I would love to write an extensive commentary on the discussion between Tim McGrew and Peter Boghossian but, for reasons I explained the other day, I’m unable to do so right now. Whether there’s even a need for me to do so is questionable since some very good responses have already appeared on the internet. So here are some links to some I think are worth reading.
You can find the discussion here:
Randal Rauser has a reflection on the debate which can be found here Tim McGrew gives Peter Boghossian an unbelievable public drubbing.
I think it would be pretty difficult to disagree with Rauser on the issue of whether Boghossian qualifies as a bigot or not.
Wintery Knight has an overview of the conversation and a poll where you can express your opinion on what you mean by the word faith: Tim McGrew debates Peter “Bogo the Clown” Boghossian on the definition of faith
Nick Peters has responded over at ‘Deeper Waters’ Tim McGrew vs. Peter Boghossian.
J.W. Wartick has written a piece on his blog “Is Faith a False Epistemology?”- Debate Review: Tim McGrew vs. Peter Boghossian.
There are a few comments over at THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM Unbelievable : Peter Boghossian vs Tim McGrew – Debate on ‘A Manual For Creating Atheists”
Graham Veale has a piece over at Saints and Sceptics: Faith: Simple Lessons for New Atheists.
Those are the main ones as far as I can see.
Personally I cannot understand how any rational person could think that Street Epistemology is a valid or useful approach to the ongoing dialogue between theists and atheists after that discussion.
Boghossian’s entire argument in summary:
Okay so Christians don’t agree with my first definition of faith? Here’s a second. Oh, they don’t agree with my second definition of faith? Here’s a third. Oh, the third one is a bit ambiguous and seems to be closer to the orthodox usage of the word? Well let’s go with that then. Let’s see if Christians agree with that definition and if they do I’ll twist it so they’re conceding something they’re really not!
At the end of the show Boghossian asked if the “vast majority” of Christians use the word faith the way he uses it (after three revisions). Here are the results from the Unbelievable poll:
I guess the question now is whether Boghossian is doxastically open enough to permit the empirical evidence to change his mind or whether he will continue to believe something in the face of evidence to the contrary.
Of course Boghossian finished by trying to get the poll to be aligned to his THIRD definition of faith and not either of the two in his book.
Notice this statement in his finishing comments:
“I think anybody who sincerely listened to this conversation knows exactly that I’m correct and that this is how the overwhelming majority of people have it.”
Boghossian has already given himself a way out of ignoring the empirical evidence. He will write off everyone who doesn’t agree with him with an ad hominem. How can someone who teaches critical thinking be engaging in such tactics?
Today the Christian philosopher Guillaume Bignon tweeted this:
“That a proposition’s being possibly false is compatible with its being very probably true is lost on too many debaters.”
I certainly think Peter Boghossian misses that point and dozens of others as well.
Happy reading and I hope to see you again in a couple of months!
More on Tim McGrew:
Here is an extremely good historical survey of the word faith by Wessel:
PS. Did you spot Boghossian’s attempt to poison the well at the beginning of the discussion with McGrew? If not, here’s him doing it again in retrospect on Twitter:
222 retweets for that! Critical thinking is still unpopular! No doubt my response will go unanswered! Boghossian probably has some private, non-standard, definition of ‘theologian’ that he’s using here anyway.
Next time you see one of these at a Boghossian lecture, you might want to ask for a definition before you sit down!
This is an interesting piece I only just spotted on what it’s like to have private email correspondence with Peter Boghossian: