February Forum – Christianity is Not Great, with John Loftus

John W. Loftus, the relentless and indefatigable counter-apologist and atheist critic of Christianity, has published a new anthology, Christianity is Not Great: How Faith Fails. Join our forum to discuss this exciting new book with the author/editor!

Loftus will lead class discussions though this book’s chapters, four of which he wrote. Students will read through it and discussions will be based on it. Students will learn what why atheists argue that Christianity has caused, and is still causing, great harm to people. Jesus purportedly said, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” We will test Christianity by its fruits in this class. The instructor will also contact the contributors to the chapters with the best questions our class’s students have for them. An extra bonus with this class!

registration- $59
start/end dates – February 1 / February 28, 2015
deadline to register – February 5th

Schedule: Specific reading and discussion goals are set for every week, completing four units in four weeks, but within that framework you can participate in every element on your own time. There are no live events to be missed. One book by John Loftus is required reading (see below). Everything else about the course is provided inside the classroom website. Course lectures, readings, links to websites, and forums for discussions between the instructor and students are included in the Moodle website classroom. Visit the class anytime to contribute your posts and receive John Loftus’s replies in discussion forums.

Course Reading: John Loftus, ed. Christianity is Not Great: How Faith Fails. Students purchase their own copy (print or electronic) before course begins. Additional materials will be provided electronically inside the online classroom at no cost to students, both video talks and links to outside resources.

GENERAL INFORMATION: Online classrooms and their discussion threads are accessible 24/7, so you can participate at any hour of the day when there’s some time in your busy schedule. Instructors will not be on live video and you won’t be either – there is nothing happening on camera and no particular time of day you have to be present. If an instructor posts a pre-recorded video, you can view it at your convenience. There’s nothing ‘live’ to be missed, and course instructor respond individually and promptly to all questions and comments. Instructors lead everyone through lectures and readings, but no attendance is taken and there are no assignments to complete – instructors are always available when you are ready to engage them about what is on your mind.

John W. Loftus earned M.A., M.Div., and Th.M. degrees in Philosophy, Theology, and the Philosophy of Religion, the last of which was under William Lane Craig. He also studied in a Ph.D. program at Marquette University for a year and a half in the area of Theology and Ethics. Before leaving the church, he had ministries in Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana, and taught at several Christian and secular colleges. He is the author of Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity (rev. ed., 2012) and The Outsider Test for Faith: How to Know Which Religion Is True (2013). He edited The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails (2010), The End of Christianity (2011), and Christianity is Not Great: How Faith Fails (2014). He has also coauthored, with Dr. Randal Rauser, God or Godless? One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions (Baker Books, 2013). Visit his popular blog at debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/.



  • November Forum – The Outsider Test for Faith – with author John Loftus

    John Loftus, the relentless and indefatigable atheist critic of Christianity, has published a new book, The Outsider Test for Faith. Join our forum to discuss this exciting new book with the author!

    Loftus argues in The Outsider Test for Faith that given the nature and wide diversity of religious faith, the only way to know which religion is true, if there is one, is the test that he explains and defends in his new book. It has been described by James Lindsay as a “silver bullet argument,” and by Richard Carrier as “one of the most effective and powerful arguments for atheism there is.” This course is based on the book. Students will read through it and discussions will be based on it. Students will learn what the test is about, think through the wide variety of objections to the test, and be invited to consider its impact on all future religious debates.

    registration- $59
    start/end dates – November 1 / November 30, 2014
    deadline to register – EXTENDED to November 7th

    Schedule: Specific reading and discussion goals are set for every week, completing four units in four weeks, but within that framework you can participate in every element on your own time. There are no live events to be missed. One book by John Loftus is required reading (see below). Everything else about the course is provided inside the classroom website. Course lectures, readings, links to websites, and forums for discussions between the instructor and students are included in the Moodle website classroom. Visit the class anytime to contribute your posts and receive John Loftus’s replies in discussion forums.

