I knew it would be good. I just didn’t realize how good. My first pleasant surprise came from the fact that this book does not wax the same old arguments for being atheist. The book is clearly for atheists, and assumes, right off the bat, that you’ve already explored all the reasons to doubt. That alone makes this book enjoyable, because as someone who explores the conversation between atheists and theists on a daily basis, this is the majority of what I consume and it’s the last thing I need to rehash.
What this book does do, however, is explore the different ways to converse with believers, so as to rattle their “sincerely held beliefs” a little bit. This book is clearly meant for those out and open atheists who wish to free others from the prison of their faith. From Boghossian’s own words:
The goal of this book is to create a generation of Street Epistemologists: people equipped with an array of dialectical and clinical tools who actively go into the streets, the prisons, the bars, the churches, the schools, and the community – into any and every place the faithful reside – and help them abandon their faith and embrace reason.
Boghossian’s methods and questions are respectful, gentle and kind. Through my own experience speaking with theists, I have learned that this is the only way to approach this conversation. Religion is a touchy subject for believers. It is very, very easy to offend and having a believer shut you out is not only a possibility, but likely. If causing doubt is truly your intent, then the only way is by being gentle and respectful.
The book itself is easy to read for anyone and offers many resources to continue your research on this topic. It’s full of fantastic, quotable points such as:
If one had sufficient evidence to warrant belief in a particular claim, then one wouldn’t believe the claim on the basis of faith. “Faith” is the word one uses when one does not have enough evidence to justify holding a belief, but when one just goes ahead and believes anyway.
You cannot know the future, so take action. Don’t wait for things to happen. Don’t pray. Don’t have faith. Don’t rely upon imagined entities. Act. – Peter Boghossian
I think one of the most important aspects of this book, is the fact that it outlines the areas of conversation to avoid. Through my many interactions online with theists, while they are debating other atheists, I’ve witnessed so many conversations get completely derailed. There are an abundance of ways to defeat yourself before a word of what you say gets through to the person you’re speaking with.
I strongly believe every outspoken atheist needs not only to read this book, but to adopt some of the tactics outlined in it. This was a truly enjoyable read and has certainly changed the way I converse with believers. Check it out now: A Manual For Creating Atheists.
Have you read this book by Peter Boghossian? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.