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London now has a seminary for non-believers

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He’s written his own Bible, he speaks out frequently attacking religion and now he’s founded his own seminary for non-believers.

“A.C. Grayling has an impressive resume,” writes Jessice Weisberg in RD magazine. “He has been a philosophy professor, a representative to the UN Human Rights Council, the Honorary Secretary of the Aristotelian Society, and the author of twenty-some books.

“He has even written his own bible: The Good Book, a 600-page compendium of his favorite philosophical texts, released last March. As if that weren’t enough, though, he’ll soon assume yet another title: the founding headmaster at the New College of Humanities, in London.

“With some of the world’s most prominent atheists signed up to teach — including Richard Dawkins, Peter Singer, Niall Ferguson, Laurence Krauss, and Steven Pinker — the school looks like a seminary for non-believers,” writes Weisberg:

One doesn’t rack up so many honors without attracting a few detractors. For those who insist that Grayling is power-hungry and overhyped, the New College of the Humanities makes for a succinct case study. It will be a for-profit institution, elite and very expensive; its tuition is twice that of British public universities, including Cambridge and Oxford. Grayling once stated that “university education should be provided free of charge to all those suitably qualified for it,” but now he is charging students $30,000 a year.

In the United States, expensive private universities are common, but in the UK there is only one precedent—Buckingham University—and Grayling’s outfit is not only private, but for-profit. Terry Eagleton, one of Grayling’s (and Richard Dawkins’s) most persistent critics, has called the new university “odious” and “disgustingly elitist”; professors at Birbeck college have accused Grayling, their former colleague, for launching an assault on public education; protesters set off smoke bombs during his reading at a London bookstore; there were several online petitions circling through the web. The fact that the original faculty list included only one woman did not help the image of elitism and exclusion.

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