    Course Reading: John Loftus, The Outsider Test for Faith. Students purchase their own copy (print or electronic) before course begins. Additional materials will be provided electronically inside the online classroom at no cost to students.

    GENERAL INFORMATION: Online classrooms and their discussion threads are accessible 24/7, so you can participate at any hour of the day when there’s some time in your busy schedule. Instructors will not be on live video and you won’t be either – there is nothing happening on camera and no particular time of day you have to be present. If an instructor posts a pre-recorded video, you can view it at your convenience. There’s nothing ‘live’ to be missed, and course instructor respond individually and promptly to all questions and comments. Instructors lead everyone through lectures and readings, but no attendance is taken and there are no assignments to complete – instructors are always available when you are ready to engage them about what is on your mind.

    John W. Loftus earned M.A., M.Div., and Th.M. degrees in Philosophy, Theology, and the Philosophy of Religion, the last of which was under William Lane Craig. He also studied in a Ph.D. program at Marquette University for a year and a half in the area of Theology and Ethics. Before leaving the church, he had ministries in Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana, and taught at several Christian and secular colleges. He is the author of Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity (rev. ed., 2012) and The Outsider Test for Faith: How to Know Which Religion Is True (2013). He edited The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails (2010), The End of Christianity (2011), and Christianity is Not Great: How Faith Fails (2014). He has also coauthored, with Dr. Randal Rauser, God or Godless? One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions (Baker Books, 2013). Visit his popular blog at debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/.



  • New August course – Can Humanism Reorient Unitarianism, Before It’s Too Late? – with Mike Werner

    Join one of America’s foremost Humanists, Mike Werner, for an extended discussion of his controversial new book Regaining Balance: The Evolution of the UUA, during the month of August.

    Mike Werner’s book Regaining Balance: The Evolution of the UUA is not an obituary for Unitarianism, but a prescription for recovery. A recovery is urgently needed. Once one of America’s most influential Protestant denominations, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) has imploded over the past 40 years, shrinking to 0.05% of the population. Why? Former American Humanist Association president Michael Werner has assembled the reasons, from a fuzzy obsession with pluralism to a disdain for the Humanist values that drove the UUA’s rise to prominence in the first place. “Follow the money,” Werner urges, as he analyzes one policy failure after another. The UUA is a proud institution that retains valuable human assets, carefully catalogued by Werner, that can seize the opportunity presented by today’s sea change in religious attitudes if it will get back to its Humanist roots. The evolution of the UUA from a focus on reason in religion to one of radical tolerance is a primary topic for discussion. Postmodernism, process theology, second wave feminism, value theory, new age, theological education, the “religious redefinition” game, population dynamics, and the age of narcissism in religion are implicated for taking the UUA to ideological extremes of indiscriminate pluralism. Mike Werner is eager to share his many insights and his proposed secular and humanist revolution for Unitarianism before it is too late.

    “In this book Mike Werner analyzes what is wrong with the UUA and suggests how we can correct our problems and become once again a vital and growing religious movement. It should be read by every UU who cares about the future of our Association.” William R. Murry, Former President and Dean, Meadville Lombard Theological School, IL.
    “Mike Werner has penned a must-read for every humanist interested in restoring the Unitarian Universalist Association to soundness. Better yet—every UU should read Werner’s eye-opening insights, and let the discussion begin!” Marilyn Westfall, co-founder of The Eloquent Atheist and former director of First UU in Lubbock, TX.
    “Michael Werner here chronicles the ways that the Boston UUA establishment has been transforming non-creedalism into anythingism, with no significant results in expanded membership. He urges restoring the Enlightenment humanism that had once been emerging.” Robert Tapp, former Dean and Faculty Chair emeritus of The Humanist Institute.
    “There is no one more dedicated to both Unitarian Universalism and Humanism than Mike Werner. It’s a pleasure for me to recommend his thoughtful new book. I’m looking forward to the vigorous dialogue that I’m certain it will provoke.” John Hooper, President, HUUmanists Association, UUA.

