FreeThought Fort Wayne

        Be Reasonable

Posts Tagged ‘John Loftus’

John Loftus book “Why I became an atheist” has been released

Posted by Skeptigator on August 20, 2008

Just as a quick note, John Loftus’s book, Why I became an atheist and published by Prometheus Books has been released. Use the link above to purchase from Amazon.com and John will get a little extra cheddar.

Here’s the announcement on John’s blog, debunkingchristianity.net

Advertisements

Posted in FreeThought | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Interview with John W. Loftus and Robert M. Price (Video)

Posted by Andy D. on August 17, 2008

It was a great pleasure to speak with two ex-ministers about a wide range of secular topics on Episodes 11 and 12 of “The Enlightenment Show.” They both have  preaching backgrounds and are still preaching but their message has changed.

Robert M. Price is author of “Top Secret: The Truth Behind Today’s Pop Mysticisms.” He is a Fellow at The Jesus Seminar and professor of Theology and Scriptural Studies at the Johnnie Coleman Theological Seminary. He is the author of many other books. See his website.

John W. Loftus is author of “Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity.” He is the founder of the blog Debunking Christianity. John grew up in Fort Wayne and formerly preached in Angola, IN.

Part 1 (29 min)[blip.tv ?posts_id=1185080&dest=-1]

Part 2 (30 min)[blip.tv ?posts_id=1185102&dest=-1]

Posted in Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Robert M. Price article mentioned on the Enlightenment Show about moral trends

Posted by Andy D. on August 12, 2008

During The Enlightenment Show round table interview with John W. Loftus and Dr. Robert M. Price, John pointed out the following article that I included below which Robert wrote last year. We were talking about the lack of “family values” of Jesus and the bible. (I will have the shows posted in about a week.) The morality of the religious is really no better or worse than the population as a whole and Price in this article thinks this will slow evangelicalism.

Just today I ran across an article about marriage not necessary being great for health. Like everything, a huge general inference such as being married makes you live longer is very complicated and not clear cut. The family drum has been beaten hard by all the Christian right wing “family institutes” to disguise their religious bigotry in secular terms. For the record, I am not against the family at all and think all marriage contracts should be taken very seriously and divorce should only be used when absolutely necessary. Yes, I am ok with homosexuals forming marriages. I don’t know how those Christian right wingers infer that good stuff from family living won’t apply to homosexuals. I think those families would be stronger due to social pressures against them. Maybe the Christian Right will use this study from the article on machines like us?

I wish Price included the specific stats in his article below, but I think he is right with the trend. I don’t think religious nuttiness and policing will end but they will become less significant.

Here is Robert M . Price’s article:

It used to be the Evangelicals and Fundamentalists would never darken the door of movie theatres, even if Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place was showing (I kid you not!). Now that’s moot, especially in the wake of home theatre technology. They wouldn’t dance, because it was supposedly arousing, essentially mating behavior-which it obviously is! But now they’ve skipped the preliminaries (keep reading).

More significantly, they were very much against divorce and had a low incidence of it. But that, too, has changed. Evangelical churchmen and seminary professors found they just could not thunder against divorce any more once their own grown children were getting divorced. Same with women working outside the home. Economic realities dictated theology just as sure as the Feds’ threats to the Mormon Church miraculously prompted new LDS revelations to abandon, first, polygamy, then racial discrimination in the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Homosexuality is next on the list. More and more educated Evangelicals seem to feel they must find a compromise between the inherited party line and their liberal social conscience. This is especially true with seminarians and young ministers. And such theological accommodations are not hard to find. It doesn’t take as much text-twisting as slave-abolition or feminism, that’s for sure. And it was secular feminism challenging the church that led, more than anything else, to the great inerrancy crisis among Evangelicals in the 1970s. Prayer changes things? Things change prayer.

