Friday, November 23, 2012

How Christ Liberates Humanity: 151 proof texts.

Twice in the last few days I ran into some version of Christopher Hitchen's aphorism, "Religion Poisons Everything," and responded with incredulity.  Of all the historical claims out there, it seems to me this is among the easiest to disprove. (Not even counting the almost-literal sense in which, for instance, religion has not yet frozen the liquid iron whose circulation creates the Earth's magnetic field, or cause any stars to explode or any comets to leave their orbits.)

Limiting ourselves to human history, I am tempted to respond by appealing to all the wonderful things Taoism or Confucianism have done for East Asia -- to catch the fanatics off-guard, and try to shock them out of the little worlds of prim skepticism in which they imprison themselves.  It is painful to think how arid the history of Chinese art would be without the fantastic bronzes of ancient Chinese graves, with which aristocrats set themselves up for the next life, the bold colors of esoteric Buddhist mandalas, the misty, myterious landscapes of Zen painters, or Chinese rock gardens, suffused with Taoist readings of the natural landscape. 

But the title of this blog is Christ the Tao.  And I do think Jesus Christ is the source of near-universal  liberation, that has overthrown oppression and made the world a dramatically tonier address in our little galaxy. 

Let's begin with the second and more substantial of these two challenges, from the Bengali atheist, Taslima Nasreen, who also quotes PZ Myers, and my initial "shoot-from-the-hip" reply.  After that, in answer to the question of whether I've actually read any history books, I'll offer a list of 145 texts, mostly books, which show how the Gospel has changed the world.

My hope is reading some of these books will put even atheists in the mood to celebrate the birth of Jesus, Christmas being just around the corner. 

I. The Challenge

In late October, Savita Halappanavar, an Indian dentist, died in University Hospital in Galway, Ireland, according to her husband because staff said they could not do a needed abortion in a Catholic country.  (Though this account is disputed by some.)  The Hindu community in Ireland has protested this incident.  Taslima Nasreen, a Bengali Secular Humanst who posts with PZ Myer's "Freethought Blogs" confederacy, also wrote angrily:

"Indians are saying medical negligence and not the religion should be blamed for Savita Halappanavar’s death. Religionists defend religions.

"But sane people know very well that religion corrupts everything. Even doctors do not practice medical science properly if a religion ever gets a chance to grab them. Politicians become insane if they are influenced by religion. I agree with what
PZ Myers says: 

There was no hope for the fetus at all. Yet they refused to do the one simple, ethical procedure that would have saved Halappanavar’s life.  Because doctors had been indoctrinated since childhood in lies that were shown to be false during their medical training, but which they could not overcome; because hospital administrators put their faith above their obligation to serve patients; because lawmakers in that country shied away from learning how their policies killed women; because a mob of celibate old puppetmasters don’t give a damn about anything other than their theology and will happily sacrifice human beings on the altar of their vile and backward religion . . . The end result: a septicemic infection swept through the gaping wound of Halappanavar’s cervix, killing her, after days of agony. The pope and his bishops, and the faithful Catholics in that hospital, killed her as surely as if they’d taken a scalpel to her throat — which would have been a more merciful death than the misery they put her through. Monsters, every one of them.’
"All religions are barbaric and backwards. Time came long ago to save humanity from religions but we did not move our butts. We are now paying the price for being cowards."

I replied rather impolitically on Nasreen's web site: 

“Sane people know very well that religion corrupts everything.”

"Perhaps sane, unschooled fanatics who have never cracked a history book in their lives know this. Those who have read history, and are prepared to accept it, know that it was Christians who fought against the burning of widows in India, foot-binding in China, human sacrifice in Africa, raised the status of women around the world, educated billions of people (as implicitly admitted above, without pondering the significance — you don’t think those billions of lives have been improved by education?), ended slavery, helped undermine and overthrow communist tyranny, invented modern science, spread democracy (see Robert Woodberry), helped billions of people in their individual lives, given hope and joy and ended drug addictions for people I know — just to get started.

"Be atheists, if you like. But don’t embrace such absurd simplifications of reality, please.

"Human beings are naturally oppressive to one another, and became no less so under atheist regimes. The Gospel has served as the greatest force for reform in human history."

(Postscript: It turns out that the death rate for mothers in childbirth in Ireland, where abortion is strictly restricted, is the lowest in the world, and just a fraction the US rate. So at best, the secularist outrage is highly selective.  Also, women in Christian parts of India tend to live much longer than women in Hindu parts of India.  See below for accounts of how that happened to come about!) 

