Michael Jensen, a leading Christian cleric in Australia has penned an interesting opinion in the Spectator Australia online “Flat White” section titled “I don’t believe in ‘no religion’. He means that if you tick the box for religious affiliation in the forthcoming Australian national census this year, you will be lying, because he believes there is no such thing as a non-religious human being.
The argument hinges around what is meant by religion.
He refers to a US scholar William T Cavanaugh arguing in his book ‘The Myth of Religious Violence – Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict’ that there is little agreement about what a religion actually is.
Really? I’ll help.
A religious person is one who is identified by a dogmatic belief that has been permanently etched or embedded in their memory by the process of repetition of fixed patterns of thinking or ideas. Rote learning of holy scripture or ideas until it becomes habitual.
A religious person is one who is thus locked into a particular habit of thinking which is no different to a computer program.
For the religious person authority, whether God, Allah, Gaia, State, Guru, is absolute. Absolute in the sense of a computer program that cannot be challenged or will not work if the wrong input is performed.
A religious person is then one who has become enslaved by a particular pattern of thinking. So yes Jensen is right that all of us seem to be captured by one or other beliefs. Or so he believes.
But he blundered when he mocked the late John Lennon who apparently asked us to imagine no religion.
What Lennon might have been saying is that imagine no thought.
I suspect Jensen might need to rethink his opinion because he seems still trapped in his religious cage that thinking has created for him. Being entrapped himself, he logically assumes the rest of us must also be. Not necessarily.
Religious people are those who cannot change their minds when the facts change. Jensen demonstrates this with his article.