General Apr 5, 2012 at 4:00 am

Professor Peter Boghossian on Why You Should Kick Your Faith to the Curb


"Not pretending to know things that you don't know is a virtue."

That's a good quote, there. That could go on a longish bumper sticker.
Great interview -- It's funny to see a Christian University ad beneath this article, however ...
I'm seeing an ad for Geico.
An excellent thematic overview of most of talks. I quite frankly find it unbelievable that people would find the suggestion that one abandon justificatorally hollow beliefs controversial, but the fact that we can even have this discussion now does prove that society is moving forward, however slowly.
I am a closet atheist and it's people like Boghossian that make me feel better about my beliefs. A good 95% of my friends are Catholic so instead of ever arguing with them I just nod my head and add nothing to the conversation (when about religion). The main reason being I don't want them thinking that I'm "weird". I hope to overcome this soon, and people like Peter make me believe that I can do so, with much less fear of ridicule.
So the typical argument. Stop believing in god because its irrational!!!!
What about all those christian apologetics eh? How about all those people who believed in god and tried to apply critical thinking? William of Occam, Aquinas,Pascal, William James and all those other people. faith is no more a tool than critical thinking is, some situations warrant the other over the other choice. Like I say a manager at wendy's can believe the world is 6,000 years old and nothing really changes, but a geologist who believes that is quite serious. Generalizations, generalizations everywhere!!!
Faith is one thing, but claiming it under an icon of the sigil of Mercury is self indulgent, admittedly, if you're familiar. Forsake the idea of being a theist because a talking hamburger told you while you were tripping on acid. Don't do it because some smoker's jacket wearing hipster who has an attractive demeanor on a blog is forcing your hand in Russian Roulette to kill the God you believe in.

For the other side of it, it would acutely be important to look at the text of old religions, and say, here's what's important, here's what isn't. Take values in what you believe in. Follow the only rule worth following in all of religion, if anything: One God, every day of the week. No others. Know others. Know, others. No, others. If you can't figure that part out, don't be dumb enough to breed your nepotist, flunky bullshit conspiracy theories into your children's brains, because you don't deserve the ability to disprove it.

Kill Santa. Kill the Tooth Fairy. Don't kill Gospel.
Good job calling this lady on BSG, Pete.

I've actually gotten a ton of effectiveness out of praying to Walter Simonson's Marvel Comics Thor recently. He has opened the stuck drain in my bathtub, helped me have a trouble free minor surgery, and helped our team take some medals at the Pan Ams this year. I prayed to Walter Simonson's Marvel Comics Thor, asking that these things would happen, and they happened. This has renewed my faith in Thor, as well as many other Marvel Comics Heroes, such as Ed Brubaker's Captain America, Grant Morrison's Here Comes Tommorow X-Men, and in particular Moon Knight, who has watched over me and kept me safe for many years.

I have seen objective evidence of Walter Simonson's Marvel Comics Thor's existence, so while faith is a positive side effect, really I'm just drawing knowledge from Marvel Visionaries: Walter Simonson Vol 1, as well as Volume 2. These are real books, not some faith based thing. There is also bountiful evidence that my ancestors worshiped a primitive version of Walter Simonson' Marvel Comics Thor a thousand years ago, so it's a cultural thing as well.
@Korg: You are a heathen. Jack Kirby's Thor is the one true Thor.
@6 3pointingback: The manager of a Wendy's believing something is wrong might not change something on a larger scale, but they're still irrational, and being comfortable with being irrational could make a lot of difference in that person's life and that of those around them. And what a bout the christian apologists? In short, a bunch of people trying to make a square peg fit a round hole mean absolutely dick to me. Your pronouncements of generalization are pretty shallow as well. Exactly what situation would faith be a tool of choice over rational observation?
@zorpnic How is "One God, every day of the week" " the only rule worth following in all of religion"? That's a bit arrogant. Maybe that's the only rule worth following for the monotheistic desert cults, but hardly applicable to "all of religion", much less all of humanity.
Greatinterview! My biggest problem with the bible thumpers is that they tend to believe because others told them too, not because they put any real thought into the process. My "I Believe" button is broken I guess. I need to see proof and logic and I don't know is a perfectly rational explanation for things until you have more information. Every discussion with a faith based believer eventually comes to the answer, "because" or "because I have faith". Wow, that explanation was used in kindergarten on the playground and you haven't moved past that???

I believe in gravity... it's proven time and time again it will always be there without fail. I don't believe in a dude in the cosmos passing judgement. There could be something more out there, but I don't know what it is. But I'm agnostic and have been for years.

Having faith believers run this country scares the crap out of me. Hopefully this type of thinking will grow and spread.
I am all for free speech but not speech that is made to hurt others. I am a Christian and take great comfort and peace through my beliefs. I do not put down others for not sharing my beliefs, live and let live is my feeling. What I don't like are people to claim spirituality is a sickness or delusion like the Portland State Professor DR. PETER BOGHOSSIAN who claims that faith is a "cognitive sickness/delusion". I find that horribly offensive and ignorant. Taking people's inner most private beliefs and boiling it down to a mental illness it completely grotesque. Just because his arrogance will not allow him to entertain the possibility of a world outside the one in his own mind doesn't give him the right nor the experience to make such a statement. If he isn't spiritual, fine, his choice, but keep his hurtful comments to himself. A lot of Atheists despise religion because they find it oppresses people. There are some bad apples that use their religion to justify their own personal heinous acts but that is not the religion, it's the individual. To me, God is love and I treat everyone with the respect I would want to receive regardless if I agree with them or not. God doesn't take away people's choices, man does. I feel sorry for this professor. He can read all the books he wants, consult with the most educated scholars in the world, but in his final moments, something tells me he won't be calling out to an author for help.
My point was that the sentence is a rhetorical muddle and not easily digestible. As are large portions of all of his reviews. I have no problem with creative diction or imaginative writing in any of the Merc's articles, I just don't like Onstad's style and think it's unpleasant to read. De gustibus non est disputandum, etc. etc.
Devout agnostic here (I prefer the term Pastafarian) with a testable hypothesis:

"Faith" is less a delusion and more a side-effect of a mental process that has persisted because it generates evolutionarily successful behavior and is tied to the fundamental higher brain functions of pattern-finding and meaning-making that have allowed humans to defend and modify more territory than other species.

Example: Monogomy, strongly correlated with monotheistic religious cultures, minimizes concurrency (simultaneous sexual partners). Recent studies show concurrency dramatically increased STD infection rates, particularly HIV. So practitioners of faith supported monogamy inadvertently ALSO decrease mortality rates in their community.

Another Example: Prosyletizing (a fundamental spreading mechanism of faith based systems), is a primary contributor to the spread of humanity, and in particular, white judeo-christian northern european humanity, across the globe, ultimately leading to the successful propagation of northern european genomes globally.

Is faith required for these evolutionary effects? Maybe not. Are the behaviors associated with these successful strategies anywhere near as likely without the inducement of "faith-based" reasoning, since both ask individuals to act outside of their immediate short term best interests? I suspect not.

@13 You're right - he probably won't be calling out to an author for help in his final moments. Nor will he be calling out to a god, I imagine. Like most atheists, he probably understands that his life as a human being is finite, that he is going to die someday, and that his death is simply going to be the end for him. Also, like plenty of educated, rational people who have taken the time to consider the nature and consequences of their finitude, he will probably be mostly at peace in those moments, due at least in part to having reconciled himself to his own inevitable end, and probably also from having lived life as fully and completely as he could, given his own unique circumstances.

