An Alan Weiss Teleconference on Religion

Religion is the belief and worship of a deity which/who holds superhuman powers. It has been a great healer and a cause of war. It has generated profound works and revealed the hypocrisy of mere mortals.

America, for example, is more religious than most countries. The majority of people reporting that they do not attend church or belong to a religious affiliation also state that they believe in God. Most people in surveys report that they engage in personal prayer at times. In fact, about 68% of Americans claim they are “religious.”

The Romans were flexible about their gods and were tolerant of others’ observances. The Greeks saw the gods as intermingling with mortals at times. Up until the 16th Century, virtually every European believed in an afterlife, pauper and prince alike, so church indiscretions and corruption were tolerated in return for the indulgences which would guarantee a life in heaven.

Atheism has become an almost militant rallying point, and the likes of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins became rock stars of a sort. There are demands by some that any form of religious expression be removed from the public square, and vast debates about “freedom of religion” versus “freedom from religion.” Some people drift away from the church of their youth, while others are “born again.” The President is traditionally sworn into office on a Bible. “So help me, God,” was long the oath for witness honesty in courtrooms. Most people still say, “God bless you,” after someone sneezes. These may, of course, be merely mindless artifacts of the past. Or, they may not be.

One of the most popular plays of recent times has been The Book of Mormon, a scathing satire of Mormonism, playing to sold-out houses. Yet a critical commentary or drawing of Mohammad can create and has resulted in violence, death, and fear. (I doubt those authors would do a similar play called The Book of Islam.)

Scientific advancement is often cited as the main cause of declining faith. Yet Einstein, when asked at times about why universal laws were so consistent, said, “Because the Old Man doesn’t roll the dice.”

In this teleconference I’ll discuss if and why religion matters. There will be zero attempt to convert, cajole, or convince! I’ll examine and give examples of:

  • Changes in religious attitudes in our society over the past decades. (We said a prayer every morning in grammar school and sang carols at Christmas.)
  • Why prayer may matter, with or without religious affiliation.
  • Why science and religion are more mutually-supportive than antagonistic.
  • The hypocrisy of eliminating public displays of faith while the currency says “In God we trust” and Congress begins each session with a prayer.
  • The salutary effects of merely belonging to groups, including religious groups, irrespective of a belief in God.
  • Why Luther changed things, mostly by accident.
  • Is the Bible valuable and, if so, how?

Too many people shy away from the topic as if it were radioactive. I thought it would be both fun and instructive to provide some ideas for thought and reflection. Everyone is invited, there will be something for all points of view. I’m not taking any position on what you should or shouldn’t believe, but I will briefly reveal my own journey, which was not profound but has been rewarding.

Date: May 10
Duration: 60-75 minutes
Time: 11 am Eastern US time. The session will be recorded and provided for free to all who register.
Fee:  Until January 31, $50
February 1-28, $100
March 1 and beyond: $150

All proceeds will be donated to a homeless shelter in the Providence, RI area.