John Shook – The God Debates

October 15, 2010

Our guest is philosopher and author John Shook, discussing his experiences debating religious believers and whether such debates are a good idea.

Some say no, that such spectacles merely serve believers by making it look like atheists take them more seriously than they deserve. Others say yes, because debates provide a precious opportunity to introduce believers to atheistic arguments they might otherwise never hear.

Price and Shook compare notes about debating superstar apologist William Lane Craig, discuss interesting insights on Presuppositionalism and Postmodernism, and talk about Dr. Shook’s new book, The God Debates: A 21st Century Guide for Atheists and Believers (and Everyone in Between), an introduction to major issues in the philosophy of religion, as well as debate topics old and new.

This is point of inquiry for Friday, October 15th, 2010. 

Welcome to Point of Inquiry. I’m Robert Price. Point of Inquiry is the radio show and the podcast of the Center for Inquiry, a think tank advancing reasons, science and secular values in public affairs. And at the grass roots. 

John Shook has served as vice president and senior research fellow at the Center for Inquiry Trans National in Amherst, New York. And as a research associate in philosophy at the University of Buffalo since 2006, he received his P.H. Dean philosophy at Buffalo and was Professor of Philosophy at Oklahoma State University from 2000 to 2006. He has authored and edited more than a dozen books, including a Newin the God Debates from Wiley Blackwell. Dr. Schook is coeditor of three philosophy journals and travels to lecture and debate across the United States and around the world. 

Welcome to a point of inquiry John Shook. Oh, I’m glad to be here, Bob. 

John, have I just been asleep or are there many more religion and atheist debates in the last 10 years or so than than there used to be? 

Oh, that might be the case. Bob, your debates have been outstanding. Some of them, like mine, are available online. 

Maybe a transcript or maybe an audio. Maybe a video, of course, as you know. 

God debate debates about the new and Old Testament. Well, you know, this debating is nothing new that’s been going on. You’re a participant yourself. 

Oh, throughout the 80s and 90s and perhaps their giant parodies, many records, transcripts, audio and the Internet. You know, they’re there. It might be misleading to think that it’s all just been in in the last 10 years just because you can find lists of them on the Internet. But I think the intensity has certainly increased and the number of topics might have increased. 

Whether or not Jesus performed any miracles or was resurrected or whether even Jesus existed to the existence of God to whether you can be good without God. The number of topics seems to off nicely proliferated. 

Yeah, I remember old creationist debates from the 80s, but then I guess I was just parochial. I didn’t hear until more recently them and I guess until I started getting invited to be part of them. But sure is an interesting sport. Is it mainly Protestant fundamentalists who want to debate unbelievers or are there also good numbers of Muslims, Roman Catholics and others who want to enter the ring? 

Well, that’s a good question. I don’t keep track of the specific flavors of debates. So though there are some Web sites out there, including, let me mention common sense Athie ism, which maintains a list of recent debates. So folks can visit there and judge for themselves. It does look like a majority of them are coming from the Protestant orientation, although there are an increasing number of Muslims entering into these debates, which is a nice thing to see. 

I’ve been surprised that fundamentalists even seek public debate. I thought they wouldn’t want to put their supporters in the audience in a forum where they might hear disturbing things, as they always say, you know, watch out. Satan will plant the seeds of doubt. But by now, I suspect the audience comes in primed by their gurus against anything the atheists may say with their minds already made up. So there doesn’t seem much danger. Is that accurate, do you think? 

Oh. In my limited experience, I’ve seen audiences largely as Christians and maybe, you know, many of them are firm in the face. They seem to like the debates because they’re there to cheer on the Christian, I suppose. 

But they’re getting exposed to arguments and, of course, weaknesses and fallacies and the arguments presented by the atheist side. So that’s also the good. And in the long run, you never know how large a seed of doubt may grow, how wide a crack of disbelief may widen later in life. So I think hearing debate can generally be a helpful influence in gradually diminishing religious belief. 

Why the theologians are so eager to do it? I’m not sure. Wouldn’t be in a position to know their own personal motivations. But I get the impression that many of these theologians really do believe that by continually repeating the same kinds of arguments for God over and over, they’re using a time honored trick of just reinforcing conviction through repetition. 

It’s almost perhaps a form of proselytizing or witnessing for them. They already possess the truth in their own mind, and they want to reinforce that same truth conviction in their audiences. 

And perhaps they think they’re accomplishing it. Maybe in many cases there are. And again, you know, we never know the long term effects of these sorts of things. 

You know, I think that’s a very shrewd insight as to why they do what they do. Because I’ve come to ask myself many times, why do they say the same thing again and again from one debate to another and within the same one. And for instance, I noticed William Lane Craig would just repeat a misrepresentation of my views as soon as I had tried to correct it. Just to reinforce to the audience and that he really thinks what I’m saying. He thinks. And it made me wonder eventually if the motive was just as you say, that the the arguments for the faith have become themselves a kind of set of items in a creed. And it’s rather than real arguments, I don’t know. 

But some of the new atheists claim that theology is so irrelevant or ignorant that no atheist should bother with it or stoop to refute it. Is debating about God is simply a waste of time, for matter of an angle of approach. 

I doubt it. 

And I think many of the new HCF can report that in the wake of their books and their public appearances. They do get approached by people who will tell them, oh, you know, my faith was shattered by your book or your talk or doubt that I didn’t want to pay any attention to couldn’t be ignored anymore because of your outspoken criticisms of religion. What I worry about is not new racism in general. I’m a part of it. I criticize religion and theology is as loudly as I can alongside alongside many. I just can’t believe that atheists could take the stand. Yes, we have a rationally defensible world view. We’re just not going to tell you what it is or tell you why it’s superior to your religion. In the marketplace of ideas, Athie ism should be loud and it should be proud and it should be prepared and it should be prepared to address and refute whatever reasons a religious believer might be able to summon up in defense of of their world view. We we throw around this word faith as if it meant a turning off of the mind. And indeed, it largely is from our atheist perspective. But of course, from the perspective of any religious believer, their faith is so thoroughly inter fuzed with everything else that they try to understand about the world that there’s no clear demarcation in their minds between reason and faith. They think that they can give reasons for their faith and they’ll tell you all about them from the leading theologian to, you know, religious neighbor over the hedge. And if you’re going to talk to them, if you’re going to try to explain why you disagree with being religious. And if you feel like it, if you feel like, you know, offering criticisms or objections to religious worldview, I would be smart to come prepared to the discussion. And so if you’re going to argue against a view, it makes sense to understand something of the view that you’re arguing against. And our new atheist heroes all exemplify admirable preparation for dealing with whatever religious believer might be able to come up with. So I really see no difficulty at all. The atheist, if they want, can come prepared to the debate in the public square. I think we need more atheists able to do so. 

Yeah, I have seen a couple of cases like I think Anthony flu and one in which this is the famous debate over the resurrection with Gary Hobaugh mass that he did where I thought flu just didn’t quite know what he was dealing with. He had a good grasp of the issue itself, but not of the way in which Hobaugh Moss would defend it. And that’s what turned out to matter. Or I heard one where Ashley Montagu debated Duane Gish, which seems like a bizarre asymmetrical contest. But but he’d a geishas courses just, I would say a charlatan. But he but but Montague was sort of used to a higher level of exchange. And as a result, I think he fired over the heads of the audience and Geshe sounded better. And it’s as you say, the preparation thing is all important. You can’t just know your subject. You have to know their subject as well, you know. Dawkins Richard Dawkins surprises me in that he refuses to debate creationists and he is so winsome and lucidly clear. I can’t think of anyone who could present the case for evolution better. And yet he feels that it just gives these people credibility. They don’t deserve to. Where am I missing something in his reasoning, do you think? Or do you disagree with him? 

I don’t fault a scientist whose reputation is based on science like Richard Dawkins and others might come to name. I don’t blame them for not entering an arena where evolution or any particular science is going to be debated with a creationist. There might be better uses of those scientists time. Let me explain. I take a nuanced view about smart strategies for debating in the public. Marina, I do agree that a scientist debating science with a creationist is very problematic because it does lend either legitimacy to creationism as a defensible intellectual position or it might allow the view that science has an internal controversy over evolution, which it doesn’t. And in science, there is no controversy, much less anything to teach. Evolution is fact. 

Of course, scientists continue to refine the details and mechanisms of natural selection, along with other causes of the evolution of the species. 

But of course, the creationists does not belong on the stage with the scientists talking about science. Creationist has no scientific credentials, and it would be a waste of both the scientists time and everybody’s time, really. 

That is very well put. It’s not so much a case of the scientist not belonging with a creationist as a creationist, not that scientist. 

That’s that’s really good. 

But then, of course, it’s not true that no one should debate the creationist. There’s other kinds of public intellectuals and other kinds of roles in other kinds of stages. 