"There are no atheists in foxholes" is the sentiment you're expressing, and it's an embarrassingly trite and empty expression, to say the least. Fear, by itself, is a stupefyingly weak justification for a belief. Rationalists typically understand that sort of thing. I kindly suggest that you momentarily put aside your apparent disdain for using your rational faculties and pick a book that isn't a bible once in awhile. Maybe something by Heidegger, or something on the ontology of death. That way, you might learn something that is actually useful to you in YOUR final moments.

"I am a Christian and take great comfort and peace through my beliefs"

Jesus, you just made his point.
I get the professor's viewpoint, but he strikes me as dogmatic as an anti-evolutionary fundamentalist Christian. Faith is part and parcel of life, as is reason and observation, and most of us live in a world where they dance with one another, not cancel each other out. What evidence exists someone loves me? There's evidence they care that I THINK they love me, but can I really ever prove they love me? No. Most people who come to faith do so because they have interpreted events in their lives as evidence of a Creator's interest in humanity, a Creator who deliberately chooses NOT to overwhelm us so as to leave us free to form relationships with It and others. Such events include Near Death Experiences, mystical visions, dreams, conversations with others and coincidences that are simply fraught with symbolism above and beyond what you might expect. If you choose not to interpret such events in a similar fashion, yet insist someone "loves" you, are you really on any more solid ground than people who believe in God? No, yet billions of people each day base their lives on faith in each other and some of us have experienced The Other and have decided the Creator actually wants to be part of our evolution. You can mock it, you can scorn it, you can compare a historically documented religious figure to a child's fantasy, but people's faith, especially a faith that has grown over the course of a lifetime and which has been enriched by much examination of "evidence" (whatever that is) is not going to be undermined by one person firing a few rather simplistic arrows at it. And, on a related point, that whole idea that "all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights", -- it's faith based. There is little evidence we have any rights whatsoever, other than the fact a guilt-ridden slaveowner wrote them down in the Declaration of Independence. If anything, the strong have all the reason in the world to tell the weak what to do, including where they can put their celery stick, given the public health ramifications alone of not doing so. However, I choose faith in people on this account, which means gays should have the right to marry and consenting adults can do what they want. But I'm not so silly or shallow as to think there's any "evidence" anybody should have the right to marry anyone, or, for that matter, have sex in the first place. Be careful, evidence addicts -- you may get the world you long for. It's called a totalitarian state. Faith based people, whether you like it or not, are the only wall between the mild mannered materialists, like the good professor, and the ravenous believers who have no problem riding roughshod over them, like a militant Marxist or a rapacious capitalist. In fact, the professor doesn't even understand whole states have been built on his premise and failed already. But, then again, this is Portland, the land the 19th century forgot.
I've barely started reading the interview and i already love this guy!!! Portland really does need its own Richard Dawkins.

I wish he taught at PCC too.
"I am all for free speech but not speech that is made to hurt others. I am a Christian and take great comfort and peace through my beliefs."

Clearly, you are NOT in favor of Free Speech! And yeah, you DID just prove BOGHOSSIAN's point.
I completely agree with you Joan. The truly scary place would be this professor and his henchmen/DamosA ruling over us. I like the part where he compares us to green blobs. That alone pretty much shows you what he thinks of other people. Merely fodder for the cannon.

Snagglepuss. The "fear" I experience when a lion is chasing me, gives me pretty good reason to "believe" that it might kill me. That's fear by itself. Not sure what's so stupefying about that. I could claim the lion was being irrational, but I don't know how much that would help me.
You have to admit, it is a far fetched:

Only one god, but,

God sends himself to impregnate Mary with himself so that, as the son to himself, he may die at the hands of the very species that kills him, only to rise up from death and go back to himself in heaven so that the killing species may live forevever.

@18: Chances are almost 99.9% that you and all the other billions who engage in religion do so because you were brainwashed to do so as a child. All the other silly reasons you mentioned are just desperate attempts to convince yourself there is some rational basis for your religious beliefs.

Now, go to the children's table and stay there until you can behave like an adult!
Yes, yes, god and faith and religion are bullshit. We all know that. That's not the important issue here.

I'm more interested in how utterly wrong Georgia is about BSG. That's a situation that badly needs to be remedied.
"I completely agree with you Joan. The truly scary place would be this professor and his henchmen/DamosA ruling over us. I like the part where he compares us to green blobs. That alone pretty much shows you what he thinks of other people. Merely fodder for the cannon."

HENCHMEN?! Oh brother, YOU PEOPLE truly are that delusional, huh? Love how christians always play that 'ol "victim" card. And as far as the good prof. comparing you to green blobs - well he at least was alot more diplomatic than i might be!

If i have my history correct, weren't YOU folks behind that whole inquisition/slavery/holocaust/Southern Apartheid thing? Child sex scandals? War on women/Blacks/gays/etc.?
Want more evidence of christianity's mental illness?…

When I asked my mother about her religious faith, she said it wasn't faith because she KNEW is was true, so there was no delusion involved. How do you argue with that?
I think Boghossian would say something like, "The act of knowing must be based on evidence. Just because something makes you feel good, doesn't mean it's true." You would have to tell your mother that her religious belief is really based on a feeling, not knowledge. She just can't make up new meanings for the word "know," what she meant to say was "feel."

There are also clear definitions of the word delusion. Here's the one Google offered: "An idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality." You might ask her, "If God loves us so much that he sacrificed his only son, why is he letting millions of children starve to death?" This is an example of reality contradicting religion. If she still sticks with her religious belief, she is deluded.
Interesting article. I am incredibly saddened by the fact that a college professor has decided that based on his life experiences that he is going to evangelize students on the merits of not believing when it is clear he has never sat down and had a conversation with a Bible believing Christian, not just one who professes "faith" but one who has reasons for it. Christian apologists have provided incredible arguments for many of his claims, but to think that because you can talk a 18, 19 or 20 year old out of their faith means that all Christians have a faith like that is ridiculous and incredibly arrogant. Admitted there is always a measure of faith in everything we do, I have faith that a chair will hold me up, but with my beliefs I do not have blind faith I have reasoned, experienced faith that has stood the test of time, and will continue to stand the test of time, even when college professors take unfair advantage of their positions. I encourage a lively debate on this, thank you for your time.
"If God loves us so much that he sacrificed his only son, why is he letting millions of children starve to death?"

