January Counter-Apologetics Course: Now Including Islam!

Logo for Partners for Secular Activism. The letters PSA in blue, in an art decco font, over a light grey watermark of a compass pointing near to north, all on a white backround.Next month I’ll be teaching my popular course Counter-Apologetics: The Best Ways to Refute Arguments for God. And this time I am including material on how to counteract Islamic apologetics. The required course text is still Murray’s comprehensive yet succinct Atheist’s Primer (which you should get as soon as possible in print or Google). Material on how to interact with Islamic apologists will be provided in-course for free, and is based on Dr. Carrier’s considerable experience debating Muslims (in podcasts, stage debates, and articles), and his contact with ex-Muslims, including some who became “ex” because of his work. He can provide key insights from that.

Most of the course will remain focused on generic arguments for and against the existence of God (and miracles and religious experiences generally), because they are equally effective, or equally necessary, against all forms of theism. And special attention will be given as always to popular Christian apologetic tactics and arguments, not only because they are increasingly being adopted and adapted by Muslims in defense of their own religion, but also because by far the largest barrier to material and moral progress, and human and civil rights, in the West, is still Christians and Christianity.

More details on the course structure and content:

Learn how to most effectively dismantle Christian and other theistic 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.

This course will teach you more skills and info to improve your ability to:

  • Inoculate fence-sitters and the misled, by debunking bogus or trick claims (a la Snopes).
  • Discredit the dishonest authorities believers rely upon (thus embarrassing or shocking them into no longer trusting the untrustworthy).
  • Concisely take-down arguments and claims in a way that maximizes cognitive dissonance, and assists in getting the believer to rethink how they think about these arguments and claims.

You can also ask all the questions you’ve ever wanted about this subject, and get answers from an experienced pro, and benefit from his 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), available in print through Amazon and in ebook format from Google Play. Students must purchase either version for the course. Additional course readings will be provided for free, including special lectures on tactics of debate, cognitive science of persuasion, the goals and aims of counter-apologetics, including now distinctive aspects of Islamic apologetics, and how to covertly deploy Bayesian counter-apologetics to confound and disturb the defenders of religion.

As usual, these courses are one month long, and you learn at your own pace and on your own time, and participate as much or as little as you want (many just lurk and read the assigned readings and resulting discussion threads).

Register now!

14 comments

  1. Newton Newt December 14, 2015, 2:41 am

    There are a lot of debates between Muslims and Christians regarding Prophet Muhammad’s prophecies in the Old and New Testaments, including the claim that he is the promised “paracletos” (or something like that). They quote John 14:16 which says that another paraclete will come to educate the disciples, implying that another prophet like him will be sent (It can’t be the Holy Ghost as it was with Jesus at that time). They quote a lot of Western academics who say that this paraclete or “comforter”, etc was only later confounded with the Holy Ghost, but was an independent figure before that.

    This is a pretty big thing with debates on these topics with Christians happening very regularly. There have been several scholars of ancient times having done the same (going back to the 8th century biographer Ibn Ishaq). The correspondence of Leo III and Umar II, even though most likely forgeries, have been dated to the 8th century by several scholars, and even there, this claim about the paraclete keeps coming. You could include this in your counter-apologetics or write an article about it maybe.

    Reply
    1. I actually will be advising against it. Though that’s perfectly fine for an ex-Muslim who knows Arabic, most people lack the requisite background skills or access to resources needed to prevail in such a debate. There are better points of attack than that.

      At most one can just repeat the same generic arguments already learned in response to Christian claims of the same sort: get the proponent to state the facts as they believe them, then show that their own stated facts do not lead logically to their own conclusion (e.g. using the Prophecy Criteria outlined here). But if they start misrepresenting the facts, you often won’t have any way to know they are doing that, or how to prove they are. (Unlike Christians, where there actually are good resources generally available for catching them in a distortion, as I teach in my Intro to New Testament Studies course, which I will also teach again sometime next year; and most atheists already have a lot of background knowledge of Christianity to work with, too; and by historical contingency, most Christian claims have already been ground under by professional and widely available critiques by now, whereas Islam has largely not passed through that crucible yet).

