Learn to De-Convert the Faithful With Practical New Book

50

Iʼm starting to find the equivocations, vagueness, and the unmerited claims emerging from assertions of faith to be a bit tedious. Asking a believer for a definition of faith and a description of how it works will inevitably result in a cogent lesson in question begging. Christians will often present this popular Biblical verse, Hebrews 11:1:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

How this confidence and assurance is achieved is never divulged, and faith, in this case, simply asserts. Alternatively, the theist appeals to lifeʼs uncertainties and defines faith as the leap over these probabilities. I discussed this erroneous view during my podcast with minister-turned-atheist Dr. John Loftus in May of this year. Having faith in a proposition – whatever that means – in no way magically increases or decreases the likelihood of its truth. Again, faith simply asserts and leaves much unexplained.

In my experience, definitions of faith tend to be synonymous with the word “belief” or beg the question, as the passage in Hebrews above illustrates. Faith is often invoked as an extra ingredient or additional power behind a belief or knowledge claim, but the method or mechanism is either flawed, non-existent or kept a deep, dark secret.

Many people still invoke faith as a way of knowing, despite it being highly unlikely to help one arrive at the truth. This is why I’m grateful for Dr. Peter Boghossian’s recently published book, A Manual For Creating Atheists. Throughout the book Boghossian provides conversational strategies and tactics designed to lead religious believers from faith to reason. The book offers diagnostic methods, provides practical examples of conversations, and is supported by an impressive body of cross-disciplinary peer-reviewed literature. Boghossian is an outspoken philosophy professor at Portland State University, and recently hosted a book-signing and interview with renowned evolutionary biologist and prominent atheist Richard Dawkins.

Written By: Alan Litchfield
continue to source article at malcontentsgambit.com

50 COMMENTS

    • In reply to #1 by groo:

      I really don’t like this idea of trying to convert (or de-convert) someone. It’s one of the things that annoys me in religious people.

      I agree. It’s the responsibility of blind faithers to cure themselves.

      S G

      • In reply to #4 by Stafford Gordon:

        In reply to #1 by groo:

        I really don’t like this idea of trying to convert (or de-convert) someone. It’s one of the things that annoys me in religious people.

        I agree. It’s the responsibility of blind faithers to cure themselves.

        S G

        I disagree. Blind faithers haven’t found a way to cure themselves in thousands of years. And since they are the ones in power, passing laws that affect us all, its in our interest to help them give up their faith and think more rationally.

      • In reply to #4 by Stafford Gordon:

        In reply to #1 by groo:

        I really don’t like this idea of trying to convert (or de-convert) someone. It’s one of the things that annoys me in religious people.

        I agree. It’s the responsibility of blind faithers to cure themselves.

        Although they want a fight, I’ll give them one. That kind of handy guide can be useful in some situation.

    • In reply to #1 by groo:

      I really don’t like this idea of trying to convert (or de-convert) someone.
      It’s one of the things that annoys me in religious people.

      I wouldn’t try to de-convert anyone in normal situations either, however sometimes the time is ripe for a bit of street epistemology. When an acquaintance is trying to convert you for instance, I consider the gloves are off. I have had the opportunity to put the method to the test, but I’m afraid the results were not as I had hoped.

    • In reply to #1 by groo:

      I really don’t like this idea of trying to convert (or de-convert) someone.
      It’s one of the things that annoys me in religious people.

      I really don’t like off the cuff thought free remarks peddling false equivalencies. What do you think The God Delusion, God Is Not Great and Letter To A Christian Nation were if not attempts at mass de-stupefaction? And pretty goddamn effective those books and their author’s efforts were and continue to be as the testimonies accumulate.

      So sorry you are “annoyed”, so relieved you are not “offended”.

      • In reply to #14 by godsbuster:

        In reply to #1 by groo:

        What do you think The God Delusion, God Is Not Great and Letter To A Christian Nation were if not attempts at mass de-stupefaction? And pretty goddamn effective those books and their author’s efforts were and continue to be as the testimonies accumulate.

