Beyond Belief

Beyond Belief I: Ricoeur Religion, Atheism, Faith

The Summer 2015 course in Beyond Belief will think alongside a short essay by Paul Ricoeur entitled “Religion, Atheism, and Faith.” In the essay (reading is optional), Ricoeur grants that Freud and Nietzsche’s attacks on religion have merit, but explores what opportunities remain for a faith after religion falls away. The classes will move slowly through Ricoeur’s ideas, beginning with how he defines the problem, the two major attacks on religion he finds important, and different types of responses that might give birth to faith. Rather than a class on atheism that would ‘disprove’ God’s existence or a class on theism that would ‘prove’ it, this class allows God to exist as a question that remains important to human beings, and suggests that a faith beyond belief is an orientation that allows us to wonder about a God whose existence and nature remain a mystery to us.

Anchor Text: Ricœur, Paul. “Religion, Atheism, and Faith” in The Conflict of Interpretations. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1974. Print.

Class outline and reading:

1: Definition (440-441)
2:Accusation (442-455)
3: Consolation (455-460)
4: Resignation (460-465)
5: Repetition (465-466)
6: Creation (466-467)