You know what? I just figured out what’s really bothering me about John Loftus. This has been bugging me for weeks, actually, and I just figured it out. I’m not particularly distressed that he leans towards Jesus’ historicity. What distresses me is that he routinely refers to this as an informed opinion.
I don’t doubt that he has the theological qualifications to have an informed opinion, but an informed opinion is most certainly NOT the same as a defendable position. In proposing that a certain position is the correct one, two things are required. First, we must justify our own proposition. Second, if our proposition does not inherently do so, we must address competing propositions and either prove them false or render them sufficiently implausible as to make our own the only likely candidate.
, Thomas L Thompson
, and others have written compelling arguments for an ahistorical Jesus, and they’ve addressed in some detail what they feel to be the problems with the Jesus historicity argument. In other words, they’ve done exactly what I’m talking about. James Loftus has been quite unwilling (unable? I don’t know) to refute these arguments in anything I’ve read online. Am I missing a scholarly rebuttal in his books? I don’t know personally, but nobody I know who’s read his books has mentioned any.
This, then, is the crux of my problem with John Loftus with regard to the claim that Jesus probably lived. He’s only playing one side of the coin. It’s easy to be persuasive when you don’t even acknowledge the other side of the coin. I wish he would leave that part of the former preacher behind.
I want to make one other thing very clear. I’ve been ripping Loftus pretty hard over this Jesus thing, and I think it’s justifiable criticism. However, I don’t want you to get the impression I don’t like the guy or think that he’s doing good work. In fact, I encourage everybody to check out his website Debunking Christianity
. I have almost all good things to say about the site and the work that Loftus is doing for Atheism. However, I refuse to allow a lapse in critical thinking to go unquestioned, particularly when it is being made by one of our leading spokesmen. I hope that should I ever make a similar mistake, I will be immediately corrected.