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: AP9800A

Unit status: Archived (New unit)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Philosophy

Delivery Mode: Face to Face

Proposing College: St Athanasius College

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Learning outcomes


Understand the development of modern atheism in the West


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


Analyse the approaches undertaken by key atheist philosophical figures


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


Identify and analyse theological assumptions embedded within non-theological text


Critically engage with negative theological traditions in conjunction with contemporary questions of theological disbelief


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

  • Balibar, Étienne, Citizen Subject: Foundations for Philosophical Anthropology, trans. Steven Miller (New York: Fordham University Press, 2017).
  • 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).
  • Pinkard, Terry, German Philosophy 1760-1860: The Legacy of Idealism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).
  • 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).
  • Turner, Denys, Faith, Reason and the Existence of God (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
  • Merold Westphal, Suspicion and Faith: The Religious Uses of Modern Atheism (New York: Fordham University Pres, 1993).


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Essay 2000 30.0
Essay 5000 70.0

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

Unit record last updated: 2023-09-06 13:41:57 +1000