Three skeptics responded by echoing the litany of crimes typically ascribed to Christianity in the skeptical memosphere and (to some extent) the public school system: 

JB: "Hey david, why dont you tell us about slavery and the church specifically, how the church owned slaves also, tell us about how the church took children as a tithe, and raped and tortured and enslaved those children."

Shakatany: "Not to mention the slaughter by the church of the Cathars, the thousands who were tortured to death in the Inquisition and the witch trials. Yes that happened a few centuries ago but what about the horrors of the Magdalene laundries and all the pedophilia that was ignored to keep the church’s reputation? As Lord Acton says “power tends to corrupt” and for millennia the church had a lot of power."

Mynameischeese: "Christianity “raised” the status of women, did it? And “educated” the masses in Africa? (Pro-tip: If you actually read one of those history textbooks, you’ll find that Christians actually “colonised” Africa.)

"But thank you for that entertaining (absurd) similification of reality there."

II. The List

So, to borrow Mr. Cheese's neologism, let's de-"similify" reality by looking at a few history books that rout the claim that Christianity has "poisoned everything."  I'll start with some of my own.  Most of the rest will be books, scholarly and popular, along with three or four articles too good to leave out.  

Readers offer other suggestions in the comments section.  Almost all these books I have read (at least partly) and can vouch for, not counting the books I wrote, and ask readers to also speak about books they have personally read.  

A: My most relevant books

(1) Marshall, David: True Son of Heaven: How Jesus Fulfills the Chinese Culture (1996, 2002) (Especially pages 121-132, then from 175 on.) 

                      Jesus and the Religions of Man (2000) (Pages 41-159.)

                      Why the Jesus Seminar can't find Jesus, and Grandma Marshall Could (2005) (Chapters 10 and 11, then the comparison of the gospels to other ancient works in Part III of the book.) 

                       The Truth About Jesus and the "Lost Gospels" (2007) (Especially chapters entitled "Jesus was the 'Original Feminist,' "The Gospel Brings True Sexual Liberation," "Gnosticism Would Not Set the World Free," "Jesus Brings True Freedom," and "Meniggestroeth Didn't Make Your Mind.")

                      The Truth Behind the New Atheism. (2007) (Parts II and III, "Word and Flesh," and "Truth and Consequences.")

                      Faith Seeking Understanding (2012), "Marx, the Mob, and Missions" by Bill Prevette

                      How Jesus Passes the Outsider Test: The Inside Story (Especially Chapter Four, "The Gifts," which describes twelve gifts Christianity has given the world, then lists 73 or so followers of Jesus who have changed a big part of the world.)

                      How Jesus Liberates Women   (I hope this detailed work will be finally out in 2022.)  

B. Overviews

(9) Adeney, Miriam: Kingdom Without Borders: The Untold Story of Global Christianity

(10) Becker, Ernest: The Denial of Death  Becker was an atheist.  His intermittent comments about the psychological insight and healing power of Christian faith are therefore especially convincing.  

(11) Brooks, Arthur: Who Really Cares? The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism – Who Gives, Who Doesn’t, and why it Matters (One of the most revealing and important books on this list.  Brooks focuses on charitable giving and other actions in the United States.  The title is somewhat misleading, because what really counts, as Brooks shows, is religious belief, more than political position.  Simply put, those who are religiously involved tend to give many times as much to charity as those who are not, and to be more generous in every measurable way.) 

(12) Campolo, Tony: The Power Delusion

(13) Carroll and Shielett: Christianity on Trial  Good journalistic style: more objective than Kennedy, lots of interesting facts. 

(14) Coles, Robert: Harvard Diary

(146) Cunningham, Loren, The Book That Transforms Nations

(15) D'Souza, Dinesh: What's so great about Christianity?

(150) Esolen, Tony: The Politically-Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization

(16) Girard, Rene: The Scapegoat translated Yvonne Freccero
                 I See Satan Fall like Lightening translated by James G. Williams

(18)  Keener, Craig: Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts (This book didn't seem to fit anywhere else, so I put it here.  Keener is a respected New Testament scholar, but this mammoth, and massively-footnoted work, is mostly about MODERN miracles.  At the very least, one must conclude that the Gospel has remarkable psychosomatic properties, beyond what one might think possible, on millions of sick [and yes, even dead] people.) 

(19) Kennedy, James : What if Jesus had never been born?  These two books sometimes get a bit carried away in ascribing everything good to Christianity, but they make lots of worthwhile points.

                        What if the Bible had never been written?

