Peter Boghossian on Shedding Superstition and Creating Atheists

Peter Boghossian, the author of the forthcoming book A Manual for Creating Atheists, recently spoke with Dan Shepard from the Portland State Vanguard newspaper about philosophy, rehabilitating prisoners, and how faith is not a virtue:

If any moments stand out to you, please leave a timestamp/summary in the comments!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Ruth Warren

    Wow! Thanks for this clip, Hemant! Didn’t know about Peter. This leads me to a new vein of gold in my reading and thinking .

  • Gideon

    I agree with his principles. The question to raise about knowledge is always “How?” How is the knowledge obtained? How is it checked? How well does it fit with known facts? How is it used? How is it spread? After I asked these particular questions about my faith, I realized that the simplest and most sensible conclusion was that my faith was just as mythical as Mount Olympus.

    (Having said that, I was incompetent and indifferent about converting others to my faith, and after discarding it I’m been equally passive about deconverting others.)

    • chicago dyke

      this is very similar to my approach. which is, “so why are your beliefs correct, but 0000s of others incorrect?” Zeus. Inanna. Qetzocoatl. Buddha. most xtians believe these figures are mythological. why is it such a stretch to add Jesus to that list? why shouldn’t i?

      i usually follow that up with “have you actually read the bible?”

  • yohocoma

    Even with his more formalized tools, Boghossian’s 10,000 are going to encounter shitloads of denial and resistance. Faith is epistemology, but it’s also extremely comforting fairy tales that most people have cherished their whole lives.

  • YourDad

    From the article:
    “You’re attacking my beliefs,” that’s somewhat true, but I’m really attacking the way they form beliefs. I really want to know how they know that, and I expect an answer. And if you can’t provide an answer, then back to the kids’ table you go. You should have no voice in public policy; maybe you should be a fiction writer.


    Yeah, I fist-pumped . . .

  • Leif Cid

    A link to the book would be nice
    I have goggled “A Manual for Creating Atheists”
    but I have not find it anywhere

    • Christopher Borum

      Maybe you should have googled it instead.

      (/end snark)

      I think it hasn’t come out yet. All I could find was a post from last November indicating that he was working on it.

    • Clinton

      You can order it on Amazon.

  • Leif Cid

    I am guessing that this method is similar to the method used to get people out of dangerous cults like these

  • Gus Snarp

    I thought the Bible was the manual for creating atheists?

  • GeorgeLocke

    what’s up with the weird audio? This was a great video, but I hope these folks learn to record a little better.

  • Clinton

    Boghossian claims that he wants Atheists to have better conversations with Theists, but it would be nice if he’d start with a basic point: agree on definitions. He may disagree with the Christian concept of faith, but he’s relying on a faulty definition of faith. If you’re talking to a Christian who uses a definition of faith to me “trust based on evidence” (which is the same way the word is intended in Scripture), then you’re just gong to be talking past the person using another definition. Using his definition will score rhetorical points, but it won’t convince a Theist who was a well thought-out position (after all, atheists don’t have a monopoly on reason, no matter how much they want to think they do).

    • Rich Wilson

      If someone’s definition of ‘faith’ is ‘trust based on evidence’ then most atheists would call that ‘trust’, and the discussion moves to ‘what is evidence’.

      • Clinton

        Okay, that’s plausible. But in that case, we need to agree on definitions. If someone comes up to me and accuses me of only having blind faith, that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you want to call it trust, that’s fine, but quabbling over the definition of faith doesn’t get us anywhere. I have a feeling that Boghossian is setting the atheists who read his book up for failure, because he’s not giving them a real definition of the terms he’s trying to define, only the one he insists on because he’s already made his mind up about religious people.

  • Jess Rice

    3:45 hits the bullseye for me – the focus is on changing people’s epistemology (the *way* they think) more than their beliefs (*what* they think). I love love love this book.