Pitzer College in California Adds A Major in Secularism

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Colleges and universities have long offered majors in religion or theology. But with more and more people now saying they have no religion, one college has decided to be the first to offer a major in secularism.

Starting this fall, Pitzer College, a small liberal arts institution in Southern California, will inaugurate a department of secular studies. Professors from other departments, including history, philosophy, religion, science and sociology, will teach courses like “God, Darwin and Design in America,” “Anxiety in the Age of Reason” and “Bible as Literature.”

The department was proposed by Phil Zuckerman, a sociologist of religion, who describes himself as “culturally Jewish, but agnostic-atheist on questions of deep mystery.” Over the years he grew increasingly intrigued by the growth of secularism in the United States and around the world. He studied and taught in Denmark, one of the world’s most secular countries, and has written several books about atheism.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism

Posted May 10, 2011 at 5:38 am

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1. BlueOntario wrote:

Perhaps an interesting focus for a senior or master’s thesis in another field of study, such as antho or socio. But, to be approved as a major I gotta wonder what the admin were thinking - or smokiing.

May 10, 9:51 am | [comment link]
2. Sidney wrote:

“It has not been studied,” he added.


I’m reminded of John Adams’ remark in the 1790s about not being optimistic about the future of government in France, consisting of ‘thirty million atheists.’  Considering where they and we were then and are now, I can’t argue with his predictive powers.

Religion may not make people better, but it does seem to give them direction and focus.

May 10, 11:57 am | [comment link]
3. Teatime2 wrote:

What exactly would one do with a major like that?

And would the professors teaching these courses have to be agnostics/atheists? When I was in grad. school, our English department offered “The Bible as Literature” courses and they were taught by a devout Christian, lol. Hell’s bells, some high schools here in Texas offer “The Bible as Literature” as an elective. It, and the other offerings, are covered in other departments and classes, for the most part. It’s not cutting edge.

Religious studies departments/degrees make sense; they can prepare students for seminary or a host of humanitarian work, archaeology, research, etc. “Secular studies” bring nothing to the table that isn’t already discussed or addressed at secular universities.

As for the pre-med gal who’s interested in it, she might want to think twice. I wouldn’t want an atheistic doctor and I don’t think many people would. Any doctor who can’t acknowledge that there is a higher power, that we’re not simply evolutionary by-products of some cosmic explosion, and that there is an innate spiritual dimension to human beings isn’t qualified to meet my medical needs.

May 10, 2:01 pm | [comment link]
4. Larry Morse wrote:

Such a major is mere trendiness, as women’s studies and homosexual studies once were. Such courses need have no substance, since their goal is an agenda. Can someone explain to me why the US has gone absolutely batty over and because of trendiness? Why is this bizarre passion so widespread and so thoroughly acceptable? Larry

May 11, 8:09 am | [comment link]

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