Deuce of Clubs Book Club: Books of the Weak

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I'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski

Guy Debord: Revolutionary

No Place to Hide

Command of Office

The Christ-Myth Theory And Its Problems

The Christian Delusion

Lincoln's Wrath

How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself

The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex

Bossypants

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

Catching the Big Fish

Dig Infinity

The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones

Crazy for God

Basin and Range

Anarchy Evolution

The File

John Ringo

The Supremes

End the Fed

Burning Book

The Hohokam Millenium

God's Middle Finger

Narcocorrido

In Heaven Everything Is Fine

The Shunning

Wisdom Sits in Places

The Marvelous Country

Hamilton's Curse

The Secret Life of Houdini

The Trouble with Being Born

Schulz and Peanuts

First Into Nagasaki

Joe Miller's Jests

Human Smoke

Dirty Tricks Cops Use

A Futile and Stupid Gesture

All For A Few Perfect Waves

Systemantics

Death in the Desert

American Signs

Secret Proceedings and Debates of the Constitutional Convention

Secrets Of A Stingy Scoundrel

The Self-Made Tapestry

A Constitutional History of Secession

The Neurotic's Notebook

Interrogation Machine

Monster Midway

The Harlot by the Side of the Road

Forced Into Glory

Imperial Life in the Emerald City

J. G. Ballard: Quotes

The Compleat Practical Joker

Laugh with Hugh Troy

Pranks!

A Liar's Autobiography

Cobb

Chasing Rainbows

Letters from Tucson, 1925-1927

The Five Fosters

The Giant Cactus Forest and Its World

How to Cheat Your Friends at Poker

World Famous Cults & Fanatics

That's Not All, Folks!

God's Problem

Will Christ Return By 1988?

Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology

The Whiskey Rebellion

FDR's Folly

Wilson's War

Bully Boy

[If] I Did It

The Dark Side

Secret Origins of the Bible

Godless

The End of Faith

Why I Became An Atheist

"Life's Calendar for 1922"

Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War

The Negro Cowboys

EXPECT RESISTANCE

Monty Python Speaks

Baseball Between the Numbers

The Psychopath's Bible

Satisfaction

J. G. Ballard: Conversations

Days of War, Nights of Love

Gospel Fictions and Who Wrote the Gospels?

The Real Deadwood

Deadwood

The Revolution: A Manifesto

45

The Secret Man

Stormin' Mormon

From Psyche to Soma

I'll Gather My Geese

The Osama bin Laden I Know

Alias "Paine"

A Man Without Words

The Wild Trees

The World Without Us

Arizona's Changing Rivers

The Phoenix Indian School

Realm of the Long Eyes

John Dillinger: The Life and Death of America's First Celebrity Criminal

Buckey O'Neill: The Story of a Rough Rider

Thanks For Tuning In

Adventures in the Apache Country

Waylon: An Autobiography

My Life: Sunrise to Sunset

Mimes and Miners: A Historical Study of the Theater in Tombstone

The First 100 Years: A History of Arizona Blacks

Enter Without Knocking

City in the Sun: The Japanese Concentration Camp at Poston, Arizona

House by the Buckeye Road

Vanished Arizona

The Big Con

The Astronomy Cafe and Back to the Astronomy Cafe

A Handbook on Hanging

The Sinner's Guide to the Evangelical Right

A Mind Restored

Mr. Show: What Happened?!

Reclaiming the American Revolution

Stumbling On Happiness

Treasure Maps of the Superstitions

Sunny Slope

Did Genesis Man Conquer Space?

Look Homeward, America

Radicals for Capitalism

Kayaker's Little Book of Wisdom

God Is Not Great

The Echoing Green

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll

K Foundation Burn a Million Quid

The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes and The Tao of Willie

Just Six Numbers and Our Cosmic Habitat

Wild Goose Chronicles

Behind Bars: Surviving Prison

Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce

The Gang They Couldn't Catch

Manhunt

A History of the End of the World

Al Sieber: Chief of Scouts

Apaches & Longhorns

Deep Survival

Captured

DINO

Sock

Bo: Pitching & Wooing

You Are Worthless

You And Your Hand

Access All Areas

Field Guide to the Apocalypse

The War on Terrorism

Those Idiots From Earth

September 11: An Oral History

Mortal Questions

The Heresy of Self-Love

The White Flag Principle

Medieval Panorama

An Honest President

Those Words

À rebours

Peterson's Incident Report Book

Boo! Culture, Experience, and the Startle Reflex

Victory Denied

Nothing, Arizona

A Porcine History of Philosophy and Religion

O Holy Cow!: The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto

DOME COMPENDIUM OF TOPICAL TREATMENT IN PROCTOLOGY

¿Hablas conmigo

Thirty-three Candles

Black Monk Time

Men of Distinction

Alexander the Corrector

Space Viking

Mark These Men

Hallucinogenic Plants

Prohibition: An Adventure in Freedom

JESUS! He's Our President

LOVE

How to Watch Football on Television

Merrill Markoe's Guide to Love

Lincoln: The Man and The Car

Whatever Men Know About Women

Biographies of Italian War Heroes

ABC of Espionage

Art Colony Perverts

Devil-ution

Starting Right with Bees

Planet Earth is a Cult

Baseball Letters

Fetish

Dopey Doings

Democracy: The God That Failed

Handgrenade Talk

Hi, How Are You?

