The Case Against Christianity


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Table of Contents

Preface Introduction 1. The Basis of Christian Belief Christian Belief and Epistemic Reasons * Christian Belief and Beneficial Reasons * Christian Doctrines and Faith * Christian Doctrines as Basic Beliefs * Conclusion 2. The Historicity of Jesus The Problem * Skepticism and the Historical Jesus * Wells's Argument in Brief * The Argument Expanded and Defended * Criticisms of the Wellsian Thesis * Conclusion 3. The Resurrection Initial Obstacles to Belief in the Resurrection * The Evidence for the Resurrection * The Purposes of the Gospel Writers * The Inconsistency of the Resurrection Story * The Lack of Eyewitnesses * The Reliability of the Eyewitnesses, the Reporters, and the Scribes * Lack of Independent Confirmation * Habermas's Defense of the Resurrection * Conclusion 4. The Virgin Birth and the Second Coming The Virgin Birth * The Story * The Evidence * The Coherence of the Virgin Birth with Jesus' Genealogy * Belief in the Virgin Birth and Improbabilities * The Relevance of Virgin Birth to the Truth of Theism and the Incarnation * The Second Coming * The Evidence: What Did Jesus Teach? * The Evidence: Was Jesus Correct and What Difference Would it Make? * The Second Coming and Faith * Conclusion 5. The Incarnation The Conceptual Problems of the Incarnation * Four Conceptual Problems * Morris's Solution * Evaluation of Morris's Solution * Conclusion on Conceptual Problems * The Truth of the Incarnation * Morris's Defense * The Evidence Needed * Conclusion on the Truth of the Incarnation 6. Christian Ethics What Ethical Principle Did Jesus Teach? * The Ethical Teaching of the Synoptic Gospels * The Moral Practices of Jesus * What Jesus' Practices and Teachings Neglect * Evaluation of Jesus' Ethics * The Love of God and Faith in Jesus Commandments * The Purity of Heart and Language Commandment * The Commandment of Humility * The Love Your Neighbor Commandment * Conclusion 7. Salvation by Faith Biblical Doctrines of Salvation * Evaluation of the Doctrine * The Dependency on Other Christian Doctrines * The Incompatibility with Belief in an All-Good God * Conclusion 8. Christian Responses Nonliteralism * The Symbolic Meaning and the Virgin Birth * Demythologizing and Eschatology * Noncognitivism and Agape * Other Possible Responses * Rationalism * Historical Subjectivism * Extreme Fideism or Irrationalism * Moderate Fideism * Christian Foundationalism * Liberal Reductionism * Conclusion Appendix A: The Divine Command Theory Varieties of the Radical Divine Command Theory * Evaluation of the Radical Divine Command Theory * The Semantics Problem * Moral Problems * The Epistemological Problem * The Conceptual Problem * A Modified Divine Command Theory * Conclusion Appendix B: The Atonement Major Theories of the Atonement * The Ransom Theory * The Satisfaction Theory * The Acceptance Theory * The Penal Theory * The Government Theory * The Moral Theory * The Christus Victor Theory * The Mystic Theory * Conclusion Biblical Index General Index

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A rational critique of Christianity

About the Author

Michael Martin, Professor of Philosophy at Boston University, is the author of The Legal Philosophy of H.L.A. Hart and Atheism: A Philosophical Justification (both from Temple).


"Martin has said something fresh and fruitful that theologians and philosophers of religion simply cannot afford to ignore...Every serious student of Christian doctrine would do well to spend time on Martin's insightful chapters." --Free Inquiry "A thorough, logical examination of the major tenants of Christianity by a professional philosopher (not a theologian)... [This] is the best book for the intelligent reader that examines the case for and against Christianity... The book is must reading for all who discuss (or defend) Christianity from a critical point of view." --American Rationalist "An insightful and provocative rational analysis of the major doctrinal claims of Christianity... While a creative critique in its own right, this work is in the tradition of Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, Paul Kurtz, and Edmund Cohen among others..." --Choice "This book is a joy to read. It brings together not only Martin's thoughts about Christianity, but important views, pro and con, from important writers in the field from Russell to Aquinas, Kaufmann to Augustine, Robertson to Kierkegaard, etc... Martin 's presentation of points of view on a topic, in every case, are to the point, detailed, and insightful." --Peter A. Angeles, Santa Barbara City College "Martin is one of the very few first-rate philosophers who have had the fortitude and patience to carefully read much of the truly staggering amount of non-philosophical literature on Christian topics." --Peter H. Hare, SUNY Buffalo

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