      Reply
  2. Hingle McCringleberry December 15, 2015, 4:04 am

    Dr. Carrier,
    While I am a huge fan of your scholatship, I think that this course might be unnecessary and superfluous. As you have mentioned before, your books, articles and blog posts represent the most in depth, thorough, and accurate treatment available anywhere of a given subject. Your game changing arguments end all rational debate- anyone who still disagrees after reading your argument is either too, ignorant to understand the profound point your making or they lied about reading your arguments to begin with. Counter-apologetics is the same as other topics like philosophy, the existence of Jesus, and Evolutionary Psychology as the arguments are already settled and there is no more rational discussion to be had. All that one needs to do is point out your definitive conclusion on the subject.

    People of lesser intellect than you should not try to present your arguments. Lacking your superior intellect, they are doomed to misrepresent or mangle your ingenious thoughts. What is the point of trying to tamper with perfection?

    Instead of teaching the class that attempts the impossible task of teaching lesser minds to present your work, how about presenting a list of your arguments on the subject of Counter-apologetics along with a list of your works to cite? By learning to simply cite your work instead of attempting to present your v arguments themselves, your students will present the most authoritative arguments on the subject and will automatically win any argument. When I debate Christians, I simply reply back to them with the relevant page numbers from one of your books. This has been devastatingly effective. The arguments of Christian apologists just cannot withstand the force of such intellectual artillery.

    Reply
    1. I don’t think much of anything you just said is true.

      Books aren’t magic spells. You seem to think they are. That’s weird.

      Meanwhile, in the real world…

      Hundreds of people have become better informed and more skilled arguers from my courses. By this means I train more people to carry more of the load of spreading out into the world and generating more widespread cognitive dissonance and eventual apostasy in the religious population. I can’t be everywhere and argue with everyone. But I can train hundreds of people to more effectively do that, and thus extend the reach of my skills and knowledge hundreds of times beyond what I can already accomplish on my own. And those people prefer to be thus better armed, and thus benefit from my past training, education, and experience, since they lack the access to the time to accumulate all that themselves.

      As for lists of my works, they already exist online. I also don’t expect people to rely solely on my work.

      But as Plato said 2400 years ago: You can’t argue with a book. That’s why books aren’t magic spells. You can use books as reference points for an ongoing argument. But with few exceptions, it’s only an organic argument (and often several, with several people, over years) that ever convinces anyone to see things differently than they’ve brainwashed themselves (or been brainwashed by others) to see them.

      Knowing how to navigate the complex labyrinth of defenses and rationalizations and myths that Christian apologists have created and transferred to their populace, requires learning from those who have navigated it. And that’s what my course is about. They are transmitting their apparatus to keep the people duped. We have to transmit our own apparatus to dismantle theirs.

      Reply
  3. Shivam Brahmin December 15, 2015, 11:49 am

    The Koran is corrupt according to the best Hadith.

    Sahih al-Muslim says 2 Koran chapters were forgotten by the people:

    sunnah.com/muslim/12/156

    Sahih al-Bukhari says Ubayy (one of the best reciters and 4 teachers) refused to follow Zayd Ibn Thabit’s Koran (today’s Koran) since it was not the same as his version:

    sunnah.com/bukhari/66/27

    In Jami At-Tirmidhi, Abdullah bin Mas’ud (the best of the 4 teachers) tells people to hide their version of the Koran and not follow Zayd Ibn Thabit’s Koran (today’s Koran):

    sunnah.com/urn/641130

    Reply
    1. I don’t know enough about the texts in question or their history (of transmission or interpretation) to make use of that information.

      So, by all means, go forth and argue that with Muslims. Meanwhile, those of us who don’t have the skillset to do that informedly, have to use other modes of argument.

      Reply
  4. Will this course also be run regularly? I know you said you ran the ‘Historicity of Jesus’ course a couple of times a year, and that seems to be the case for your others from what I’ve seen.

    Reply
  5. i listen to a debate between craig evans and two muslim apologists

    why is it that christians always try to play victim card? “you are persecuting us”

    “jesus said love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

    why would craig evans, living in united states of america, want to tell muslims about this when no muslim is persecuting him or jesus?

    what is the agenda here?

    i am sure he has police protection and has good income and maybe he has family on financial benefits .

    Reply

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