Special Edition
Vol. 1, No. 7

The "Rational Superiority" section of Chapter 2 of Why I Became an Atheist is merely a rewrite of a posting Loftus made on TheologyWeb on June 8, 2005. It is slightly revised -- apparently in responses to my criticisms -- but it also retains many of the same points, none of which Loftus has altered despite criticisms, which he apparently wishes to ignore.

The Rational section is short. I will reprint from the TWeb posting material here that is paralleled in the book, noting any significant thematic changes.

A friend and former student with me at LCS, Dr. James Sennett, calls this objection the Christian "Illusion of Rational Superiority" in his forthcoming book: This Much I Know: A Postmodern Apologetic. It's an illusion, he claims. Although, as a Christian philosopher he argues it is an unnecessary illusion due to the fact that even though he has a reasonable faith, it is "not rationally compelling to all."

Sennett argues that the Christian cannot overlook "one simple but powerful fact: most of the truly brilliant, deepest thinking, most profoundly influential movers and shaker of the last two hundred years have not been Christians. Neither Albert Einstein nor Bertrand Russell nor Sigmund Freud nor Stephen Hawking nor Karl Marx professed Jesus as lord. And the list goes on. To suggest that these people failed to believe because of ignorance or some rational defect is ludicrous." [Of course, the illusion runs both ways, Sennett claims. There is no rational superiority for unbelief, either. Atheist Thomas Nagel is quoted as saying he was made uneasy "by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers."]

Although the order of the words is changed, much of this is the same as is found on pages 35-6. What is different? In the book, Loftus adds another example of such commentary from Os Guinness, and has left out from the post several statements like these:

The fact is, many scholars have indeed examined the historical evidence for Christianity and they regard that evidence as flawed. [See www.infidels.com for some examples]. Some historians like G.A. Wells have examined the evidence and concluded that Jesus never even existed! See his books: Did Jesus Exist? (1986), and The Historical Evidence for Jesus (1982). Whether Wells is right or not is beside the point here.

I gather, however, that it is not "beside the point" any more, since either Loftus or his editors removed this, as well as several other examples of persons Loftus cited as doubters (eg, Crossan), as well as examples of problems (eg, Acts 15). Instead, we only have a summary statement in the book, that "many scholars" have found the evidence for Christianity flawed. Clearly, Loftus has found it necessary to decline specifics in this version, knowing that it leaves him open for rebuttals which he cannot answer.

After this, Loftus makes some comments about diversity in religion, which he believes indicates that it takes "an incredible amount of chutzpa" to claim that even one is correct and that others willfully reject the truth. This is rather an odd statement from someone who declares, in essence, that none of them are correct.

As for the remainder, what I said to Loftus in reply to his list using Sennett's list of Freud, et al remains sufficient:

What, is [Sennett] serious? Now that's just plain dumb. I read Freud's Moses and Monotheism and the man's ignorance on that subject was astounding. Just because Hawking knows physics doesn't mean he knows how to argue for Marcan priority. Marx just ran with the hatred he felt for his past and made a conscious decision to wave off Judaism and Christianity. Come on, DJ, you're not serious, are you?

See my full reply here.

Tracking the discussion further reveals all that is needed:

Loftus expresses amazement that I do not see the logic of his arguments

I reply showing that there is no logic to them, only a matter of not doing proper investigation

Loftus refuses further engagement and portrays himself as a victim, never answering my points

Return to the main menu for this response to John Loftus' book Why I Became an Atheist.