        (First, I haven’t read the book so am responding just to what I see here. I’ll be very interested to see Quine’s informed comments for a fair and fuller picture.)

        These books (TGD etc.) pretty much did the de-converting directly. They weren’t a how-to manual for others to do the job. Moreover, they were mostly read by doubters and people with questions. For me the arguments against faith are pretty easy to grasp and whilst much finessing and rigour can be added, as here, I worry it is a law of diminishing returns, especially when applied to the committed religious by the amateur. A lot of the reason circuits have already been bypassed, an intentional, self-inflicted and defensive fritzing.

        If we are to proselytize about anything, I think I am with Sean Faircloth in pitching it at morality and what passes for moral behavior. These are more emotional waters, more political too and more about actual behaviours and real harms. The raised emotional temperature, (should we further harm the harmed [eg rape victims] because of dogma?), I contend can be more destabilising and more directly tackle the objectionable aspects of overt religion.

        If there is to be a method of tackling faith-as-a-virtue I suspect that the dishonest root of it needs to be exposed. Not that it is a means to know something but that by professing you know, it is a means to achieve something. By even using the phrase a way of knowing and arguing that case, the selfish tracks of a personal preferment have already been covered and we are into religion’s McGuffin, the fatuous mostly irrelevant core that keeps the brain distracted whilst the political deliverables of semi-automatons are fashioned.

        • In reply to #18 by phil rimmer:

          >

          I worry

          There are those who are happy more artillery is being rolled out and there are those who are unhappy because the color of the turret doesn’t match the barrel.

          • In reply to #23 by godsbuster:

            In reply to #18 by phil rimmer:

            I worry….

            ….its a poor use of our resources. I contended a law of diminishing returns was in play.

            There are those who are happy more artillery is being rolled out and there are those who are unhappy because the color of the turret doesn’t match the barrel.

            This is not the metaphor I would choose for my views, especially after I had expressed a taste for Faircloth’s cruise missile.

            In further fairness to my position my last paragraph didn’t paint the turret but argued for depleted uranium shells if you must persist with tanks…..(the unreasonableness of faith as knowing versus my proffered nakedness of its selfish, self-deceptive motivating root.)

            Faith is not about knowing, it is about submission, a ceding of our autonomy in the hope of reward. We must stop playing the game by their made up rules.

    • In reply to #1 by groo:

      I really don’t like this idea of trying to convert (or de-convert) someone.
      It’s one of the things that annoys me in religious people.

      This is a false equivalence. I spent years as an educator spreading scientific knowledge. If this conflicts with religious nonsense – so be it. Trying to deconvert some astrology, homoeopathy, AGW denier or YEC believer, cannot be honestly equated with someone proselytising faith-based dogmas, or politically campaigning for imposing faith mythology. All opinions are NOT equal!

    • In reply to #1 by groo:

      I really don’t like this idea of trying to convert (or de-convert) someone.
      It’s one of the things that annoys me in religious people.

      I would like to emphasis the difference between converting and de-converting. It’s like stabbing and de-stabbing, I can assure you de-stabbing is the higher ethical ground and in no-way makes you similar to stabbers. They are not chocolate or vanilla ice cream. To take the analogy further non-stabbers have some responsibility to vulnerable stabbees and to punish the criminal stabbers. Society cares.

    • In reply to #1 by groo:

      I really don’t like this idea of trying to convert (or de-convert) someone.
      It’s one of the things that annoys me in religious people.

      I have had 3,200 death threats from Christians. I think that gives me the right to try to convert them. From my point of view, being squeamish about converting Christians is as wrong as being reluctant to convert Nazis. If they minded their own business, I would agree with you.

    • In reply to #1 by groo:

      I really don’t like this idea of trying to convert (or de-convert) someone.
      It’s one of the things that annoys me in religious people.

