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Atheism is the denial of the belief in the existence of God. The religious perspective of over a billion persons around the world would fit the category of atheism and its cousins, such as agnosticism, secularism, and humanism. A broad understanding of atheism and its variants then would be the religion with the third most adherents behind only Christianity and Islam. Philosophy sections of bookstores are filled with books on atheism, especially those of the “New Atheists”: Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris. What accounts for this growing atheism? This class will explore the phenomenon of atheism in Western culture. We will survey the history of atheism, its definitive expression during the period of the Enlightenment, the difference between the biblical view of God and the God of the philosophers, the nature of belief or faith, various arguments for and against God’s existence, the relationship between atheism and morality, and the relationship between atheism and science.
INSTRUCTOR: Rev. Dr. Gary Shahinian is the Intentional Interim Minister of the Federated Church of Charlton (United Church of Christ and Unitarian Universalist Association). He earned a Ph.D. degree in Philosophy from the Free University of Amsterdam, Netherlands. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on the problem of evil in the thought of Alfred North Whitehead, the father of Process Philosophy. He taught philosophy and theology courses at Redeemer College in Ontario, Dordt College in Iowa, and Worcester State University.
REQUIRED BOOK: Atheism: What Everyone Needs to Know, Michael Ruse, Oxford University Press, ISBN: 978-0-19-933458
Worcester Institute for Senior Education (WISE)Assumption University, 500 Salisbury Street, Worcester MA 01609