Monday, June 23, 2014

What is a religion?

Traditionally, religions are defined as major historical "institutions" such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, ... that have a common concern with the transcendent [spirituality and God], ritual, revelation, prayer, holy books, morality, worship, ....

Secularists will then claim that "religion" has no role in politics and the "public square" since the religion is not a common value and excludes rationality, tolerance, inclusivity, evidence...

However, an alternative definition of "religion" is a sociological one that highlights communities with shared uncontested assumptions and values [doctrine], revered leaders and books, marginalisation of alternative views [heresy],  defined morality [righteousness], a vision for the future [eschatology], ....

With the latter definition movements and "world views" such as the New Atheism, secularism, Marxism, neoliberalism,  fanatical sports team loyality, Big History [a "secular creation myth"],... are actually religions. Then the "public square" becomes a plethora of competing voices, all of which might be heard and respected.

In this light, there is a fascinating essay, Australian Universities in Transition:Moral, Pragmatic or Religious Drivers? by Paul Tyson. He makes a compelling case that the "neoliberalism" beloved/assumed by many university "managers" is actually a "religion" that defines what is rational, just, and moral.

1 comment:

  1. I wondered why there was so much noise. The clambering for a hearing is one historic and SDG thing, but the reality that the new world view doesn't allow our words to mean anything makes us all sound and act like empty gongs and clanging cymbals.