      FIne, I see your point, but if your friends and family think you deserve to burn in hell forever, wouldn’t you want them to stop believing that?

      • In reply to #40 by adey5:

        In reply to #1 by groo:

        I really don’t like this idea of trying to convert (or de-convert) someone.
        It’s one of the things that annoys me in religious people.

        I am not sure that the author is asking us to stand on street corners shouting and screaming or approach every believer and challenge them on their faith, but if you do get into a conversation with a believer, there may be some useful tools in this book that you can apply to such debates, and at least give cogent reasoning for you position. You may not deconvert everyone you meet but you may soften a hardliner to a more moderate position, and at least sow seeds of doubt, or encourage a re-evaluation of their absurd position.

        Would you not prefer that less people believed religious concepts, or at least less strictly. Leaving it to the religious institutions to self regulate doesn’t work very well, if at all.
        >

        FIne, I see your point, but if your friends and family think you deserve to burn in hell forever, wouldn’t you want them to stop believing…

    • In reply to #1 by groo:

      I really don’t like this idea of trying to convert (or de-convert) someone.
      It’s one of the things that annoys me in religious people.

      It’s annoying, but would be the correct course of action if what they believed is true, don’t you think? Isn’t it also important that the maximal number of people think based on reason, given the dangers posed by irrational thought? If you think only about your own experience, you’ve little reason to do anything but go with the flow.

    • In reply to #1 by groo:

      I really don’t like this idea of trying to convert (or de-convert) someone.
      It’s one of the things that annoys me in religious people.

      I am not interested in focusing on de-converting, but it is very important to hold their feet to the fire by asking questions about their beliefs. I think that everyone needs to take responsibility for their beliefs–understanding how they came to them. Religious persons tend to be very poor at that. That is, the reasons they give for believing in a god are often rationalizations after the fact, while the true motivation tends to be obscure. If one keeps picking away at their rationalizations, the believers might be forced to confront the basis of their belief.

    • It’s an OK book, though I have to say if every interlocutor I had was as easy to convert as the converts the author claims the Vatican would now be a charity shop outlet…
      In reply to #1 by grok:

      I really don’t like this idea of trying to convert (or de-convert) someone.
      It’s one of the things that annoys me in religious people.

  1. A coworker once remarked (regarding my atheism) that to find God you need to have faith to finally believe in God (or something along those lines). I explained to her that you need faith to believe in anything for which there is no evidence whatsoever. Faith isn’t a unique trait in finding god, it’s common among all unknowns you claim to believe without any good reason or proof.

  2. Hmmm, since when does “faith” have anything to do with “knowledge?” Faith literally means to believe in something without evidence. They are nearly polar opposites. Nor does it take a long drawn out explanation. Mr. Gilson, if you are reading this, please clarify that one.

    • In reply to #3 by holysmokes:

      Hmmm, since when does “faith” have anything to do with “knowledge?” Faith literally means to believe in something without evidence. They are nearly polar opposites.

      Mr. Boghossian points out that to have faith in something is to make a knowledge CLAIM. He suggests substituting “pretending to know something [you] don’t know” for the noun “faith” in any sentence in which one would use the latter.

  3. The analysis of faith offered here doesn’t begin to get to the nub of what is going on inside faithist heads. What Boghossian offers is a limited and un-revealing truth that gives little by way of leverage.

    Christian religious faith is placing a bet on the future with the hope that this time your feelings are truly submissive and accepting and that you have truly routed the doubting Thomas in yourself, that wretched, unruly fallen self that keeps screwing it up for you time after time.

    Faith is the firm belief that this or that will happen if I am judged good enough. Its profession precedes the wishes it seeks to achieve to better deceive yourself and doG that there is any mercenary connection.