Recent surveys indicate that more and more Evangelicals are questioning or rejecting the doctrine of an eternal hell as well as the idea that non-Christians will not be saved in the afterlife. You can see where this is headed: they are making their way toward being one more tolerant, live-and-let-live mainstream denomination. Nor am I complaining. I doubt many of us are really that vexed by the particular beliefs any fundamentalist happens to hold. No, what we find obnoxious is the pugnacious and obnoxious attitudes that so often accompany their beliefs. But what if they drop that attitude? Why would they?

It was for the sake of feeling uniquely indwelt and transformed by the Holy Ghost that they have erected attitudinal walls against non-co-religionists. It was a mind game to protect their cherished in-group and their firmly-cemented membership in it. But the more you become like the mainstream, the less separates you from everybody else, well, the more difficult it becomes to feel special, uniquely connected to God and sanctified by Jesus. It’s not like they ever wanted to relegate everybody else to the Lake of Fire. It just seemed necessary in order for them to rejoice in not being relegated there themselves. And now feeling so different is no longer the priority. Attitudes affect doctrines which affect attitudes.

But the thing that will sooner or later bring the Evangelical Wailing Wall down is sex. More and more, Middle School, High School, and College Evangelicals admit to having sex in the same casual way as their “unsaved” contemporaries. That is, pre-marital, recreational sex. Having been so long Apollonian, they are itching to yield to Dionysus. But the gospel teaching of Jesus happens to be far more Apollonian than Dionysian. (Give ’em time, though, to discover the Q Source Jesus of Leif Vaage, Jesus as a “first-century party animal,” and they’ll be boasting of their biblical fidelity again.)

From the standpoint of sect-maintenance, this shift is fatal for two reasons. First, and most obviously, if this fundamental plank of the Evangelical platform rots and snaps, you can find little of similar magnitude to point to as the signal difference between the saved and the unsaved. I admit, there are a few more that would be similarly fatal, such as a casual permissiveness re drugs and alcohol.

Again, I admit that there are matters of graver moral content. A Christian ought to be able to say, e.g., “Jesus saved me from lying, from being insensitive, from being self-centered, cowardly, evasive, materialistic,” etc., and those things might be more important. I’d say they are. But you see, everybody accepts and admires those values. They don’t give Evangelicals special bragging rights like the sexual and other behavioral codes used to do.

Second, relaxing the sexual code is symbolically significant. Any group’s mores concerning food and sex are symbolic of their social boundaries and the shape of their self-identity. A group does not necessarily have both indices. One will do, though usually there are both. Old Testament Israelites were separated from rival cults/cultures by upholding inflexible restrictions on permissible food and on possible intermarriage partners. Sexual fidelity had a lot to do with guaranteeing that one’s true heirs inherited one’s land and name. Jewish Christians were alarmed at Paul being willing to abolish Jewish dietary and other ceremonial scruples to make it easier for Gentiles to join Christianity. They could see instantly that such a move would result in Jews being squeezed to the margins of the new religion-and it did. Jewish identity within Christianity was lost. Similarly, among American Jews today it is not bigotry when Orthodox rabbis discourage mixed marriages with non-Jews. Allow that, and you can say the big goodbye to Judaism in America. It will be only a matter of time before intermarriage with well-meaning and good-hearted non-Jews will completely erode American Judaism. The hybrid “Chrismika” is only a stop along the one-way track. Maybe there will be an Orthodox farm next to the Amish farm.

Well, when the sex barrier falls, the same fate is in store for Evangelical Christianity. (There never was a consistent Evangelical food boundary; even the Reformed drank alcohol.) And when the new generations are none too sure that non-believers are headed for hell, it becomes inevitable that American Evangelicalism will ease into the acid bath of American Pluralism. And it may happen sooner than you think. And then all those mega-churches will be up for sale. Unless of course they find a new product to sell. TV preacher Joel Osteen has done just that. His Evangelical belief is merely vestigial; he has converted to New Thought. It is no coincidence that he fills that stadium. Others may not be so lucky.

