My review of the great Boghossian/McGrew Debate of 2014 elicited one irksome criticism and it related to the opening sentence in which I referred to Peter Boghossian as “the atheist bigot” and Tim McGrew as “the brilliant Christian philosopher”. The criticism, which I encountered in both Facebook and Twitter, went something like this: “Hrumph. That’s not very objective.”
Boghossian is a bigot
This is irksome because those who make claim must be ignorant of Boghossian and/or McGrew. Let’s start with Boghossian’s alleged bigotry.
A bigot is a person who is intolerant of a creed, belief or opinion that differs from theirs. In Boghossian’s case, my charge is that he is bigoted against those he deems religious. As I have already noted, Boghossian claims that religious people who disagree with him are brain-damaged. Moreover, he advocates forcible medical treatment of these individuals:
“There is perhaps no greater contribution one could make to contain and perhaps even cure faith than removing the exemption that prohibits classifying religious delusions as mental illness. The removal of religious exemptions from the DSM would enable academicians and clinicians to bring considerable resources to bear on the problem of treating faith, as well as on the ethical issues surrounding faith-based interventions. In the long term, once these treatments and this body of research is refined, results could then be used to inform public health policies designed to contain and ultimately eradicate faith.” Peter Boghossian A Manual for Creating Atheists (Kindle Locations 3551-3555).
That certainly qualifies as bigotry in my book. Given that Boghossian has such widespread support in the “skeptic” community, one can only conclude that anti-free-thought bigotry is disturbingly widespread within this community. One shudders to think what would happen if people with this twisted view of the world should ever achieve positions of power where they could implement Boghossian’s vision.
Can you imagine if Boghossian were writing instead about another group? Imagine, for example, that he claimed all feminists who disagreed with him were brain-damaged. And he went on to suggest that feminist belief should be treated as a mental disorder so that feminism could be “eradicated” from society. In that case, how long do you think he would have his teaching position at Portland State University?
Is Tim McGrew brain-damaged?
I have already taken the view that Tim McGrew is brilliant. But in Boghossian’s world anybody who persists in disagreeing with his “street epistemology” is either intellectually dishonest or brain-damaged. And so, as I noted in my review of the debate, Boghossian concluded his participation by making the following claim:
“I think anybody who sincerely listened to this conversation knows exactly that I am correct and that this is how the overwhelming majority of people have it.”
Presumably that includes McGrew as well. So according to Boghossian, McGrew’s persistent disagreement is attributable either to intellectual dishonesty (he really does recognize Boghossian is right but is not “sincere” enough to admit it) or McGrew is brain-damaged. Those are the choices that Boghossian gives us.
In Boghossian’s world
In Peter Boghossian’s world everybody agrees with Peter Boghossian.
Or they’re a liar.
But things aren’t as bad as you might have thought. You see, in the debate Peter told us that billions of people do agree with him. Presumably that’s at least two billion. Or 2 out of every 7 people on earth. Wow, that’s some extensive polling!
So things aren’t that bad: only about five billion people are brain-damaged.
Good to know. I was starting to get worried.