Study With Leading Thinkers in the Secular Movement


In that video above, you can see John Shook and me dig into the question of what secular ethics is all about. I’ve been a huge fan of John’s ever since he wrote the fantastic resource for arguing about the existence of God The God Debates: A 21st Century Guide for Atheists and Believers (and Everyone in Between), which I used as my textbook when I taught Philosophy of Religion. He is a philosopher, humanist, and pragmatist like me who shares my deep commitment to education outside the academy. Until recently he was at the Center for Inquiry where he developed a model for affordable and convenient online education for non-matriculated members of the secular community, whereby they can take classes with cutting edge thinkers who are both from and committed to the secular community itself. John and I are working out how in the coming months I can complement my own independently run interactive video class offerings with some classes run with his Partners for Secular Activism group.

The Partners for Secular Activism classes are a different style than my own classes’ face to face video discussion format. These involve “asynchronous” learning, i.e., learning where you don’t have to be there at the same time as your teacher or fellow students but instead can do readings on your own and post written comments to an online forum at your convenience.

John explains much more and names the teachers and course topics (with links to course descriptions) slated for May over at his Patheos blog This Secular Life :

Affordable access to thoughtful and dynamic leaders across the nonreligious spectrum has been my priority for many years. Online education is gaining momentum, but high quality and practicality are essential. A new secular educational project is taking the next step in these important directions.

Partners for Secular Activism is a new nonprofit educational organization based in the Washington D.C. area. I have accepted the position of PSA President, and I’m eager to hear input from anyone similarly interested in the possibilities of internet instruction – please reach me at

Our first month of courses, all lasting one month and costing $59, are led by Chris Mooney (science writer at Mother Jones), Richard Carrier (philosopher and historian), Julia Hemphill (doctoral candidate in sociology at York University in Toronto), and George Dvorsky (prominent futurist and transhumanist).

Course lectures, links to readings and videos, and forums for discussions with the instructor and students are included in the online classroom’s website. Some courses will discuss a book, to be purchased first. Visit the classroom website anytime to contribute your posts and receive the instructor’s replies in discussion forums. There is nothing “live” to be missed – log in and participate anytime day or night, 24/7.

PSA will offer three to six courses each month. Sign up for the mailing list at to get advance announcements – classes tend to fill up quickly. Future courses on highly relevant topics are planned from prominent speakers, writers, organizers, and experts from every corner of the nonreligious world, eager to communicate directly with people at the grassroots level.

For more information visit the Partners for Secular Activism webpage.

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.