Jason Long wrote two excellent books, Biblical Nonsense,and the one I reviewed on Amazon and liked the best, The Religious Condition: Answering And Explaining Christian Reasoning.On Amazon.com Jason just reviewed my revised book, Why I Became an Atheist,saying,
There's not too much for me to add to my last review of an earlier edition of this book. I still find it to be the most comprehensive scholarly work that is critical of the Bible, and this edition solidifies that. I own both, but if you want only one, choose this one. This is my earlier review:
This is the book I wish I could write. Loftus includes everything: absurdities, superstitions, interpretations, persuasive psychology, pseudoscience, morality, philosophy, proofs, logistical issues, history, miracles, methodology, prayer, creation, canonization, legendary embellishment, etc. Whereas pop writers like Dawkins and Harris scoff at the obvious stupidity of Christianity, and textual scholars like Ehrman and Price focus on apologetic issues without hardly mentioning that Christianity doesn't deserve the air of respectability it gets, Loftus tackles both methods with full force.
John does a wonderful job of pointing out how apologists are all extremely confident of their positions even if the contrast among one another, yet he also doesn't lose sight of the fact that a neutral start for these apologists would never prompt them to offer their conclusions. It is probably the best comprehensive book of the issues I've read. Fifteen dollars will net you fifteen hours worth of intense reading. Yes, ninety percent of the material can be found elsewhere, but this is to be expected when there is no true point of concentration in the book, such as you would find with a book that deals with one specific topic. It is a jack of all trades, and Loftus pulls it off beautifully.
Loftus, like very few writers, takes the time to explain why we start our observations "from below" rather than "from above." Persuasive psychology is briefly mentioned, and since I write on it frequently, I was extremely happy to see it (even if I would have liked to have seen more). What I really support is his focus on fundamental questions, which I believe deconvert more individuals than textual analysis ever could. These questions include why God needs worship, why religions distribute predictably, and why the Bible has no declaration against slavery. I also learned a few things while reading, such as William Lane Craig's ridiculous arguments for why God has religious diversity (while ignoring the obvious answer of societal conditioning) and Francesco Sizzi's equally ridiculous arguments for divinity in space.
The only real downside is that a book of this depth isn't for the casual disbeliever. It's very scholarly and geared toward those well versed in biblical issues. I suspect that this would not be an obstacle for those who aren't well informed, but one should be in order to grasp everything the author has to say. In short, Loftus has left humanity much better than he found it, which is what all nonbelievers can only strive to accomplish. Highly recommended is The Outsider Test.