A rational critique of Christianity
The Case Against Christianity
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"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."
In this systematic philosophical critique of the major tenets of Christianity, Michael Martin examines the semantic and epistemological bases of religious claims and beliefs. Beginning with a comparison and evaluation of the Apostlesí Creed, the Niceno-Chalcedonian Creed, and the Athanasian Creed, Martin discusses the principal theological, historical, and eschatological assumptions of Christianity. These include the historicity of Jesus, the Incarnation, the Second Coming, the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, Salvation through faith in Jesus, and Jesus as a model of ethical behavior.
Until now, an adequately convincing criticism of Christianity did not exist. Martinís use of historical evidence, textual analysis, and interpretations by philosophers and theologians provides the strongest case made to date against the rational justification of Christian doctrines.
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Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 (pdf).
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"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."
"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...."
"This book is a joy to read. It brings together not only Martinís 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 Ďs 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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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
2. The Historicity of Jesus
Skepticism and the Historical Jesus
Wellsís Argument in Brief
The Argument Expanded and Defended
Criticisms of the Wellsian Thesis
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
Habermasís Defense of the Resurrection
4. The Virgin Birth and the Second Coming
The Virgin Birth
The Coherence of the Virgin Birth with Jesusí 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
5. The Incarnation
The Conceptual Problems of the Incarnation
Four Conceptual Problems
Evaluation of Morrisís Solution
Conclusion on Conceptual Problems
The Truth of the Incarnation
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 Jesusí Practices and Teachings Neglect
Evaluation of Jesusí 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
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
8. Christian Responses
The Symbolic Meaning and the Virgin Birth
Demythologizing and Eschatology
Noncognitivism and Agape
Other Possible Responses
Extreme Fideism or Irrationalism
Appendix A: The Divine Command Theory
Varieties of the Radical Divine Command Theory
Evaluation of the Radical Divine Command Theory
The Semantics Problem
The Epistemological Problem
The Conceptual Problem
A Modified Divine Command Theory
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
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About the Author(s)
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).
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