    De-conversion rates are small in adults but non conversion (to religion) rates are huge in kids (Free of their parents they soon drop it these days). I despair of this kind of strategy. For grownups just try and mitigate the worst harms. Just try and get more moral decision making. Push fundies to Quakerism. For kids, police education to keep it neutral and honest and wait.

    • In reply to #9 by Smill:

      In reply to Phl Rimmer, post 7. Words like ‘leverage’ used in the context here, make me want to barf. What about something less…bourgeois?

      Traction? True engagement? Negotiating efficacy?….

  4. I am four chapters into this book today, I can definitely recommend it to all here. The characterization of “deconverting” is not quite right for what Dr. Boghossian is describing. He specifically writes that one should not attack someone’s religion or even someone’s beliefs, but rather, go after the way someone concludes that beliefs themselves are valid. He calls this, “street epistemology.” He has modeled it on the Socratic method as applied in areas such as deprogramming cult members or addiction recovery programs. His goal is to equip non-believers with tools to use to talk to our religious friends and neighbors in such a way as to cause them to think more deeply about why they hold the beliefs that they hold.

    This approach is very interesting to me because I have been trying out approaches close to the same path with friends and neighbors in person (most specifically with my missionary neighbor) and on-line for several years now. Our techniques overlap to a great extent in that I agree that you have to spend your time asking questions with an open mind that really does want to lean about why your religious interlocutor thinks things are true that you do not. I agree that it takes time and quite a bit of patience.

    Where Dr. Boghossian takes a different tack is that he is going on a pure epistemological path on which he renounces the use of facts. I do agree that dumping a pile of facts on someone who is holding bogus beliefs does not usually work if that person is holding on to the beliefs for emotional reasons, and does not want to examine them. However, those of us who come from a science and engineering background are hard pressed to let go and become as detached from grounded fact as we so often see among the theologians.

    The message I am getting is that Dr. Boghossian would like us to ask the believers the questions that they are avoiding asking themselves, and to do so in such a way that instead of withdrawing in defensiveness, our friends and neighbors will go off and ponder those questions. He characterizes “faith” as “pretending to know what you don’t know” and wants each person to internally ask him or her self what is really known, and how.

    I suspect I will want to write a full review of this book at some point, but I have seen enough of it to make the recommendation.

    -Q

    P.S. Watch this video interview with Dr. Boghossian, here.

  5. Mods. I am very uncomfortable with comments directed at me being removed. I hope I can bring things to a satisfactory conclusion after some exchanges. They are usually the result of a misunderstanding, which it is always a pleasure to resolve when given the chance.

  6. pffffft! pfffft! rrrrrrrrraaaaoooooowww! That’s I would have said to someone trying to convert me.

    Just wondering, were Bog. and Shermer were fundamentalists or Evangelical? I find that a person’s primary religion take decades to undo if ever.

    • In reply to #21 by QuestioningKat:

      pffffft! pfffft! rrrrrrrrraaaaoooooowww! That’s I would have said to someone trying to convert me.

      Just wondering, were Bog. and Shermer were fundamentalists or Evangelical? I find that a person’s primary religion take decades to undo if ever.

      It has taken a long time for Shermer’s Libertarian blinkers to fall from his “skeptical” eyes. Even someone who not only professes skepticism but was the founding publisher of the USA’s biggest magazine dedicated to it has taken decades to see Libertarian’s dogma for what it is….

      That he wrote about this and his climate denial in the latest issue of Scientific American is the mark of an honest and truly admirable man.

      I wonder if there is not a “sunk cost fallacy” in play here. Having actively invested your life in something, the logical ties to it are not the biggest deal.

  7. I’m curious, No one has yet presented a convincing argument and absolute proof that there is no God. If you can direct me to the absolute truth that God does not exist I would be interested in investigating such findings…Prove It!

    • In reply to #27 by pottershand:

      I’m curious, No one has yet presented a convincing argument and absolute proof that there is no God. If you can direct me to the absolute truth that God does not exist I would be interested in investigating such findings…Prove It!

