1.5 Philosophical Debate with Religion

As a philosopher who works for the Center for Inquiry, a think tank that advocates secularism and science, I speak to the public about the nonreligious stance. There are perhaps as many as fifty academic philosophers in North America who do this sort of work in blogs, debates, public talks, or mass print publications, at a part-time to full-time pace. A few, such as Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris, are among the most recognizable names in philosophy today. It's time to reflect on what this philosophical challenge to religion is accomplishing: what are the distinct strategies of secular philosophers, and are any of them working? Opinions vary widely, from "It’s not even a rational thing to debate" to "Naturalism and secularism are making good headway with people's minds." This workshop invites people to share their encounters with secular/naturalistic philosophy and its confrontations with religious belief in recent years. Is philosophy contributing much to this secular-religious dialogue? Can any tentative judgments be formed about the philosophical merits or pitfalls of secular-religion debate? What kind of practices and engagements might be most productive in doing this kind of work?

Workshop Leader
John Shook, University at Buffalo and Center for Inquiry

Participants
Donald Hood
William J. Hawk
David McClean
Kevin deLaplante
David E. Schrader
Karin Fry
Chong Un Choe
Marilyn Friedman
Michelle Gallagher
Matt Hunter
Caroline Darman, J.D.; candidate for M.A., Philosophy & Religion, American University