For example, there’s a couple others that occurred to me that are ongoing. 

Richard Dawkins does engage in dialog and debate with religious figures, with theologians about religion generally, about the influence of religion on society, how it ought to be replaced with a scientific and humanistic worldview. 

I mean, so Dawkins takes his stage and his timing, and I think that’s right. We all need to be careful about the context. A creationist, for example, could be debated by a science educator, someone who can explain what science is and does and can explain very clearly why what the creationist is pushing can’t meet any scientific standards. And that kind of confrontation in the public square, in the marketplace of ideas, I think is exceedingly useful. 

The creationists does need to be refuted and rebuked for really just doing pseudo science. A philosopher, for example, could also play that role knowledgeable about what the creationist is trying to do and capable of explaining in basic terms how science works could be very effective, very effective debate. 

I think our friend and colleague Eddy Tabish is a great example of this, though. Though education, per say, is not his area, he he doesn’t claim to be an authority in New Testament or theology or anything. And yet his very presence, which is so effective in these debates, makes clear that you don’t really have to be a specialist, these things to see the the holes in the argument of the of the fundamentalists debaters. So which is a better way to go. Whereas I find myself getting tripped up because I have so vast a distance, I don’t mean in terms of my being so superior to intelligence. I’m not. But in terms of what I know to be true, in terms of New Testament criticism that there is no longer any common ground between me and the debater, I just have to would have to spell spend so much time building bridges that it’s difficult to to actually engage you, whereas someone else may be able to just take them at their word and show the problems. That’s an interesting approach to it for sure. 

That makes sense. And it makes sense that, you know, that we we rely on various specialists, the naturalistic world view and science is complicated and broad and many, many levels of intellectual capacity needed. And, you know, religion is a very broad and has many nuances, flavors, denominations, approaches, kinds of theologies. So I’m a sort of a C atheist who thinks that Athie ism needs to bring a big toolbox to the public confrontation with religion, and is a great example of someone who can sharply criticize many aspects of religion. People who know a great deal about science can engage some of the science. People who are specialists in scripture, such as yourself, can deal with those defenses of religion. It’s a terrific opportunity for teamwork. And I think I think our side. Displays that very clearly. 

Would you tell us about some of the more more any of the more memorable debates that you’ve been in? Who did you take on that stand side, your memory? And how did it go? 

Well, my most interesting experience was debating William Lane Craig, the Protestant theologian you mentioned earlier, who has a professorship, the Bible, the University of California. 

And he has many, many admirers and imitators and the Protestant theology world. 

So in debating Craig, I was in a way of speaking, you know, debating the master. 

That debate was interesting. I had a similar experience. You mentioned earlier that Craig just seemed absolutely focused on reiterating the same basic points over and over, almost not really caring what the atheist might creatively bring to the debate. In fact, I remember at one point I made a rebuttal to one of Craig’s points. Then it was his turn. He came up to the podium with faded and dogeared yellow notes and proceeded to read his rebuttal to what I just said. Not having really listened to what I said, he had his reply pre prepared, showing that he didn’t even listen to what I actually said. He only learned to reply to what he thought I was going to say. So it became a bit of a farce at certain points. But make no mistake, Craig is a master at presenting the basic arguments that he continually uses over and over again. And I had great pleasure in in refuting them. And I think I did it to good effect that I’m not the one to judge whether or not I won the debate. But I do know that by the middle and end of the debate, I was getting more enthusiastic applause from the entire audience than Craig did. 

And by the question and answer period, the Christians were lining up to fire tougher questions at Craig than at me. So I think there was some thought provoked. In fact, Craig Craig wouldn’t stop talking about it for a while. He he’d posted a blog complaining about how the Vancouver crowd, the debate with the University of British Columbia. The Vancouver crowd was the toughest he had ever encountered, giving, of course, no credit to me. And he even had to do a podcast to try to do some follow up refutations of my actual points once it was available on the Internet. Since during the debate, he didn’t care really to listen to much of my nuanced replies. So maybe I got under his skin a little bit. But at any rate, it was a pleasure. Is a very fine intellectual thinker for, you know, on the field of theology side. It would be a pleasure to debate him again. 

Would you say he’s the best opponent you’ve faced. 

Of that variety? 

Now he’s an evidential list, meaning he thinks that there are some good arguments for the existence of God that start from the way the universe actually is observed to be from the evidence, as it were. Design arguments, fine tuning arguments, those sorts of things. There’s another flavor of Protestant theologian that I’ve only debated once. 

