Religion After Religion: Millennials in a Post-Religious Age | Paul Robertson | TEDxCSC

Religion After Religion: Millennials in a Post-Religious Age | Paul Robertson | TEDxCSC
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my talk today is about one fact and three ideas first the fact Millennials that's you most of you you're the least religious generation in American history or so I'm told and the data at least seem clear according to Pew Research as of 2014 over a third of Millennials about 35% described themselves as non religiously affiliated and not only that but this percentage is increasing in other words not only are you the most irreligious generation ever but you're becoming increasingly irreligious if you look at other generations the further back you get in time the more religious you get so you're at 35 percent Generation X is about 23 the boomers are at 17 in the Silent Generation they're at 11% so this isn't something new this is a culmination rather in something like a century long shift and I find this shift fascinating I find it fascinating because religion is one of the most enduring things really in the human species it seems to go as far back as human culture itself and it's not only present but it's deeply important regardless of things like culture time geography social organization race class education sex everything that we can categorize the human race with religion is there across the board so Millennials increasing abandonment of religion seems to tell us something profound right to reflect something profound maybe about the history of humanity the very meaning of life itself you're not even my answer is or not you know I'm a theorist of religion I ask questions like what is religion what does it mean to be religious what does it mean when someone says they believe in god or gods and I teach an introductory course in religion and one of the first things we do and I see several of you out there so shout out to you for being here today one of the first things I have students do is without looking anything else define religion for me question for the audience in a class of twenty how many definitions do I get twenty sometimes more because there's always a couple students to give me more than one right so if everyone is defining religion differently how is this a useful survey question everyone is answering it differently it means something to different people so when I saw this survey when I saw the Pew survey in 2014 and there was an updated piece that just got released I had a lot more questions than answers right what did people think of when they answer that question religiously affiliated is it the same thing as religion or religious Nisour religiosity what is all this stuff so today we're trying to answer these questions and I'm going to speak a bit as a theorist of religion about how you can think about these questions in maybe a useful way and if I'm successful you're going to understand Millennials attitudes and beliefs about religion a little better and hopefully you'll also have a more sophisticated understanding of religion itself and to do so I'm going to provide three ideas this is the three ideas about the one fact three ideas about religion and these three ideas are three ways that scholars of religion have studied the subject itself so these are not my original inventive brilliant ideas these are ways that that people in my field that scholars in my field have used to study these questions and I think that they can usefully apply to you as Millennials and thinking about your own religiosity and I encourage you again don't think of these as mutually exclusive pick and choose what you want this is a giant choose-your-own-adventure type book okay so you've chosen to listen to Professor Robertson turn to page 42 the first conceptual framework is the ontology of religion and this is basically a fancy professor way of saying what is religion ontology is a things essence or it's being and so we're kind of asking the question of what does religion consist what's religions essence what's religions being and this is a very difficult question it's more difficult than it seems right from the get-go and so instead of beating around the bush I want to give you a definition that you can modify reject accept as you as you wish and this comes to me from my old adviser and the summary of the religion or the religion definition goes something like this religion is a set of beliefs and practices related to non-obvious beings I'll repeat that because definitions are important religion is a set of beliefs and practices related to non-obvious beings I like this definition for a few reasons number one it captures all the things that happen in between the ears of people there Lots their feelings their emotions their hopes their dreams right all the beliefs that's what that belief category is and it also captures all the things that happen in the world the stuff people say and the things people do scholars call these things practices what this definition does not do is try and figure out whether or not God or gods exist what it does not do is try and decide whether or not religion is true in a sense God our gods may exist outside this world religion may or may not be true but the things that we as scholars can study are in this world it's people's beliefs and people's practices secondly I like the category of non obvious beans because I feel like this encompasses everything in a really useful way it can be a transcendent God who created the world in seven days and who listens to your prayers especially on Sunday this can be a group of angels and demons and move in and out of this world this can be the ghost of your ancestors these can be the invisible spirits that are attached to a particular geographic feature such as a lake god or a tree spirit this encompasses all the monotheistic religions view of God this transcendent single God in Judaism Islam and Christianity and it also has all the other polytheistic religions the great pantheon of Hinduism right more gods than we can count then the native traditions say the Native Americans they have a very what we would call an animist view of religion where particular spirits are part of the know the sky spirit and the mountain spirit and also all the many spirits attended to in Buddhism right there can many many Buddhist spirits that can be you know sort of malignant or benevolent so forth so what happens what's the payoff if we define religion in this way and we actually find something quite interesting so we're focusing on beliefs and practices well Millennials do not purport to have a religious affiliation many of their beliefs and practices actually map very closely onto other generations for example Millennials