Stuart, You imply that the God of the bible promised us that the world would be all rainbows and unicorns because of His love for us. This is not what the bible teaches us, in fact, quite the opposite. It doesn't say that the world will become a perfect place, it does say that it began as a perfect place. God made a perfect world and gave it to man. Man, using his own "rationality", brought destruction, death, selfishness, and even child starvation into the perfect creation, rendering it imperfect simply by our presence. Children are indeed starving the world over, But God doesn't raise food to your mouth by his own hand does he? In fact, if that's a real issue for you, you could easily sell everything you have here in the wealthiest nation on earth and travel he world feeding starving children. I know people that do just that. To say that God allows evil in the world is pure and simple blame shifting. And I don't point that at you as a non-christian, but at all humanity including and especially Christians. We are all broken, selfish, inherently evil people who can't help ourselves much less anyone else in an eternal sense. And that is why Christ died, and not only died, but then removed himself from the grave post death. That's just history. We haven't even made to the faith part yet and you have a real, historical person who claimed to be God(which no other religious figure does), lived a perfect life(which no other human has ever done), willingly died for all those who can't live a perfect life(Me and you), then rose from the grave to the historical witness of hundreds of people(No one else has ever reversed and defeated death).Children starve because WE let them starve that our own comfortable world might not be disturbed with the concerns of others' needs. Morality is not enough to justify us when this life is over. Every other leader of every other religious or high moral movement past is still in their grave. Jesus left His. People have always tried to grope after other ways to justify our actions and our reason for being. Following Jesus is based on feeling good, that's religion and it cannot help you. Following Jesus begins with feeling the terrifying weight of our inability to redeem ourselves from the inherent evil we are clearly in bondage to. Jesus sacrificed himself to free us from that bondage, not to enslave us to stupidity. Peter Boghossian didn't make any evidence based claims in this interview. Just insults and hypotheticals. He is arguing from faith in his own rationality which is a lot more faith than I have. If anything in the history of this world has proven to be unreliable, it is mankind's rational. Just look at the evil we perpetrate on each other all the time, religious people included.
How simple some of you are! The professor wasn't calling Christians, or even people, "green blobs." Re-read that section. He's referring to the religions' treatment of homosexuals. His example of "green blobs" was an attempt to remove your ridiculous human notions of right and wrong by putting the behavior in a different context. To expound on the example, to fill in the holes he left since you've no imagination or use of context clues:

IF we went to another place with green blob lifeforms and we noticed that the majority of the species used their "celery stalk" for a particular hole on other members of the species. Then we see a subset of that population that uses their celery stalks in an altogether different hole with other celery-stalked-members. Do we get upset about their behavior based on some human idea of right and wrong? It's really not that hard a concept, people.

On that point, what about the green blobs with celery stalks (males, to make things atrociously obvious) that make use of the "altogether different hole" that the "gay" green blobs do, but with their non-celery-stalked partners (females)? Do they not have the right to inheritance and spousal healthcare benefits? Are they "incapable" of raising a healthy young green blob to adulthood?
@jrob. It always amazes me how believers think that we atheists live in some bubble where we never encounter believers or get challenged by their ideas. You really think you're in such a minority? How disconnected from reality you are!

To every other believer reading this thinking that we atheists just don't know religious people: You couldn't be more wrong. Anyone you meet or hear about, but especially in the public eye, who is an atheist or agnostic has heard from many many many of your fellows. Yes, there are some, perhaps many, believers who are perfectly fine with "live and let live" and keep their beliefs to themselves. I've met them, though not often. In any case these types of discussions aren't for them, are they? They're for the people who are actively seeking to deny rights to people based on their personal lives, abusers of children (and their supporters), and those who would fly airplanes into buildings.

As has been stated many times by much smarter people than myself: Every believer is an atheist about every god but the one they believe in.

We live in a religious world, not the heathenistic Gomorrah you imagine because you're not allowed to tell everyone else what to do with their lives.
Don't you fucking people have jobs? Go! Do things! Shut the fuck up about this!
@jrob said: " it is clear he has never sat down and had a conversation with a Bible believing Christian, not just one who professes "faith" but one who has reasons for it."

Why is it clear to you? I'll bet you $500 the professor has debated and dialogued with dozens, if not hundreds, of "Bible-believing Christians" fully trained in apologetics.

I got a degree from Mulnomah Bible College in 1971, was a missionary in Europe, and an evangelical, Bible-believing Christian for 46 years, before I came to my senses at the age of 60 and decided there was no rational, evidence-based reason for believing the Bible and it's theology. I learned ALL the apologetics you talk about, in an effort to get people to "invite Jesus into their hearts". But now that I've taken off the rose-colored faith glasses, I can see how illogical and frail those arguments were. Leaving my faith was a little scary, but tremendously liberating and exciting! Now I have an insatiable curiosity for science and the natural world, that I never had as a Christian. I am just as moral, and have no fear of death (or heaven or hell!) I highly recommend non-theism!
@God. I've already gone to work today and now I'm waiting for the Spring Beer and Wine Fest to open. What are you doing? Still resting? How about working a little bit on these whackjobs we keep dealing with.
Great news! I'm a native Oregonian, love Portland, and am happy to hear that PSU has such a champion of reason on its staff. I live in rural western Washington and am surrounded by very conservative theists, even though this is supposed to be one of the most non-religious and liberal parts of the West. It's disheartening sometimes - and scary - especially when trying to stand up for reason, critical thinking, and logic. It's nice to know that people like Dr. Boghossian are around. I just wish I knew more of them.
And this statement from Boghossian:

"It's interesting—every time I've had a talk cancelled, I've challenged the people who cancelled it to a debate... and no one has accepted yet."

Yeah, how very true and typical this is. Christians are soo cowardly, soo conniving. Always whining and threatening and boycotting something that THEY don't like. Yet, whenever someone actually DOES call them out or challenge them to an adult debate, they always back down! Unless they're in large numbers, which again demonstrates their utter cowardliness. I've dealt with such behavior soo many times before, myself. Bullies, the lot of 'em!

If only we could stick ALL religious people at the children's table, then the rest of the world could get on with its affairs. Just imagine how far we would all progress as a collective species, weren't we soo badly hobbled and held hostage by delusional lunatics. Humans were actually on a pretty good track for awhile... then the DARK AGES hit. And we've been in recovery ever since!
Religion in itself isn't bad IMO. It's the blind leap into non-critical thinking that is. But why is it that most theists from an organized religion spout off very similar sounding phrases? It's like they have been programmed with comeback phrases when challenged about their faith.

What's truly amazing is how a religious person can apply very valid and reasonable thinking skills to solve complex problems. They can use critical thinking skills until it comes to their faith. Suddenly they are robots; I just don't get that.

I can't follow a book blindly that was written generations ago. Even if it was inspired by god it was edited my men. It was twisted for one purpose; control.

You can live a very moral life and do good things without being religious or even spiritual. There are many people that do live better lives because of religion; but that just means they are crappy people and only do good because they are told to. I'm thinking these are the people who do bad things in the name of religion or they use religion as a shield. How is that better??
You summed it up beautifully, Kerry:

"You can live a very moral life and do good things without being religious or even spiritual. There are many people that do live better lives because of religion; but that just means they are crappy people and only do good because they are told to. I'm thinking these are the people who do bad things in the name of religion or they use religion as a shield. How is that better??"