(21) Landes, David: The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why some are so rich and some are so poor  (The influence of Christianity is not the main focus of Landes' book, but he makes some interesting parenthetic comments.)

(22) Mangalwadi, Vishal: The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization

(23) Monroe, Kelly: Finding God at Harvard: Spiritual Journeys of Thinking Christians (Several stories in this book are especially important or moving, including those by Robert Coles, Glenn Loury, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Armand Nicholi, Charles Thaxton, Brent Foster, Poh Liam Lim, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Krister Siarsingh, and Lamin Sanneh).

(24) Ortberg, John: Who Was This Man? (A short, pithy, and thoughtful introduction to how Jesus has changed the world.)

(25) Peck, M. Scott: People of the Lie

(26) Pelikan, Jarislov: Jesus Through the Centuries: his place in the history of cultures

(27) Sanneh, Lamin: Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture 

(28) Schmidt, Alvin: How Christianity Changed the World  (This book is uncritical and exaggerated, but does contain a lot of interesting information.)   

(29) Nick Spenser: The Evolution of the West: How Christianity has Shaped our Values (More nuanced and critical.) 

(139) Tom Holland: Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World  (A tour de force, but focuses mainly on the West.)  

C: The Early Years

(30) Gospel of Matthew  (Read the Gospels and observe the diverse goods Jesus did to those around him.) 

(31) Gospel of Mark

(32) Gospel of Luke

(33) Gospel of John

(34) Acts of the Apostles

(35) Epistle of James

(36) Augustine: City of God

(37) Durant, Will: Caesar and Christ  (Especially the late chapters.)

(38) Hart, David: Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and its Fashionable Enemies

(39) Stark, Rodney: The Rise of Christianity

                                  Discovering God: The Origins of the Great Religions and the Evolution of Belief

                                   How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity

D: Positively Medieval

(42) Cahill, Thomas: How the Irish Saved Civilization

(43) Cavill, Paul: Vikings: Fear and Faith (Especially the chapter on King Alfred.)

(44) Chesterton, G. K: St. Francis of Assissi

(45) Clark, Kenneth: Civilization (Look at the pictures, if nothing else!) 

(46) Fletcher, Richard: The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity

(47) Stark, Rodney: For the Glory of God

                       God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades

                          One True God: Historical Consequences of Monotheism

(50) Tierney, Brian: The Crisis of Church and State, 1000-1350, With Selected Documents

(51) Williams, Charles: Descent of the Dove

E. Women

(52) Haugen, Gary: Good News About Injustice: A Witness of Courage in a Hurting World (Haugen is founder of the International Justice Mission, one of many Christian organizations to challenge the sex industry that exploits young women, and men, around the world.) 

(53) "Population Briefing Paper, Population Crisis Committee, Country Rankings of the Status of Women: Poor, Powerless, and Pregnant," No. 20, June, 1988

(54) David Garrison, A Wind in the House of Islam: How God is Drawing Muslims around the World to Faith in Jesus Christ (The story on pages 194-199 is by turns appalling, revealing, and hopeful.)

(55)  Mona Charen, Sex Matters  (Charen is Jewish, but makes clear the value of Judeo-Christian marriage, and the consequences of flouting the "traditional" rules.) 

(56) Heather MacDonald, War on the Cops (a good complement to Charen's book, in that it describes the consequences of post-Christian marriage from a law enforcement perspective).

(Note: Also see Jesus and the Religions of Man, 61-79, and my long series, "How Jesus Liberated Women," which I am developing into a book.

(151) Goode, Steve and Marie, Bring Your Eyes to See: Our Journey into Justice, Compassion, and Action (YWAM Publishing: 2015)

F. Birth of Science

(57) Chapman, Allan: Slaying the Dragons: Destroying Myths in the History of Science and Faith

(58) Hannam, James: The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution

(59) Add: Huff, Toby:  Intellectual curiosity and the scientific revolution. (Suggested by Doug, below.)

(60) Pearson, Nancy, andThaxton, Charles: The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy

(140)  Seb Falk, The Light Ages: The Suprising Story of Medieval Science

G: Democracy and Confronting Tyranny

(61) Burke, Edmund: Reflections on the Revolution in France

(62) Campolo, Tony: The Power Delusion: A Serious call to consider Jesus' approach to power (It is particularly interesting to read Campolo's account in Chapter Seven of meeting Benigno Aquino in Boston, before he returned to the Philippines to transform that country by his sacrificial death.  Campolo does not mention his name, for that had not happened yet when he wrote this book, apparently, but he recognized the potential of what Aquino said.  That story is but one illustration of the Christian principles Campolo teaches.)

