Faculty Profile: Phil Zuckerman

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Phil Zuckerman, Pitzer Professor of Sociology and Secular Studies, will be discussing his book, Living the Secular Life, broadcast via Facebook Live on November 13th, 2017.

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Video Transcript

Philosophers have always grappled with questions is there a God or not for example.

Or do you need a God in order to be moral.

Those are philosophical conversations that are very compelling, but the question here is not so much is there a god or not. We’re interested in the people who think there isn’t.

My name is Phil Zuckerman I’m a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College.

About 15 years ago my research was primarily looking at religion sociologically, but it started to dawn on me that more and more Americans were becoming non-religious and more and more people around the world were becoming non-religious.

There was really no disciplinary home to talk about this phenomena atheism, agnosticism, skepticism, humanism, naturalism, rationalism, these things have been discussed here and there.

But, there was no rigorous social scientific study of non-religious people, non-religious families, non religious movements. Secular studies take seriously the fact that more and more people are living their lives without religion and that non-religious movements and ideologies play a significant role in human thought, culture and politics.

We tend to think of secularity as a new thing part of modernity oh as we’ve got modern and as science has developed and industrialization. Well then, religion tries to wither but there’s this notion that people were always really just way back when and yet we have evidence of atheism, agnosticism, humanism skepticism going back two, three, four thousand years. There have always been non-religious people throughout history.

Passion is everything and it’s actually what motivates all my academic work.

If I walk into a classroom and I’m not genuinely passionate about what I’m going to talk about.

What a nightmare whenever I teach I try to think well what really matters here?

What is the story here, why am I compelled to talk about this?

If I can’t get genuinely excited about an idea, a theory a study I’m not going to present it to students and that’s what keeps me going in the classroom because I actually like enjoying what we’re talking about I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with secularity and secularism and secular studies it’s not like I think of like okay what’s motivating me I’m just going. I’m just going.

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Page updated on November 17, 2017