And Merc. WHY is there an ad for a bible college (non-accredited, obviously) at the bottom of this article?! I'm not even the first one to point this out.
Ah, I knew this thread would devolve into a militant atheist vs. fundie debate! Newsflash Portland cognoscenti -- there are many well-educated, liberal, pro-science, pro-evolution Christians in the world who would not be intimidated by this prof's questions, which sets up strawman arguments. He's only spouting what every non-theist has always spouted, for centuries. In fact, his argument were one of the key tenets of Marxist revolutionaries - "You religious people are all deluded, we will oust you from the public debate, then everything will be hunky dory." C'mon, we all know how that turned out! Everyone makes faith-based decisions every day, including every single atheist and agnostic. Yes, I wouldn't fly a faith-based airplane, but the whole reason humans fly is become someone at first IMAGINED they could -- and that is what faith is -- sacred imagination. Deriding faith is not only stupid and futile, it's shows you're not even a serious thinker in the first place because you haven't even examined how SCIENCE has shown our own brain anticipates what we see through our physical eyes, not the other way around! If you want to argue Jesus isn't God, there's no reincarnation, there's no soul, the pope is fallible, fine, then make a serious argument addressing those issues specifically. But ad hominen attacks on believers and referring to the "Dark Ages" just shows how many of you are Cliff-noting your way through life. No wonder you think this guy, or, for that matter, Dawkins, are intellectual giants — you've never really delved into the entire realm of faith complementing reason, which neither atheists nor fundies ever bother to explore. Have any of you read Swedenborg? Aquinas? DeChardin? Heck, Portland's own Michael Dowd wrote a book on God and evolution. But remember, you have to move away from the smarmy teenager's table and actually go to a library to find this stuff.
The problem with his approach, and with his indifference to the offensive consequences of his approach, is that the belief in God is not just an isolated irrational belief, but is connected to an entire culture and worldview. People do not even need to (literally) believe in God as having an ontological reality existing outside of human minds to derive benefit and satisfaction from a culture organized around the ideal. Looked from the perspective of sociological functionalism or cultural anthropology or pragmatism, religion has social and psychological consequences that have shown to be positive. The results of scientific studies showing that religious people on average are happier, less lonely, have greater sense of meaning and purpose in their lives - what do the scientific atheists have to say about that? Whether God exists or not does nothing to disturb the reality that religion is and has been profoundly powerful. I don't think you can just laugh it off and tell these people to go sit at the children's table.
I sit in a chair not because I have faith it will hold me up, but because I have evidence that it will hold me up. Sometimes chairs break and people fall. If faith is what lead me to sit, I might not ever expect that chair to break but we know that they do. I also don't think faith is what inspired the first airplane. We can see everyday, there are things flying all around us and it's really not that magical. Seems logical to think "we can do that too". I'm curious what these "faith based decisions" are that we make every day. I'm pretty sure I make my decisions based on experience or observation. Saying faith is what you need to have, to know someone loves you, also feels pretty flimsy to me. I would feel comfortable accepting someone loves me based on evidence and knowing that others experience emotions and express themselves in similar, observable ways that suggest love. I can't say I've ever seen or experienced god in any measurable way, ever, nor do I know anyone who has.
@13, A_roseofagal, you wrote,

"I am all for free speech but not speech that is made to hurt others."

Then you are not for free speech at all.
"there are many well-educated, liberal, pro-science, pro-evolution CHRISTIANS..."

Stop right there!

Please re-examine these words of yours, carefully. See if you can recognize the massive illogical fallacies of this statement. If you cannot identify them, i would be happy to point them out for you.
All this anti-christianity sure makes me glad that I'm a half-jew. L'Chaim.
@a_roseofagal: You say you don't put people down if they don't believe the same as you. Do you believe in heaven and hell? (Most Christians do.) Then you are putting people down, because most of us will go to hell forever, according to the N.Testament theology. Kind of hard to square that theology with "God is Love", isn't it?
MOST christians? What christians DON'T believe in Heaven and Hell? Seems like a 100% criteria for being a member.
@moseshoses, ooohh, you are a real deep thinker. must be that serious Sophisticated theology that I'm too stupid & faithless to comprehend. "takes more faith to not believe...". what a howler. there's reality and there's young children's fairy tales. some people can tell the difference. anyone who puts any credence in any of the man made gods & religions is a duped tool. and passing that along to young impressionable children is child abuse. "straw men" "marxism" turned out... yawn...
Fair enuf, One True and others -- fine, completely debunk the Shroud of Turin. Completely debunk the image of Guadalupe. Completely debunk the thousands of testimonies of an afterlife offered by people who have undergone Near Death Experiences. If you can completely debunk all of this, then you are beginning to make your points. Until then, the only intellectual right you can argue is that everyone should be an agnostic, not an atheist. On another note, would you give up the silly Hitchens-Dawkins materialist ranting? Children's fairytales ARE true -- on the psychological level. That's why they were written. And that is why religion is where metaphor and reality meet -- some things in the Bible historically happened, some poetically, some both -- the key is serious examination and knowing the difference. I don't begrudge anyone believing whatever they want about the spiritual component of life because I believe God speaks to each of us through our own life, and what you need to hear may be different than what someone else needs. Come back when you've read Swedenborg or DeChardin or heck, Jung, Campbell or C.S. Lewis. Until then, I have yet to read one post by an atheist here that even comes close to a real argument, except for "jough" who at least raised some cogent points. But most of what I am reading is a bunch of hostile verbiage that amounts to angry whistling past a graveyard. People experience God all the time and your rhetoric doesn't change that, it merely shuts you off from the spiritual world. And DaMosa, there's this thing called history you might want to examine before making your preposterous challenge. Minds far greater than yours have believed in Christ and God; do you really think you can take on an Einstein or a Tolkien and win in a debate?
Re: DamosA's point about slavery, blah, blah, blah. With the exception of the Inquisition, every evil you list predated Christianity. Are there evil Christians? Yes. There are also evil Animists, evil Buddhists, evil Muslims, evil Atheists, even evil readers of the Mercury ... well, I think you get the point. The debate is over whether faith-based beliefs are a valid way of living or not, not how wicked one group is or not. I think after the 20th century, with bloody wars caused on every continent by Atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Confucians, Christians and Animists, it's safe to say everybody is prone to evil. Even you.
@DamosA #47: By no means is a belief in heaven/hell a 100% thing for Christians:…
becuase there is no faith no the dance floor
Wow, an article by Georgia Perry that I actually like. Thank You.
I like what Stephen Hawking said of religion.... it is for people who are afraid of the dark.
the professor is sick of being 'held hostage to the delusions of others'? Really? Which ones? I don't go to church and have never been forced to by anyone other than my parents, who also forced me to go to Chuck E. Cheese's, or maybe it was McDonalds, not sure. Have I had heated arguments with obnoxious Christians? Sure. But I'm not a baby, I had a choice to walk away and I didn't. I love living in a society that allows us all to believe or not to believe. In fact, I'm pretty sure a lot of Christians and Jews and Muslims and Native American Great Spirit believers died on battlefields to preserve that right. The professor looks well-fed and has a handsome head of white hair. If he's been 'held hostage' I have a feeling his captors were hair stylists armed with blow driers. Just a bunch of whining from this guy, glad my taxes are going to pay for someone who's so contemptuous of other people he feels 'held hostage.'
Dr. Boghossian confuses faith with religion. The great big universe is still largely unknown and a person is a complicated being, who can gain surprising self knowledge in extreme situations. Often people around us, who have watched our actions over the years, can know us better than we know ourselves. When a person asks, "What's my purpose?" or Why am I here?" or "How do I fit in?" the answer is like taking a jigsaw piece with an ill-defined outline and placing it in a puzzle that's barely started. Completing that step, which intelligent beings need to take, is faith. I am a map-maker in an unknown world. A puzzle solver. An individual in a group, and therefore moral and just and beloved — or not. I am an agnostic because I don't live in a metaphysical universe. All my clues are physical ones and lead to physical solutions. For some people, however, the idea of a higher power solves their leap of faith. The universe becomes ordered and their lives must have meaning. I don't believe that, but I live in a physical universe and I can't disprove it. Hurricanes hit the coast or a baby dies, but the ways of the Lord are dark, I am told. I evolved from the dust and have a consciousness, which, if anything, ought to be evidence of the existence of a higher consciousness. I think we can learn from the "bronze age" people, who inducted moral principles as surely as they knew about gravity. Gluttony meant someone else went hungry. Lust stirred up no end of trouble and feuding. Morality is the group's response to the actions of the individual. Of course, a small warring tribe with no allies would want everyone active in the production of future warriors and abhor strict homosexuality. And Onan must impregnate his dead brother's widow. We would talk more fruitfully with religious people if we would admit the possibility of a higher power and they would admit the possibility that the higher power left us something to do on our own, like create concepts of morality, dignity, justice and liberty through the act of living together.
@ yournamehere,

