Explanations of religion


Below my lecture from 13 July 2016.

Before I addressed the students, we had more discussion on what we take for granted in the everyday world, and then we shared a few things we take for granted about religion.

Our questions and answers led us to a place where I believed it a good idea to share some thinkering by Karl Jaspers on communication. I also introduced students to the basic exploration of communication as loving struggle wherein our exchange tells us as much about our selves as it does about the person with whom we are speaking. Ultimately, some students came to the conclusion that words are not enough and our ability to exchange requires us to broaden ourselves beyond concepts into visible actions.

After the break I lectured on a few ways that academics have tried to explain the origin of religion or the reason for religious structures. We covered the two reductions: scientific materialism, which sees religions as arising from the material conditions of human history; and functionalism, which sees religions as originating for pragmatic or utilitarian reasons.

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