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Old 1st February 2018, 05:16 PM
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Default Chair of Atheism?

Article today from the Atlantic on the creation of a chair for the study of Atheism at Miami University. It's a long article and unique to America's deep hang-up with xtianity and how the fuck to deal with that, i think.

To be honest, i have nothing really of interest to say about it but it may be of interest to others who may not have seen it so i'll post the link and the introductory paragraphs. If nothing else, a decent morning read over coffee.

How should Atheism be Taught?

Quote:
Louis J. Appignani, an 84-year-old living in Florida, tells a compelling story about his conversion to atheism. Despite attending Catholic schools from a young age and through his teens, he didn’t really question belief in God growing up; people in his world, he said, sort of took faith for granted. Then he got to college and started reading the philosopher Bertrand Russell, who argued against traditional defenses of God’s existence and justified, as Appignani put it, “what I deep down believe.” Now, the proud atheist holds nothing back when it comes to his personal views on religion. The study of atheism, he said, “gave me strength to believe that faith is stupid … [that] mythology is not true.”

Appignani started his career as a businessman, serving as the president and chairman of the famous Barbizon International modeling and acting school, among other endeavors. In 2001 he turned his focus to atheism, establishing the Appignani Foundation, which supports “critical thinking” and “humanistic values” and has given grants to organizations such as the American Humanist Association and the Secular Coalition for America. Then, in 2016, Appignani through his foundation endowed a chair for the study of atheism and secularism at the University of Miami, an institution he had long been involved with as a South Florida resident. His $2.2 million gift to the university marks the first time in American history that a faculty position has been endowed specifically for the study of atheism, and he hopes it will “legitimize the word ‘atheism’” in the public sphere. The university recently announced that Anjan Chakravartty, a professor of metaphysics and the philosophy of science at the University of Notre Dame, will hold the chair.
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Last edited by pipbarber; 1st February 2018 at 05:18 PM.
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Old 1st February 2018, 06:16 PM
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Default Re: Chair of Atheism?

Interesting article. It still seems like Isabel Fattal is treating atheism as a belief system or values system, and seem to have missed the fact that the meaning of the word atheism has been largely settled, at least among atheists.
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Old 2nd February 2018, 12:02 AM
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Default Re: Chair of Atheism?

I used to believe in God and Jesus. After I subjected the existence of the soul, angels, the devil, miracles, virgin birth, resurrection, God and Christ, the supernatural and spirituality to critical thinking, I didn't then believe in atheism.

I came to think, to realise that non belief is the defensible position compared with belief in those concepts listed above, which are indefensible.

The more I read in science, evolution, cosmology, philosophy of science, books of sound scholarship, especially interacting on the AFA Forums the more understandings I gained to inform my thinking.

This only served to reinforce my atheism and to appreciate that belief is silly and that luckily I now know better, thanks to all the hard work and clear thinking and reasoning done by others which I have been fortunate to access.

I don't believe in atheism. I think this way. It's a tool for thinking, wonderfully versatile.
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Old 2nd February 2018, 09:52 AM
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Default Re: Chair of Atheism?

I was speaking to a non-churchgoing Catholic friend of mine on FB yesterday about the accelerated growth of "nones" according to the ABS and he seemed outraged that his 3 adult children were Catholics and had ticked "no belief"in the census survey.

So I am guessing that they are the same as him. IOW non-churchgoing, still having a vague belief, but can't be bothered spending any time on it.

Is today's world going too fast to waste time on pointless activities?
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Old 2nd February 2018, 11:18 AM
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Default Re: Chair of Atheism?

Quote:
SEG said View Post
I was speaking to a non-churchgoing Catholic friend of mine on FB yesterday about the accelerated growth of "nones" according to the ABS and he seemed outraged that his 3 adult children were Catholics and had ticked "no belief"in the census survey.

So I am guessing that they are the same as him. IOW non-churchgoing, still having a vague belief, but can't be bothered spending any time on it.

