No More Jesus Bashing: John Loftus Throws in the Towel

John Loftus, the ex-Christian author, has had enough. He’s recently decided to stop blogging and writing books debunking Christianity. Here’s part of what he wrote at his blog earlier this month:

I have no more desire to engage Christians. They are deluded, all of them. I have never been more convinced of this than I am now. I have better things to do. I spent 39+ years of my adult life on a delusion. If I add the years of my childhood that’s almost my entire life. Yet this is the only life I will ever have. It’s time to move on, or at a minimum take a very long hiatus. I just finished what may be my last book, on The Outsider Test for Faith, to be published by Prometheus Books early next year. How many times do I need to kick the dead horse of Christianity?

His fatigue is understandable. I can’t say as I blame him. Intellectually, Christianity (in most of its contemporary forms) is as divorced from 21st century archaeology and science (and, therefore, from reality) as Mormonism. Here’s a song for his departure:

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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18 Responses to No More Jesus Bashing: John Loftus Throws in the Towel

  1. Anonymous says:

    Does your view of Christians apply to the political sphere? There’s only one non-religious candidate:

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Gary Johnson has been under my radar. I like him! Thanks for sharing a very interesting video.

  2. David Yates says:

    Although obviously there are certain segments of the wider Christian community that are actively antagonistic toward science, I can’t agree for a second that it’s “most.” Heck, over half the adults in my own congregation are professionals, and about half of them are medical doctors of one type or another (i.e. either specialists or GPs).
    The problem with Loftus and people like him is that when they accuse others of being hopelessly “deluded,” what they’re really complaining about is that those others simply don’t agree with everything they say.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      David,

      The substance of the problem with contemporary Christianity isn’t that its adherents don’t function well in society. Like Mormons, they actually are well adjusted (have jobs and families, sometimes good ones, etc.). The problem is that they’re adjusted in precisely the ways that Jesus wouldn’t have approved of (in terms of materialism and worldly politicization) even as they’re maladjusted to academic understandings of archaeology and science. This is exactly the Mormon mix as well: function well within American cultural norms and support the ideology of the rich even as one glibly blows off “worldly knowledge” where it doesn’t fit one’s preferred literalisms.

      This translates into a double-rejection of the truth (both moral and intellectual), searing at once the conscience and the intelligence. It’s why the church is in such deplorable shape (and you know it).

      —Santi

      • concerned christian says:

        Santi, let’s be fair. Christians started with a good tradition and an inspiring teacher and worked their ways over the centuries through trials and errors, combining their faith with Greek and Roman cultures to establish what we know today as the Western Civilization. Now let’s apply the same rules to other models from communism to fascism, from ultra religious fanatics to atheists, from prudes to hedonists, from free thinkers to rigid dogmatist. I will let you tell me which one you would rather see replacing what we have, meanwhile I will borrow Churchill’s saying with a twist
        “Judea-Christianity provided us with the worst form of culture/civilization except all the others that have been tried.”
        Here I am talking about what we could have today in the twenty-first century with billions of people living on Earth, we can’t go back to the ancient empires of China, Egypt; Iraq or Persia; Athens or Rome, because we can not unlearn all the things we learned and give up all the things we acquired over the centuries, including this damned internet that takes too much of our time.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        Concerned,

        The internet is great. And Christianity is not the best social model. The contemporary community of global scientists is. That’s the community that models generosity and a commitment to truth most impressively in the modern world.

        And ancient Christianity’s mixture with Greco-Roman civilization was not beneficial for science or philosophy, but retarded their progress. No offense, but Christianity ruined (for example) Alexandria as a hub of early scientific culture, imposing religious restrictions on the mind, and destroying its great library.

        Islamic fanaticism belongs squarely at the door of the two more ancient monotheisms (Judaism and Christianity). Islam is a cult offshoot of the earlier monotheisms and rushed into a weakened North Africa after Greco-Roman culture was ruined and weakened by the rise of Christian fundamentalism wed to the state.

        So when you say that Christianity is the best thing ever to be tried, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Christianity has its merits, but it also has flaws that history should not repeat (and shows no sign of repeating). The way of science and democracy, not faith and the divine right of kings, is the human future. (At least I hope so.)

