Having read Lee Strobel's "The Case for Christ", I wanted to read this book for an opposite viewpoint. However, I was disappointed: the language is too high-brow and difficult to understand. Even though I have a good English O level from a grammar school here in England, work as a technical writer and consider my vocabulary to be wide, I had to refer to my dictionary several times just to understand the blurb on the back cover. I started to read the first chapter but had to give up after a few pages because the language was just too heavy. I think that, if Robert Price wants to address readers of "The Case for Christ", he would do well to take a leaf out of Strobel's book and use plain English. In using pompous and intellectual language, I think that Price may have put off the very readers that he wants to reach.
I also think that, in the short section that I read, Price covers a lot of points in quick succession, assuming that the reader is able to keep in mind their New Testament knowledge and what they remember of Strobel's arguments in order to follow his counter-arguments. This gave me the impression that Price was so desperate to put down his thoughts on paper that he didn't bother to spell them out more clearly.
Overall, then, I remain to be convinced of a case against.
Yes, both the high and low star reviews drew me to this as my first (not last) inestment in Price's excellent and characterful study. Robert M Price delivers torrents of information with great humour and vocabulary. Though one review (Heel from Oxfordshire) didn't like the scholastic terms, I enjoyed reading on kindle where a flick and a press brings definitions to many names and some historic characters. I'm delighted to have read this book and gained a list of topics for an idle day googling. Am I alone in being a litte defensive of his penultimate chapter's comments about Benny Hill?
The reason I read about religious texts, histories and heirarchies is that I want to understand the character of those cults and their CEOs. These institutions repeatedly claim Truth yet their arguments, assertions and behaviours are seldom truthfully delivered or sustained. Strobel's brand of apologetics is representative of the whole industry, it seems to me: using their texts and archives as a warehouse of word clusters to be cut and pasted as a sword for their own memetic BS irrespective of the endeavours for honest and sincere investigation. A person with the character of any major religion would not be credible as a witness in a court of law - where being trustworthy iand honest is vital.
When I challenge street preachers and other peddlers of lies - especially to children - I push for how they extrude any god from the cosmos, let alone their specific creation and its fettid nest of demands. Any public conversation I have is mainly with the intent of empowering closet atheists who may be watching. For too long, these marketing documents from the unquestioning dogmas have served to stymie countless minds that could have found enjoyment and awe in the beautiful arena that our DNA has flourished. It would be folly not to clip the wings of religions with the army of question marks available to all.
Robert Price clearly does not accept the arguments of Lee Strobel's book, and a thorough discussion between him and the various people he seeks to challenge would be quite interesting. It would be fun to watch them bat the issues around. However, this book is not that discussion. It isn't even close.
As one other review mentions, he throws down his thoughts at high speed and without the academic rigour that I was taught is expected at this level. His arguments come from a position of some learning, yet there are reasonable arguments against his theories which he doesn't seem to addresses as Lee Strobel does in his faux-debate format. Many readers may be content not to do the work, but simply accept his "I'm smarter and more learned, trust me, you don't need to bother with God," I am not.
In his introduction, Price states with incredulity that people like Strobel could have the same evidence but come to a different conclusion- that incredulity morphs into outright contempt within only a few pages. He dismisses both the arguments and the people who use them very quickly, which is not the move of a good academic. The people he takes aim at- Blomberg, Carson etc.- are very intelligent, well-researched and able professors who are academically at least his equal. One does not need to concede that they are correct in order to admit they aren't fools either, and Price should give more weight to analysing and deconstructing their case if he wants to ably demonstrate his own. The best way to win an argument is to take the very best possible version of your opponent's argument and clearly demonstrate its paucity. Price does not.
Those familiar with the debate will wince as he casually dismisses the standard arguments with an unqualified liberal-atheist assertion, such as "We all know John didn't write John, in fact it was probably Cerenthus." Actually, until reading his book I had NEVER heard that- and after reading *a lot* on the subject. Essentially, this book reads like an "I'm right, he's wrong, and that's all you need to know."
Annoyingly, he gets very good reviews from those atheists who are content for someone to wave a big gun around, pronouncing loudly that they can win any discussion on their behalf. Such confidence in misplaced if it is placed in this book.
If reading this, read the Case for Christ first, read this- but then, read the Case for Christ again to see if his counter-argument rings true.
