My Blurb for Dr. David Madison's Book

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“If it looks and sounds like a fairy tale, it’s a fairy tale” (p. 184). So says David Madison, a biblically trained scholar, in an unequaled, educational, and entertaining counter-apologetics book that exposes ten of the toughest problems for the Christian faith as unworthy of thinking adults. Madison expertly presents a cumulative case against Christianity, which is the best way to compel childlike believers to abandon their make believe fantasies. While it’s written for pastors and their fleeced flock in the pew stalls, Christian philosophers should definitely pay heed since most of them are biblically illiterate, mindlessly defending the wacky doctrines derived from unevidenced ancient pre-scientific fairy tales. LINK.
As noted before we're pleased that Dr. Madison now writes for us here at Debunking Christianity.

The Gospel of John: Jesus on Steroids

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Theology Smothers History [by Dr. David Madison, a new team member here at DC.]

When I turn to the gospel of John, I always think of a famous insult that grew out of the bitter feud between Mary McCarthy and Lillian Hellmann, which probably has never been equaled in the history of American letters. McCarthy said of Hellmann, during a TV interview with Dick Cavett in 1980, “Every word she writes is a lie, including and and the.”

Maybe it’s not fair to say that every word John wrote was a lie, but why is it so tempting to say so? Indeed, Richard Carrier has remarked that John’s gospel is “a complete fabrication, of no historical value in discerning the historicity of Jesus.” [1] Carrier is blunt in pointing out, for example, that Lazarus is a character invented by John to play the role of Beloved Disciple (wholly unknown in the other three gospels): “John has clearly ‘inserted’ this figure into these stories he inherited from the Synoptics, and then claimed this new character as his ‘source’ who saw all these things (John. 21:24). In plain terms, that’s simply a lie.” [2]

As is the case with all theologians, John was confident that he wrote the truth, but his mind was riveted to a twisted extreme theology. More kindly it could be said that John wrote every word “under the influence”; he was inebriated by his exaggerated concept of Christ. The quote, “write drunk, edit sober” has gone viral as a Hemingway witticism, but sleuths have tracked it down to novelist Peter De Vries, one of whose characters (in the 1964 novel Reuben, Reuben) says: “Sometimes I write drunk and revise sober, and sometimes I write sober and revise drunk. But you have to have both elements in creation.”

John shows his sober side by providing a well-structured gospel, even though it is lopsided (chapters 1-12 cover three years, chapters 13-19 are about one day), but he was drunk on bad theology. He went far beyond the tales of Matthew, Mark, and Luke in his portrait of Jesus, which is saying a lot because these earlier three operated with heavy theological biases of their own. John wrote drunk in creating a leading man who was egregiously egotistical. It would be hard to come up with another character, fictional or otherwise, who is so full of himself.

Excerpt from David Madison's 10 Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: a Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith (Tellectual Press, 2016), pp. 208-209.

------
[1] Richard Carrier, On the Historicity of Jesus, p. 505.
[2] Ibid., p.505.

Faith is the Mother of All Cognitive Biases

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Is Life Really Absurd for the Atheist?

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In an interesting essay Taylor Carr argued, "Our condition is absurd whether God exists or not." I just happened to come across it while looking into existentialism again, having taught it as a philosophy instructor. His whipping boy is William Lane Craig with his contention that life is absurd without God. He contends "Craig under-appreciates the weight of absurdity - namely that he neglects a full treatment of the subject as it has been articulated in Camus, Nietzsche, and Kierkegaard" since "absurdity of this sort does not undermine atheism, but recommends it, in that it reveals the absurdity of even life with God." For Craig's limited view of absurdity is
more of a mindset than a reality. It is a problem to be cured. The life of the atheist is absurd only in that she does not acknowledge God, and so has no claim to ultimate significance, purpose, and value. Absurdity on this view is practically a placeholder for irrationality. Craig says of the godless perspective that it is "utterly without reason." The absurd life is living with the irrational belief that we inhabit a godless universe.
By contrast Carr informs us "For Camus, the absurd is fundamental to who we are. Our consciousness is what separates us from the world, what gives rise to absurdity."
Camus finds significance only in accepting life on its own terms, which has everything to do with acknowledging its absurdity. In The Myth of Sisyphus (where Sisyphus is condemned to roll a rock uphill for eternity), Camus describes the absurd feeling as being divorced from one's life. We encounter a tragic divide between our desires for reality and reality as it really is, perhaps most of all in those humbling conscious moments of suffering and trauma. The desires we have for unity, purpose, and order clash with our experiences of a world that seems not to care about us, our dreams, or our plans. The absurdist finds herself a stranger adrift in a foreign world with no lights or illusions, unable to remember where she has come from and unaware of where she is heading. If she denies the absurd, she lives an inauthentic life, as if the world is so little different from her desires that the incongruities presented to her are not really incongruities at all.
Carr explains that
Camus' point is not just that the world has no seemingly in-built meaning to it, but that we, as the conscious and reasoning creatures we are, do not even belong to this world. The human condition is uniquely human in that we are consciously separated from the world in which we live. The same cognition that allows us to reason also isolates us from the rest of the universe...Seeing our condition as it is, seeing the absurdity of life, is not antithetical to happiness, it is, for Camus, paramount to happiness.

