John Loftus and His Hypothetical God

by Tom Gilson

John Loftus’s opinion is clear: God is a screw-up. Lazy. Ignorant. Incompetent. Or at least that’s what God would be, if God existed.

I’m reading John’s book How To Defend the Christian Faith: Advice From an Atheist, which he was kind enough to send me for review. Maybe he thought it was only fair, because it’s a book-length review of apologists like myself.

Among other things, he says (page 21) we’re “bumbling idiots and incompetent fools” — but that’s in comparison to an all-knowing God, so actually he wasn’t being all that unkind to us at that point. Don’t worry, though, it’s in there — he just saves it for other passages.

God’s Incompetence?

Here in the vicinity of that quote, though, he aims his criticism at God’s “failure” to accomplish his own task of getting people to believe in himself. In the opening paragraphs of chapter 1 he writes,

I’m going to address the most important question of all for would-be Christian apologists. It’s the obvious elephant in the room, not seen by apologists because they don’t have eyes for it. My argument is that God, if he exists, failed to effectively communicate his will. He failed to provide the sufficient evidence we need to believe.

What God should have done, says Loftus, is (1) to present himself to the world with incontrovertible evidence; for example, in the form of “overwhelming substantiation” for the gospel records, or more directly (2), “he could just speak to everyone directly. He could be a voice in everyone’s head.”

Otherwise (3) he could reveal himself through a “full sensus divinitatis” written on everyone’s mind “from birth,” containing “the knowledge of historical events that are necessary to our salvation … along with theological and ethical truths.” We could perhaps suppress this sense of the divine, but in any event “it would be a propositional revelation without human prophets.”

Or (4), if someone wanted to know God, God could simply implant true thoughts into his/her mind. … God could perform private miracles for honest truth seekers.”

And apologists have ignored all these elephant-like possibilities, right?


John Loftus and His Hypothetical God – Thinking Christian