Professional Development Courses & Workshops

Religious Studies Forums

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Religious Studies is an academic discipline devoted to the study of religion in general and to specific world religions in particular, investigating such dimensions of religion as scripture and myth, experience, belief, ritual, ethics, institutions, and material culture. It employs an interdisciplinary and comparative methodology that borrows from and has influenced a broad array of other fields. The academic study of religion recognizes the interconnectedness of religion with other dimensions of culture but acknowledges that religion is qualitatively different from other forms of human expression.

Religious Studies Forums

   

What Constitutes Scripture?

Dr. David Bertaina

Chair, University of Illinois-Springfield History Department

Dr. Najm Yousefi

Faculty, CSU Chico History Department

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In the first part of this presentation, Dr. Bertaina addresses the difficulty of dialog between believers when their definition of what constitutes scriptures excludes the existence of other scriptures. He states that the overlapping literary and thematic material in the Bible and Qur’an exacerbates the problem. He then explains how Jewish, Christian, and Muslim authors have compared their scriptures with the scriptures of others. Then, Dr. Yousefi asks if there is a way followers of these three faiths can find common ground and have a dialog. There is some commonality in that Islam builds upon the older traditions of Christianity and Judaism. He states that perhaps one way of finding this common ground is to focus on the formulative period of Islam, when the focus was on the Qu’ran’s emphasis on the continuity and unity of the divine message. Dr. Yousefi notes that the Qu’ran can be interpreted as putting Mohammad “on the same playing field with other prophets.”

Presentation Time: 53 minutes

Religion in the Public Sphere: Conflict or Dialogue?

Panel Discussion

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Six religious scholars explore their role as educators in relation to religious issues in the non-academic world, and the challenges caused by those issues. The presentation begins with a five-minute talk from each panelist. These talks bring up many topics for subsequent discussion by the panel and the audience, such as intersections of religion with African-American culture, the loss of status of white Protestant churches in the U.S., the increased interest in studying Islam, and the fact that 25 percent of Americans have no religious affiliation.  Dr. Eric Michael Mazus of Virginia Wesleyan University moderates the panel, which is comprised of Dr. Vernon Andrews, San Jose State University; Dr. Jason Clower, CSU, Chico; Dr. Andrew Flescher, State University of New York, Stony Brook; Dr. Katherine McCarthy, CSU, Chico; and Dr. Sarah Pike, CSU, Chico.

Presentation Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes

The Internet as Transnational Religious Space

Dr. Daniel Veidlinger

Faculty, CSU, Chico Comparative Religion and Humanities Department

Daniel Veidinger

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The internet has been used as a tool to learn about religions from the beginning. However, according to Dr. Daniel Veidlinger, now there are many people throughout the world using the internet as a tool to practice religions. He tells of how people join together in online “churches” and attend these churches virtually. These gatherings of religious believers are facilitated through online video stream, audio stream. and/or written religious messages. This is not a strictly Christian phenomenon. Dr. Veidlinger provides website links for virtual practice of various religions – among them Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. Join in the exploration of this new religious frontier.

Presentation Time: 49 minutes

Many Religions, One Science

Dr. John Mahoney

Faculty, CSU, Chico Biological Sciences Department

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Dr. John Mahoney not only uses PowerPoint slides and a lecture to make his points, he also plays guitar and sings. He notes that there are major disagreements between religion and science, and that these disagreements have to do with empirical claims about the natural world and the different approaches. This results in discrepancies on such subjects as the creation of the world, the understanding of the changes/evolution in living organisms, and the relationship of humans with other animals. Furthermore, Dr. Mahoney contends, these discrepancies have consequences.

Presentation Time: 34 minutes

Nature Religions and the Spiritualization of Science

Dr. Sarah Pike

Faculty, CSU, Chico Comparative Religion and Humanities Department

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Dr. Sarah Pike studies the range of alternative spiritual movements in North America. This talk focuses on “nature religions,” including various contemporary forms of paganism. She points out that these religions are sometimes seen as being “anti-science” and “superstitious” by the scientific community, while they are often seen as “anti-religious” or “anti-Christian” by conservative evangelicals. Dr. Pike explains that these alternative religions have taken science and given it a spiritual twist – two examples of this are the Gaia Hypothesis and the theory of Quantum Physics. She goes on to describe both of these concepts.

