DrAvalosPHOTOwebJoin us for a special presentation by Dr. Hector Avalos at Forum Class called: “Religion and Violence: A New Theory for an Old Problem.” The lecture is free and open to the public.

Sunday, April 3rd
Forum Class – Norman Room (lower level; enter from west entrance and come down the stairs)
9:45-10:45 AM


Since 9/11, a new wave of studies of violence has debated whether religion can cause violence or whether it simply is being co-opted by political forces. Basing the lecture on his book, Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence (2005), Dr. Hector Avalos will introduce a new theory for the precise role of religion in violence. Avalos argues that virtually all violence is due to real or perceived scarce resources, and religion can create the perception of scarcity that can lead to violence. The artificial scarcities created by religious belief include holy space, “salvation,” and group privileging, which can be seen as commodities that can be more valuable than oil, gold or bodily life itself. The lecture will illustrate how these commodities created by religious belief repeatedly have caused violence from ancient to modern times in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.


Dr. Hector Avalos is Professor of Religious Studies at Iowa State University, where he was named Professor of the Year in 1996, and a Master Teacher in 2003-04. A former fundamentalist preacher and faith healer, Dr. Avalos is now one of the few openly atheist biblical scholars in academia. Born in Mexico, Avalos received a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Arizona in 1982, and a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School in 1985. In 1991, he became the first Mexican American to earn a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible and Near Eastern Studies at Harvard. He is the author or editor of nine books, including The End of Biblical Studies (2007). His newest book is The Bad Jesus: The Ethics of New Testament Ethics (2015).