Hank Hanegraaff is the host of a radio talk show called “Bible Answer Man,” and as the Christian Post has pointed out, he has a warning for Christians. In a Facebook video posted on Tuesday, Hanegraaff warned Christians to avoid evangelical atheists who use tactics of “street epistemology” to make Christians look foolish.
Street epistemology as used here originates with Peter Boghossian’s book A Manual for Creating Atheists. It has gained further traction thanks to the efforts of people like Anthony Magnabosco, who has a YouTube channel full of videos he has recorded in which he employs the methods discussed in Boghossian’s book. Further resources are available at www.streetepistemology.com.
Hanegraaff pointed to research by Travis Dickinson for the Christian Research Institute which documents atheist evangelists hitting the streets with cameras recording their interactions with Christians (like Magnabosco) and showing the responses Christians have when asked why they believe. Hanegraaff explained that the motivation for this behavior is to capture those moments where Christians look foolish and spread the videos online in an attempt to “eradicate the virus of faith.”
Despite the warning, Hanegraaff was actually thankful for street epistemology, because he sees it as being beneficial to Christians who have become “lazy and apathetic about their faith.”
In his book, Peter Boghossian describes faith as belief without evidence or, another way Boghossian puts it, “pretending to know things you do not know.” Hanegraaff took offense to this and tried (pathetically) to argue that faith is “a state of trust grounded in reason and evidence.” He continued, “We do not believe what we know ain't so, rather we believe on the basis of common sense and rationality and evidence.”
Right, sure you do, Hank.
If you have not read Peter Boghossian’s book, I definitely recommend it. And check out Magnabosco’s videos, too. The idea of using Socratic dialectical tools, bolstered by an understanding of some of the basics of clinical intervention models, can be a powerful strategy for helping those with strong faith convictions see the value in more honest ways of thinking.