Journalist Susan Jacoby, philosopher Colin McGinn, and theologian Denys Turner explore questions such as: Is humanism another kind of religion? Is it religion's evolutionary future, rather than just one of several alternatives? What light does the recent scientific study of religion throw on these possibilities?
How do the new humanists compare to the new atheists? Can an atheist identity be shaped by a positive ethic, or must it be primarily an anti-religious sentiment? How will the persistence of belief and disbelief, as well as the tension between them, shape thought and culture in the 21st century?
Susan Jacoby is the author of Never Say Die and The Age of American Unreason. She began her writing career as a reporter for The Washington Post, and has been a contributor to a wide range of periodicals and newspapers for more than 25 years on topics including law, religion, medicine, aging, women's rights, political dissent in the Soviet Union and Russian literature.
Jacoby has been the recipient of grants from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2001-2002, she was named a fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. Jacoby's other books include Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism (2004); Wild Justice: The Evolution of Revenge, a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1984, and Half-Jew: A Daughter's Search for Her Family's Buried Past.
William P. Kelly
William P. Kelly was appointed president of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York on July 1, 2005. From 1998 through June 2005, he served as the Graduate Center's provost and senior vice president, a tenure that was marked by the recruitment of a remarkable cadre of internationally renowned scholars to the school's faculty.
A distinguished American literature scholar and an expert on the works of James Fenimore Cooper, Dr. Kelly's books include Plotting America's Past: Fenimore Cooper and the Leatherstocking Tales (Southern Illinois University Press), and a work in progress, Exhibiting Nature: Scientific Culture and The American Museum of Natural History.
His numerous articles and reviews have appeared in a broad range of publications including the New York Times Book Review, The American Scholar, and the Journal of Western History, and he is the editor of the Random House edition of The Selected Works of Washington Irving and the Oxford University Press edition of The Pathfinder.
Dr. Kelly graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1971, where he won the David Bowers Prize in American Studies. He was named Outstanding Graduate Student in English at Indiana University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1976. Dr. Kelly also holds a diploma in intellectual history from Cambridge University and in 1980 received a Fulbright Fellowship to France, where he subsequently became visiting professor at the University of Paris.
He was also executive director of the CUNY/Paris Exchange Program and, in 2003, was named Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Academiques by the French Ministry of Education in recognition of his contributions to Franco-American educational and cultural relations.
Colin McGinn (B.Phil., Oxford University), joined the University of Miami Philosophy Department in 2006, having taught previously at University of London, University of Oxford, and Rutgers University. He was the recipient of the John Locke Prize at Oxford University in 1973. His research interests are in philosophy of mind (particularly consciousness, intentionality and imagination), metaphysics, ethics and philosophical logic.
He has published many articles, and is the author of 20 books, including Mental Content (Blackwell, 1989), The Problem of Consciousness (Blackwell, 1991), The Character of Mind (Oxford 1997), Ethics, Evil and Fiction (Oxford 1997), The Mysterious Flame (Basic Books, 1999), Logical Properties (Oxford 2000), Consciousness and Its Objects (Oxford, 2004), Mindsight: Image, Dream, Meaning (Harvard, 2004), and Shakespeare's Philosophy (Harper, 2006).
Gustav Niebuhr is an associate professor of Religion and the Media, director of the Religion and Society Program, director of the Carnegie Religion and Media Minor, and co-director of the Luce Project in Religion, Media, and International Relations at Syracuse University.
Over a twenty-year career in journalism, most recently at the New York Times and, prior to that, at the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Atlanta Journal/Constitution, Gustav Niebuhr has established a reputation as a leading writer about American religion. He is a frequent guest blogger on the Washington Post's "On Faith" column, and he also does occasional commentaries on religion for the National Public Radio program "All Things Considered."
His most recent book, Beyond Tolerance: Searching for Interfaith Understanding in America, will be published in August.
Denys Alan Turner is a British academic in the field of philosophy and theology. He is currently Professor of Historical Theology at Yale University having been appointed in 2005, previously having been Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University. He earned his PhD in Philosophy from Oxford University.
He has written widely on political theory and social theory in relation to Christian theology, as well as on Medieval thought, in particular, mystical theology.