DR. PETER BOGHOSSIAN is a full-time faculty member in Portland State University's philosophy department who is well known around campus for directly challenging his student's faith-based beliefs. He's also had his fair share of criticism for such recent public lectures as "Jesus, the Easter Bunny, and Other Delusions: Just Say No!" and "Faith as a Cognitive Sickness," which drew hundreds of attendees.
MERCURY: You often speak out against faith, calling it a delusion and a cognitive sickness. How come?
PETER BOGHOSSIAN: Because enough is enough. A lot of people are sick and tired of being held hostage to the delusions of others, and I'm one of those people. I think that people are hungry for a frank, honest discussion about things—particularly about faith. To profess things you don't know for certain, and then claim the reason for your justification is faith? That doesn't contribute to the conversation. That's the end of the conversation.
How do you handle it in class when someone makes a faith-based claim?
I use the Socratic method—it's a way of asking people certain targeted questions. It's pointless for me to tell someone that their reasoning is wrong. Why should they listen to me? It's much better to help people understand why their reasoning is wrong so they can correct that.