are just as likely as previous generations to believe in life after death they're also just as likely to believe in the existence of heaven and hell they're also just as likely to believe in miracles Millennials do notably attend church or formal services less often they read holy texts less often the Bible or the Quran and they pray in a formal setting less often but when we start to analyze their beliefs and practices outside of formal public settings it seems that Millennials are just as religious as previous generations in certain core beliefs and practices and it's an interesting note about two of these the belief in God and the frequency of Prayer are probably the most important belief in practice respectively right believe in God praying to god or gods and indeed Millennials believe in God in God's and pray to God or God's less often than previous generations but the data show that the belief in God or God's and prayer are the two things that actually increase over time so you know 18 is 65 age-wise all these things are going to increase in particularly in these two key metrics and if you look at Millennials belief in God are God's in prayer it's right where Generation X was a generation before right right at your age so by defining religion in terms not of institution not in terms of tradition but rather in terms of belief in practices you can see that Millennials are actually still hugely religious and indeed just as religious as previous generations in several key metrics their beliefs and practices have simply moved away from formal religious institutions such as churches and mosques and toward private practice an internal belief religion it seems has become more individualized and more internal but no less powerful or prevalent that's idea number one ID number two and this is a conceptual framework my second idea and it's called functionalism and functionalism is one of those isms that describe how the world works and how we can understand how the world works according to functionalism the most important part about religion is not the internal beliefs and practices but it's the function that religion plays in society as a whole so you're looking more broad than just what do you believe where do you go on Saturday and so forth right what's religions broader function in society what's its purpose and functionalism is traditionally explained by talking about society as an organism every organism and I'm an example of this I'm an organism I'm a human organism and I have all these component parts I have eyes and hands and they have specific functions my eye does eye stuff like look in my hand does handy stuff like Abin point but they have a broader function no and that's to keep me as an organism alive and functioning smoothly and keeping my body in equilibrium the point of my hand is to grab but the broader function of my hand is to help me survive and in this analogy religions function it does religion ease stuff on a micro level but on a broader social functional level it keeps society running smoothly now religion has been critiqued a lot okay and it's been critiqued in tons of different ways holy wars enabling dictatorships claiming divine authority controlling all people think and act and I don't deny that religion like any set of ideas ideologies or movements can be used for bad things there's no question historical record is clear but we often overlook all the good things that religion does for society we often overlook religions positive functions I'm just going to take one example of Catholicism partly because it's familiar to many and partly because Catholicism is much maligned now the Catholic Church is actually historically responsible for a few important broader social functions I'm just going to look at three one is directing charity to the poor the second is the establishment of public educational systems and a third is founding hospitals hospitals charity and education these all function to help society run smoothly they keep the population healthy they keep the poor fed they improve upward mobility and innovation but we live in a different world now right we don't live in sort of the late medieval period where the Catholic Church governs your life right thankfully hospitals are now funded through private and/or public funds some do but most don't have a connection to religion governments across the Western world now have built-in charity programs Social Security Medicare Medicaid right these are not religious things but they do what religion did colleges and universities like the one we're standing in today some still have religious affiliations but most do not right they're funded through tuition federal funds and so forth in other words that the three valuable functions that I just targeted we could list many many more healing the sick helping the poor and elderly and educating people have now basically been replaced secular institutions as a society our doctors might no longer be shamans or priests our educators might no longer be Imams or nuns and a caretakers of the poor might no longer be bishops or rabbis again exceptions across the board granted but the core functions that religion has occupied continue to live on and if we understand religion is something that performs valuable social functions in the interest of both the greater social good and a higher moral calling then religion hasn't gone anywhere and in fact it's only increased in scope right think of all the political discourse about the size of government spending on Medicare and Medicaid right this is the functional hand of religion at work so in other words the NGOs private institutions governmental programs are the new religion and they've never been stronger third idea is another conceptual framework and it's another ISM it is called structuralism and structuralism tries to explain that all of our institutions beliefs in practices provide us with a framework of understanding the universe and our place in it our institutions our beliefs and our practices in other word have a sort of meta function and this function is to figure out how we as humans fit into what the scholar William James called the blooming buzzing confusion of the universe right the universe is huge and confusing and full of chaos and insanity in religion situates us and it grounds us and it teaches us and we understand the confusion and chaos of the world through religion in religion you know in this line of thought gives us a lot of these binaries good bad heaven hell up down pure impure you can even go on and on and on and on and so when we have a set of religious beliefs and practices what we have are an entire structure this is the structure of structuralism that governs how we think and act and this structure is not only