Millionaire Funds A University Chair Of Atheism

At the University of Miami a wealthy donor has funded a Chair of Atheism. UM is a private secular university.

It is noteworthy that a university would accept such a donation, the first of its kind. It could reflect shifting ground in religious thinking.

What would be the subject matter taught by a Chair in atheism? Considerable thought has already been given to that question. The professor will not advocate atheism but teach courses that consider non believers since ancient times and teach about the circumstances in which both atheism and various religions came into being. The chair will be held by a professor hired from Notre Dame.

There are various strains of atheism such as agnosticism. Then, there are cultural Jews, Christians and probably atheists.

The man putting up the million plus dollars for the chair told the press why he is doing this. He wants atheism to “have a place at the table” of religious discussions. Whether he will be pleased with what is actually taught in the classes he funded remains to be see. I’m sure there were plenty of discussions with him about the University’s approach to this.

New perspectives in universities have been accommodated after grievances were expressed. Black studies, women’s studies and the like have been worked into existing offerings. Departments of religion have received many grants from Christian groups to investigate issues like the Dead Sea Scrolls.

I think the donor’s goal of making a place at the table for atheism has been achieved at UM.

7 Responses

      1. I’m sure there are Divinity degrees which lead to jobs outside of the field. Not so with a Catholic seminary where 100% employment is the norm. The bigger picture is that all of those men end up as ordained priests unless they drop out of the seminary. I’m thinking that an atheism degree would bring fewer offers of employment than those that you mentioned. I once met a very knowledgeable bus driver on a tour in D.C. He was a history major. The degrees you mentioned can serve as good entries in to law school.

        1. Matt 6:03 I agree training in divinity seems like a good background for other kinds of work. All disciplines probably contribute something. Our son has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. No jobs there, but he is a drug councilor. He understands a wide variety of people. The famous MBA degree is not the track to employment it used to be. Training for specific kinds of work is a good route to finding a job…until that kind of job disappears. I have a relative who followed a master’s degree program set out for some kind of post in agricultural extension. By the time he graduated that post was eliminated nationwide. He drove trucks as a student and has done that ever since. He is doing fine but it illustrates studying for some kind of an occupation does not always work out. A degree in atheism is probably as good as a degree in liberal arts, philosophy or many other fields.

  1. Juan Ruiz

    One endowed chair does not signify a major or minor program. You have to have a number of faculty offering courses. Except of course for some of the small ND schools.

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