Skip to comments.Natural Law Ain't Nonsense
Posted on 02/04/2014 10:45:11 PM PST by matthewrobertolson
"[T]he light of natural reason, whereby we discern what is good and what is evil, which is the function of the natural law, is nothing else than an imprint on us of the Divine light." - Summa Theologiæ [Part II, FP, Q. 91]
Natural law is sometimes dismissed as just another religious theory, totally dependent on belief in God. But actually, while Catholics do believe that God wrote it on our hearts (Deuteronomy 6:4-7, Romans 2:12-16), it is a self-evident truth with which even the most rabid atheist should come to terms.
What is natural law?
"The natural law expresses the original moral sense which enables man to discern by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie" (CCC #1954).
"The natural law, present in the heart of each man and established by reason, is universal in its precepts and its authority extends to all men. It expresses the dignity of the person and determines the basis for his fundamental rights and duties" (CCC #1956).
It is an "immutable" and "permanent" element in society (CCC #1958), and civil law should reflect it (CCC #1959).
How can it be known?
Through the revealed wisdom of the Church and examinations of ourselves, we can become conscious of this law. "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened" (Matthew 7:8, Luke 11:10). If you open yourself to evidence, you will discover truth.
Is it supported by secular science?
Yes. The concept of cognitive dissonance shows that lying makes us feel conflicted. Some diseases are directly tied to immoral sexual activity. The process of procreation and statistics on child-rearing point to the importance of heterosexual, sacramental marriage. The list truly goes on and on.
Like Pope Francis has tweeted, "we carry within us an immense treasure" and God is our "teacher of truth and life" -- this sums it up!
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There is law superior to that of the state. It is the basis of our Declaration and Constitution. Despite the efforts of the left to ignore it, it cannot be repealed. It is why early Americans feared God’s wrath for so hideously violating it through the institution of slavery. America 2014 should likewise fear God’s wrath.
There is a swift and opposite change in natural law once one is inside the DC beltway.
To add to this post, I can highly recommend the book, What We Can’t Not Know: A Guide by J. Budziszewski.
“In this new revised edition of his groundbreaking work, Professor J. Budziszewski questions the modern assumption that moral truths are unknowable. With clear and logical arguments he rehabilitates the natural law tradition and restores confidence in a moral code based upon human nature.
What We Can’t Not Know explains the rational foundation of what we all really know to be right and wrong and shows how that foundation has been kicked out from under western society. Having gone through stages of atheism and nihilism in his own search for truth, Budziszewski understands the philosophical and personal roots of moral relativism. With wisdom born of both experience and rigorous intellectual inquiry, he offers a firm foothold to those who are attempting either to understand or to defend the reasonableness of traditional morality.
While natural law bridges the chasms that can be caused by religious and philosophical differences, Budziszewski believes that natural law theory has entered a new phase, in which theology will again have pride of place. While religious belief might appear to hamper the search for common ground, Budziszewski demonstrates that it is not an obstacle, but a pathway to apprehending universal norms of behavior.
“All too often higher education today deems its task to be the production of epistemological agnostics and moral nihilists. What We Can’t Not Know provides young people with the argumentative ammunition they need to resist that juggernaut.”
- John M. Grondelski, First Things
J. Budziszewski is a professor of government and philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. Among his several books are The Revenge of Conscience: Politics and the Fall of Man and The Line Through the Heart: Natural Law as Fact, Theory, and Sign of Contradiction.”
It’s available in print or electronic form and is not expensive. This is an excellent book for a beginner who really wants to understand and be able to explain the natural law to others. ;-)