(63) Colson, Charles: Kingdoms in Conflict

(64) Dalin, David: The Myth of Hitler's Pope: Pope Pius XII And His Secret War Against Nazi Germany

(65) De Toqueville, Alexis: Democracy in America

(66) Eidsmoe, John: Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of our Founding Fathers

(67) Mosab Hassan Yousef: Son of Hamas

(68) Solzhenitsyn, Alexander: The Gulag Archipelago

                                One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich 
(Solzhenitsyn converted to Christianity in the Soviet slave labor camps.  The Baptist character in this book describes the witness of Christians imprisoned with him, generalized about in The Gulag Archipelago, that helped lead to his renewal of faith -- and his subsequent contribution to overthrowing the communist system.)

(70) Treadgold, Donald: Freedom: A History

(71) Weigel, George: The Final Revolution: The Resistance Church and the Collapse of Communism  (Note: the historian of Eastern Europe James Felak seems to agree with Weigel's general argument, but tells me he finds it a little simplistic.  Felak is writing his own more detailed book on the fall of communism and the role Pope John Paul II played.)

(72) Woodberry, Robert: "The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy" (This article may be the most succinct and powerful argument of all: read this, if nothing else, and let the books flesh out the details.) 

(73) Wurmbrand, Richard: In God's Underground

                   Tortured for Christ

H. Ending Slavery

(75) Thomas, Hugh: The Slave Trade

(Also see Stark, For the Glory of God, above, and my post about the early anti-slave movement on this site.)

(143) Drescher, Seymour, Abolition: A History of Slavery and Anti-Slavery

(144) Eric Metaxas, Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery  

(145) Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin(Read the famous novel as a debate over whether the Bible supports or opposes slavery.  See which side wins.  Note the impact of this book on northern anti-slave sentiment before the Civil War.)  

I: Education

(141) The Third Education Revolution (2021, co-editors, Vishal Mangalwadi and David Marshall)

J: Other Early Social Reform

(76) Benge, Janet and Geoff: George Muller: The Guardian of Bristol's Orphans

(77) Collier, Richard: The General Next to God: The Story of William Booth and the Salvation Army

(78) Wesley, John: Journal of John Wesley

(79) Burger, Delores: Women Who Changed the Heart of the City (Mostly about the role women played in city missions, which helped thousands of people turn their lives around.)  

K. Changed Lives that Changed Worlds

(80) Colson, Charles: Loving God

(81) Pullinger, Jackie Andrew Quicke: Chasing the Dragon: The true story of how one woman’s faith resulted in the conversion of hundreds of drug addicts, prostitutes, and hardened criminals in Hong Kong’s infamous Walled City (I had the chance to get to know one of them a little!)  

(82) Sanborn, Art: Walking Miracle: A Vision for Asia, A Prayer for Healing (Art led us around Thailand in 1984, telling us amazing stories, as we saw amazing things happen that suggest to me that the stories in this book probably really happened.)

(83) Soothill, William: Timothy Richard of China, seer, statesman, missionary and the most disinterested adviser the Chinese ever had

(84) Taylor, Geraldine: Pastor Hsi: A Struggle for Chinese Christianity

(85) Wilkerson, David: The Cross and the Switchblade

(86) Lu Daihao, 收刀入鞘 : 一个黑道變傳道的真实故事  (The story of a gangster in Taiwan to whom a Christian girl wrote many letters . . . He escaped a couple times, I knew him a little, an amazing tale.)

L. Tribal Societies (Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Pacific)

(87) Crossman, Eileen:  Mountain Rain: A New Biography of James O Fraser 

(88) Jungleman (+ Mark Ritchie): Spirit of the Rainforest

(89) Livingstone, W. P.: Mary Slessor of Calabar

(90) Mason, George: Memoir of Ko Thah-Byu, the First Karen Convert

(91) Richardson, Don: Peace Child

                        Lords of the Earth

                       Eternity in Their Hearts

(94) Titcombe, Tommy: Tread Upon the Lion

(95) Covell, Ralph: The Liberating Gospel in China: The Christian Faith among China's Minority Peoples

(96) Frederick Forsyth: The Outsider, My Life in Intrigue  (Forsyth is a journalist and a novelist, author of Day of the Jackal, who spent about a year and a half in Biafra, a southern corner of Nigeria that succeeded from the union and attempted to protect itself from Nigerian attacks.  While not a Christian, Forsyth describes the leading role Catholic and other Christian missionaries and church personel played in defying Nigeria and trying to save the millions who were dying of starvation.  He credits the church with saving a million lives during that struggle.  Let me add that the book as a whole is riveting.)  

(97) Daniel Fontaine, Health for All (by an effective medical missionary in Africa)

(147) Daniel Kikawa, Perpetuated in Righteousness: The Journey of the Hawaiian People from Eden . . . to the Present Time.  

(148) Selected Writings of Hiram Bingham, 1814-1869, Missionary to the Hawaiian Islands

The Christian outreach to Hawaii was wildly successful in the short-term, but largely failed in the long-term, due mainly to the greed and lust of imperial powers, including some descendents of missionaries, it seems.  However, these two books show how much the Gospel achieved, and how many people it helped, in those early years, through replacing the caste system of Hawaii (which was awful), educating, and protecting Polynesians from prostitution.   

M. India and South Asia 

(98) Anderson, Courtney: To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson

(99) Brand, Paul: The Gift of Pain  (An Indian friend of mine recently noted that people who make history seldom write it.  Here's an exception: Paul Brand was a missionary doctor who helped medical science understand, and deal with, lepresy, combining the story of his own life with this intellectual adventure.)   

(100) Farquhar, John: The Crown of Hinduism

                     Modern Religious Movements in India

(102) Hale, Thomas: Living Stones of the Himalayas  (Hale was a medical missionary in Nepal, where many people have become Christians in recent years.  Hale shows how that happened, often involving concrete acts of healing and mercy.) 

                  Don't Let the Goats eat the Loquat Trees

(104) Howard, Randolph Levi: Baptists in Burma

(105) Mangalwadi, Vishal

            The World of the Gurus Mumbai

            Truth and Social Reform 

            India: Missionary Conspiracy: Letters to a Postmodern Hindu Mussoorie

            India: The Grand Experiment  

            The Quest for Freedom and Dignity: Caste, Conversion, and Cultural Revolution

            The Book that Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization

(111) Mangalwadi, Vishal and Mangalwadi, Ruth

The Legacy of William Carey: A Model for the Transformation of a Culture  

(112) Mangalwadi, Vishal and MacNicol, Nicol

What Liberates a Woman?: The Story of Pandita Ramabai — A Builder of Modern India

(113) Wead, Douglas: The Compassionate Touch: Haunting Stories of prostitutes, lepers and beggars on the streets of Calcutta -- and their response to a daring demonstration of God's love (One of the supervisors for my doctoral work now leads much of the work Mark Buntain established.) 

(114) Wellman, Sam: Amy Carmichael: A Life Abandoned to God

(115) Wilson, Dorothy: Ten Fingers for God: the Life and Work of Dr. Paul Brand

N. East Asia 

(116) Aikman, David: Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Challenging the Global Balance of Power

(142) A. J. Broomhall: The Shaping of Modern China: Hudson Taylor's Life and Legacy

(117) Burgess, Alan: Inn of the Sixth Happiness (The title is strange, based no doubt on the movie, but the inn was actually named after 8 happinesses, which makes sense in Chinese, and the book was originally called The Small Woman.  But it's a great story, anyway.)

(118) Cary, Otis: History of Christianity in Japan: Protestant Missions 

(119) Dunch, Ryan: Fuzhou Protestants and the Making of Modern China, 1857-1927

(120) Goforth, Rosalin: Goforth of China

(121) Goode, Steve and Marie: Bring Your Eyes and See: Our Journey into Justice, Compassion, and Action   (The Goodes have been involved in refugee relief, tsunami relief, training, and red light ministries in Southeast Asia with Youth With a Mission for decades.. This book represents the work of many other Christians as well.)

(122) Lee, Jung Young: ‘The American Missionary Movement in Korea, 1882-1945: Its Contributions and American Diplomacy’ Missiology: An International Review 12/ 4: 387-402

(123) Kim, Yung Han: ‘Christianity and Korean culture: the reasons for the success of Christianity in KoreaExchange 33 / 2: 132-152.

(124) LaTourette, Kenneth Scott: A History of Christian Missions in China

(125) Legge, James: The Religions of China: Confucianism and Taoism Described and Compared with Christianity  (Legge was the West's greatest early sinologist.  His translations of the Chinese Classics are still standard, 150 years later, and his insights careful and fair-minded.) 

