Reason and religion

Four religions:

  1. Liberalism: A single human world ordered only by reason, based on pure (content-free) concepts. Freedom says you ignore the content of human goals and promote all of them simply as such, and equality says you ignore the content of human qualities so you treat all men as equal in value. Put them together and you get liberalism.
  2. Islam: A single human world ordered by pure will. There’s no place for reason, since God, who acts by arbitrary choice and is not bound by reason, is the immediate cause of everything.
  3. Judaism: Two parallel human worlds, the public world everyone is part of that can be appropriately ordered by pure reason, and a private Jewish world ordered by will in the form of a contract between God and the Jewish people that imposes arbitrary conditions like keeping kosher.
  4. Catholicism: Two human worlds, the order of nature and the order of grace, that are conceptually distinct but cannot be separated without violence because they are part of a single rational divine order: grace completes nature, and is meant for all.

To the extent the foregoing schema approximates reality, it appears that Islam and liberalism are direct mortal foes, while Judaism and liberalism are natural allies, since liberalism gives the Jews a secure and equal position and Judaism gives them what liberalism lacks as the basis for a complete life. Catholicism and liberalism can work together on some practical issues but in the long run are irreconcilable since the conceptions of reason and reality are different—Catholic reason has natural-law content, liberal reason does not.

11 thoughts on “Reason and religion”

    • I can’t talk about every religious tendency
      I view Catholicism as the best developed, most complete, and indeed normative form of Christianity. So when I think about Christianity in some global connection that’s what I think about. As to the specifics of how Calvinism and its view of nature, grace, and reason relate to the schema, you’ll have to tell me.

  1. May I add…?
    Liberalism and Islam may be direct mortal foes, but then you have to ask yourself, why do liberals spend so much time helping Islam against Christianity? I think this is one of those times when a common hatred of the Christian God trumps all reason.

    • Soft spot for Islam
      Liberalism views Christianity as the main enemy, mostly I think because the Christians are the bad guys they’re used to and that they have to deal with every day. So the enemy of my enemy is my friend. That’s especially true since liberalism has a hard time taking opposition seriously. They have a very limited view of what’s real so they believe that everybody who isn’t crazy or evil must really agree with them and any differences must be an odd misunderstanding.

      • Amen
        Brother, that’s about as well said as anything I’ve ever read. However, they may be more to it all than simply “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Ultimately, there are only two sides: God’s side, and not God’s side. Liberals’ hatred of the Church is too strong for them to stop and consider for a moment whether they’d fare much worse under Islam.

        • That’s the “not take seriously” issue
          It goes rather deep. If there’s no God people become narcissistic. The problem is worse for liberals because they absolutely dominate the dominant institutions in the dominant societies, and because their outlook excludes all realities except those that support liberalism.

    • Can you give actual examples
      Can you give actual examples of “liberals helping Islam against Christianity?” I hear lots of bizarre talking points from conservatives which frequently aren’t supported by any evidence.

      • Evidence?
        Well, how about the fact that the infamous Danish cartoons could not get printed in any but one or two print media venues in the U.S.? After all, weren’t they newsworthy? If there’s a controversy going on in Denmark regarding whether or not a cartoon is offensive to Muslims, would it not behoove us all to see the cartoons so we could make a judgment as to what all the fuss was about? I think so. Still, the assorted American newspapers and magazines did not show them.

        Can you think of any occasion when the American news media was similarly solicitous of the tender feelings of Christians? I can’t. But I can remember plenty of op-eds praising the Mapplethorpe exhibits (e.g., “Piss Christ”) and I can think of occasions when they applauded other artwork such as Mother Mary covered in feces. I guess it’s okay with liberals to insult religion when it’s Christianity.

        Here’s a link to an editorial that appeared in the New York Times just a couple of weeks ago, telling us we should not be afraid of Sharia law in the U.S.

        Now, can you link me to an editorial published in the New York Times where the rights of, say, fundamentalist Christians to settle their own issues in accordance with their religious perspective are defended? E.g., say, teaching children about Creationism or Intelligent Design as opposed to Darwinism… Has the NYT ever defended that practice? Or how about enforcing Christian morality regarding divorce?

      • Sorry, Wrong Link…
        Try this one…

        However, the first article is instructive as well. Ostensibly a news article, it seems pretty clear that the author, Andrea Elliott, disapproves of the efforts by conservative Jews, Christians, and Tea Partiers to ban Sharia law.

        If any Christian organization gave the impression of trying to influence the legal system with, say, Mosaic law, how do you think the New York Times would react? My guess is, they would shout “Separation of church and state!” faster than President Obama can say, “Ummmm….”

  2. Ka-ching!
    Jim, I’m going to buy your book. I was reading some of the blurbs, and this one astounded me…

    > Liberalism is the belief that equal satisfaction of preferences is the highest social good, and the purpose of politics and morality is converting the world into a sort of machine that brings about that good. Conservatism is resistance to that view for the sake of other goods traditionally recognized:—God, country, family, traditional social relations and morality. Modern thought has no good way to make sense of those goods so insisting on them has come to seem irrational, obstinate, retrograde, and probably malicious.

    I don’t think William Buckley could have improved on those succinct and illuminating definitions.

    Politically speaking, it’s difficult for conservatives to organize themselves well enough to fight back effectively. Liberals love to tear down institutions that stand in their way — in fact, they live for it. And it outrages conservatives. However, not every institution is universally loved by all conservatives. A traditional patriotic conservative will defend the Constitution, but may not care about the indignities visited by the liberals upon the Church. A free-market “conservative” despises liberal intrusion into the marketplace, but may be too insulated from the legal system to give much thought to attacks on the family. And so on. So conservatives stand disunited, are picked to pieces one at a time, are in dismay over the shambles of their favored institutions — but are unable to see clearly the common enemy and unwilling to stir themselves to help fellow conservatives.

    But ultimately, politics is not the problem. All problems are problems of faith.


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