Despite his seminary roots, John Loftus has come to conclude that Christianity cannot be reasonably defended on the basis of the available evidence. In this overview of his reasons for ultimately rejecting the Christian faith, Loftus considers a variety of sociological, philosophical, scientific, biblical, and historical facts, explaining why he is now an atheist and what it means for him to live life without God. His approach does not proceed from any internal theological inconsistencies, but rather from inconsistencies between theological ideas and the empirical reality in which we find ourselves. He ultimately concludes that all modern, civilized, educated, and scientifically literate persons should reject Christianity, and that a proper skeptical attitude toward religion, informed by modern science, yields a tentative naturalism subject to potential falsification by better evidence.
Published on the Secular Web
In this paper John W. Loftus shares ten helpful tips on trying to change the minds of Christian believers based on his nearly 20 years of experience engaging in it. He reviews the most common cognitive biases that one bumps against in the attempt to plant seeds of doubt, and notes some of the most pointed questions that one can ask to really get to the heart of the matter. This includes highlighting particular facts about the world that simply cannot be reasonably squared with traditional Christian beliefs. Even if your attempts result in a low rate of success, Loftus argues, every mind changed amounts to less religious harm in the world than there would have been otherwise, and the results of an attempt can reveal rather eye-opening truths even when it is not successful.
In this paper John Loftus aims to expose the special pleading inherent in William Lane Craig's psychic (or spirit-guided) epistemology. After questioning the need for apologetics and warning about the monumental challenges to it, Loftus urges Christian apologists to become honest life-long seekers of the truth, to get a good education in a good field of study, to accept nothing less than sufficient objective evidence, and especially to determine how to know which religion to defend. He then goes on to sharply contrast these recommendations with the modus operandi of today's Christian apologists.
René Descartes searched for certain knowledge, a goal that was long ago abandoned by most philosophers. But a lack of certainty does little to undercut the need for sufficient evidence before accepting a proposition about the nature of our experience in this world. All we need to do is think inductively rather than deductively, think exclusively in terms of probabilities, and understand that when speaking of sufficient evidence what is meant is evidence plus reasoning based on that evidence. I know as sure as I can know anything that there is a material world and that I can reasonably trust my senses. I conclude that the scientific method is our only sure way for assessing truth claims.
In this essay John Loftus defends Hitchens’ razor: "What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence." Christopher Hitchens' point was that miracle claims without any evidence should be dismissed without a further thought. Bayes' theorem requires the existence of some credible evidence/data before it can be correctly used in evaluating miracle claims. So to be Bayes-worthy, a miracle claim must first survive Hitchens' razor, which dismisses all miracle claims asserted without any evidence. If this first step doesn't take place, Bayes is being used inappropriately and must be opposed as irrelevant, unnecessary, and even counterproductive in our honest quest for truth.
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this 15-minute talk with John W. Loftus, a former apprentice of William Lane Craig who has authored or edited a dozen counterapologetics books since 2010, as they discuss Loftus' past work, Jesus mythicism, and what Loftus sees as the primary shortcomings of the free will defense that apologists sometimes invoke in response to arguments from horrendous suffering against the existence of an all-good God. Check out this quick and engaging discussion!