Back finally to what I once started: a close reading, review and critique of John Loftus’s book The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails (Prometheus, 2010). I’ve been doing this for a few months now but I had taken a two month hiatus. For those interested in catching up on the review to this point I would suggest you check out the helpful list of my review posts at Common Sense Atheism. Or you could just go back to the old site of The Tentative Apologist and snoop around.
Anyway, let’s lay the foundation for further review by summarizing the results thus far and thereby noting the book’s major flaw. Here it is: the essays by and large start out by assuming that Christianity is false. (There are a few exceptions I’ll note in the weeks to come but this has been clearly the trend thus far.) Nor do the authors seem to be aware of how completely circular this is.
Sadly, this has often been a flaw in secularist reasoning. Take Sigmund Freud. He had two reasons for rejecting the existence of God. Here’s the first: according to Freud belief in God is a projection. That is, we cannot handle the reality of a cold, hostile universe and so we project a heavenly father (our human father writ large) onto it. But what Freud completely fails to provide is any reason to accept that faith is a projection. He merely presents the view and expects us to buy in and thereby conclude that theism is false. Shorn of the window dressing then, Freud’s “argument” amounts to this: There is no God. Therefore, there is no God. Forgive me for being underwhelmed.
And that is precisely what the essayists of The Christian Delusion do as well. Time and again they make claims which assume that which they are purportedly obliged to prove. After all, the subtitle “Why faith fails” suggests that theyare actually going to explain why faith fails rather than merely assuming that it does. I think The Christian Delusion would be a much better book had the subtitle just been tweaked to read “Assuming Faith Fails.”
So that’s the report to this point. In the weeks to come I’m going to do the best to discipline myself by motoring through the rest of this book.
(And what was Freud’s second reason for disbelieving in the existence of God? The problem of evil. In the case of The Christian Delusion it is surprising that the discussion of evil is really relegated to part 3 of a 5 part book. Had I written or edited such a book I would have provided evil a much more prominent place.)