John Loftus blogs for Debunking Christianity, one of the biggest blogs dedicated to the task of examining faith versus relinquishing it, and his posts are nearly always deep, insightful, and well worth reading. This blog, however, is a far cry from why I think John Loftus is perhaps the most underrated author in this entire field. In my opinion, Loftus holds the honor of having come up with the most sterling silver bullet in the discussion since David Hume, surpassing, if I might suggest it, even greats of the early twentieth century like Bertrand Russell and and those of the late nineteenth like Robert Ingersoll. To explain why, allow me some space to talk about one, soon to be two, of Loftus's books.
I came to know John Loftus's mind through his extremely clear and effective writing in Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity (original, which I have, or get the revised edition here). I literally cannot recommend this book highly enough for anyone that is interested in the discussion about faith and whether or not it should be left behind, particularly the Christian faith. The book is a true resource, spanning hundreds of densely packed, well-researched pages that truly demonstrate that Loftus is intimately familiar with the foundations of the Christian religion, its scripture, its philosophical defense, what it means to be a serious Christian, and why there is no reason whatsoever to accept or believe the Christian (or any) religion. It is truly incredible, and as I mention in Chapter 6 in God Doesn't; We Do regarding him:
Originally, when I had outlined this section, I had intended to indicate many of John Loftus's arguments against theism from Why I Became an Atheist, but I realized that to say what I would really want to say, I would essentially have to quote the majority of Chapters 6 through 13 (along with the much of the rest of the book!), particularly a powerful few pages near the end of Chapter 8 in which he discusses literally scores of simple and obvious ways that God could reveal Himself to us in unambiguous ways, absolutely none of which is silly or asking very much.Near the beginning of the book, which Loftus presents in distinct parts, he outlines his frame of reference, what he refers to as the basis for his control beliefs, and there, in that part, lies a hidden gem. Chapter four contains the silver bullet: John Loftus's "outsider's test of faith." Such a gem it is that his publisher, Prometheus Books, is publishing a full book-length (which may be quite long and thorough, given Loftus's knowledge base and skill) treatment of the test. The Outsider Test for Faith: How to Know Which Religion Is True (pre-order here), is due for publication mid-March 2013 and promises to be a major hammer-blow to the case for theism and one of the most worthwhile purchases of the year.
To summarize this test briefly, at least as it appears in Why I Became an Atheist, Loftus invites readers to investigate their religious beliefs as if coming to them for the first time as an outsider. This overwhelmingly simple construction is one that many very accomplished anti-theist authors, activists, and laypeople have struck upon, and it is the core of the oft-repeated (and oft-modified, creatively and humorously) phrase "I don't believe in God for the same reasons I don't believe in fairies." Loftus's genius, though, is to carefully invite the reader, ostensibly folks who believe in some religion or compassionate nonbelievers who wish to help guide people out of theistic belief, to examine the claims from the outside, which he then neatly and succinctly elaborates on how to do. He is absolutely correct in his claim that, if the test is done honestly, there is no faith that can survive it.
For this concept alone--even without the compelling personal story he tells in Why I Became an Atheist, any of the immense trove of knowledge on the scriptures and philosophical constructions underlying the defenses of Christianity (and, importantly, where they err), or most of all his immense patience and passion (see the blog, seriously) to have dedicated so much of his life to this very uphill struggle--for the outsider's test of faith alone we should all have Loftus's books on our shelves, arguments in our minds, and appreciation in our hearts (and emails!). He is under-read and under-appreciated in this community, and his contributions are heavier than many, many others.
A full list of his books (to my knowledge) is available on Amazon.com. Here is a link to a search for his name.
John, if you read this, you have my appreciation, and my shelves will hold your books for as long as that is possible. I couldn't have written my own and wouldn't be where I am now without you and your efforts.
If you enjoy my writing, you can read more of it in my first book, God Doesn't; We Do: Only Humans Can Solve Human Challenges. If you choose to pick it up, I thank you for your support of myself, my family, and indie authors in general.