A Manual for Creating Atheists by Peter Boghossian
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
BOOK DESCRIPTION: For thousands of years, the faithful have honed proselytizing strategies and talked people into believing the truth of one holy book or another. Indeed, the faithful often view converting others as an obligation of their faith—and are trained from an early age to spread their unique brand of religion. The result is a world broken in large part by unquestioned faith. As an urgently needed counter to this tried-and-true tradition of religious evangelism, A Manual for Creating Atheists offers the first-ever guide not for talking people into faith—but for talking them out of it. Peter Boghossian draws on the tools he has developed and used for more than twenty years as a philosopher and educator to teach how to engage the faithful in conversations that will help them value reason and rationality, cast doubt on their religious beliefs, mistrust their faith, abandon superstition, and irrationality, and ultimately embrace reason.
MY REVIEW: This is a great book for so many reasons. Firstly, it is empathic. Boghassian treats those he is trying to rescue, from what he describes as a "faith virus", with respect, a willingness to listen, and a genuine concern for the welfare of those he writes about and for. Secondly, Boghossian speaks from experience. He clearly has had in-depth conversations with believers, listened to them, and responded to them with targeted "interventions" that fit the person, rather than using blunt instruments to beat people over the head. Thirdly, his approach is philosophically rigorous and rational. So much of what the author says makes sense and resonates with what we know from our own experiences. Fourthly, his suggestion that people move away from discussing conclusions/beliefs to exploring the way we arrive at beliefs, is profound and powerful. Finally (at least for this list - there is so much more that could be said), the book is easy to read. Boghossian is articulate and, despite his expertise in philosophy, speaks in language that is down-to-earth and entirely understandable. Atheists need this book so they can move on from angry rhetoric to respectful conversation.
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