A Manual for Creating Atheists Who Create Straw Men

by Tim Barnett

It’s important to read books you don’t agree with. There are many reasons for doing this. For instance, it forces us to think critically. When we onlysurround ourselves with voices that are all saying the same thing, we can drift towards intellectual paralysis. It may also get us to engage new ideas we never considered before. In some cases, it may even lead us to change our minds.

These are all important reasons to read books we know we will disagree with. But the most important reason is to understand the opposing point of view. After all, a view can only be properly assessed after it is properly understood.

When we—wittingly or unwittingly—misunderstand an opposing view, it’s easy to erect a straw man. A straw man argument is when you misrepresent a view in order to refute it. A straw man is a lot easier to knock over than a real man. In the same way, a straw man argument is a lot easier to refute than the real argument.

This brings me to a book I’m currently reading…

A Manual for Creating Atheists Who Create Straw Men

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