For about two decades John W. Loftus was a devout evangelical Christian, an ordained minister of the Church of Christ, and an ardent apologist for Christianity. With three degrees--in philosophy, theology, and philosophy of religion--he was adept at using rational argumentation to defend the faith. But over the years, as he ministered to various congregations and taught at Christian colleges, doubts about the credibility of key Christian tenets began to creep into his thinking. By the late 1990s he experienced a full-blown crisis of faith, brought on by emotional upheavals in his personal life as well as the gathering weight of the doubts he had long entertained.
In this honest appraisal of his journey from believer to atheist, Loftus carefully explains the experiences and the reasoning process that led him to reject religious belief. The bulk of the book is his "cumulative case" against Christianity. Here he lays out the philosophical, scientific, and historical reasons that can be raised against Christian belief. From the implications of religious diversity, the authority of faith vs. reason, and the problem of evil, to the contradictions between the Bible and the scientific worldview, the conflicts between traditional dogma and historical evidence, and much more, Loftus covers a great deal of intellectual terrain. For every issue he succinctly summarizes the various points of view and provides references for further reading. In conclusion, he describes the implications of life without belief in God, some liberating, some sobering.
This frank critique of Christian belief from a former insider will interest freethinkers as well as anyone with doubts about the claims of religion.
John W. Loftus (Angola, IN) earned M.A. and M.Div. degrees in theology and philosophy from Lincoln Christian Seminary under the guidance of Dr. James D. Strauss. He then attended Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he studied under Dr. William Lane Craig and received a Th.M. degree in philosophy of religion. Before leaving the church, he had ministries in Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana, and taught at several Christian colleges.
"Why I Became an Atheist" is an extensive revision of Loftus' previous works entitled "From Minister to Honest Doubter" and "Why I Rejected Christianity."
Recommendations of this book:
Both Daniel C. Dennett and Christopher Hitchens recommend it.
David Mills, author of the bestselling Atheist Universe: "From everything I've heard and read about this forthcoming book, it's going to be one of the top atheist books ever published. John Loftus has such a unique background and wit in his writings that I'm literally counting the days until it reaches my home via Amazon. Thank you, John, for your meticulous efforts to educate the rest of us about the many failures of theology."
Dr. James F. Sennett, Christian philosopher and author of Modality, Probability, and Rationality: A Critical Examination of Alvin Plantinga's Philosophy, and This Much I Know: A Post-Modern Apologetic (unpublished book): "For years I have been saying that Christian apologetics is answering questions no one is asking. Scholarly unbelief is far more sophisticated, far more defensible than any of us would like to believe. John W. Loftus is a scholar and a former Christian who was overwhelmed by that sophistication and damaged irreparably by the inadequate apologetics he had at his disposal. His story is a wake up call to the church: it's time for us to start living in, and speaking to, the real world."
Dr. Norman L. Geisler, Christian apologist and author of The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics: "First [John's book] is an honest and open account of how a Christian became an atheist. Seldom are unbelievers so candid and open. Second, every Christian--let alone Christian apologist--can learn some valuable lessons from it on how to treat wayward believers. Third, it is a thoughtful and intellectually challenging work, presenting arguments that every honest theist and Christian should face. Indeed, some of his criticisms are valid.
Edward Tabash, Attorney at Law, Chair, First Amendment Task Force, Council for Secular Humanism: "Among the general books refuting the claims of Christianity, John has produced one of the best presentations I have read. I recommend his book to all those who seek to study a comprehensive argument against Christian claims."
Dan Barker, author of Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist: "As a former fundamentalist minister who has followed a similar path from apostle to apostate, I empathize completely with the deep struggle Loftus had to make in order to shed his former cherished beliefs. I respect his scholarship, but more than that, I admire his courage. There are many treasures in this book, as well as provocative and controversial arguments, all presented with a crystal-clear and brutal honesty that is rare in religious scholarship. Loftus is a true freethinker, willing to follow the facts wherever they happen to lead."
Valerie Tarico, author of The Dark Side: How Evangelical Teachings Corrupt Love and Truth: "What is unusual about Loftus is his breadth and depth of research in defense of the Christian faith before finally rejecting his faith. Loftus applies himself in this book with the same intellectual rigor he had applied to defending the faith, and effectively dissects those very same arguments. I found myself marveling at the impressively contorted reasoning used by apologists through the ages in defense their received traditions. Arguments on behalf of the "self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit" and the incarnation are extraordinary in this regard. These arguments are testimony to the power of the human mind when we are determined to make the evidence fit a preconceived story line---or when we are determined to hold an appealing belief despite being backed into an evidentiary corner. They are worth reading from the standpoint of cognitive psychology alone. It is thoroughly referenced, and quotes extensively from scholars on many sides. His encyclopedic knowledge speaks for itself."
