Tuesday, 5 April 2011

For some, it has sufficed

For some, it has sufficed to defend their beliefs against recent attacks by indicating that religion has never attempted to explain the world scientifically and therefore should not be understood as a failed science. They argue that the object of natural science is natural process whilst the object of religion is significance. Religion has staged a partial defence of significance against the tendency of scientific positivism towards qualitative relativism. However, the religious defence against relativisation often produces an inviolable territory in which the general object, ‘significance’ is presented as identical with a particular religious practice of signification.

If science has facilitated cultural circumstances of de-signification where quantities have triumphed in moments of absolute dehumanisation, then religion has generated barbarity by means of over-signifying its own fetishised qualities. The standard religious defence of signification assumes that if we are persuaded of the centrality of significance in human culture then we must also allow an uncontested space for the practising of its particular system. But this cannot be. If signification is central to the human community then the human community cannot allow significances to remain the property of religion. If communist theologians are to accept that the general object, ‘significance’ may only be approached theologically then this approach must also seek to release general signification from its specific appearances within the various discreet religious territories. The non-acceptance of the inviolability of religious territories should take a therapeutic, rather than critical, path if it is not to violate the object itself. The declared purpose is not to marginalise significance but to aid its passage into a recursive, communised form. Therefore, the release of signification from the religious domain and its distribution into the wider human community, rather than the content of any particular significatory system, is the proper object of communist theology.