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/



  • New June course – The Founding Fathers and Religion – Myron Jackson with Sean Faircloth

    Dr. Myron Jackson is offering his course on “The Founding Fathers and Religion” during June, with a special visit from Sean Faircloth, national secularism advocate.

    Does America’s political system have a secular or religious basis? Is the United States a Christian nation, or at least one founded on theism? The course will examine these questions, along with issues of religious toleration and free conscience. We will read Jefferson, Madison, Paine, Tocqueville, and several other founders. Sean Faircloth, former executive director of the Secular Coalition for America, will join the class for a week during June. We will ponder several related issues. What does the “separation” between church and state mean and on what grounds can it be justified? How are we to interpret the religious symbols and heritage found on buildings, currency, in public practices and events, such as sermons, prayers, proclamations, and fastings? What appeals were made to religion in the struggle for American independence? How did the Founders consider religion to be an illegitimate interference with the liberty of the individual? This course will explain the religious freedoms protected under the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses of the first and sixth amendments of the Constitution. One does not have to be Christian nor religious in order to be American. This class examines the facts about the true roles that both religious and secular thinking has played in the founding of America.

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

    Schedule and readings: Our discussions will be guided by our 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.

    Questions? Email Dr. Jackson at philosophos80@gmail.com

    Myron Moses Jackson
    Dr. Myron Moses Jackson is a philosopher and social theorist. For the past seven years, he has been teaching political science and philosophy courses at John A. Logan College in Illinois. He received his PhD in philosophy from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, writing his dissertation titled Ironic American Exceptionalism and the Myth of the Open Self. Dr. Jackson has been forum moderator and a co-editor for Voegelinview web magazine. As coordinator at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, he organized youth initiatives and workshops designed to increase minority involvement in politics. He has appeared on MTV’s Rock the Vote and CNN’s Talkback Live as a panelist and commentator.

    Sean Faircloth
    Sean Faircloth’s extensive organizing, lobbying and political experience includes spearheading over thirty laws, many pertaining to children and women’s rights. During his decade serving in Maine’s legislature, Faircloth earned a 100% voting record with the Maine Women’s Lobby. Faircloth was opening speaker for candidate Obama in Maine. Faircloth served two years as executive director of the Secular Coalition for America and created its Fifty State plan. A noted public orator, he was opening speaker for Richard Dawkins on three tours, and laid out a concise secular political vision at the Reason Rally in 2012. His 2013 tour Down Under, including speaking at the Sydney Opera House, sparked citizens in Australia to organize their policy-focused national coalition (his speech in Perth). Faircloth recently returned from a speaking tour in the Republic of Turkey, where separation of religion and state is crumbling. He will be on the road across America once again in the near future, trying to prevent that same fate for our country.



  • New June course – Does Morality Need God? A Christian and an Atheist Debate

    This course is titled “Does Morality Need God? A Christian and an Atheist debate Answers”, offered by Dr. David Baggett and Dr. John Shook.

    Liberty University professor David Baggett and University at Buffalo professor John Shook compare their answers to the question, “Does morality need God?” during the month of June. We have publicly debated morality and God, and discussed religion and morality on vidcast shows, such as Humanist Matters. Our best arguments and counter-arguments, and enjoyment with directly engaging each other, are just too good not to share! Beyond just blunt “Oh, Yes” and “Heck, No” answers, we will explore some deeper questions that must be addressed by both sides to fully explain their positions. In four weeks we will cover four main topics: Where do moral obligations come from? What makes something morally good? Could God command an evil? Are morality and rationality actually compatible? Join us for the respectful debating, and for opportunities to jump into the energetic conversations. We hope that lots of believers and nonbelievers can join us on this thoughtful exploration.

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

    Schedule and readings: Our discussions will be guided by our 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.

    Questions? email Dr. Shook at jshook@secularactivism.org

    David Baggett
    David Baggett is a graduate of Wayne State University with his PhD in philosophy, specializing in ethics and philosophy of religion. He’d edited about a half dozen books in philosophy and popular culture, including Tennis and Philosophy, The Philosophy of Sherlock Holmes, and Hitchcock and Philosophy. He also edited the third debate between Gary Habermas and Antony Flew, co-edited (with Gary Habermas and Jerry Walls) a collection called C. S. Lewis as Philosopher, and co-wrote (with Jerry Walls) Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality. He and Jerry are currently finishing a sequel to Good God. He has previously taught at King’s College in Wilkes Barre, PA. He now lives with his wife and son in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he was recently appointed to teach at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, primarily in the doctoral program in theology and apologetics.