      Read the first chapter of the bible. The blatent inconsistencies and unscientific nonsense is proof enough that god does not exist. If he did, why would he allow there to be over 40000 denominations of this one religion? Why would he allow people to worship different gods and fight and kill each other over who’s is the right one? Why would he create trillions of stars and planets more than every grain of sand on every beach on earth, yet be concerned with who you sleep with on this tiny planet and other stupid divine rules? Why would every study of prayer show that it does not work? Why would all the scientic evidence show that we have been evolving naturally on this planet for 4 billion years? Why didnt he give us a map of the world if he created it for us? Why didnt he give us a map of the solar system, galaxy, and universe? Why has he never shown us any convincing evidence of his existence? Why has every mystery that was assumed to be caused by god has been shown to have a natural cause?
      Its just more logical to see that gods were created by man in his own image to explain thing he could not at the time.

    • In reply to #27 by pottershand:

      I’m curious, No one has yet presented a convincing argument and absolute proof that there is no God. If you can direct me to the absolute truth that God does not exist I would be interested in investigating such findings…Prove It!

      New at this game are we? Those who posit the existence of Sasquatch (much likelier than any deity) have the burden of proof, not those who question it.

    • In reply to #27 by pottershand:

      I’m curious, No one has yet presented a convincing argument and absolute proof that there is no God. If you can direct me to the absolute truth that God does not exist I would be interested in investigating such findings…Prove It!

      Sorry, can you be more specific? Which “God” are you talking about? Thor? Zeus? The literal God of the Bible? Allah? The God of Deism? Some amorphous concept of god who exists outside of time and space whose existence therefore cannot be proved or disproved by definition since it does not interact with the material world in any sense whatsoever?

      If you’re strictly talking about the last definition, I’ll grant that it’s pretty hard to prove the non-existence of something which, by definition, does not actually exist in any meaningful sense. But if you mean some other definition of “God”, by all means please let us know so we can discuss it.

    • In reply to #27 by pottershand:

      I’m curious, No one has yet presented a convincing argument and absolute proof that there is no God. If you can direct me to the absolute truth that God does not exist I would be interested in investigating such findings…Prove It!

      The burden of proof is on those making claims that their gods exist.

      If you can direct me to the absolute truth that God does not exist I would be interested in investigating such findings…

      If you would like to list your absolute proofs that these gods do not exist, I would be interested in investigating such findings. -List of deities

      Prove It – for all of them! -

      Unless you are prepared to concede that the onus of proof is on those followers making claims for their gods. – It could take you quite some time!

      Ra, Atum, Khepri, Horus, Sia, Shu, Meretseger, Apep, Taweret, Astarte, Baal, . . . . . . . . . .. . .. . . . . . .. . .

      more than 1,400 deities are named in Egyptian texts,[3] whereas his colleague Christian Leitz says there are “thousands upon thousands” of gods.

    • In reply to #27 by pottershand:

      I’m curious, No one has yet presented a convincing argument and absolute proof that there is no God. If you can direct me to the absolute truth that God does not exist I would be interested in investigating such findings…Prove It!

      Seriously? This isn’t the thread.

    • In reply to #27 by pottershand:

      I’m curious, No one has yet presented a convincing argument and absolute proof that there is no God. If you can direct me to the absolute truth that God does not exist I would be interested in investigating such findings…Prove It!

      Hey, are you new to this?

  8. Back to the OP…

    If I’m understanding things correctly, Dr. Boghossian’s main “epistemological” argument seems to be that faith (defined as “believing in something for which there is no evidence”) is not a valid way of acquiring knowledge and that, when faced with this truth, true believers will see the error of their ways, admit to themselves that they don’t really know that God exists after all, and abandon their faith.

