I have always regarded much of the philosophy of “natural law” as over-thinking and misguided, as missing out on the innate importance of forests by getting lost in the microscopic. small details of their trees.
I was reminded of this recently while reading an article on “natural law” by the Catholic news site Aleteia. (A clear and objective explanation of the concept can be found in the YouTube video above.)
You may remember its use by US Attorney General Bill Barr, who often indicated that he wanted, as I wrote in March, to establish a “Judeo-Christian” theocracy in America based on “law. natural ”.
In conservative Catholicism‘s “natural law” bias, anything that seems unnatural or unusual, or contradicts the Bible – eg, homosexuality, abortion, evolution, etc. – is inherently false.
What Barr meant by this term is a society founded on a divinely ordered morality and ethics derived from what he calls the “Judeo-Christian tradition”, which is actually not a thing in the United States; giving credit to Jews, long unjustly vilified in American culture, is a political fool. In fact, “natural law” is simply what is proclaimed in the Bible, the first part of which – the Old Testament – is largely Christian interpretations of Judaism, but most Americans consider the Old Testament to be Christian. and not Judaic.
In his recent article, Aleteia asserts that “natural law” is simply a philosophy encapsulating the way things are “naturally”.
What this means, among many other equally dubious assumptions in this flawed philosophy, is that homosexuality, for example, in the context of “natural law” is, in the words of Catholic Cardinal Raymond Burke, ” disorderly, ”“ false ”and“ evil. ”A virulent homophobe and skeptical of coronavirus vaccines, Burke was demoted in 2014 by Pope Francis I for his rebellious non-Christian political views and, later, a himself been so low by Covid-19 that he had to be intubated.Before his dismissal, Burke was the Church’s second most powerful prelate, as prefect of the Vatican’s highest court.
Thus, in the Catholic sense, the “natural law” is not what is immutable in existence – what is true no matter what (such as gravity and homosexual attractions) – but what appears. obvious and Ordinary to conservative Christians who organize their lives according to the scriptures and traditions of the faith, not the real world. In the real world, men and women are regularly and in similar proportions in all societies sexually attracted to and love members of their own sex.
In other words, sexual anatomy, for Christian aficionados of “natural law”, indicates that the only Natural mating is between a man and a woman. Since humans are obviously spiritual beings (read: know and accept the existence of God), they must also naturally heed the Word of God (i.e. the Christian Bible). Let us not forget that in South America before the Civil War, “natural law” also considered slavery to be morally acceptable, until this clearly was not the case, because, of course, it is natural that superior human beings (i.e. white Christians of European descent) should dominate and subjugate their inferiors if they are able to. And it wasn’t castigated in the Bible.
Except it’s not clear what “spiritual” means and if human beings are, in fact, this, plus the existence of something supernatural to be spiritual toward is not yet confirmed. In addition, there is no proof that the Bible is the “Word of God” and therefore divine, so there is really no compelling need to heed all that it prescribes.
Alétiea explains the concept of “natural law” as follows:
“The Church has always taught that natural law exists as something imprinted in human nature.
“Augustine and Thomas Aquinas both made it clear that this moral law is imprinted in our nature. The Synod of Arles in 473 reaffirmed Augustine and declared that natural law was “the first grace of God before the coming of Christ”.
“In modern times, the Church has reaffirmed this reality on several occasions. In Gaudium et Spes (16) of Vatican II, we read: “For man has in his heart a law written by God; to obey him is the very dignity of man; according to her, he will be judged. In Veritatis Splendor (36), John Paul II noted: “The natural moral law has God as its author, and that man, by the use of reason, participates in the eternal law, which it is not for him to establish. .
Encyclopedia Britannica explains that the ongoing debate over the true meaning of “natural law” is at least as old as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle:
“[Aristotle] drew his examples of natural law primarily from his observation of the Greeks in their city-states, who subordinated women to men, slaves to citizens, and “barbarians” to Hellenes. On the other hand, the The Stoics conceive of an entirely egalitarian law of nature in accordance with the logos (reason) inherent in the human mind.
So even the Greek sages themselves had opposing interpretations.
It has always been a pet peeve for me that Christianity (as well as other religions) blithely states that the root of every positive trait of humanity is God (and everything else is the devil’s fault), while there is no proof that certain supernatural beings have imprinted on us, good or bad, and exhaustive proof that the soulless machinations of evolution have it. made.
God is always presented as a kind of asset this instantly makes any other consideration irrelevant, where “natural law” is the code of “Christian law”.
Berth. Evoking God is a religious tic, not proof.
But devout Christians are nothing if they are not anchored in their dogma, as improbable as it is.
For example, in defending the doctrine of “natural law,” the Aleteia article postulates without evidence that due to the supposed spiritual / rational nature of humanity (although the two traits are actually mutually exclusive) people tend to social balance “so that we can achieve our ends correctly.” What, the article explains, is what makes “natural law” the basis of the morality of people and not of other animals. Except that a lot of “dumb” animals too strive for harmony and peace, maybe even stronger than us.
“Plus, humans are social in a way that no other animal is,” Aleteia supports, “and this implies certain goods like keep your spouse for sexual activity to avoid social conflicts.
In fact, “staying true to your spouse” (being sexually faithful, if you haven’t understood it)) is more about an unhealthy fear of God’s wrath for a very common sin (for which God’s purpose, ironically, has incorporated an often uncontrollable impulse in many of us) and on Christianity’s legacy of disgust and subjugation of women than on God-given human DNA striving for serenity. After all, you remember what Eve did with her free will in Eden, tempting poor old Adam with a demonic apple. I can’t have this.
I agree that there are many positive (and negative) tendencies of humanity embedded in us from birth. But I don’t believe there’s anything supernatural in there.
Cash, including Homo sapiens, must flourish in order to survive and bequeath their genes to future generations. And species that constantly fight with each other would find it difficult to thrive. So, an ability to be cool and get along is essential for survival now and in the future.
Without divine intervention (except in people’s imaginations) evolution has pulled off this trick very easily in successful species.
Peace-inducing altruism and instinctive cooperation originate from this very natural biological process over eons, and not by decree of the gods, except perhaps in the figurative sense. Such positivity is found deep in our genes, not far beyond the stars.