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What’s Going On With Peter Boghossian?

Posted on Jun 19, 2014 by Tom Gilson

This entry is part 14 of 14 in the series Peter Boghossian

I can’t help wondering what’s going on with Peter Boghossian.

In his debate with Tim McGrew on Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable a few weeks ago, he made no defense of his “pretending to know” definition for faith.

In that debate he made a move toward backing down on his definition, “belief without evidence.” Shortly after that his good friend James Lindsay said he really intended it to mean, “belief based on insufficient evidence.” Though I haven’t listened to it myself, I’m told that Boghossian put it that way himself in a podcast with Ignoranti not long ago.

It would appear from these developments that he is retreating on that front.

I’m told he also said in that interview that he’s getting burned out on atheism.

Meanwhile, he’s taking heat from other atheists and skeptics. The Council for Secular Humanism has criticized him severely for his extremism. The Godless Skeptic has dubbed him the “Deepak Chopra of Atheism,” mostly on account of strange things Boghossian has said on Twitter.

Many of his recent tweets have had the appearance of aphorisms, without benefit of common sense. Here’s one that could only be true if faith had nothing to do with believing:

Faith: Attempting to fool oneself because one thinks being fooled makes one a better person. #religion #tragedy

One problem there is that no one can possibly choose to believe what one knows one is fooling oneself into believing. It involves believing and disbelieving the same thing at the same time–something not even Boghossian says the faithful can do.

His Twitter feed is turning bizarre in other, even more obvious ways, with statements like, “Being published in the philosophy of religion should disqualify one from sitting at the adult table,” which relegates many not just believers, but also many prominent atheists to his “Kids Table.”

He also tweeted, “Philosophy needs to be rescued from metaphysics,” which is certain to alienate many other philosophers. He said so himself: “I’m looking forward to publishing my paper arguing that metaphysics has no place in the academy. Then I’ll have a new set of enemies!”

What’s going on with Boghossian?

Related: Peter Boghossian ostracizing atheist/agnostic philosophers at A Remonstrant’s Ramblings

 

Series Navigation (Peter Boghossian):<<< An Open Letter to Peter Boghossian On “Doxastic Openness”
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10 Responses to “ What’s Going On With Peter Boghossian? ”

  1. Billy Squibs says:

    Perhaps he’s just been living in an echo chamber for so long that this is a reflexive response to push-back he has been receiving in the real world. I can’t help but wonder if his star is now falling and that his is aware of it. The Unbelievable discussion can’t have helped him much for those sitting on the fence.

    Incidentally, I’m glad to see him receive some flack from fellow atheists. Even if it appears to have taken a while it’s welcome. Though I note that Lindsay and Loftus are still tenaciously defending him.

    I’m curious, Tom, do you think that Boghossian will still have as big an impact as you initially thought? I had had thought that his book was going to be a game changer (and therefore worthy of reading). Now I think I’ve saved myself €15.

  2. BillT says:

    Holo has taken much flack for his opinion regarding the effects of atheism on one’s rational faculties. Then you look at this kind of thing from Bogassian or some of Dawkins’ more unhinged proclamations and it certainly makes at least aprima facie case.

  3. Leif says:

    Hi Tom

    RE:
    //His Twitter feed is turning bizarre in other, even more obvious ways, with statements like, “Being published in the philosophy of religion should disqualify one from sitting at the adult table,” which relegates many not just believers, but also many prominent atheists to his “Kids Table.”//

    User “James Houston” attempts to answer your above question…Please see his answer below

    “I get the impression Peter thinks atheist philosophers are doing something disreputable by engaging with theistic arguments in philosophy journals. Atheist philosophers of religion give theism and apologetics an undeserved semblance of ‘credibility’ by engaging with it within ‘the academy’ – by doing so they are feeding the theological cuckoo in the academic nest. The childishness lies in playing the apologist’s game..

    That’s my take on what he’s saying anyway. I don’t know what I think about it.

    But maybe what’s fit for popular books, blogs and so on just is no longer deserving of a place in philosophy journals any more, And whilst it may be a good that new philosophy students get taught a taste of the traditional arguments for and against God’s existence, maybe, just maybe, its a waste of a good philosopher’s talents and time to devote his working life to studying and refuting their forever tinkered-with variations.

    I honestly don’t know.”
    .
    source: http://www.skepticink.com/notung/2014/06/19/in-defence-of-the-philosophy-of-religion/
    .
    .

  4. Doug says:

    Yes… another prime example of New Atheist “reason”: why bother engaging a philosophical issue when you can beg the question and hence relegate its consideration to the “kiddie table”?

  5. JAD says:

    [Boghossian] also tweeted, “Philosophy needs to be rescued from metaphysics,” which is certain to alienate many other philosophers. He said so himself: “I’m looking forward to publishing my paper arguing that metaphysics has no place in the academy. Then I’ll have a new set of enemies!”

    There is no metaphysical/ ontological grounding for Boghossian’s epistemology? How does he know that a real “out there” world exists? You can’t answer that question without looking at the logical alternatives. When you are doing that you are doing metaphysics– like it or not.

  6. Ray Ingles says:

    Thankfully, atheism doesn’t have a hierarchy or creed. So other atheists are free to dismiss him without contradiction.

  7. scblhrm says:

    Yes, lacking the means to produce any innate loyalty to the innate value of Life, Truth, or Love does grant atheism quite a wide range of motion in the arena of ideas. “Whatever” is the only word that surfaces….

  8. JAD says:

    Here is a great point:

    The only points at which the New Atheists seem to invite any serious intellectual engagement are those at which they try to demonstrate that all the traditional metaphysical arguments for the reality of God fail. At least, this should be their most powerful line of critique, and no doubt would be if any of them could demonstrate a respectable understanding of those traditional metaphysical arguments, as well as an ability to refute them. Curiously enough, however, not even the trained philosophers among them seem able to do this. And this is, as far as I can tell, as much a result of indolence as of philosophical ineptitude.
    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2010/05/believe-it-or-not

    I can’t add anything that improves on that.

  9. William says:

    I have been praying for him and others for quite some time. That he find faith as it were.

  10. Nigel Owen says:

    “Philosophy needs to be rescued from metaphysics,”

    Is this possible?
    I mean can you separate philosophy from metaphysics and still call it philosophy?

    can anyone clarify this?

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