The book, The God Delusion, by distinguished evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, purports from the point oƒ view of natural science to falsify belief in God. Our course will evaluate Dawkins’s thesis, which will take us into some big issues, e.g., faith, reason, belief, why religion has been so vital in the human career, is religion a force for good or evil . . . and, finally, what IS religion? The Highlands, Limit: 26 Course is closed
Suggested (not Required) Book: Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, ISBN 0618680004 or 9780618680009.
Steve Piker is a retired anthropologist, has done much teaching and research on religion, and has offered a number of courses at Midcoast Senior College, as well as OLLI and Lewiston/Auburn Senior College.
Additional Course Information from Steve Piker:
I have a couple of main purposes in mind for this course……. one purpose, one might say, big……. and one bigger
The big purpose is to evaluate Richard Dawkin’s book, THE GOD DELUSION. Dawkins, as I expect many of your know, is a distinguished evolution scientist, whose work is widely and highly admired. In this book, he goes beyond the explication of evolution science, which he does superbly and engagingly and enjoyably in others of his books, to deploy his understanding of evolution science to – in a word – trash religion…….all religion, present and past, but especially modern Western religion, grounded in the Judaeo Christian conceptions of
God. Simply, in Dawkins’ view, the belief that God exists, that God is real, should be treated as a scientific hypothesis……. as should all beliefs about anything and everything that may be said to exist, to be real. And, Dawkins argues, if it is so – properly – treated, natural science(including especially evolution science)shows clearly that the hypothesis, the belief in the reality of God, is false and should be discarded. The intellectually, scientifically sound alternative is atheism.
Although Dawkins has his own characteristically engaging and eminently accessible phrasing of this issue…… this debate, if you will…….the issue is alive and well in our immediate world, and of the first importance to many of several persuasions and walks
Wherever, though, anyone may stand on this issue, religion indisputably is and always has been of vast and vital importance in the human career. The bigger purpose of our course, then, will be to use Dawkins’ book as a jumping off point to explore……what, fundamentally, is religion as a human, cultural institution? Which will lead us, inter alia, to the following…….. a) The contents of religious beliefs and rituals. b) No one is born religious, any more than anyone one is born cultural in other ways, e.g., language or kinship. How, as part of growing up, do we become religious? c) Religion and faith. d) Religion and rationality. e) Religion and community. f) Religion and human conflict
And…… on a more personal note…….. This course will not aim at developing a compellingly satisfactory answer to the questions…….. Does God exist? Is God real? I strongly suspect, though, that some perhaps many of us do have our own answers to this question, answers which are compelling to each of us. And I strongly suspect that disagreement abounds here. For me, this is an entirely satisfactory state of affairs, in fact, I welcome it……. As I welcome opportunities to discuss and explore such disagreements in a spirit of mutual respect and affirmation…..opportunities with which I expect that this course will provide for us.
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