Our central theme this semester: the meaning of AtheismPHIL 3310 – Atheism and Philosophy. This course examines various perspectives on atheism, understood as the belief that no transcendent creator deity exists, and that there are no supernatural causes of natural events. The course compares this belief with familiar alternatives (including theism, agnosticism, and humanism), considers the spiritual significance of atheism, and explores implications for ethics and religion.
What's the meaning of a godless existence? What gets atheists, humanists, naturalists and other godless folk out of bed in the morning? What reconciles them to belief in life non-eternal? How do they deal with their mortality? What are their sacred texts, if not the Christian Bible, the Koran, the Torah, the Book of Mormon, the collected works of L.Ron, ...? What are the possible "meanings of life" regarded strictly in its finitude?
Classes will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:40-4:05 pm in James Union Building (JUB) 202 beginning January 16, 2014.
Possible texts include
- Julian Baggini, Atheism ("it is certainly not the case that only endless activities can be meaningful")
- A.C. Grayling, The Good Book: A Humanist Bible ("there is experience also, which is what makes good and its opposite, In both of which humankind seeks to grasp the meaning of things")
- Alain de Botton, Religion for Atheists: A Non=believers Guide to the Uses of Religion ("culture might be no less effective than religion in its ability to guide, humanize, and console. One would be able to have meaning unburdened by superstition"
- Christopher Hitchens, Mortality (“To the dumb question "Why me?" the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: why not?”)
- Hitch, ed., The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-believer ("the concept of a soul without a body seems to me to be empty and devoid of meaning”-Einstein)