My Ethics Professor Is An Orthodox Christian
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21-01-2014, 10:15 PM
My Ethics Professor Is An Orthodox Christian
I signed up with the forum just out of how absolutely irritated and lost I am after today. I've been absolutely loving the college experience, I've had wonderful professors up until this point. I was never afraid to express my views and opinions, until now. I took Ethics this semester (my second semester of my freshman year) because I'm interested in turning my English degree into a pre-law degree, as well as enjoying the first Philosophy course I've ever taken. Sadly, my professor is absolutely convinced that morality (and by extension, ethics) is divined primarily from religious institutions and faith. We've had to read some absolute drivel about soul-damage (Dunno if you've ever heard of it). Basically, he believes people are born with certain moral knowledge of right and wrong, as a baby right out of the womb. He attributes this to a person being born with a soul. Being an atheist who's just 'come out of the closet' recently, I feel awkward and apologetic about my views on these issues. But I completely disagree with him, obviously. He expects us to contribute to the class discussion with our personal opinions and viewpoints, and it's a critical part of our grade, but I couldn't bring myself to utter even a single coherent sentence disputing what he said the first day of class. I also found out I'm surrounded by Baptists and Catholics, so I'll be switching my seating next class for sure so I don't get strung up.

tl;dr: How do I coherently and respectfully express my atheist opinions on morality/ethics in a classroom setting that could be hostile to such ideas?
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21-01-2014, 11:28 PM
RE: My Ethics Professor Is An Orthodox Christian
Maybe it's a test.

Maybe he will start the next session by declaring that everything he said before was BS and he was testing who was willing to demonstrate diversity (as opposed to assimilation)... testing your ethics.

But I doubt it.

Looks like it's a good learning opportunity because he will be giving you context to do your own research to find arguments against his position.

Whether you go public with these arguments is the question.

Only you can ascertain the risk of doing that.

Consider

Good luck.

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21-01-2014, 11:33 PM
RE: My Ethics Professor Is An Orthodox Christian
(21-01-2014 11:28 PM)DLJ Wrote:  Maybe it's a test.

Maybe he will start the next session by declaring that everything he said before was BS and he was testing who was willing to demonstrate diversity (as opposed to assimilation)... testing your ethics.

But I doubt it.

Looks like it's a good learning opportunity because he will be giving you context to do your own research to find arguments against his position.

Whether you go public with these arguments is the question.

Only you can ascertain the risk of doing that.

Consider

Good luck.
Well, I've studied philosophy from afar for a long time now. Considering I'm an autodidact (I primarily self-educate through reading), I've always considered it my job to teach myself, not others jobs to teach me. I've decided that I will debate him, if he says something incredibly outrageous and asks for opinions again. I just need to know how to be rhetorically sound as well as respectful in a classroom setting. Does he really want us to give our opinions/ethics/morals/beliefs? Or is it a sham? I dunno!
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21-01-2014, 11:44 PM
RE: My Ethics Professor Is An Orthodox Christian
You're probably on safer ground if you avoid discussing your own opinions / ethics / morals / beliefs but instead use recognised sources and present them as honest enquiry rather than challenges to his beliefs i.e. "what do you think of Kant's position on... "
As opposed to: " you are wrong because..."

Look out for the latter in the way Chippy (on this forum) presents his opinion and the sometimes hostile reaction this receives.

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22-01-2014, 12:28 AM
RE: My Ethics Professor Is An Orthodox Christian
Under the circumstances, he holds your grade, I wouldn't tell him what I think about his drivel. And, he may hold tenure; in that case, he can say what he wants. Once you have your grade, place a complaint with your university. Tell them, rationally, how you felt taking a class from a professor who couldn't teach ethics beyond his worldview. If he does not have tenure, and others have complained, they may, may, may, listen. I'm afraid you're stuck--so sorry.

"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story." Orson Welles
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22-01-2014, 12:42 AM (This post was last modified: 22-01-2014 01:05 AM by Chippy.)
RE: My Ethics Professor Is An Orthodox Christian
(21-01-2014 10:15 PM)LoneTophat Wrote:  tl;dr: How do I coherently and respectfully express my atheist opinions on morality/ethics in a classroom setting that could be hostile to such ideas?

All of the ethical theories that I am aware--except one, namely divine command morality--are secular even though some of their exponents were religious. There is no necessity or profit in saying:

I am an atheist so...<your ideas about ethics>

Just critique his divine command morality. You don't even need to have a viable substitute to offer a critique.

Also, most people will have some sort of bias. I can imagine the inverse of your situation where a religious student is complaining about a lecturer's bias in favour of Benthamite utilitarianism. Your lecturer is allowed to have an opinion--that isn't in itself a bad thing. So long as he devotes equal time in his exposition of each of the major schools of thought then he hasn't really misbehaved.
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22-01-2014, 01:01 AM
RE: My Ethics Professor Is An Orthodox Christian
(21-01-2014 10:15 PM)LoneTophat Wrote:  tl;dr: How do I coherently and respectfully express my atheist opinions on morality/ethics in a classroom setting that could be hostile to such ideas?

You might find this video interesting. This is from the point of view of a Christain (pre-deconversion to atheism) as he encounters a college level ethics class as taught by a secular agnostic.







The rest of Evid3nc3's series on his personal deconversion can be found HERE.

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22-01-2014, 01:12 AM
RE: My Ethics Professor Is An Orthodox Christian
(22-01-2014 01:01 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  
(21-01-2014 10:15 PM)LoneTophat Wrote:  tl;dr: How do I coherently and respectfully express my atheist opinions on morality/ethics in a classroom setting that could be hostile to such ideas?

You might find this video interesting. This is from the point of view of a Christain (pre-deconversion to atheism) as he encounters a college level ethics class as taught by a secular agnostic.







The rest of Evid3nc3's series on his personal deconversion can be found HERE.
That was intriguing... Thanks for sharing!
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