Some Atheists Seek to Create Doubt, Not Reveal Truth

by Amy K. Hall

Philosopher Peter Boghossian has developed a version of Tactics for atheists in his popular A Manual for Creating Atheists. But unlike Stand to Reason’s tactics (see here for some of my thoughts on their purpose), it seems his approach is more concerned with using possible counterexamples to create doubt than it is with clarifying thinking to reveal truth. For example, he says,

Showing someone doesn’t have the necessary justification to warrant belief in a claim in which they’re certain is fairly easy…. [A]ll one has to do is find some condition that could possibly hold that undermines the truth potential for the belief in question. [Emphasis mine. See my post on “possible” vs. “reasonable” regarding this tactic.]

The goal of Boghossian’s “treatments” is to create psychological doubt in his “subjects.” (Though, as he says, “Sometimes, even after years of treatment, the faith virus is not separated from its host.”)

The following “intervention” from his book (minus the parts of his commentary that aren’t relevant to this post) illustrates the problem with this approach…
 

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Some Atheists Seek to Create Doubt, Not Reveal Truth