Militant atheist Jerry Coyne recently spoke of Peter Boghossian:
Peter also teaches an “Atheism” class and a separate “New Atheism” class, both of which are wildly popular: they have to turn students away. That’s a good sign, and most of the students are either nonbelievers, doubters, or simply want to learn more about the nature of modern nonbelief.
So Peter Boghossian teaches a class on “Atheism” and another one on “New Atheism.” Wonderful.
Here’s the syllabus for Boghossian’s “Atheism” class. The first thing I noticed was the required texts for this 300-level philosophy class. There are two of them. The first is
50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God by Guy P. Harrison. Prometheus Books (June 5, 2008).
Harrison is an atheist and Prometheus Books is an atheist publishing company. Wiki describes Harrison as follows:
Harrison has degrees in history and anthropology at the University of South Florida. He was influenced towards skepticism by thinking about Erich von Däniken’s book Chariots of the Gods?, which theorized that earth had been visited by aliens during antiquity.
It doesn’t sound like Harrison has a PhD in philosophy or religion. In fact, his book promo page on Amazon.com describes him as “a journalist.”
Harrison describes himself and his book in the video below. Harrison comes across as one of the New Atheists trying to fly under the radar and the book seems to be going after lots of low hanging fruit and straw men.
Here are some of the mighty theistic arguments Boghossian’s 300-level philosophy class will read up on:
My god is obvious.
Almost everybody on Earth is religious.
Faith is a good thing.
Archaeological discoveries prove that my god exists.
Only my god can make me feel significant.
Atheism is just another religion.
Evolution is bad.
Our world is too beautiful to be an accident.
My god created the universe.
Believing in my god makes me happy.
Better safe than sorry.
A sacred book proves my god is real.
You can see the rest of the list here.
Lastly, Harrison has the distinction of being one of the few people to help promote Peter Boghossian’s strange book.
Harrison’s blurb reads as follows:
“If we want to live in world that is safer and more rational for all, then this is the guidebook we have been waiting for. Relying on extensive experience and a deep concern for humanity, Peter Boghossian has produced a game changer. This is not a book to read while relaxing in a hammock on a sunny afternoon. This is the how-to manual to take into the trenches of everyday life where minds are won and lost in the struggle between reason and madness.”
And that takes us to the second required textbook – Peter Boghossian’s “A Manual for Creating Atheists.”
Jerry Coyne promoted this book as “telling the reader how to become a ‘street epistemologist’ with the skills to attack religion” and John Loftus promoted as “There is nothing else on the market like this book that helps atheists talk believers out of their faith.” In other words, a manual for converting people to atheism.
If you get a chance, take a look at the syllabus. Does this class look like an objective, upper-level course that explores atheism from different angles or does it seem more like a class in atheist apologetics?