Posted by: aboutalbion | August 20, 2012

DIY religion (1)

I return to the start of a series of posts on whether or not a nation state could be considered as a religion, using the steps in Colin Morris’ book.

The first topic in Colin Morris’ list is capability.  And the question for my case is: “Has a nation state (such as the UK) the capability to be a religion?”.

I think a distinction needs to be made between a human religious organisation, and the numinous object that is believed to be at the centre of the religion and that is venerated by faith and trust.  With this distinction in mind, I find that a nation state is capable of being a religion if its citizens by faith and trust believe in a numinous object that is central to their common life.

Colin Morris advises that discourse about this numinous object must satisfy the test of provisionality and reality.

Provisionality means that no human description of this numinous object can ever be “final, fixed and inerrant”. (p26)  Reality means that human descriptions of this numinous object must be tested by experience.  “Vigorous argument often uncovers unreality …” (p29)   Reality means that public opinion cannot be set aside.  Reality means that human descriptions of this numinous object have to be sensitive to prevailing moral standards.

This raises a separate issue of whether the numinous object initiates morality, or whether the numinous object can be associated with changes in prevailing moral standards.

That issue aside, I find that a nation state (such as the UK) has in principle the capability to be a religion.

[Morris, Colin (1992) Start Your Own Religion.  London: BBC Books.]

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