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 – Sexual and Gender Diversity – Julia Hemphill with Greta Christina

    Sociologist Julia Hemphill, joined by Greta Christina, is offering a session about “Sexual and Gender Diversity” during the month of June.

    Description: “Gender”, and what it means to be feminine or masculine, is in many respects a cultural creation that has taken on an entrenched “sacred” quality. The socially constructed aspects of gender and gender performance has come to be seen as biologically given, “natural”, and therefore “right”. When these ideas are challenged, either through the expression of LGBTQ identities, or in the form of explicit resistance and activism, the dominant Christian culture takes a morally charged, and culturally powerful stance against these communities. These definitions of reality are so deeply entrenched in American culture that they come to shape even the most critical and progressive individuals’ perceptions of normality. What’s more, it’s a problem endemic in secular and atheist communities, which if not directly problematized, will continue to shape perceptions of gender and sexuality within the atheist community.

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

    Schedule and readings: Discussions will be guided by our posts and online readings and videos. Everything to be read and discussed is provided at no extra charge inside the virtual classroom. Students can proceed at their own pace and there are no video presentations that could be missed. Visit the class anytime to contribute your thoughts and receive our replies in discussion forums. There is nothing “live” you can miss – log in and participate anytime day or night, 24/7, throughout the month. Ask Julia Hemphill about this course by writing to her at juliahemphill12@gmail.com 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.

    Julia Hemphill
    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’.

    Greta Christina
    Greta Christina has been writing professionally since 1989, on topics including atheism, sexuality and sex-positivity, LGBT issues, politics, culture, and whatever crosses her mind. She is author of Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, of Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and of Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More, and is editor of Paying For It: A Guide by Sex Workers for Their Clients. She has been a public speaker for many years, and is on the speaker’s bureaus of the Secular Student Alliance. Her writing has appeared in multiple magazines and newspapers, including Ms., Penthouse, Chicago Sun-Times, On Our Backs, and Skeptical Inquirer, and numerous anthologies, including “Everything You Know About God Is Wrong” and three volumes of “Best American Erotica.” She is co-founder and co-organizer of the Godless Perverts, a performance series and social community that promotes a positive view of sexuality without religion. She lives in San Francisco with her wife, Ingrid.



  • 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’.