    John R. Shook
    John R. Shook, PhD, is research associate in philosophy and instructor in science education for the Science and the Public EdM online program for the University at Buffalo. John was a professor of philosophy at Oklahoma State University from 2000 to 2006, and then he joined the faculty of the University at Buffalo. Also, since 2006, he has worked for several secular and humanist organizations, including the Center for Inquiry, the American Humanist Association, the Humanist Institute, and the Institute for Humanist Studies, and has been President of the Society of Humanist Philosophers. He is now the President of Partners for Secular Activism. His recent book is The God Debates: A 21st Century Guide for Atheists and Believers (and Everyone in Between), and he also edited a volume of William James’s writings on pragmatism and a volume of Paul Kurtz’s writings on skepticism. He has published many articles about naturalism, secularism, and humanism in academic journals and magazines such as Free Inquiry, The Humanist, Humanist Perspectives, Think, and The Philosopher’s Magazine.



  • The Family: Power, Conflict and Diversity – with Julia Hemphill

    Professor Julia Hemphill offered her new course on “The Family: Power, Conflict and Diversity” during May, from May 1 to May 31, 2014.

    Description: We turn a critical eye towards ‘The Family’. Comparing and contrasting competing definitions of what constitutes “a family”, we will explore the family as a social institution and as a setting for interpersonal relationships. We will examine the normative and non-normative life course of ‘the family’, addressing such topics as partnering/repartnering, raising children, work, and aging. We will also delve into topics like violence and conflict, which are endemic to many families. Power, and how it operates both inside and outside of ‘families’ will be at the core of our analysis. In addition to power, another core theme will be “difference”, and how our differences (along the lines of gender, class, ‘race’, sexuality and ability) are created, maintained, and disparately valued both inside and outside of families. Finally, we will pay close attention to how various types of families are represented in both political and popular culture.

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

    Schedule and readings: Our discussions will be guided by my lecture posts and by selected online readings and videos, some of which will be peer-reviewed and academic, while others will come from online news publications and the popular culture. Specific reading and discussion goals are set for each week, and students can proceed at their own pace. There are no live events planned. Everything about the course and all readings have been provided within the PSA Moodle website. Course lectures, links to websites, and forums for discussions with the instructor and students are included in the Moodle website classroom. Visit the class anytime to contribute your posts and receive Julia Hemphill’s replies in discussion forums. There is nothing “live” you can miss – log in and participate anytime day or night, 24/7, throughout May.


    Julia Hemphill is a PhD candidate in the Sociology Department at York University, Toronto. She is freelance researcher and a college professor. She has taught a variety of courses at Humber College in Toronto, including classes on ‘The Family’, ‘Feminisms’, ‘Popular Culture’, and ‘The Body’. Julia’s current research area is the sociology of food. She is examining food networks and food security in rural Ontario, identifying the barriers that farmers encounter in selling their products to local consumers. She is also currently writing in the area of humor and social norms, analyzing how humor can be used to both challenge, but also sometimes reinforce problematic messages about gender and ‘race’.



  • Introduction to Transhumanism – with George Dvorsky

    George Dvorsky, prominent futurist and writer on ethics and technology, offered his Introduction to Transhumanism course during May, from May 1st to May 31st, 2014.

    Description: This course introduces the philosophy and socio-cultural movement that is transhumanism. We will survey its core ideas, history, technological requirements, potential manifestations, and ethical implications. Topics to be discussed will include the various ways humans have tried to enhance themselves throughout history, the political and social aspects of transhumanism, the technologies required to enhance humans (including cybernetics, pharmaceuticals, genetics, and nanotechnology), and the various ways humans may choose to use these technologies to modify and augment their capacities (including radical life extension, intelligence augmentation, and mind uploading). Along the way we will discuss social and ethical problems that might be posed by human enhancement.

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

    Schedule and readings: Specific reading and discussion goals are set for each week, and students can proceed at their own pace. There are no live events planned. An assortment of resources will be used, including academic papers, online presentations, instructional videos, and popular articles. Everything about the course and all readings are provided within the PSA Moodle website. Course lectures, links to websites, and forums for discussions with the instructor and students are included in the Moodle website classroom. Visit the class anytime to contribute your posts and receive George Dvorsky’s replies in discussion forums. There is nothing “live” you can miss – log in and participate anytime day or night, 24/7, throughout May.

