Boghossian is Very Serious; He's a Crusader, a Radical, and I Like It!

I have written a few posts about Peter Boghossian's book, A Manual for Creating Atheists.To read other posts in review of his brilliant book click on the tag below. In this last one I want to highlight how much of a crusader he is, a radical, and how much I like it. He is dead serious. We know this from his radical remedies for the present faith virus pandemic.

In his final chapter titled "Containment Protocols" we see this clearly. He utilizes the theme of Darrel Ray's book, God Virus, The: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture, very effectively for this.

Since religious faith is a mind virus that can infect others in our society, then in order to help get rid of it we must get serious about containing it as we try to eradicate it.

His remedies are radical, but important and needed.

1) Use the word "faith" only in a religious context. He is calling for a change in how we use language. This is something David Eller has advocated in his excellent book, "Natural Atheism," as well as myself in my books. Boghossian: "It matters what words we use. Certain words trap us into a make-believe picture of life--one that is false and misleading" (p. 211). We should not say we have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow, or other such things, where the overwhelming probabilities lead us to know without much doubt at all. You can see a list of these words in a 2009 talk I gave for the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, right here.

2) Stigmatize faith-based claims like racist claims. He argues we should deploy the models of the civil rights and the women's rights movements. Basically it should be politically incorrect to argue something based on faith. He aptly quotes Sam Harris here: "People who harbor strong convictions without evidence belong at the margins of society."

3) Parrhesia: Speaking truth in the face of danger. We should not sit at the back of the segregated bus, so to speak. "Be honest. Be direct. Be blunt. Be unapologetic....Don't tone it down or talk baby talk....Instead, tell people exactly what you think and why you think it. Take a punch and give a punch. Speak truth in the place of danger be a part of Team Parrhesia" (p. 214).

4) Stay informed. He even recommends reading faith peddlers like Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig. Boghossian is so radical he recommends against buying their books new, but rather getting them second hand, so they don't profit from us in any way.

5) Contribute. Do what you can. Use whatever talents you have in this cause. "Be active. Get involved. Volunteer. Vote." Contribute financially as well, to good atheist/skeptical organizations who are making a difference.

6) Experiment and publicize. "Develop your own strategies to fight the faith virus." Then publicize them in the appropriate medium, like books, magazines, podcasts, videos, documentaries, plays, editorials, songs, art works and so on.

7) Form academic-community partnerships. These partnerships take many forms. Partner with like-minded people to be more effective.

8) Treat faith as a public health crisis. Two words: "contain" and "eradicate." We must do this with ethical and Constitutional concerns in mind, he says. Rather, "interventions need to be designed that counter the spread" of the virus. Our "containment strategy should promote the 'value' of believing on the basis of evidence."

9) Financially cripple purveyors of false epistemologies, especially religious institutions. Take away their tax exempt status. Hell yeah! While Boghossian isn't hopeful that can be done in America anytime soon, "Ultimately, the tax-exempt status of religious organizations must be removed."

10) Create skeptical (atheist) children. He makes no apologies for this bold suggestion, saying, "It may seem odd: raising a child so she doesn't hold preposterous metaphysical beliefs. Strange indeed, but also vital." What he means is that "it is important to develop within our children the "attitudinal disposition to be skeptical."

11) Finally, remove the religious exemption for delusion from the 'Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders' (DSM). He says, "There is perhaps no greater contribution one could make to contain and perhaps even cure faith than removing the exemption that prohibits classifying religious delusions as mental illness." For the reasons why he makes this statement you'll have to read them yourselves. At the very least, faith should be listed as a cognitive bias everywhere cognitive biases are listed.

All in all Boghossian's book is brilliant, needed, and radical. I personally think he has written, what we might call, THE SHIT!

It will draw a lot of fire from faith-heads. But until they base what they think on sufficient evidence and quit pretending to know things they don't know, there is no reason to do otherwise than what the good doctor has prescribed to heal our society from our faith pandemic.