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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is the Bible supernatural realm wildly improbable?
May the force of sceptical logic from these masters of the Bibleverse set you free, then you will be free indeed! The truth calls out to those living in darkness, come out from under the false image of divinity into the light of reason. These voices interpret the Bible honestly and declare checkmate on the phantom of its opera. There is nothing to fear. The one who...
Published on 31 July 2011 by A.

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7 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Presupposing materialism
"The End of Christianity" is a compilation of hard-line, atheist-materialist polemics against - guess what - Christianity, brought to us by the indefatigable John W. Loftus, a recovering fundamentalist minister. Apparently, its part of Loftus' very own space trilogy, the other titles being "The Christian Delusion" and "Why I became an atheist". (I haven't read those,...
Published on 30 Dec. 2011 by Ashtar Command


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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is the Bible supernatural realm wildly improbable?, 31 July 2011
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A. (Broxburn, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The End of Christianity (Paperback)
May the force of sceptical logic from these masters of the Bibleverse set you free, then you will be free indeed! The truth calls out to those living in darkness, come out from under the false image of divinity into the light of reason. These voices interpret the Bible honestly and declare checkmate on the phantom of its opera. There is nothing to fear. The one who claimed to offer peace but in reality gave a cruicifying burden is no more. Hell was the log in Jesus eye.
The chapters are:
1.By David Eller: Christianity evolving: On the origins or Christian Species
2.By Richard Carrier: Christianity's success was not incredible
3.By John Loftus: Christianity is Wildly Improbable
4 By Hector Avalos: Why Biblical studies must end
5 By Jaco Gericke: Can God exist if Yahweh doesn't?
6 By Varlerie Tarico: God's emotions: Why the Biblical God is hopelessly human
7 By Ken Pulliam: The absurdity of the Atonement
8 By Matt McCormick: The Salem witch trials and the evidence for the resurrection
9 By Robert Price: Explaining the Resurrection without Recourse to miracle
10 By Keith Parsons: Hell: Christianitiy's most damnable doctrine
11 By David Eller: Is religion compatable with science?
12 By Richard Carrier: Neither life not the universe appear Intelligently designed
13 By Victor Stenger : Life after death: Examining the evidence
14 By Richard Carrier: Moral facts naturally exist ( and science could find them)

Behold rational thought stands at the door and knocks, who so ever accepts it will be saved from internal delusion.
I think Ch 10 can be summarized: A morally perfect God wouldn't do a cruel and unjust thing like sending people to eternal suffering, a competent God wouldn't have let a hell come into existence, a good & loving God wouldn't let the world exist after Adam & Eve if most were doomed. On p242 Parsons notes that C.S. Lewis in his 1940 book, 'The problem of pain' was aware of many valid objections to the doctrine of hell. 1 The punishments are purely retributive and therefore cruel. 2 Eternal punishment for transitory sin is unjust. 3 The punishments of hell are too severe to be just 5. God who desires the salvation of all is defeated when a soul is lost.On p233 he writes that Charles Darwin was a trained theologian and thought Hell was a damnable doctrine. [I think that if you weren't afraid of going there then you would agree with those objections, but fear makes people like Lewis bend their thinking to try defend it] p 234 The dogma of hell is rationally and morally indefensible
Valerie Tarico p162 encourages people to value honesty, integrity and truth seeking
Hector Avalos p129 inspite of his confrontational chapter title thinks that Biblical studies should be retained to help people move towards a post scriptural society. He suggests that 99% of the Bible would not be missed. I get the point but I think that the Bible will always be valuable as an excercise in Higher criticism- it is important to be able to explain why is ain't necessarily so. It will help people to stay grounded if they know the history of religion & philosophy. I have accepted, as John Loftus suggests, that the Bible supernatural realm doesn't exist. However I still have faith in the Golden rule: treat others as you want them to treat you, and in the riddles of love your neighbour & enemies (eg have a caring attitude toward & non exaggerated, non generalised opinion of them), be forgiving, be a peacemaker, be merciful, turn the other cheek where appropriate but vigorously defend your innocence when falsely accused, comply with the 2011 U.K laws. etc
So what if Jesus and God are myth? Church is about meeting friends chatting about holidays & friends and singing nice tunes or sitting round a camp fire with a guitar. If churches would honestly embrace the full arument pro and con instead of covering up inconvenient truths they would get on much better. You have heard it said, 'Believe and do not doubt' but now I say unto thee, to have a balanced view ministers should encourage people to value doubt which is simply the other side of the argument from the one that supports your conclusion'. It is possible to move from Christian orthodoxy to a higher moral plane.A health & safety assessment can be done on all human activity. Modern secular law reflects that. These authors point out the defects in Bible morality which is largely superstition based. Loftus & co stand alone on the word of man; the B.I.B.L.E.
It's time to accept that the sceptical in the congregation were right all along when they they thought the minister was taking it all too seriously.
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7 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Presupposing materialism, 30 Dec. 2011
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This review is from: The End of Christianity (Paperback)
"The End of Christianity" is a compilation of hard-line, atheist-materialist polemics against - guess what - Christianity, brought to us by the indefatigable John W. Loftus, a recovering fundamentalist minister. Apparently, its part of Loftus' very own space trilogy, the other titles being "The Christian Delusion" and "Why I became an atheist". (I haven't read those, yet.)

