August 28, 2005

Mr. Atheist Goes to Christian Academia

Classes started last Tuesday here at Notre Dame, and four days before that I got to meet my fellow graduate students for the first time. I knew that some of them had gone to Christian colleges before (two each from Calvin and Biola). I also knew that Notre Dame was the only Christian university (it's owned and run, at the highest levels of administration, by the Catholic church) considered quite prestigious by mainstream academia -- there's no way in hell I would've gone here if there was any possibility that a mainstream university would laugh in the face of my degree (pun intended). Still, I was quite unprepared for the degree of religiosity among my peers here.

There are about fifteen of us first-years (depending on whether you count the visitors, here on one-year stints), and only two who are openly non-religious. This doesn't mean the other thirteen go to church three times a week and talk about nothing but teh J33BU5x00r, but they do all identify as Christian, and I suspect almost all of them will consider themselves Christian intellectuals or Christian academics, whatever their specialization in philosophy. Several conversations at parties have wandered onto esoteric Christian issues that I neither cared about nor could follow anyways.

This should make for an interesting four or five years, before I return to the world of mainstream, atheist-dominated philosophy.

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