154 | Reza Aslan on Religion, Metaphor, and Meaning


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Religion is an important part of the lives of billions of people around the world, but what religious belief actually amounts to can vary considerably from person to person. Some believe in an anthropomorphic, judgmental God; others conceive of God as more transcendent and conceptual; some are animists who attribute spiritual essence to creatures and objects; and many more. I talk with writer and religious scholar Reza Aslan about his view of religion as a vocabulary constructed by human beings to express a connection with something beyond the physical world — why one might think that, and what it implies about how we should go about living our lives.

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Reza Aslan received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is currently a professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside. He is the author of numerous books, including No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam; Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth; and God: A Human History. He has also worked in television, producing and writing documentaries, and serving as a consulting producer for the drama series The Leftovers. He recently started a podcast, Metaphysical Milkshake, with actor Rainn Wilson.

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