This Is What Indoctrination Looks Like!

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Football season and I'm loving it. Take a look at these Packer fans. They're raising their children to root for the Packers. This is what indoctrination looks like folks, only it's fun and harmless compared to some other types of indoctrination. Go Colts!

I Was On Dogma Debate with David Smalley

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My segment appears at the 50:35 mark. Enjoy. Link

All You Need to Know About Street Epistemology

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What's The Best Counter-Apologetics Book?

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I don't claim to know. Some people think they know though. Christians have been writing Apologetics books for a long long time that cover most all of the crucial issues. Atheist scholars have focused on writing single issue types of works. Very few atheist scholars (if any) have written a book covering most all the crucial issues. This one does that. In fact it's quite comprehensive covering issues not usually discussed. Do you have it in your library for reference? It is, after all, a reference work of 536 pages.

Daily Devotional 2: Road Rage Without Cars Or a Road

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I could write a daily devotional, well, advice for the day anyway. I now have a title in mind! So here's some more advice: Don't judge others based solely on one or two actions, or you'll probably judge them unfairly.

At a concert I went to there was a table in front of us where some guy was being a jerk by being rude.

When one guy got up from the table the jerk sat in his seat, which had a better view. So this guy's girlfriend, I'm supposing, got angry and went over to the jerk and got in his face, telling him in no uncertain terms to get out of that seat. Even jerks don't want to mess with an angry woman in front others. So begrudgingly jerk-guy moved back to his own seat. Her boyfriend once again claimed his seat.

She wasn't done with the jerk though. She left and came back. Then in a few minutes two police officers appeared, who were there to monitor the crowd. One reached into the back pocket of the jerk who was sitting down, and pulled out a small bottle of liquor from his back pocket. Then they unceremoniously escorted the jerk out of the place. For in these venues you cannot bring your own drinks. You have to buy them at the concession stand. She ratted him out, I'm sure of it. Payback is...shitty.

Some people behave badly under certain circumstances. Over-all that jerk may be a nice guy with family and friends who like him a great deal. The same goes for the girlfriend. What I witnessed was road rage, without cars, or a road. Who among us can say we haven't had a little bit of road rage? We're told road rage is fairly rampant right now. People have it. Lots of us on occasion. YOU have probably had it, and lived to tell the story!

We should not judge people based solely on one or two incidents, apart from serious heinous crimes which have no excuses in our society. While it's certainly a piece of who someone is, people are almost always more than any one particular incident. To judge someone from such a limited knowledge base is to be unfair with them. They may turn out to be as we judge them, but we can't say until we know them better.

Don't judge others based solely on one or two actions, or you'll probably judge them unfairly.

Somewhat along the same lines read what David Smalley wrote: What’s Killing The Atheist Movement? Thoughts?

An Update On William Lane Craig's Policy Not To Debate Me

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A friend emailed reasonablefaith.org:

I'd love to watch Dr Craig debate John W Loftus. Do you know if he has any plans to?

Best,

Joshua

The response from the Executive Director at Reasonable Faith is below:

Faith is Superfluous and Unnecessary

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If faith is involved in everything we claim to know then some things we know have very little faith involved, while other things we claim to know are heavily saturated in faith. Faith would be superfluous at that point and unnecessary. For we could say it differently, saying that some things we know have a very high degree of probability to them, while other things we claim to know have a very low degree of probability to them. Faith represents nothing except the acknowledgement that someone is believing something that has a low degree of probability to it and yet calling it knowledge. If we thought exclusively in terms of the probabilities then by depending on faith for knowledge whenever the probabilities are low is an abdication of intellectual responsibility.

Hemant Mehta's take down of David Barton the liar:

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LINK. I mentioned a related case in an early comment.

To Have Faith Is To Lack Evidence. It's To Pretend To Know Something You Don't Actually Know!

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John Appleton, an educated and respectful Christian on Facebook said, "For me to believe [that Jesus didn't exist] takes more faith than to believe that Jesus is who he said he was."