You might have a point... EXCEPT -

the "evils" of putrid christendom far exceed the so-called evils of all other religions combined! Btw, i never claimed that christians perpetrated all of slavery. I was mostly referring to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.
some of the comments posted here prove (beyond any doubt) that "believers" are insane, totally delusional, clinically sick. Dr. Boghossian Does Not confuse faith with religion, Not At All. To think that shows a complete lack of understanding of the concepts of "reality" and "delusion". Let me try to make it real simple: There is no such thing as the supernatural. period, end of discussion. there are no miracles, never have been, not once, ever. There are questions we currently do not have an answer for. The origin of life is only incompletely understood, though most likely within 200 years it will be, just like how in 1600 the dynamics of the electromagnetic field were "magic", and now we know almost exactly how that works. There is no "afterlife". There is no "soul". 3 year olds scared of the dark need such fantasies. religion is a great tool for certain segments of the power structure to control the duped masses. in the future people will look back at this time in human history and marvel, just jaw droppingly stunned, at how in 2012 there could be so many completely pathetic people, whose insane ideas are granted "respectability" by "main stream" society. It's too funny.
One True, you have zero evidence to back your point. Prove there's no afterlife -- almost everyone who's undergone an NDE would mightily disagree with you.
And DamosA, don't wimp out _ you indicted Christianity inaccurately, now fess up! the lone voice in the post-ancient world to attack slavery was St. Patrick. And it was Christians who led the slavery abolition movement, which many in the Muslim world still support, and which the Animist world does to a lesser extent (not to mention the Buddhist, Confucian and post-Maoist world). You're right -- it was a slave TRADE -- so guess who was on the other end of the trade -- powerful Africans! That does not excuse the inhumane brutality visited upon the enslaved by Christians, but it does put it in a more balanced perspective. And BTW, millions of Europeans were also enslaved, by their fellow Europeans as well as the North Africans. You're in History 101, son, time to enroll in your sophomore classes.
I thought this was a terrible interview. Even if I agree tangentially with most of his points (though find him insufferably smug about it), the interview seemed clearly scripted to get specific quotes from the good professor.
#41: so, Pascal's Wager, then.
Unfortunately the dominant view of faith as taught by most religions (and understood by most non religious folks) is belief in something for which there is no evidence. I've never liked this definition of faith because it doesn't show the full scope of what the word implies.

Paul Tillich described faith as ultimate concern (presumably with something greater than ones self, ultimate reality, but that's a paraphrase). I like to think of faith as confidence in the possibility to overcome insurmountable odds. And this is one way of understanding what Jesus meant when he said that faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains. We're all faced with hurdles that prevent us from reaching our most noble goals and many will give us logical arguments why we can't. But what good does it do us to argue for our limitations?

Faith can also be looked at as an openness to a mystical experience (go ahead and laugh at that but if you've had one its a pretty cool thing!) Mysticism is a tradition that encompasses Christianity but is not limited to it (or religion) and I think it is the only safe way to approach religion or spirituality because it places the individual's experience over and above doctrines and beliefs.

It should be noted that while we're in the minority not all Christians believe the bible is the inspired word of God but rather focus on the life and teachings of Jesus. And for the record I support this professor's right to speak wherever the fuck he wants!
Frakking great article. I took an environmental ethics class from him at PSU and it was awesome. He's constantly after students to challenge what they hear and believe, and encourages you to be 100% clear in where your information is coming from and to challenge those who make claims without a clear knowledge of what they're talking about. And any time a student wanted to debate a topic, Boghossien won. Every time.
God is silent. Now if we could only get man to shut up.
Can't resist joining in, though, apparently:
@Unicorn Fairy (#41): You say "The results of scientific studies showing that religious people on average are happier, less lonely, have greater sense of meaning and purpose in their lives - what do the scientific atheists have to say about that?"
First of all, scientists can measure and compare degrees of things like happiness, loneliness, meaning and purpose in people's lives with other variables controlled, so these anonymous studies you're trying to cite seem pretty fraudulent.
Secondly, I could believe that invisible mini sumo wrestlers surround and protect me everywhere I go, and that might make me happier and less lonely. Trying to convince lots of rightfully skeptical people that the jolly little guys are real could give my life a sense of purpose. But I'd still be a deluded individual with a shaky grasp on reality that would probably lead me to make bad or even dangerous decisions in many areas of my life.
Should have said "scientists CAN'T measure and compare degrees of things like happiness, loneliness, and meaning and purpose in people's lives with other variables controlled, so these anonymous studies you're trying to cite seem pretty fraudulent."
And to continue: along with Pascal's Wager, the other logical fallacies I see on display in most of the believers' responses on this thread include Appeal To Authority (#s 6 & 40, among others), Clouding The Issue (#6 especially), No, YOU'RE The Zealot! (#18; there's an actual name for that one: I forget what it is), and You're Hurting My Feelings, Don't Talk About This (#13). Pretty much all of them filibustered, too: easily the longest responses (with nary a paragraph break) came from the believers, and yet somehow my mind isn't changed.

It's like you all walked out of Logic class halfway through the first day.
@MosesHoses - Are you talking about the same Shroud of Turin that was dated to over a millennia after the supposed death of the mythical magical Rabbi Yeshua? The same shroud that has been proven a fake time and time again, even by the original investigation by the Vatican? The same shroud that was shown to have been PAINTED with the supposed holy image by certain pigments used in paints that ALSO date the shroud to well after the supposed crucifixion? The same shroud that simply will not go away because of the same fanatical "faith" crap that this interview is talking about? And about "near death experiences" that have been shown to trigger the dream centers of the brain thus accounting for the crazy visions that people think are so "real", and then completely ignoring anyone who had an NDE that wasn't "mystical" in theme (confirmation bias). You seem to think these things have no explanation because someone somewhere in a book told you they don't and you believed them (this over-trusting books thing, seems to be a habit among those enamored with the Bible.) Jung had some really far-out ideas that are fun to play around with, but there is nothing empirical to back them up and they represent an era of psychology when made up crap was applied as a serious evaluation of consciousness. Try reading something from the last few decades that has actual research behind it and not pseudo-spiritual woo. A lot of progress has been made in the study of consciousness through neuroscience, not to mention the very nature of existence. I don't begrudge anyone their personal beliefs, but I would ask how you seem to know the intentions of God? You believe that God is this way or that way but you have very little to go by on that account. Even the most liberal spiritualist bears the most shocking hubris in somehow intuiting the will and nature of a being that, by definition, should be beyond their very comprehension. If there is a God, then I don't know what it's will could possibly be. It's will is apparently to not be known, even of it's existence for it hides from us in every legitimate sense. You may feel comfort in reconciling your existence in the fables of ignorant men, in an age when the stars, the crucibles of our existence, were but lamps thrust into the firmament, but I choose to query the universe on such matters, and those questions are best laid bare through science. This is on par with the same "God" of Einstein you so arrogantly place in your corner, when Einstein himself said he used that word from a weakness of human expression. I simply throw away that term "God", to use it in any sense other than what most English speaking Americans use it for is to practice at miscommunication. I am an Atheist, but guess what? I'm also an agnostic. You sorely misunderstand these terms when you claim that agnosticism is the only reasonable position. I am a Gnostic Atheist in the sense of that celestial dickhead found in the pages of the Bible, and I'm sure many sophisticated "theists" are. So to apply my gnosticism to all possible definitions of "God" to the spectrum of all people and all beliefs I would have to choose Agnostic Atheism. Though I distinguish most definitions of "God" in a deistic sense, that in which a creator may have inspired the quantum variance that ultimately led to the fracturing of symmetry and deterministic origins of the universe, but that such a deity either perished in the effort or is in some sense uninterested in our fungal existence on an insignificant rock orbiting an insignificant star along the branches of a rather unremarkable galaxy. For that I must profess a strong agnostic adeism, meaning, though I cannot say for certain that this is not the case, I can say that from what we understand, it was not necessary. Most atheists will claim some level of agnosticism. "Agnostic" is a measure of knowledge, "atheist" is a measure of belief. Though I cannot say for certain that there is life elsewhere in the universe, it is statistically feasible so therefore I believe there is. I am an agnostic extraterrestrialist. It also does not suffice to say that just because it's possible that some god-like thing may have triggered the Big Bang, it does not necessitate that I believe that to be true, or that it would possibly carry into any belief in the mythological nonsense of the Abrahamic triumvirate.