clear to us but it's unspoken and it's authoritative you don't ask why is heaven up there and hell down there it's self-evident and therein lies its power so Millennials today are purportedly less religious then have we also lost this underlying structure that suss sort of make meaning of the universe and you can actually find data quite easily that indicate that this might be the case some combination of capitalist materialism dense but anonymous urban living you know these kind of high-rises and cities that are just packed full of people and technology and we've already heard about technology today they actually make people increasingly depressed and lonely people struggle in the modern world to find meaning and can we blame the lost religions structure how are we to find meaning if we're no longer the created product of God's image around which the whole cosmos revolves I'm going to suggest a couple things one that science and to certain secular institutions have taken religions place here from a structural perspective on a cosmic scale that science has replaced religion is basically without a doubt we know that the Earth revolves around the Sun and not vice versa and we know that our galaxy is not the one but one of many many many many galaxies and some physicists actually study the Higgs boson particle the god particle they postulate that our universe is actually part of some infinite number of universes the multiverse now the infinite number of universes you're a tiny insignificant speck in the grand cosmos of time and space right thumbs up thanks science and so we can find this idea existentially terrifying right it's it is scary that we're this tiny speck clinging to a rock and this vast void that might only be one of an infinite number of universes but the physicist and public intellectual Neil deGrasse Tyson sees this in a very different way and I'm going to read you one of his quotes so Tyson is a great thinker I recommend you look into him and he says quote when I look up at the night sky and I know that yes we are part of this universe we are in this universe but perhaps more important than both of these facts is that the religion you're sorry getting ahead of myself more important than both of these facts is that the universe is in us when I reflect on that fact I look up and many people feel small because they are small and the universe is big but I feel big because my atoms came from those stars and quote the same carbon and hydrogen atoms in you are the same atoms in a galaxies billions of light years away you are are part of something greater thanks science and what about religion structuring power in our daily lives our practical interactions that teach us what is good and bad proper and improper you know in place and out of place well much like the replacement of religions functions and medicine and charity and education I think that religions moral and social frameworks from a structural perspective has been replaced likewise by these other systems that aren't religious anymore and I'm going to give just a couple brief examples and one is silly but I think it's a very good one and it's American professional football right and we're in New England so we know we're a football living culture and if you're a football fan our culture sort of in a macro sense is it structures you're weak you're waiting forward to Sunday and on that Sunday you know what to do where to go what to wear who your people are who to root for and who to root against you know what football food is and what is definitely not football food right and all of this stuff is unspoken but it's real right and that is something that we get from a sort of structural understanding football right something a little more targeted toward Millennials participation in non-religious groups is actually hugely widespread amongst Millennials the vast majority Millennials attend high school and college something that was not true a century two centuries a thousand years ago and in your lives there's a lot of organizations that you join isn't there I mean teams clubs groups fraternities sororities all that have these traditions rituals ways to dress how to talk to each other shared language common bonds identity what we value what we don't value so where our lives were perhaps once divided between subsistence farming and religious ritual right if you're a subsistence farmer you'd farm six days a week and then you do go to church on Sunday or synagogue on Saturday or Friday Friday prayers and on Friday you know so you would have the rest of your life and you have that one religious part today Millennials lives are much dare I say richer they're sort of more robust in the associations you have socially they're populated by all sorts of these organizations that structure your lives we know our place in the cosmos however small and we choose to participate in society and innumerable social organizations in fulfilling ways living a moral life in service to our goals strengths and social relationships with an AI and our place in the cosmos may be religion lives on and I want to close with just one last thing in a couple final questions and I've been talking at you and now I want some participation so fewer and fewer people are religious fewer and fewer people are religiously affiliated so raise your hand if you've heard the following everything happens for a reason basically everybody keep your hand up if you believe it yeah pretty pretty robust right another question let's try this again raise your hand if you heard it I'm not religious I'm spiritual keep it up if you believe it again quite a few quite a few and if you've kept your hand up you're in fantastic company despite Millennials dwindling religiosity 72% agree with this statement I'm not religious but I'm spiritual and by this Millennials seem to mean that they have a belief in something bigger than themselves they believe that there's some sort of wider explanatory framework that situates their life in their place in the cosmos Millennials might not go to church mosques synagogue or temple they might not read their holy texts with any sort of regularity and they might not pray together in regular groups in a public setting and in fact the data show that you do not but Millennials at remarkably high rates do continue to believe that there's some explanation for our lives and our world beyond just a naturalistic churning of physics and biochemistry we continue in other words to seek explanation and meaning and things and if we think of religion not is about regular attendance at public forums of worship but rather about personal beliefs and being part of something greater that explains our place in the world and gives us meaning we are as religious as ever thank you