    start/end dates – August 1 / August 31, 2014

    Schedule: Participants should get their own e-book or print copy of Regaining Balance: The Evolution of the UUA through the bookstore using this link to Humanist Press. Additional materials are available for free from inside the the virtual classroom, where forums for discussions are also located. Visit the class anytime to contribute your posts and receive Mike’s replies in discussion forums. Online classrooms and their discussion threads are accessible 24/7, so you can participate at any hour of the day when there’s some time in your busy schedule. Your instructor will not be on video and you won’t be either – there is nothing on camera and no particular time of day you have to be present. If an instructor posts a pre-recorded video, you can view it at your convenience. There’s nothing ‘live’ to be missed, and course instructors respond individually and promptly to all questions and comments. Instructors lead everyone through lectures and readings, but no attendance is taken and there are no assignments to complete – instructors are always available when you are ready to engage them about what is on your mind.

    Ask Mike Werner about his class: mwerner@ec.rr.com

    Mike Werner About the instructor: Fighting for civil rights at an early age, and later working in many Humanist, atheist, and freethought organizations, much of Mike Werner’s life has revolved around progressive activism. Besides a career that included teaching at major universities, Mike has been President of the American Humanist Association, a Board member of the HUUmanists of UUA, a member of the North American Committee for Humanism, and a faculty member of the Humanist Institute. He also was one of the founders of SMART Recovery, a Self Management and Recovery Training recovery program for addictions. Mike presently lives in Wilmington, N.C.



  • August course – Kile Jones and Ryan Bell on Boundary Crossings: Talking, Thinking, and Working with Christians

    Join Kile Jones of “Interview an Atheist at Church Day” and Ryan Bell of “A Year Without God” during the month of August as they discuss ways that atheists and Christians can talk, think, and work together.

    Kile and Ryan will apply their experiences of working with Christians to describe methods, pedagogies, and projects that can build coalitions between atheists and Christians. Part 1 will examine the ‘dialogical strategies’ one can use to talk with Christians, and religious people generally. Part 2 will examine the texts, authors, and philosophies one can use to think with Christians about important social and political issues. Part 3 will cover some of the work atheists and Christians can do together: separation of Church and State, inter-faith dialogue, civil rights (including race, gender, and LGBT rights), volunteering, building coalitions, and other forms of social advocacy.
    Hear us on podcasts:
    religionforlife.me/2013/10/01/kile-jones-interview-an-atheist-at-church/
    www.patheos.com/blogs/yearwithoutgod/media/
    Recommended videos about atheists interviewed at churches are at interviewatheists.wordpress.com/

    start/end dates – July 1 / August 31, 2014

    Schedule: Among the books that will come up for discussion are Religion without God by Ronald Dworkin, Faitheist by Chris Stedman, and Religion for Atheists by Alain de Botton, so students can purchase one or more of these optional texts if they choose. Additional readings and videos are available for free from inside the the virtual classroom, where forums for discussions are also located. Visit the class anytime to contribute your posts and receive Kile and Ryan’s replies in discussion forums. Online classrooms and their discussion threads are accessible 24/7, so you can participate at any hour of the day when there’s some time in your busy schedule. Your instructor(s) will not be on video and you won’t be either – there is nothing on camera and no particular time of day you have to be present. If an instructor posts a pre-recorded video, you can view it at your convenience. There’s nothing ‘live’ to be missed, and course instructors respond individually and promptly to all questions and comments. Instructors lead everyone through lectures and readings, but no attendance is taken and there are no assignments to complete – instructors are always available when you are ready to engage them about what is on your mind.

