A couple weeks ago I announced that I would be starting a new series on May 4th in which I blog through my 2012 debate book God or Godless.
It’s May 4th.
I was planning on starting with the introduction (makes sense, right?). However, I found myself getting stuck at the acknowledgements, or at least at Loftus’ acknowledgement. So that’s where we’re going to begin.
To whom does Loftus dedicate the book? A beloved family member or cherished friend or admired mentor?
Nah. Instead, in a subversive ironic twist he dedicates God or Godless to an unnamed group of Christians who really ticked him off:
“When I first went online to discuss my doubts in 2005, I found a particular evangelical forum that treated me with disdain and vitriol simply because I disagreed. I knew most Christians were not like this, but this group poured gasoline on the fires of my passion like nothing else. They provoked me to go for the jugular vein of a faith that could be used to justify their treatment of people like me. If it hadn’t been for them, I probably would have moved on with my life. So I want to acknowledge them for helping to motivate me. “
The CIA has a term for this phenomenon which has since been popularized in the mainstream press and thereby entered our cultural lexicon. “Blowback” refers to the unintended negative consequences that an aggressor experiences as a result of a military or intelligence operation. For example, while the invasion of Iraq was allegedly intended to stabilize the region and remove the threat of WMDs, there has been widespread blowback in the radicalization of segments of the population, widespread destabilization, and the growth of anti-American sentiment in the region.
Loftus recalls that a decade ago he was a struggling Christians with doubts. When he shared these doubts with some Christians the response was “disdain and vitriol”. As a result, a struggling doubter was quickly radicalized into a fiercely anti-Christian apologist for atheism who has made it his mission to “debunk Christianity”. In another ironic twist, Loftus’ own blog is itself characterized by “disdain and vitriol” against Christians. Loftus is, in short, the mirror image of the very people that so offended him.
Talk about blowback!
You can’t help but wonder, what if Loftus’ interlocutors a decade ago had set aside the disdain and vitriol in favor of the “gentleness and respect” that is described in 1 Peter 3:15?