Being neither a Christian nor a materialist, I'm of course eminently suited to give this book a fair hearing and perfectly objective review... And then, maybe not. :D

Frankly, "The End of Christianity" is a very mixed bag, but it veers strongly towards the "bad" end of the bag spectrum. For instance, John Loftus' Outsider Test for Faith (OTF) is obviously rigged so only atheist-materialists can pass it. Richard Carrier's moral philosophy is zany, to say the least, and other articles work only if you accept the exact theological notions being debunked. Thus, those who don't accept the particular version of the atonement attacked by Ken Pulliam will consider his article a shot in the dark. Likewise, only cessationists will be stung by Matt McCormick's article about the Salem witch trials. The undertone of the entire book is that science (or perhaps Science) can solve all problems, including those pertaining to morality, the meaning of life, etc. Some of the authors have an obsession with a certain kind of formal logic, as if that could prove anything (on this point, they share the pew with some Christian apologists). As somebody pointed out long ago: you can't use formal logic to prove the existence of whales.

Another weak argument goes like this: The empty grave doesn't prove that Jesus was resurrected, since a phoney story about a resurrection will - by definition - include a story of an empty grave. You can't use one part of a legend to "prove" the other part (there's even a funny comic to drive home this point). True, I suppose. But then, a *true* story about a resurrection would also include a story about an empty tomb, wouldn't it? In fact, I think I can prove that using formal logic! Thus, the argument of "Jesus and Mo" only works if materialism is presupposed from the outset.

And that, I think, is the main reason why I find this book so frustrating (a bit like Lee Strobel in reverse). The narrow materialism-positivism-scientism of the contributors is never really argued for, it's there from the outset. (The OTF is just the most glaring example.) Nothing "wrong" with that, I suppose, expect that it gives the book the quality of a monologue. A more native, American problem (already mentioned) is that the target of the polemic is assumed to be an equally narrow evangelical, perhaps a fundamentalist pure and simple. Those of us who aren't high on Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell or Billy Graham feel somewhat left out, guys!

The best articles are "Hell: Christianity's most damnable doctrine" by Keith Parsons and "Christianity's success is highly improbable" by Richard Carrier. The latter author attempts to prove that the ideas of Christianity weren't unique or unusual in the Jewish-Hellenistic context where they first emerged. In fact, there are many parallels between the Christian stories and various legends or expectations found in other religions. The mystery religions are mentioned, and Carrier also mentions that the resurrection of the body is originally a "pagan" idea, taken over by the Jews from Zoroastrianism. (I'm impressed, Richard! Few people notice that many "Biblical" ideas actually come from this Persian religious system.) Carrier's point is that the idea of a dying and resurrecting god-man could have evolved by purely natural means. No need to postulate any supernatural explanation. Of course, this argument also presupposes materialism. Here's an alternative explanation: What if all Hellenistic religions reflect objective spiritual truths, some better than others? Or what if Zoroaster was right? ;-)

The best atheist-materialist books are those which attempt to prove Neo-Darwinism and give it a strictly materialist spin, such as "The Blind Watchmaker" by Richard Dawkins. If Dawkins is right, then all (or almost all) religions and pre-1859 philosophies are dead wrong. No need to argue the finer theological points about the atonement or the Trinity. In other words, the best books are those which somehow try to prove materialism, rather than simply postulate it.

But sure, I'm somewhat subjective on this point. We all have our "issues", I suppose. Maybe there are people who could be de-converted even by "The End of Christianity"...
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The End of Christianity
The End of Christianity by John W. Loftus (Paperback - 1 July 2011)
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