het zingen van het ijs

The Museum of Jurassic Technology Jubilee Catalogue

The Rector and the Rogue

Colorful Cacti of the American Deserts

Odd Jobs: The World of Deviant Work

The Hungry Man's Outdoor Grill Cookbook

How to Get Invited to the White House

How to Work for a Jerk

Never Work for a Jerk!

The Mentality of Apes

Your Vigor for Life Appalls Me

Dr. Strange: Sorceror Supreme

Nautical Notions for Nibbling

A Short Introduction to the History of Human Stupidity

The Fake Revolt

Coup D'Etat

History of the Town of Felicity

Hood of Death

Dolls' House Bathrooms: Lots of Little Loos

Border Security / Anti-Infiltration Operations

Living on Light

God is for Real, Man

Did the Apostle Paul Visit Britain?

Twin Peaks

2001

Power Phrases

The Truth About Wagner

The Life of the Bee

Tombstone

Science Looks at Smoking

The Chiricahuas

The New Dark Ages Conspiracy

The Big Question

Everybody's Book of Epitaphs

The Death of the Fuhrer

Mindfuckers

Gorbachev! Has the Real Antichrist Come?

The World's Worst Poet

Alyssa Milano: She's the Boss

Home is the Desert

Nine Lives: From Stripper to Schoolteacher

How to Start Your Own Country

How to Found Your Own Religion

Sex Objects in the Sky

Indian Oratory

Bastard Without Portfolio

The Bedside Book of Bastards

Hopeless -- Yet There Is Hope

Bible in Pocket, Gun in Hand

Margie Asks WHY

Death of a Hippie

Wake Up or Blow Up

Feeling and Form

Guilt

A Mile in His Moccasins

Mojave Desert Ramblings

Passing of the Outhouse

This Way to Happiness

The Happy Life

Young Only Once

The Monkey Gland Affair

Bert Bacharach's Book for Men

The Two Babylons

For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes...

Why Christians Crack Up!

Why Do Christians Break Down?

Hava Nagila!

Beethoven or Bust

How to Abandon Ship

Livin' in Joe's World

The Last Democrat

Salvation Mountain

The Varmint and Crow Hunter's Bible

Love in the Western World

Jack the Ripper: Light-Hearted Friend

Little Men of the NFL

No One May Ever Have The Same Knowledge Again

The Secret Museum of Mankind

James Bond's World of Values

We Did Not Plummet Into Space

The Boy Who Didn't Believe IN CHRISTMAS

The Great Escape From Your Dead-End Job

All About Tipping

My Loser Godfrey

A Haircut in Horse Town

Mucusless Diet Healing System

Jefferson Returns

Lincoln Returns

Churchill Returns

Corporation Freak

Null Bock auf DDR

So You're Going on a Mission?

Nudes in My Camera

Why I Hate the Nazis

Flesh, Metal & Glass

The James Beard Cookbook

Mortal Refrains

Deadbolt

Amy Grant: A Biography

The X Cars

We Were Five

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder

Hello ... Wrong Number

I'll Kill You Next!

Murder in Vegas

Did MAN Just Happen?

Terror at the Atlanta Olympics

Criswell Predicts

Your Next Ten Years

They Pay Me to Catch Footballs

The Phantom Menace

Just For Fellows

The Lopsided Gal

Astrology and Horse Racing

The Cokesbury Stunt Book

The Origin of Things

Remarks on the History of Things

U.S. Government Sewing Book

Funeral Tributes II

Blinky, the Friendly Hen

The Serbs Choose War

My Mystery Castle

Iggy

Funeral Customs the World Over

The Right to be Let Alone

Mormonism and the Negro

The Church and the Negro

Preacher with a Billy Club

Fighting Parson of the Old West

Invisibility: Mastering the Art of Vanishing

How to Disappear Completely

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies

How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man

Langenscheidts Konversationsbuch

Marlene Dietrich's ABC

The Bible in the Hands of Its Creators


The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails

John W. Loftus (2010)

 

It is obvious—and many students confirm it—that the Internet has been a real "blessing" for free inquiry. It is now impossible for religious leaders and apologists to hide the embarrassing facts of biblical scholarship.

