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What is atheism? Is it the absence of belief in God? Is it the absence of belief in the supernatural? Or is it a worldview and a way of life? Does atheism always oppose religion, or can the two co-exist or even embrace one another? This course traces the historical development of the set of ideas we now call atheism and takes account of its varieties in the world today. In addition to the history of atheism, we will look at related contemporary topics, such as religion-like secular communities, Islamophobia, and the possibility of an atheist spirituality. This course emphasizes reading and discussion, and students are strongly encouraged to complete the readings and to read with care.


This syllabus was created for the Young Scholars in American Religion program.

Joseph Blankholm

University of California, Santa Barbara

Public College or University
Institution Type

Resource Type

Undergraduate Course
Class Type

Date Published

Religious Studies, History, Philosophy

Religous Tradition


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