It’s beginning to look more and more like the attempts to define atheism as a mere lack of belief in God are rooted in sneakiness and intellectual dishonesty.
the University of Miami received a donation in late April from a wealthy atheist to endow what it says is the nation’s first academic chair “for the study of atheism, humanism and secular ethics.”
Religion departments and professors of religious studies are a standard feature at most colleges and universities, many originally founded by ministers and churches. The study of atheism and secularism is only now starting to emerge as an accepted academic field, scholars say, with its own journal, conferences, course offerings and, now, an endowed chair.
Does this mean some university will soon be offering an endowed chair for atoothfairyism? And maybe another will have one for non-stamp-collectors? When we have “the study of atheism” emerging “as an accepted academic field, scholars say, with its own journal, conferences, course offerings and, now, an endowed chair,” it’s dishonest to insist that atheism is akin to atoothyfairyism or not collecting stamps. To study atheism, there must be something more to it than a mere lack of belief in God.
The article also notes:
The university had reason to be cautious, Thomas J. LeBlanc, executive vice president and provost, said in an interview.
“We didn’t want anyone to misunderstand and think that this was to be an advocacy position for someone who is an atheist,” he said. “Our religion department isn’t taking an advocacy position when it teaches about Catholicism or Islam. Similarly, we’re not taking an advocacy position when we teach about atheism or secular ethics.”
Pitzer College, a liberal arts school in Southern California with about 1,000 students, became the first to begin a program and major in secular studies five years ago. Phil Zuckerman, a sociologist of religion who founded the program, said it now offered four courses on secularism of its own and many others by the six professors associated with the department. Only two students have chosen to major in secular studies, he said, but the courses are popular.
Secular studies? What in the world is that? When I went to college, you could have classified every course I took as “secular studies.” Seriously, what distinguishes a “secular studies” course from any other course at a typical university?
“There is a real need for secular studies,” Mr. Zuckerman said. “As rates of irreligion continue to rise, not only here in the U.S.A. but all over the world, we need to understand secular people, secular culture, and secularism as a political and ideological force.”
Understand “secular people?” What does that mean? Are we talking about something like this?