The Problem of No God

The Problem of No God (UNXD-409)

Georgetown prides itself on its religious ecumenicalism and welcomes students from a variety of religious backgrounds.  But what about those students with no religious affiliation?  How can these students engage with Jesuit practices in an enriching and meaningful way? 

Course Details

Registration will open on Tuesday, April 14 at 3 PM for the class of 2021.

Why Take This Course?

Throughout this course, students will:

  • Think critically and carefully about claims made about morality, meaning, and purpose outside a religious context;
  • Understand foundational principles of Ignatian spiritual practices and reflect upon their applicability outside a religious context;
  • Appreciate the value of ongoing commitment to personal growth as fundamental to a Jesuit education in the humanist tradition.

Georgetown’s Core Curriculum asks all students to wrestle with important existential questions: How did we come into being? Do our lives have purpose? What happens to us when we die?  How do we create an ethical framework for decision-making?  How do we create a life imbued with meaning and purpose?

Through critical reading of both ancient and contemporary texts, we’ll explore some ways in which others have attempted to address these existential questions from outside a religious framework.  From there, we’ll turn to Ignatian spiritual practices– the examination of consciousness, discernment, reflective and imaginative exercises – and reflect on ways in which these practices may or may not apply to non-theist students.

Finally, we’ll look ahead and think about how we can create meaning, purpose and community in our lives, regardless of whether we identify with any specific religious tradition.  How can students who doubt or reject a religious tradition benefit from a Jesuit education?  How might Jesuit practices apply outside of Georgetown? How can non-theist and theist students better engage in meaningful dialog with one another? And how do we create lives with meaning and purpose, regardless of our religious beliefs?

Students of all faiths (and no faith) are invited to participate in this conversation about whether it’s possible to create a good life without believing in an afterlife.

Associate Dean in the School of Foreign Service, First Year and Internal Transfer Student Advisor and Curricular Dean for CULP and IHIS majors

Anthony Pirrotti began his career at Georgetown as a graduate student in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Since then, he has worked at both Georgetown Law Center and Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. His research interests include Christian-Jewish relations in early modern Europe, the history of the Reformation, and early modern English drama. He is the First Year and External Transfer Student Advisor and Curricular Dean for CULP and IHIS majors.