fascinating look into early christian history and at the dishonest tactics Christian apologists use. Highly recommended!"
- Nicholas Covington
"As a former evangelical fundamentalist Christian I was humbled in reading this book. So many of the 'assumptions' I accepted from popular Christian apologists are based upon nothing more than shoddy historical research. I lost my faith in the bible as 'divinely inspired truth' due to things I learned in Cosmology. However, for a while I still didn't know what to do with Jesus and the resurrection. 'How did this belief system just pop out of nowhere?' It just so happens that Richard Carrier is a scholar in the field of history from this time and sees right through these arguments that once led me captive. I was impressed by his knowledge of the subtleties of thought and customs that would make certain arguments that seem strong by todays standards, completely worthless. But this is what happens when one has a proposition (like the historicity and resurrection of Jesus) that they want to prove and defend; they scour ancient sources, lifting convenient quotes, while ignoring details that would weaken their efforts. I recommend this book to anyone interested in really getting to know the truth about Christian origins. This book has only made me look forward with even greater anticipation toward his forth coming work: On the Historicity of Jesus Christ.
"I was not expecting much from this book. In the introduction we learn that this book was the product of an internet debate with J.P. Holding. I typically do not expect much from internet debates, even when I'm one of the debaters. But I was pleasantly surprised. This book is a careful and scholarly consideration of the question of whether the historical truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is at all necessary to explain the growth and ultimate success of Christianity.
"Carrier takes his lead from points of Holding's argument by heading each chapter with a question raised (e.g., "Was Resurrection Deemed Impossible?" "Did No One Trust Women?"). In the course of responding to these questions we get an erudite examination of many lines of evidence of relevance. Carrier weighs in on the historical reliability of the Gospels, comparing them with the methods of critical historians of antiquity. He considers with considerable care the likely demographics of Christians in the first century. He reveals the prevalence of resurrection stories in ancient times, both within Judaism and within the wider Greco-Roman world ..."
- Richard W. Field
Picking up where Bible expert Bart Ehrman's New York Times bestseller Misquoting Jesus left off, Jesus, Interrupted addresses the larger issue of what the New Testament actually teaches--and it's not what most people think. Here Ehrman reveals what scholars have unearthed:
- The authors of the New Testament have diverging views about who Jesus was and how salvation works
- The New Testament contains books that were forged in the names of the apostles by Christian writers who lived decades later
- Jesus, Paul, Matthew, and John all represented fundamentally different religions
- Established Christian doctrines--such as the suffering messiah, the divinity of Jesus, and the trinity--were the inventions of still later theologians
These are not idiosyncratic perspectives of just one modern scholar. As Ehrman skillfully demonstrates, they have been the standard and widespread views of critical scholars across a full spectrum of denominations and traditions.
Why is it most people have never heard such things? This is the book that pastors, educators, and anyone interested in the Bible have been waiting for--a clear and compelling account of the central challenges we face when attempting to reconstruct the life and message of Jesus.
1 A Historical Assault on Faith 1
2 A World of Contradictions 19
3 A Mass of Variant Views 61
4 Who Wrote the Bible? 101
5 Liar, Lunatic, or Lord? Finding the Historical Jesus 159
6 How We Got the Bible 181
7 Who Invented Christianity? 225
8 Is Faith Possible? 269
"A MIND-BLOWING, Shocking work, grounded in solid scholarship."
"Amazing... Bart Ehrman has created yet another 'can't put it down' book on the most influential subject of the western world--Jesus. Jesus, Interrupted pulls back the curtain on what you thought you knew about the bible and reveals a fresh, eye-opening perspective.
After 19 years as an evangelical preacher, missionary, and Christian songwriter, Dan Barker "threw out the bathwater and discovered there is no baby there."
Barker, who is now co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (America's largest organization of atheists and agnostics), describes the intellectual and psychological path he followed in moving from fundamentalism to freethought. The four sections in Godless--Rejecting God, Why I Am An Atheist, What's Wrong With Christianity, and Life is Good!--include chapters on bible problems, the historicity of Jesus, morality, the Kalam Cosmological argument, the unbelievable resurrection, and much more. Barker relates the positive benefits from trusting in reason and human kindness instead of living in fear of false judgment and moral condemnation.
Godless expands the story told in Dan's 1992 book, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist--the two books overlap about 20%--but a lot has happened in 16 years, and Dan updates the story with four new chapters, including "The New Call" (lessons from the debate circuit), "Adventures in Atheism," and "We Go To Washington" (FFRF's Supreme Court lawsuit, in which Dan was a plaintiff).
Foreword by Richard Dawkins
Part 1 - Rejecting God
1 The Call
2 The Fall
3 The Fallout
4 The New Call
Part 2 - Why I Am An Atheist
5 Why I Am an Atheist
6 Refuting God
8 Cosmological Kalamity
9 Dear Theologian
Part 3 - What's Wrong With Christianity
10 The Bible and Morality
11 Murder, He Wrote
12 For Goodness Sake
13 Biblical Contradictions
14 Understanding Discrepancy
15 Did Jesus Exist?
16 Did Jesus Rise From the Dead?
Part 4 - Life is Good!
17 We Go to Washington
18 Adventures in Atheism
19 Life and Death Matters
"Valuable in the human story are the reflections of intelligent and ethical people who listen to the voice of reason and who allow it to vanquish bigotry and superstition. This book is a classic example." - Christopher Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
"The most eloquent witness of internal delusion that I know--a triumphantly smiling refugee from the zany, surreal world of American fundamentalist Protestantism--is Dan Barker." - Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion
"In Godless, Barker recounts his journey from evangelical preacher to atheist activist, and along the way explains precisely why it is not only okay to be an atheist, it is something in which to be proud." - Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic Magazine
"This book profoundly affected me. It's funny, and poignant,and most importantly, true! You must read this book." - Julia Sweeney comedian, actress, Saturday Night Live alum, author of Letting God of God
"Dan Barker's esteemed reputation is richly deserved. I recommend getting three copies. You will need one as a source of evidence to which you will frequently refer. There sill be miles and miles of underlining as you mark the pages of special interest to you. You will need your second to lend to others. You will be enthusiastic about this book, and you will want to share its wisdom with family and friends. Others will likewise want to share it, and the book will never be returned to you. Finally, you will want a third copy to be in pristine condition on your bookshelf, since Dan Barker has created a volume which will only grow in its historical significance." - David Mills, author of Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism
"Godless is a fascinating memoir and a handbook for debunking theism. But most of all, it is a moving testimonial to one man's emotional and intellectual rigor in acclaiming critical thinking." - Robert Sapolsky, author of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers
"Godless was a revelation to me. I don't think anyone can match the (devastating!) clarity, intensity, and honesty which Dan Barker brings to the journey--faith to reason, childhood to growing up, fantasy to reality, intoxication to sobriety." - Oliver Sacks, author of Musicophilia