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.