Peter Boghossian and Tim McGrew on the Christian Program "Unbelievable"

There's a lot of blathering about Tim McGrew's so-called trashing of my friend and colleague Peter Boghossian. For the record, I view myself as Boghossian's bulldog and I have posted a few reviews of his book, A Manual for Creating Atheists.Randal Rauser's headline is this: Tim McGrew gives Peter Boghossian an unbelievable public drubbing. On the other side, James Lindsay carefully reviews their debate. You can listen to it on the program Unbelievable right here. I think he did well but McGrew threw him for a loop once or twice.

One thing. When it comes to actions like jumping from a plane it is impossible to give it a 67% effort. One cannot throw 67% of himself out the plane. Given such demand no one could do any action unless he was 100% confident of the outcome. So McGrew's analogy is wrongheaded. A person must judge to what degree the odds must be that his parachute will open before he will jump. A risk taker might be comfortable with a 60% probability while someone else might need a 99% probability before doing so, but we still make those decisions by how we calculate the odds.

Nonetheless, this is not relevant to what Boghossian is saying. McGrew is obfuscating, just what Boghossian warned against in his opening remarks. Faith, as Boghossian argues, is a bad epistemology for knowing matters of fact, such as the nature and workings of the universe. But when it comes to acting on probabilities, actions are bodily movements we either do with a 100% effort, or not at all.

Boghossian uses rhetoric to his advantage. I like it because I agree with him that Christianity is baseless. He’s writing to motivate those of us who agree with him. I like that too. The problem is that Christians don’t agree with us that Christianity is baseless. His book is not intended to convince Christians because they are not his target audience. So all this blathering about definitional apologetics is just that, blathering. If Christians want to engage books that argue against their faith they exist. Until then, the ONLY valid criticism of the main point of Boghossian’s book is one that can successfully argue his proposals to change the religious landscape won’t work, or on second thought, that if they work it would be bad for the world.

He did well. My advice to him is to not listen to the Christians. They wouldn't have liked what he had to say anyway.