Is it Time for a Strictly Atheist University?

What do you think? See below:

Luke of Common Sense Atheism was commenting on the Bill Craig v. Christopher Hitchen's debate at Biola University when he also said:
Being at Biola reminded me that there are dozens of universities with entire programs devoted to teaching students how to argue for the existence of God. Hundreds of bright young students are being trained like Craig. Many will probably become pastors or theologians, but many of them will be writing books and getting professorships in philosophy and the sciences. In contrast, I don’t know of any programs that teach arguments against the existence of God (except philosophy of religion programs, which teach both sides). And there is certainly nobody who believes it is their divine and cosmic purpose to devote their life to defending the truth of atheism. It’s a wonder atheism is so vastly over-represented in American academies. Here's the link.
First posted on April 12, 2009.

25 comments:

___________________________ said...

I don't see a reason to attempt to create a new university. After all, it takes massive financial resources to create a university.

Not only that, but I would bet that atheists would be less interested, as atheism is not a worldview but rather a lack of a God. I would also doubt that parents would be very big on sending children there as well.

If a university emerges, I cannot imagine it being under a strictly atheist principle as Bible colleges are strict, but rather under a broadly atheist ideology, like rationality, or skepticism, or humanism, or secularism, or a mildly expressed materialism.

ZAROVE said...

Humanism isn't that broad. Its every bit as Stirct and dogmatic (Not meanign that offensively) as any other religion. (And Humanism, asmuch as modern Humanists protext, is a Religion.)

The truth is, a smuch as Atheism isnt a Religiion, neither is Theism, but their are striclty Atheistic Religions, such as Zen Buddhism, Secular Humanism, and some forms of Tau.

But this idea is silly since you lot have mmany Universities alreayd attacking Christianity and theism in general. Look at Berkely or the University of Mitchigan...


And Ayn Rands Objectivism is another example, as they have an institute to teahc it now.

Jason Long said...

One of the strengths of atheist philosophy is that it is primarily acquired through objective sources. People typically acquire atheistic beliefs through objective study, whereas Christian arguments are acquired through a continuation of indoctrination. A purely apologetic source for atheism would destroy that objectivity.

Erlend said...

Secular universities for all intents and purposes are pragmatically atheistic. Or perhaps more accurately naturalistic, and why the heavy majority of tenured academics hold no religious viewpoint. That is why their peer-reviewed journals don't allow you to put 'God did it' into history or science- and why Christians have to start the journal of evangelical theological and the discovery institute.

There might be scope to start courses on atheistic or humanist thought and application. In the U.K. we have started having humanism as part of the RMPS (Religious Moral and Philosophical Studies) course for example.

C Woods said...

I, personally, would love to attend an atheist university, but I am retired and I don't care what anyone thinks and I'm not looking for a new career. The reality is that a degree from such a school might put off potential employers, while the school itself might be the target of religious zealots who want to send a bunch of atheists to hell, all at once. A better idea is to persuade public universities which teach any kind of religion classes -- be they history of religion or philosophy ---to include information about the history/philosophy of freethought.

feeno said...

If you thought Graig V. Hitchens was a beat down, just imagine what Notre Dame would do to your Atheist football team? Go Irish!!!

DJ Wilkins said...

John, I encourage the idea, but I think practically it might be best in a different form.

How about an online by invitation only "Counter-Apologetics University"?

This could simply be a place for counter-apologists to ask questions and receive training the way that Christians receive apologetics training at so many university. However, this would have negligible cost and few limits on audience beyond those limits desired.

It could be a resource site with video, articles and a forum... without Christian intrusion or interruption (giving the same benefits Christians have at their universities.)

There could be some kind of certification based on demonstration of engaging the culture through blogs and youtube videos. These could be "assignments" even with different degrees of difficulty worked through as each student is able or interested. Students would receive feedback from facillitators and fellow students on their approaches and where they could improve.