Obviously the U.K 2011 laws are good and the Bible has many points which agree. This is the sirloin steak of arguments against the supernatural claims of orthodox Christianity. I can remember as a teenager vaguely wishing that someone would explain the reasons why it was safe not to worry about extremist, pentecostal,Christ is going to return any minute now doctrine I was surrounded by . I was paralysed from asking or looking for such reasons by my desperation to believe, no matter what, to "be saved". My desperation was driven by fear. I think Robert M Price is humanities best friend. Price incinerates the arguments of orthodox fundamentalist Christianity. Price writes in a very clear, down to earth, witty, good humoured, easily read way. Sceptical anaylsis of the Bible turns it into a fascinating look at how the writings built up inspired by only a figment of peoples imagination.
The sections of this Good book are Part 1. Examining the wreckage .Chapters: 1.The Utter lack of eyewitness evidence. The gospels are not Biographies 2. Testing the evidence of the gospels. Do the gospels stand up to scrutiny 3. The Manuscript evidence; Do we have what the evangelists originally wrote? 4. No Corroborating evidence; no reporters covered Jesus Beat 5. The stones keep mum. How archaeology digs up a world without Jesus 6. A butt-load of evidence. The Jesus seminar and mainstream Biblical research Part 2 Using Jesus as a ventriloquist's dummy. Chapters: 7 The identity crisis. Did Jesus memorize the Nicene creed 8 The psychology of heresy. Must Apologists be crazy when they say Jesus Believed he was God 9 The piffle evidence. Could a finite Jesus correspond in any way to an infinite God 10 The finger-paint evidence. A mess of messianic prophecy Part 3.Rationalizing the Resurrection. Chapters: 11 Dead man walking. The swoon theory 12 The evidence of the empty argument. Was Jesus body ever in a tomb 13 The appearance of evidence. Was Jesus seen in line at Burger King (of kings) 14 The circumcision evidence. Is a supernatural resurrection the best explanation for folks no longer trimming their sons' foreskins? Conclusion; the failure of apologetics
When I was a child my minister threatened me that if I went away from (his doctrine of ) christianity I would never be able to return and would realise my mistake too late and weep and wail. Well that is mental abuse but I suppose I shouldn't have been so gullible, naive and fearful. Courage brother do not stumble. Robert Price seems to have started off life in a similar Fundamentalist camp but was brave and read through all the arguments for and against. I weep and wail now that I didn't ask a librarian or a bookseller if they knew of books which gave all the arguments against the Bible. I wish I'd said nonsense to the Christian myth when I was a child. Snakes don't talk. The Miracles were fiction. Having said that, what does it mean "to walk away from Christianity"? I believe the UK 2011 laws are the best that man is likely to devise. There are ideas in the Bible which are similar to the UK law. In fact the O.T. puts its laws in a more definite, assertive way than UK law. The O.T. puts the laws as commands, Do not.., You shall not/ should not/ must not... Maybe alot of people like that way of talking and maybe it is something that they didn't hear from their parents. The Bible affirms some of the laws/rules that you believe to be good. It also affirms ideas such as love your neighbour and treat them as you wish to be treated. This could be good for children if they do not have a fully reasoned argument for and against particular behaviours. However why not read the UK laws more often in public, they are the relevant ones for now. I get the feeling from Robert Price that he thinks love is the guiding star and thing to aim for. Price has a great sense of morality. If there is a loving Good God then nothing will separate us from that God, not even believing God doesn't exist. You can get most of the arguments from cheaper books like "Why I became an atheist" by John W Loftus and "Trusting doubt" by Valerie Tarico but this book gives top quality arguments by Price and well worth the price. I think the verdict is that you can relax, there probably is no God. However it is possible to imagine an ideal personality that you aim to be like; loving, caring, strong, intelligent, good at making decisions, creative, patient, kind. Maybe this is what people call Christ, that probably is a good thing. An observation typical of Robert Price is that he notices a contradiction between Matt 28v19 which has Jesus tell the 11 disciples to "make disciples of all nations " but Acts 10 has Peter wonder if the gospel is just for Jews. Acts 10 does not have Peter wonder, "what did Jesus at Matt 28v19 mean ", no, it is as if Matt 28v19 words never happened. Could it be that they hadn't been made up at that point ?
I should probably have given this a 4 star rating because Price's style is not always easy to follow. But I have given it a 5 to counter the unfair 1 star rating of another reviewer. We are honoured indeed to have such a doughty fighter as Price doing battle with the vast army of Christian apologists. His style is mockery, yes, but the mockery is deserved and often very funny. Earl Doherty's 'Challenging the Verdict: A Cross-Examination of Lee Strobel's "The Case of Christ"' is a worthy companion to this volume.