Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Faith and Reason Again, II: The Liberal Position


Yesterday we began a series on tradition, faith, and reason in government and organized religion.  We decided to focus on organized religion, specifically the Catholic Church, since the issue seems more clear cut there than in most institutions.  Today we’ll look at the liberal Catholic position.

The liberal Catholic position puts the State at the center, with the Church (or any other organized religion, for that matter; we’re not picking on Catholics) viewed as something of a second-rate government agency.  In the liberal view, given that meeting people’s material wants and needs in response to current social conditions is paramount, the Church must change and adapt not only human practices, but absolutes of both the natural and supernatural law.
From a religious point of view, this shifts the basis of the natural law from God’s Nature, self-realized in His Intellect, and therefore discernible by human reason by its own natural force and light as a result of observations and conclusions drawn from human nature (a reflection of God’s Nature), to a personal interpretation of God’s Will, accepted by faith.
Faith and reason, instead of being complementary, are put in opposition to each other.  Whoever has the strongest faith (meaning the biggest club) imposes that faith on others.  Might makes right.
This “Triumph of the Will,” being against nature, must be imposed by force.  As the Roman poet Horace said, “You can chase Nature out with a pitchfork, but she always comes back.”
Imposing anything against nature requires a vast increase in State power.  This is because the State has a monopoly over the instruments of coercion.  Because the State then provides the material wants and needs that liberals tend to view as the exclusive mission of the Church (cf. Ecclesia in America, § 67), organized religion becomes redundant, and is subsumed into the State.
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