Summer Reading Group: Humanism and the Death of God

We are excited that this year’s Spectrum Summer Reading Group will focus on a work written by someone familiar to many readers of this website. Ronald Osborn is the author of numerous essays and books broaching issues ranging from creationism to the thought of Noam Chomsky. In his recently published book Humanism and the Death of God, his question is an ethical one.

“Can we have a rationally coherent, morally compelling, and historically sustainable discourse, as well as practice, of humanistic values and human rights without a ‘thick’ metaphysical or religious framework?” Osborn asks. And to answer it, he critically engages some of the most prominent post-Enlightenment critics of religion—Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Nietzsche.

Several early reviewers express their appreciation of the book’s incisive and balanced analysis and argumentation. “This book,” Samuel Moyn writes, “is finely wrought for both believers and skeptics alike.” So, we welcome everyone—skeptics, believers, and those somewhere between (or, perhaps, beyond)—to join us in this late summer conversation about important and timely issues and ideas.

Here’s the reading/posting schedule we’re planning to follow:

Aug. 18 - Chapter 1: Naturalism and Nihilism, p.1-23 (Daryll Ward)

Aug. 25 - Chapter 3: Rights After Marx, p. 75-127 (Lisa Clark-Diller)

Sept. 1 - Chapter 2: Dignity After Darwin, p. 23-74 (Clifford Goldstein)

Sept. 8 - Chapter 4: Equality After Nietzsche, p. 128-159 (Yi Shen Ma)

Sept. 15 - Chapter 4: Equality After Nietzsche, p. 159-175 – (TBD)

Sept. 22 - Chapter 5: Beyond Humanism, p.176-207 – (Brenton Reading)

Sept. 29 - Chapter 5: Beyond Humanism, p. 208-232 – (Nicholas Miller)

As in past years, you are invited to order or download your copy of the book and join in the discussion. The book’s publisher, Oxford University Press, is generously offering a 30% discount for books purchased directly through their website. Feel free to leave a comment below if you’re planning to participate (and to receive the coupon code).

Zane Yi is an assistant professor of religion at Loma Linda University’s School of Religion where he teaches courses in philosophy and theology. He serves as an officer in the Society of Adventist Philosophers.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Many thanks to Dr Yi for his enlightening thoughts in his book" Humanism and the Death of God". Hovever,my own views are that it may well be an entertaining hour or two, of an evening, to follow the( terribly flawed, in part) reasoning of atheists/sceptics suc h as Richard Dawkins, Nietzsche, Darwin, et al but they do not really contribute much to enlarge our understanding ofthe basic fundamental
issues they purport to address.I am now at ther stage where I grudge the time I may take to read the views of some “Cloistered atheist” as it were since I now hold that it is an apalling folly to NOT believe in God. Nevertheless , I must admit that these men may well have felt “Provoked” by the rampant self-assured claims of some creationists that all terran life(animal/ vegetable, and the various atmospheric conditions neccessary for these and their antecedents) was created in the space of 144 hours earthtime. To my way of thinking this would not be possible, and may even havebeen ionspired by a seven-day pagan drama of creation staged annually in Babylon, which the Jewish writers of Genesis witnessed, to celebrate on everyNew Year. I am thererfore quite eager to see the papers prfesent By the Society Of Adventist Philosophers (S.O.A.P.) addressing thesae and other such matters. Yahweh(populary known as GOD) did lead out in Managing and coordinating the creation issue. Evolution in terms of the creationo of species is not even on the way to, much less IN the ballpark of explanations regarding origions of terran life.

I thouroughly enjoyed Ronald Osborn’s brilliant, thought provoking and provocative book, DEATH BEFORE THE FALL, and am now reading it for the second time. So I cannot wait to consume his new publication.

Osborn attributes his beautiful writing style to his English professor, now deceased, Dr Ottilie Stafford of Atlantic Union College. It does not take an Ivy League education to become a compelling author, conveying convincing cogent new ideas.

What a shame that this wonderful writer is himself blacklisted from teaching on our Adventist campuses because he is considered "too liberal ".

When OXFORD UNIVERSITY will publish your books but AUC will not hire you, there is something missing in the equation!

What a loss for Adventist education!


I’m interested. Could you send the code to me? Thank you

Ditto for me. Thanks.

Looking forward to this summer-reading. Ron Osborn’s book is on my reading-list, and this provides an excellent opportunity, not just to read it, but also to get valueable insights from several perspectives. I’m now in the process of reading Mark C. Taylor’s After God, an author who speaks to the themes Osborn engage.

It is a gross misconception to assosiate Nietzsche with atheist philosophers. Actually, their insights refuse both atheism and strong foundational theologies, and are very critical both of religious and scientific fundamentalism in our time.

Nietzsche + Dawkins = false!

Sad to hear that Ron Osborn is on a blacklist in institutional Adventism - yes, what a loss for the church!

Would like to receive the code.

1 Like

I got the book for less on Amazon.

Thanks to all for your interest in my book. For the record, I should perhaps state that to my knowledge I have not been blacklisted from Adventist institutions. I am currently working for ADRA in Sudan.


Carmen, the code is AAFLYG6. Looking forward to reading the book together!

Ole, glad to hear you’ll be joining us. Here is the coupon code AAFLYG6.

Michael, here you go: AAFLYG6. Looking forward to the conversation.

Glad to hear of your interest in the book, Robin. The coupon code is AAFLYG6.

Great to hear from you, Ron. Hope you can join us occasionally to make sure we are reading you correctly!

Jim, glad you’ll be joining us. The discount code (30%) should take the price of the book down to $56 for the print version. Still a bit steep, I know, and Amazon may have faster delivery, but am grateful OUP was willing to work with us.