      • Passenger says:

        Santi,

        I think you might be a bit delusional with science. Science is an explanation of the physical world. Science, however, is not a basis of democracy and rational thinking.

        You can ask a scientist whether humans have the right of the 1st through 8th amendment and they’ll look at you with dumbfound belief. I could ask richard dawkins whether police can stop individuals under Terry v Ohio. You cannot force science into law. A scientist cannot conduct a longitudinal study to determine if a person’s 4th amendment rights are violated or not.

        Also I’m surprised that you believe in democracy. Wouldn’t you rather have communism? The ability to ban Christianity and force atheism down people’s throat.

      • dcyates says:

        (I’m specifically looking for something else, but keep finding other posts that beg for a response — at least as far as I’m concerned.)
        Santi, when people such as yourself assert that the Church is in deplorable shape, they’re revealing a very Western chauvinism (granted, of a sort). As I think I’ve stated elsewhere, the Church may be losing numbers in places like Europe (and, as we’re seeing, this does not bode well for Europe), but Christianity itself is actually holding its own in the U.S. (though admittedly, this is largely because of immigration). But what’s more, it’s positively booming in the southern hemisphere. Churches are being established on literally a daily basis in sub-Saharan Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia. This is to such an extent where, within the next few decades, whenever one thinks of a Christian, they won’t image a white person of European ancestry, but rather a darker-skinned person of the global south.

        As to your contention that Christians are largely socially and/or intellectually maladjusted, I’m afraid to say that this is again based on ignorance. I very much doubt your general perception of Christians is based on personal observation and experience (such as, say, regular church attendance), but is rather almost exclusively shaped by media-driven stereotypes. I honestly hate to be this blunt, Santi, but in virtually any other context, someone such as yourself would call this both prejudicial and bigoted.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        No worries about being blunt and direct. As to the issues you raise, Loftus is speaking intellectually, not sociologically. Of course Christianity is in great shape among the poorly educated and the anxious, and will thus continue to spread among them. And of course the pew Christian is a fine person as a rule, And of course the Jesus story is compelling as mythos and depth psychology.

        But Loftus (and a person like myself) are the canaries in the coal mine of historical literalism. We’re saying that, intellectually, Christianity in the 21st century, by kicking against the goads of science and archaeology ever since Darwin, have divorced themselves from reality as far as Mormons with their delusional narrative of North American history. It doesn’t mean Mormonism can’t net converts, it means Mormonism isn’t literally true (though, again, there may be mythic aspects to the Mormon story that compel attention from some people that is valuable to them). The same holds with Christianity.It may be valuable as psychology and therapy, and bring insights to philosophical discussions, but it is not especially valuable to the advance of historical and scientific fact. Reading Genesis will not tell you anything about geology.

        If Christians treated Jesus like educated Buddhists treat Buddha (as a compelling mythic archetype and not a literal historical figure), there’s little to argue about. But when Christians cling to, say, the story of Adam and Eve living in Mesopotamia literally, or the wandering of Israelites around Sinai, they’re simply deluded. Loftus is tired of arguing about things that are so obvious.

        –Santi

      • David Yates says:

        Man, you’re fast, Santi!
        The fact is, Loftus’ didn’t last very long with this determination, since just within the last week or so I picked up the recently published “God or Godless? One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions” (BakerBooks, 2013), where he dialogues with professor of historical theology, Randal Rauser (who was actually an old classmate of mine at Regent College, where we both earned our graduate degrees).

        As to my response concerning the rest of your post, Santi, please allow me at least a few hours sleep. Goodness, you’re fast!

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        I just happen to be up super early this morning writing memos to administrators on behalf of a committee I chair and preparing for a class. I can’t always be that quick on the uptake.