When you say that people experience "God" all the time, what you are referring to is a physiological reaction that, guess what, occurs in non-believers as well, we just don't dress it up in mythology and make up things to try and explain it. I've personally experienced this numerous times and it was at a point when I began to understand something fundamental about the universe that I thereto had either possessed only a limited piece of knowledge or was completely oblivious to in general. If you'd like to call this "God" then that is your word, though it implies much that is unnecessary. There is also much to be said for the hypnagogic effects of enclosing a large group of primates in a room full of like minded people and inducing emotionally potent mental states (a.k.a some expressions of "Church service" or faith-healing). If you study all the classical tricks used by magicians and con-men to suspend disbelief or take advantage of the hopeful, you will suddenly begin to see corollaries practiced in the shadows of steeples. That is not to say that all churches are run this way, or at least intentionally, but they are set up in such a way that, when given authority over our minds, they have power over us. And even relatively normal looking people may end up standing on a street corner holding a sign that says "GOD HATES FAGS". What if Fred Phelps led his service with a message of equality, cherry picking that grab bag of morality called the Bible to find those more progressive and humane passages to deliver a message of tolerance and love. Would his flock exit en masse, content with their bigotry, or would we see more "GOD LOVES GAYS" signs on our street corners? You might reject this, and claim that he would simply gather a different kind of flock, but you'd have to dismiss the power of the mentalist, whom, without a single supernatural power, can lay an entire audience to sleep by collecting only their trust and uttering a few simple but strategic suggestions.

I don't want you to stop believing in God, especially if that brings you comfort in dark times, or even on a daily basis, that is yours to keep, though it is not good enough for me as I choose to live my life differently, all I ask is that you don't fool yourself, or allow yourself to be fooled. Just because you believe in a higher power does not mean you have ANY idea what it may or may not want or feel about anything. There is no evidence anywhere that any such being is doing anything for or with anyone. Sure, some people might see patterns in their own lives that might seem (with an unhealthy dose of confirmation bias) to have been divinely inspired, but how ARROGANT is THAT! How self-centered. Really? The great and all powerful creator of the entire universe has beneficially organized events in their lives? What about those lives who are not so fortunate, why, God must not like them as much as they, or, if their too reasonable to make that assumption, then surely his intentions are mysterious! You can believe that if you like, but please take a moment to consider the outlying repercussions of such reasoning. How does that force you to judge others? Perhaps anyone who believes this way should re-evaluate this pattern and see if there are contradicting events. Perhaps the good fortune attributed to God has more to do with societal privilege than divine guidance. The human mind uses pattern recognition that both assists in how we understand the world, and how we intuit a problem or situation, but that same software often goes overboard. We see faces where there are none and we see irrelevant patterns in an otherwise long string of random numbers.
And, whats more, we tend to discard data that contradicts our conclusions. This happens in even the most rational of minds (Einstein tried to work around problems with his own theories and couldn't accept quantum physics) which is the very purpose of double-blind trials and peer-reviewed confirmation in science. Science knows it can be fooled by these human failings and so scientists have developed ways around them. So, then, what is wrong with what Professor Boghossian does? When you try to explain the world using your religion, and that makes objective claims about reality, then your claim is up to debate. When your religion gets in the way of human rights, of human compassion, and of human decency, then your religion sucks. It can either change, or get out of the way.

Perhaps, rather than focusing on the unsubstantiated works of a psychoanalyst or the rantings of a story book author, you should try a little science. Try a book on quantum physics, anything by Richard Feynman, perhaps something inspiring by Carl Sagan. Better yet try a good book on Evolution (sorry, some of the best are by Dawkins and you apparently disregard everything he has to say because he's an evil "materialist", and, since a rather large percentage of scientists, especially those in the National Academy of Sciences, who might write these books are also atheists, you might have to get over that stigma you have in your brain over the matter. Jerry Coyne has a great primer on Evolution called "Why Evolution is True" but, again, he's also an atheist, so you might not trust what he has to say. But as you said, you are pro-science, so maybe that's enough to alleviate your prejudices.) Before you start bandying around the Shroud of Turin, or "near death experiences", try looking at what science does know about these phenomena, or trinkets. When you look into science, you find that we actually know quite a bit, though it isn't everything, and there is plenty more to be discovered, otherwise we wouldn't need scientists, and what would tomorrow be for?
rich bachelor #66 for COTW. :-)
So it's too bad this guy seemingly wants to ignore anything positive faith gives to people--like motivation to compassion, hope, relief, etc.--and just call them all delusional and stupid. Really it sounds like he's just mad because of what people of faith do and act like... which is really a bigger problem that literally anyone (people) are subject to whether they believe in a heaven, hell, spirits or nothing. The problem is bigger then faith. Ultimately, the problem is basically how people treat other people and you can be a person of faith and be a prick and you can be an atheist and be a prick. I'm sure there are example of both, but what he posits is that anyone of faith is AUTOMATICALLY a prick and that seems like a very large, general--and not very reasonable--conclusion to draw. Christians have killed people and atheists have killed people. People have killed people. It’s not just a problem of faith but of worldview, values, cultures, and human tendencies (which people often want to transcend either in faith or in philosophy)
He wants to fight bigotry with bigotry and stereotyping with stereotyping and if he really wants to graduate to a higher level of thinking and reason it seems he shouldn’t simplify things so much; he wants to talk about people of faith as being little kids and that they’re stupid and immature and then prescribes an immature course of action for dealing with them and thinking about them.
One last thing I think that he should be more up front about is that he’s seems to be obviously just targeting Christians and so he might as well come out and say it. I’d be interesting for his view on other worldviews/faiths like Buddhist, Hinduism, and Islamic beliefs are a problem but it didn’t really seem like they fit his version of what “faith” is. So he might as well be blatant in his bias. I know there’s gonna be a lot of people who are annoyed with this counter. So up front he’s right. Faith can be destructive. But no faith can be destructive too. Rational dialogue, in nature, considers both sides and to people who are annoyed with people of faith it’s understandable: no one likes to hear they're stupid for making their own conclusions about life.
For those readers who enjoyed this article, here is more content from Peter that you might also like. The first is an interview I did with Peter for Philosophy News. In this interview, Peter goes into more depth on his views and lays out his case more thoroughly:…

