So, in explaining the rationale behind my Philosophy for Atheists class all summer, I have been talking about how much recent deconverts from theism can benefit from studying philosophy. It is a great way to go about proactively and rationally reconstructing their views on ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and even philosophy of religion itself through explicitly atheistic, philosophically rigorous, and truly open-ended discussions with a philosopher. It is, in my experience, so liberating and mind-expanding to do philosophy after having been mentally caged by fundamentalist limitations on your thought for years and years. And it also can be excruciatingly difficult to have to sort out one’s views on so many vital issues, many of which are so integral to one’s identity, values, and sense of direction in life, without emotional support and intellectual guidance. So I am passionate about finding deconverts and providing the kinds of philosophical counseling and classes that can meet both the need and opportunity that they are experiencing in their lives.
So, I was especially gratified and excited when the recently deconverted pastor Teresa MacBain contacted me to sign up for my “Philosophy for Atheists” class that will be meeting Sunday nights this summer. Teresa was one of the first graduates of the Clergy Project, the group that helps closeted ministers who have stopped believing in their faith figure out how to come out as an atheist when doing so means risking losing their careers, their families, their friends, and their entire communities’ benevolence. She came out as an atheist in March 2012 at the American Atheists convention and a year later American Atheists gave her their “Atheist of the Year” award. The year in-between was such a heartbreakingly difficult year that her speech describing it at this year’s convention was the most moving I heard all weekend. I have long admired her courage and am very honored that she is giving me the chance to be a part of her process of reworking her understanding of philosophy now that she is looking at the world without Christian eyes for the first time.And doubly gobsmacked that signing up for the same class was the extremely talented and friendly Shelley Segal, the Australian indie pop singer-songwriter (featured in the video above!) who has written some of the best explicitly atheist songs I’ve ever heard and who has been in high demand on the atheist conference and podcast circuit for the last year and a half. I had a blast interviewing her a year ago here. And check out An Atheist Album and Little March her follow up album, which is a collaboration with Adam Levy.
SO, forgive me for being a shamelessly exploitative capitalist here. But with Shelley’s and Teresa’s enthusiastic permission, I thought I would put up a post and let you know that there is still time for you to join Teresa, Shelley, and me as we explore philosophy this summer online. Write me at camelswithhammers@gmail to sign up for this “Philosophy for Atheists” course which has inadvertently become an “atheist celebrity” edition. We postponed the first meeting because of a flight delay that detained Teresa. If you can start meeting with us either this Sunday night, 8pm-11pm EDT or next, we would love to have you on board too!