Natural Law Ain’t Nonsense

“[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]

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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.

In summary?

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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4 comments

  1. THOMAS J. STRATFORD · · Reply

    Good! then the Catholic Church needs to expel all the Homosexuals in their midst, see, their lifestyle is in conflict of “natural law” as well as Christian doctrine.

    1. No. Persons with same-sex attraction (SSA), like all people, are to be treated with respect. While homosexuality does separate people from being in full communion with Christ and His Church, and individuals practicing it are therefore not to receive the Eucharist, they should not necessarily be barred from Mass or any other function.

  2. Dominic Vieira · · Reply

    “Through the revealed wisdom of the Church and examinations of ourselves, we can become conscious of this law.”

    If this is the case, then it is no longer the “natural law” which God wrote upon the hearts of all men, and is enshrined and recognized in Church law. It is the law revealed to the Church, who then guides men to know the law in their hearts.

    This is not an idle distinction. The natural law is a guide to all men, regardless of their knowledge of, or affiliation with the Church. As such, men who have never known Christ in His Church, can live noble lives dedicated to natural goodness and virtue and even achieve salvation. The miracle of God’s mercy extends to all those who in any way seek Him in His Goodness; they are also a part of His Church, even by extension.

    God bless,
    Dominic Vieira

    1. I meant that, while natural law indeed guides everyone, not everyone consciously (emphasis on that) follows it.
      “The precepts of natural law are not perceived by everyone clearly and immediately” (CCC #1960).

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