I’d like to do so again. They call themselves sometimes the presuppositions lists. I devote a chapter of my new book to God debates to these presupposition lists. They’re not a majority by any means, but they take a rather different view that first you find some rational axioms, almost sort of logical first principles that all Christians should accept. 

And then from there, you can sort of climb a ladder to two deductively, enjoy absolutely certain knowledge of God that requires a rather different argumentative strategy than dealing with the evidential. 

They seem to try to just claim the high ground and shoot down word by saying that if you don’t believe in Trinitarian Orthodox Christianity, you have no right to be sure that two plus two equals four, because unless there’s a God who guarantees logic, you just shootin in the dark. And to me, that is like the divine command theory in ethics. It just vitiates logic because they seem to be saying it depends upon the whim of a God, whether two and two equals four or maybe tomorrow five if he gets bored with it. And I just find that the weirdest strategy and so do many evangelical Christians. They say, look, you’ve just given up the store here and this is the the worst kind of defense. They the the offense you’re giving. 

Right. Without going into flavors of presupposition, wisdom. I generally agree with that observation that dead on. I rather think some of this of positional ism, because it is less than 100 years old, might be getting some aid and comfort from post-modernist trends. Postmodernists can frequently give the impression that as long as you have an internally consistent and coherent knowledge base, no one else has any grounds to disagree with you. In other words, the possibility of agreement or disagreement only happens within the sort of charmed circle of knowledge that you already agree upon. So they think that there are just these sorts of different knowledge communities, these different paradigms of ways of knowing. And no paradigm is ever in a position to criticize any other because any criticism would be based upon a premise of one or another knowledge system. Christianity claims to have its own firm, certain knowledge system based on conviction that God exists, to conviction that God is responsible for our ability to reason that, you know, the Bible is in error. And they just think that, well, that’s it. Their work is done. If you disagree, it’s simply because you have a different knowledge system and you’re not a real Christian. This postmodernism is criticized the bill. It suffers from all sorts of fallacies. And in my book, I discuss exactly the right way to to poke critical holes in and deflate it rather easily. 

It seems that this takes off from, I think, an irresponsible observation in Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, where he says that the choice between two paradigms is virtually a religious conversion, which I think does not follow at all from what he says in the rest of the book. But it’s as if the presupposition lists seize on this to say, yeah, what did we, Tallia? But but the but worse problem is that how do you just determine which one to convert to? I think a Peter Burger and the plausibility structure. Is it just that you enter into a church or a moose lodge or thuggy cult or whatever it is, and everybody patch you on the back and says a man and that say, you know, it’s true. It just seems incredible. Such a double think just the will to believe run rampant. 

Yeah, I think I agree with that diagnosis. I think that modern theology theology is the last. Maybe 200 years since since content and Kirkegaard and certain kinds of existentialism and mysticism have really sort of abandoned reason. 

They’ve given up. 

Supposing that they can play fair and even neutral ground where at least basic common sense rationality can be taken for granted. 

Seeing that between modern science and enlightenment thinking, theology is just kind of loose. They’ve taken refuge in all sorts of postmodernism, existentialism, where emotion is mostly about things like emotion or community common feeling and that sort of thing and outright mysticism. 

But that doesn’t mean they’re immune from criticism. 

It just, again, requires a different kind of tool out of the tool box. And another chapter of my book is devoted for handling mysticism. Just because it’s murky and mystical doesn’t mean that the light of reason can’t be shined on it. Again, this is another way of saying, as I said earlier. 

Saying though religion is based on faith, therefore nothing can be said about it, couldn’t be further from the truth, reason can shine its light anywhere it needs to. Nothing is exempt and certainly not faith. 

About 40, 50 even years ago, I forget one of the old time liberal theologians, Al Harold DeWolfe, wrote a book called The Religious Revolt Against Reason, and he was writing against neo orthodoxy, Karl Baad and people like that. And I think he was I don’t know that his religious liberalism holds were like liberal Protestantism holds up there. But I think he was already seeing and decrying this this lapse into total subjectivism. I kind of though I see a lot of pitfalls and postmodernism, I find dairy dog to be very illuminating. He said he didn’t want to abandon logic. He just sort of wanted to pull the edges of it up like a rug and see what was under there. And he, I think, pronounced the death blow to most of these subjectivist stick approaches in his criticism of what he called presence metaphysics, that I am a big fan of Slier Mocker, the 19th century theologian. But I have to admit, his whole enterprise is based on just what seems true to the pious consciousness. And once you read Dary Die, a real Heise chief HST is worthless. It is just completely impossible to verify. It’s he is just engaging in wishful thinking. So it’s it’s kind of funny. The post-modernism thing is a two edged sword, but I suspect some of its advocates haven’t see that yet. 

