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John W. Loftus

John W. Loftus is a philosopher and counter-apologist who earned M.A. and M.Div. degrees in theology and philosophy from Lincoln Christian Seminary. He then attended Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he studied under William Lane Craig, earning a Th.M. degree in philosophy of religion. John also studied in a Ph.D. program at Marquette University.

Before leaving the church, he had ministries in Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana, and taught at several Christian and secular colleges.

He's the author/editor of thirteen critically acclaimed books, including Why I Became an Atheist, The Outsider Test for Faith, Unapologetic, How to Defend the Christian Faith, The Christian Delusion, Christianity is Not Great, Christianity in the Light of Science, The Case against Miracles, and God and Horrendous Suffering.

He has an online blog at debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com.

Published on the Secular Web

Modern Library

Questioning Miracles: In Defense of David Hume

Hume is widely regarded as the most important English-speaking philosopher in history. He wrote significant works on empiricism, epistemology, and philosophy of religion. In the latter Hume offered several powerful arguments against miracles in section 10 ("of Miracles") of his seminal book An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. In this paper, John W. Loftus defends Hume against some of the most important objections to his critique of the rationality of belief in miracles.

Why I Am Not a Christian: A Summary of My Case Against Christianity

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.
Kiosk Article

God and Horrendous Suffering

The evidential problem of horrendous suffering is one of the most powerful refutations of the theistic God as can be found: if there's an omni-everything God, one who is omnibenevolent (or perfectly good), omniscient (or all-knowing), and omnipotent (or all-powerful), then the issue of why there is horrendous suffering in the world requires an explanation. The reason why is that a perfectly good God would want to eliminate it, an all-knowing God would know how to eliminate it, and an all-powerful God would be able to eliminate it. So the extent of horrendous suffering means that either God does not care enough to eliminate it, or God is not smart enough to eliminate it, or God is not powerful enough to eliminate it. The stubborn fact of horrendous suffering means something is wrong with God’s goodness, his knowledge, or his ability. In this paper John Loftus argues that horrendous suffering renders this omni-everything God unbelievable.

Does God Exist? A Definitive Biblical Case

Atheist philosophers of religion try to disprove the existence of the Christian God by arguing against the philosophical proofs put forth for it. This is okay as it goes, but it overlooks the fact that Christians will just come up with different conceptions of "God" in response, despite the fact that these new conceptions are foreign to the gods we find in the Bible.

In this essay atheist John Loftus argues that there is a better approach, one that changed his own mind back when he was a Christian apologist himself. This (shockingly novel) approach involves simply taking the Bible seriously. When we take the Bible at its word, we find that the Judeo-Christian God had a complex evolution over the centuries from Elohim, to Yahweh, to Jesus, and then finally to the god of the philosophers, without the original gods having been credited with any merit.

How to Change the Minds of Believers

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.

Psychic Epistemology: The Special Pleading of William Lane Craig

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.

The Demon, Matrix, Material World, and Dream Possibilities

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.

What’s Wrong with Using Bayes’ Theorem on Miracles?

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.
Kiosk Book

The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails

The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails

Description 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 […]

The End of Christianity

The End of Christianity

Description In this successor volume to his critically acclaimed first anthology, The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails, John Loftus—a former minister and now a leading atheist spokesperson—has assembled a stellar group of respected scholars to continue the critique of Christianity begun in the first volume. The contributors include Victor Stenger, Robert Price, Hector Avalos, Richard […]
Kiosk Video

John W. Loftus Talks with Edouard Tahmizian

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!