This was published by Robert Price in his monthly opinion email, Zarathustra Speaks. See his home page to subscribe. The newsletter notes: Copyright © 2007 Robert M. Price. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to reproduce, copy or distribute this newsletter if accompanied with this copyright notice.

Posted in FreeThought | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

We want our Utopia now

Posted by Skeptigator on July 21, 2008

theodorsing recently posted Evangelist = Evil’s Agent?, in which he asks a number of compelling questions. So my post this week has been discarded in favor of my thoughts on the same topic.

The main theme from the post was that atheism, by definition, and often in practice is a negative assertion. It provides no foundation for a positive* belief system, it offers no method, process or framework with which to create a positive* worldview. Perhaps the most you could say is that it provides a framework within which I don’t believe in your (or all) god(s). There is simply nothing there to grab a hold of.

“Suppose we’ve chosen the wrong god. Every time we go to church we’re just making him madder and madder.” – Homer Simpson

theo and I spoke at a local church about a month ago that was exploring other worldviews by actually inviting people who espouse those worldviews to explain for themselves what they believe. This is an excellent idea that should be explored by other organizations as well.

What we were specifically asked to address was Atheism. However in the course of working up materials and notes on the topic I realized that Atheism as a basis of a talk would be pretty bare. The person at the church offered a standard list of topics to address and after going through the list it looked a little like this: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Do You Mind if I Ask a Personal Question? (A mini-series?)

Posted by Andy D. on June 10, 2008

I listened to John Loftus’ speech to us again on why he rejects Christianity from the position of a former evangelical minister and apologist.  It is a good listen.  (Check out his referrals on his latest book! That is a long list of famous people who mostly are going to hell.  We were lucky to have John join us.)

As most of you know, I have been on my own educational quest.  I wanted scientific answers to the big questions with no BS.  I have been following the technical blogs and reading everything I could on evolution and I read ex-ministers’ books on theology.

During the Q&A period of John’s speech the theists asked (and made comments) on the same old morality and Hitler objections.  The freethinkers asked good logical questions and battled back the comments and the reductio ad Hitlerum fallacy. The topics were technical and logical.  I loved it.

Suddenly, in the middle of the talk, Sarah asked John if she could ask him a personal question?  We all laughed in anticipation of the question.  She asked John what did his family and friends think of him being out as an Atheist? What a great and relevant question!  I was focused on the logic and arguments; Sarah wanted to know more about the relationships.  John answered by saying at least we are not getting stoned now for speaking up about non-belief and he wanted to change the world.  He didn’t blow Sarah off, but I think she wanted to know more about the personal problems he may have experienced as a by product from being open. The young earth creationist attorney switched the subject for us so we didn’t get that answer.  I am going to e-mail John this blog post and see if he will respond.  I did a quick search on his debunking blog to see if he wrote about this already but I didn’t find anything).

I wasn’t even consciously focusing on this part of my life.  However, I am neck deep in this.  Most of us are probably having trouble in this area so let’s talk about it.  (Blogging is good for you! It sure beats prayer because someone actually reads it and they may respond!  Although they may both provide a self-meditating effect).

My brother has recently graduated from The OSU medical school and he is now engaged to his amazing girlfriend who is also a new doctor.  She is a devout Catholic and accepts a theistic type of evolution as the former Catholic generation did.  He was honest about not being religious and the two of them are getting along great.  I talked with Jim and suggested to him if he loves her there is nothing in our worldview that keeps him from participating in that part of her life.  The trade off is Jim has to have a big Catholic wedding which is her dream.   I love Catholic music and ceremony.  They sure beat the boring Lutheran services.   Don’t hate me folks if I turn off my logic hat during the wedding.  I won’t walk up and say excuse me do you realize there is no evidence for any of these far out claims?  I love my brother and soon to be sister-in-law far more than dragging up reason in the ceremony.  I would be a major ass if I did that.  In fact, that would be unreasonable and dare I say illogical.   (Is there some attempt at a natural selection type of altruism here?  Maybe selfish gene evolutionary theory applies?)

