RLB514 Transformations of Modern Atheism

Faculty of Arts
Spring 2017
Extent and Intensity
1/1/0. 5 credit(s). Type of Completion: k (colloquium).
doc. PhDr. David Václavík, Ph.D. (lecturer)
Guaranteed by
doc. PhDr. David Zbíral, Ph.D.
Department for the Study of Religions - Faculty of Arts
Contact Person: Mgr. Šárka Londa Vondráčková
Supplier department: Department for the Study of Religions - Faculty of Arts
each even Monday 14:10–15:45 pracovna, except Mon 6. 3. ; and Mon 13. 3. 14:10–15:45 pracovna
Course Enrolment Limitations
The course is only offered to the students of the study fields the course is directly associated with.

The capacity limit for the course is 30 student(s).
Current registration and enrolment status: enrolled: 0/30, only registered: 0/30
fields of study / plans the course is directly associated with
Course objectives
The course is focused on the analysis of the transformations that the phenomenon of atheism in European thinking and society has undergone during the Modern Age. It will concentrate on several levels that relate to the phenomenon. The first one will be the semantic level, then the philosophical level and finally the socio-political level. The aim will be to show that modern atheism is essentially an ideological-political concept, whose analytical use in science is very limited. In connection with the examination of this hypothesis, attention will be paid not only to the analyzes and the critical reflection of the "classical" forms of modern atheism (eg, enlightenment atheism, Marxist atheism, Positivist atheism, etc.), but also its contemporary forms, above all so-called new atheism, as well as recent attempts to critically deal with the phenomenon of atheism in contemporary Western society, which are linked to attempts to redefine it and apply new typologies, as well as the introduction of new categories, particularly the category of unbelief.
Learning outcomes
The student will be able to:

define the basic types of atheism; analyze and interpret selected key texts of modern atheism; critically analyze the differences between atheism, agnosticism, apathy; describe differences between secularism and atheism
  • Basic definition of atheism. Genealogy of the term and its oldest use; Modern redefinition of atheism. From the theological category to the political category; Basic forms of modern atheism I. Enlightenment atheism; Basic Forms of Modern Atheism II. Marxist Atheism; Basic Forms of Modern Atheism III. Positivist atheism; Basic forms of modern atheism IV. Existentialist atheism; Atheism, secularism and modern society. Attempts to create an analytical category; The so-called New atheism. An attempt to revive one concept; Current attempts at a new definition I. Sociological perspective and concept of unbelief; Current attempts at redefining II. Atheism from the perspective of CSR
    required literature
  • NORENZAYAN, Ara. Big gods : how religion transformed cooperation and conflict. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013. xiii, 248. ISBN 9780691151212. info
  • MCGRATH, Alister E. The twilight of atheism : the rise and fall of disbelief in the modern world. 1st ed. London: Rider, 2004. xiii, 306. ISBN 9781844131556. info
  • BAGGINI, Julian. Atheism : a very short introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. 119 p. ISBN 0192804243. info
  • FEUERBACH, Ludvík. Přednášky o podstatě náboženství. Translated by Zbyněk Sekal. Praha: Státní nakladatelství politické literatury, 1953. 326 s. info
    recommended literature
  • PURZYCKI, Benjamin Grant, Joseph HENRICH, Coren APICELLA, Quentin ATKINSON, Adam BAIMEL, Emma COHEN, Rita MCNAMARA, Aiyana WILLARD, Dimitrios XYGALATAS and Ara NORENZAYAN. The evolution of religion and morality : A synthesis of ethnographic and experimental evidence from eight societies. Religion, Brain & Behavior. Routledge, 2018, vol. 8, No 2, p. 101-132. ISSN 2153-599X. doi:10.1080/2153599X.2016.1267027. info
  • Religion and the new atheism : a critical appraisal. Edited by Amarnath Amarasingam. Boston: Brill, 2010. xv, 253. ISBN 9789004185579. info
  • SMITH, George H. Why atheism? Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2000. 250 p. ISBN 1573922684. info
    not specified
  • A short history of atheism. Edited by Gavin Hyman. New York: In the United States of America and Canada distributed by Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. xx, 212 p. ISBN 9781848851375. info
  • The Cambridge companion to atheism. Edited by Michael Martin. First publishing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. xix, 331. ISBN 9780521603676. info
Teaching methods
Lecture, discussion, reading and analysis of texts
Assessment methods
Active participation (20%); final paper (50%); conspectus (30%)
Language of instruction
Further Comments
Study Materials
The course is taught once in two years.
Listed among pre-requisites of other courses
The course is also listed under the following terms Autumn 2020, Spring 2022.
  • Enrolment Statistics (Spring 2017, recent)
  • Permalink: https://is.muni.cz/course/phil/spring2017/RLB514