Religion is inevitable. A religion is an understanding of what is real, together with conclusions for the basic principles of morality. Any such understanding can reasonably be called a religion, since it provides an account of ultimate reality that is not fully demonstrable but gives answers regarding ultimate questions by which we live.

Each of us needs some religion (so defined) because doubt can’t be universal. We speak and act, and when we do we cannot help but believe unselfconsciously that some of the things of which we speak are simply real and some of the things we do simply right. We thus have a religion at least implicitly and can’t live without one. Our only choice is whether to recognize that we have a religion or to deny the fact, and so prevent ourselves and others from thinking about our most fundamental beliefs.

There are of course advantage to denial. The great practical strength of the modern outlook composed of scientism and liberalism is that it hides its religious quality and so avoids having to give an account of itself. Scientism calls itself “cautious reliance on the best evidence” while liberalism claims to be “openness and tolerance.” The fact there are disputes about reality is said to make scientism the only reasonable choice, and the reality of moral disagreement does the same for liberalism. Other views as to the good and true are demoted to private opinions not allowed to affect public affairs because they are based on commitments that are not demonstrable.

However, scientism and liberalism have the same intrinsic weaknesses as other views. Scientism and liberalism get nowhere unless they treat mechanism as a metaphysical principle and preference satisfaction as the
summum bonum. As such, they are not essentially more cautious, open or tolerant than other religious outlooks. Indeed, they are less so than many, since they refuse to compare themselves to other beliefs on the grounds that the others rest on unproven and arbitrary assumptions while the assumptions on which scientism and liberalism rest are overlooked or treated as beyond question.

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  1. Cardinal Ratzinger recently answered the

    Cardinal Ratzinger recently answered the question, “Isn’t it arrogant to speak of truth in matters of religion to the point of affirming that truth, the only truth, has been found in one’s own religion?”

    “…truth cannot be a possession; before it, I must always be one of humble acceptance, of being conscious of my own risk and accepting knowledge as a gift, of which I am not worthy, of which I cannot be vainglorious as if it were an achievement of mine…If I have been given the truth, I must consider it as a responsibility, which also presupposes service to others.”

    “Isn’t it arrogant to say that God cannot give us the gift of truth?” he asked. “Is it not contempt for God to say that we have been born blind and that truth is not our concern? … Real arrogance” consists in “wanting to take God’s place and to determine who we are, what we do, what we want to make of ourselves and of the world.”

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