Where do we draw the line on what we tolerate?  I know it would be wrong and silly to run around nursing homes and start saying excuse me, did you know this God thing isn’t really true.  Of course, we draw a hard line to keep creationism out of science class.  I want to know more about the middle demarcation between criticism of religion and intolerance and what that means to our relationships.

I want to pose Sarah’s question to all of you.  What about your family and friends?  Are you open?  What problems are you facing?   I only scratched the surface on this topic and I will write a series on personal issues that I am having with family and friends.  It is extremely complicated.   Let’s help one another.  I will talk to you all tomorrow at the meeting!

Andy

Posted in FreeThought, Philosophy, Religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

John Loftus’ Speech to FreeThought Fort Wayne (Audio)

Posted by Skeptigator on May 19, 2008

[blip.tv ?posts_id=925127&dest=-1]

On May 14th, FreeThought Fort Wayne sponsored an event at the local library entitled Why I Rejected Christianity. Our speaker was John Loftus, who runs the group site, http://debunkingchristianity.net.

John Loftus is a former evangelical pastor and apologist who is now an atheist. He has previously self-published his story and his thoughts on why he left the Christian faith. Later this year, John will be releasing his forthcoming book, Why I became an Atheist, a former preacher rejects Christianity through Prometheus Books.

John’s talk to the group was very well received and most of those in attendance were very well-behaved. His speech was attended by about 45 people, of which only about half were regular attenders of FreeThought Fort Wayne. The larger than normal attendance was due in part to the interview that John Loftus gave to one of our local newspapers, Ex-preacher says goodbye to God.

It was great to see some new faces. The talk was about 2 hours long and included a slideshow, so be aware that there are some parts of the talk may not make as much sense since you can’t see the slideshow. The main portion of his talk was about an hour and a half and included about a half hour of Q&A at the end.

The bulk of John’s lecture was a high-level review of many of John’s points from his forthcoming book. If you wish to see the detailed biblical criticisms that backup his arguments you will need to get the book when it’s released . Here’s what some of our members had to say about John’s talk (I would suggest listening to the talk before reading the posts below, they will have better context);

Posted in Events, FreeThought, Local, Philosophy, Religion, Skepticism, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

John Loftus entertains, informs and incites in Fort Wayne

Posted by neuralgourmet on May 16, 2008

[Cross-posted from Neural Gourmet]

John Loftus, the former evangelical minister turned atheist, author of the soon to be released book Why I Became An Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity and founder of the group blog Debunking Christianity gave a lively talk Wednesday night at the Allen County Public Library. The event, which saw about 40 people in attendance, was organized by Freethought Fort Wayne.

Among other topics, Loftus talked about his previous faith in Christianity, and how he came to lose that faith. However, the meat of Loftus’s presentation was his insightful, and inciteful, criticism of Christian theology. Although Loftus was highly educated in theological studies, including earning two Masters degress, he never completed his Doctorate, acknowledging that he just wasn’t smart enough. Loftus said, “You have to be really smart to come up with this stuff,” meaning the sometimes strained logic employed in Christian apologetics.

To illustrate his point, Loftus quoted noted theologian James D. Strauss, under whom he studied, as being famous for saying, “You can’t get to God unless you start with God”. Loftus said that was the primary problem with the logic employed in apologetics — they start with the supposition that God exists and then try to work out how a world with God would work, rather than examining the world as it is.

These and other statements didn’t sit well with some of the Christian believers in the audience who openly criticized Loftus. Accusations that Loftus’ own scholarship was poor, or that he hadn’t actually read the Bible were made but Loftus took it all in stride, cracking jokes and generally setting his critics at ease, if not convincing them of his views. Watching Loftus deftly handle the crowd it was easy to imagine him in his days as a preacher.