If you have admired a book since childhood because it says that your lost loved ones are waiting for you in heaven when you die, it's going to take an extraordinary amount of work to convince you that the talking donkey also found in the book might mean that the book is not proper evidence for such an optimistic idea.

The Christian Delusion

Psychologist Drew Westen was among those who empirically demonstrated, using MRI scanning, that people who were strongly loyal to one candidate in presidential elections did not use areas of the brain associated with reasoning to resolve contradictory statements made by their candidate. The supporters instead relied upon regions of the brain associated with emotion to justify their personal allegiances.

It's hard to argue Christians out of their faith because they were never argued into it in the first place.

That's why they're called control beliefs. They are like blinders. From the moment they are put on, we pretty much see only what our blinders will let us see. What else can best explain why there is still a Mormon church even though DNA evidence now shows us that Native Americans did not come from the Middle East, as the Mormon Bible claims?

Which evangelist will objectively tell the ugly side of the Bible and of the church while preaching the good news? None that I know of. Which evangelist will tell a prospect about the innumerable problems Christian scholars must solve? None that I know of. Which evangelist will give potential prospects a copy of a book like this one to read along with a copy of a Christian apologetics book and ask them to truly examine it before deciding? Again, none that I know of. Only if they do will I sit up and take notice. Until then I am not impressed.

Prior to the 1970s one can be forgiven for thinking that archaeology is the handmaid of the Bible-for one archaeological dig after another seemed to confirm it. But this is no longer true. Scholars are questioning the whole paradigm of "biblical archaeology," which starts with the assumption that the Bible is a reliable guide for field research. Indeed, there is now so much contrary evidence against the historical accuracy of the Bible that the term "biblical archaeology" has been discarded by professional archaeologists and Syro-Palestinian archaeology has been suggested by some practicing in the field as a more appropriate term.

Most of the liberal interpretation involves accepting the resurrection as some kind of internal revelation of the disciples. This experience, they proclaim, is what really matters, not the actual historical fact of resurrection. But why should it, we ask? Why should the visions or dreams of a few ill-educated, first-century Galilean peasants be of any significance and be treated any differently from others all over the world and throughout history? Because it is about Jesus? But take away the historical claims about his supposed supernatural powers, his miracles, and his bodily resurrection, and what do we have? A first-century, xenophobic, ignorant Galilean peasant who thought the world was going to end (as Loftus proves in chapter 12). If this is so, why not just dispense with it altogether? It's high time they did. As Hector Avalos has argued very effectively in The End of Biblical Studies, it's time that biblical studies as we know them should end.

Christians continually want to talk about what is possible rather than what is probable, and they resort to this standard far too many times in defense of their faith to make their faith probable.

They follow Bruce Metzger (p. 136, 140), Edwin Yamauchi (p. 144) and other apologists in arguing, absurdly, that the Mystery Religions borrowed the dying and rising god mytheme from Christianity—even though early Christian apologists like Tertullian, Firmicus Maternus, and Justin Martyr admit the pagan versions were earlier (even insisting the devil fabricated the Gospel events long before they happened with Jesus)! Some dying and rising god cults we know for a fact were earlier, so this borrowing can't have gone the other way around as they pretend anyway.

Another case of transforming agnosticism into fideism concerns the Mythic Hero Archetype to which the life of Jesus in the Gospels conforms in its entirety, with no incidental, "secular," or genuine biographical detail left over. Boyd and Eddy point out the obvious: that sometimes known historical figures actually live up to the archetype (p. 149). Of course: that is why Joseph Campbell and others have made so much of it. The problem is that the more completely people's life stories conform to the mythic-literary form, the less likely it becomes that their stories are genuinely historical. At such a point they risk becoming lost behind the stained glass curtain, unless they have left a trail of historical "bread crumbs." Augustus Caesar did; Jesus did not. It is especially ironic that Boyd's favorite example of a real-live archetypal hero is Scot William Wallace, whose exploits came to the screen in the film Braveheart. Boyd likes to make Wallace a real-life Jesus, implying that the Gospel Jesus could have been just as real (p. 149). It does not occur to Boyd that we actually have a great deal more historical evidence for Wallace, including actual documents of the period, thus proving my point: like Augustus Caesar, but unlike Jesus, we can independently confirm some historical facts about him from more reliable, nonmythical information. We have no such information about Jesus. All we have are the myths. And as every Wallace historian agrees, the mythical narratives about Wallace, which come closest in form and content to the Gospels, are often wildly inaccurate and invent a great deal, such that if we didn't have any independent way to check their claims, we would have no idea what to trust in them. That's exactly our situation for Jesus.

But these are weird times. We live in an age of science and reason, and yet millions of people still seriously believe the world's dead will rise again when an immortal superman flies down from outer space to destroy the earth.