The church took money from the poorest to create what it wanted as usual and paid little for what it got. The Catholic church worst of all is loaded and still teaching the poor how to stay poor by overbreeding and starving in Africa. WELL DONE, WELL SAID.

Many people especially in the Europe and North America are starting to see through the errors of atheism and are returning to their Christian roots.

Thank you to the commenters for your appraisal of this religious pitch before I wasted time listening.

The FUNCTIONS Christianity used to serve are now generally served by the welfare state. Does that make the state a religion? Or is it that every society requires some institution to serve certain functions and if the Church fails to do it then people find another way?

From an archaeological point of view, if you dig up an ancient city, for example, the biggest buildings are usually temples, government administrative buildings and palaces or public entertainment facilities such as amphitheaters. If "religion" has to do with "beliefs" and people build temples to what they believe in, be that gods or whatever, then their biggest buildings tell you what they believed in most. That also tends to correspond to what they worship. You generally only need a big building for big gatherings of substantial crowds. So the fact of a large building implies a measure of popularity. If it's popular then it's probably deemed important.

So look around your town at the biggest and most expensive buildings and that will reveal your society's religion(s). The state is a kind of religion to some. So is "the market" and we have religions called capitalism and consumerism and neo-liberalism … and worship takes place in shopping malls and office towers.

Religion is CHANGING and the era of Christianity is ebbing, for sure. But people still have beliefs and ritual practices from which they derive meaning and many of those beliefs are pretty hocus pocus, like the capitalist's "hidden hand" and "blind faith" in "free markets" and the idea that buying more stuff will somehow bring about more happiness or love or whatever. US coins are pretty suggestive with their "in god we trust" motto. A Martian explorer could be forgiven for mistaking that for a religious token and the possession of such a token to signify membership in the religion of that god.

I think the core thesis here is that to be human is to BELIEVE … in something … and whatever you believe in tends to fulfill the same sort of functions "religions" such as the Church used to fulfill for most people. Therefore one can postulate that religion hasn't vanished in terms of CONTENT but the FORM has changed. The psychological and social CONTENT is similar in the sense of organizing group behaviour and inculcating beliefs and public morals but the FORM in which it manifests has changed and indeed continues to change quite rapidly. The specific beliefs change from a supernatural spirit who is deemed to be a god who controls the human life to a mystical marketplace that controls human life. The specific theology changes but the organization of mass beliefs in particular stories that give meaning to experience seems to be pretty much a constant in all societies. To call that collection of beliefs and practices widely accepted in a given society 'religion' is a useful viewpoint.

One might argue that the word "religion" should be more narrowly defined but it's useful to ponder a broader definition in order to see the parallels between different epochs with very different societies which still have much that is universally "human" in common.

Humans believe stuff that is often rather hard to believe and impossible to prove and sometimes demonstrably false :). Humans socialize around shared beliefs. If you want to succeed in a society on its own terms you need to know those beliefs and conform to prescribed practices or at least avoid picking fights with the dominant ones. If you don't you'll be called a heretic and will be censured — if you're lucky — and fed to the lions if you're less lucky.

Talk to people about anything deep and, if they don’t agree with you, they quickly lose their minds and start barking about their own opinions. Technology, for all it gives you to make you feel smarter, is making it easier to find someone else who already agrees with you so that you don’t have to stick around and keep talking to the same person long enough to have a more reasonable conversation. No matter where you stand on these deep subjects, you’re pretty much likely to end up less intelligent in the end as a result. I’m not really talking about religion so much as I’m talking about this comment section. It’s fine to disagree with this guy, but try talking about why you disagree with him instead of just calling him an “apologist” and moving on. You might learn something from someone else who may have failed to learn anything from him.

I’m a Sociologist. This guy is a theologian. He makes a rookie mistake in his talk because he is not trained in this field of social science.

He is offering a structural functionalist analysis. Religion and spirituality is valuable because it serves a purpose.

