This post is about both my independent videoconference philosophy classes and about Secular Leader Online classes from Greta Christina, John Shook, Myron Jackson, Richard Carrier, Julia Hemphill, Sean Faircloth, David Bagget, and me (Dan Fincke). Click any of our names to jump to our Secular Leaders Online Class course descriptions within this post. Register today for Secular Leaders Online classes (but not my other, videoconferenced, classes) by clicking here.
June is just around the corner! And in order to accommodate people who have more summer flexibility than the rest of the year, I am offering special summer only classes (“Debating The Existence of God”, “Nietzsche”, and “Ethics”) that will meet twice weekly in face-to-face verbally interactive classes using video-conference technology (Google Hangout).
I will also continue my year-round once-weekly classes (Ethics, Nietzsche, and Philosophy for Atheists), which you can join (or have me start up) at any time. Currently there’s a Monday afternoon Ethics class, Wednesday night and Sunday afternoon Philosophy for Atheists class, and a Thursday night Nietzsche class. Classes at other times can start up if you express interest in one. Full up to date information about what classes are running (or could run if there are students) and what the prices and times are is all at my permanent page devoted to my online philosophy classes.
To sign up for any of these live, interactive, face-to-face videoconference classes, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (There is no registration form, you just need to commit to me in writing to a specific class time and I will automatically enroll you as soon as you pay. Class times and prices are the permanent page for my online philosophy classes.
Also write me with any questions or concerns or for any clarifications. Come back to Camels With Hammers tomorrow for exciting special announcements about the summer classes.
The rest of this blog post will be about the Secular Leaders Online classes that are running this summer. I am also teaching one class under their program and using their class format (not to be confused with my independent videoconference classes described above). Read below a summary of my course for them, and how to sign up for it, and read the course descriptions from a number of other very exciting teachers.
The new class is called “God’s Not Dead? How an Unscripted Philosopher can Disprove God”. It is only $59. It runs for June only. In that class, I will be delivering written lectures just for your class, giving you readings and podcasts from around the web to absorb on your own, at your own pace, and you will be interacting, in the form of written comments, with me and other motivated learners in an internet forum that functions as a “virtual classroom”. Register Now.
This class will be a chance for you to learn many more of the intricacies of the best philosophical arguments for the existence of God and against.
For atheists this is a serious chance to bone up on the history and current state of the God debates as carried out by serious philosophers. This experience will prepare you to answer theists’ claims about what philosophy can do to support their position. You will learn from me what my best reasons, as a professional philosopher, are to reject theism, and you will learn my strategies for making arguments that defeat more than strawmen and do so as quickly and devastatingly as possible.
For theists, this is a chance to learn the best arguments out there for theism and to see if they can help you refute an atheist philosophy professor in a sustained, month long argument. I am so eager to have you in this class, lending diversity of thought to it, that I pitched the idea for this class around having you as participants and am designing it so you will get the most out of it and feel like you were treated as fairly as possible. And to get your attention, in my course description and my first announcement, I dared to you to take it. I will give you all the resources you need, all the best available arguments for your side, even playing theists’ advocate for your side sometimes, and point you to where to find more arguments against me. Then it’s up to you to see what you can do by way of defeating me and your atheistic fellow students in a fair, civil, collegial, philosophical argument.
Register now to guarantee your spot in the class!
My virtual online classroom isn’t the only one being offered this summer. There are also these other options, using the same format:
Does Morality Need God? A Christian and an Atheist Debate, taught by atheist philosopher Dr. John Shook & Dr. David Baggett of none other than Liberty University:
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 asHumanist 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.
The Science of Free Will, taught by Dr. Richard Carrier:
Description: We will study the intersection between science and philosophy in defining and understanding free will, with the aim of learning the latest science on the nature and existence of free will and how to critically approach philosophical uses of it. Students will not only learn about the relevant elements of brain science, but also how to identify common philosophical fallacies in reasoning about free will, and the real-world application of the analysis of free will in diverse fields, from law to medical ethics. Course topics: The varieties of free will and the differences among them; identifying causes and the role of personal identity in making decisions (and what the latest brain science has to say about both); the nature and purpose of assigning responsibility to personal agents (in law, ethics, and daily life); the difference between determinism and fatalism, and the importance of addressing both personal and genetic-environmental causes of decisions when thinking about social, political, legal, and moral systems.
Sexual and Gender Diversity taught by Dr. Julia Hemphill (sociologist) & Greta Christina
Description: “Gender”, and what it means to be feminine or masculine, is a cultural creation that has taken on an entrenched “sacred” quality. What is socially constructed 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. For these reasons and many others, sexuality and gender diversity are key issues in atheist and secular communities. This terrain is difficult to navigate and this course represents a comprehensive and simple ‘beginners guide to gender and sexual diversity’, where students will be offered insights into how certain people and groups have come to have the privilege of being considered “normal”. We will also discuss practical ways to recognize and resist how our own identities might be privileged.
The Founding Fathers and Religion, taught by Dr. Myron Jackson and Sean Faircloth:
Does America’s political system have a secular or religious basis? Is the United States a Christian nation, or at least one founded on theism? The course will examine these questions, along with issues of religious toleration and free conscience. We will read Jefferson, Madison, Paine, Tocqueville, and several other founders. Sean Faircloth, former executive director of the Secular Coalition for America, will join the class for a week during June. We will ponder several related issues. What does the “separation” between church and state mean and on what grounds can it be justified? How are we to interpret the religious symbols and heritage found on buildings, currency, in public practices and events, such as sermons, prayers, proclamations, and fastings? What appeals were made to religion in the struggle for American independence? How did the Founders consider religion to be an illegitimate interference with the liberty of the individual? This course will explain the religious freedoms protected under the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses of the first and sixth amendments of the Constitution. One does not have to be Christian nor religious in order to be American. This class examines the facts about the true roles that both religious and secular thinking has played in the founding of America.
Defending Secular Government: Strategies, taught by Sean Faircloth:
Want to stand up against the Religious Right? Need solid results for protecting the secular side of society? That’s what Sean Faircloth knows about. Join this class during June to review strategies for success with a leader having impressive direct experience and a track record of getting results. Yes, for academics, Sean Faircloth graduated cum laude with a degree in Government and International Relations from the University of Notre Dame, and he has a law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. He is an author as well, publishing Attack of the Theocrats! How the Religious Right Harms Us All & What We Can Do About It in 2012. This book is based on his pragmatic experience as a ten-year state legislator and four years as a lobbyist at state and federal levels, busily advocating civic priorities and church-state separation. This course focuses on these priorities today: What it’s like in the trenches competing with the Religious Right; The First Amendment and how the Religious Right endangers it; Messaging: changing the silent secular majority into the winning secular majority; and Logistics: practical strategies for protecting separation of Church and State.