Religion Is Not About Beliefs—Stephen Asma on Why We Need Religion [#4]
“There is a general … misconception, among both believers and critics … that religion is really about beliefs.”
When I first heard someone say, “Religion is not about beliefs,” I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. It seemed obvious to me that religion was about beliefs: beliefs about how we got here, beliefs about where we’re going, and so on.
When finally figured out what that phrase meant, the debate around religion became much more interesting—there’s a whole layer of detail to the religion debate that many of us are missing.
On this episode of the podcast, I am joined by Stephen Asma, a professor of philosophy at Columbia College Chicago. Stephen’s work has appeared regularly in the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Skeptic magazine.
Stephen self-identifies as an agnostic, yet the title of his newest and tenth book is Why We Need Religion.
On the podcast, we talk about:
- Why religion is not about beliefs
- Why it’s important to separate what a religion says from what a religion does
- The role religion plays in managing emotions
- The “adaptive” role that darker, more negative emotions play
- Horror stories and their connection with human vulnerability
- How intense emotional experiences and/or trauma may change your opinion about the value of religion(s)
- Secular Buddhism vs Buddhism in Asia
How to Listen
Links & Resources
- Why We Need Religion by Stephen Asma
- On Monsters: An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears by Stephen Asma
- Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought by Pascal Boyer
- After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age by Steven Bachelor
- Buddhism Plain and Simple: The Practice of Being Aware Right Now, Every Day by Steve Hagen
- David Kalupahana’s books