Faith & Self Defense

Building Confidence Through Evidence

Street Epistemology – Take Two

I began writing about an atheist evangelistic project called “street epistemology” four years ago. A friend emailed me about a new book that was about to be published entitled “A Manual for Creating Atheists” by Dr. Peter Boghossian. The book was released November 1, 2013, and I wrote my first response to it two weeks later.

I’ve written many articles about street epistemology since then, including an eBook titled “Street Epistemologists – ‘On Guard'”. The reason I’ve spent years writing about street epistemology is because it appears to me to be what could become one of the most powerful methods of how atheist evangelists try to “talk people out of their faith.” That’s a direct quote from Boghossian’s book. That is the primary purpose for street epistemology and explains why I use the term ‘atheist evangelist’ when describing street epistemologists.

Michael Shermer in his foreword to “A Manual for Creating Atheist” wrote this:

“If I started reading A Manual for Creating Atheists as a Christian I would have been an atheist by the time I finished it. Peter Boghossian’s book is the perfect companion to Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. They should be bundled like an atheist software package to reprogram minds into employing reason instead of faith, science instead of superstition.”

Shermer’s foreward explains well the purpose of the book. Atheist evangelists, street epistemologists, desire to reprogram the minds of people who believe in God. They want to “create atheists.” Much of their work is done with students on university campuses, thus the need to share this information with Christian parents and students.

Dr. Boghossian wrote this in the first chapter of his book:

“This book will teach you how to talk people out of their faith. You’ll learn how to engage the faithful in conversations that help them value reason and rationality, cast doubt on their beliefs, and mistrust their faith. I call this activist approach to helping people overcome their faith, ‘Street Epistemology.’ The goal of this book is to create a generation of Street Epistemologists: people equipped with an array of dialectical and clinical tools who actively go into the streets, and the community–into any and every place the faithful reside–and help them abandon their faith and embrace reason.” (A Manual For Creating Atheists, Peter Boghossian, Chapter I, Pitchstone Publishing, 2013)

Boghossian and the other atheist evangelists who follow him are working diligently to talk people out of their faith. They want Christians to “abandon their faith.” They use the idea of “embrace reason” as if Christians can’t come to faith in Christ through reason. The reason I am no longer an atheist is because of “reason.” Ratio Christi, the ministry I work with on university campuses, means “The Reason of Christ.” Reason is at the heart of Christianity.

Atheist street epistemologists have grown in number and organization since 2013. The idea of atheist evangelists with their cameras and white boards spreading across the globe (now on five continents) for the express purpose of talking people out of their faith in God is concerning enough to warrant a review of what material we have and to take on another in-depth uncovering of the methods and tactics of street epistemologists.

We hope you will share this ongoing series with parents and students you know. Our goal is that Christians will no longer think of Christianity as blind faith, but will realize that it is a full and robust presentation of truth and reality.

We begin with our first article from almost four years ago and will publish another article every day until we have reviewed all of the current information about street epistemology (including that of other Christian apologists). We will then introduce new material about the methods and tactics of street epistemologists.

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3 thoughts on “Street Epistemology – Take Two

  1. Carson on said:

    I wasn’t able to reply to your previous comment.
    I see few significant differences between how I practice SE and how SE is described by Boghossian.
    Why should seeking to understand Christians’ reasons for believing be mutually exclusive with seeking to talk them out of faith, supposing that faith is unreliable? This is in fact the primary method set forward in Boghossian’s book.
    Also, I don’t think you’ve addressed whether ‘avoiding facts’ is a bad thing in this context, considering the fact that SE is about deconstructing an argument, not supporting a new one.

    • Hi, Carson. Since you see few significant differences between how you practice street epistemology and how the author of A Manual for Creating Atheists describes it, what I’ve written about street epistemology in previous posts would cover your practice of it as well.

      You asked – “Why should seeking to understand Christians’ reasons for believing be mutually exclusive with seeking to talk them out of faith, supposing that faith is unreliable? This is in fact the primary method set forward in Boghossian’s book.”

      A key phrase here is “supposing that faith is unreliable.” You and Boghossian and other street epistemologists are misrepresenting the definition of belief in God. Christians from the early part of the 1st century AD have based their belief in Jesus Christ on evidence .. not as Boghossian proposes that it is belief without evidence and pretending to know things you don’t know. Both of those definitions are incorrect. Since, as you say, it is the foundational belief for the primary method set forward in Boghossian’s book, your conclusion fails from the first premise. Asking people questions that come from a faulty conclusion is not a good way to discover truth. Belief based on evidence is reliable.

      I think I have addressed whether ‘avoiding facts’ is a bad thing in this context, but let me be clear. ‘Avoiding facts’ is a bad thing in this context. You are attempting to deconstruct an argument on the basis of avoiding facts. You and Boghossian don’t have a problem with avoiding facts. I do. Facts are basic to discovering truth. Avoid facts – avoid truth. Make sense?

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