Take My Course on Boghossian’s Making Atheists!

Photo of Peter Boghossian in casual professorial suit attire, gesturing and speaking on philosophy.

I will be co-teaching a class with Peter Boghossian on his book A Manual for Creating Atheists. It starts in a week (September 1), lasts a month, and uses his book as a course text. So if you want to take that class and use the print edition, buy it now! The kindle edition you can buy anytime. Details and registration here. Anyone interested in philosophy, or arguing one-on-one with believers, or creating more atheists or rational people in the world, will benefit from this course.

Indeed, the value of this course is threefold…

(1) Boghossian proposes a particular approach to one-on-one atheist evangelism that is science-and-experience based, and valuable to learn. If you have friends, family members, colleagues, whom you want to escape religion, and improve their standards of belief-formation, this course is for you. If you want to make more atheists through one-on-one interaction with anyone (people you meet on the street, at events, while manning an “Ask an Atheist” booth, anywhere), his book is a must-read, and definitely worth taking a course on, even if you don’t agree with everything it says.

(2) Boghossian’s method is part of what he calls “street epistemology,” and as such it is indeed a valuable study in one particular practical application of a key branch of philosophy, one of particular interest to atheists: epistemology—or theory of knowledge, especially the difference between reliable and unreliable methods of belief formation. So anyone who wants to learn more about philosophy, especially philosophy’s practical uses in the real world, will benefit from this course.

(3) Boghossian might not always be right. But exploring the question of whether and when he is can hone your skills as a philosopher and improve your understanding of philosophy, and the world.

Here is how the course will work…

Richard Carrier is moderating a special webinar about A Manual for Creating Atheists, with author Peter Boghossian visiting for the second half of this September course.

Dr. Peter Boghossian’s recent book A Manual for Creating Atheists is a powerful guide for talking people out of their faith. Study and apply the tools that Peter personally developed and successfully used for more than twenty years as a philosopher and educator. Chapters reveal how to talk with religious people in ways 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.

Your expert guide through this book’s topics for the whole month is Dr. Richard Carrier, and he will be joined by Peter for class discussions and student Q&A during the third and fourth weeks of September. BONUS just for September – Peter will bring to the class his in-development app that teaches users how to employ a step-by-step guide to reasoning people out of unreason. Perhaps you will make a contribution to the fine-tuning of Peter’s powerful new project!

Advisory: this class is filling up already, so register early

And for those who want to know how an online course like this works:

Specific reading and discussion goals are set for each week, but within that framework you can participate in every part on your own time. There are no live events to be missed. [The o]ne book by Peter Boghossian is required reading. Everything else about the course is provided inside the classroom website. Course lectures, academic papers, links to websites, and forums for discussions with the instructors and the students are included in the Moodle website classroom. Visit the class anytime to contribute your posts and receive Dr. Carrier and Dr. Boghossian’s replies in discussion forums.

In other words, you can participate as much or as little as you want, and participate at any time, day or night, any days of the week. All on your own schedule. You can ask me (and in the last two weeks, both of us) any question you have about the book and its themes and approach. This is a great opportunity to bend the year of two well-trained philosophers, including the actual author of an important book of special interest to atheist activists. (Boghossian has a Ph.D. in philosophy and teaches the subject at Portland State University; I have a Ph.D. in the history of philosophy and have published several peer reviewed papers in philosophy.)

We will especially be doing two things throughout the course: examining Boghossian’s book critically, with an eye to learning from it or improving it (so anyone concerned about his treatment of certain subjects in it, like feminism, this is your chance to talk about it constructively with the author) and building and improving conversation trees (flow charting every possible direction a conversation with a theist can go, and using that knowledge to optimize the effectiveness of your moving them toward sound reason and evidence-based belief). Ever have a question like, “How do I argue this point, or get past this barrier, or get around these defenses in conversation with someone?” Then this course is the place to ask about that and get advice from not just one, but two experts.

I hope to see a lot of participants joining in and helping with both projects, politely and productively!

Register here. Class begins September 1. (After you register you’ll be sent log-in information a day or two before launch.)


  1. says

    If I were not away from home on business for most of September and knee-deep in a time-consuming project, I would be interested in this course.

    However it might be of interest to teacher and students to take a look at a multi-part series written by a Christian apologist/philosopher supposedly taking apart Boghossian’s book. I have not yet read “The Manual” so cannot testify to the validity of his counter-argument (the specific book-review posts are easy to find via the “Peter Boghossian” cloud tag)


    Incidentally I just discovered in confirming his site that he also recently added an analysis of your arguments in “Why I am not a Christian.”

    • says

      I don’t follow your point. Is he talking about actual college courses? Which are prohibitively expensive and not even physically accessible to most people (who don’t live near a university, much less the one he is talking about, or any that offer comparable courses).

      And he rambles too much on side issues to get anything like an efficient critique of the book. I don’t see that as a useful reference. Unless someone has days and days to spend wading through it all and comparing it to the book. And even then you’d get better results by then asking any remaining questions you have after doing that to the instructors in Carrier-Boghossian.

      P.S. If you want to send the exact link to his critique of my book, feel free to do that here. I won’t necessarily write a rebuttal (there are zillions of these things, most are not worth the bother of addressing, because the book already refutes them as written). But I can take a look to see if it would be worth any bother.

  2. says

    The only point is passing the link along was as an FYI for anyone interested in the topic and as a critical thinking exercise in evaluating an analysis of the book from someone a bit smarter than your average apologist hack. Not intended to be a part of the class.

    At any rate, the direct link to the review of your book is here:



  3. Isaac says

    I like Pete and his book. I think we should be heading into more civil discussions with believers and this book endorses that.

    I disagree with this tweet from him however:
    “Feminists will be taken seriously when they spend at least as much time criticizing abuses of women in the 3rd world as they do in the 1st.”

    This shouldn’t make his other work invalid, it just bugs me. I assume you go through this with people who you respect on certain subjects. Do you have any thoughts on this issue?

    • says

      Oh yes, he puts his foot in his mouth a lot, especially on twitter.

      That case in point, he clearly isn’t reading many feminists. They talk about the 3rd world all the time. Some of the feminist writers here on our very blog network come from the 3rd world. Worse, to suggest they should give equal time to the societies they can’t affect as to the society they have to live in, is profoundly ignorant. That’s like saying “atheists will be taken seriously when they spend at least as much time criticizing abuses of church-state separation in the 3rd world as they do in the 1st.” That would be embarrassing for him to say, so obviously absurd would it be. Yet it’s saying essentially the same thing.

      And there are more cases than just that.

      Like Dawkins, he doesn’t realize twitter is a terrible medium for making nuanced arguments. And he too readily pronounces knowledge in subjects he has little studied and thought even less about.

      My thoughts are to see if this can be changed. If it can’t, I’ll have to roll my eyes and write him off. But if it can, progress.

  4. SF says

    So how’s this working out. You seem to have no effect on his tweets. Guessing no future collaborations, given his twitter stances compared to yours.