(126) Lodwick, Kathleen: Crusaders Against Opium: Protestant missionaries in China, 1874-1917

(127) MacKay, George Leslie: From far Formosa : the island, its people and missions  

(128) Park, Yong-Shin: ‘Protestant Christianity and Social Change in Korea University of California, Berkeley, dissertation for the Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology

(129) Phan, Peter: Missions and Catechesis: Alexandre de Rhodes and Inculturation in Seventeenth-Century Vietnam

(130) Ricci, Mateo: China in the Sixteenth Century: The Journals of Mateo Ricci: 1583-1610

(131) Scheiner, Irwin: Christian Converts and Social Protest in Meiji Japan

(132) Sharmon, Lyon: Sun Yat-sen: His Life and Its Meaning 

(133) Trout, Jessie: Kagawa, Japanese Prophet

(134) 顾卫民: 基督教与近代中国社会  (Christianity and Contemporary Chinese Society, a great historical overview which offers quite a bit of detail on how Christianity transformed China in about 500 pages.)

(135) 林治平改變历史:華人文化舆宣教事工   (To Change History: The Culture of the Chinese People and the Work of Missions, by well-known Taiwanese historian and Christian publisher, Lin Zhiping.)

(136) 李金强,林治平風雨中的彩虹:基督教從百年足迹   (The Rainbow in the Midst of the Wind and Rain: The Footprints of Christianity from 100 Years On.  This is the first of a series of five books by Lin Zhiping and Li Jinqiang on the Christian influence on the Chinese Republican revolution of 1911.

(137) 姚崧: 影响我国维新的几个外国人 (A Few Foreigners Who Influenced Our Nation's Reform.) 

(138) 远志明: 神州忏悔录:上帝与五千年中国   (China's Confession: God and China's 5000 years.  Yuan Zhiming's remarkable retelling of the story of China, with Christ as the agent who has begun to reform it, and brings it hope for the future.) 

(149) Shirley Garrett, Social Reformers in Urban China: The Chinese YMCA, 1895-1926  An important force for change in early modern China.)


Doug said...

four potential additions to the list:

Alvin Schmidt, "How Christianity changed the world."

Loren Cunningham, "The book that transforms nations."

Toby Huff, "Intellectual curiosity and the scientific revolution."

Carolyn Weber, "Surprised by Oxford."

David B Marshall said...

Thanks, Doug. I don't know the first and third books, they sound good, will check them out. I thought of Cunningham's book, but found too many errors in it. Skimmed Weber, liked it some, a little jealous since I almost got a book on Oxford published.

Longstreet said...

What was it C.S. Lewis said? A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. I think I'm getting that right.

I'd say if they're quoting, with approval, the likes of Hitchens and Myers then clearly they're not setting their standards near high enough.

XAtheistX said...

David I beg your pardon but I cannot agree with your own simplication of history. Doing a Google search I found a web page that proves you wrong.

David B Marshall said...

X: I don't debate Ken, for four reasons: (a) he habitually uses vile language against me and others, which I don't care to encourage by interacting with him any more than is necessary; (b) he has no call on my attention: no relevant degrees or publications, that prove he has what it takes to make an argument that passes the minimum threshhold of plausibility; (c) I have occasionally engaged his arguments, and found them confused, ignorant, and easily confounded. See, for instance, "Response to Arizona Atheist: On Early Christians, Richard Carrier, and Blind Faith;" (d) he seems a bit obsessed, which I find kind of spooky, frankly.

But if you find any of his arguments especially powerful against the point I am making in this post, feel free to put them in your own words, and I'll evaluate whatever rebuttal you are able to formulate.

XAtheistX said...

David thank you for the response but I believe it's just a cop out. I haven't seen any vile language against you. At least not recently, which makes me question your accuracy. Given your own habitual name-calling I don't think I can blame him.

A person doesn't need to be published to make good arguments. Given your poorly selling books I don't think your credentials are any better. All that matters is whether or not a person's argument holds up.

Interesting rebuttal. I think Arizona Atheist's response effectively answers your amateurish blog post.

Obsessed??? How so?

I've pointed you to a response. I don't have the time to write everything out. It sounds to me like these are just stupid excuses. Get some guts man and respond to your critics for a change.

XAtheistX said...

FYI My own blog responds to your arguments. The Evils of Christianity.

David B Marshall said...

X: Cop-out? Hardly. I love it when skeptics offer a challenge I can sink my teeth into: that's one reason I keep challenging leading atheists in their own fields. Do you really think I find Arizona Atheist so much more formidable than Price, Stenger, Dawkins, Law, Pagels, Ehrman, Carrier, Loftus, Crossan, et al, that I need to make excuses to back down from a challenge?

I've earned my spurs in this field, by every reasonable estimation: academically, in terms of publications, in reviews from top scholars. If you find AA more impressive, well that's an interesting fact about you. But you have not only failed to demonstrate any errors in my OP, you've failed to so much as hint at where they might possibly lie.

Your response: you falsely accuse me of "habitual name-calling," cowardice, and inaccuracy.

As for what I mean by Ken's vile language, just a few weeks ago, I needed a photo of myself for something, and being out of the office, googled my name. I found "asshole David Marshall" affixed by Ken to my photo, along with other nasty stuff that I didn't want to read. I left as quickly as possible. I came across similiar and worse language from him more recently. Maybe this seems old-fashioned to you, but I don't use that kind of language, and I don't respond respectfully to those who do.

Obsessed? Count his posts about me. Google his name and the title of my 2007 book. Yes, obsessed.

But all this is wasting time. You haven't even tried to show anything incorrect or misleading about my post yet -- you haven't even made any specific claims, let alone backed them up.

David B Marshall said...

There is nothing on the web site you refer to. Three posts, that's all. The longest is an anedotal list of 20 or so attacks on abortion providers. The other two combined consist of about 200 words, mostly a simplistic rant against the Crusades, with a large percent of even that minimal material a quote from a crusader.

And you talk about amateurism? Who are you kidding? Are you Ken?

XAtheistX said...

David, you don't appear to have any qualifications in the fields you write about like biblical criticisms and history. I've also read many of your blog posts. Pure bullocks. Those who like your book are not scholars. They are Christian apologists. Professional bullshitters like you.

After searching Arizona Atheist's blog I found the picture in question. This picture was posted a few years ago. Just because you just recently found it doesn't mean he's said anything vile recently. That's just idiotic! I found something else interesting. A very good post illuminating your deceit and the name calling I've seen you engage in on your own blog. I think he got carried away with his vitriol but I can sympathize with his point of view.

LOL! Revising a blog post to make it better is hardly a symptom of "obsession"!!! He has said this qiite clearly in his reviews. LOL I don't think it is he who is obsessed. It is you! You think Arizona Atheist is sneaking in the shadows waiting to get you??? I'm sorry to have to smash your obsessive delusion but no I am not Arizona Atheist. I couldn't find anything recent from him insulting you. Maybe that's your own obsessiveness rearing its ugly head again?

I am busy. I gave facts in my posts which is more than I can say for you. I have more facts in my few posts than you do on your entire blog. For the record I cited a quote from a Crusader giving a religious reason for the Crusades. You've never done anything like this, citing primary sources about the Crusades as far as I'm aware.

I hope you decide to respond. I gave you a link so click on it. Quit with your excuses and man up.

David B Marshall said...

X: I'm getting tired of your inane and irrelevent comments. Not a single one of your posts has addressed any issues in the OP, yet.

You brought up Ken, not me. I explained why I don't respond to his "critiques." Yes, I would say posting more than 70 often very long blog posts about one book by a single, relatively obscure writer, is pretty obsessive -- plus all the other material he's posted about me, on Dawkin's site, on my publisher, on Amazon, on other book review sites. I've blogged about him a grand total of one time. It is sheer absurdity, under these circumstances, for you to claim I'M the one who's obsessed with HIM. But I've come to expect such absurdities from far too many of those who identify themselves as "rationalists."

Rather than back off on such inane personal attacks, you now broaden them:

"Those who like your book are not scholars. They are Christian apologists. Professional bullshitters like you."

Rubbish. Among them are some of the greatest scholars on the planet today, who teach at schools like Oxford, Yale, Marquette, Penn State, and Duke. Among them are also some atheist scholars.

I've allowed you to post quite a bit here. But I think I've had enough of that kind of vacuity. If you can't address the subject at hand, please take your nastiness somewhere else.

You can expect any more of your comments that are off-topic to be deleted. You're just wasting our time.

XAtheistX said...

LOL You're too much. All I did was post a link to something that is directly addressing the OP. You refused and responded with a long diatribe against AA. You are the one who went off topic. Address the arguments against your OP's claims and stop procrastinating.

Anonymous said...

Dear XAtheistX:

I just wanted to focus on one point. You said:

“Those who like your book are not scholars. They are Christian apologists. Professional bullshitters like you.”

I am not sure if you are speaking of one of Marshall’s specific books or not, but as a general point, I have to say: Seriously!? I mean, I just quickly pulled out my copy of Marshall’s “The Truth Behind the New Atheism” and within moments saw a glowing review from one Dr. Paul Griffiths, a man who’s education and credentials make him a scholar by any objective definition of the term.