I want readers to think about how the word "faith" functions in his sentence, irrespective of the issue being discussed. Tacitly John acknowledges the word has to do with the lack of evidence. Norman Geisler's book "I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist" does the same thing. Don't tell me faith is trusting God's Word, or God. The way the word is typically used is to be uttered whenever there is a lack of evidence. If faith is trust then I don't have any reason to trust faith anyway.

Faith is a cognitive bias to be avoided if anyone wants to know the truth.

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Here's a discussion starter for the above quotation:

My Latest Book "Unapologetic" Is Going To Print Today!

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My new book is being sent off to be printed today! The following clip from "The Wrath of Khan" expresses my thoughts as I ponder its impact:



No violence is intended. It's purely metaphorical. We do battle against ideas though. It should be available by the 1st of November. Various online bookstores will have it along with an ebook and maybe an audible version. Below are all the blurbs received for it:

Quote of the Day, by Robert G. Ingersoll

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Most nations, at the time the Old Testament was written, believed in slavery, polygamy, wars of extermination, and religious persecution; and it is not wonderful that the book contained nothing contrary to such belief. The fact that it was in exact accord with the morality of its time proves that it was not the product of any being superior to man.

“The inspired writers” upheld or established slavery, countenanced polygamy, commanded wars of extermination, and ordered the slaughter of women and babes. In these respects they were precisely like the uninspired savages by whom they were surrounded.

They also taught and commanded religious persecution as a duty, and visited the most trivial offences with the punishment of death. In these particulars they were in exact accord with their barbarian neighbors.

They were utterly ignorant of geology and astronomy, and knew no more of what had happened than of what would happen; and, so far as accuracy is concerned, their history and prophecy were about equal; in other words, they were just as ignorant as those who lived and died in nature’s night.

The Final Cover of My Next Book

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Final cover! I thought it's about time my photo was put on one of my books, so here 'tis.

More Advanced Praise for My Upcoming Book "Unapologetic"

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In this powerful book, former preacher and veteran scholar John Loftus demands to know why so much time and energy is still being wasted analyzing and debating fringe details of a thing no one has yet shown to be real. This passionate, hard-hitting, and important book will enlighten and inspire readers to think in new ways about an old battleground of thought. It’s clear that Loftus is running out of patience when it comes to the faithful but he certainly has not run out of steam.
--Guy Harrison, author of Good Thinking: What You Need to Know to be Smarter, Safer, Wealthier, and Wiser and 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian. He's not the only one to say such things. So do others, for which I am extremely grateful:

Dr. Paul Copan and I Are Publishing On The Same Topics

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Paul Copan is the President of the Evangelical Philosophical Society. We both studied under William Lane Craig and earned masters degrees at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS). He earned a M.A. at TEDS, whereas since I had already earned two masters degrees prior to enrolling at TEDS (MA and M.Div degrees at Lincoln Christian University) I earned a Th.M at TEDS. Then we both enrolled in Marquette University for Doctoral work. He earned his PhD there, whereas I was two classes and one dissertation short of doing so. Life interrupted me when my father learned he had cancer, so I took a ministry near him hoping to return to school, which didn't happen.

Well as it turns out, we are both publishing machines. He for a ridiculous set of evangelical beliefs, while I debunk what he and his cohorts defend. Recently we are publishing books in the same area. He's publishing a book titled, A Little Book for New Philosophers: Why and How to Study Philosophy. He announced that book on Facebook, so I announced mine, and got into a "discussion" with a Carrie Hunter. *Sheesh* Such ignorance.

Then Paul announced another book of his on Facebook titled, Dictionary of Christianity and Science: The Definitive Reference for the Intersection of Christian Faith and Contemporary Science, and so I announced mine, and got into a "discussion" with Kris Key. *Sheesh* I'll copy and paste that "discussion" below for your comments. How would you respond to Kris? How would you rate my responses? There are a lot of issues there to discuss. Enjoy. I've linked to this so he might be interested enough to check it out. At the end he tells who he is. You'll notice I did not respond to his irrelevant personal attacks.

