The Truth about Liberalism

[I]t is a habit of mankind to entrust to careless hope what they long for, and to use sovereign reason to thrust aside what they do not desire.

Thucydides, The Landmark Thucydides, edited by Robert B. Strassler, p. 282.

Liberalism as Denial of Religious Truth

Liberalism is the denial of the moral obligation to believe objective religious truth. It is caused by the substitution of subjective opinion for authentic faith. Although technically a heresy, most liberals are not formal heretics. Nevertheless, the deleterious consequences that follow liberalism are the same regardless of how a liberal came to his beliefs.

Truth and Opinion

To liberals, the idea that there can be or even is an objective religious truth is hard or impossible to accept. Truth is not confined to only what can be seen or measured as in science, but embraces all possible statements about reality. To be a true statement there must be a correspondence between the statement and reality. When a person states, “The sky is blue.” he is making a claim about reality and his claim is judged by that reality. Given that blue is electromagnetic radiation of a certain wavelength, then either visual inspection or for the more scientific measuring the wavelength will verify that the statement is true. Another term for an objective truth is, as I shall borrow from a philosopher I respect, a matter of fact.

Religions make a claim about the nature of God and His relation to man. Every religion claims to know the objective religious truth and its adherents believe its tenants and ideally it shapes their actions. The question that confronts every man is: Which is the true religion? Given that religions describe a certain part of reality and given that religions differ in their claims about this reality then of all of the religions there must be one which accurately expounds the way things are. This one religion is the true Religion and others are false religions.

Now, it is not true that all truths are objective. There are some subjective truths. These are those truths that vary from person to person, from time to time, or from place to place. Principally, subjective truths are those pertaining to taste or custom. A person stating, “Carrots are tasty.” is stating a subjective truth. He may personally like carrots, but not everyone will share his opinion. Other examples of subjective truths are local customs. In the past, it was more common for persons to wear hats. Thus stating that, “Men should wear hats” would be a truth peculiar to a time and place where this was the custom or merely a statement of a personal preference. A subjective truth is again to use a borrowed phrase a matter of taste.

Subjective truth is not the same as subjective opinion. One common understanding of the word opinion (which I will adopt), is that an opinion is a strongly held belief with no evidence. Therefore, for my purposes a belief is an acceptance and conviction of truth based on some rational sufficiently good evidence. A subjective opinion is a rationally unjustified claim masquerading as a belief in some objective truth.

Evidence for Beliefs

What constitutes rationally sufficient good evidence? Evidence can be of four different kinds. One, it can be self-evident or what is commonly known as intuitive knowledge. Two, it can be reasoned. Third, it can be knowledge that is universally acknowledged by other humans. Finally, evidence can be the belief of some trustworthy authority.

Of these four types of evidence, only the second and the final have the potential to be rationally unjustified. Given that it is possible for humans to make mistakes in reasoning, bad reasoning will result in bad evidence. For obvious reasons, when one accepts that something is true based on authority, the strength of the evidence is only as strong as the knowledge and character of the said authority. Self-evident knowledge has no need for justification and provided that one is correct in one’s estimation that the knowledge is truly accepted universally (scientists have given it a precise number: 90%) then such knowledge is infallible.

Consider again the fourth kind of evidence. When one accepts the truth of something based on an authority they are taking the truth on faith. If the authority is fallible such as a human being then it is fallible faith. If the authority is infallible as in the case of God, then it is an infallible faith.

Liberalism Explained

Given the above it is possible to fully explain liberalism.

With liberalism, a subjective opinion formed through wishful thinking states that religious truth is not true because it has been revealed by God, but because it seems reasonable. Liberals substitute reason for faith. The false first principle from which all else that is liberal flows is that humans are morally free to believe whatever they want (i.e. find “reasonable”) in the realm of religion.

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