Subject: Psychology

Suicide and Secularism

This lecture is gratefully indebted to the work of A. Alvarez, Zilla Gabrielle Kahn, and Jennifer Michael Hecht.  References to their work may be found below in the bibliography. My lecture topic is on the issue of suicide, with specific reference to the question of whether the secular community should do more to discourage suicide.  Jennifer Michael Hecht’s 2014 volume, Stay, argues that the atheist/agnostic community has neglected the issue in past years, and continues to do so, instead focusing on the right to commit suicide.  It is easy to understand why the secular community would insist on the right of a person to take their own life.  It is a reaction to the various religions’ positions that suicide is a sin, a grievous offense against their god or gods, and so on.  Such religious notions have made their way into many countries’ legal structures.  It is against the law to take

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Sociology of Religion and Atheism

The sociology of religion concerns the role of religion in society: practices, historical background, developments and universal themes.[1]  This Preface will discuss the four significant figures in the history and development of sociology, religion and methodology. Its second section will try to untangle the threads of sociological research vis-à-vis irreligion.  There was a brief secular flourishing in the 1960’s and 1970’s with such sociologists as Peter Berger (The Sacred Canopy -1967) predicting the decline of religion.  When the predicted decline did not appear to materialize, researchers turned their attention to religion’s functionalist aspect.  There was a dearth of research concerning the secular individual and the irreligious organizations.  The situation is changing and there are now articles, books, and research organizations dedicated to studying secularism objectively.  The non religious viewpoint is becoming heard and understood.  The Book List will feature several of the new volumes and the positive position they hold concerning

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Freud to Cognitive Psychologies

This lecture will discuss atheist and/or secular psychologists and their impact on Western society during the 20th and early 21st centuries.  Freud and Skinner are emphasized, along with two consequential psychologies of the present day—Cognitive and Evolutionary, with a brief glance at the Humanist and Existentialist Schools.  Freud and Skinner are discussed in the context of their psychological theories, the influence their theories had on 20th century thought, and what their atheism had to do with their psychologies. Freud’s (subjective) and Skinner’s (objective) psychologies have similarities in certain respects.  They both maintain that human behavior is the outcome of complexly determined causal events that lie outside awareness.[1] Both psychologies are products of a positivistic and materialist world view that believes people have deep seated delusions and ignorance that prevent them from dealing with themselves and the world in an effective way. The two psychologies are dedicated to saving people from illusions. Both theories issued

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