God or Godless?: One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions. - eBook  -     By: John W. Loftus, Randal Rauser
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God or Godless?: One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions. - eBook

Baker Books / 2013 / ePub

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Product Information

Format: DRM Protected ePub
Vendor: Baker Books
Publication Date: 2013
ISBN: 9781441240699
ISBN-13: 9781441240699
Availability: In Stock

Publisher's Description

Perhaps the most persistent question in human history is whether or not there is a God. Intelligent people on both sides of the issue have argued, sometimes with deep rancor and bitterness, for generations. The issue can't be decided by another apologetics book, but the conversation can continue and help each side understand the perspectives of the other.

In this unique book, atheist John Loftus and theist Randal Rauser engage in twenty short debates that consider Christianity, the existence of God, and unbelief from a variety of angles. Each concise debate centers on a proposition to be resolved, with either John or Randal arguing in the affirmative and the opponent the negative, and can be read in short bits or big bites. This is the perfect book for Christians and their atheist or agnostic friends to read together, and encourages honest, open, and candid debate on the most important issues of life and faith.

Author Bio

John W. Loftus is a former Christian minister and apologist with degrees in philosophy, theology, and the philosophy of religion from Lincoln Christian University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He also did PhD studies at Marquette University in theology and ethics. John is the founder of an influential blog called Debunking Christianity (http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/). He is the author of Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity and the editor of The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails, and The End of Christianity. He lives in Indiana.

Randal Rauser (MCS, Regent College; PhD, King's College London) is associate professor of historical theology at Taylor Seminary, Edmonton, Canada. He is the author of several books, including Finding God in the Shack, You're Not as Crazy as I Think, and The Swedish Atheist, the Scuba Diver, and Other Apologetic Rabbit Trails. He is a popular speaker and gifted communicator who seeks to bring the truth of Scripture to bear on the real-life issues of today and who blogs regularly at www.randalrauser.com. He lives in Alberta.

Endorsements

In God or Godless?, Randal Rauser and John Loftus provide bite-sized discussions on a variety of topics. The discussions are very readable and provide helpful overviews. Rauser is a progressive evangelical. Although many will not always agree with the answers he proposes, such as what to make of child sacrifices and genocide in the Bible, he more often than not makes clear points I find compelling. Loftus is a worthy foe who has earned a bit of attention and respect through his publications and public debates. This book is an enjoyable and informative read that will challenge you to think about the issues discussed.
Michael R. Licona,
associate professor of theology, Houston Baptist University; author of Paul Meets Muhammad

This is not a quarrel, nor one of those flame wars of the deaf that rage across cyberspace then spill angrily into print, nor even that stuffy, artificial creation known as a 'religious dialogue.' What we have here is conversation: at times witty, at times tendentious, often humorous, and almost always engaged on emotional as well as intellectual levels. Rauser is master of parables with a philosophical point; Loftus makes an art form of heart-on-his-sleeve pragmatism. Both land blows, yet the book contains hardly a trace of bitterness. At its best, it reaches the level of a mythical, Platonic debate in a pub. Almost no one will fully agree with either writer, nor fail to enjoy the rhetorical flow.
David Marshall,
author of The Truth Behind the New Atheism

This is a fascinating and sometimes humorous intro to twenty common debates between atheists and theists. You'll find countless rambling and confused versions of such debates online. But here you will find a clear, concise, well-written exchange on each. Keeping it short, the authors can't include every point to be made, but they make a good show of where each side stands on these questions and why. If you want to continue these debates further, start with this.
Dr. Richard Carrier,
author of Sense and Goodness without God

The argument between skeptics and Christians has existed since the beginning of Christianity. Randal Rauser and John Loftus continue that argument with gusto, conciseness, and civility. This book should be the first stop for readers shopping for dueling voices from two of the most articulate advocates for Christianity and atheism.
Dr. Hector Avalos,
professor of religious studies, Iowa State University

Product Reviews

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  1. Age: Over 65
    Gender: male
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Short but good
    August 26, 2013
    Jim Roberts
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: male
    Quality: 4
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 4
    I read this at the rate one or two chapters a day, which is the way I would recommend anyone else to read it, as it gives you time to think about the arguments. The use of this format, giving equal space to arguments for religion (in particular Christianity) and atheism/humanism, was an excellent idea.
  2. La Mirada, CA
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    Bluster versus snark in the debate over God
    April 29, 2013
    Adam
    La Mirada, CA
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    Quality: 3
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 3
    Many thanks to Baker Books for supplying a copy to review!

