For thousands of years, the faithful have honed proselytizing strategies and talked people into believing the truth of one holy book or another. Indeed, the faithful often view converting others as an obligation of their faith - and are trained from an early age to spread their unique brand of religion. The result is a world broken in large part by unquestioned faith. As an urgently needed counter to this tried-and-true tradition of religious evangelism, A Manual for Creating Atheists offers the first-ever guide not for talking people into faith - but for talking them out of it.
Peter Boghossian draws on the tools he has developed and used for more than twenty years as a philosopher and educator to teach how to engage the faithful in conversations that will help them value critical thinking, cast doubt on their religious beliefs, mistrust their faith, abandon superstition, and ultimately embrace reason and rationality.
©2013 Peter Boghossian (P)2013 Pitchstone Publishing
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"The first atheist missionary"
Peter Boghossian didn't have to make the case for atheism to convince me. But it was great to hear how many ways that case can be made. Atheists are a small minority in the USA. Whether that's changing or if people are just becoming more apathetic about such questions, I think that's a tough call. But Peter has a plan. Part of the plan is to use words like epistemology (How you know what you know) as often as possible. In fact, Boghossian doesn't want you to become an atheist, he pretty much assumes it. He wants you to become "street epistemologists", people who ask "how do you know that"?
One more word would be good to know when reading/listening to this book: doxastic logic - reasoning about beliefs. The key is to get people to apply reasoning to their beliefs. In doing so you get at the main problem which is not god and is not religion. It is faith itself. Some will object to making "faith" be the target because they say they have faith in their spouse or in a scientific theory. But Peter will explain that sometimes we use "faith" when we really mean "hope" or we mean something for which we have evidence - even if only partial evidence. While religion wants to reward those who have faith with no evidence.
I don't know how much of this book I can put into practice. I should try it on my wife but we have an agreement about that. But I didn't make any such promises to my siblings so maybe I'll start there.
"Faith is no way to build a foundation"
You don't need to want to convert others into atheism to enjoy this book. A theist would not be turned off while listening to this book. The author is fairly non-threatening in his presentation.
I usually don't listen to every word when I'm listening to an Audible book, because sometimes my mind will wonder. This book was different. I listened to every word from the author since he writes simple sentences and reads his own work better than a professional could have and says something I was really interested in, namely how the scientific process works.
Faith, is best thought of as "pretending to know something you don't know". Facts need support beyond "I just believe" and such people who believe such things belong at the child's table not the adult's table. He warns of falling for the trap of 'having faith" that the light will turn on when you turn the light switch on. You really have knowledge in that situation not faith. It's part of the 'word play' of Wittgenstein, but it is a way to confuse the word faith in the non believer.
The author explains what critical reasoning is and shows how it is a foundation to philosophical thought, but at the same time the listener will realize how the Socratic method is the foundation for the scientific process (he doesn't explicitly state this, but as I was listening to every word it became obvious).
Even if you don't want to convert others to be an Atheist, the book is still valuable. It will teach you about critical reasoning and how to learn about your proper place in the universe just a little bit better.
"Again and Again"
The Author / Narrator sounds to me like an over enthusiastic school boy. His voice is not going to sit well with all listeners. Let me say, I got used to it, but never really enjoyed the sound.
The words on the other hand, are worth every minute of your time. Truly radical, but so incredibly simple it has the mark of a classic. This was not written, it was pulled into existence.
My only gripe was the last chapter where a numerical list of notes is read seemingly without any reference. Things like this need to be considered and translated better into an audio book format.
Great listening to it on he headphones on the way to work or out for a walk. It's really the kind of book suited for a contemplative place like walking in nature where you can pause and think about the what's being discussed.
"A refreshing refocus away from atheism"
The book is full of gems from a unique perspective. In spite of the title, it is far more about rationality than about the atheist movement. It focuses more on promoting a healthy epistemology and rationality rather than focusing on positions commonly held by rationalists such as atheism, humanism and the like. It does, however, build a clear case against faith-based epistemologies and effectively dispatches post-modernism. The book cuts deep through the nonsense of faith, and unapologetically positions evidence-based epistemologies as the only reasonable and honest route to truth.
"Good book overall - could use more examples"
Overall, I found this book insightful and thorough. my favorite parts were the example dialogues the author has had with religious people. I wish there had been more of those dialogue examples. I've already read several other books, so much of the information was not new to me. I'm assuming that's why I zoned in so much on the example dialogues. Another aspect I loved was how he focused on and provided very specific details for how to change legislation and policy practices to de-institutionalize religion and faith in America and the world. Good job overall.
"New ideas but lacks delivery"
Yes, it is a brave attempt at a practical approach to engaging with believers. Commendable and has interesting bits in it throughout. Well researched and structured.
His delivery is not nearly on a par with professional narrators. Books read by the authors are rarely an audio success - this one is no different. Sure people in his field have done so successfully but he is definitely no Hitchens or Dawkins in the orator stakes.
His animated, condescending tone when trying to impersonate others at certain points were particularly grating.
"Shorter than it seems, but worthwhile"
Useful, different, insightful
This is a useful book that presents a compelling, new approach to talking people out of faith. The author reads the book and does an excellent job of conveying his excitement and the topic. My main criticism is that the main part of the book is too short. Nearly half the recorded material is a reading of the end notes, which are disconnected from the main text and thus hard to appreciate. I would have like to see more sample dialogs as well.
"The Definitive Guide"
Articulately written and well researched, Peter Boghossian breaks it down into its simplest terms. I only wish I would have benefited from his wisdom earlier in my life and broken free sooner. Highly recommend both for yourself and as a gift for friends.
"He had me for most of the way..."
...Then by violating one of his previous rules: Don't get into politics.. .he lost me. I was fine with how he talked to believers and decided to treat faith or "pretending to know something you don't actually know" as a or the problem.
But then in a later chapter, violating a suggested rule he really should have stuck to himself, he went on a near non sequitur rant about the evils of "academic leftism" that would have made Glenn Beck proud.
Should have stuck to the subject of faith and religion instead of delving into politics. Ironically he warned that would turn off potential converts earlier in the book --and most certainly proved that to be true with his own digression.
It's as if somebody else started writing around chapter 13.
The word "homophobe" is the result of an evil "tolerance" that has been adopted by the "academic left?" Really? Phobia is what you call in irrational fear. Get over it.
If intolerance is one of the main criticisms of adopting a belief in organized religion, then doesn't it follow that we shouldn't emulate that aspect?
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