I attended the talk by John W. Loftus on Saturday. There was a crowd of around 35-40 which was very good considering that the event was organized at very short notice and Saturday evenings at 6:00 pm is not the best time to draw a student audience. The officers of the CWRU Center for Inquiry did a terrific job in arranging everything.
Loftus’s talk was very interesting for me in that he presents an insider’s view of how American evangelical Christians see the world. One has to understand that world view if one is to engage effectively with religious people in the US. As a former evangelical preacher, he is aware of what kinds of arguments might reach them. He presents believers with what he calls the ‘Outsider Test for Faith’, asking them to apply to their own faith the same criteria that they use to reject competing faiths.
I think that the alliance of people like Loftus, who were once committed Christians and are now atheists, and atheists who come from a scientific background could be very fruitful since we bring complementary knowledge to bear on the problem of how to deal with religion and can learn a lot from each other.
He and I were able to spend some time together before and after his talk and I found him to be as engaging in private as he is as a public speaker. He and I shared books and ideas and I will report on his book The Christian Delusion once I’ve had a chance to read it.