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A Skeptical Studies Curriculum Resource

Atheism: Understanding Secular Arguments

This course was taught at Portland State University.

Excerpt from Syllabus

This course is a systematic examination and analysis of atheism. It is primarily focused upon understanding contemporary secular arguments regarding religion and faith-based belief systems. It is secondarily focused upon exploring what secularism means for metaphysics, epistemology, morality, politics, aesthetics, etc.

Learning Goals

After successfully completing this course students should be able to:

  • Use critical thinking skills to analyze arguments for God’s existence
  • Examine and evaluate counterarguments
  • Understand secular responses to faith-based morality, epistemology and metaphysics
  • Investigate the role evidence ought to play in belief formation
  • Examine basic logical fallacies and their application
  • Explore writings and lectures of contemporary atheist thinkers
  • Research 1) A specific argument for God’s existence, and 2) The counter to that argument
  • Evaluate, Present and Defend findings to the class
  • Address questions of textual exegesis and interpretation and their relevance to religious doctrine and belief
  • Explore the controversy surrounding “the new atheists”
  • Engage debates from leading religious and secular thinkers regarding God’s existence
  • Explore different faith traditions by visiting local religious services and then sharing your experiences with classmates
  • Examine Christian epistemology and warrant through writings of Christian thinkers
  • Reflect on learning experience and articulate those experiences to peers
  • Develop teamwork skills by working with fellow classmates to analyze complicated epistemological problems
  • Engage controversial ideas and attempt to come to a consensus
  • Empower themselves with the tools to navigate questions about faith, God and the meaning of life

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