    Ask Kile or Ryan about this session by posting on their facebook walls, at www.facebook.com/kilebjones or www.facebook.com/ryanjbell

    Kile Jones
    Kile Jones has been involved in interfaith work for over a decade. He speaks around the U.S. and the U.K. on issues relating to atheism, religion, and philosophy. He holds two Masters degrees from Boston University (M.T.S., S.T.M.), is the Founder of the Claremont Journal of Religion, and is the Director of “Interview an Atheist at Church Day.” Mr. Jones has been published in Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, Free Inquiry, Routledge Guide, Philosophy Now, and Reviews in Religion and Theology. He also blogs for Patheos, Feminism and Religion, and The Secularite, and is known to publicly debate Christians now and then. He currently lives in San Diego, California.

    Ryan Bell
    For 19 years Ryan Bell was a pastor, most recently the senior pastor of the Hollywood Seventh-day Adventist Church. In March 2013 he resigned his position due to theological and practical differences. As an adjunct professor he has taught subjects ranging from intercultural communication to bioethics. Currently he is a researcher, writer and speaker on the topic of religion and irreligion in America. In January 2014, Ryan began a yearlong journey exploring the limits of theism and the atheist landscape in the United States and blogs about that experience here at Year Without God. He received a Master of Divinity degree from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, and a Doctor of Ministry in Missional Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.



  • New June course – God’s Not Dead? How an Unscripted Philosopher can Disprove God

    During June, Dan Fincke – ‘Camels with Hammers’ blogger and public philosopher – is offering a course titled “God’s Not Dead? How an Unscripted Philosopher can Disprove God.”

    The movie God’s Not Dead, released March 2014, goes like this: “Present-day college freshman and devout Christian, Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), finds his faith challenged on his first day of Philosophy class by the dogmatic and argumentative Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo)…” The full synopsis is here and you can watch the trailer. Atheists promptly noticed how this movie suggests that atheists typically hate God and live in denial, among other caricatures drawn about nonbelievers. The arguments against God rarely get center stage and never get full consideration. Dan has blogged about this movie (you can catch up here) but this June course is Dan’s one-month intense philosophy class about why God Is Dead. Dare you join and take a seat? Unlike Kevin Sorbo’s scripted character, Dan is a real philosophy professor. In his class, there’s no poignant script, no cute quips – just serious analysis of the case for and against the existence of God. Are you a nonbeliever? Hone your understanding of the best arguments for the existence of God and the philosophical reasons that they fail. When you encounter apologists like the one in God’s Not Dead (or when you encounter the movie’s fans) you can both help them improve their own arguments — and then refute them. Are you a believer? Dan dares you to see how your faith withstands a real philosophy professor’s challenges with no movie script to protect you. Does that seem like a rigged fight? Dan’s goal is not to do what Professor Radisson does in the film — present just the atheist side of the story and demand you to deny your conscience. Instead Dan is going to teach you how to use the theist side’s best arguments, so that you will be equipped with the best strategies that he knows of for trying to counter his own arguments. And anyone who has seen Dan in action knows how he is a gentle ‘soul’ and a respectful teacher, so don’t come for a fight, but come for the conversation and education. Lights, camera, action!

    start/end dates – June 1 / June 30, 2014

    Schedule and readings: Discussions will be guided by Dan’s lecture posts and by selected online readings and videos. Everything to be read and discussed is provided at no extra charge inside the virtual classroom. GENERAL INFORMATION: Online classrooms and their discussion threads are accessible 24/7, so you can participate at any hour of the day when there’s some time in your busy schedule. Students can proceed at their own pace and there are no video presentations that could be missed. Instructors will not be on live video and you won’t be either – there is nothing happening on camera and no particular time of day you have to be present. If an instructor posts a pre-recorded video, you can view it at your convenience. There’s nothing ‘live’ to be missed, and course instructor respond individually and promptly to all questions and comments. Instructors lead everyone through lectures and readings, but no attendance is taken and there are no assignments to complete – instructors are always available when you are ready to engage them about what is on your mind.

    Ask Dan about this course by tweeting him: @CamelsHammers

    Dan Finckewww.patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/