A voluntary vow to continue to raise awareness in the culture of an comprehensively humanistic alternative understanding of morality and meaning in this life and Christianity's origins as one more religion could be offered.

If something like that were going on, I'd certainly be interested in being a student and possibly a contributing "professor" one day.

This could simply be a naturally outgrowing of the Debunking Christianity blogspot and team today.

Whiskyjack said...

Like most of the others, I don't see the need to create an atheist university. First of all, to me atheism simply means refusing to give assent to the proposition that a god exists. That's not a belief system, so there's not much about it that could be taught.

Secondly, an ordinary thoughtful education in any of the sciences or philosophy should suffice to provide a student with more than an adequate basis for rejecting the hypothesis of a god. What we don't need is a university system dedicated to purely naturalistic or materialist philosophy. I'm instinctively averse to the exclusion of subjects purely on ideological grounds.

AIGBusted said...

I don't think an atheist university should be created. Human beings should, above all else, stand for truth, and it is hard to find the truth when you set up an atmosphere in which you can only breathe in the fumes of one particular belief system.

DJ Wilkins said...

I also don't have any interest in an "Atheist University" per say.

Then again, I don't believe in the term Atheist (aka non-Theist) anymore than I believe in describing someone as a non-Irish or a non-Muslum.

People should be defined by what they ARE, not that which they are not. And I'd agree that most secular university's can provide a good education in this sense.

However, I wonder if the real interest of those with the idea doesn't come down to responding to all the indoctrination occurring in the country. More of those interested in "rational response" (as one group calls it) being more organized and intentional about it seems like a more fitting route.

DJ Wilkins said...

And certain this site serves as one example of that.

Paddy Jive said...

This is obviously someone seeking indoctrination rather than education. I always find that hilarious. If someone needs reinforcement of what they already believe and drastically fear exposure to what they don't believe, why are they attending a university?

Bill said...

“Before you begin you must not know the answer.” — Richard P. Feynman, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, p. 103

An “atheist university” doesn’t seem to me to be much different from a religious school. The purpose seems to be reinforcing what you already believe, as opposed to learning something you don’t already know.

Amanda said...

I'm in agreement with C Woods. Bring on the Atheist University! I would attend happily and with honor!

Brenda said...

How to prove that atheism is NOT a belief system and is only the "lack of belief"?

Start an atheist seminary!!

Ken Pulliam said...

John,

I like the idea of providing online courses and perhaps a few one week module classes for those who are interested in Counter-Apologetics. It would be focused primarily on those who want to understand better the reasons why one ought to reject Christianity and religion in general. It could be the counterpoint of the M.A. degree in Apologetics offered by BIOLA (where William Craig teaches), Southern Evangelical Seminary (where Norm Geisler teaches) and Liberty University (where Gary Habermas teaches).

I like the idea and would lend my support.

David John said...

I say yes, create a counter-apologetics master's program.

Christian Agnostic said...

Oh deary, deary me. A strictly 'atheist' University. In God we don't trust...We are committed materialists! Bachelors in Applied Naturalism, Masters courses in Skeptical New Testament Studies (even more skeptical then existing courses at Princeton, Yale and Harvard those well known bastions of overtly Christian bias).

I have to say that this is perhaps one of the most deeply silly ideas that has been muted on this blog (And there is serious competition for that). It completely undermines the idea that atheism is not an all-encompassing worldview. It also belies the seemingly unending human need to proselytize, whatever your belief system. Dumber then a box of rocks.

John W. Loftus said...

I just created a new blog where I'll introduce the program, the professors and the classes to be offered. I think it'll work. Check it out. Details to follow.

Eric J.S. said...

I have asked for an atheist university myself. I think it would be weird at first because this kind of stuff lacks a lot of precedents. It would be attacked a lot, but I think it would get a lot of good atheist students. I know a lot of smart atheists in my high school, and I know some not-so-smart atheists. Mostly, those with an drive for knowledge and learning are going to be common.

