He also states that “when individuals achieve
intellectual and spiritual maturity they dispense
with religion.” What on earth is he talking about?
Certainly, this is not the case for most humans
during most of human history.
I believe that he’s trying to imply that “
religion” is all the bad stuff (presumably including
institutional power) and this differs from finding
one’s own way to God or atheism, which he sees
as acceptable. This is a pretty standard view
among a minority of North Americans – “
spiritual but not religious” is how scholars shorthand
it. Every year, a few of my first-year undergraduate students say much the same thing, before
actually tackling the topic to learn how religion
is intertwined in human culture and history in
more complicated ways than Professor Ugursal
seems prepared to admit.
I won’t even begin to address how his
assumptions are also incorrect for so-called
“world religions.” Instead, I invite Professor
Ugursal to stick to mechanical engineering (his
area of expertise) and take an undergraduate
course about religion. He stands to learn a lot.
Dr. Kaell is an assistant professor of religion at Concordia
Social science and religion
The latest issue of University Affairs hit my
faculty mailbox today, with Dr. Ugursal’s letter
excoriating the religious as stupid and immature.
The ridiculousness of the arguments hardly
deserves response. Eminent thinkers from time
immemorial in a number of religious traditions
all the way to the present give the slip to
Dr. Ugursal’s own belief structure.
The research program recounted in an arti-
cle in the December 2013 issue (“Is God good?”)
that gave spawn to Dr. Ugursal’s vitriolic letter
is not based in a faith system but in social sci-
ence; there has been growing interest among
world-renowned social scientists about the
ongoing roles of religion, faith and spirituality
in contemporary society. And some world-
renowned philosophers, natural scientists, theo-
logians and social theorists count themselves as
religious practitioners. Clearly, Dr. Ugursal
thinks the Charles Taylors (philosopher), Craig
Venters (geneticist), Bruno Latours (social the-
orist) and Sir John Houghtons (climate scien-
tist) of the world are full of “fear,” “fallacy” and
“bogusness,” and act as “enforcers” in line with
their “intellectual and spiritual [im]maturity.”
Not the sort of intelligent discussion one hopes
to see in the pages of this magazine, nor in the
world of academia.
Dr. Haluza-DeLay is associate professor of sociology at The King’s
University in Edmonton. He is a co-editor of How the World’s Religions are Responding to Climate Change (2014, Routledge).