What is (a) religion? What are religions for? Whom are they for? And conversely, if someone is “spiritual but not religious” (or simply not religious), what exactly is it that they aren’t?
In this evening’s program, we’ll explore some of the ways that the concept of “religion” has evolved and radically changed over time, along with the related concepts of spirituality and atheism. And we’ll consider some of the social, political, and historical factors which have spurred changes in dominant and popular notions of religion, without necessarily reducing the domain of religion to merely those other factors.
In the course of our survey, we’ll meet a wide range of thinkers spanning more than two millennia, and spread across five continents. Some of these thinkers are highly innovative and original, setting a course for future generations, while others give especially clear expression to dominant or widely-held views of particular places, times, and cultures.
As we consider the contributions of these and other individuals and communities, we’ll find ourselves returning to a variety of conceptual and theoretic issues, on which our various thinkers will take radically different positions:
— Is religion more of a private matter, which mostly belongs to individuals, families, or freely-chosen affinity groups, or it is primarily more public, belonging to ethnic groups, tribes, states, or whole civilizations?
— Are religions most properly local or particular, such that we’d naturally expect a wide diversity of religions across the wide diversity of humanity, or are they (or should they be) universal in their scope, applicability, and/or authority?
— What are the most natural responses, to noticing that your neighbors, or various foreigners, have different Gods, different religious beliefs and practices from your own?
— Where are the boundaries between religion and spirituality, or between religion and superstition? And where is atheism, amidst this tangle of concepts?
— What is the relationship between religions and human cultures?
(As always, free and open to all. Handout and suggestions for further ready and study will be provided.). 6:30pm-7:45pm in the Reeder’s Alley Conference Center. Learn more & RSVP here: https://merlinccc.org/event/philosophy-merlin-shorts-how-did-we-get-here-religion-january-2024/