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Professor's new app helps atheists debate with believers: 'Can you support your positions about God?
A professor's new app aims to help atheists debate with believers: 'Can you support your positions about God?' - photo by Billy Hallowell
A philosophy professor has launched a new app seemingly aimed at helping atheists more easily communicate with believers about tough theological issues.

Titled "Atheos," the project purportedly intends to foster "respectful debate" among people who have profound disagreements on some of the most intense questions about the human experience, according to KATU-TV.

"Can you support your positions about God, religion or the supernatural?" reads a question on the app's official website. "Dr. Peter Boghossian and his team developed the Atheos app to help people have non-confrontational discussions about gods, religion, faith and superstition."

According to its founders, the app helps people "gently explore a person's strongest beliefs" in a safe and accommodating environment, providing skeptics with common arguments and resources.

While Atheos is dubbed "the perfect app" for atheists and skeptics, the description goes on to say it is also appropriate for believers who wish to engage in discussions about faith.

But some are skeptical of the project. The app was sponsored by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science & Reason, an organization with the central goal of promoting "scientific literacy and a secular worldview."

One of the videos used to promote Atheos implores prospective users to "help others live lives free of delusion." And in a 2014 Facebook post, Boghossian proclaimed he was creating an app for atheists "that teaches users how to talk people out of faith and superstition and into reason."

At the time, he called upon people to submit 400-word essays aimed at transforming the views of people of faith.

"In your 400-word essay youll write about an effective way you think people can be talked out of faith and superstition and into reason," he wrote.

But, while Boghossian has since heralded the app's attempts to give "the gift of doubt," he has also touted the theme of creating and fostering calm discussion when it comes to issues of faith.

"There are ways to have productive, civil conversations about contentious issues such as religion, faith, supernatural beliefs, even politics," Boghossian, a professor at Portland State University in Oregon, told KATU-TV, explaining that the app relies upon the Socratic Method.

This is a method in today's classrooms that involves teachers cross-examining students one based on the teaching of Greek philosopher Socrates. It involves using probing questions to show that the recipient might not have a sweeping or definitive answer to the main notion being raised.

Watch Boghossian discuss Atheos here.

Boghossian, who has served as a speaker for the Center for Inquiry and the Secular Student Alliance, also attracted attention in the past as well with the 2013 release of his book titled, "A Manual for Creating Atheists."

The book's description takes aim at religious proselytizing and efforts by the faithful to convert others into their religious perspectives, saying that "the result is a world broken in large part by unquestioned faith."

"'A Manual for Creating Atheists' offers the first-ever guide not for talking people into faith but for talking them out of it," the description continues. "Peter Boghossian draws on the tools he has developed and used for more than 20 years as a philosopher and educator to teach how to engage the faithful in conversations that will help them value reason and rationality, cast doubt on their religious beliefs, mistrust their faith, abandon superstition and irrationality, and ultimately embrace reason."

It will be interesting to see how the app, which was released earlier this month, will inevitably be used and received.

When it comes to faith and religion, intense debate is almost always a given. Atheists and believers frequently face-off over theology, with the most recent prominent example emerging when scientist Bill Nye an atheist and creationist Ken Ham a Christian met up to spar over a plethora of issues.
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