by Tom Gilson
John Loftus’s Facebook page lit up recently after I answered his question about going to church. Several of his friends challenged me to dig in to the meat of Loftus’s work. I had two of his books on my “guilt shelf” (books I own that I know I really ought to read), so I dove into one of them: The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails.
My conclusion: there actually is some meat here, some things worth thinking through seriously. But there’s no evidence of a grand Christian delusion. The Christian Delusion fails.
The book is a collection of 15 essays by ten authors. Dan Barker wrote in the Foreword, ”The case for faith is a case for ignorance” (emphasis his), and since many of the authors were once deeply involved in Christianity, “No one can pretend that the contributors in this volume have not given Jesus a fair shake or that they don’t know intimately what they’re talking about.”
I’m not so sure. I’ll present a smattering of reactions to several chapters, focusing on two in particular in later posts. I’ll start at the very beginning (“a very good place to start,” as Julie Andrews’s character Maria von Trapp once sang).
Culture and Religion
David Eller opens chapter 1,
Every argument in support of religion has been been shown to be inconclusive or generally false, yet religion persists, of course. If the case for religion in general fails, then the case for any particular form of religion, like theism or monotheism or Christian monotheism, naturally fails too.
Eller thinks there is a genus of social and psychological phenomena called “religion” of which all instances of “religions” are species; and that they all have something in common that can be assessed and refuted. He notes that Christianity is expressed culturally. The cultures in which it becomes situated influence the form it takes, and Christianity influences those cultures in turn. None of this is news; Eller quotes Christian anthropologists who have noted the same thing. Therefore there is more than one “Christianity,” culturally speaking, which is old news for Christians, too.
Eller takes us on a worthwhile and highly informative tour of Christianity and culture, then concludes…
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