    Except… I don’t think it really works that way (at least not in all — or even most — cases). Yes, the Bible defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (KJV), but I’m pretty sure most believers (based on my own experiences as a former believer and my acquaintance with many others over the years) would, in fact, claim they have plenty of evidence to justify their faith. They have the Bible itself, which many believers feel could not have been written without divine influence. They have the stories of miracles, both those described within the Bible and those reported throughout history. They have the evidence of their own eyes and the “obvious fact” that the world is too complex to have arisen purely by natural processes. They have plenty of anecdotes of prayers being answered. And, perhaps most importantly, they have their own personal experiences with their own prayers being answered, hearing the voice of God, feeling God’s love within them, etc.

    Now, we can argue all we want that none of these evidences are, in fact, “proof” of God’s existence. We can argue that each bit of evidence has a much more logical explanation than “God did it.” In short, we can argue that all the evidence supporting a person’s faith in God is just plain bad evidence and isn’t worth considering. What we cannot do, however, is argue that believers have no evidence for their faith. And, for this reason, a wholly epistemological attack on their faith simply cannot succeed.

    In my personal experience, I did not become “de-converted” because I was shown how meaningless it was to rely on faith. Instead, I was de-converted once it was shown to me (either by an outside source or through self-realization) how every bit of evidence that I thought justified my faith had an alternative, more likely explanation. Once I no longer needed God to explain the apparent evidence of his existence, I no longer had any reason to believe in him. Mine was not a “blind faith” in any sense — I was just relying on faulty evidence.

  9. Now that I have finished reading the book, I can give some more detail. I see the book as built in three parts; the first is presentation and discussion about his method as I reported in my comment above. The second part he calls “Anti-Apologetics” in which he goes through the list of typical religious justifications for faith (with which most of us are only too familiar), and his ideas on effective replies (yes, the “evidence of things unseen” canard is in the list). The third part is unusual for these kinds of books in that he writes down his objections to the postmodern and cultural relativist movements in the academic world, which is where he puts the blame for lack of critical thinking among the students he teaches. After you read the third part, you get a much better understanding of why he developed the method he presents in the first part.

    Having had a chance to think about this, I do see a difference in approach re the books we have seen in the past few years. We have had books from former religious clergy, such as Dan Barker et al., that tell how they got away from religion, and we have Dawkins and Harris and Dennett explaining why religion makes no sense, and Hitchens stating that religion is beneath human dignity, in any case. So, those tend to be very useful when you are explaining to a believer why you don’t believe (or directly converting a believer who happens also to be open to logical thought). However, Boghossian is not looking to help you explain why your lack of faith is justified, he is providing a method whereby you can shift the burden to the believer to justify having faith.

    It has been my personal experience that how I approach someone on the issue of faith really does depend on the style of thinking I am encountering. People I meet in the technical business world tend to pay attention to facts and logic, and a book like TGD from Richard is going to do the job because those people have a world view in which propositions tend to be true or false as tied to facts. However, there is a larger population who think more in terms of opinions than facts, and that someone from one culture is not morally justified in criticizing how people in other cultures think about what constitutes truth. Some of those people consider the whole science and technology establishment to be one such ‘culture’ who’s ‘facts’ are not so solid as advertised (science keeps changing its mind), and has no right telling other people how to think.

    Yes, I know that when most of us run into someone who start giving out the pomo “nothing is really true for all cultures” crap, the urge is just to turn and walk. However, if you are willing to hang in and take the time that some Socratic method is going to take (and it will as I can tell you from years with my missionary neighbor) I think the steps in this book will be helpful to the process of putting questions forth that stick the in believer’s mind. That is all you can really count as a win for these kinds of cases, but questions about why a person believes what that person believes are more likely to bring on self examination (for some) than presentations showing why that person’s beliefs are stupid (it really is better if they figure the latter part out, on their own).

    I continue to recommend the book to all here.

