Tan, who heads the Malacca-Johor diocese of the Catholic Church and is concurrently president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, was referring to remarks made by Mujahid Yusof Rawa of PAS at a public forum in Penang yesterday.
Mujahid, who is the MP for Parit Buntar,derided the notion that certain Christian groups are behaving like fifth columnists in Muslim-dominant Malaysia.
"I don't suppose that the praise of a Christian leader would do a power of good to the career of a Muslim politician on the make within his fold.
"But I will not allow that consideration to restrain my gratitude for voices such as his that oppose nonsense with sense, mathematical in this instance," the Jesuit-trained prelate remarked wryly in an immediate reaction to Mujahid's comments at the forum.
Mujahid, who is tasked with the PAS outreach programme with non-Muslims, pooh-poohed the notion that the nine percent of Malaysians who are Christian have it in themselves to make the country, with a 28 million population that is 60 percent Muslim, a Christian state.
Christians uphold the constitution
Tan said Mujahid's reasoning satisfied the classic Christian philosophical principle, called Occam's razor after the Fransican monk who devised it, that where competing theories of phenomena are proffered, it is best to opt for the simpler explanation, if that is adequate.
Occam's razor, a 14th century concept, is now accepted in secular philosophy.
"In the first place, there is no such thing as a Christian state in the sense that there are Islamic states; and secondly, Malaysian Christians are bound to uphold the federal constitution, which states that Islam is the official religion though non-Muslims are free to practise their own religions," the bishop reasoned.
"Now the gentleman from Parit Buntar has offered the simple explanation that the notion of nine percent of Malaysians that are Christian trying to makeover the rest of the population in their own image is inherently - mathematically - absurd," asserted the bishop.
"Mathematics is not my strong suit, but I like the poet Alexander Pope's observation: ‘See mystery to mathematics fly.' In other words, sometimes you need simple math to clear the oppressive mysteries that wild fear and exaggeration tend to spawn," opined the prelate.
"Christians ought to be glad of Mujahid's math-based exorcism of the bogey of Christianisation of Malaysia," Tan added.