Utah may get a little more colorful next week when Arvind Sharma visits Westminster College to give his lecture “The Scientific Study of Religion: Promise and Pitfalls.”
Although the name of the lecture may sound anti-Mormon, or anti-religious for that matter, it isn’t in the slightest. When asked how he felt about the Mormon community, Sharma answered in a wonderfully thick Indian accent, “I only know two things about Mormons. One, they have polygamy — although, I think that may be more in the past. And two, they have missionaries.”
Sharma, a Harvard doctoral graduate, is no newbie to religious or ethical debate. Although he has an long history with and belief in the Hindu tradition, he has developed a vast knowledge for all things religious. He has written an impressive amout of books about religion. These books, along with his numerous degrees, should deflect any of the incoming ignorant argumentative ammunition that Utahans are often armed with.
While Sharma’s lecture aims to discuss religion, it will do so from a scientific standpoint.
“There have always been two views of religion,” he said. “The first view is as a believer. If you are a Christian, you can go to a seminary. You go to a monastery if you are Buddhist. On the other hand is academic study—you don’t have to believe what the others believe. Academic study came around in the 1860s, so it is a new standpoint. It has only been around for 150 years. Until now, the study of religion has always been objective and non-logical. The manner in which we study needs to change with time.”
This refreshing splash of open religious talk should by sincerely welcomed in Utah, as we are in desperate need of some spiritual diversity.
Sharma’s lecture is one religious service that even religiously inactive souls should not go without.
The lecture is free to the public and will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 6th at Gore Auditorium, Westminster College.
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