Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | July 22, 2018

Yes, As a Matter of Fact, I’m a Conscious Person

Topped lavendar flowers - magenta

Consciousness is the state or quality of awareness, or, of being aware of an external object or something within oneself, according to Wikipedia. It’s most important to remember that this concept has a very specific scientific definition.

Simply put, if you’re conscious, you’re able to read this. However, as some define it, consciousness is a spiritual concept, and for some who treat it as a spiritual concept, it’s all about the “haves” who are awakened to “the truth”  and the “unenlightened” “have-nots”.

A meme made the rounds on Facebook recently that used this definition of consciousness in what I felt was a most unhelpful way. It implied that people who allegedly “need” religious beliefs or leadership aren’t “conscious”, capable of independent thought, and are told what to believe without using reason.

Okay, now it’s my turn to be blunt, probably painfully so: whoever authored this meme needs to learn the basics of religious tolerance. The insinuation here was that if you accept religious beliefs that run counter to the meme’s author’s narrow definition of “consciousness”, you’re unthinking and simply blindly following a system.

There are a few major problems with this, not the least being that the author needlessly maligned billions of people:

  • It implies that people follow religious beliefs out of some sort of obligation or “need”, not because they want to – A sense of belonging is an essential human need, and we are all part of various groups in life, some of which include groups of a religious nature. Many people voluntarily choose to identify with specific religious groups because their worldviews align with how the individual sees things.
  • Categorizing people as not being conscious for diverging from your worldview smacks of pure and simple spiritual superiority – I’ve argued in previous posts that some allegedly “spiritual but not religious” people are just as rigid, if not more so, in their thinking than “religious” people, and the statement I’m refuting serves as perfect proof. How is categorizing someone who diverges from your chosen path of not being involved with a traditional religion as not being conscious different from calling them “unsaved”, “not in the truth”, “disobedient”, etc.? 
  • Arguing that “religious” people don’t use reason and logical thought attacks and belittles people who may have reliefs grounded in logic and reason – I’m inclined to think whoever authored that statement on Facebook was raised in a group that didn’t allow free thought and is projecting their experiences onto people of faith because they think ALL religious traditions are like this. Not only have some of the intellectual heavyweights of the past were people of faith (think Thomas Aquinas), but some religious groups, such as Episcopalians/Anglicans, Catholics and Methodists, encourage the use of reason. 

Sorry for the “sermon” everyone, but all ideas do have consequences, and a lot of intolerance has its origins in misunderstanding what others believe. We’re not going to reach a place where intolerance goes away by misrepresenting others’ beliefs.

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