  3. concerned christian says:

    Santi, do you really believe that the best that we could have is “The contemporary community of global scientists”?
    BTW I am a member of this community and I don’t see how can this community be the foundation of a new civilization, because this community is and will continue to be a very small minority in the world, and here are few points to consider;
    Human nature is human nature, and the defects you saw in the Church are the same that you will see in that “Contemporary community of global scientists”
    One of the low points of Church vs. science debate; the Galileo affair. However, most of those who opposed Galileo were also scientists who did not take kindly the way Galileo attacked their science.
    In today’s science, you will observe a higher degree of discord on any scientific subject that has the potential of generating large income, and legal battles over patents are the scientific equivalent of dogmatic battles over articles of faith.
    Science brought to us weapons of destruction; animal and sometimes human abuse in medical experiments, and many other problems.
    Finally to go back to your original post, I believe that John Loftus, was a modern day Don Qijote; attacking windmills and ignoring the real threats of modern day civilization, and it is good that he gave up his adventure.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      You’re right that scientists can be put into the service of evil, especially when embedded in bureaucratic institutions (and they almost all are). I’m going to put up a post later this week on Zigmunt Bauman’s book, “Modernity and the Holocaust.” The dangers via ideologies—religious and secular—attached to institutional power are real. I just think that contemporary scientific communities, in their vigorous dialogue and commitment to truth—as well as their collegiality among group members—exemplify high ideals better than contemporary religious organizations.

    • Passenger says:

      “I just think that contemporary scientific communities, in their vigorous dialogue and commitment to truth—as well as their collegiality among group members—exemplify high ideals better than contemporary religious organizations.”

      have you read sheldrake’s science delusion?

  4. Paradigm says:

    I have to agree with Concerned. It is after all applied science that is destroying this planet, not applied Christianity. True, scientists are often more committed to the truth than the average person but they also show signs of lack of empathy. They had to be persuaded by others that the Draize test in which toxic substances are poured in the eyes of tied up, often unsedated animals was a bad thing. The test is in decline due to protests but they are still going on. Or the experiments by Harry Harlow in which monkey babies were given a substiute mother in the form of a model made of metal wire to illustrate how devastating maternal deprivation can be: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5I6d_vq-Cc

    This is not the service of evil, this is their own initative. It’s not only the admirable truth-over-harmony but also truth-over-empathy. A lot of scientists actually show signs of autism and have little or no social intelligence or empathy.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      I agree with your autism observation, but I think the reason science causes more evil than Christianity in the modern world is because science is actually in the driver’s seat. If Christianity were again in the driver’s seat, there might not be the same evils, but there would be others.

      And I continue to be perplexed by people who argue that, somehow, the world is not on balance better after the Enlightenment than before. Both left and right seem to think the Enlightenment has been this enormous disaster. The Enlightenment laid the foundation for modern medicine, individual rights, freedom of speech, the internet, etc.

      I’m not saying it’s not a complex question, but it does, I think, quite obviously point to a more positive situation on balance.

      —Santi

      • concerned christian says:

        You bring up an important issue, which I believe can be debated endlessly without any decisive conclusion; who get the credit, or blame, for the Enlightenment. I am not looking for one source, I am asking if you assign proportional credit to the various factors that brought the Enlightenment, what will be the percentage of the credit assigned to Ancient Civilizations; Egypt, Persia, and Mesopotamia, the Greeks, Romans, Judeo-Christian, Islam, you can also include the far East. I know that ultimately the Enlightenment, is credited to the major Philosophers and thinkers of the Middle ages, but to borrow Newton’s quote, these thinkers were standing on the shoulders of giants, who are those Giants.
        My claim is that as Judeo-Christian tradition evolved over the centuries, it became a major factor in the Enlightenment

  5. Alan says:

    The realities of this world are not established by those scientists you so idolize (though they may uncover bits of it on their way), but by that dame of Darwin euphemistically personified as Mother Nature. The pertinent lesson of nature here is that nothing of substance has ever been built by science – not Stonehenge, no pyramids, no civilizations. Metal tools, written language, the Apollo program even the Large Hadron Collider – all built by motivated people. While a proportional very few are motivated by science, nothing has motivated, across the millennia, like religion. Such that, in the history of man, there has never been a civilization without organized religion. Europe and Japan are holding to that pattern: as they move away from their religions, they are evaporating into their own apathy.

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