Every sociological analysis starts with understanding how things currently work. It is just the first step.

The next step is the heavy lifting. Some examples include:

Who benefits most?
Who is hurt by the structure?
Is this the best way to get the desired outcomes?
What are the unintended consequences?

He is offering a very shallow and unlettered analysis of a complex social trend.

Millennials are just continuing the transition away from religion and god concepts.

I’m an atheist and find beauty in art, music, relationships, nature. Religion does not have a monopoly on joy or the feeling that I’m part of a bigger whole.

I just don’t need a god or magical beliefs.

The truth is that all Abrahamic faiths developed from the Torah and all have their fair share of unethical behaviour and conquest condoned by their "holy books" which are riddled with flaws and inconsistency. Only a god who cannot make up his mind would change salvation methods every now and then from Torah to bible to Koran.

Modern research into reincarnation (by Ian Stevenson), past life regression (by Brian Weiss) and Near Death Experience (by Raymond moody) all show that human consciousness survive death, we live many lives and what we do is more important than who we worship. This explains why people are born with different attributes, talents, fortune, health etc. This is supported by the fact no religion is singularly blessed, from antiquity until modern times, and other non believers cursed.

Mankind has been fghting over which is the true god for thousands of years instead of focusing on how they could become a better person and more godlike. If anyone can go heaven just by worshipping without spiritual cultivation, then heaven would become a messy place, just as Adam, eve and Satan and his retinue were previously from the messy abrahamic heaven.

Millennials are too f..ked up in the head to worry about them. Or their thoughts about religion.

It's all about education and access to information.  The more you have of those, the less you have of religion.

A lot of people wonder why God 'Hides' now and his followers aren't performing miracles like in the old testament and the book of acts.
The good news for Athiests is that God is going to empower us again in the near future.
For a short time, 3 and a half years, his followers will heal the sick, make the blind see, the lame walk. It will be A modern day Acts. Then Christians will be mostly killed off.
Hold your breath. Power Is coming.

Anybody remember the power of Feudal Lords? GThe church did not govern every aspect of people's lives. Who had the army and enforced laws? Jesus' words "give onto Caesar…" (separation of church and state) ruled then as now imperfectly.

Any reflection on the ultimate end of religion is superfluous because religiosity is a natural part of human existence and will never disappear

I know this guy. He guy gets up to extol the virtues of religion yet he himself is an atheist. Why does he do this? Because it's a field of study he knows how to blow smoke up lots of asses. He also knows most people are religious and a typical TED audience is politicaly safe for his type of talk. Religion is so broad a topic it's easy to find positive things to say about it if you completely ignoring all the harm and suffering it's caused. But don't think for one minute that he lives by the words he speaks. This talk is just money in his pocket.

My religion, like many, is the pursuit of truthful answers to the big questions? Im an agricultural biochemist. I wanted to study the miracle of life, and how it happens. Genetics, philosophy, and other studies are pushing the boundaries. It's unimaginable. You have to make a religion, with absolute claims, but flexibility. Answer the where from, what purpose, and where after.

Wow, this guy is really digging around the edges in an attempt to prove his data which he never sites a source. This guy sounds like a preacher not a college professor.

Strata czasu! Te same “opowieści z mchu i paproci”
“…religion is no less powerful…” ??????????
WTF if U must talk/sell religion on TEDx on this days because of … what? Science/Sciences? .. Poor christian religion/s *_^

I’m from Poland, this Country is the EU North Korea of Jesus!
1) To “unsubscribe” from your parish you must get the consent of the bishop;
1.1) If the bishop is a normal-nice 👨 then you are lucky, if not,
then you must go to the European Court of Human Rights;
2) Go to the parish where you were baptized;
3) Bring two witnesses (with ID) belonging to the same confession;

P.S. So far (what I know) I am the only one in my parish who did it on 28K families.

Now, I’m free thinking, I’m proud be Atheist!
🤘😎

The man said "just a naturalistic world view of physics and biochemistry" with such a contempt, he almost chased them away in the name of Jesus.

