As I have already noted, John Loftus has posted the first two installments of what he is calling a “book review” of my new book An Atheist and a Christian Walk into a Bar co-authored with Justin Schieber. Loftus raised the fatuous objection that the topic of debate — God as defined in classical theism — is not the same concept of God that is accepted by people in the pews. This is equivalent to rejecting a high level debate on naturalism because the concepts at play are not accepted by the garden variety new atheist. And it is truly striking that somebody like Loftus could have spent years attempting to “debunk” Christianity and yet retain such base ignorance about the field.
As if fatuous objections were not bad enough, Loftus devoted the bulk of his critique to attacking Justin Schieber’s lack of formal education. Not only is this nasty and personal, but it is also completely irrelevant. Justin’s capability as a defender of atheism is established not in university degrees but in the quality of his arguments. All folks need to do is check out his work at his YouTube channel Real Atheology.
And if you want to see Justin’s philosophical chops on display in a public debate, consider our 2015 debate on the existence of God which I’ve included below. And please, if you have the time, compare Justin’s performance to some of Loftus’ public debates. The comparison speaks for itself:
Finally, what does Schieber himself have to say on all this? Yesterday he responded to Loftus’ personal attacks at Loftus’ blog. Loftus has yet to reply, but I’ve excerpted the most important portion of Schieber’s response below:
Despite routinely interacting with, absorbing the works of, and being sent early drafts of papers for commentary by professional philosophers regularly publishing in philosophy of religion, I lack a formal education on the topic. Despite being invited to represent – and being valued for – a thoughtful, academic literature-centered, philosophical atheism in many public debates and lectures all around the United States and Canada, I do still lack a formal academic education in philosophy of religion. You’re absolutely right on this point, John.
However, given that even you yourself admit to your readers that I have “a fair understanding of the material in this book”, I fear that your making my lack of formal credentials the titular centerpiece of your unorthodox book review will be justifiably viewed by readers as needlessly ‘poisoning the well’, awkwardly petty, and suggestive of an animus wholly at odds with a thoughtful and fair-minded book review.