Online Course Information

Welcome to the CFI Institute Online

The CFI Institute Online offers seminars entirely online -- everything about the course is provided on a CFI website. You will read the course lectures, follow links to other webpages, ask your questions, and participate in class discussion with the instructor and other students in our course chats and forums. There is no specific time that you must be online. There is no "live" aspect to these courses, and you cannot miss anything even if you can only get online at 6am, or 11pm -- you can log in and participate anytime day or night, 24/7.

CFI Institute Online uses course software by Moodle, an open source Course Management System (CMS), also known as a Learning Management System (LMS) or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It has become very popular among educators worldwide as a tool for creating dynamic courses for their students. Visit the Moodle website to learn more.

Also, students should be familiar with CFI's Policy on Hostile Conduct/Harassment, which applies to all CFI educational programming. Intimidating or harassing communications are not tolerated within CFI Institute Online courses. 

Already registered for a course? You can enter Moodle now.

NEW! Center for Inquiry Institute 2014 Course Schedule

This year there will be two tracks to our courses: Naturalistic Humanism (2 courses), and Science and Reason (3 courses). If you complete the courses in a track, at the end of the year you will receive a certificate in the subject. Moreover, signing up for one or the other track as a package entitles you to all the courses with a discount. One of these courses will involve a weekend intensive seminar on location at CFI headquarters in Amherst, NY over the summer.

Beside our in-house faculty and leaders within the organization who will deliver courses and special guest lectures online, at least one external lecturer/author will participate as well. In sum, you will get a world-class introduction to the subjects. Courses are online, and will involve participation in forum discussions, exercises, and live “Google Hangout” chats and classes. All you need is your computer, internet, and reading materials will generally be public-domain and provided as part of the course.


The 2014 schedule of courses:

Naturalistic Humanism track (NH)
March — The Origins of Humanism (NH1) 
May — Modern Humanism (NH2)

Science and Reason track (SR)
May — Science and its Institutions (SR1) 
August — Logic and investigation (SR2) 
September — Limits of science? (SR3)

CFI Institute Online course Fees:
$60 per seminar 
$100 for the 2-course "Naturalistic Humanism" track
$150 for the 3-course "Science and Reason" track 
$225 for our entire 2-track/5-course program in 2014

 

UPCOMING COURSES: 
  • Science and its Institutions (SR1) (May '14)
    How did science develop? It is one of the most successful means of understanding nature, and yet it developed not according to some general plan or coordinated effort. Instead it evolved at the dawn of the modern age from a number of contemporaneous movements and practices. We will examine this evolution, look into the nature of its successes, and examine the necessary and sufficient conditions, values, and institutions that endure to provide us with knowledge about the universe in a way no other mode of investigation can. Class will consist of readings, forum discussions online, and at least one live discussion online through Google Hangouts. Everyone should create a Google account in anticipation of the course so we can conduct our online discussions.

    Instructors: David Koepsell, JD, PhD
    Class Dates: May 1, 2014 to May 31, 2014. 
    Cost: $60. See package deals above.
    Click here to register now!

  • Modern Humanism (NH2) (May '14)
    A survey of Humanism from the end of the Renaissance until now. Class will consist of readings, forum discussions online, and at least one live discussion online through Google Hangouts. Everyone should create a Google account in anticipation of the course so we can conduct our online discussions.

    Instructors: David Koepsell, JD, PhD
    Class Dates: May 1, 2014 to May 31, 2014. 
    Cost: $60. See package deals above.
    Click here to register now!

CURRENT COURSES: 
  • No current courses

RECENT PAST COURSES:
  • The Origins of Humanism (NH1) (March '14)
    Humanism traces its roots, and that of related philosophical schools of thought, not only to ancient Greek philosophy, but also to philosophers in the East. Modern humanists can learn much about their worldviews through exploring these roots primarily in Greek thought but also some Eastern philosophy, and we will read not only some primary texts, but also discuss a bit the history of humanism through the Renaissance. Class will consist of readings, forum discussions online, and at least one live discussion online through Google Hangouts. Everyone should create a Google account in anticipation of the course so we can conduct our online discussions.

    Instructors: David Koepsell, JD, PhD
    Class Dates: March 1, 2014 to March 31, 2014. 
    Cost: $60. See package deals above.

  • No Gods, No Masters: Anarchism and Atheism (SEC 210-1013) (October '13)
    There is a historical correlation between anarchist philosophers and activists in the 19th century and bold expressions of anti-religious/atheist sentiment. In this seminar, we will look at this correlation, consider whether there is a necessary relation between rejecting divine authority and state authority, and examine what people like Godwin, Bakunin, Proudhon, and Emma Goldman had to say about their antipathy to all forms of authority, both secular and ecclesiastical. The readings will be supplied online, most are in the public domain and were written between the 18th and 19th centuries. In the course we will also take note of, and examine briefly "religious" anarchism and some of its proponents by way of comparison. Instruction will combine reading and group discussion, and we will consider the broader question of the relation of atheism to various political stances and ideologies.