And here is a video of a talk Peter did at Portland State University in February of 2012 titled, "Jesus, the Easter Bunny, and Other Delusions: Just Say No!":…

The green blob analogy is funny but as a professor or even better a doctor, you would think critical thinking would lead the observer to ask the purpose of the celery stick and other parts invloved. Why do they want to stick it there? Is the possible resultant offspring a by-product of the hot celery session or is the good feeling you get, a by-product of attempting procreation? No, it doesn't seem like you you should be able to say you can or can't stick it where you want it but that has nothing to do with what an educated person would consider in the thought process.
Another argument that's an old classic: Sure, Sure We Killed All Those People, But I Say We Brought Roads And Schools As Well! I think we're all well aware that faith-based organizations have done plenty throughout history for people in need. The question then becomes: well, wouldn't they have done that even if they didn't have some sort of celestial obligation? Or for that matter; doesn't that mean that they're only doing it because they're terrified of pissing off The Big Guy?

True enough that our interview subject sort of comes off as a blowhard, but as long as shit-wits like Bill Donahue are speaking for the Catholic church, I think pretty much all of us look better in comparison.
Listen, believe or not, as you wish, but quit insulting people who don't share (or similarly eschew) these beliefs. The whole "go to the children's table" line is too typical of the modern hipster atheist. Oh my! So logical, so learned! The paragon of empiricism! And larded with de rigueur supercilious sneering at a majority view. Another empty suit out of central casting. Wow, the Bible is not logically consistent, nor scientifically accurate? Good to know those academia dollars continue to be well spent. "Liberating" people from their faith, wouldn't fly in a faith-based airplane (a ridiculous analogy), etc etc... Feels a lot like "heathen" or "infidel" to me. This is that guy- the one who tells Blazers fans sports is just stupidly knocking a ball around, the vegan who archly tells all the folks at the BBQ about the fecal matter in their brisket. Awesome. And, really, most helpful to poor, benighted humanity. Granted that the Merc- and, clearly, this prof- purposefully incite controversy to drum up interest, a la Rush Limbaugh, this guy seems like an asshole and waste of everyone's time. But, shit, I read the thing and commented, so well played.
Yes, it is very rude to question the beliefs of people other than myself. Almost as rude as their oft-stated contention that my lack of belief in the things they believe will result in my going to "hell."

Evidence (even though it is a scary science word) is the universal material that we (as in everybody...everybody faithful or not) uses to help others understand where we are coming from. If you do not choose to use evidence, how can we have a conversation about things like public policy. If you come to know things through any other form of reasoning that does not include testable evidence, how could we be expected to gain confidence in what you have to say? Faith is a bad way to reason through situations, because it does not use evidence. How is it that the people trying to ground themselves in reality the crazy ones? Pete, I agree that what you are saying, and also agree this stuff should be completely non-controversial. How are we still here?
I want to thank Dr. Boghossian for helping me loose my faith. He taught me that you should have evidence to support your beliefs and relying on faith is insufficient. Now this only refers to if you *care* about lining your beliefs up with reality.

Dr. Boghossian is doing great work and I look forward to other interviews and talks that he gives.

I also *highly* recommend taking a class from Dr. Boghossian. He is a dynamic and enthusiastic professor. I would say that he is one of the best professors at PSU.

Keep up the good work!
Really great article. Pete is moving away from specific religion and focussing on faith as a way to make decisions, both personal and in broader society. This is an important dialogue to have. Beliefs are very personal, which is why discussions such as these can get so heated. But if we, as Pete says, are willing to reconsider our beliefs, this discussion can be engaging and powerful. Wonderful article. Keep challenging people to think!
Have read the article and the responses with great interest. My big concern for the United States is this: When an irrational religious person is elected to the highest office and starts interpreting our constitution through his beliefs and dogma, where are my rights? I could be gay, or poor, or need an abortion, but I will be discriminated against because of age old biblical writings that have been changed to suit our culture. I don't know what happens to us when we die, and I don't really care. I am doing my best to be a good, kind, compassionate and tolerant person and I'm doing a pretty darned good job at it...... without faith or religion to prompt me.
riggs5000 @73, you seem like an asshole and waste of everyone's time. But, shit, I read your comment, and duh, your opinion is trite, pathetic, uneducated, condescending and wrong, but otherwise I'm glad you expressed yourself.
"Not pretending to know things that you don't know is a virtue."

Maybe this Professor of Controversy should try taking a big dose of his own medicine instead of hypocritically brainwashing more of the tragically hip sheeple who reflexively believe that which conspicuously lacks the naturalized epistemic evidence Boghossian insists is otherwise necessary for acquiring *true* beliefs.

For according to Boghossian's own naturalized epistemic process: Anyone who buys his "XYZ-fb belief = delusion/cognitive sickness" claim is at present basing their belief in such fatuous rhetoric on faith, not scientific evidence.

Therefore, by definition, Boghossian's sheeple are...tah dah...*delusional*.

(Like taking candy from a baby. Au revoir les enfants)
Part-Rick: first off, you need an editor. Even The Merc wouldn't let a writer get away with "who reflexively believe that which conspicuously lacks the naturalized epistemic evidence..."

Best of all, you then employ this word-vomit to "make" your "point" for you. And you're even silly enough to try to gloat about it. This is yet another logical fallacy I see more and more of these days: "By saying 'Therefore,' I get to be Right." Despite your having failed to prove anything.
@rich bachelor

You can nitpick grammar until the cows come home, mate. And you can bow to your corner and promenade. But all that high-falutin' two-steppin' still doesn't makeup for the fact that Boghossian has not supplied a shred of naturalized epistemic evidence to support his case.

Consequently, according to PB's own logic, to believe his claims without sufficient evidence is to be *delusional.*

PS: (Scratch, light, pufff-puffff! Ahhhh! Nothing like a good cigar.)
That ain't grammar I was critiquing there, crazy. It was you and your "therefore." As much as it might make you feel good to be able to use words that smart people use, you still need to first make a case. Thennn you get to throw out as many Therefores and even Hences as you like, "mate."
@That's Rich, Bitch => One question: Please provided the published journal citation for Boghossian's peer-reviewed naturalized epistemic evidence to support his claim "XYZ-fb process = delusion/cognitive illness"?

Thanks, mate!

PS: (Puff, pufff. Exhale. Ahhhhh. Man, got to love a good cigar)!
Oh, I don't think anyone's going to be able to "provided the published journal citation" you seek there, crazy.
@ Rich Bachelor = Better to be "crazy" like a fox, "Thennn" dumber and lazier than an ox, "Quelqu'un comme toiavec tu".

PS:(Puff, pufff, exhale. Ahhhhh! These delusional philosophy cultists are such a gas!)
Like his idol Christopher Hitchens with his weaponized rhetorically intemperate interpersonal style and sideline cheering for the bloody confrontations of others, Boghossian positions himself as just another tool of right-wing extremism.…
@ppardi-thank you for posting a link to Boghossian's talk. A classmate of mine mentioned this article and, having had the Professor for a critical thinking class at PSU before, I had to come check it out.

Regardless of the tone of this article or even whether you ultimately do or do not agree with with Boghossian says, he uses more logic in his arguments than most other people I come in contact with put together. I would highly recommend taking one of his classes if you ever get the chance.
@ rabidkitten => "(H)e uses more logic in his arguments than most other people I come in contact with put together."

