Let Socrates Teach You How to Cast Doubt on Faith

In conjunction with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, American philosopher Dr. Peter Boghossian and his team have released the first ever critical thinking app, Atheos, designed to help people have productive, respectful conversations about religion, gods, and the supernatural. Covering a wide range of topics related to faith and religious belief, Atheos is now available for download on iTunes and Google Play in Australia and New Zealand. Next month it will be released worldwide. Most non-believers have found themselves confronted with irrational, faith-based beliefs. Debates on difficult topics arise in families, between friends, and even strangers. Many people find such discussions frustrating, and quickly resort to unproductive responses to irrational beliefs, such as ridiculing, debating, or ignoring contentious claims. Here Dr. Boghossian saw an opportunity to help make the world kinder and more rational at the same time. With the support of the Richard Dawkins Foundation, the philosopher has developed Atheos: a mobile app that aids users in conducting difficult conversations about faith. Known for his book A Manual for Creating Atheists and his scholarship, Dr. Boghossian has never been one to shy away from asking the hard questions. He describes Atheos as "a training tool to enable people to engage the faithful in conversations that will help them value critical thinking, cast doubt on their faith-based beliefs, and ultimately embrace reason and rationality".

Atheos, the first app of its kind, was recently released in New Zealand and Australia. Its methodology is rooted in the Socratic Method, a technique championed by Greek philosopher Socrates that relies on asking questions to coax the respondent to critically examine and question their stated claim, and what Dr. Boghossian terms "Street Epistemology", which is the application of this method to everyday encounters. The app aims to assist the user in gently exploring another person’s most deeply held beliefs. It has ten levels, progressively increasing in difficulty. Each level contains a variety of quizzes targeting un-evidenced and supernatural beliefs, ranging from astrology to Zoroastrianism. Throughout gameplay, the user is prompted with various faith-based statements and a variety of possible responses. Upon selecting a reply, the user is given immediate feedback specifically tailored to the chosen response. Atheos will be a valuable resource for anyone who engages with believers, as well as for those who hold beliefs not based on evidence.

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