Michael Buckley once argued that theology’s friends caused it damage, and contributed to the emergence of modern atheism. This unit charts a course through a variety of modern forms of atheism in order to understand not only the variety of atheisms and atheistic arguments, but to appreciate the contribution of theologies to forms of agnostic and atheistic denial. The unit functions to provide two things: first, it introduces students to modern philosophies insofar as they pertain to the question of God; and, second, it serves as a course in the doctrine of God and the Christian traditions of negative theology.

Unit code: AP3800A

Unit status: Archived (New unit)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: Philosophy

Delivery Mode: Face to Face

Proposing College: St Athanasius College

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Learning outcomes


Demonstrate understanding of the development of modern atheism in the West


Critically evaluate the relationship between a variety of forms of atheistic philosophy and Christian belief


Outline the approaches undertaken by key atheist philosophical figures


Outline key elements of the history of modern forms of atheistic philosophy


Identify and analyse theological assumptions embedded within non-theological text


Demonstrate the capacity to research a specific topic in a critically rigorous, sustained and self-directed manner.


Mixed mode (lecture, seminar, discussion fora, blended learning, flipped classroom

Indicative Bibliography

  • Bowie, Andrew, Aesthetics and Subjectivity: From Kant to Nietzsche, 2nd edn. (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2003).
  • Buckley, Michael, At the Origins of Modern Atheism (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1987).
  • Funkenstein, Amos, Theology and the Scientific Imagination: From the Middle Ages to the Seventeenth Century (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986).
  • Gillespie, Michael Allen, *The Theological Origins of Modernity (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2008).
  • Gunton, Colin E., The One, the Three and the Many: God, Creation and the Culture of Modernity. The 1992 Bampton Lectures (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993).
  • MacIntyre, Alasdair and Ricoeur, Paul, The Religious Significance of Atheism (Columbia University Press, 1969).
  • Martin, Michael (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Atheism (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007).
  • Milbank, John, Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason (Oxford and Malden: Blackwell, 1990).
  • Placher, William C., The Domestication of Transcendence: How Modern Thinking About God Went Wrong (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996).
  • Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age A Secular Age (Cambridge, Mass., and London: Belknap Press, 2007).
  • Merold Westphal, Suspicion and Faith: The Religious Uses of Modern Atheism (New York: Fordham University Pres, 1993).


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Essay 1500 30.0
Essay 3000 70.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 27 Mar, 2020

Unit record last updated: 2023-09-06 13:42:35 +1000