    As the subtitle explains, God or Godless? is the product of one atheist, John W. Loftus, and one Christian, Randal Rauser, taking on "twenty controversial questions." Both Loftus and Rauser are popular bloggers who inspire vigorous disagreement among their respective readers, and it appears their book is the result of a friendship that was formed through occasionally sparring with one another. While both have published book-length arguments in the past, this volume exhibits a pattern only bloggers can appreciate. Each author submits ten theses, which they either affirm or deny with 800 words of prose. They are then allowed 150 words of rebuttal, which is then followed by another 50 words of closing statements. Every exchange reads like a blog post with two follow-up comments. The skill of each author is on display as they both jam a lot of content into a short space, and for that I can appreciate how much I have to learn about the art of dialoguing with few words to spare (sadly, this introduction is already over 200 words).

    Instead of giving a blow by blow account of each argument, I want to make a few observations about the general strategy of the contenders along with some commendations and criticisms of what I took be the heart of their main arguments.

    I got the impression that Loftus had Christianity, and not so much God, in his sights. This is understandable, because he is a former Christian debating another Christian in a book put out by a Christian publisher; hence, all ten of his theses begin as criticisms of "the Biblical God..." No doubt, Christians as myself have a lot to account for when reading Loftus' criticisms of Yahweh, Jesus, and the New Testament writers, but at most, his arguments drive a wedge between the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the Being than which none greater can be conceived. While this is a compelling strategy to take against Christians, it doesn't really get him to godlessness. As I understand him, Loftus' argument goes like this:

    [1] If the God of the Bible is not worthy of worship, then God probably doesn't exist.

    [2] The God of the Bible is not worthy of worship.

    [3] Therefore, God probably doesn't exist.

    Assuming he is right about premise 2, is the argument sound? Well, following Loftus' favorite sort of response, premise 1 is possible but not probable, and a more probable inference would be that not everything in Scripture is God's revelation. That is to say, a weaker conclusion is more probable: regardless of whether or not God exists, the Bible is not inerrant. This is not to say that Loftus doesn't make any arguments against theism in general. To be sure, he hints at the problem of evil throughout the book when engaging Rauser's positive theses, but he doesn't formally spell it out anywhere in any great detail (the most articulate reference to it is found on page 145--a bit late to bring out atheism's biggest gun in my opinion). Thus, the bulk of Loftus' arguments will threaten only those who maintain a strong tie between the existence of God and biblical inerrancy; perhaps this explains why his most vociferous critics hail from the Reformed tradition and follow the apologetic method of Cornelius Van Til or Gordon Clark. Of course, Rauser is not among their number as he seems willing to concede that there are genuine conflicts between what the Old Testament says about the killing of children and our widely shared moral intuitions. Rauser maintains biblical authority by suggesting that Old Testament violence should be read as ironically condemning such behavior, but in any event, it seems clear enough that he (rightly) doesn't accept the premise that God probably exists only if inerrancy is true.

    So how does Randall make his case for God? By appealing to the so-called `transcendentals' of truth, goodness and beauty, none of which we would know about without the existence of God. Broadly, Rauser makes a cosmological argument to explain why there is something rather than nothing, and then makes a design argument from the fact that creatures like us exist with the cognitive capacities to know truth, perceive beauty, and be subject to moral properties. While many of these arguments can come across as tired and well-worn, Rauser deftly weaves their major claims into little stories or examples a middle school student could understand. That's no knock, and this reviewer, who has spent too many hours reading William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, and William Dembski, benefited greatly in seeing how their arguments could be boiled down to their essentials and elegantly deployed for apologetic purposes. Through his argumentation, Rauser is able to show that Loftus is left with an impoverished worldview where truth, beauty, and goodness are relative to the whims and wiles of an unguided and random process that can only induce cosmic despair. Intuitively assuming atheism's outcome has no existential fit, Rauser's arguments roughly go like this:

    [1] If God does not exist, then there is no truth, goodness, or beauty that could be objectively known.

    [2] There is truth, goodness, and beauty that can be objectively known.

    [3] Therefore, God exists.

    But what about the Bible? Rauser's defenses of Scripture are sure to leave some Christians dissatisfied. While it is true that he makes an effort to disabuse Loftus of his severely critical interpretations, his concessions with respect to the problem of Old Testament violence and biological evolution give the impression that there is something strange about holding to the authority of Scripture in this day of age. Why not just jettison it and search for a more adequate revelation of God? Rauser maintains that despite Scripture's oddities, God is a supremely competent author, but if Loftus has achieved anything in this book, it is that he creates some prima facie reasonable doubt for this claim.

    All in all this is a breezy read that feels like being hit with a scatter gun of truncated arguments. As a reviewer, I am used to reading longer, more sustained arguments, so I wasn't disposed to like this sort of format and I can't say I did (To their credit, the authors realize the shortcomings of their format and offer a nice "for further reading" section with excellent recommendations.). But if you are wanting to expose middle and high school aged kids to some of the challenges Christians and atheists face in making their respective cases, this book may be of some value. The atheists will appreciate Loftus' simple, if not blustery writing style, and the Christians will enjoy Rauser's snarky sense of humor and vivid storytelling.
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