FALSE SPIN: BALL STATE UNIVERSITY MISREPRESENTS ANTI-RELIGIOUS CHAPTERS IN WHAT IS YOUR DANGEROUS IDEA? AS RELIGION-FRIENDLY

[ Fri. Mar. 21. 2014 ]

Ball State University (BSU) is in full spin mode trying to defend the use of a book, What Is Your Dangerous Idea?, as the sole textbook in one of its courses, "Dangerous Ideas." The book is cited in an article in the Muncie Star Press, "Lawmakers probe religion vs. science at BSU." BSU spokesman Tony Proudfoot tries to defend the course on the grounds that the book includes religion-friendly chapters, and therefore isn't a polemic against religion. In fact, BSU has badly misrepresented the hard-to-miss anti-religious goals of the book, as well as the three supposedly religion-friendly chapters it cites. I'll elaborate more below, but of the three chapters BSU cites as being religion-friendly, one has nothing to do with religion and the other two are explicitly anti-religious.

First, some background. What Is Your Dangerous Idea? is framed, billed, and marketed as a book of ideas by leading new atheist-types. The intended readership seems to be intellectual atheists, as its cover advertises the fact that the introduction is by new atheist (and evolutionary psychologist) Steven Pinker, and the afterword is by leading new atheist Richard Dawkins.

Indeed, the man behind What Is Your Dangerous Idea?, who served as its editor, is John Brockman, has been called one of "the 25 most influential living atheists." He was the literary agent and main promoter of Dawkins's 2006 book The God Delusion (and other books by Dawkins). In the acknowledgments of The God Delusion, Dawkins thanks Brockman for his "help in the preparation of this book" and states that Brockman's "whole-hearted and enthusiastic belief in the book was very encouraging." ....