The 2013 Debunking Christianity Challenge
Five years ago I challenged Christians to take the Debunking Christianity Challenge and I’ve been doing so ever since. Just like previous years I’m proposing twelve reasonably priced college level books to read, one per month. You can read them in any order you like but read them!
My challenge is for Christians to read our books and test their faith to see if it can withstand our arguments. As I have argued most believers do not seriously question their faith. Do you want to be different than other believers? Do you want to do what most of them don’t do? Then take the 2013 DC Challenge. I challenge you! Hey, what do you have to lose? If the books cause you to become stronger in your faith that’s good, right? But if your faith cannot survive our assault then we’ve done you a favor. No more soundbites. No more reading one blog post at a time. Sit down for yourselves and read through whole books written by the skeptics.
The problem this year is that I have five books published in five years and I cannot resist the supposition that my books are the best, sorry. Wouldn’t you?
Here then are the twelve books for this year’s DC challenge:
January: If you have never considered the evidence for evolution, probably the best book is Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution Is True. You must read what science shows us which has convinced nearly all thinking people. The implications of evolution are enormous for religious faith.
February: Read my magnum opus Why I Became An Atheist. This second edition is a massive revision including new chapters and better arguments with an additional 110 pages.
March: For a devastating critique of the Christian faith read my first anthology, The Christian Delusion.
April: Then read my second anthology, The End of Christianity. Of course, I think it’s a tour de force.
May: Then read my co-written book with Dr. Randal Rauser, God or Godless. Even though he responds to me I still think over-all more often than not, my arguments prevail.
June: Next read my long awaited book on the The Outsider Test for Faith. I think it will be a game changer.
July: If you want to know why human beings have a propensity to believe, Michael Shermer tells us in his book The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths.
August: Read Thom Stark’s book The Human Faces of God. While it appears as if he’s arguing just against the Christian doctrine of inerrancy (and does a superb job of it), he’s doing far more than that. He argues there are not only “scientific and historical problems” in the Bible, but also that there are “moral, ethical, theological, and ideological problems” with it (p. 208). He goes into some detail on a few of the issues found in my books, mostly in the Old Testament.
September: To see how much of the New Testament cannot be reliable read Bart D. Ehrman’s book Jesus Interrupted. This is probably my favorite Ehrman book where he argues that the New Testament is a human, not divine book.
October: Matt McCormick’s book Atheism and the Case against Christ is the latest atheist book against the resurrection of Jesus and why rejecting it leads to atheism.
November: If by this time you end up a liberal then the kicker book is Hector Avalos’s The End of Biblical Studies. If you think liberalism is the answer read Hector’s book.
December: The problem is faith itself. It’s an irrational leap over the probabilities. Since I don’t think arguments to the existence of God get us anywhere and because believers don’t understand how science works and why faith doesn’t, read Victor Stenger’s book, God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion.It’ll probably be a classic.
In response Christians typically reply to this yearly challenge with their own list of books. So let me state for the record that I have probably read more Christian apologetics books and articles in 40 years then most of them will read their entire lives. So for comparison purposes, if a Christian apologist responds with such a list then tell us just how many atheist books you have read in comparison to me? I’d like to know. I’ve probably sold or thrown away more of them than you have read. I’ve probably read 300-350 Christian apologetical works and thousands of articles.
You might notice that there aren’t any philosophical books on this year’s list. That’s because I only have respect for a scientifically based philosophy, that’s why, although I value philosophy in general.
Each of these twelve books cites additional works for you to study out in greater and greater detail. There are many books I would’ve liked to list, but I just limited it to twelve. If you have already read one or more of these books simply replace them with one or more of the following ones:
For an overview of the debates that separate us read John Shook’s book The God Debates: A 21st Century Guide for Atheists and Believers (and Everyone in Between). This book more than adequately will sum up and argue for what you need to consider. It’s very good.
Do you still think the resurrection of Jesus can be defended even if the New Testament isn’t reliable? Then read Robert M. Price and Jeffery Jay Lowder’s book, The Empty Tomb.
Probably the best atheist book published recently is by biblical scholar Hector Avalos, Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship. As of yet it’s not reasonably priced. Try to get it at your university library though. Christianity dies on the rock of this one issue and Hector does a masterful job of showing us why.
If you find yourself no longer an evangelical and need to unlearn what you were taught to believe from your upbringing and education, do not miss Paul Tobin’s magnum opus, The Rejection of Pascal’s Wager: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Bible and the Historical Jesus. This is a massive book. This book will help deprogram you out of some things about the Bible and Jesus you previously believed.
I also highly recommend The Fallacy of Fine Tuning, by Victor Stenger, G.A. Wells, Cutting Jesus Down to Size: What Higher Criticism Has Achieved and Where It Leaves Christianity, and Michael Martin’s book, The Case Against Christianity.
Again, what do you have to lose?