David Van Allen, webmaster of www.exchristian.net: "This book is an absolute 'must have' for anyone who has left the Christian faith or is having serious intellectual doubts about the Christian religion. While the book starts out explaining some of his experiential reasons for leaving Christianity, the volume goes far beyond a mere personal testimony and dives deeply into the elemental contradictions of Christianity. The plethora of scholarly works referenced in this publication places it amongst the better resources for the honest student. To do the volume justice one must be willing to follow the research that has been carefully documented by Loftus. For those without the time or interest to explore the mountain of references, this book will, none-the-less, provide a significant store for future study when time or necessity dictates. Loftus deals evenly with the issues, carefully explaining the strengths and weaknesses of each argument. Loftus' coverage of the problems inherent in the claims of Christianity is comprehensive. Much of what he wrote sounds like an echo of many of my own introspections except expressed through the well oiled mind of an academia. Loftus does not come away from Christianity with the deep bitterness that affects many in de-conversion, but rather retains admiration for the good influence Christianity had on his own youth. If you are an honest seeker, or an honest doubter; if you truly believe, or truly doubt; I highly recommend you add this book to your collection. "
Richard Carrier, author of Sense and Goodness Without God, said this about The Outsider Test for Faith chapter: "that's an excellent chapter. The logic of it is insurmountable, in my opinion, even by a so-called reformed or 'holy spirit' epistemologist."
Matthew J. Green: "It's not everyday that I get to befriend a fellow apostate and freethinker who left the Christian faith but also one who has a sharp theological mind such as John W. Loftus. A divinity school graduate with three master's degrees, a former student of William Lane Craig, and an academic star in his school days, Loftus has a formidable resume. That's why I was eager to purchase and read Loftus' book Why I Rejected Christianity. This book is one of the best introductory texts on the philosophical problems with Christianity."
Christopher Hallquist, president of Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and blog owner of http://uncrediblehallq.blogspot
"There are also a few real gems originality thrown in there. The best section, though, is at the beginning, in a section called The Outsider Test: "Test your beliefs as if you were an outsider to the faith you are evaluating." Here, Loftus solidifies an idea that has floated around in much skeptical rhetoric for some time. He opens up the possibility of consistently applying an idea that has so far only been applied haphazardly. When this is done, the effect is utterly devastating to religious belief. The Outsider Test should earn Loftus a permanent place in the history of critiques of religion."
Joe E. Holman, founder of www.ministerturnsatheist.org, and author of Project Bible Truth: What Your Church Doesn't Want You To Know (Forthcoming):
"With excellent scholarship and thorough detail, Loftus powerfully and systematically dismantles the Christian religion, refuting long held arguments of apologists, laying to waste sacred and traditional beliefs of the faith."
"If you have questions about your faith, read this book. Those nagging questions are addressed and exposed. Every skeptic should have this concise reference book on the desk, dog-eared, tagged, and highlighted. I've read Sam Harris' book, The End of Faith, and Richard Dawkins' book, The God Delusion. I've read numerous books on the subject but John's book was what I was looking for. The other books hit the target but John's book hits the bulls-eye. I doubt anyone with faith could walk away from this book with that faith intact."
"This book is a reference tool with sources documented well beyond most books in this field. Literally hundreds of sources are quoted throughout and it is amazing that someone could sift through that much material into a succinct, scholarly and easy to read work. Awesome book!!!! It is honestly everything I've been looking for so far in my 'quest' for knowledge. Thank you!"
Greg Meeuwsen: "I have read numerous publications on this topic, but I don't believe I've ever seen as many great reasons to reject religion in one place. John's arguments are numerous and rock-solid. The book reads without even a hint of condescending tone towards his former faith. It is obvious that the man is simply sincere, and he resorts to no personal attacks on any level. This is more than can be said of most current atheist authors. The level of research and brutal logic applied to the Bible is absolutely stunning, as is the sheer number of examples given. There is "no stone unturned", as Loftus takes on nearly every apologist angle ever conceived. This book will give more insight into scholarly unbelief than you ever thought possible."
Paul Harrison: "If you read Christian apologetics, you owe it to yourself to have this anthology of the best arguments against Christian apologetics in your library."
Andrew Atkinson: "I have read hundreds of Christian Apologetics books. I have read all of Lewis, all of Schaeffer, all of Peter Kreeft, all of Dr. Geislers including his encyclopedia A-Z twice and his systematic Theology twice, I have read Plantinga, McDowell, Craig, Ravi, Moreland, Swinburne, N.T right, Paul Copan Etc. I was until recently enrolled at Dr. Geislers school to study apologetics and philosophy. This year I decided in order to be fair and honest to read all the top skeptical books on religion. Your book was one of the first I read. Your book was the first skeptic book I read that made me seriously realize that I could be dead wrong! I think you have written by far the best overall refutation of Christianity in print. This is the best book to give to a believer. Your book has changed my life, and for that I cannot thank you enough.
I think your book is superior for multiple reasons:
1. Its scope and coverage is more exhaustive on issues crucial to Christianity then other books.
2. you anticipate objections from Christian philosophers and Theologians that most skeptics do not, due to there lack of familiarity with the other side.
3. The books packs so much in such a little space, it has amazing brevity and at the same time brilliantly dismantles many core Christian beliefs and deals with many central issues that are left out of other works.
4.Your familiarity with Christian Theology and philosophy makes you much better at drawing fine and important distinctions that other skeptics miss, due to their lack of expertise in the other side.
5. The personal Deconversion narrative woven through out the book gives it an informal and personal touch that makes it more fascinating to read then other skeptic books. Plus you are the only skeptical Author that I know of that was a highly competent Christian Apologist and Philosophers, this of course is another unique feature.
6. Your non-abrasive style sets your book apart from many other skeptic books. You wrote the book in such a way, as not to polarize the believer. The average believer would much more likely to read this book then other similar books due to your respectful manner."