Given your above opinion, then how do you explain the conspicuous lack of empirical, peer-reviewed evidence to support Boghossian's "XYZ-fb process = delusional/cognitive sickness" claim?

According to Boghossian's own epistemic logic for acquiring *true* beliefs, wouldn't believing such a claim, absent the sufficient level of empirical scientific evidence Boghossian demands of others making extraordinary claims, imply that you're delusional?
I am a person who believes in God, and yet, I agree with many of the Professor's claims - the type of faith to which he refers definitely needs to be challenged. God is not Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, and that kind of "religion" is doomed to fail when life doesn't go the way the "believer" wants it to. Not using our intellect when searching for God, and using the term faith to disguise fear or laziness should also be challenged. Many individuals, churches and organized religions have gotten it wrong, and many dogmatic followers of any sect have caused a lot of damage to the whole.

t takes a substantial amount of faith to be an atheist or a believer, and Atheism in itself is a strong form of faith. We have religious freedom and I respect the right of every individual to decide what and in whom they place their faith. What concerns me, is that the professor has spoken in such gross generalities, pretending to be informed, yet refusing to acknowledge that his own system of beliefs might be themselves an illusion. It seems a bit hypocritical to use the ancient Socratic method while accusing religions of being outdated. By assuming he has the right to decide which of the ancient traditions and beliefs we can still use, Professor Boghossian reveals the very arrogance he attributes to the people who believe in God.

The issue is not whether or not there is a God, the issue is; why do we insist that everyone agree with our particular point of view? We never want to consider that our own perspective might be an illusion, but since we all live with a degree of uncertainty about the universe, we have to admit to our own vulnerability to accepting false or incomplete doctrines, whether they be secular or religious.

Those Christians who use a moral high ground to impose their faith on others or to feel superior are not following the doctrine of Christ and have caused many people to make incorrect assumptions about that very doctrine. Yet, those are the very "Christians" whom Professor Boghassian uses to support his argument. I know many, highly intelligent, philosophical Christians who consider it healthy to reconsider and examine their faith on a regular basis. They welcome challenge and don't subscribe to the "feel good" doctrine of faith that always disappoints. I'm afraid that Professor Boghassian would be disappointed to learn they these people not only continue to embrace that faith - even after examining it and engaging with critics in open, frank dialogue, they delve even deeper into what it means to be someone who believes in a higher power.

True faith in anything is always coupled with knowledge and transparency and (speaking as a person who attempts to follow the doctrine of Christ), I can also add; genuine love and respect for others. Extremists always claim the limelight and the professor is no different than those who use their religious belief system to make others feel inferior. I might not fly in an airplane flown by faith, but I wouldn't mind it if the pilot was trained and also placed his faith in God. The two can be compatible.

People who believe in a God are not the only ones guilty of trying to impose their point of view on others, Professor Boghossian seems to have done a brilliant job of perfecting that skill.
Finger pointing doesn't contribute to the conversation either. I didn't see a single constructive comment coming from this windbag. Religion addresses existential problems common to every person ever born, religion is the part of human experience that connects individual conscience to social ethics. Agreeing to be interviewed and hoping his ideas will be heard and understood is just as faith based as any other mature religious decision made by a Christian, Hindu or whatever. So it's just stupid finger pointing. You know what? Religion is the *result of evolution*.
I am a person who doesnt believe there is a god - if you want to call me an atheist, go ahead. I object to being told that because I am an atheist then I have faith!!!! What utter bollox. Actually Religion is not the result of evolution, we are!!!! Religion/worshipping Gods came about thousands of years ago when we were a superstitious bunch who had no idea why it rained, snowed, tornado'd etc, so we came up with Gods to make offerings to. Eventually after Jesus died a group of guys got together and thought, lets make things simple and create just one God, and we will form it around this guy Jesus, cos he seemed to have some good things to say. So these guys got together loads of stories, embellished them to appeal to our superstitious/niaive natures back then, and voila you have the bible. I mean come on, if your Best friend pulled a Mary on you (virgin birth), and told you she was pregnant, but had never had sex with a real live person, but a mystical presence, you would think she having a joke or had gone completely nuts. So why is it believable when this situation supposedly happened over 2000 years ago?
I am worm food and you are worm food. Spin it if you want, but it boils down to "you die too soon and then you are worm food". Live each moment in the best possible way you can because it's over before you know it and then "back to the dirt with you". I find great peace in this. It is easy to prove and you don't have to convince anyone. Going to heaven? Sure you are...
See you in dirt-ville baby!
Interesting that whenever people of this mindset speak, their targeted enemy is always Biblical Christianity. There are many many other religions in the world that believe in a god or gods. Why no mention of them? Why is Christianity the greatest threat? If he spoke out about Islam (even in America) he would be on a death list (if in other countries he'd be dead already). It would appear then that Islam is the greatest threat. So, the only conclusion is that either there is something intrinsic about Christ's teachings that are very real and very threatening to people on a level even deeper than death itself, or the good Dr. is a coward. At the least it seems Christianity is so threatening that these teachings must be stopped? It is incredibly easy to stop listening in modern America yet it appears all voices must be silenced. It's also amusing that the consistent target is the very religion that allows such derision without striking back. It seems then that Christ was right even back in the "Bronze" age "They will hate you because they first hated me." Even atheists will admit that Christ was a "good" person. I guess that as hard as they try Christ just won't stay dead... You must fight harder, but whether you know it or not the only fight you are fighting is against yourself.
" Why is Christianity the greatest threat?"

Have you READ your history? Here in the Western world, christendom IS the greatest threat - by FAAAR!
I don't know what history you are reading, but either you aren't reading at all or you are not reading a broad enough history. If you honestly read enough and see enough you will not be able to come to any other conclusion other than Christianity is not the greatest threat. If you are allowing yourself to be spoon fed by your atheist/liberal minded professors then you are not getting a full picture.
However, if you are claiming that Christianity is the greatest threat to your atheist worldview then you are correct. The reason it is the greatest threat is because even the most diehard atheist has a knowledge deep down that atheism is impossible. They know they have a connection to the Christian God and that is why they must silence everyone who speaks about it. They don't want the reminders of the voice in themselves that they are trying to suffocate. Even the Bible speaks of these people when Christ returns. They hide in the mountains and call for the rocks to fall on them. Why? Because even when confronted with God incarnate they don't want to believe it. It's much easier to pretend God doesn't exist now, but all it takes is once voice saying God does exist to bring out a demand for silence. So yes in this regard Christianity is a greater threat than anything else that exists.
All great arguments for and against faith here. But none of it changes the fact that Dr. Boghossian sounds like a real douchebag.
A lot of you are confusing the practice of religion with the idea of faith-based premises that lead to a conclusion. Taking religion out of it, as all of you should, Pete is attempting to show how rational thought and reason must be used in order for one to come to reliable conclusions. It's the idea that faith never "proves" the "truth" of an object. According to Pete, faith is unable to provide supportive statements, premises that can lead to a rationally sound explanation or conclusion.

If you want to nit-pick his valid argument, have him define the key terms which make or break it--have him explain the key terms (truth, evidence, proof etc...) , like he did with "faith," in unambiguous objective manner so that the audience can be clear on the meaning. Granted, given time constraints these details were omitted, however, one can safely assume the meanings of these to get the overall message. Finally, what religion you practice is not relevant to the overall lecture.

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