I've spent the past few weeks trying to find information on a course that a number of blogs and aggregaters have mentioned. I found next to nothing. Regis College's (University of Toronto) own site only contains the vaguest of references. Searching Regis' site for its so called "Responding to 21st Century Atheism" turned up this pathetic little blurb:
"Professors Scott Lewis, S.J., Gordon Rixon, S.J., Joseph Schner, S.J. and Michael Stoeber from the faculty of Regis College will explore responses to the challenges presented by contemporary atheism. Eight lectures will discuss the role of Scripture, tradition, theology, psychology and pastoral studies to address the questions about human living posed by today's culture and climate of disbelief."
I did not want to pass judgement on the course without finding more information on it than what was provided in the original Religious News Service piece and the HuffPo repost (which was identical) I first came across. The posts were not very enlightening and gave a rather poor first impression. Based on the few comments made in the piece by Lewis I got the distinct impression that the course was far from what it was being advertised as. It is supposedly a balanced approach yet all Lewis comments reveal a considerable amount of ignorance and bias on his own part. He claims that atheism is "militant, aggressive and prostelytizing." This is, of course, a common refrain that has been debunked countless time. He also seems intent on perpetuating a variety of myths and stereotypes about atheism. One example is his false claim that atheists insist that "people who believe are stupid." No we don't.
In the end this course is being taught by three Catholic theologians who do not seem to know anything about atheists or appear to have any interest in learning about atheists beyond the common caricature that can be found in mainstream media. I have found nothing to replace my initial impression that this will be a series of lectures designed specifically to smear atheists and help theists feel superior.
During my search I did find an interesting post on Jerry Coyne's blog Why Evolution is True. In "Jesuit college teaches atheism!" Coyne seems to have gone through a similar experience.