Book: God or Godless by Randal Rauser and John W. Loftus

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Check out God or Godless on Amazon!

Check out God or Godless on Amazon!

Civil dialogue seems to be a thing of the past. More and more, we divide ourselves into camps, turn every issue into Us vs. Them. Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice. Democrats and Republicans. Cubs vs. Cardinals. And increasingly in our culture, Christian vs. Atheist.

When we polarize our positions, we eliminate any real opportunity for dialog.

I understand why we end up polarized: the convictions we hold are strong and mean a lot to us. We deeply care about whatever position we’ve assumed. But in our passion, we often dehumanize the person who does not agree with us. An opponent becomes an enemy.

That’s why we need genuine, civil dialog. We need interactions that don’t forsake kindness and charity for truth. We must remember that engaging the Other violently, without respect to their personhood, experiences and positions is wrong no matter how right our positions may be.

We don’t have many examples of civil, truth-seeking dialog with the Other, especially in the realm of religion. Until now.

We can do better than this. A lot better.

We can do better than this.
A lot better.

Randal Rauser is a Christian who teaches history and theology. John W. Loftus is a former-evangelical minister-turned Atheist apologist. These two men are friends and colleagues who deeply, passionately disagree about fundamental truths. And yet they’ve co-authored a brief, fun, profound book that can and hopefully will serve as the basis for bridges between Atheist and Evangelical communities.

God or Godless is a debate-style book. John and Randal each chose ten statements to debate – topics like “If there is no God, then life has no meaning” and “The Biblical God commands genocide”. Each author gets an 800-word opening statement, a 150-word response, and a 50-word closing statement.

In other words, each chapter is short, sweet and packed with rhetorical goodness. Both Randal and John are experts in their field, so their arguments are tight, clear and very accessible (though a few of the later chapters sent me scrambling to Wikipedia to look up one term or another).

God or Godless gives us a clear model for moving forward in honest, truth-seeking relationships across the religious divide.

What makes the book really good is the quality of the questions both John and Randal bring to the table. Sometimes Randal is the clear winner; other times it’s John. Always, both men have clear, well-thought-out positions and treat each other with kindness and respect (excepting the occasional fun snark).

I’m currently rereading the book with a group of 20-somethings. Some of us are Christian, some are atheist or agnostic. But reading and discussing God or Godless together is helping us to build transformative friendships founded on mutual love and admiration. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

BOTTOM LINE: God or Godless is for anyone who wants to take earnest questions and civil dialog equally seriously. An easy, fun read that’s well worth your time.

YOUR TURN: What did you think of God or Godless? What’s the most challenging question that faces the position you hold?

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  • randall.morrison90

    This is an ironic review: Loftus toned it down for this book but his blog is full of vicious attacks and name calling of Christians. He loves to call them delusional, and even does some name calling in the book.
    Example, in the other right hand corner of his blog he has a post devoted to saying William Lane Craig is a coward who is “afraid of him”.
    The man is an admitted liar who admitted he continued to preach when he no longer believed, and betrayed his wife and family. He even got caught famously faking a blog about an apologist.
    And he brags about all this, and about how stupid Christians are…especially stupid since they got roped into doing this book which he hopes will get his views in Christian book stores.
    He even calls his views “poison”…that’s his word…which will slowly each away at the believers Christian views.
    On top of that the book is superficial.

  • http://www.jrforasteros.com JR. Forasteros

    Hi Randall. Thanks for your thoughts.
    In what way is the review ironic?

    As to your comments: My review is of the book, not of Loftus the person or his wider persona. Obviously as a theist, he and I disagree on quite a bit.

    And I agree that the book is relatively superficial, which is why in my review I noted it’s a great discussion starter (rather than a discussion ender).

  • John Loftus

    randal.morrison90 goes by so many names and aliases I cannot remember them all. He has been stalking me for years and spreading lies about me. They say we can tell how famous a person is by the number of stalkers he has. Well, I have one.

    Woooooo Hooooo!

    Thanks for your review. Randal Rauser and I both appreciate it. Unlike morrison90 you are an honest Christian.

  • http://www.jrforasteros.com JR. Forasteros

    Hi John! Thanks for your kind words, and thanks very much for the book! Our discussion group is LOVING it and having some really fun, fruitful conversations!

    You definitely have one more stalker than I do…. cheers :D

  • Gregg Braddoch

    The irony here is Randall is correct – John is “nicey nice” in this book, but regularly on his facebook and blog posts about the “evils” caused by religion from a biased and ironically illogical perspective (a lot of correlation studies) and to top it all off – he only “likes” posts from those defending these immature childish attacks on religion.

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