I wonder how many students would be philosophy-oriented and how many science-oriented. Many will be in humanities because I have met many atheists who gotten their freedom from religion that way.

If there ever comes a time such an university needs a professor, especially of philosophy, I would really want to work there. Of course, I have to get my college education first.

I really dislike the claims some of the commentators make because they think it is somewhat dogmatic to not be convinced of their imaginary friend. The university may be atheistic, but that is only a part. There may be a representation of the many atheistic moral systems.

I really think a good class people should take is inductive knowledge theory, which would explain the difference between not accepting a claim until reasonably demonstrated and saying something is impossible.

Eric J.S. said...

I believe theist find it so offensive to make an atheistic school because they think theism is the default position. It is not. Atheistic school would be just starting from godless standpoint. Now, if theism was not such a big deal for universities, making an atheistic school would be as meaningless as making an a-unicorn school.

Material monoism is the philosophy that there is one type of matter. Methodological materialism is the use of inductive reasoning and Occam's razor to not to multiply variables beyond necessity. So in such a materialistic view, all that is observed within human experience has been of the physical type. Now emotions can be observed in the sense that they are physical processes in the brain. Concepts are not the same thing as something of material because concepts are like the lenses in which we view the world. Concepts help us notice important variables and values within the flood of raw experience.

Once someone understands inductive knowledge theory, it will be easier to understand a universe with various phenomena that are within the preview of being natural as opposed to supernatural, yet not unified by a single theory. Now I am be a little confusing, but it only because I really lack time and energy to go in depth of some of the important reasons one should have a godless inductive theory.

Well, I am sorry to those who disagree with me just because it would take me brain power I do not have at the moment to connect my thoughts to defending an university not predicated on god, like a public school but more specialized in debunking mythology like Myth Busters. I wonder if we can really convince some of the confused people who miss out on "We the People" because they are obsess with whatever someone said someone said that someone said a deity said it wanted A and not B.

Matt McCormick said...

Great question, John. As a philosophy professor and atheist and instructor in an atheism seminar at university, I have an insider perspective here. What the Bible colleges mentioned here amount to are indoctrination factories. That's why many of them are not recognized or accredited by the governing bodies that certify American universities. A church might be impressed with one of those degrees, but not many others.

The point of a liberal arts education is to expose students toa wide range of views, cultures, languages, forms of art, and philosophies with the goal of enlightenment or liberation of the mind. What we are striving to achieve is not students who slavishly adopt some particular ideological agenda, but who can reason critically, think clearly, and solve problems for themselves. Towards that end, I think an explicitly atheist university would be a mistake. What people need is a broad based education in the sciences and humanities, and then their minds will be developed enough to figure out the right answers. But if they end up still being religious (studies show that education is inversely correlated with religiousness) after all of that, they've earned it and insuring their intellectual freedom to come to that conclusion should be our main purpose. In the end, I'd rather have a lot of intellectually enlightened believers than a bunch of narrow minded ideologues, if I had to choose.

Matt McCormick

Paul said...

Well I though thats what public school on a whole was and is today.

You look at theological schools but there is no comparison to the number of public schools and the influence they have on people having no faith in God and believing in the farce of evolution.

Joe said...

Regardless of where the "learning" should be offered (a single class in an existing University for example)we NEED to have it. I agree with C Wood's latter part of his comment. The "general public" needs to know, that there is a "real world" out there (you & me)that doesn't believe or depend on the "supernatural" for their happiness & fulfillment. Also, that we only get ONE life, this one!

Joe said...

Regardless of where the "learning" should be offered (a single class in an existing University for example)we NEED to have it. I agree with C Wood's latter part of his comment. The "general public" needs to know, that there is a "real world" out there (you & me)that doesn't believe or depend on the "supernatural" for their happiness & fulfillment. Also, that we only get ONE life, this one!