Now if in your above statement you are claiming that any Christian intellectual, no matter how well-credentialed and educated, is still just a Christian apologist rather than a scholar, then you are simply engaging in the “No True Scotsman” Fallacy.

And if, finally, you are trying to argue that in the case of Christian scholars, the “No True Scotsman” Fallacy is warranted, then note that such an argumentative methodology cuts both ways. After all, it is just as easy for me to say: “Those who like Atheist Y’s (Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, etc.) books are not scholars. They are atheist apologists. Professional bullshitters like Atheist Y.”

So, all this to say, you are either 1) ignorant of the scholars that endorse Marshall’s work, or 2) deceitful in making the claim that you made, or 3) arguing fallaciously. Either way, all the options make you look foolish, so I would advise that you stop using any of them.

Take care,

RD Miksa

David B Marshall said...

OK, I've just added two of Doug's suggestions, and a few more that have come to mind. I also added one of Doug's suggestions to my own Amazon "to read" stash. Any more suggestions? I'll also be soliciting ideas from other people, and keep this available as a general resource.

Anonymous said...


Marshall posts a 123 item long annotated bibliography. You do a google search.

You lose. Go read.

Longstreet said...

"Marshall posts a 123 item long annotated bibliography. You do a google search."
Yes, I thought that as well!

"You lose. Go read."
He won't though. I suspect he's exactly the sort Lewis had in mind.

XAtheistX said...

RD: What I said was not a no scotsman fallacy. It's a simple truth that those people who wrote the blurbs for David's book already agreed with his conclusions. Look at how many people who oppose books like John Loftus's write positive blurbs about his books. But Marshall's book is so bad only people who have already drank the koolaid think he's a good researcher. Newsflash: he aint. The link I gave I think proves that rather well but none of you have even tried to engage the points raised by the blogger. That's the point that all of you are avoiding. Let's not get sidetracked. Can you argue the points or not?

Unknown said...

X has posted twice now, since being told that any post that fails to address the OP might be deleted, after a lot of smoke and no fire from him. In neither of those posts did he address the OP.

But I'm a sucker for rebutting bad arguments, especially when they include facts that aren't facts, or an especially ironic cluelessness. I'm also a sucker for particularly bumbling attacks on myself that are easily refuted.

One of those reviews X mentions Loftus as citing, is from me. As a matter of fact, Loftus reposted my blurb of his new book this morning. And here's one thing he said about my own writing:

"One thing about you is that you write very well. If I could only write that well I might have the chance to be the Stephen King of Atheism."

I don't know, that kind of sounds like a compliment to me.

Of course other intelligent atheists have also praised my books. I frankly don't expect much praise from the dim-witted ones, and am therefore not too badly disappointed, apart from emitting the occasional sigh about the state of modern education and the need to teach critical thinking and logic in the schools.

XAtheistX said...

DM says 'X has posted twice now, since being told that any post that fails to address the OP might be deleted, after a lot of smoke and no fire from him. In neither of those posts did he address the OP.'

Uhhh I did address the OP. I cited a blog post responding to most of the points raised (and more). This is what's called a red herring. You're trying to distract from your apparent inability to respond to the post in question (which - I repeat - does respond to the OP) Happy Holidays David.

David B Marshall said...

I repeat -- it does NOT respond to this blog. The author hadn't even READ this blog, and almost certainly not 3% of the books mentioned in it, outside the Bible, either.

And I repeat again: this conversation is here. A link is not a rebuttal, even if there were something worthwhile on the other side.

XAtheistX said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Art said...

Very interesting List, David!
I didn't read all of this yet, but is my wish-list so I've decided to share here.
Books: How Christianity Made the Modern World - Paul Backholer
How Jesus Changed the World: An Illustrated Guide to the Undeniable Influence of Christ - Christopher D. Hudson
This Book Changed Everything: The Bible's Amazing Impact on Our World - Vishal Mangalwadi
7 Truths That Changed the World: Discovering Christianity's Most Dangerous Ideas - Kenneth R. Samples
Romans - The Letter That Changed The World - Tommy Nelson
Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changed the World and Can Change It Again – Mike Aquilina
Christian Men of Science - George Mulfinger
The Birth that Changed the World: Combating Evil Raising the Next Generation of Christians - Shirley Caldwell Oar
DVDs: Mightier Than The Sword; KJB - Book That Changed The World.

David B Marshall said...

Thanks! I'm working on one of my own, now.