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RELI 047. Unbelief: Atheism and Agnosticism. 4 Units.

After a brief survey of the rise of atheistic and agnostic thought from ancient to modern times, the course turns to recent examples of atheism/agnosticism in contemporary culture, especially the “new atheists” – their viewpoints and the responses they have provoked from both religious and secular thinkers. Students will read various texts and scholarly treatments that argue for and against atheism/agnosticism. Focus will be on placing atheistic/agnostic thinkers in their historical and intellectual contexts and understanding their (mode of) argumentation and the varied response such has provoked: culturally, intellectually, and politically. This course will not condemn or promote atheistic or agnostic ideas per se, though students will be asked to assess claims and argumentation. Ultimately, the course will enable students to understand what atheists, agnostics, and their critics think and to place these ideas in a broader cultural perspective. Thus, students will be prepared to assess these ideas for themselves. (GE2B)