I’ll begin with a disclaimer: I’m a John Loftus fan. I’ve enjoyed his writing for years. I vividly recall discovering his Outsider Test for Faith in his earlier works and was curious to find out how he could expand the concept beyond a chapter or two.
As a copywriter, I’m expected to view every product I help promote as an outsider. I guess that’s why I took to Loftus’ concept like a duck to water. It’s generally quite easy to view nearly any situation as an outsider. What’s difficult is to look at your own life as an outsider. It’s even harder to observe religion and/or spirituality as an outsider.
I had high hopes for this title and I wasn’t disappointed.
Loftus dissects faith with the precision of a surgeon. He begins with a thorough (yet never boring) explanation The Outsider Test for Faith. Then he dons the surgical gloves as he discusses religious diversity, religious dependency as well as how this all looks to the “outsider.”
Chapter five is particularly interesting because Loftus takes time to address reactions to the Outsider Test for Faith. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he studied advertising because we do just that in all our copy: we address customer objections and address them during the persuasion process.
Loftus not only acknowledges those who disagree with his Test, but he methodically addresses each disagreement in a take-down style that’s no holds barred. I smiled more than once watching him verbally eviscerate (in a kind, yet firm manner) his critics.
Religious folks evidently aren’t particularly thrilled with Loftus’ Test. He addresses more of those in Chapter Six. Of the questions addressed in this section, I found his answer to the question, “Should atheists take the outsider test for atheism, too?” fascinating. Loftus’ answer on page 126 is both direct and pleasantly surprised me. Kudos.
Loftus covered a lot of ground in this book. While his Outsider Test for Faith is simple, I appreciate that he took the time to thoroughly reply to so many questions that invariably pop up when discussing religion. It’s funny how such a simple concept can become complicated when you add religiosity to the mix. But Loftus does a fine job of untangling the mess and presenting his Test in its uncomplicated glory.
My only complaint is that the maps in the appendix suck. I’m surprised the publisher (Prometheus) included them considering they printed so badly. Luckily, you can easily find full color versions of them on Loftus’ blog.
Loftus has created a very readable, thorough, and fascinating take down of faith. While the Outsider Test for Faith is a drop dead simple concept, by addressing opposition head on, Loftus created a sturdy foundation under that simple premise. It’s logic in its purest, most simple form. I think his Outsider Test for Faith will stand the test of time.