Brand : David Madison

Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: A Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith



Ivan farkas |

Bravo from a devout atheist

In my mid-teens, i came to the states from a communist country where i received very little religious “education.” when i got here, my relatives placed me into a parochial school where nuns and priest did their best to brain wash me. i was told to believe, no questions asked, about "virgin birth," "immaculate conception," "original sin," “worshiping the one who died for our sins,” etc., etc. and the importance of telling the man behind the screen how many time i’ve touched my pee-pee after the last time i’ve seen him—or else my soul would burn in hell forever. after a couple of years of this i was confused, immersed in good old catholic guilt and, finally, went in search of alternatives or outright freedom from it. i wish to have had a book like this one by david madison to guide me when i was trying to find my way out of the religions quagmire. it would have made my journey faster and less painful to know there was a kindred spirit. his clear, easy style is deep yet approachable to anyone who can read and think critically. what makes it, for me, even more meaningful is that david shares the struggles he went through and the intellectual quest that helped him pinpoint what, to him, are the “ten tough problems in christian thought and belief.” while the ten problems that david focuses on are specific to christian scriptures, the underlying problem of “believing in what ain’t true” applies to some aspects of all the religions i’ve studied or practiced, including 25 years of zen. be it the magic stories, reincarnation, visions and the “afterlife.” this is a wonderful work, to be read and re-read. it will join my other books on the subject of belief and faith i treasure by twain, paine, voltaire, hitchens and dawkins, among others. thank you, david, from a devout atheist.

Mead51 |

Great read.

Thought provoking well researched book written by an ex minister.. great read.. sometimes humorous but always engaging

Amazon customer |

A polite takedown of the national superstition

The author organizes is book into “ten tough problems” that present christianity with insoluble dilemmas. the book refutes christianity so thoroughly that any objective reader (one who is able to change his or her opinion) could continue believing only by ignoring everything madison has to say. following a prologue and introduction, the problems are:ooo 1. evil and human suffering: the coexistence of god and needless suffering has long been recognized (along with god’s hiddenness) as the most difficult theological problem in christianity. he cites gun murders, which occur despite god’s supposed omniscience (he knows even when a sparrow falls from the sky; matthew 10:29). the existence of both moral (human-caused) and natural evil is incontestable, but excuse-makers try to excuse god for it. madison shows that “free will” is not an effective alibi for human evil (p. 48). he also destroys the excuses that we are being punished and/or tested, as well as the notion that satan is doing it.ooo 2. how did you find out about god? madison observes that americans are in thrall to the idea that god is everywhere and god is good. omnipresence is unprovable, especially since god is permanently unseen; and there is no reason to call him good. the author lists several ways in which god supposedly communicates knowledge to us. apparently the knowledge is only of his existence, not of anything real.ooo 3. the bible’s revelation ripoff: the author notes that the bible fails every test that a divinely inspired book should pass. among them are: the disappearance of the original manuscripts, its error-laden content, its unprovable authenticity, its lack of agreement with other ancient sources, and its highly immoral teachings on morality. (p. 98) he adds its largely trivial, irrelevant, and boring content (p. 116), and its mostly fatuous commandments.ooo 4. the absurdity of western monotheism: madison goes into various christian positions such as god’s creation of the universe, the lord’s prayer, and his selection of the virtuous vs. the sinners.ooo 5. which monotheism? which christianity? the author points out that there are many religions (and many versions of christianity), none having a superior claim to truth than any other. he mentions john loftus’ “outsider test for faith,” which says that one should objectively compare one’s own faith to others. no religion passes this test.ooo 6. the gospels fail as history: the bible fails every test that any proper history would pass. its authors, except for paul, are anonymous; inconsistency reigns; no sources are cited; evidence for a living jesus is extremely weak; and the gospels contradict themselves and each other. madison also relates the silly tale of christ’s supposedly virgin birth. each gospel is examined, especially john’s, written so late that genuine information about him would have been lost. john specialized in bizarre theology, removing jesus almost completely from earthly reality.ooo 7. why the resurrection is not worth believing: self-explanatory, but the author points out the well-known fact (denied by literalists) that earlier faiths had dying and rising gods. (p. 252) there is little original in christianity except more guilt.ooo 8. just say no to human sacrifice and cannibalism: the famous bible statements that “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (hebrews 9:22) and where jesus says of some bread “this is my body” (matthew 26:26) makes it obvious that christianity is a religion of human sacrifice with hints of cannibalism. it is a direct descendant of primitive religions of sacrifice, both of animals and humans.ooo 9. what a friend we don’t have in jesus (author’s summary, p. 340; paraphrased): “even if all the overblown theology about jesus is discounted – maybe we can remove the stuff about virgin birth, son of god, and resurrection – people are determined to affirm that he was a supremely good human, a magnificent preacher who set the moral compass for humanity. yet the gospels do not bear this out. they display him as a flawed person who preached hatred of family, and whose expectations about a soon-to-dawn kingdom of god were delusional. his reputation is based on highly selective reading of texts.ooo 10. bad news paul, a delusional cult fanatic: madison is more critical of paul, who is described as a neurotic, monomaniacal, dislikeable, but extremely energetic and persistent pusher of the jesus figure. [paul showed no interest in a possible living jesus.] i call his book polite because compared to my christianity in ruins, he is polite. he refrains from calling believers stupid. i call only their beliefs stupid, not the believers themselves. - stephen b. gray