Is today's world going too fast to waste time on pointless activities?
Yes. a lot of people fit into the following category these days:

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Old 2nd February 2018, 02:16 PM
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Default Re: Chair of Atheism?

I can't see the point of a Chair of Atheism, I could see a point in a chair of non-theism because that covers way more than atheism.
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Old 3rd February 2018, 03:03 PM
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Default Re: Chair of Atheism?

Frankly Atheism is not a thing, its just "I don't believe that". They would be better off having a chair in Humanist studies which is a thing, has a philosophical position and a series of assumptions and commitments. There is a "there" there.
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Old 3rd February 2018, 03:08 PM
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Default Re: Chair of Atheism?

Quote:
DanDare said View Post
Frankly Atheism is not a thing, its just "I don't believe that". They would be better off having a chair in Humanist studies which is a thing, has a philosophical position and a series of assumptions and commitments. There is a "there" there.
The problem with that is that a lot of humanists are theists. Or call themselves humanists, which is only partly correct. They are theists with some human sentiments. But scratch one hard enough, and they can't escape the god connection, if only as an ultimate cause. A true humanist is totally human-centred-the ethics is based on the well-being of humans, and not based on what some people think an imaginary being wants us to be. The differences can be subtle, but nevertheless sometimes important.
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Old 3rd February 2018, 03:15 PM
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Default Re: Chair of Atheism?

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stevebrooks said View Post
I can't see the point of a Chair of Atheism, I could see a point in a chair of non-theism because that covers way more than atheism.
I was going to call my posited course "atheism and agnosticism". And there is a lot to talk about in non-belief. An intellectually honest individual who wants to act as a moral agent is obliged to re-examine every position that might have been influenced by his or her former belief. In fact I think the course is needed for atheists as much as theists, because besides a bit of cherry-picking, many atheists do not reconsider their assumptions of their former belief. That is one reason why schisms are occurring. It gives a little credibility to the theist fallacy that "one cannot be good without god".

Ok, so now one is a theist. Is that an excuse to be an asshole? [Or continue to be an asshole?] Obviously a lot of atheists think that, because they continue to be sexists or racists or whatever.
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Old 3rd February 2018, 04:37 PM
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Default Re: Chair of Atheism?

You can't extract the context from the position. Only one member of congress currently identifies as an atheist. 40% of the US believe the earth is less than 10,000 years old. Also, the chair is not strictly focussing on unbelief,

Quote:
Chakravartty, who will begin his new role in July and will be placed in the university’s philosophy department, plans to teach courses in the history and philosophy of science and in secular ethics, among other topics. Ultimately the philosopher isn’t interested in disparaging religion but rather in taking a look at why some people believe in God and why others don’t, and in the more optimistic project of exploring what an ethical and contemplative way of life without God might look like.
From op link

Quote:
But even Appignani says the chair should be seen as an opportunity for open debate, not necessarily for advocacy. The one-time businessman said he hopes students who do believe in God will actively participate in debates and offer their own perspective (even though he personally “feel[s] 100 percent that they are wrong.”) “We’re not missionaries. We’re not trying to convert people,” he said. “We just want an equal seat [at] the table.”
Quote:
“when you’re studying atheism you’re studying secularism … it’s just the word [atheism] itself [that] conjures up negative things.” Chakravartty, like Appignani, pointed to the chair’s full name as an explanation for its focus. The chair is intended to teach “a philosophical approach to the world that emphasizes the methodologies of science, logic, and reason in facing up to questions of … how we should act in the world today,” he said. This explanation frames the academic study of atheism not as the study of an argument against something but rather of a particular set of ideas about how to engage with the world.
In reality, this new chair is a study of secular humanism and it's engagement with the world. It's a good thing for a US uni to attempt. Probably wouldn't be wholly pointless in Australia either, though of course we have far less need for such a chair. There are probably dozens of courses on similar themes in Australian philosophy departments.
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