Learn to Refute Christian and Muslim Apologetics (On Special Discount!)

Come be my student next month! My online course for February is “Counter-Apologetics: Learning the Best Ways to Refute Arguments for God.” It includes special advice on arguing against Islam as well as both liberal and conservative Christianity, tips and tactics of in-person and online argument and debate, the most effective way to frame ten key arguments for atheism so that theists can’t get around them (without looking silly), and a whole lot else. It’s affordable and has no scheduled events, it’s all learn-at-your-own-pace and ask-all-the-questions-you-want, and you can participate as much or as little as you like.

And this time there is a special coupon code you can use to get $20 off the tuition!

So join us! And let everyone know who you think might be interested in taking advantage of this deal.

Register at The Secular Academy.

And when prompted, enter coupon code 2277437 at registration. That will get you the whole course for only $59 (or if you are going for an Academy Certificate, $119).

Then purchase the course text, Malcolm Murray’s The Atheist’s Primer, at Google Play or Amazon.


There are many benefits to taking this course. Here are several to consider…

You can improve your ability to inoculate fence-sitters and the misled by debunking bogus or trick claims (so you can be your own Snopes); to discredit the dishonest authorities believers rely upon (thus embarrassing or shocking them into no longer trusting the untrustworthy); to concisely take-down arguments and claims in a way that maximizes cognitive dissonance; and to get a believer to rethink how they think about their own arguments and claims.

I will also be discussing tactics and advice for engaging both formal and informal debates, based on my extensive experience with both.

The official course description:

Learn how to most effectively dismantle Christian and Islamic apologetics in the public arena from Dr. Richard Carrier, a published historian and philosopher with a decade of experience in formal and informal debate, cross-media counter-apologetics, and the history and philosophy of religion and naturalism. You will consult targeted readings, answer challenge questions, engage in moderated discussions, and you can ask all the questions you’ve ever wanted about this subject, and get answers from an experienced pro.

You’ll also benefit from Dr. Carrier’s instructive commentary on the required course text, which is the little known yet essential guide to the subject, Dr. Malcolm Murray’s The Atheist’s Primer (Broadview Press 2010). It’s back in print (though used copies are also available on Amazon, their delivery may be slow). And it’s also readily available and very affordable in ebook format through Google Play. You’ll need it as the main course text. Additional course readings will be provided for free, including special lectures on tactics of debate, the cognitive science of persuasion, the goals and aims of counter-apologetics, and how to understand and covertly deploy Bayesian counter-apologetics to confound and disturb the defenders of religion (and without even using math).

Register now!


  1. Sam Hoff January 22, 2018, 12:30 pm

    Muhammad revealed Quran 4:24 to pressure his followers to rape married women.

    If you look at Ibn Kathir and the Hadith, we get the following story:

    -Muhammad’s own followers initially refused to rape kidnapped married women, since their husbands were still alive.

    -As a result of this refusal, Muhammad reveals verse 4:24 which encourages raping married women “your right hands possess” i.e. kidnapped.

    Links to Ibn Kathir and Hadith:




    Ibn Kathir says:

    “The Ayah means, you are prohibited from marrying women who are already married, except those whom your right hands possess, except those whom you acquire through war, for you are allowed such women after making sure they are not pregnant. Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri said, “We captured some women from the area of Awtas who were already married, and we disliked having sexual relations with them because they already had husbands. So, we asked the Prophet about this matter, and this Ayah was revealed, Also (forbidden are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess. Consequently, we had sexual relations with these women.

    1. Note though that Quran 4.24 in full context says:

      And all married women, except those you rightfully possess. This is God’s decree, binding upon you. Permitted for you are those that lie outside these limits, provided you seek them in legal marriage, with gifts from your property, seeking wedlock, not prostitution. If you wish to enjoy them, then give them their dowry—a legal obligation. You commit no error by agreeing to any change to the dowry. God is All-Knowing, Most Wise.

      Note it says “provided you seek them in legal marriage” and specifically not make prostitutes of them. In other words, it is not allowing “rape” in the sense of just having sex with married woman. Insofar as it is allowing rape, it’s only in the same sense as all ancient marriage often constituted rape: women were not typically given all that much choice as to who they were to marry (nor had the right to refuse sex to a legal husband).

      Verse 23 essentially repeats a version of Jewish Levitical marriage exclusions, and verse 24 essentially expands the Deuteronomic allowance of marrying the captive wives of enemy soldiers (complete with waiting period). The only difference, is that Deuteronomy required them to be widows, and the Quran does not. But in this respect, it just essentially means pagan marriages are not recognized as valid, or as surviving conquest (i.e. dissolution of the enemy’s rule of law, likewise dissolves all marriages made under it). It still of course implies forced or coerced marriage; but not much different than the Bible already does. So there isn’t anything all that new or remarkable here.