I'll be honest with you: people who believe things like that scare me. But I have to deal with them every day, and one thing I've learned is that they get very angry and indignant when we close the door on them, telling them to go away without having examined all their many papers and books. Then they pontificate proudly that because we didn't give their bizarre claims a fair shake, clearly we're just biased, and we deserve the worst of all eternal tortures as punishment for our lazy audacity, and thank goodness superman will kill us from outer space soon. (Did I mention scary?) To put an end to this pompous rhetoric, I've given them far more than they're due, extensively researching their claims to the very core, learning the ancient languages, studying the relevant histories and cultures and documents, and examining their best arguments. Which is all generally more than they ever do in return. Now, with all that, and a PhD in ancient history to boot, they can't say I don't know what I'm talking about.

When Mark says the Roman governor Pontius Pilate had a custom of releasing a prisoner on the annual holiday, and the Jews cried for Barabbas, and to crucify Jesus in his place (Mark 15:6-15), what we surely have is myth, not fact. No Roman magistrate (least of all the infamously ruthless Pilate), would let a murderous rebel go free, and no such Roman ceremony is attested as ever having existed. But the ceremony so obviously emulates the Jewish ritual of the scapegoat and atonement, in a story that is actually about atonement, that its status as myth is hard to deny. Barabbas means "Son of the Father" in Aramaic, yet we know Jesus was deliberately styled the "Son of the Father" himself. Hence we have two sons of the father, one is released into the wild mob bearing the sins of Israel (murder and insurrection), while the other is sacrificed so his blood may atone for the sins of Israel. This is an obvious imitation of the Yom Kippur ceremony of Leviticus 16, when two goats were chosen each year, and one was released into the wild bearing the sins of Israel, while the other's blood was shed to atone for the sins of Israel. Conclusion? Mark crafted a mythical narrative to convey what Hebrews 9-10 says about Jesus as the final Yom Kippur, thus telling us, with his own parable, to reject the sins of the Jews (especially violence and rebellion) and embrace instead the eternal salvation of atonement offered in Christ. Had this story appeared in any other book, we would readily identify it as myth and not historical fact. As fact, it's hopelessly implausible. As myth, it makes perfect sense.

The apostle Paul was the first person to reinterpret the failed prophecy gradually in his own lifetime. He had expected to see an immediate apocalyptic eschaton, as already noted in his earlier letters. So how did Paul sustain such a belief through twenty-five years of preaching? Fredriksen makes a plausible case that he did so because he came to believe that through his ministry to the Gentiles he was helping to bring in the eschaton. When he completes his ministry the end will come when God will save "all Israel" by "an eschatological miracle." Thus, "The interim before the Kingdom came would last as long as Paul's mission itself." Only when the "full number of the Gentiles" came into God's kingdom through Paul's ministry would the End come (Romans 11:25). Paul's view came about during the debates he had with the "circumcision party" over the fact that there were "Too many Gentiles, too few Jews, and no End in sight." The circumcision party argued that only after the Kingdom came "would Gentiles as such be redeemed." So they blamed Paul for the fact that the Kingdom had not yet appeared because he was not reaching out to Israel. Paul came to see this problem differently. The reason why the End had not come and the reason why the Jews were not responsive to the Gospel was because this was all part of God's plan. God hardened the hearts of the Jews so that through Paul's ministry God would save the full number of Gentiles, and then the End would come (Romans 9-11). But Paul died and the End didn't come.

[There is] a new delusion creeping around the halls of conservative academia: the belief that Christianity not only caused modern science, but was necessary for modern science even to exist. As the story now goes, not only has Christianity never been at odds with science and never impeded it in any way, but it was actually the savior of science, the only worldview that could ever make science possible. And that's why the Scientific Revolution only ever sparked in one place: a thoroughly Christian society.
This is not only false in every conceivable detail but so egregiously false that anyone with even the slightest academic competence and responsibility should have known it was false. Which means its advocates, all of whom claim to be scholars, must either be embarrassingly incompetent, perversely dishonest, or wildly deluded. That so many scholars would be so incompetent seems improbable. That they are all lying, even more so.

Yet medieval Christians showed such disinterest in these mathematical achievements that some were barely preserved at all, while others were literally erased from books so they could be replaced with hymns to God. In fact, under Christian tenure almost all the scientific achievements of the ancients were forgotten in the West and ignored in the East, or survived only in simplistic caricatures. The few books that got copied enough to survive were rarely or barely copied at all, often not understood, and never substantially improved upon for nearly a thousand years.

Had Christianity not interrupted the intellectual advance of mankind and put the progress of science on hold for a thousand years, the Scientific Revolution might have occurred a thousand years ago, and our science and technology today would be a thousand years more advanced. This is a painful truth that some Christians simply don't want to hear or accept. Hence they flee into the delusion that it isn't true, that Christianity was instead so wonderful it not only caused modern science, but was essential to it. But, as the facts prove, that simply isn't true.


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