    Ask George about this course by tweeting to him at twitter.com/dvorsky or posting on his facebook wall at www.facebook.com/gdvorsky


    Canadian futurist, science writer, and ethicist George Dvorsky has written and spoken extensively about the impacts of cutting-edge science and technology—particularly as they pertain to the improvement of human performance and experience. George is a contributing editor at io9 where he writes about science, culture, and futurism. A founding member of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, he is its Chair of the Board and the founder and program director for its Rights of Non-Human Persons program. In addition, George is the co-founder and president of the Toronto Transhumanist Association and has served on the Board of Directors for Humanity+ for two terms. His work has been featured in such publications as The Guardian, the BBC, CBC, Forbes, the New York Times, Slate, Radio Free Europe, and al-Jazeera. He is also an avid CrossFitter, an ancestral health enthusiast, and an accomplished music performer, composer, and recording engineer.



  • The Science of Why We Don’t Believe in Science – with Chris Mooney

    Chris Mooney offered a course on “The Science of Why We Don’t Believe in Science” during May, from May 1 to May 31, 2014.

    Description: Ever wonder why we can never seem to stop fighting about settled scientific issues like climate change, evolution, and the safety of vaccines? Or simply why you can never seem to change a science denier’s mind? Renowned science journalist Chris Mooney has been reporting and writing on this subject for the past three years, and in this course, he walks you through a growing body of research on the psychology and emotions behind science denial. Topics covered include motivated reasoning, conspiratorial beliefs, and the psychology of political ideology and of religion. At the end of this month long course, not only will you understand what you’re actually up against when dealing with science deniers — you’ll know how to make headway against them.

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

    Schedule: Four modules in four weeks will cover Motivated Reasoning; Trust, Distrust, and Conspiracies; The Left and the Right, the Religious and the Irreligious; and The Solutions. We will start off with Chris’s path-breaking article “The Science of Why We Don’t Believe in Science” published in Mother Jones in 2011, and then examine a variety of similar inquiries into the psychology of science denial. There are no live events currently planned. Everything about the course is provided on the PSA Moodle website. Course lectures, links to websites, and forums for discussions with the instructor and students are included in the Moodle website classroom. Visit the class anytime to contribute your posts in discussion forums. There is nothing “live” you can miss – log in and participate anytime day or night, 24/7, throughout May.

    Ask Chris about this course by tweeting to him at twitter.com/chriscmooney or posting on his facebook wall at www.facebook.com/chriscmooney


    Chris Mooney is an award winning author, science and political journalist, and experienced trainer of scientists in the art of communication. He works as a correspondent for the Climate Desk and a contributing writer at Mother Jones magazine, where he covers science (especially climate science) and co-hosts the popular podcast Inquiring Minds (along with neuroscientist and opera singer Indre Viskontas). Chris is the author of four books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science – dubbed “a landmark in contemporary political reporting” by Salon.com and a “well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing’s assault on science and scientists” by Scientific American–Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. His most recent book is The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science – and Reality.



  • Naturalism as a Worldview – with Richard Carrier

    Richard Carrier’s webinar about Naturalism as a Worldview is during May 2014, from May 1 to May 31.

    Description: This one-month course builds the foundations for practical philosophy. Learn how to develop and defend your own naturalistic worldview from studying a model example, and how to employ it in your daily lives and your understanding of the world. Learn the basics of how to develop and test a philosophy of epistemology (theory of knowledge), metaphysics (theory of existence), ethics (theory of morality), aesthetics (theory of beauty), and politics (theory of government), using logical, evidence-based reasoning. Based on assigned readings, lectures, and weekly class discussion online with Dr. Carrier (who holds a Ph.D. in the history of philosophy).

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

    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 currently planned. One book by Dr. Carrier is required reading (see below). Everything else about the course is provided on the PSA Moodle website. Course lectures, links to websites, and forums for discussions with the instructor and students are included in the Moodle website classroom. Visit the class anytime to contribute your posts and receive Dr. Carrier’s replies in discussion forums. There is nothing “live” you can miss – log in and participate anytime day or night, 24/7, throughout May.

    Course Reading: The only course text required to purchase (available in print and electronic editions) is Richard Carrier, Sense and Goodness without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism. All other course lectures and readings will be provided to students as part of the class.

    Ask Richard about his course by posting on his facebook wall at www.facebook.com/richard.carrier.phd

    Richard Carrier
    Richard Carrier, PhD, is the renowned author of Sense and Goodness without God and Proving History, as well as numerous articles online and in print. He received his PhD in ancient history from Columbia University in 2008, and now specializes in the modern philosophy of naturalism, the origins of Christianity, and the intellectual history of Greece and Rome. For more about him and his work visit www.richardcarrier.info.