Dr. Bruce Johnson

Professor, Department of English

Bruce Johnson
Prof. Johnson (left) with his wife and son.

Honors involvement:

  • Teaching Honors Seminar in Spring 2017: "The Question of God: Sigmund Freud, C.S. Lewis, Richard Dawkins, Karen Armstrong, Christopher Hitchens, and Alister McGrath Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life."

What's your seminar about?

The topic is whether or not God exists. We look at it from the two best representations of the two opposing positions in the early 20th century: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud. They didn’t meet, but they did overlap, so it’s very interesting to put them in juxtaposition. Then, we move about 100 years later, with Richard Dawkins and Alister McGrath. We see how the conversation has changed, if at all, in the 100 or so years since Lewis and Freud. Along the way, we also look at artistic representations of the supernaturalist and naturalist worldviews.

What made you want to teach it as an Honors seminar?

I had never thought of doing it before, but I saw a call for proposals, and thought that might be nice. I’m used to teaching topics courses over and over again in English, so it’s nice to go in a different direction. It was actually selfish: I did it for me, not the students! I’m really interested in this, and I want to know about these questions that we discuss and argue.    

What, if anything, has surprised you about teaching this course? Good or bad!

I’ve been very surprised at how open the honors students are to getting personal and talking about their own lives and experiences, and their own philosophical inquiry as they wrestle with the spiritual and secular worldviews.

What piece of advice would you give a college student?

Hold to the firm.

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