Missionary atheism, intellectual honesty and John Loftus

I recently had a short but interesting interaction with anti-Christian apologist John Loftus on the blog of progressive Evangelical theologian Randal Rauser.


John first wrote to Randal:

Randal, I look forward to your book. It’s really hard to write one from the other side of the fence and have it accurately represent one’s opponents. I think you’ll reject the “Rebellion Hypothesis,” which is needed. It’s too bad many Christians aren’t where you’re at on this, but they probably will be in a decade or more.Dr. James Sennett once told me that my book WIBA didn’t contain any straw man arguments as far as he could tell, for which I was pleased. I hope you can do the same.Just recently a guy said the same thing he did:

I was also afraid that the apologetic arguments mentioned in the book would be misrepresented and it was absolutely refreshing to see their arguments accurately presented and cited before thoroughly deconstructing them (many of which were quoted from the very same books I had read as a teen).

http://www.debunkingchristiani…Not everyone will think this, but I have repeatedly caught you doing what Christians on the other side on my fence say that I don’t do. You do mischaracterize the opposition, a lot, but also a lot less than most of them do.”

I responded:

While I once applauded you for your “advice to a Christian apologist”, I do believe your mischaracterize your opponents a lot too, at least much more than Randal does. Contrarily to your current conviction, there are many, many Christians who reject atrocities found in the Old Testament and who don’t view the Bible as necessarily more inspired than other Christian books, however difficult this might be to grasp for a former Protestant having been traumatized by fundamentalism. So I think you should rename your Blog “Debunking Evangelicalism” and try to really understand your opponents before criticizing them, because you seem to be much more interested to win new converts than having a friendly and respectful conversation about our beliefs concerning ultimate reality. This is very sad for polarized America (and more generally our polarized world) desperately needs nice discussions where people do not bully each other. Friendly greetings.

John wrote back

Lotharson, I try to debunk Christianity in all it’s forms. The problem is that Christianity is a many splintered thing. I quote from the authors who claim to represent Christianity so there are no straw men there. I co-authored a book with Randal, a progressive evangelical, and in it I took on his views. That you continue making this claim means you simply don’t understand. Yours is the correct Christianity, right? If I quote you and argue against you will you say the same thing?

To which I wrote back

Hello John, thank you very much for your answer.You spend the large majority of your time debunking Conservatism Evangelicalism, and I read only few things from you concerning <b> non-Evangelical </b> progressive Christianity.
Let me say I am in total agreement with many things you write, yet I don’t view them as a challenge against my own faith at all. You state there are many Christianities out there, and I agree with you. In oder to defeat Christianity (with a capital “C”) you ought to be able to demonstrate that they are all false or extremely implausible. So you have to develop <u> general </u> arguments showing that all forms of Christianity are equally false. Let me give you an analogy.
There are countless <b> conflicting </b> materialist theories of the mind out there.
I would be completely foolish if I were to conclude that materialism is false just because I could disprove <b> one </b> of them. Yet this is clearly the impression you all too often give. After having shown that inerrancy is an incoherent and silly teaching, you give to your reader the impression this shows that <b>C</b>hristianity has been refuted, losing track of the numerous Christians who reject this doctrine from the very start. Your writings about the problem of pain are far better in that they handle a troubling topic for ALL Christians. You are quite an intelligent guy, and I think you would be far more convincing if you stepped back from the culture war and started understanding your adversaries before criticizing them.
Until then you will remain an ideologist in opposition to Jeffrey Jay Lowder and Randal Rauser who are true scholars earnestly seeking the truth. Cheers.

John Loftus clearly shows by a behavior that he has remained a missionary fundamentalist, much more interested in winning new converts to his own sect of atheism than seeking the truth.I first realized this after having read his dispute with the nice and respect full atheistic philosopher Jefrfrey Jay Lowder.The latter took him to task for not caring about the validity of atheistic arguments used to deconvert people.Here is Loftus’s response:

I would no more spend time arguing against an ineffective atheist argument than I would spend time baking cookies I had no intention of doing anything with. Why bother? I’m not interested in a discussion for discussion’s sake. I have a warranted properly basic belief that there is no God, so all that’s left is to persuade believers otherwise, along the same lines as Stephen Law recently argued.”

I was truly dumbstruck after having read that. John Loftus keeps calling Christian theologians deceptive and delusional liars, and here he has clearly acknowledge he is not pursuing truth.In the past, I had a great respect for John and sincerely tried to engage a real conversation with him.Now I am strongly tempted to just say:”Why bother with him? Why should I waste my time with a self-proclaimed ideologist trying to win converts at all costs?”