And while Loftus might have angered some Christians in attendance, he says that’s not his intention. He doesn’t apologize for his views and wants to be effective in communicating what he believes to be the inherent errancy of the Christian faith, but coming out of that faith he also tries to be respectful.

Before Loftus’ talk, I had a chance to chat with him about what he’s trying to do, as well as his perceptions of the so-called “new atheists” such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett. Loftus admitted that some of what the “new atheists” say gives him pause, especially when they make blanket statements like declaring that a religious upbringing is a form of child abuse. He said, “You’ve got to understand that both sides are scared. The atheists and other secularists are afraid that we’re going to return to the Crusades or the Inquisition. But many evangelical Christians are truly afraid that secularists are going to bring about a regime like Stalin’s where religious belief and practice are outlawed.” Loftus says that he understands that what he says is controversial to many people, but he never wants to give the impression that atheists like himself look down on or want to control believers.

Listening and talking with Loftus, one gets the impression of a man who has carefully thought through his arguments, yet who is always open to listening to the views of others, whether they happen to be believers or not. Indeed, Loftus is in a particularly unique position to criticize Christianity from the inside and perhaps persuade people in a way that no scientist or academic ever could of not only the dangers of unexamined belief, but also the rewards of freethought. In a community as deeply religious as Fort Wayne it’s perhaps all the more important that voices such as Loftus’ be heard. And while he might never convince any believer to give up their faith, Loftus’ singular perspective may well indeed serve as a bridge to furthering understanding between atheists and the faithful.

Posted in Events, FreeThought, Local, Religion, Skepticism | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

John Loftus interviewed in the News-Sentinel

Posted by Skeptigator on May 13, 2008

Today’s News-Sentinel features an article written by Bob Caylor about John Loftus’ lecture tomorrow night. Here’s the link to the article online, Ex-preacher says goodbye to God.

I really should have told him to use my first name only, if at all, I am still closeted after all. Here’s the part that pertains to us, hopefully this comes off well,

Wednesday night, he’ll speak to atheists and agnostics in Fort Wayne who want to hear more about why his skepticism changed him from preacher to atheist. He’s speaking at a regular monthly meeting for “freethinkers,” atheists and agnostics. It’s something like church for the willfully unchurched.

“It can be a bit isolating in Fort Wayne to be a non-believer when the people you work with are believers, you drive past six churches to work every day and half the cars on the road say ‘In God We Trust,’” said Jeremy Diller, who helped arrange Loftus’ presentation. “It can be very refreshing to be able to spend a couple hours every month talking and laughing with people who aren’t trying to save your soul and just enjoy your opinions.”

I don’t really know about the “willfully unchurched” bit. Some of us including myself are very well “churched”. It’s the churching that drove us ultimately away from a supernatural worldview.

Hopefully there are some freethinkers in Fort Wayne who may be looking for a great group of people to hang out with. Hopefully, those who attend that don’t share our opinions will come with an open mind and behave themselves.

Posted in Events, FreeThought, Local | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

Our next meeting will be May 14th, 2008

Posted by Skeptigator on April 14, 2008

As a special treat John W. Loftus will be speaking to our group on the topic, “Why I rejected Christianity”. The meeting is at the Downtown Fort Wayne Public Library in Meeting Room B from 7:00PM to 9:00PM. There will probably be a group of us going out afterwords for drinks.

Here’s a little more information on the author, John Loftus,

“Born and raised in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and as a former ordained minister with Christ’s Church at Georgetown, John ministered for fourteen years in Christian churches in the Tri-State area. John earned the equivalent of a PhD degree in philosophical and theological studies. He was a student of William Lane Craig, considered by many Christians to be the best defender of their faith in this generation. John’s book, “Why I Became an Atheist: A Preacher Rejects Christianity,” will be published this year by Prometheus Books. John is also the founder of the blog titled, “Debunking Christianity,” which has several ex-Christian ministers and apologists sharing their reasons why the Christian faith is delusional.”

Posted in Events, FreeThought, Local, Skepticism | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »