God or Godless?: One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions. is a book coauthored by Christian theologian Randal Rauser and former preacher, turned atheist, John W. Loftus. In the book, the two writers square off against one another in a series of 20 separate debates. Each debate includes an introduction by each author, one rebuttal, and a conclusion. Each chapter discusses a different subject, which starts with a statement that an author has chosen, and the other author must either defend the statement or rebut it. The individual subjects discussed are as follows:
1. If there is a God, then life has no meaning.
2. The Biblical concept of God evolved from polytheism to monotheism.
3. If there is no God, then everything is permitted.
4. The Biblical God required child sacrifice for his pleasure.
5. Science is no substitute for religion.
6. The Biblical God commanded genocide.
7. God is the best explanation of the whole shebang.
8. The Biblical God does not care much about slaves.
9. If there is no God, then we don’t know anything.
10. The Biblical God does not care much about women.
11. Love is a many splendored thing, but only if God exists.
12. The Biblical God does not care much about animals.
13. Everybody has faith.
14. The Biblical God is ignorant about science.
15. God is found in the majesty of the hallelujah chorus.
16. The Biblical God is ignorant about the future.
17. God best explains the miracles in people’s lives.
18. The Biblical God is an incompetent creator.
19. Jesus was resurrected, so who do you think raised him?
20. The Biblical God is an incompetent redeemer.
Each chapter is very well written and I found the ways in which each author made their case to be creative and well articulated. As I read through each argument and each rebuttal I kept getting a sense that Mr. Rauser was in over his head in these debates. While he presented his case in an easily understood manner, his actual arguments left much to be desired. As is common in many of these kinds of debates I felt that during some discussions the authors were more talking past one another than truly communicating, but for the most part, each debate was very entertaining. I cannot fault the book for this, though, since these debates were done in such a fashion that the authors were very limited in the amount of space given to make their arguments. Given this fact, I think both authors did an excellent job of summarizing their points. However, I firmly believe that Mr. Loftus’ arguments were many magnitudes stronger.
The kind of shot-gun approach taken with this book, presenting several, short and concise debates is an interesting format for a book on this subject and it was enjoyable to get a gist of the different points of view of each author on such a wide variety of topics. Personally, I think this book would be best suited for those who are relatively new to these debates, as many of these discussions do tread over ground that I’m sure the vast majority of atheists and Christians have seen debated every day around different fora and websites on the internet.
After reading the book, God or Godless, where do I stand on that question? Due to Mr. Rauser’s lackluster (though admirable) performance, I must say that I will remain Godless. The facts and logic employed by Mr. Loftus throughout each chapter were too much for Mr. Rauser and the Christian faith to withstand.