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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Undergraduate Course: Atheism in Debate: Dawkins, his allies and his opponents (DIVI08002)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course investigates contemporary atheism and its critics. It considers the great atheists of the past as predecessors to the writings of Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), Daniel Dennett (Breaking the Spell), Sam Harris (The End of Faith) and Christopher Hitchens (God is not Great), together with fierce rebuttals by their opponents. Visiting students are especially welcome.
Course description week one Introduction
week two Eighteenth Century France: Voltaire
week three Eighteenth Century Germany: Lessing
week four Eighteenth Century Empiricists: Hume and Mill
week five Nineteenth Century Empiricists: Darwin and Huxley
week six Twentieth Century Empiricists: Ayer and Others
week seven Nineteenth Century Germany: Hegel and Strauss
week eight Nineteenth Century Germany: Feuerbach
week nine Nineteenth Century Germany: Marx
week ten Nineteenth Century Germany: Nietzsche
week eleven Review
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting Students especially welcome. Students should be in at least second year of study; prior study of religion courses an advantage but not required.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2014/15, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 33, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 151 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) There will be two essays required, each of 2000 words. The first, due in the middle of the semester, will count for 35%, and will be a book review of one of the primary texts, selected by the student. The second, due during the exam period, will count for 65%, from a selection of set essays published at the start of the course. The difference in weighting will permit formative feedback, and will permit students to build on what they have learned in the previous essay or essays.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
- understand the main texts set for tutorials, and show an ability to summarise a significant body of material concisely and clearly;
- summarise the principal arguments of the atheists and their critics, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and offer critical analysis of one or more topics in the set texts;
- differentiate the views of the atheists and those of their interpreters, identify key terms and their meanings, and identify challenges in interpreting the primary texts;
- structure an argument, use correct grammar in expressing philosophical ideas, and support claims with reference to specific named primary and secondary texts;
- demonstrate an ability to identify key terms and their meanings;
- demonstrate good judgement about how to judge the relative importance of items on course bibliographies, and of arguments made in individual works, and engage in constructive scholarly discussion and debate with other seminar members.
Reading List
Primary Texts:

Richard Dawkins The God Delusion (Black Swan, 2007)
Daniel Dennett Breaking the Spell (Penguin, 2007)
Sam Harris The End of Faith (Free Press, 2006)
Christopher Hitchens God Is Not Great (Atlantic, 2007)

Historical Texts:

Voltaire Candide
Gotthold Lessing On the Proof of the Spirit and of Power
David Hume Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (Section X)
JS Mill Autobiography
AJ Ayer Language Truth and Logic
GWF Hegel Phenomenology of Spirit
DF Strauss Life of Jesus Critically Examined
Ludwig Feuerbach Essence of Christianity
Karl Marx A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel┐s Philosophy of Right
Friedrich Nietzsche: The Antichrist

Secondary Texts:

David Fergusson Faith and its Critics (OUP, 2011)
David Bentley Hart Atheist Delusions (Yale, 2010)
Terry Eagleton Reason, Faith and Revolution (Yale, 2010)
John Humphrys In God We Doubt (Hodder, 2008)
Alister McGrath The Dawkins Delusion (SPCK, 2007)
Michael Poole The New Atheism (Lion Hudson, 2009)
David Robertson The Dawkins Letters (Christian Focus, 2007)
Jonathan Sacks The Great Partnership (Hodder & Stoughton, 2011)
Keith Ward Why There Almost Certainly Is A God (Lion Hudson, 2008)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Ability to summarise difficult material;
Ability to structure arguments logically;
Ability to interpret set texts;
Ability to produce a properly referenced essay.
Course organiserDr Mark Harris
Tel: (0131 6)50 8914
Course secretaryMs Katrina Munro
Tel: (0131 6)50 8900
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