Thursday, May 05, 2016

Peter Boghossian's Atheism Course

Apparently Boghossian can get away with a teaching a New Atheist apologetics course at a public university, on the public dime.  Of course he denies this.

Just as the purpose of religious studies is not to convert students to a particular faith tradition, this course is not about “converting” students to atheism.

But his textbook is A Manual for Creating Atheists, written by him.

See this discussion here. 


Aron Zavaro said...

Are you suggesting this is an Establishment Clause issue?

planks length said...

I think he's suggesting it's hypocrisy.

Victor Reppert said...

I don't like the idea of using the Establishment Clause in education, and I especially hate it in higher education.

But I also hate it when classroom success depends upon agreement with the instructor. If a student says that they had to say what the teacher wanted him or her to say for the sake of a grade, that is a bad sign. There should be a way, for example, for an evangelical Christian to make an A in Boghossian's class without denying his religious beliefs. But from what I can see about the guy, I have trouble seeing how that would even be possible.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

If it's impossible for an Evangelical Christian to make an A in his class, then that would seem to be a violation of the Establishment Clause -- and a blatant one at that. Disclaimer: I'm not an attorney, much less a constitutional scholar, so this is just the opinion of a layman.

Why don't you like the idea of using the Establishment Clause in education?

John Mitchell said...

Boghossian has developed the perfect street epistemology and now he is bringing it along into class.
Surely you can't object to this Epistemology Knight teaching the inerrant epistemology to the ignorant masses, can you?

It's just an obvious truth that an Evangelical Christian can understand the teachings of Boghossian and get an A in the class, he then simply cannot remain a Faith Monster, Evangelical or not.

Legion of Logic said...

One can indeed fully understand the teachings of Boghossian's book and realize how pathetic his arguments are, though I fail to see how any thoughtful person will be persuaded by anything he said.

It would indeed appear to violate the Establishment Clause, particularly if a teacher isn't even allowed to display a cross without violating it.

Hal said...

Strange that the linked article didn't mention that two books by Plantinga are on the recommended reading list for the course. Also, one can find videos on YouTube of Christian Evangelists who have been invited to speak in Boghossian's classes.

Seems like much ado about nothing to me.

B. Prokop said...

All's I can say is that, with Boghossian's scheme to have thousands of atheist "street evangelists" out there converting people to atheism, then all the disclaimers about atheism not being a religion go right out the window.

If it quacks like a duck...

Jezu ufam tobie!

Ilíon said...

I'm shocked! Shocked! I tell you, to find hypocrisy amongst the Gnu Atheists ... or ^ coming from Jeffery Jay Lowder.

Joe Hinman said...

remember atheistwatch? Orwellian atheism,


Joe Hinman said...

thanks for the new material VR

Joe Hinman said...

Strange that the linked article didn't mention that two books by Plantinga are on the recommended reading list for the course. Also, one can find videos on YouTube of Christian Evangelists who have been invited to speak in Boghossian's classes.

Bet I have a good idea of what he will say bout them.

Victor Reppert said...

From MCFA:

“To prevent doxastic closure it’s also important to read the work of noted apologists. The only two I’d suggest are Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig, though I’d urge you not to buy their books; their projects don’t need your support. If you must buy one of their books buy it used and support a local bookstore, this way the author doesn’t receive any royalties.” (Kindle Locations 3419-3421).

Remember the debate surrounding God is not Dead? I watched the movie and for the most part we didn't care for it, because most real atheist professors don't act like that atheist professor in the movie, who tries to get the class to sign an atheist statement in order to avoid deal with the problem of God in the course.

But people like Boghossian, I am afraid, make God is not Dead look realistic.

What is more, I do think the fictional professor in God is not Dead DOES violate the Establishment Clause, because he puts requirements for passing the course on believing students that he doesn't put on nonbelieving students.

Boghossian's course, I think, also violates the clause. That is because while he presents arguments against his own view, he provides a message in required course material that he, the professor, considers their arguments so unworthy of being taken seriously that students shouldn't provide royalties to the authors by buying their books. A teacher can say what he thinks in class so long as he also says there are intelligent people who think the opposite, and in the last analysis it is their responsibility to decide the issue for themselves.

As Randal Rauser says

If this really is his advice, then I must say it is absolutely terrible advice. Simply reading or listening to somebody you disagree with doesn’t prevent cognitive closure. The only way to do that is to read your opponents with charity. Needless to say, when you preface the advice to read somebody with the proviso that their works are so bad (and harmful) that you ought never pay money for the books if possible, you have undermined any hope in your reader of engaging their works with charity.

If you do this on the public dime, then you are shoving your religious views down the throats of your students, and the fact that atheism is not a religion in some other important sense does not exempt you from the force of the Establishment Clause.