The recently-released results of the 2016 Australian census appears to show that many if still a minority of us are coming to our senses, at least in our attitudes to religious alleged ‘faiths’. In the 50 years since the 1966 census, the proportion of the nation’s population proclaiming adherence to ‘no religion’ has soared from a pitiful 0.8% to an apparently quite promising 30%.
But, as you’ve already perceived from my use of the word ‘apparently’ in the previous sentence, I’m as skeptical about statistics as I am about the so-called ‘sacred’.
For example, while it’s undoubtedly encouraging that 30% of our fellow Australians now describe themselves as having disabused themselves of religion, there remains the dismal reality that 70% still claim to be true believers.
True believers in steadily shrinking numbers, admittedly, in the countless savagely-competitive sects claiming to represent Christianity, but rapidly increasing numbers in Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism.
The fact that 2.6% of Australians are self-confessed Muslims, 2.4% Buddhists and 1.9% Hindus is, of course, almost completely due to the comparatively recent influx of a majority of non-English migrants.
And thus whether these people and their descendants will in time become as disenchanted with religion as so many, if not yet by any means enough, longer-term Australians have is a moot question.
I certainly hope and expect so. Not that I for a moment fancy that these newcomers will have crises of conscience about perpetuating sectarian stupidities, or road-to-Damascus-style conversions from ‘religious’ inanity and insanity to sweet reason and good sense, any more than most Australian former Christians have had.
In other words, much as I would love to think that the ongoing departure by so many Australians from Christianity to agnosticism, atheism or whatever else they might mean by ‘no religion’ is the result of enlightened consideration, in most cases I suspect it’s either alienation from ‘religious’ evils ranging from systemic sexual abuse of children by clerics to organized killing of ‘infidels’ by fanatics, or else a product of just plain indifference, or a combination of both.
Which, as dumb as it may seem to the more philosophical among us, may in fact be more effective against religion than enlightened opposition.
In other words, as long as bitter experience has taught us that rational or even passionate opposition to so-called ‘faiths’ serves only to further excite the faithful to even more frenzied defence of their utterly unfounded ‘beliefs’, it seems that such good old-fashioned no-brainers as disgust and lack of interest could prove the ultimate antidote to the factional religious fantasies that still so fatally afflict the minds of most of humankind.