Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Manual for Creating Atheists: Academic Religious Bigotry


It is in chapter eight that Peter Boghossian’s true colors emerge. The level of intolerance and bigotry are that Boghossian displays is not only puzzling for someone who prides himself on being open and not pretending to know things he does not know, it is frightening. Every person of faith and every reasonable atheist should read this chapter and walk away with great concern. One cannot help but wonder if Boghossian will direct his bullying tactics toward those who are perhaps agnostics next because they don’t quite agree with his epistemology or his criteria for justification of beliefs. Every Christian parent should read this book so that he/she can understand the precise nature of this atheistic war on faith. Boghossian says, “Employing universities in the struggle against faith is a cornerstone in the larger strategy to combat faith, promote reason and rationality, and create skeptics. Many university graduates will become the next generation of leaders and policymakers. We need to train educators not just to teach students how to think critically, but also how to nudge attitudes about faith on their downward spiral.” [Loc. 3205]

Public universities use taxpayers funds in order meet their operating costs. Many, many of those taxpayers are people of faith. I wonder if Boghossian realizes that his approach to the “problem of faith” smacks of totalitarianism. He sounds more like a tyrant than a philosophy professor does. It sounds like Boghossian wants to use public policy to crush faith from the public square. Indeed, some philosophers are more dangerous than others are. It is a good thing this one has such a small platform with such an obviously ridiculous method for presenting his case.

Boghossian says, “This one word, “faith,” is the end to rational discourse.” Yet, for eight chapters now, we have waited for some argument for this conclusion and nothing is offered. Boghossian continues to expect us to take his statements at face value. We have already indicated that Boghossian’s definition of faith is spurious. If his definition of faith is spurious and his entire project hinges on that definition, then the entire project is spurious.

Boghossian encourages educators to give faithbased justifications n countenance. He says they should not be taken seriously. He suggests they should be sent back to the Kid’s Table. I must confess this is an over the top pompous jerk.

Boghossian then launches into some more of his Socratic questioning all the while ignoring the obvious fact that the method is a tool that can be just as useful to the theologian as it is to the philosopher, to the faithful just as much as it is to the atheist. For example, Boghossian asks the question if it is possible that some people misconstrue reality. The Christian thinker will ask, what do you mean by reality? Once that question is asked by the Christian thinker, Boghossian will likely never get to his second question. The Christian thinker will press Boghossian on his answer until he reaches the place where it becomes obvious that Boghossian really cannot provide a rational account of his view of reality without also stumbling over several contradictions.

Here is an example of how I would respond to Boghossian using intervention 1 on Loc. 3531.

PB: Should I talk about how people come to knowledge?

ME: No, you should talk about the various ways that people claim to come to knowledge. This is a critical 
thinking class isn’t it, not PB personal platform for creating atheists.

PB: But in the process should I not help my students understand which way is the right way?

ME: So there is only one right way to come to knowledge?

PB: Well, I think reason is the only way to really come to knowledge.

ME: Do you mean the right way as determined by you or by me, or by a thousand other philosophers out there?

PB: Silence

I will skip a review of chapter nine. When people begin comparing faith to the HIV virus, they do not deserve to be taken seriously. I think such behavior should land Boghossian back in his seat at the kiddies table. I will wrap up this serious of posts over the weekend with a final review of Boghossian book and move on.


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