Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Faith and Reason Again, III: The Conservative Position


Yesterday we summarized the liberal Catholic position.  Today we will summarize the conservative Catholic position in this whole faith versus reason issue.
The conservative position puts the Church (organized religion) at the center, with the State viewed as a sort of an ancillary executive body to help carry out the mission of the Church.  In the conservative view, given that getting people to heaven is paramount, the Church must never change anything.  The primary role of the State is to ensure that the Church can carry out its mission.  The applications of principles of both natural and supernatural law become as unchanging and unchangeable as the principles themselves.
In extreme forms of conservatism, as in some places in the Islamic world, the role of the State is understood as being to enforce all religious doctrine; there is no distinction between human civil law based on justice, and religious law based on faith.  This is behind the demand for a new Caliphate and the imposition of Sharia Law, with the head of state also the head of the organized religious body.
From a religious point of view, this, too, shifts the basis of the natural law from the Intellect to the Will.  Faith and reason are put into opposition; they become enemies, not allies.
As with the liberal position, the “Triumph of the Will,” being against nature, must be imposed by force.  This, again, requires a vast increase in State power since the State has a monopoly over the instruments of coercion.  Those of great faith, meaning the most power, impose it on others with the help of the State.  Might makes right.
In the conservative view, because organized religion is the source of everything, the Church must control the State’s use of force.  It is the State that becomes redundant in that case, and is subsumed into the Church.
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