    Instructors: David Koepsell, JD, PhD
    Class Dates: October 1, 2013 to October 31, 2013. 
    Cost: $70 for general registration, $60 for CFI Friends of The Center, $30 for students (Valid educational institution email address required)

  • Pascal's Wager and Christian Agnosticism (SEC 204-0913) (September '13)
    This one month short course offers an exploration of ‘Pascal’s Wager’. The mathematician and scientist Blaise Pascal (1623–1662) inspired Christian philosophy with his famous ‘wager’ that the religious life is the better ‘bet’ than the nonreligious life: “Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.” Christians ever since have resorted to Pascal’s existential combination of skeptical agnosticism about metaphysics with trusting faith in God. How can doubt and faith blend together? Mathematicians place Pascal among the highest rank for figuring out statistical formulas behind all games of chance, so he’s no fool. Could he be right that unbelievers are fools for ignoring an easy opportunity to gain eternal bliss in heaven by joining the faithful in church? Ask Pascal yourself! Your instructor (John Shook) will also play the role of Pascal so you can debate the great thinker and take your chances against his mind. This online “Pascal” will quote from his famous Pensées when he needs to, so we will carefully study relevant sections of that work.

    Instructors: John Shook, PhD
    Class Dates: September 1, 2013 to September 30, 2013. 
    Cost: $70 for general registration, $60 for CFI Friends of The Center, $30 for students (Valid educational institution email address required)

  • The Science of Free Will (SCI 224-0513) (May '13)
    This four-module short course discusses the intersection between science and philosophy in defining and understanding free will, with the aim of learning the latest science on the nature and existence of free will and how to critically approach philosophical uses of it. Students will not only learn about the relevant elements of brain science, but also how to identify common philosophical fallacies in reasoning about free will.

    Instructors: Richard Carrier, PhD; John Shook, PhD
    Class Dates: May 1, 2013 to May 31, 2013. 
    Cost: $70 for general registration, $60 for CFI Friends of The Center, $30 for students (Valid educational institution email address required)

  • Science and Ethics: Crossroads and Conundrums (SEC 238-0413) (April '13)
    In this course we will look at two facets of the fields broadly defined as "science" and "ethics." First, what relation does science have to ethics, if any? Is there a way to reconcile them, as some philosophers have tried, by attempting a scientific approach to ethical theory, or are they, like religion and science, "non-overlapping magesteria?" Second, we will also look at how ethics and science have intersected and interacted in modern "applied" ethics, specifically bioethics, but also in other fields broadly described by the term "research ethics." In preparation for the course, optionally, students are recommended to purchase and read Science and Ethics by Paul Kurtz and David Koepsell (Prometheus, 2007).

    Instructors: David Koepsell, JD, PhD.
    Class Dates: April 1, 2013 to April 30, 2013. 
    Cost: $70 for general registration, $60 for CFI Friends of The Center, $30 for students (Valid educational institution email address required)

  • Secularism and Justice: Just Societies Past and Future (SEC 250-0213) (February '13)
    In this course we will examine some theories of justice dating from Plato, through the middle ages, into the Enlightenment and beyond. Specifically, we will explore the notion that the state and its laws must be measured against some notion of "Justice," whatever that is. Plato began the discussion, and it has been debated ever since. Recently, the notion of Justice has seen a reemergence due to John Rawls' groundbreaking attempt to describe justice for the modern era in his book A Theory of Justice.. After some brief readings from Plato's Republic, we will trace briefly the evolution of Plato's notion of Justice, its adoption by Christianity up through the middle ages, and modern theorists' attempts to break away from divine notions of justice and establish boundaries for state action that are entirely secular. We will spend the second half of the course reading and discussing selections from Rawls and his major critic Robert Nozick. The course will give you a basic introduction to major theories of justice, and especially Rawls.

    Instructors: David Koepsell, JD, PhD.
    Class Dates: February 1, 2013 to February 23, 2012. 
    Cost: $70 for general registration, $60 for CFI Friends of The Center, $30 for students (Valid educational institution email address required)

  • Critical Inquiry: The Appeal to Reason (SCI 201-1112) (November '12)
    This four-module short course on Critical Inquiry will explore all of the various tools necessary not just to persuade, but to make logically valid and sound arguments. We will explore formal validity, which helps make arguments incontrovertible, and the tools of inductive reasoning that help to demonstrate the truth of premises. We will also delve a bit into the proper use of rhetoric, combined with logic, to make persuasive arguments. Finally, we will examine some common formal and informal fallacies which you should avoid making and should point out when others make.

