Anyone read "Manual for creating atheist"?
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08-02-2014, 08:09 PM
RE: Anyone read "Manual for creating atheist"?
I am currently reading it. I will offer an opinion when I am done. I did just hit one part that bugged me though. I know this is really just nitpicking, but in his example of using the Socratic method, and introducing doubt to a hypothesis, he highlights this hypothetical exchange:

Person A: “Is there intelligent life on other planets?” [Note: Stage of wonder]

Person B: “Yes, there must be. I think the universe is just too large for there not to be.” [Note: Stage of hypothesis]

Socratic Interlocutor: “Well, to paraphrase Carl Sagan, ‘We could be the first; someone had to be the first and it could be us.’” [Note: Stage of counterexample and beginning of the elenchus, which causes the epiphany of ignorance]

He then goes on to explain that:

"Using the example of life on other planets, one condition to make the hypothesis false would be if we were the first intelligent life forms to arise. If it is the case that we’re the first intelligent life forms to emerge, then by definition this means there is currently no intelligent life on other planets."

Now, I realize it is inconsequential to the overall point, but just because we are hypothetically the first intelligent life in the universe does not by definition mean there is currently no intelligent life on other planets. There could currently be intelligent life on other planets that has just recently started to spring up even though we were first.
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10-02-2014, 12:05 AM
RE: Anyone read "Manual for creating atheist"?
I just finished the book. Overall I liked it. I think, as with a lot of books on this type of subject, some people may find it a drag to read through. I think he has good ideas on how to get people to think critically, and the points he makes about not coming off confrontational because people will close up is great advice. However, I think the use of evidence in an argument is also valuable, so a combination of his strategy and the ones used by Dawkins would be ideal. For instance, when using his method, once you get somebody to reach doxastic openness, that might be a good time to introduce some evidence based arguments.
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