Atheism and the Case against Christ


Hundreds of millions of people believe that Jesus came back from the dead. This cogent, forcefully argued book presents a decidedly unpopular view —namely, that the central tenet of Christianity, the resurrection of Jesus, is false. The author asks a number of probing questions:

Is the evidence about Jesus as it has been relayed to us over the centuries of sufficient quantity and quality to justify belief in the resurrection? How can we accept the resurrection but reject magic ...

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Atheism And The Case Against Christ

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Hundreds of millions of people believe that Jesus came back from the dead. This cogent, forcefully argued book presents a decidedly unpopular view —namely, that the central tenet of Christianity, the resurrection of Jesus, is false. The author asks a number of probing questions:

Is the evidence about Jesus as it has been relayed to us over the centuries of sufficient quantity and quality to justify belief in the resurrection? How can we accept the resurrection but reject magic at the Salem witch trials? What light does contemporary research about human rationality from the fields of behavioral economics, empirical psychology, cognitive science, and philosophy shed on the resurrection and religious belief? Can we use contemporary research about the reliability of people’s beliefs in the supernatural, miracles, and the paranormal to shed light on the origins of Christianity and other religions? Does it make sense that the all-powerful creator of the universe would employ miracles to achieve his ends? Can a Christian believe by faith alone and yet reasonably deny the supernatural claims of other religions? Do the arguments against Christianity support atheism?

By carefully answering each of these questions, this book undermines Christianity and theism at their foundations; it gives us a powerful model for better critical reasoning; and it builds a compelling case for atheism. Without stooping to condescension or arrogance, the author offers persuasive arguments that are accessible, thoughtful, and new.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A must-read for believers and nonbelievers alike.”
-The American Rationalist

"In my judgment, McCormick’s book is one of the best—if not the best—critique of the core of Christianity ever written."
-Michael Martin, philosopher of religion, Boston University, and editor of The Cambridge Companion to Atheism

"Finally, a first-rate philosopher weighs in and utterly demolishes any hope reasonable people have for believing Jesus was resurrected from the grave. . . . No other book presents a better case. Nothing more needs to be said."
-John W. Loftus, author of Why I Became an Atheist

"An extremely good book. Without any technical flourishes, it makes the case against the Jesus story so compellingly that I cannot imagine anyone who takes the trouble to read it carefully and without prejudice being other than completely convinced."
-Colin Howson, professor of philosophy, University of Toronto

"Who should read this book? Theists, atheists, Christians, non-Christians, and those whose lives are affected by these overlapping groups—in short, everyone. It contains bold arguments . . . [and is] plain speaking, fast moving, wide ranging, and hard hitting."
-Russell DiSilvestro, assistant professor of philosophy, California State University–Sacramento

"A fascinating and well-crafted collection of arguments against the resurrection of Jesus and, more broadly, against the existence of God."
-Ricki Monnier, coeditor of The Improbability of God and The Impossibility of God

"McCormick’s treatment of the psychological and epistemological aspects of the Christian outlook is the best I have ever seen."
-Theodore M. Drange, professor emeritus, West Virginia University

"A fascinating and convincing case for generalized atheism."
-Raymond D. Bradley, professor of philosophy emeritus, Simon Fraser University

"This book very convincingly shows that most Christians are not justified in accepting the central doctrines of Christianity. . . . [It] should be read by anyone with an interest in the philosophy and history of religion."
-Eric Sotnak, associate professor of philosophy, the University of Akron

Library Journal
Sometimes, especially with controversial topics, the way something is conveyed can be as important as the content itself. In this book, the building blocks for an interesting and persuasive case against the Resurrection of Jesus are completely overshadowed by the author's certainty, arrogance, and presumptuousness. Rather than respectfully laying out the arguments and allowing the reader to decide the verdict, McCormick (philosophy, California State Univ., Sacramento) frequently overreaches and ends up blurring the distinctions between evidence and proof. This is most unfortunate because some of the evidence itself is quite convincing, especially the material about the double standards of believers and the insights from psychology and cognitive science. At the same time, other arguments here, such as the chapter about why God would not do miracles, are speculative to the point of absurdity and left this reader, whose graduate work in theology involved wide study of the subject, wishing for more humility from the author. VERDICT This book is suitable for already convinced atheists seeking new ammunition against Christianity, and Christians desiring to raise their blood pressure.—Brian T. Sullivan, Alfred Univ. Lib., Hornell, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616145811
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 7/24/2012
  • Pages: 330
  • Sales rank: 774,925
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Matthew S. McCormick is a professor of philosophy at California State University–Sacramento who specializes in atheism, philosophy of religion, epistemology, and critical reasoning. He has contributed to The Impossibility of God, edited by Michael Martin and Ricki Monnier, and to The End of Christianity, edited by John W. Loftus; and he has published widely in philosophy. Read his blog at

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Table of Contents

Preface 9

Chapter 1 Speaking Ill of Jesus 11

Chapter 2 The History of the Jesus Story 37

Chapter 3 You Already Don't Believe in Jesus: The Salem Witch Trials 53

Chapter 4 Believing the Believers 71

Chapter 5 The Repeaters and the Money-Bag Problem 107

Chapter 6 Abducted by Aliens and a False Murder Conviction 121

Chapter 7 The Counterevidence Problem 135

Chapter 8 Why Are All of the Gods Hiding? 161

Chapter 9 Would God Do Miracles? 175

Chapter 10 Five Hundred Dead Gods and the Problem of Other Religions 195

Chapter 11 The F-Word 215

Chapter 12 Why So Serious? 239

Chapter 13 Atheism and the Case against Christ 271

Notes 289

Bibliography 313

Index 325

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