As any opponent of yours in debate ever made a point that made you step back and think, now, wait a minute, I never thought of that. 

That’s a good point. 

Not so much in debate and debate. Neither side really has much of an opportunity to get too creative or too sophisticated. We try to stay focused on our audience and focus on each other. 

It is possible to have an original thought and a debate if you could express it clearly. Perhaps a new strategy occurs to one party or another, but most of the groundwork and preparation is done with, you know, the just the, you know, sort of thoughtful thinking rethink of the argument, looking for new twists or or new kinds of arguments. And somebody like myself or or on the other side, a theologian. If they think that they have a new twist or a genuinely new strategy, though, they’ll publish it. They’ll try it out. They’ll see what other people think of it. And then if it seems that it might be useful, they might try it out in a in a debate. But the debates themselves tend to follow fairly predictable horses. If either side is adequately prepared now, I enjoy the question and answer period the most because you cannot predict what great questions there are always great questions from the audience. So. So that’s the fun side. That’s the creative side. But I have not yet heard anything from my opponent in a debate that has much surprised me or caused me to rethink any strategies. We have to do is, of course, watch out for new wrinkles coming from the theological world. 

You know what you say about the question and answer period? That is exactly my experience. I kind of liked the debates themselves, but when the questions come from the audience, it is so refreshing. And that is what makes me confident that it’s worth keeping up with this stuff, because obviously you’re not going to get the person you debating on the platform to say, you know, you’re right. I don’t know what the heck I was thinking. That’s it for me. I’m joined in your site that that is never gonna happen. So you shouldn’t even be aiming at that. But it’s the thinking of the audience. And I have been amazed continually that the audience, especially students, do not simply come to the mike trying to refute me if a few do. But most of them have. You can tell have genuinely had something new come into their head and they want to know more about it. And I feel like, all right, we’re doing our job here. And that that is very, very encouraging. 

Yes, I feel the same way. 

Tell us some more about the God debates as a book. Like what? It already sounds immensely fascinating. What prompted you to write it, to make it kind of a handbook for others? 

I’ve been teaching philosophy of religion for many, many, many years. And it occurs. 

To me, that could use some updating in an understandable way, both for the mass market of books that you can find in the bookstores. Folks looking for some some guidance with what’s going on with all of this. God debating. And also, it can be used as a entry level college textbook, as a as up to date survey of the pro and con arguments being given by theologians down to the present day. We’ve mentioned some of these new flavors of theology into existentialism. The presupposition holism, various kinds of 20th century fundamentalism and mysticism are endlessly proliferating. So, again, it just tries to offer a survey with a rather skeptical conclusion. 

As you might imagine, that none of these kinds of theologies could possibly do what they claim to do, namely give satisfactory justification for believing in any sort of God whatsoever. My book could be best categorized perhaps as an effort in a theology. In other words, you put the letter A in front of theology much in the same way that, you know, A.S. ism is opposition to theism. A theology would be the intellectual effort to oppose theology. So my book would be a contribution to a theology alongside many others. I just tried to be as comprehensive as possible. And in the last chapter, I step back and survey a variety of world views that are out there competing today and try to try to say what what are the different views really on how to balance, harmonize or prioritize reason with faith? There are a variety of approaches, and I think we need to understand the demographics of belief out there that there are different approaches needed for different kinds of believers. 

You know, I find that I’ve studied theology for decades in a critical but appreciative way, too. To me, the idea of spinning out these fascinating systems of thought, I just find that engrossing and interesting. I love that. But of course, you can’t really do that unless you’re using the the sharp edge scalpel. It was the simple believers. Just accept what they’re told, but to analyze it. You’ve got to be critical about it. And you can’t possibly believe all of them much. I mean, you might pick one, but even if you do that, you’re an unbeliever and all the rest of them. And to understand them, you have to be critical, even if you’re appreciative. And it seems to me I I see that in you. And I just have to say I appreciate that much more than what that is. I may not be reading them right. But I heard Richard Dawkins say just the other day that he figures theologians have absolutely zero subject matter. And I find that to be facile and insulting and in not very helpful, whereas your approach seems to me to be much more likely to get everybody a lot further in this thing. I don’t mean to criticize Dawkins so much as to say I appreciate what you’re doing. 