      Moreover, liberal readers can take this verse as requiring the woman’s consent. For instance, it does not say the woman’s consent is not required. Of course, we know that in its ancient context, the notion of a woman consenting to a marriage was not the usual, so we know what this verse really means. It means the same thing as Deut. 21:10-12. But a modern “reformer” could read it as compatible with modern women’s rights, as the verse doesn’t actually say the woman need not consent (“provided you seek them” can be imagined to mean ask them, woo them, etc.). In that “reformed” reading, the verse would be read as saying conquered people’s marriage contracts are voided; and you are therefore allowed to ask those women to marry you.

      I can imagine an apologist might also try to quibble about the underlying grammar in Arabic, which most people won’t be able to vet, not knowing Arabic. For instance, does “already married” and “already had husbands” mean currently, or in the past? In other words, is this just a clumsy restatement of the Deuteronomy rule?

      1. Sam Hoff January 25, 2018, 11:27 am

        You can’t read the verse without the associated Sahih Hadith.

        Which is I went through the trouble of linking to them and quoting Ibn Kathir.

        I agree the passage on its own in the Quran doesn’t sound too terrible.

        1. Actually, you can read the verse without the Hadith. There are actual sects of Islam that reject all Hadith! And there is more than one Hadith. And different sects adopt different ones. And treat the Hadith in different ways.

          This is like saying “the Pope says Paul endorsed salvation through faith and not works.” That in no way means Christians agree that’s what Paul said (because most Christians reject the authority of the Pope; and for hundreds of years there was no Pope with any such authority to interpret scripture), nor that that’s what even Catholics have always said that’s what Paul said, nor does it mean that that’s what Paul said (it arguably isn’t).

          This is why we have to be more savvy about how we critique religions, especially ones more unfamiliar to us. Forgetting that Islam is sectarian is a major mistake. It would be the same folly as attacking Catholicism and claiming to have refuted an Evangelical.

          Moreover, even if one wanted to limit your point to saying only that (to keep the analogy going) you are arguing against Catholicism and not all Christianity, you also still have to get right what Catholicism is and says. So, for example, which Islamic sects would agree with the Hadith you selected? How might even those sects differ among each other, or within each other, regarding how that Hadith is to be interpreted or used? (After all, different interpreters even within the same sect may have different ideas of what authority the Hadith has or how it should be interpreted or used; and across sects, even more so.)

        2. I should also add, it’s also well-known the Hadith is full of fabricated and interpolated entries. Just because one passage in it claims “Mohammed” said or did something, actually doesn’t reliably mean he did. Even any of the purported authors of any statement in the Hadith may be a later fiction snuck into the text. Making even its use for secular historical interpretation problematic.

    2. And what I just wrote above is an example of what you can get out of a course like this: posing problems and arguments for review and advice, you can learn specific ideas, as well as general rules, as in this case: when combating apologetics, one has to be wary of two traps:

      1. The apologetical use of an arguer’s ignorance of Arabic.

      Such uses are not always honest. So without an Arab speaker to vet what they say, you can’t know if they are snowing you, or making a valid point. It’s just the same thing Christians attempt with Hebrew and Greek, expecting most people not to be able to argue either. Generally, you are stuck here, unless you can find commentary by an actual expert in that language that undermines or refutes the apologists’ claims about the language used in a verse. Ex-Muslim commentators often do write things like this. But not every verse and apologetic has been treated this way. You may need to cultivate Arab-speaking Ex-Muslim friends to consult when arguments from language come up.

      1. The exegetical fallacy.

      From within a believer’s worldview, what a holy text “means” is not bound to its original context. As it came from a God knowing the future, they can legitimately say God intended the verse to be taken in the most moral sense possible, and therefore the text can be re-interpreted in the context of modern moral understanding. This is what Christians do with the NT and OT all the time. It’s deeply problematic (the course text covers some of what’s wrong with it; and so does Avalos’s book The End of Biblical Studies). But you should be ready for it. You can too easily be talking past each other if you simply “assume” an atheistic worldview (wherein texts mean what their human authors historically are likely to have meant) and they simply “assume” an theistic worldview (wherein texts mean what they think a universal perfectly moral God would be likely to mean). You need to be ready to address the exegetical argument; and making a historical argument, doesn’t address the exegetical argument.

    1. Please email admin@secularactivism.org right away and explain exactly what went wrong (where did things not work, and how did it communicate to you what you were charged, etc.).

      They can’t see any problem. So they need a lot of reports with details so they can figure out what’s going on. Possibly you were indeed only charged $59 and the system misreported to you what it actually did. Or possibly the code didn’t work for some reason to do with your type of browser and OS (in which case they need to know that so they can fix whatever is going wrong). Or something else. But they need data to diagnose it.

      And yes, they should also be able to process a refund. We want to ensure you get the discount. I apologize for these difficulties.

  2. Freethinker January 27, 2018, 4:21 am

    hi my country i.e Pakistan is not appearing in the credit card drop down list. furthermore my country doesnot appear in paypal country list either. How should I pay ?


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