[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 religious truth. It is caused by the substitution of 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 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.
Religions make a claim about the nature of God and His relation to man. Every religion claims to know the 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 (the Catholic religion) and others are false religions.
Truth is not the same as opinion. One common understanding of the word opinion, is that an opinion is a belief with no evidence. Therefore, a belief is an acceptance and conviction of truth based on some rational sufficiently good evidence. An opinion is a rationally unjustified claim masquerading as a belief in some 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. Three, 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 last has the potential to be infallible. Self-evident knowledge has no need for justification. Given that it is possible for humans to make mistakes in reasoning, bad reasoning will result in bad evidence. Evidence universally acknowledged has the problem that one must correctly judge (a rational process) the universality. 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.
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 or His Church, then it is an infallible faith.
Given the above it is possible to fully explain liberalism.
With liberalism, an 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 opinion 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.
Note: Earlier versions of this page had intellectual errors. I am fallible and it is regrettable. I pray that God will remedy any damage inadvertently done. I ask the reader to pray for me that I might correct any other errors in my writing.