Well, it is true that theology is about nothing, right? Because it’s about art that doesn’t exist. On the other hand, of course, theology is about the believers who do believe in God and about the justifications that they try to give for the existence of God. So theology is about billions and billions and billions of believers from how they live their lives. When I think for atheists to engage believers, for atheists to try to d convert believers, for the atheist worldview to survive on this planet, we have got to be able to take theology seriously because we have to take other people’s beliefs seriously if we’re ever going to change their minds. Simply standing in the public square shouting, I alone possess the truth, the truth, the truth, the science, the science, the science, the truth, the truth, the truth. Well, that’s the very fundamentalist racism of which we get criticized for. The truth will not set us free. Will do it. 

As John Stuart Mill so eloquently put it, is to be able to effectively and persuasively argue with people that we disagree with. That is, of course, the responsible thing to do, not simply to think that we can stand in our corner and shout, I have the truth. And, you know, some as as this the truth has magical powers. If only it did. But in. Fortunately, we’re going to have to go about the ugly business of actually trying to reason with other people. I don’t know why we should despair of that. 

The long and rich tradition of free thought and rationalism and Acey ism has provided numerous examples of shining heroes, unafraid and unapologetic for arguing with believers. I understand why we need to suddenly abandon that rich tradition. 

Well, one last thing. What were you working on now? Any any new book size? No one. You I can’t imagine you’re not. 

Let’s see. The next book closest to being done is about humanism. So in other words, what positive way of life does the non-religious world view have to offer? As you know, the non-religious are accused of having no essay, no morality, no standards. We’re told, oh, for you folks, morality must just be subjective or whatever you want it to be. And we get tarred with Neal Islam, you know, having no values at all or some kind of anarchism or who knows what. Right. But of course, this simply isn’t the case. The long Freethought rationalist tradition developed humanism as the positive ethical life stance that, you know, explains why people can be good without God and why there are objective moral principles and rules to guide people long after superstition and religion is left behind. Now, the goal is easy to state. The actual how of it right might require some elaboration. 

We’re getting help from philosophers, social scientists, the cognitive sciences and neuroscience are starting to be enormously helpful. The example of Sam Harris might be mentioned here with his new book out, talking about how science should not be afraid to take on questions of values, which which I applaud and I’d like to be a part of. So perhaps something about how the positive world view of humanism offers a replacement for religion’s social and moral functions might be a timely book. 

You are, as always, fascinating, and I really appreciate your coming on that point of inquiry, John. Thank you so much. I hope you’ll be on again sometime soon. 

Oh, marvelous interview, Bob. Anytime. Thank you so much. 

I’d like to remind listeners that John’s new book, The God, debates a 21st century guide for atheists and believers and everyone in between is available through our Web site. Point of inquiry, dot org. Thank you for listening to this episode of Point of Inquiry to get involved with an online conversation about today’s show. Join the online discussion forum at point of inquiry dot org. Views expressed on point of inquiry aren’t necessarily the views of the Center for Inquiry, nor its affiliated organizations. Questions and comments on today’s show can be sent to feedback at point of inquiry dot org. 

Point of inquiry is produced by Adam Isaac in Amherst, New York. And our music is composed forest by Emmy Award winner Michael Wayland. Today’s show also featured contributions from Debbie Goddard. I’m your host, Robert Price. 

Robert M. Price

Born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1954, Robert Price moved to New Jersey in 1965. At Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary he took an MTS degree in New Testament (1978), then, at Drew University, a PhD in Systematic Theology (1981) and a second PhD in New Testament (1993). He has served as Professor of Religion at Mount Olive College, North Carolina, pastor of First Baptist Church, Montclair, NJ, and Director of the Metro NY Center for Inquiry. He founded and edited the Journal of Higher Criticism and has authored scores of articles on the Bible and religion. His books include Beyond Born AgainThe Widow Traditions in Luke-ActsDeconstructing JesusThe Incredible Shrinking Son of ManThe Da Vinci FraudThe Reason-Driven LifeThe Pre-Nicene New TestamentJesus Is Dead, and The Paperback Apocalypse. Price is a Fellow of the Jesus Seminar. He served as Professor of Theology and Scriptural Studies at Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary and Professor of Biblical Criticism for the Center for Inquiry Institute in Amherst, NY. He and his wife Carol and daughters Victoria and Veronica live in Selma, NC.