  10. In reply to Quine, post 33. Your book review’s great, but I really don’t see there’s much merit in actively trying to ‘deconvert’ people when the better option would be to demonstrate by example? Surely most moderate people still have good instincts for self preservation and are curious enough to consider the alternatives? I think human behaviour generally demonstrates this. I think when secularism, skepticism, science, humanism etc clearly demonstrate a better way of life, most people will jump of their own accord; no need to ‘de…’ anyone.

    • In reply to #34 by Smill:

      “… I think when secularism, skepticism, science, humanism etc clearly demonstrate a better way of life, most people will jump of their own accord; no need to ‘de…’ anyone.”

      Quite so, Smill, if only those religionists would keep their beliefs to themselves. Rather, they have a tendency to promote their beliefs and to seek to have them adopted as norms for public observance, even where their beliefs conflict with scientifically established facts. They proselytize. I have not yet read Dr Boghossian’s new book, but from comments made about it I get the impression that the book proposes effective ways of dealing with religionists who approach one about their religion in the hope of enticing or persuading one to accept it. I have myself always met such approaches with what seems to be the questioning response proposed by Dr Boghossian, though I will have to read the book to find out the particulars. But any religionist who presumes to take up someone else’s time with talk of a religion should expect to have the religion questioned and should not presume to be in no need of enlightenment himself.

    • In reply to #34 by Smill:

      In reply to Quine, post 33. Your book review’s great, but I really don’t see there’s much merit in actively trying to ‘deconvert’ people when the better option would be to demonstrate by example?

      Ok. Let’s lets all of us set a good example and refrain from raping children. Let us all refrain from cheating elderly windows out of their life savings with false promises. What is the effect?
      Christians are con men. They are a privileged class of criminal. They have been around so long their have put their tendrils into government and blinded nearly everyone to what crooks they are. Crooks do not respond to good examples.

    • In reply to #34 by Smill:

      In reply to Quine, post 33. Your book review’s great, but I really don’t see there’s much merit in actively trying to ‘deconvert’ people when the better option would be to demonstrate by example?

      Those are not mutually exclusive. Adey5 in #40 makes a very good point in that our religious friends and family go through needless worry about our eternal futures that we can help them put aside with some pointers in critical thinking techniques. A few of us are going to go actively try to educate the general population about the intellectual bankruptcy of religion, but most are simply looking for help with the day to day interactions we have in our personal lives. Getting the religious people in your life to try to justify their positions of faith, while respecting them as people, is a start.

  11. I’ve watched a talk on youtube that this guy gives about his book. For me, he didn’t seem to say very much. The talk started to get interesting when he began to hold an imaginary conversation with a theist on a plane. He asked one theological question, posed an imaginary response from the theist, gave his response and ended the talk for a Q&A session. I’ve searched all over but cannot find any video or text examples of conversations he has had with theists: only promotions of his book. If his methods were effective, then surely he’d be prepared to let us view them in action. Perhaps I just haven’t searched hard enough.

  12. I’ve ordered this book because 1. I like Peter Boghossian and 2. I’m very hopeful it will help me develop some much needed tools.

    I have a strong tendency to shut down when confronted by people who have a religious agenda towards me. It really creates conflict … I want to win … I want to make them shut up … I’m totally astounded by what they are saying … etc. In the end I stare at them with incredulity or leave.

    I’m hoping Boghossian’s book will help me to develop some conversational skills so I don’t have to submit in these situations.

  13. After having finished the book, I can say it is perhaps the most exciting book of its kind I have read for years. So many books tell you how bad religious faith is and the harm it does, but this book shows you real and effective ways to start to change minds. I really like the approach of not attacking religion, but only faith itself. It’s certainly not a “Manual for Creating Atheists” – it’s about how to successfully start to change how people think about why they have beliefs. The book also emphasises a humane yet direct approach, avoiding ridicule and anger, simply because those aren’t effective in personal conversations. I’m very glad Peter has written this book, and it has encouraged me to think about how I deal with matters of faith. Strongly recommended.

Leave a Reply