Scientists say that the most abundant Element in the Universe is Hydrogen. The name "Hydrogen" was given to the Gas Element way back in 1783 by Antoine Lavoisier. The most Hydrogen is found in Stars and the Sun. Planets like Jupiter also have large percentages of Hydrogen.
The part that boggles my mind, is.. How did Saint Peter know that the heavenly bodies and the Earth was formed out of WATER 2000 Years ago? (H2o=Hydrogen2Oxygen/ 2 Peter 3 Verses 5 to 12) and by WATER (Holy Spirit/ 1 John 5 Verses 6 to 12). Saint Peter was only a fisherman and a Holy Disciple of JESUS. Saint Peter was no Scientist and he did not have any Telescope? The Telescope was only invented in 1608! How did Saint Peter know about "heavenly bodies" or planets made out of Hydrogen, an Element present in WATER, without a Telescope?
The first Telescope was firstly invented in 1608 by Hans Lippershey and used by Galileo Galilei the Astronomer. So how did Saint Peter know about "heavenly bodies" (Planets), 2000 years ago???????
Scientists, who actually many of whom are Atheists, are actually proving the Holy Bible to be True. The only way Saint Peter could've known these things 2000 years ago, is that Almighty God, the Holy Spirit of YAHWEH showed it to Him. The same Holy Spirit of the Father YAHWEH that was in Our Lord JESUS Christ.
Amen?
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Religion is something you choose to set as a high priority. Freedom is consciously choosing what to set as your highest priority with respect to a long-term set of topics you comprehend.

The easiest way to define religion is by the category of philosophy to which it belongs, namely supernaturalism, that is the notion that things "happen" or that things "exist" for which there is absolutely no verifiable evidence whatever. Religion, as a form of supernaturalism, strongly relies upon "authority" of some kind, whether it's from a book, from pronouncements of "authorities" such as popes, or imams, or the bible-thumping preacher down the street, or from what your friends say.

This is in contrast to scientific naturalism, which begins with imaginative, unfettered inquiry, rejecting authority, and then finds verifiable evidence about Nature (empiricism), always regarded provisionally (skepticism). The goal is powerful, robust, coherent, compelling, broad, falsifiable, and certainly predictive explanations. In fact, scientific naturalism is the single most powerful, most accurate, most reliable, most successful, and the only predictive means of inquiry ever devised by humans.

Note: the idea of a Multiverse does NOT arise from the demonstration of the Higgs boson. Robertson needs to study some more physics. The Idea of the Multiverse arises both from one particular interpretation of quantum mechanics and from String Theory.

Apparently, according to Robertson, Millennials are still somewhat supernaturalistic, at least in one way or another. That's a shame, if it is indeed the case. I'm not at all certain that such is the case. In my experience, Millennials are far less inclined to think that hocus-pocus is real.

Just because someone says they are "nonreligious" doesn't mean that they don't believe in other nonsense. We lack critical thinking skills, that's what matters.

I like that definition of religion. Belief in non-obvious being, in the ontological sense, could be a force of nature or a concept of the physical as yet unproven or discovered. It could be a set of assumptions about humanity itself. It also rightly puts atheism in the catagory of a religion in as much as they replace theistic ideas with something else and that with the same, "to die for, or kill for" fervor as the average theist. (Just look at the emotionally strong language they use to state their hatred for theists). And it is compatable with the view of the SCOTUS. But more than anything else, it sees religion as an inescapable function of human nature. So, everyone has a religion.

We live in a Geocentric world. God made it. Solar systems, galaxies, multiverses etc. All made up. You're not flying anywhere. You may take off your seat belts!

When I became a born-again Christian, I sought "the meaning of life" in God i.e. in an external source, or as Paul Robertson puts it "in a non-obvious being". Then, as a born-again atheist, I seek it in myself i.e. in an internal source in an obvious being. In neither was I a failure nor a success. Perhaps, the universe has no moral purposes and what we call 'meaning in life' is neither necessary nor sufficient for a meaningful life. Hence and thence, I view the universe an amoral universe, and I wish only "to live and die, unknown and unseen, and to be happy in between."

We overlook religion's positive functions? No. We reject them because those functions no longer need religion.

No mention at all about the fear of death, nor about the natural wish to continue existing in an afterlife experience, and no mention about the confusion caused in the minds of this day and age by the shocking novelties of high tech.
It is also ignored, in this lecture, the fact that the same Moral values,  "empathy, compassion, cooperation, fairness, respect for others, respecto for life, etc.",  are ubiquitous in all living beings, including plants and microorganisms, and are interpreted and taught by all the prophets and creators of any religion.
Thomas Mann, writes that the actual meaning of the term Religion comes from Re-legion from the Greek Re-ligare  in the sense of re-unite or return to.  Which means that religions bring the wondrous humans back to the creative spirit of Nature.
However, in this lecture, Paul Robertson seems to utterly ignore all these important things.

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