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Summer Reading Group: Humanism and the Death of God


We are excited that this year’s Spectrum Summer Reading Group will focus on a work written by someone familiar to many readers of this website. Ronald Osborn is the author of numerous essays and books broaching issues ranging from creationism to the thought of Noam Chomsky. In his recently published book Humanism and the Death of God, his question is an ethical one.

“Can we have a rationally coherent, morally compelling, and historically sustainable discourse, as well as practice, of humanistic values and human rights without a ‘thick’ metaphysical or religious framework?” Osborn asks. And to answer it, he critically engages some of the most prominent post-Enlightenment critics of religion—Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Nietzsche.

Several early reviewers express their appreciation of the book’s incisive and balanced analysis and argumentation. “This book,” Samuel Moyn writes, “is finely wrought for both believers and skeptics alike.” So, we welcome everyone—skeptics, believers, and those somewhere between (or, perhaps, beyond)—to join us in this late summer conversation about important and timely issues and ideas.

Here is the reading/posting schedule we are planning to follow:

Aug. 18 – Chapter 1: Naturalism and Nihilism, pp.1-23 (Daryll Ward)

Aug. 25 – Chapter 2: Dignity After Darwin, pp. 23-74 (Clifford Goldstein)

Sept. 1 – Chapter 3: Rights After Marx, pp. 75-127 (Lisa Clark-Diller)

Sept. 8 –  Chapter 4: Equality After Nietzsche, pp. 128-159 (Yi Shen Ma)

Sept. 15 – Chapter 4: Equality After Nietzsche, pp. 159-175 – (Julius Nam)

Sept. 25 – Chapter 5: Beyond Humanism, pp.176-207 – (Brenton Reading)

Oct. 3 – Chapter 5: Beyond Humanism, pp. 208-232, Part 1 – (Nicholas Miller)

Oct. 11 – Chapter 5: Beyond Humanism, pp. 208-232, Part 2 – (Nicholas Miller)

As in past years, you are invited to order or download your copy of the book and join in the discussion. The book’s publisher, Oxford University Press, is generously offering a 30% discount for books purchased directly through its website. Please use coupon code AAFLYG6 during checkout. Feel free to leave a comment below if you are planning to participate.

Zane Yi is an assistant professor of religion at Loma Linda University’s School of Religion where he teaches courses in philosophy and theology and directs the MA in Religion & Society program. He serves as an officer in the Society of Adventist Philosophers.

Image Credit: Oxford University Press.

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