Letting go of A&P

We’re done with required texts in A&P, unless someone wants to explore Sam Harris’s afterword “reply to critics.”

[A new Guardian review calls Moral Landscape “bull-headed” (and a reader calls the review “breathtakingly useless” and “territorial peeing”)… Appiah’s review… Piggliucci’s review… a better review from Russell Blackford… Shermer’s reviewSam’s reply to critics]

So today (before our first Final Report presentation) it’s pot-luck.

I’m bringing my DVD of Julia Sweeney’s “Letting Go of God,” somebody else can bring the popcorn. She remains my favorite New Atheist, and is clearly the funniest, hands down. (Though Hitch had his moments.)  Her No God glasses (LGOG trailer)…

Her blogher script… her takedown of Deepak… her storytelling retirement & her TED Talk… her foreword to The Reason Driven Life… her take & mine on the Mormons… “Godless America” (This American Life)… God Said Ha!…

I just want to pat us all on the back, in this class, for participating in something still fairlly edgy, here in middle Tennessee in the shadow of Dayton and Scopes and the Tennessee General Ass (-embly).  This is the second time I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of teaching “Atheism & Philosophy” (it was catalogued as “Atheism & Spirituality” two years ago) at MTSU. Both experiences have been, from my perspective, hugely gratifying. The kinds of students drawn to this course in this place are, as you might expect, extremely bright, informed, fluent, and eager to break out of the standard-issue straightjackets of reticence and conformity in an aggressively (yet complacently) Christian environment.

How edgy are we? Well, if you go to Answers.com and ask “There are college courses for religion, but are there any for atheists?,” you discover that the “Best Answer” is:

Try anthropology. It’s the study of man. Quite interesting.

Well, I think our course has been quite interesting too. And I look forward to its being increasingly so, as time goes by. Our course website will soon be open-access. “What has concluded, that we might conclude in regard to it?” The course returns in two years. Look for it in our catalog:

PHIL 3310 – Atheism and PhilosophyThis 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.

The conversation continues.

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