COD Cancels Class about Atheists

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Byline: Catherine Edman Daily Herald Staff Writer

A class focusing on "Significant Atheists" - including some who feared their fathers, were depressed or influenced Adolph Hitler - was pulled this week from the College of DuPage's spring course offerings because of its negative bias.

"I couldn't in good conscience allow this course to go forward," Ed Storke, associate dean for liberal arts, said Tuesday.

Storke said the college started looking at canceling the class last week. Rob Sherman of National Atheists joined the debate Monday when he objected to the course's content.

The class, listed in spring course guides and a supplemental Older Adult Institute brochure, takes a distinctly negative, disparaging view of a group of people linked by their theological opinions, Sherman said.

"What it really was about was finding fault with significant atheists," he said.

Storke said his concerns about the class went beyond potential bias.

"I'm not sure that all the information that purports to be factual is generally accepted by all scholars in the field," he said.

The class, scheduled to be taught by part-time instructor Kanan Rosenstein, would have focused on Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud.

A course description calls the four, "European men recognized as modern atheism's most significant forerunners."

"They feared brilliant, powerful, domineering fathers ... rejected faith, art and beauty ... were depressed and obsessed with death, sex and fear," according to one of two descriptions of the course. The class also would explore "their influence on Adolph Hitler, Neo-Darwinism ... connection to 20th-Century genocide and ... scientific atheists such as Herbert Spencer, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Albert Camus and Jean Paul Sartre."

Rosenstein, who previously taught a COD class on Hebrew, could not be reached for comment. While his other classes were not-for- credit, this one would have carried three credits. Five people were enrolled in the class with several weeks left for registration.

Regular courses at COD go through a multiphased review process, officials said. …