    Instructors: David Koepsell, JD, PhD.
    Class Dates: November 1, 2012 to November 30, 2012. 
    Cost: $70 for general registration, $60 for CFI Friends of The Center, $30 for students (Valid educational institution email address required)

  • Humanism, Atheism and Social Justice (SEC 235-1212) (December '12)
    This one-month, four-module course will discuss how humanists, atheists and freethinkers have historically been at the forefront of social justice movements. What is it about freethought, humanism and atheism that leads people to take progressive stances on social justice issues? With gains in social justice being threatened and with the recent conflicts within our movement about whether to engage in social justice work and if so, how much, and more importantly, how we can be inclusive as a movement, it is important that we take the time to consider where we have been so that we can better understand what we might be able to accomplish if we embrace our social justice heritage.

    Instructors: Jennifer Hancock, humanist activist, author, speaker, and journalist; John Shook, PhD, CFI Director of Education and Senior Research Fellow, AHA Education Coordinator
    Class Dates: December 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012. 
    Cost: $60 for general registration, $50 for CFI Friends of The Center, $20 for students (Valid educational institution email address required)

  • What is Atheism? (SEC 107-0812) (August '12)
    This four-module short course introduces the worldview of atheism by explaining its core definitions and stances, examining what it is good for, and illustrating why it is a useful position to take against religious faith in general and supernaturalism in particular.

    Instructors: John Loftus, ThM, MDiv, author and former preacher; John Shook, PhD, CFI director of education, AHA education coordinator.
    Course Topics:
     The correct definitions of who is an "atheist" and what is the stance of "atheism"; The reasons why people leave religion and become agnostics and atheists; Why atheism is a necessary and vital stance to take in today's world; How educated atheism can make a difference against religious belief and religion's politics.
    Readings: John Loftus' Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity (2008). Students will purchase their own copy of Loftus' book. Additional readings will be provided electronically at no cost to students.
    Class Dates: August 1, 2012 to August 31, 2012. 
    Cost: $70 for general registration, $60 for CFI Friends of The Center, $30 for students (Valid educational institution email address required)

  • Did Jesus Exist? Navigating the Debate (SCI 221-0712) (July '12)
    This one-month, four-module course will examine the question of whether Jesus existed, surveying the historical evidence and testing alterative theoretical answers.

    Instructors: 
    Richard Carrier, PhD, historian, philosopher, and author; John Shook, PhD, CFI director of education and AHA education coordinator. 
    Course Topics: This four-module short course, running from July 1 to July 31, examines the methods of historians, their relationship to the leading theories about the historical Jesus, and the available evidence both for and against his existence, and teaches students how best to evaluate arguments on either side (including how to check facts, spot fallacies, and avoid bad arguments). Topics to be discussed include: the methods of historians and how to tell good history from bad; the evidence for the historicity of Jesus and its context and value; the most credible theories of the evidence (both supporting historicity and not); the best criticisms and responses to those theories.
    Readings: Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus (2012) by Richard Carrier. Students will purchase their own copy of Carrier’s book. Additional readings are provided electronically to students inside the instructional area, along with supplemental audio/visual materials, all available online at no extra cost. 
    Class Dates: July 1, 2012 to July 31, 2012. 
    Cost: $70 for general registration, $60 for CFI Friends of The Center, $30 for students (Valid educational institution email address required)

  • Transhumanism (SEC 238-0512) (May '12) 
    This one-month, four-module seminar will provide an introductory survey of Transhumanism, a forward-looking philosophy and ethics that advocates technological improvements to fulfill hopes for better living. 

    Instructors: 
    George Dvorsky, bioethicist, futurist, and Chairman of the Board of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies; John Shook, PhD, CFI director of education, AHA education coordinator. 
    Course Topics: This four week, four-module short course, running from May 1 to May 31, introduces the philosophy and socio-cultural movement that is Transhumanism. We will survey its core ideas, history, technological requirements, potential manifestations, and ethical implications. Topics to be discussed include: the various ways humans have tried to enhance themselves throughout history; the political and social aspects of Transhumanism; the technologies required to enhance humans (including cybernetics, pharmaceuticals, genetics, and nanotechnology); and the various ways humans may choose to use these technologies to modify and augment their capacities (including radical life extension, intelligence augmentation, and mind uploading). Along the way we will discuss social and ethical problems that might be posed by human enhancement.
    Readings: Students will have access to the primary readings inside our online education software, along with supplemental texts and audio/visual materials, all available online at no extra cost. 
    Class Dates: May 1, 2012 to May 31, 2012. 
    Cost: $70 for general registration, $60 for CFI Friends of The Center, $30 for students (Valid educational institution email address required)

For more information about online courses contact John Shook.  Questions about registration and technical support can be answered by the CFI Education Administrator.

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