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The Christian Delusion: Final Thoughts

01/15/2011

Sometimes I wish I had a better memory. I studied this book pretty carefully. More carefully than really any other book like it. I took a ton of notes. I’m still mulling over the most important things I learned. Perhaps after finishing books I ought to look over the notes I take. . . let me do that now.

The first section seems to avoid attacking Christianity directly. What I think it aims to do is open up a person for doubt, showing that culture makes some beliefs more plausible, that we come to believe what we do for bad reasons, that our beliefs are often illogical, and that the only reasonable thing to do is critique one’s own stance as closely as he may critique others. Maybe that’s why I found it weaker. It was more of an attack on “faith” than Christianity, but seeing as how that’s what the authors intended. I think it was persuasive enough.

The next few chapters are pretty cool. Perhaps the most useful, and the one I took the most notes on is the chapter on modern Biblical scholarship. If more Christians were conscious of the scholarly consensus, as well as why that consensus is held, there would be substantially more doubt cast on the veracity of the Bible. The cosmology seems to be totally in line with an ancient and contemporary understanding of science, and lastly, if the Bible is God’s word, he’s a terrible communicator. Even if God did “write” the Bible vicariously, it’s rather disheartening that he wrote it in just such a way as to confuse some of the most intelligent and respected of scholars, like Bart Ehrman. The lack of clarity is appalling, and is an argument against a perfectly good God in itself.

The arguments in part 3 against the Christian God being good were alright. I suppose the Bible has lots of terrible stuff that lots of people don’t really know about.

Part 4 makes a case against the resurrection. The most clarity of thought comes from Carrier, and although Price is a kick to read, he is responding to a book that I am unfamiliar with, and many of his references are over my head. That Jesus was an Apocalyptic prophet is a tough positive case to make, so it seems to be one of the more speculative of chapters.=

Lastly are a couple somewhat unnecessary chapters. The chapter on morality was terrible, and I doubt it really reflects what the rest of the authors feel. It was a bit of anthropology/philosophy saying that there’s really no such thing as morality. Yeah, that’s just what the atheist community needs. There should have just been a case against God being, even possibly, the source of morality. Instead it was just lameness, and missing the point. The last two chapters were gems of academic research. It’s good to have some concise information showing that Hitler probably believed in God (really, who would think that an atheist would have some secular motivation to kill the Jews). Carrier’s tirade against Christianity as the necessary source for science was probably the strongest conclusion that could be pulled from the book. Carrier had an easy task pointing out how ridiculous that claim was, but the scholarship he contributed is an excellent resource.

Good book. Makes a strong case. Really the most important parts are the Biblical and historical cases. Everything else is ancillary. Will need to look more into that stuff.

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