Presentation Time: 34 minutes

Buddhist Attitudes Towards Science & Technology

Dr. Daniel Veidlinger

Faculty, CSU, Chico Comparative Religion and Humanities Department

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As an introduction to his presentation, Dr. Daniel Veidlinger notes, “Buddhism has long been considered a religion that is more amenable to scientific ways of thinking than many others. While divinities are mentioned, it does not require belief in a God as part of its core doctrines, but focuses rather on techniques such as meditation whose benefits can be scientifically investigated. The Buddha and other important figures in the religion have also spoken of the importance of using empirical experience to help guide one’s beliefs and practices. Furthermore, Buddhists have used their knowledge of science to achieve technological breakthroughs such as the printing press.”

Presentation Time: 48 minutes

Emerging Adults on Religion & Science

Dr. Greg Cootsona

Faculty, CSU, Chico Comparative Religion and Humanities Department

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Dr. Greg Cootsona shares his research on young people age 18-30, called “Science for Students & Emerging Young Adults.” The guiding question for the research was, “How do emerging adults come to their attitudes about religion and science, and how do these attitudes change?” Dr. Cootsona notes that each new generation tries to figure out how to relate religion and science.

Presentation Time: 53 minutes

 “Earth First” or Anti-oppression? Ritual & Conflict Within Radical Environmentalism

Dr. Sarah Pike

Faculty, CSU, Chico Comparative Religion and Humanities Department

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During several years of conducting research about radical environmental groups such as “Earth First!”, Dr. Sarah Pike has been seeking the answers to two questions: (1) What is the relationship between ritual and social change – that is, are there cultural conditions underlying social change that include ritualizing? (2) What motivates young people to risk arrest, and sometimes their lives, in dangerous protests? She shares some of her observations of these groups, including a trend in radical environmentalism of linking the devastation of the natural world to other forms of abuse and oppression. Dr. Pike also talks about how the label “eco-terrorist” sparked her interest in this research.

Presentation Time:  43 minutes

Buddhism and Chocolate Cake: How to be Happy

The Venerable Robina Courtin

Buddhist Nun

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Transcript

The Venerable Robina Courtin, a Buddhist nun from Australia, has worked full-time since the late 1970s for Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition. In this presentation, she discusses the nature of happiness and where it comes from. But first, she outlines concepts such as the nature of the Buddha and how the Buddhist sees the mind. Along the way she includes some humor and practical examples.

Presentation time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

Whither the Secular City

Dr. Louis Greenspan

Professor Emeritus, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

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Transcript

Dr. Greenspan, a scholar of Canadian intellectual history and modern, liberal Jewish thought, traces the changing roles of religion and secularism in the past 60 years - both in universities and in the world. He draws on his personal observation of university religious studies departments from the 1950s, an era in which those departments seemed like “museums of a dying world,” to the current era of dynamic international changes in which religion often plays a major role. Dr. Greenspan also discusses ideas from Charlies Taylor’s book, “A Secular Age,” and from Harvey Cox’s book, “The Secular City.”

Presentation time: 57 minutes

Please note: During the first seven minutes of this presentation the sound is somewhat weak. After that, the audio is clear and at normal volume.

Bertrand Russell Editorial Project

Dr. Louis Greenspan

Professor Emeritus, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

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Transcript

In this lecture, Dr. Greenspan, director of the Bertrand Russell Editorial Project at McMaster University from 1994 to 1997 and its managing editor from 1986 to 1994, discusses Russell’s writings on religion and chance. (“Chance” is the CSU, Chico Humanities Center theme for 2010-2011.) Russell’s papers are housed at McMaster. The lecture focuses on Russell’s “History of Philosophy.” Bertrand Russell was one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th Century. Among other things, Russell transformed logic and placed it at the center of philosophic inquiry. As a social critic, political thinker, and humanist, Russell addressed major issues such as nationalism and imperialism, modern industrialism, Soviet Communism, and the nuclear peril. For information about the Bertrand Russell Research Centre at McMaster University, go to the Centre’s website.

Presentation time: 1 hour, 8 minutes

Contested Knowledge: What Conspiracy Theories are Telling Us

Professor Rebecca Moore

Professor of Religious Studies, San Diego State University

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Professor Moore’s lecture focuses on the current interest, or revival, in various conspiracies, with a look at what they mean in terms of the democratic process. She is the author of “Understanding Jonestown and Peoples Temple” (Greenwood Press, 2009) and co-author (with Risa Levitt Kohn) of “A Portable God: The Origin of Judaism and Christianity” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007).

Presentation time: 50 minutes