My Blurb for Dr. Karen Garst's Newly Released Book "Women Beyond Belief" And More

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Why would anyone embrace a male-dominated religion in today’s world, or any religion for that matter? Specifically, why would women embrace the religion of their male oppressors? Given the stories told in this wonderful tell-all book they shouldn’t. It’s one of the main reasons I argue against the Christian faith. I bid all readers to follow the reasoning and examples of the authors in this book. Their stories are quite revealing and fascinating. Highly recommended! --John W. Loftus.
I encourage my readers to check out Dr. Garst’s blog at www.faithlessfeminist.com and to order this excellent book, now available on Amazon and other online stores.
Reading the Bible is like playing the game of telephone: One person whispers a sentence to another person. The second person whispers it to a third, and then the third person to the fourth, and so on. By the end the original message has been garbled and often bears little resemblance to the sentence announced by the last person. “I haven’t got a gun,” for example, can end up as “I have bought a bun.” But in the biblical game of telephone, the original message is further garbled by the time that has passed between the life of Jesus and the time the New Testament was written, the foreign culture that filtered the message of the biblical writers, and the human fallibility of those who chose the books of the Bible and designated them asthe inspired word of God.

Philosophy of Religion's Focus is Wrongheaded

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Imagine university classes that take seriously the Mormon conception of a god who has a body with a plethora of wives living on the planet Koleb. Can you imagine atheist philosophers of religion bothering to teach such classes? I can't. Wouldn't doing so be to give those beliefs legitimacy in their own right? Now imagine an internet atheist who publishes the latest argument on behalf of this god, saying "Here's a new argument for the Mormon god I just discovered." Isn't this also silly? My guess is we wouldn't take atheists seriously who did these things, just as we wouldn't take seriously the arguments themselves. Why should we take any atheist seriously who thinks there is a good argument for the Mormon god? Why should we not transfer this same line of thinking to the Abrahamic gods?; or the Norse gods?; or the Greek gods?; or the Egyptian gods...? I think we should, thus destroying the philosophy of religion in the process. Yes, I'm serious. To read a more complete account of this see here.

Quote of the Day From My Book "Unapologetic"

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In Philosophy of Religion (PoR) one finds very little to count as a success. In fact, in PoR there aren’t any successes. Not one of the many PoR arguments of the distant past is accepted as put forth in its original form by modern philosophers of religion. This includes anything from Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Anselm, Descartes or the lot of them. All of the previous arguments in PoR lacked some important distinction, or failed to handle future objections adequately or needed to be revised due to the discovery of new evidence. So in order to understand the current state of PoR budding philosophers of religion must study its failures, because that’s all they’ve got to study! The whole discipline is a failure. Why then is it important to study Descartes if we want to gain knowledge about matters of fact? It has some minimal historical value to it, sure. But the PoR has never produced a fact. LINK.

Course at Marquette Discusses The End of Biblical Studies

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The End of Biblical Studies continues to be taken seriously in graduate courses in biblical studies. One example is at Marquette University, a Catholic institution where Dr. Julian Hills, a highly respected New Testament scholar, is teaching a course on New Testament Method. Here is the course description:

“In 1973, a young Walter Wink wrote, ‘Historical biblical criticism is bankrupt’ (The Bible in Human Transformation, p. 1). More recently a new young firebrand, Hector Avalos, has published a book announcing The End of Biblical Studies (2007) as an academic discipline with any sort of integrity — suggesting that scholars employ ‘a variety of flawed and specious techniques that are aimed at maintaining the illusion that the Bible is still relevant in today's world’ (cover blurb).

This course will be, I hope, a vigorous re-affirmation of the necessity and the rich fruit of appropriate method, or methods, in biblical studies. Of course, we shall want to hear what Wink and Avalos have to say; but not in a purely defensive posture. Instead, we shall examine a host of first-rate examples of biblical criticism well employed, and each student will write several exegetical papers that will correspond to the best canons of scholarly research and writing. In addition, we shall discuss the role of biblical studies in the academy (say, in a religious or secular university setting) and in the service of the Church.”


Most Atheists Just Talk to Themselves

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I've found it to be the case that most atheists just talk to themselves, as most Christians just talk to themselves. I can't back those statements up with any scientific polls, I know. But it seems true for all I know. If true, I have one answer as to why this is true. When people identify with a group, any group, they want to influence that group and want the recognition of that group. So atheists write about issues of concern to atheists and Christians write about issues of concern to Christians. There will always be fewer people reaching out to others because of this. Your thoughts please. *People have recently told me they cannot comment here, and I don't know what to do about it*

Brand Over Brain & Religion Over Brain

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The Ted Radio Hour on NPR is really good! I heard this program recently on the Brand Over Brain. There were some startling findings. We can be fooled, all of us, about which products are the best ones for the best price. We can be convinced that drinking an average cup of coffee is the best glass of coffee we ever drank. It's called branding. I think this hits religious beliefs hard, very hard. It's because one's own adopted religion was branded as having more value than the other religions in the world. Just like that cup of coffee, with branding people can come to believe their own religion is the best one in the world, the true one. The antidote to this cognitive bias is for young adults who leave the homes of their parents to demand hard cold objective sufficient evidence for what they were indoctrinated to believe. It's to take the Outsider Test for Faith.

