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.