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, ...? Whatare 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.
- 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")
- Owen Flanagan, The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World ("Life can be precious and funny. And one doesn't need to embrace fantastical stories—unbecoming to historically mature beings— about our nature and prospects to make it so.")
- Christopher Hitchens, Mortality (“To the dumb question "Why me?" the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: why not?”)
- Alex Rosenberg, The Atheist's Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions ("Reality is rough. But it could have been worse. We could have been faced with reality in all its
roughness plus a God who made it that way.")
- Carl Sagan, The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God ("Carl admired James's definition of religion as a 'feeling of being at home in the Universe'... science opens the way to levels of consciousness otherwise inaccessible")
- Ronald Aronson, Living Without God: New Directions for Atheists, Agnostics, Secularists, and the Undecided ("the number of Americans who find “meaning and value in life
without looking to a god" is so great that they would constitute the majority of adults in all but a handful of countries")
- Julian Baggini, Atheism ("it is certainly not the case that only endless activities can be meaningful")
- 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"
- Ronald Dworkin, Religion Without God ("religion is deeper than God... belief in a god is only one possible manifestation")
- A.C. Grayling, The God Argument: the Case against Religion and for Humanism ("the major reason for the continuance of religious belief in a world which might otherwise have long moved beyond it, is indoctrination of children before they reach the age of reason")
- Jennifer Michael Hecht, Doubt: A History ("the point is to teach us to live, well and wide awake, in our strange place between meaning and meaninglessness... to understand the schism between humanness and the universe")
- Hitchens, 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)