Dr. David Madison's New Book

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Dr. David Madison is part of a growing wave of openly atheist biblical scholars, and a signatory of The Manifesto for Secular Scriptural Scholarship and Religious Studies.
As a former believer, he knows how believers think. As an academically trained biblical scholar (PhD in Biblical Studies from Boston University), he knows how to detect the defects of apologetic arguments.
Dr. Madison now has published Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: A Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why you Should Ditch the Faith that provides a good survey of the basic problems with Christian belief. I highly recommend it.
Here is the published description.
 “An all-powerful God who permits unspeakable horrors and sent a Son who threatened more to come, forever, to those who don’t believe in him. An inspired holy book that turns out to be full of archaic nonsense, moral failures, and contradictions. A world of disagreement not just between Christians and other religions, but within Christianity itself. Blood sacrifice and a tale of the walking dead as the very foundation of faith. These are just a few aspects of Ten very Tough Problems that David Madison describes in this wonderfully deep yet humorous dismantling of his former faith. Combining rigorous scholarship with engaging personal reflections and refreshing wit, he offers understanding and even some laughs while walking with readers past the gravestones of Christian thought and belief.”

Annabelle & Aiden: The Story of Life, a Book by Joseph Raphael Becker

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This is a needed children's book on evolution, and it sounds fantastic!
In this inspirational storybook written in rhyme, Annabelle asks,

"Why do we look, the way that we do?
With hands and feet, in neat sets of two?
What made my eyes? And what made my nose?
And the shape of my body, from my head to my toes?"

A wise owl answers by taking the characters on an incredible journey through Darwinian evolution. Join our characters as they visit outer space, watch the Earth go through its earliest stages, and gaze in wonder at the earliest forms of life. Young readers will gain a basic understanding of evolution, and perhaps more importantly, what we can learn from it: to be kind to one another, as we are all related in the same family tree. LINK

I'll Be Speaking for Atheist Alliance of America at Dragoncon

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On July 21st I was elected to the board of Atheist Alliance of America (AAoA). On that night we elected Aron Ra as our new president. What is AAoA? Read about us at the Ra man's page right here. Yes, I'm very excited. It's a great organization. We have some visionary and talented officers and board members who have adopted some great goals. Since I may be done writing and editing books (who knows?), I'm now entering an activist stage. Stay tuned.

Soon after becoming a board member of AAoA I was quickly given some speaking engagements on Labor Day Weekend at the 2016 Dragoncon, in Atlanta, Georgia, September 2-5th. Dragoncon is the "largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction & fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the universe!" I've heard they're projecting 60,000 convention goers this year! You can see the schedule of skeptic events right here. The problem is the 2016 AAoA budget didn't include money for me to go, so I'm paying my own way from Fort Wayne, Indiana. Any help that allows me to go comfortably to Dragoncon without a big drain on my own limited resources at will surely be appreciated. If you care to do so, donate to me at PayPal by using my email address, loftusjohnw@gmail.com. Over the years I've been truly grateful to my peeps, who have financially helped me from time to time do what I do best. This will be no exception. Thank you, no matter how small your donation is, or how small the total amount comes to be.

Peter Boghossian did a yeoman's job on this app!

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Dr. John Goldingay on the Bible and Slavery

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Dr. John Goldingay of Fuller Theological Seminary is not a scholar that I would expect to agree with me on biblical ethics. He is a well-known evangelical biblical scholar and I am an openly atheist biblical scholar.
Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to read this passage on pages 42-43 of his book, Do We Still Need the New Testament?:
 “What difference did Jesus’ coming make to the world? It has been argued that ‘The Church has made more changes on earth for good than any other movements of force in history,’
including the growth of hospitals, universities, literacy and education, capitalism and free enterprise, representative government, separation of political powers, civil liberty, the abolition of slavery, modern science, the discovery of the Americas, the elevation of women, the civilizing of primitive cultures, and the setting of languages to writing.
It is easy to dispute this claim. The church resisted some of these developments just listed, some are not particularly Christian, and all were encouraged by humanistic forces and reflect Greek thinking as much as gospel thinking.
[Footnote 10]: On slavery in particular (even when one allows for overstatement) Hector Avalos, Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2011).”
Of course, Dr. Goldingay still thinks the Bible is generally a good set of books. But Dr. Goldingays comments show that even evangelical biblical scholars can acknowledge the powerful evidence that atheist biblical scholars have presented to refute the claim that biblical ethics led to abolition.