27 July 2010

Book Series: Why I Became an Atheist | Loftus

In the following series, I'll be posting my notes on Why I Became an Atheist by John W. Loftus. This book is part of the reading I am undertaking in my quest for the truth about god, heavily inspired by the Ultimate Truth-Seeker Challenge (Easy Version) from Common Sense Atheism.

Unfortunately, I read this book prior to deciding it would be a good idea to take notes while I read. What follows will be the result of my re-skimming the book to try to remember what I found particularly engaging or helpful. This was one of the first books I read when I began to doubt. It was extremely comprehensive and I found many of the chapters very helpful. John appeared extremely well-cited and read and I cannot even imagine amassing such a collection on my list of read books as the quantity that fills his footnotes. I particularly enjoyed the end of his book where he presents a take on what it's like to live as an atheist. I truly appreciated hearing a first hand testimony of life without god, as my doubt and initial reading brought me into contact with many apologetic works which prophesied that an atheistic life is filled with less hope, meaning, morality, and happiness. This worried me, though throughout the last seven months I've been completely willing to sacrifice happiness for certitude/truth so it didn't bother me tremendously (except the potential loss of moral ground/basis). In any case, I enjoyed the book very much and would definitely recommend it.

Posts in this series:
Ch 4: The Outsider Test for Faith
Ch 6: The Lessons of Galileo, Science and Religion
Ch 7: The Strange and Superstitious World of the Bible
Ch 7.1: Pseudonymity in the Bible
Ch 8: The Poor Evidence of Historical Evidence
Ch 9: Do Miracles Take Place?
Chs 10, 12 & 13: The Holy Spirit and the PoE
Chs 14 & 15: Science and Genesis
Ch 16: Prophecy and Biblical Authority
Chs 17 & 18: Virgin Birth and the Incarnation
Ch 20: Did Jesus Bodily Rise from the Dead?
Ch 23: Why I Became and Atheist


Anonymous said...

I notice that you don't have anything on Chapter One, unless of course I am missing it.

I would think that this is very important, because in it John talks about his "control beliefs" which will determine his approach to the data throughout the book.

Moreover, John states that TWO of the THREE main reasons he gave for "deconverting"...which I have my own doubts about...were emotional and not intellectual at all.

Jake Blair, Kansas City, Mo

Hendy said...

@Jake: Thanks for the comment. I read the whole book, but as mentioned above, what made it to the comments were items I felt impacted me in a particularly noteworthy manner. Thus, not all chapters were reviewed. If I felt some were less powerful due to their content, I omitted them. I came from a Catholic tradition, and a lot of John's material concerning Biblical literalism and Genesis from a literal creation account, for example, were pretty irrelevant to where I was coming from.

Obviously this is something for John to answer, but I wouldn't be surprised if many have their curiosity piqued due to emotional occurrences that surprise them. While not founded on reasons, emotions can stir us toward action. For example, I was surprised when I found that no one had written about Jesus in ways I would have predicted other than the gospels. This surprise and shock were emotionally troubling and led me to research many other areas that had never been on my radar.

Does this make sense? Thus, I wouldn't say that John deconverted for emotional reasons, but that emotionally impacting occurrences perhaps prompted him toward looking into the whole of his faith with a more critical eye. I'd ask him that to confirm, though.

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