Dan Dennett versus two believers (including Reza Aslan): a discussion of faith at the University of Chicago (tickets free)

Maybe it’s a bit clickbaity to use the word “versus” in the title, but since Aslan is a faith-coddler, and the other religionist, William Schweiker, is identified as “Leading Theologian and Ordained Minister of the United Methodist Church, Author of Dust that Breathes: Christian Faith and the New Humanisms, and Director of Enhancing Life Project”, this looks to be a discussion in which there will be disagreement. And it looks like big fun.

Click on screenshot to go to the site, where you can register (just give your name and email) to get one or more free online tickets (click on the green “register” button). I’m going, and of course I’ll report on how it went.

Here’s the description of the program.

Tuesday, February 5th at 5:30 PM
The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
915 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

The Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge invites you to a discussion about the past, present, and future of belief. Join award-winning writer and commentator Reza Aslan (author of Beyond Fundamentalism), controversial philosopher of science and culture Daniel Dennett (author of Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon), and respected religious ethicist William Schweiker for a conversation that will take the long view on religion as a human enterprise: its history, its power, and its prospects. We hope to bring believers, critics, and everyone in between into a productive—and provocative—dialogue about the place of faith in our changing world.

Religion, Identity and the Construction of Faith will be moderated by David Nirenberg, Interim Dean of the UChicago Divinity School. The discussion will be held at the University of Chicago’s Reva and David Logan Center Performance Hall on February 5, 2019. Doors open to the public at 5:00 p.m.; the event will run from 5:30-7:00 p.m., with a reception to follow.

Award-winning titles by these acclaimed authors will be available for sale by the Seminary Co-op Bookstore in the lobby of the Logan Center Performance Hall from 4:30-7:30.

Given the moderator and discussants, it looks as if Dennett will be playing the role of the Greeks at Thermopylae.


  1. Serendipitydawg
    Posted January 28, 2019 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    I look forward to the report. The last time I made dragged myself down to London was when Dan Dennet address the British Humanists a few years back. Well worth the effort, even the overnight stay.

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      addressed. I really can’t multitask, so I must stop trying 😯

  2. Posted January 28, 2019 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Interesting choices of descriptors: “award-winning “, “respected ” and then “controversial “.

    • Posted January 28, 2019 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      Good catch.

      • Posted January 28, 2019 at 8:47 am | Permalink

        And it’s still early out here in the west 🙂

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      Exactly what I was going to say. No favoritism showing here.

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      I guess being a religious ethicist is just way more respectable, though I suspect the title is akin to Zee in Antz describing himself as a “soil relocation engineer”.

      • Posted January 28, 2019 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        The contrast sometimes is with “philosophical ethicist”.

    • Posted January 28, 2019 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      I’ve added a “note the adjectives” to the post; I didn’t catch that!

      • Posted January 28, 2019 at 9:20 am | Permalink

        🙂 Looking forward to your report.

    • DW
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      Reza Aslan has eaten human flesh, but apparently that’s not as controversial as Dennett’s work…

    • BJ
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      Yup. Reza should be described as “consistent fabricator of facts and statistics, and falsifier of his own credentials.” Instead, he is somehow celebrated.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      You beat me to it: the respected philosopher Daniel Dennett and the controversial attention seeker Reza Aslan would be more like it.

  3. GBJames
    Posted January 28, 2019 at 9:11 am | Permalink


  4. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 28, 2019 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    It will be fascinating to observe the difference between reasoning and weaseling.

    I wonder if Deepak will be there?

  5. rickflick
    Posted January 28, 2019 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    It would be nice if it was filmed for viewing by a wider audience.

    • Posted January 28, 2019 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      +1 Since it is a university event, can we count on it? They do have a YouTube channel with some conference videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx68THFECtuAHBOIc_8WeZA. I’ve subscribed so I should get notified.

      • rickflick
        Posted January 28, 2019 at 11:19 am | Permalink

        Thanks. I’ve also subscribed.

      • Posted January 29, 2019 at 12:42 am | Permalink

        YouTube’s been acting up lately and some videos aren’t appearing on my subscription feed, or even on the channel page, so you might want to take note of that.


  6. DW
    Posted January 28, 2019 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I wonder if someone will ask Reza if assaulting children is an article of faith…

  7. BJ
    Posted January 28, 2019 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    It’s unfortunate that Reza a good speaker and so willing to completely fabricate statistics (and his own credentials). People believe him when he spouts completely false information simply because he sounds credible and “like an expert.” He has consistently lied his damn ass off and never gets called out on it by anyone in the mainstream media. That man pisses me off to no end.

    • rickflick
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      I think he’s not an historian of religion, as he often claims, and has almost no credentials. He teaches writing classes. I hope Dennett is thoroughly briefed on Azlan’s background.

  8. Posted January 28, 2019 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    I bought Aslan’s Zealot for $1.98 new, and upon reading it, discovered why it was available for $1.98 new.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 1:00 pm | Permalink


    • W.T. Effingham
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      +1👍 I had a similar experience with “The Art of the Deal” back in the late eighties.

  9. Vaal
    Posted January 28, 2019 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    I’m reminded somewhat of the Python Sketch, The Argument. When Palin approaches the secretary about booking an argument, she consults her schedule book and says “Mr. Baker’s free…but he’s a little bit conciliatory…”

    And so she books him with the feistier “Mr. Bonnard” – John Cleese.

    That’s somewhat how I feel about Dennett in debates with the religious. He ends up a bit too easy going and avuncular, giving a bit more ground than I’d prefer to see, where other atheist debaters will pounce and go for the jugular 🙂

%d bloggers like this: