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Author Topic: Contraception & Natural Law  (Read 39778 times) Average Rating: 0
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ialmisry
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« Reply #360 on: November 30, 2011, 04:20:43 PM »

When I speak of the Catholic Church I always am speaking of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

And as long as you are posting what you post about natural law, I can safely assert that you have not a clue about what natural law MEANS in the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

You can quote till you are blue.  IF you are misrepresenting meaning then you are wrong.

You are wrong here on this thread.
Not to be redundent, but to repeat again what you have already said
That criticism stands for all of the on-line Orthodox critiques of natural law.
Let the record show:+Sic Maria Dixit.  November 30, 2011 ex cathedra sua (is that like hoisting yourself by your own petard?) Roma locuta est, causa finita est.

Ya'll are talking to yourselves.
No, just to bricks.

Making vague allusions to anonymous Orthodox purported authorities of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church is not the same as speaking of or for the Catholic Church.  Our Head said "you must shout from the rooftops."

I have posted what your Vatican says about Natural Law.  I understand it.  Because I understand it, I reject it.  My rejection does not obviate my understanding.

I'm sorry that I do not have that mystical decoder ring which has the key that you insist will give the clue to unlock rejection of the plain language the Vatican has put out on your "natural law."

Your Vatican claims that their is a natural law which can be accessed by reason to build up moral theology, the same way scientific realists claim that their science is built up from their accessing reality through observation.  Both are wrong. And the determinism and action theory of human procreation of HV's natural law theorists is as wrong as the theory of natural selection in "the Origin of Species" of social darwinists.

No.  Natural law is not a law accessed by reason alone.  Natural law is what we are able to know about HUMAN nature based upon revealed truth/Scripture and Tradition.
You have an odd definition of revelation, one that does not comport with what your Vatican has to say about it:
Quote
Meaning of revelation
Revelation may be defined as the communication of some truth by God to a rational creature through means which are beyond the ordinary course of nature.
Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13001a.htm

Natural law is what we are able to discern about creation based upon revealed truth and the illumination of grace.
That's not what your Vatican says:
Quote
Natural Law
Our knowledge of the law
Founded in our nature and revealed to us by our reason, the moral law is known to us in the measure that reason brings a knowledge of it home to our understanding.
Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09076a.htm

No.  You haven't got a clue.
I have plenty.  Get one.  Take your pick:
I have quoted your Vatican sources more than enough to demonstrate that I know exactly what your Vatican means by natural law as it is used in your ecclesial community, e.g.
Yet further demonstrating the "Natural Law" of the Scholastics as the grotesque combination of pin-headed (literally) theory with natural philosophy which formed the materialism of the Stoics, something latter documented in full:
I just noticed that we don't have the official (or semi-official, or infallible, or authoritiative-we can't get a straight answer on what exactly is the status of the CCC in the hierarchy of certitude) definition of natural law:
Quote
I. The Natural Moral Law

1954 Man participates in the wisdom and goodness of the Creator who gives him mastery over his acts and the ability to govern himself with a view to the true and the good.

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:

The natural law is written and engraved in the soul of each and every man, because it is human reason ordaining him to do good and forbidding him to sin . . . But this command of human reason would not have the force of law if it were not the voice and interpreter of a higher reason to which our spirit and our freedom must be submitted. (Leo XIII, Libertas praestantissimum, 597)

1955 The "divine and natural" law (GS 89 # 1) shows man the way to follow so as to practice the good and attain his end. the natural law states the first and essential precepts which govern the moral life. It hinges upon the desire for God and submission to him, who is the source and judge of all that is good, as well as upon the sense that the other is one's equal. Its principal precepts are expressed in the Decalogue. This law is called "natural," not in reference to the nature of irrational beings, but because reason which decrees it properly belongs to human nature:

Where then are these rules written, if not in the book of that light we call the truth? In it is written every just law; from it the law passes into the heart of the man who does justice, not that it migrates into it, but that it places its imprint on it, like a seal on a ring that passes onto wax, without leaving the ring. (St. Augustine, De Trin. 14, 15, 21: PL 42,1052)

The natural law is nothing other than the light of understanding placed in us by God; through it we know what we must do and what we must avoid. God has given this light or law at the creation. (St. Thomas Aquinas, Dec. praec. I)

1956 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:

For there is a true law: right reason. It is in conformity with nature, is diffused among all men, and is immutable and eternal; its orders summon to duty; its prohibitions turn away from offense .... To replace it with a contrary law is a sacrilege; failure to apply even one of its provisions is forbidden; no one can abrogate it entirely. (Cicero, Rep. III, 22, 33)
!
Quoting the Stoic as its authority, the Vatican reveals the origin of its "Natural Law."

Quote
1957 Application of the natural law varies greatly; it can demand reflection that takes account of various conditions of life according to places, times, and circumstances. Nevertheless, in the diversity of cultures, the natural law remains as a rule that binds men among themselves and imposes on them, beyond the inevitable differences, common principles.

1958 The natural law is immutable and permanent throughout the variations of history;(Cf. GS 10) it subsists under the flux of ideas and customs and supports their progress. the rules that express it remain substantially valid. Even when it is rejected in its very principles, it cannot be destroyed or removed from the heart of man. It always rises again in the life of individuals and societies:

Theft is surely punished by your law, O Lord, and by the law that is written in the human heart, the law that iniquity itself does not efface. (St. Augustine, Conf. 2, 4, 9: PL 32, 678)

1959 The natural law, the Creator's very good work, provides the solid foundation on which man can build the structure of moral rules to guide his choices. It also provides the indispensable moral foundation for building the human community. Finally, it provides the necessary basis for the civil law with which it is connected, whether by a reflection that draws conclusions from its principles, or by additions of a positive and juridical nature.

1960 The precepts of natural law are not perceived by everyone clearly and immediately. In the present situation sinful man needs grace and revelation so moral and religious truths may be known "by everyone with facility, with firm certainty and with no admixture of error." (Pius XII, Humani generis: DS 3876; cf. Dei Filius 2: DS 3005) The natural law provides revealed law and grace with a foundation prepared by God and in accordance with the work of the Spirit.

I note that in the last reference (Humani generis) Pope Pius XII of Rome took a swipe at us existentialists. Oh well. I would like to know how he, the CCC and the rest of the Vatican would distinguish this clinging to Natural Law from the foolishness of the Judaizers of the Galatians.

To give another definition:

Quote
the natural law is the rule of conduct which is prescribed to us by the Creator in the constitution of the nature with which He has endowed us

Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09076a.htm
I don't intend to argue it with you

Of course not: you intend to issue a "+Sic Maria Dixit," and proclaim Roma locuta est, causa finita est.

but I will put on record periodically
The record shows many Sic Maria Dixit with no accompanying facts (anonymous Orthodox sources don't count).

that what you talk about as natural law is so badly misrepresented by you that it is absurd to even try to discuss it.
Caveat Lector.

Anyone is free to follow up the links I provide, check the citations I provide from your "magisterial approved" sources, etc. and judge for themselves.

I don't have time to look through the whole thread:have you EVER provided anything but your own assertions on the matter?  ANY substantiation even from your "magisterium" for you claims?  Not that you are not free to post your assertions, you are. Just the readers should take them for what they are worth.

That criticism stands for all of the on-line Orthodox critiques of natural law.
Let the record show:+Sic Maria Dixit.  November 30, 2011 ex cathedra sua (is that like hoisting yourself by your own petard?) Roma locuta est, causa finita est.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2011, 04:22:09 PM by ialmisry » Logged

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« Reply #361 on: November 30, 2011, 04:26:05 PM »

If you read all of what Al Misry cuts and pastes above and not just his strategic highlights, it corroborates what I have said about natural law being nothing less than divine law animating all of creation, and we are able to see this law through the light of grace-inspired reason.
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« Reply #362 on: November 30, 2011, 04:30:09 PM »

If you read all of what Al Misry cuts and pastes above and not just his strategic highlights, it corroborates what I have said about natural law being nothing less than divine law animating all of creation, and we are able to see this law through the light of grace-inspired reason.

Even *I*, with the little formal education (relatively speaking, that is) I've had, get that.  Maybe it's a language issue?  (That, btw, was a serious question.)
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« Reply #363 on: November 30, 2011, 05:55:38 PM »

Natural law is not a law accessed by reason alone.  Natural law is what we are able to know about HUMAN nature based upon revealed truth/Scripture and Tradition.  Natural law is what we are able to discern about creation based upon revealed truth and the illumination of grace.

"In a pluralistic society, the Catholic Church is convinced that it is duty bound 'to intervene in favor of the values that are valid for man as such, independently of the various cultures' - values the Church knows 'through its faith' but at which all men can arrive through reason alone, regardless of faith." -Vatican Insider http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/homepage/the-vatican/detail/articolo/benedetto-xvi-benedict-xvi-benedicto-xvi-9725/
« Last Edit: November 30, 2011, 06:04:42 PM by xariskai » Logged

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ialmisry
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« Reply #364 on: November 30, 2011, 06:21:43 PM »

If you read all of what Al Misry cuts and pastes above and not just his strategic highlights, it corroborates what I have said about natural law being nothing less than divine law animating all of creation, and we are able to see this law through the light of grace-inspired reason.

Even *I*, with the little formal education (relatively speaking, that is) I've had, get that.  Maybe it's a language issue?  (That, btw, was a serious question.)
You mean people are having trouble with plain English, as xariskai shows^?
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Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
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If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
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ialmisry
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« Reply #365 on: November 30, 2011, 06:24:21 PM »

If you read all of what Al Misry cuts and pastes above and not just his strategic highlights, it corroborates what I have said about natural law being nothing less than divine law animating all of creation, and we are able to see this law through the light of grace-inspired reason.
That's the problem. We only have what you said, and nothing from your "magisterium" or something it has approved, to back it up.

We have dealt with this already.
http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s1c3a1.htm

IN BRIEF

1975 According to Scripture the Law is a fatherly instruction by God which prescribes for man the ways that lead to the promised beatitude, and proscribes the ways of evil.

1976 "Law is an ordinance of reason for the common good, promulgated by the one who is in charge of the community" (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I-II, 90, 4).

1977 Christ is the end of the law (cf. Rom 10:4); only he teaches and bestows the justice of God.

1978 The natural law is a participation in God's wisdom and goodness by man formed in the image of his Creator. It expresses the dignity of the human person and forms the basis of his fundamental rights and duties.

1979 The natural law is immutable, permanent throughout history. The rules that express it remain substantially valid. It is a necessary foundation for the erection of moral rules and civil law.

1980 The Old Law is the first stage of revealed law. Its moral prescriptions are summed up in the Ten Commandments.

1981 The Law of Moses contains many truths naturally accessible to reason. God has revealed them because men did not read them in their hearts.

1982 The Old Law is a preparation for the Gospel.

1983 The New Law is the grace of the Holy Spirit received by faith in Christ, operating through charity. It finds expression above all in the Lord's Sermon on the Mount and uses the sacraments to communicate grace to us.

1984 The Law of the Gospel fulfills and surpasses the Old Law and brings it to perfection: its promises, through the Beatitudes of the Kingdom of heaven; its commandments, by reforming the heart, the root of human acts.

So the Natural Law is superior to the Old Law, as it "is immutable, permanent throughout history. The rules that express it remain substantially valid," while on the Old Law, the New Law "In speaking of a new covenant he treats the first as obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away" (Heb. 8:13).  But this contradicts Scripture, i.e. Revelation, the New Law, which says  "For the form of this world is passing away" (I Cor. 7:31)

So "The natural law is a participation in God's wisdom and goodness by man formed in the image of his Creator. It expresses the dignity of the human person and forms the basis of his fundamental rights and duties," and thus surpasses the Old Law "For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never....make perfect those who draw near" (Heb. 10:1). Yet that contradicts the words of the Word of the New Law, "the end of the law": "For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished" (Mat. 5:18).

So "The natural law is a participation in God's wisdom and goodness by man formed in the image of his Creator. It expresses the dignity of the human person and forms the basis of his fundamental rights and duties" and so of more value than than the Old Law, "For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be every one who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, and do them." (Gal. 3:10)  But when Scripture consisted only of the Old Law, the New Law stated "All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (II Tim. 3:16-7).

So your magisterium clings to Natural Law while disgarding the Old Law as merely "the first stage of revealed law," and "a preparation for the Gospel," as "The Law of the Gospel fulfills and surpasses the Old Law and brings it to perfection," without, evidently (given your magisterium dependenc on it for theology), surpassing or perfecting the Natural Law as "a necessary foundation for the erection of moral rules and civil law." So the Graeco-Roman philosophers as the vehicle of Natural Law outdo the the prophets of the Jews.  But we'll stick with the assessment of the Apostle of the New Law "Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?  Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews are entrusted with the oracles of God." (Rom. 3:1-2), and the "end of the law": "You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews." (John 4:22)
« Last Edit: November 30, 2011, 06:44:17 PM by ialmisry » Logged

Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
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If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
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« Reply #366 on: November 30, 2011, 06:30:43 PM »

If you read all of what Al Misry cuts and pastes above and not just his strategic highlights, it corroborates what I have said about natural law being nothing less than divine law animating all of creation, and we are able to see this law through the light of grace-inspired reason.

Even *I*, with the little formal education (relatively speaking, that is) I've had, get that.  Maybe it's a language issue?  (That, btw, was a serious question.)
You mean people are having trouble with plain English, as xariskai shows^?

I was thinking of someone else, actually.
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ialmisry
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« Reply #367 on: November 30, 2011, 06:33:17 PM »

If you read all of what Al Misry cuts and pastes above and not just his strategic highlights, it corroborates what I have said about natural law being nothing less than divine law animating all of creation, and we are able to see this law through the light of grace-inspired reason.

Even *I*, with the little formal education (relatively speaking, that is) I've had, get that.  Maybe it's a language issue?  (That, btw, was a serious question.)
You mean people are having trouble with plain English, as xariskai shows^?

I was thinking of someone else, actually.
Doesn't detract from the point xariskai made in plain English.
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Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
ialmisry
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« Reply #368 on: November 30, 2011, 07:01:25 PM »

To continue...
Well, let's see what Pope Paul of Rome (or Card. Wojtyla, later Pope John Paul II of Rome, co-author of the adopted Minority Report of the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control) means by "divine law," the revealed or the natural.

Going through and putting in red that teaching on marriage/child-bearing/rearing which the Vatican based (or attempted to base) on Revelation, general appeals to authority based on revelation (but not on point on married life) in blue, and in bold those pronouncements based on Natural Law.

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae_en.html
Quote
LATIN TEXT: Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 60 (1968), 481-503.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION: The Pope Speaks, 13 (Fall. 1969), 329-46.

Quote
Interpreting the Moral Law

4. This kind of question requires from the teaching authority of the Church a new and deeper reflection
on the principles of the moral teaching on marriage—a teaching which is based on the natural law as illuminated and enriched by divine Revelation.

No member of the faithful could possibly deny that the Church is competent in her magisterium to interpret the natural moral law. It is in fact indisputable, as Our predecessors have many times declared, (See Pius IX, encyc. letter Oui pluribus: Pii IX P.M. Acta, 1, pp. 9-10; St. Pius X encyc. letter Singulari quadam: AAS 4 (1912), 658; Pius XI, encyc.letter Casti connubii: AAS 22 (1930), 579-581; Pius XII, address Magnificate Dominum to the episcopate of the Catholic World: AAS 46 (1954), 671-672; John XXIII, encyc. letter Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), 457) that Jesus Christ, when He communicated His divine power to Peter and the other Apostles and sent them to teach all nations His commandments, (See Mt 28. 18-19) constituted them as the authentic guardians and interpreters of the whole moral law, not only, that is, of the law of the Gospel but also of the natural law[/color]. For the natural law, too, declares the will of God, and its faithful observance is necessary for men's eternal salvation. (See Mt 7. 21)

In carrying out this mandate, the Church has always issued appropriate documents on the nature of marriage, the correct use of conjugal rights, and the duties of spouses. These documents have been more copious in recent times. (See Council of Trent Roman Catechism, Part II, ch. 8; Leo XIII, encyc.letter Arcanum: Acta Leonis XIII, 2 (1880), 26-29; Pius XI, encyc.letter Divini illius Magistri: AAS 22 (1930), 58-61; encyc. letter Casti connubii: AAS 22 (1930), 545-546; Pius XII, Address to Italian Medico-Biological Union of St. Luke: Discorsi e radiomessaggi di Pio XII, VI, 191-192; to Italian Association of Catholic Midwives: AAS 43 (1951), 835-854; to the association known as the Family Campaign, and other family associations: AAS 43 (1951), 857-859; to 7th congress of International Society of Hematology: AAS 50 (1958), 734-735 [TPS VI, 394-395]; John XXIII, encyc.letter Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), 446-447 [TPS VII, 330-331]; Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World of Today, nos. 47-52: AAS 58 (1966), 1067-1074 [TPS XI, 289-295]; Code of Canon Law, canons 1067, 1068 §1, canon 1076, §§1-2)
I did not color the references as I do not have the time to sort through them right now.  Lord willing, maybe later.  In the meamtime, I did assUme that the documents at least in part attempt to base themselves on revelation.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2011, 07:05:53 PM by ialmisry » Logged

Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
ialmisry
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« Reply #369 on: November 30, 2011, 07:21:35 PM »

Quote
Special Studies

5. The consciousness of the same responsibility induced Us to confirm and expand the commission set up by Our predecessor Pope John XXIII, of happy memory, in March, 1963. This commission included married couples as well as many experts in the various fields pertinent to these questions. Its task was to examine views and opinions concerning married life, and especially on the correct regulation of births; and it was also to provide the teaching authority of the Church with such evidence as would enable it to give an apt reply in this matter, which not only the faithful but also the rest of the world were waiting for
. (See Paul VI, Address to Sacred College of Cardinals: AAS 56 (1964), 588 [TPS IX, 355-356]; to Commission for the Study of Problems of Population, Family and Birth: AAS 57 (1965), 388 [TPS X, 225]; to National Congress of the Italian Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology: AAS 58 (1966), 1168 [TPS XI, 401-403].)

When the evidence of the experts had been received, as well as the opinions and advice of a considerable number of Our brethren in the episcopate—some of whom sent their views spontaneously, while others were requested by Us to do so—We were in a position to weigh with more precision all the aspects of this complex subject. Hence We are deeply grateful to all those concerned.
I might have colored this in bold, as the admission of married couples to the commission ipso facto de facto eliminates it from the magisterium, and hence reveals that their presence was to bolster a "natural law" argument (despite claims being made here that natural law arguments are not based on observation), rather than witnessing to the revelation of marriage, but I decided to tip in favor of the Vatican making theological claims rather than rational ones.
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Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
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« Reply #370 on: November 30, 2011, 07:24:00 PM »

Wait, so we don't accept natural law?
Not as a basis of Christian morality, no.  We have revelation, why would we choose conjecture instead?
What about as a basis of the morality of non-Christians? How was Job righteous?
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« Reply #371 on: November 30, 2011, 07:30:37 PM »

Quote
The Magisterium's Reply

6. However, the conclusions arrived at by the commission could not be considered by Us as definitive and absolutely certain, dispensing Us from the duty of examining personally this serious question. This was all the more necessary because, within the commission itself, there was not complete agreement concerning the moral norms to be proposed, and especially because certain approaches and criteria for a solution to this question had emerged which were at variance with
the moral doctrine on marriage constantly taught by the magisterium of the Church.

Consequently, now that We have sifted carefully the evidence sent to Us and intently studied the whole matter, as well as prayed constantly to God, We, by virtue of the mandate entrusted to Us by Christ, intend to give Our reply to this series of grave questions.
Again, I give the Vatican more benefit of the doubt than warrented.

As there was not complete agreement, and at variance, as the Vatican's supreme pontiff admits here, unless an argument for ex cathedra status can be made and sustained, HV can make no claim to infallibility as "a definitive teaching by the bishops of the world on a matter of faith or morals even while dispersed throughout the world."  No "ecumenical council" has accepted it, and as Fr. Ambrose pointed out to Mardukm above, it doesn't cite any Tradition for its views, nor does it comport with the tradition often cited in its defense (e.g. St. Clement).
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« Reply #372 on: November 30, 2011, 10:24:56 PM »

Natural law is not a law accessed by reason alone.  Natural law is what we are able to know about HUMAN nature based upon revealed truth/Scripture and Tradition.  Natural law is what we are able to discern about creation based upon revealed truth and the illumination of grace.

"In a pluralistic society, the Catholic Church is convinced that it is duty bound 'to intervene in favor of the values that are valid for man as such, independently of the various cultures' - values the Church knows 'through its faith' but at which all men can arrive through reason alone, regardless of faith." -Vatican Insider http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/homepage/the-vatican/detail/articolo/benedetto-xvi-benedict-xvi-benedicto-xvi-9725/

This is only a portion of what the Church is talking about with natural law.  It is NOT an exhaustive definition.  In fact it is a clear reference to this part of the Epistle to the Romans:

Quote
12For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

SO that one may not have the fullness of the faith and the fullness of grace but still carries the law of God in their hearts and can be doers of the Word in a natural way.

This is NOT how Catholic morality is formed, however.
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« Reply #373 on: December 02, 2011, 01:42:29 AM »

Natural law is not a law accessed by reason alone.  Natural law is what we are able to know about HUMAN nature based upon revealed truth/Scripture and Tradition.  Natural law is what we are able to discern about creation based upon revealed truth and the illumination of grace.

"In a pluralistic society, the Catholic Church is convinced that it is duty bound 'to intervene in favor of the values that are valid for man as such, independently of the various cultures' - values the Church knows 'through its faith' but at which all men can arrive through reason alone, regardless of faith." -Vatican Insider http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/homepage/the-vatican/detail/articolo/benedetto-xvi-benedict-xvi-benedicto-xvi-9725/
In fact it is a clear reference to this part of the Epistle to the Romans:

Quote
12For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
The passage quoted from Romans says absolutely nothing about "values... at which all men may arrive through reason alone" (-Vatican Insider).

Pascal famously argued that the heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of. These laws written upon the heart Paul spoke of may be congruent to reason (e.g. one might describe them), but it is not self-evident they are *arrived at by reason*  much less "through reason alone" as the Vatican Insider spoke of (cf. the Natural Law trajectory in philosophy from the Stoics, Aristotle, Aquinas, Roman Catholicism, Neo-Thomists, etc.)

There is plenty of doubt in the world of contemporary academic exegetes whether "the law written upon the heart" is in fact discursive syllogistic reasoning from things like presumed essences and purposes of things under the influence of Thomas Aquinas's usage of the pagan philosopher Aristotle and the like OR the whole maze of philosophical paradigms of natural law which have developed since then. The Reformers rejected Latin Catholic Natural Law Theory as being what Paul was speaking of in favor of a form of general revelation upon the conscience. Aquinas spoke of reason as something which would be on many points in agreement with revelation, but which was not in any way dependent upon revelation for firm conclusions about natural law or natural theology. Similarly Aquinas and the Roman Catholic Church affirm the existence of God may be proved by reason alone (natural theology), which to many has seemed at odds with the scriptural teaching about a living God who may hide and reveal himself dynamically to human hearts in relation to their response to Him (this doesn't negate something like "pointers" or "warrant" which Bishop Kallistos Ware favors over proof of God by logic in a manner like one does geometry, which he rejects (The Orthodox Way, ch 1). For Aquinas, the existence of God (natural theology) and natural law can be established by reason alone apart from revelation. The Reformers cited the biblical emphasis that such general revelation could become darkened in a flash by sinfulness (Romans 1), which doesn't sound like something a philosophical conclusion arrived at by logical syllogism is easily susceptible to. Similarly, as cited earlier, "two contemporary Orthodox theologians—Fr Alexander Schmemann and Vladimir Lossky—seem to reject the idea that natural law has any application in Christian theology since (following ironically enough, an argument which St Augustine, that paragon of Western theology, would have embraced) what is “natural” for human is our state before Adam’s transgression. Now what we know about humanity is profoundly unnatural" (Father Gregory R. Jensen).

Friedrich Nietzche argued that if God is dead, rationality cannot establish anything as "good or evil" (Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil). Nietzsche was an atheist, but Christian ethicist Dietrich Bonhoeffer thought he did Christendom one of the greatest favors of anyone in modern philosophy by unmasking the "emperor" of natural law ethics via reason alone as having no clothes whatsoever at the end of the day. After the Is-Ought Gap of Hume and Kant (that one cannot derive an Ought from an IS), after Bonhoeffer, after Barth, after the naturalistic fallacy as explained by Moore and others, after Darwinism where "essences/natures/purposes can evolve and adapt to completely different ends the notion that one can derive moral truths "through reason alone" has fallen on hard times indeed; one might say with no disrespect intended that the view is positively medieval.

Now someone may say "but the CCC teaches it as it always has, so we believe it." Fine, it is a religious dogma, but it is one which makes a claim about the capacity of human "reason alone" to arrive at firm moral truths -"at which all men can arrive through reason alone, regardless of faith" (Vatican Insider). This is where Nietzsche, Darwin, Moore, and all the rest come into play. "Natural law theory requires logical universality to be true, yet the supposedly universal practical details of the system have never gained anything like a simple majority. Christian social theorists (there are not many) are among the few remaining defenders of natural law theory. This is ironic..." (North/previous post). "...most ethicists today are skeptical of reliance on natural law" (Bloesch/see previous post). Jacques Ellul has pointed out that speculative natural law theory -whether that of the Stoics or of Thomas Aquinas -has exerted only limited juridicial influence since in practice juridicial systems pay little if any attention to it. Human beings disagree over the content as well as over the source of law and justice.

Quoting Romans 2 as if it is decisive for the dogma inspired Roman Catholic variations of Natural Theology is hardly telling. Although scholarship and exegesis hardly decide this matter it is well to remind ourselves of the peculiar fact that those who see the Pauline texts teaching "natural law" as the Roman Catholics understand it are *almost entirely* (though not exclusively) Roman Catholics. This is at least as curious as the fact that "Natural law theory requires logical universality to be true, yet the supposedly universal practical details of the system have never gained anything like a simple majority. Christian social theorists (there are not many) are among the few remaining defenders of natural law theory. This is ironic..."

"I cannot see why man should not be just as cruel as nature" -Adolf Hitler

Natural law theory can in principle justify just about anything one wants it too.

"Nature evolves" has taken a great deal of the wind out of the sails of "purpose"/telos in nature as self-evidencing moral laws via autonomous human reason. Not to mention the collapse of classical foundationalism in philosophy. The Reformers rejected natural law and rather held to natural revelation. Philosophical based theology and/or philosophically based morality, which became staples of the Latin Catholic tradition from the middle ages, have never been of any sort of central import dogmatically or otherwise for Orthodoxy. Father Gregory R. Jensen relates "two contemporary Orthodox theologians—Fr Alexander Schmemann and Vladimir Lossky—seem to reject the idea that natural law has any application in Christian theology since (following ironically enough, an argument which St Augustine, that paragon of Western theology, would have embraced) what is “natural” for human is our state before Adam’s transgression. Now what we know about humanity is profoundly unnatural" (http://palamas.info/?p=522).

"...most ethicists today are skeptical of reliance on natural law. Yet natural law ethics is not without its defenders... theology of the evangelical type has difficulties with this conception. Instead of a universal moral law, which connotes a certain independence from God, it is more biblical to speak of the personal law rooted in the very being of God. Our appeal is not so much to a general moral law as to the living voice of the Lawgiver... There is no revealed morality in the sense of divinely given moral principles that are accessible to natural reason and universally binding" Donald Bloesch, Freedom For Obedience: Evangelical Ethics in Contemporary Times, p. 21.

Arguably it was failure to achieve the inflated claims regarding the capacity of rationalism to create a scientific natural ethic and a natural theology which contributed respectively to the postmodern moral malaise and the Death of God in the West (and/or retreat from the God of the Gaps to the God of the Guts etc.). It is not so easy to get round those like Nietzsche and Dietrich Bonhoeffer who thought Nietzsche did Christendom one of the greatest favors in the history of philosophy by showing the Emperor that is natural law morality has no clothes at the end of the day.

Most contemporary secular thinkers deny the possibility of discovering in nature any reason for restraining natural passions. Atheist James Sanson believes natural law establishes an ethic of self-indulgence. Hugh Hefner defends a natural law ethic of sexual indulgence on the basis of “a sense of connection to nature on this planet.” Peter Singer of Princeton University sees nothing in nature making sex with animals “an offense to our status and dignity as human beings” (Peter Singer, “Heavy Petting,” http://www.Nerve.com).Homosexual advocate Andrew Sullivan argues natural law justifies “a diversity of moral sexual experience and identity” because, “by empirical observation, Homo sapiens is a moderately adulterous species, made up primarily of mildly unfaithful male-female couples with a small minority of same-sex coupling" (Andrew Sullivan, The Conservative Soul (NY: Harper, 2006), p. 97).

Natural law theory itself has "evolved." Arthur Harding, in Origins of the Natural Law Tradition, says “concepts of natural law are almost as varied as are the philosophical systems which have been evolved in the history of Western civilization” (Arthur L. Harding, ed., Origins of Natural Law Tradition, p. v). Daniel O’Connor affirms “various versions of the doctrine differ so much both in their detail and in their philosophical bases that it is very misleading to talk of the theory of natural law" (Daniel John O’Connor, Aquinas and Natural Law (London: Macmillan, 1967), p. 57). Carl C. F. H. Henry affirmed natural law means so many different things to so many different people some have argued natural law has no “precise content” and “changes with an evolving society” (First Things (January 1995): 54-60).

Catholic theologian Charles Curran claims "the concept of natural law as a deductive methodology based on eternal and immutable essences and resulting in specific absolute norms is no longer acceptable to the majority of Catholic moral theologians writing today" (Curran, Charles, "Catholic Moral Theology Today" in New Perpectives in Moral Theology, ed., Charles Curran (Notre Dame: UNDP, 1982), p. 6).

The notion of immutable essences or purposes has completely evaporated with the advent of contemporary paradigms of biology, as biologist/paleontologist Stephen J. Gould explains: "Natural selection may build an organ 'for' a specific function or group of functions. But this 'purpose' need not fully specify the capacity of the organ. Objects designed for definite purposes can, as a result of their structural complexity, perform many other tasks as well... Jury rigging of ordinary components for special functions as confutation of design -not "ideal engineering." (Stephen J. Gould, The Panda's Thumb, pp. 57, 20-21). For Gould social and moral norms cannot be derived from nature period "Darwinism compels us to seek meaning elsewhere -and isn't this what art, music, literature, ethical theory, personal struggle... is all about?" (ibid, p. 83). There are evolutionary ethicists who disagree, yet their conclusions are invariably at odds with revealed theology at many points, e.g. the common claim that human beings were biologically designed for unfaithfulness to a single spouse.

Carl F. H. Henry reminds us "proponents of evolutionary theory who stressed the variation of human nature in its supposed stages of development (cf. Poddimattam, Relativity of Natural Law) dealt a serious blow to natural law theory and prepared the way for merely sociological and behavioristic conceptions of law and justice. The Utilitarians and Pragmatists then soon championed law on merely sociological grounds. Today the focus in law and justice centers on specific rights, although the concept of human rights often balloons into vague and vacuous notions like freedom and secularity. Such terms mean different things in different societies. Humanist attempts to deduce human rights simply from the nature of man cannot vindicate such rights as normative. When rights have only pragmatic justification, they soon become postulates that can be easily modified and overturned..." (C. F. H. Henry, God, Revelation, and Authority, Vol II, p. 423).

Natural law theories and their content are culturally conditioned. "...every attempt to spell out the intellectual content of natural law can be shown to be historically and culturally conditioned. While all people seem to have a moral sense, when they begin articulating what this means, their own cultural and religious background proves to be determinative in their judgments. We need to take seriously this telling criticism of Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn: 'Is there such a thing as a natural law in the sense that we all 'naturally' reject murder, lies, deceit, wanton cruelty, adulterary, theft, or contempt of parents? As a world traveler and student of ethnology I deny this in the face of certain Christian theological tradition " Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, "Jews, Christians, and Gentiles," National Review 35, no. 20 (Oct. 14, 1983), p. 1282).

Jacques Ellul has pointed out that speculative natural law theory -whether that of the Stoics or of Thomas Aquinas -has exerted only limited juridicial influence since in practice juridicial systems pay little if any attention to it. Human beings disagree over the content as well as over the source of law and justice.

Protestant/Reformed author Gary North writes "Natural law theory has always suffered from the dualism of all Greek thought: law vs. change. The unchanging pure logic of Parmenides cannot be reconciled to the constant historical flux of Heraclitus. Greek philosophy never resolved this dualism. No humanist philosophy ever has, either. The problem today is that the tiny handful of natural law theory defenders are trying to breathe life into a long-dead horse. They are wasting precious time. Natural law theory has never worked as the basis of any social order, but after Charles Darwin, the academic community abandoned natural law theory. Darwin taught that nature is impersonal and not normative. There is no universal ethics. There is only a constant struggle for personal survival... If the vast majority of men refuse to accept a concept of a fixed, universal common logic, let alone fixed, universal social and ethical laws, we cannot build a society based on natural law. This has always been true, but after Darwin's theory of natural selection, it has become more obvious to all but a handful of natural law defenders. They defend the idea of a universal theory of ethics and social order, the details of which have yet to be presented in a form that more than a few social theorists are willing to accept. "Natural law theory requires logical universality to be true, yet the supposedly universal practical details of the system have never gained anything like a simple majority. Christian social theorists (there are not many) are among the few remaining defenders of natural law theory. This is ironic..."
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« Reply #374 on: December 02, 2011, 12:15:28 PM »


Natural law is not a law accessed by reason alone.  Natural law is what we are able to know about HUMAN nature based upon revealed truth/Scripture and Tradition.  Natural law is what we are able to discern about creation based upon revealed truth and the illumination of grace.

"In a pluralistic society, the Catholic Church is convinced that it is duty bound 'to intervene in favor of the values that are valid for man as such, independently of the various cultures' - values the Church knows 'through its faith' but at which all men can arrive through reason alone, regardless of faith." -Vatican Insider http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/homepage/the-vatican/detail/articolo/benedetto-xvi-benedict-xvi-benedicto-xvi-9725/
In fact it is a clear reference to this part of the Epistle to the Romans:

Sometimes it is necessary to deal with meaning.  I realize that is not an habitual practice among Orthodox looking at Catholic teaching.  If it ain't there in black and white then it ain't there at all...

We have become accustomed to such approaches to our teachings.

Does not make you right however.

As I said the pericope above is the heart of Catholic teaching concerning natural law.
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« Reply #375 on: December 02, 2011, 01:10:19 PM »

If you read all of what Al Misry cuts and pastes above and not just his strategic highlights, it corroborates what I have said about natural law being nothing less than divine law animating all of creation, and we are able to see this law through the light of grace-inspired reason.
This is a accurate and distinct defintion of what I learn this semester in my Natural Law course. This is why is is called "the imprint of the Divine light" or the "light of natural reason" or, "the rational creature's participation of the Eternal Law".
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« Reply #376 on: December 04, 2011, 03:48:57 AM »


Natural law is not a law accessed by reason alone.  Natural law is what we are able to know about HUMAN nature based upon revealed truth/Scripture and Tradition.  Natural law is what we are able to discern about creation based upon revealed truth and the illumination of grace.

"In a pluralistic society, the Catholic Church is convinced that it is duty bound 'to intervene in favor of the values that are valid for man as such, independently of the various cultures' - values the Church knows 'through its faith' but at which all men can arrive through reason alone, regardless of faith." -Vatican Insider http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/homepage/the-vatican/detail/articolo/benedetto-xvi-benedict-xvi-benedicto-xvi-9725/
In fact it is a clear reference to this part of the Epistle to the Romans:
If it ain't there in black and white then it ain't there at all...

We have become accustomed to such approaches to our teachings.

As I said the pericope above is the heart of Catholic teaching concerning natural law.
Thanks for your reply.

Actually you didn't just say (or say at all) "it is at the heart of Catholic teaching" ...you said that it was "clear" in reference to Paul:

Quote from: elijahmarie
In fact it is a clear reference to this part of the Epistle to the Romans:
To say "values... at which all men may arrive through reason alone" (-Vatican Insider) is a "clear reference to Paul's teaching in Romans 2 (which so far as I know is not a Vatican claim) invites the obvious retort:

Quote from: xariskai
The passage quoted from Romans says absolutely nothing about "values... at which all men may arrive through reason alone" (-Vatican Insider).

It was your apparent suggestion this is "clear" in Paul that invites comparing your claim to what major contemporary academic commentators on Romans say. None of them(!) say Aquinas's natural law philosophy or Roman Catholic dogma which stems from that are found anywhere in the Pauline text. This at least is suspicious if the claim which is being made is how "clear" Paul was as an advocate for Aquinas's philosophy or the notion of "values... at which all men may arrive through reason alone" (-Vatican Insider).

Aquinas style natural law theory wasn't a part of the dogma of the Church during over the first thousand years of Christianity either, but it came to be official teaching very late in Roman Catholicism.
You are use to that complaint too, I suspect, which is an Orthodox complaint. It isn't "catholic" (universal).

"Knowing Good" according to Aquinas is an aspect of our created nature in God's image. Aquinas, baptized in the waters of Aristotle, supposed and that the image of God allowed Infallible Knowledge of the Good.

Bonhoeffer argued this was the devil's first lie. In the Edenic narrative eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was forbidden. Whether we are speaking of knowledge of the good, or knowledge of evil, the creation narrative describes this as part of our fallen nature, not our created nature, something which was explicitly forbidden to us in Eden, and was in fact hubris (cf. Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall). We were not, according to Genesis, created with Knowledge of Good. That existed only in the tree in the center of the Garden. Truth derived from the Presence of God, not from the fallible logic of finite, contingent creatures, because He is Truth. Truth is a Person: Jesus Christ. He writes His laws upon the heart not because after the fall Knowledge of Good/Knowledge of Evil was now a delectable, nutiritious, and healthy adjunct to the Tree of Life, but because He is in our very being, drawing us, such that if anything we do is good it was itself wrought in God (Jn 3:19-21), "for in him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). We do not think God's infallible thoughts after Him so that our logic may be presumed the epistemological equivalent to His logic: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9).

What is at issue with those of us who are not Roman Catholics is not whether God imprints our conscience providentially, but one of *epistemological method* viz. Aquinas's claims about HOW this is presumed knowable via a philosophical process apart from faith which have been baptized as dogma in the Roman Catholic trajectory.

Many papal/ teachings assert X, Y, Z is a matter of moral law perceptible to natural reason apart from faith. This is originates from Aristotle, is taken up by Aquinas, and baptized by the Magisterium.

This becomes intellectually embarrassing when a particular papal claims "X, Y, Z is clear via natural reason isn't clear to anyone EXCEPT Roman Catholics following some papal statement.

A thing "perceptible apart from faith" yet actually "perceived" only by persons of Roman Catholic faith is at least moderately suspicious.

A thing "perceptible apart from faith" yet not perceived by any Jews, Protestants is at least moderately suspicious.

When a thing "perceptible apart from faith" is also rejected as obvious from natural reason by a majority of practicing Roman Catholics to boot moderate suspicion is approaching critical mass.

The RC claim that *particular moral truths* are "clear to natural reason apart from faith" is not the only thing that is in trouble today. The claim that ANY MORAL TRUTHS are "clear to natural reason apart from faith" is in shambles in philosophy and ethical theory. Non-Roman Catholic philosophers who hold it are bordering on non-existence. As Christian philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff observes,

"Foundationalism has been the reigning theory of theories in the West since the high Middle Ages. It can be traced back as far as Aristotle... Aquinas offers one classic version of foundationalism. There is, he said, a body of propositions which can become self-evident to us in our present earthly state. Properly conducted scientific inquiry consists in arriving at other propositions by way of reliable inference from these (demonstration). A few of these (for example, that God exists) can be inferred from propositions knowable to the natural light of reason.

...within the community of those working in philosophy of knowledge and philosophy of science foundationalism has suffered a series of deadly blows in the last 25 years. To many of those acquainted with the history of this development it now looks all but dead. So it looks to me. Of course, it is always possible that by a feat of prodigious imagination foundationalism can be revitalized. I consider that highly improbable..." (Nicholas Wolterstorff, Reason Within the Bounds of Religion, pp. 26-27).

Now you might ask, don't any of these ethical philosophers that are Jews, Protestants, Orthodox, etc. who reject the outmoded classical foundationalist philosophy that moral truths are provable by discursive reasoning apart from faith (i.e. almost every one of them not conservative Roman Catholic!) believe in PROVIDENCE? Aquinas said natural law originates from PROVIDENCE.

The problem is not that none of these Jewish or Christian non-Catholic theists believe in providence. They do. The problem is not none of these believe God writes his law on the human heart, for "in Him we move and have our being." The problem is they do not believe the manner in which this occurs according to Roman Catholic dogma which has baptized a human philosophy of Thomas Aquinas which most philosophers believe is in a state of epistemological ruin for reasons which began to be investigated in my previous post and to which rather noticeably there has been no Roman Catholic reply. The problem is that "it ain't there in black and white" not only not in the scriptures (a Protestant complaint), but not in the dogma and teaching of anyone for over a thousand years of Christian history (an Orthodox complaint). The problem additionally is a convoluted procession of claims have become part of the Magisterium directly from this human philosophy which is in epistemological shambles among a majority of human philosophers today and which is not part of Orthodox faith or dogma.

Orthodox and Roman Catholic may one day find a way to reconcile, as I hope and pray just as Paul himself hoped the Jews could be reconciled: "I tell the truth in Christ. I am not lying, my conscience also bearing witness in the Holy Spirit that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For if I could wish that I myself were accursed for the sake of my countrymen..." (Rom 9:1-3). My personal opinion matters little, but I would hope Aquinas's natural law theory, a veritable dead horse in philosophy aside from Roman Catholic moral philosophers and even subject to a great deal of mental reservation by many of them, which was baptized as dogma within the Roman Catholic church and which has produced tons of Magisterial content on that basis alone which is disputed and not only dimly but *not* perceived by an increasing majority of for all appearances intellectually responsible members of the Roman Catholic tradition itself, will be if not abandoned, subject to the same sort of Hegelian dialectic we have seen in Vatican II which via synthesis has practically obviated other troubling theses whose antitheses have created exponentially increasing and apparently unending factionalism and division both inside and outside of the Roman Catholic faith.

Natural law is not a law accessed by reason alone.  Natural law is what we are able to know about HUMAN nature based upon revealed truth/Scripture and Tradition.  Natural law is what we are able to discern about creation based upon revealed truth and the illumination of grace.

"In a pluralistic society, the Catholic Church is convinced that it is duty bound 'to intervene in favor of the values that are valid for man as such, independently of the various cultures' - values the Church knows 'through its faith' but at which all men can arrive through reason alone, regardless of faith." -Vatican Insider http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/homepage/the-vatican/detail/articolo/benedetto-xvi-benedict-xvi-benedicto-xvi-9725/
In fact it is a clear reference to this part of the Epistle to the Romans:

Quote
12For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
The passage quoted from Romans says absolutely nothing about "values... at which all men may arrive through reason alone" (-Vatican Insider).

Pascal famously argued that the heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of. These laws written upon the heart Paul spoke of may be congruent to reason (e.g. one might describe them), but it is not self-evident they are *arrived at by reason*  much less "through reason alone" as the Vatican Insider spoke of (cf. the Natural Law trajectory in philosophy from the Stoics, Aristotle, Aquinas, Roman Catholicism, Neo-Thomists, etc.)

There is plenty of doubt in the world of contemporary academic exegetes whether "the law written upon the heart" is in fact discursive syllogistic reasoning from things like presumed essences and purposes of things under the influence of Thomas Aquinas's usage of the pagan philosopher Aristotle and the like OR the whole maze of philosophical paradigms of natural law which have developed since then. The Reformers rejected Latin Catholic Natural Law Theory as being what Paul was speaking of in favor of a form of general revelation upon the conscience. Aquinas spoke of reason as something which would be on many points in agreement with revelation, but which was not in any way dependent upon revelation for firm conclusions about natural law or natural theology. Similarly Aquinas and the Roman Catholic Church affirm the existence of God may be proved by reason alone (natural theology), which to many has seemed at odds with the scriptural teaching about a living God who may hide and reveal himself dynamically to human hearts in relation to their response to Him (this doesn't negate something like "pointers" or "warrant" which Bishop Kallistos Ware favors over proof of God by logic in a manner like one does geometry, which he rejects (The Orthodox Way, ch 1). For Aquinas, the existence of God (natural theology) and natural law can be established by reason alone apart from revelation. The Reformers cited the biblical emphasis that such general revelation could become darkened in a flash by sinfulness (Romans 1), which doesn't sound like something a philosophical conclusion arrived at by logical syllogism is easily susceptible to. Similarly, as cited earlier, "two contemporary Orthodox theologians—Fr Alexander Schmemann and Vladimir Lossky—seem to reject the idea that natural law has any application in Christian theology since (following ironically enough, an argument which St Augustine, that paragon of Western theology, would have embraced) what is “natural” for human is our state before Adam’s transgression. Now what we know about humanity is profoundly unnatural" (Father Gregory R. Jensen).

Friedrich Nietzche argued that if God is dead, rationality cannot establish anything as "good or evil" (Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil). Nietzsche was an atheist, but Christian ethicist Dietrich Bonhoeffer thought he did Christendom one of the greatest favors of anyone in modern philosophy by unmasking the "emperor" of natural law ethics via reason alone as having no clothes whatsoever at the end of the day. After the Is-Ought Gap of Hume and Kant (that one cannot derive an Ought from an IS), after Bonhoeffer, after Barth, after the naturalistic fallacy as explained by Moore and others, after Darwinism where "essences/natures/purposes can evolve and adapt to completely different ends the notion that one can derive moral truths "through reason alone" has fallen on hard times indeed; one might say with no disrespect intended that the view is positively medieval.

Now someone may say "but the CCC teaches it as it always has, so we believe it." Fine, it is a religious dogma, but it is one which makes a claim about the capacity of human "reason alone" to arrive at firm moral truths -"at which all men can arrive through reason alone, regardless of faith" (Vatican Insider). This is where Nietzsche, Darwin, Moore, and all the rest come into play. "Natural law theory requires logical universality to be true, yet the supposedly universal practical details of the system have never gained anything like a simple majority. Christian social theorists (there are not many) are among the few remaining defenders of natural law theory. This is ironic..." (North/previous post). "...most ethicists today are skeptical of reliance on natural law" (Bloesch/see previous post). Jacques Ellul has pointed out that speculative natural law theory -whether that of the Stoics or of Thomas Aquinas -has exerted only limited juridicial influence since in practice juridicial systems pay little if any attention to it. Human beings disagree over the content as well as over the source of law and justice.

Quoting Romans 2 as if it is decisive for the dogma inspired Roman Catholic variations of Natural Theology is hardly telling. Although scholarship and exegesis hardly decide this matter it is well to remind ourselves of the peculiar fact that those who see the Pauline texts teaching "natural law" as the Roman Catholics understand it are *almost entirely* (though not exclusively) Roman Catholics. This is at least as curious as the fact that "Natural law theory requires logical universality to be true, yet the supposedly universal practical details of the system have never gained anything like a simple majority. Christian social theorists (there are not many) are among the few remaining defenders of natural law theory. This is ironic..."

"I cannot see why man should not be just as cruel as nature" -Adolf Hitler

Natural law theory can in principle justify just about anything one wants it too.

"Nature evolves" has taken a great deal of the wind out of the sails of "purpose"/telos in nature as self-evidencing moral laws via autonomous human reason. Not to mention the collapse of classical foundationalism in philosophy. The Reformers rejected natural law and rather held to natural revelation. Philosophical based theology and/or philosophically based morality, which became staples of the Latin Catholic tradition from the middle ages, have never been of any sort of central import dogmatically or otherwise for Orthodoxy. Father Gregory R. Jensen relates "two contemporary Orthodox theologians—Fr Alexander Schmemann and Vladimir Lossky—seem to reject the idea that natural law has any application in Christian theology since (following ironically enough, an argument which St Augustine, that paragon of Western theology, would have embraced) what is “natural” for human is our state before Adam’s transgression. Now what we know about humanity is profoundly unnatural" (http://palamas.info/?p=522).

"...most ethicists today are skeptical of reliance on natural law. Yet natural law ethics is not without its defenders... theology of the evangelical type has difficulties with this conception. Instead of a universal moral law, which connotes a certain independence from God, it is more biblical to speak of the personal law rooted in the very being of God. Our appeal is not so much to a general moral law as to the living voice of the Lawgiver... There is no revealed morality in the sense of divinely given moral principles that are accessible to natural reason and universally binding" Donald Bloesch, Freedom For Obedience: Evangelical Ethics in Contemporary Times, p. 21.

Arguably it was failure to achieve the inflated claims regarding the capacity of rationalism to create a scientific natural ethic and a natural theology which contributed respectively to the postmodern moral malaise and the Death of God in the West (and/or retreat from the God of the Gaps to the God of the Guts etc.). It is not so easy to get round those like Nietzsche and Dietrich Bonhoeffer who thought Nietzsche did Christendom one of the greatest favors in the history of philosophy by showing the Emperor that is natural law morality has no clothes at the end of the day.

Most contemporary secular thinkers deny the possibility of discovering in nature any reason for restraining natural passions. Atheist James Sanson believes natural law establishes an ethic of self-indulgence. Hugh Hefner defends a natural law ethic of sexual indulgence on the basis of “a sense of connection to nature on this planet.” Peter Singer of Princeton University sees nothing in nature making sex with animals “an offense to our status and dignity as human beings” (Peter Singer, “Heavy Petting,” http://www.Nerve.com).Homosexual advocate Andrew Sullivan argues natural law justifies “a diversity of moral sexual experience and identity” because, “by empirical observation, Homo sapiens is a moderately adulterous species, made up primarily of mildly unfaithful male-female couples with a small minority of same-sex coupling" (Andrew Sullivan, The Conservative Soul (NY: Harper, 2006), p. 97).

Natural law theory itself has "evolved." Arthur Harding, in Origins of the Natural Law Tradition, says “concepts of natural law are almost as varied as are the philosophical systems which have been evolved in the history of Western civilization” (Arthur L. Harding, ed., Origins of Natural Law Tradition, p. v). Daniel O’Connor affirms “various versions of the doctrine differ so much both in their detail and in their philosophical bases that it is very misleading to talk of the theory of natural law" (Daniel John O’Connor, Aquinas and Natural Law (London: Macmillan, 1967), p. 57). Carl C. F. H. Henry affirmed natural law means so many different things to so many different people some have argued natural law has no “precise content” and “changes with an evolving society” (First Things (January 1995): 54-60).

Catholic theologian Charles Curran claims "the concept of natural law as a deductive methodology based on eternal and immutable essences and resulting in specific absolute norms is no longer acceptable to the majority of Catholic moral theologians writing today" (Curran, Charles, "Catholic Moral Theology Today" in New Perpectives in Moral Theology, ed., Charles Curran (Notre Dame: UNDP, 1982), p. 6).

The notion of immutable essences or purposes has completely evaporated with the advent of contemporary paradigms of biology, as biologist/paleontologist Stephen J. Gould explains: "Natural selection may build an organ 'for' a specific function or group of functions. But this 'purpose' need not fully specify the capacity of the organ. Objects designed for definite purposes can, as a result of their structural complexity, perform many other tasks as well... Jury rigging of ordinary components for special functions as confutation of design -not "ideal engineering." (Stephen J. Gould, The Panda's Thumb, pp. 57, 20-21). For Gould social and moral norms cannot be derived from nature period "Darwinism compels us to seek meaning elsewhere -and isn't this what art, music, literature, ethical theory, personal struggle... is all about?" (ibid, p. 83). There are evolutionary ethicists who disagree, yet their conclusions are invariably at odds with revealed theology at many points, e.g. the common claim that human beings were biologically designed for unfaithfulness to a single spouse.

Carl F. H. Henry reminds us "proponents of evolutionary theory who stressed the variation of human nature in its supposed stages of development (cf. Poddimattam, Relativity of Natural Law) dealt a serious blow to natural law theory and prepared the way for merely sociological and behavioristic conceptions of law and justice. The Utilitarians and Pragmatists then soon championed law on merely sociological grounds. Today the focus in law and justice centers on specific rights, although the concept of human rights often balloons into vague and vacuous notions like freedom and secularity. Such terms mean different things in different societies. Humanist attempts to deduce human rights simply from the nature of man cannot vindicate such rights as normative. When rights have only pragmatic justification, they soon become postulates that can be easily modified and overturned..." (C. F. H. Henry, God, Revelation, and Authority, Vol II, p. 423).

Natural law theories and their content are culturally conditioned. "...every attempt to spell out the intellectual content of natural law can be shown to be historically and culturally conditioned. While all people seem to have a moral sense, when they begin articulating what this means, their own cultural and religious background proves to be determinative in their judgments. We need to take seriously this telling criticism of Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn: 'Is there such a thing as a natural law in the sense that we all 'naturally' reject murder, lies, deceit, wanton cruelty, adulterary, theft, or contempt of parents? As a world traveler and student of ethnology I deny this in the face of certain Christian theological tradition " Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, "Jews, Christians, and Gentiles," National Review 35, no. 20 (Oct. 14, 1983), p. 1282).

Jacques Ellul has pointed out that speculative natural law theory -whether that of the Stoics or of Thomas Aquinas -has exerted only limited juridicial influence since in practice juridicial systems pay little if any attention to it. Human beings disagree over the content as well as over the source of law and justice.

Protestant/Reformed author Gary North writes "Natural law theory has always suffered from the dualism of all Greek thought: law vs. change. The unchanging pure logic of Parmenides cannot be reconciled to the constant historical flux of Heraclitus. Greek philosophy never resolved this dualism. No humanist philosophy ever has, either. The problem today is that the tiny handful of natural law theory defenders are trying to breathe life into a long-dead horse. They are wasting precious time. Natural law theory has never worked as the basis of any social order, but after Charles Darwin, the academic community abandoned natural law theory. Darwin taught that nature is impersonal and not normative. There is no universal ethics. There is only a constant struggle for personal survival... If the vast majority of men refuse to accept a concept of a fixed, universal common logic, let alone fixed, universal social and ethical laws, we cannot build a society based on natural law. This has always been true, but after Darwin's theory of natural selection, it has become more obvious to all but a handful of natural law defenders. They defend the idea of a universal theory of ethics and social order, the details of which have yet to be presented in a form that more than a few social theorists are willing to accept. "Natural law theory requires logical universality to be true, yet the supposedly universal practical details of the system have never gained anything like a simple majority. Christian social theorists (there are not many) are among the few remaining defenders of natural law theory. This is ironic..."
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« Reply #377 on: December 04, 2011, 04:19:52 AM »

EDIT: (this was an accidental duplicate post; apologies)
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« Reply #378 on: December 04, 2011, 03:09:42 PM »

EDIT: (this was an accidental duplicate post; apologies)

I am reading your longer post that calls me on my lack of precision.  I haven't gotten to the substance of your further comments but I am interested in getting there.  You are right about the clarification of my remarks though.  Thanks for the continuation of substance!
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« Reply #379 on: December 04, 2011, 03:24:20 PM »


Natural law is not a law accessed by reason alone.  Natural law is what we are able to know about HUMAN nature based upon revealed truth/Scripture and Tradition.  Natural law is what we are able to discern about creation based upon revealed truth and the illumination of grace.

"In a pluralistic society, the Catholic Church is convinced that it is duty bound 'to intervene in favor of the values that are valid for man as such, independently of the various cultures' - values the Church knows 'through its faith' but at which all men can arrive through reason alone, regardless of faith." -Vatican Insider http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/homepage/the-vatican/detail/articolo/benedetto-xvi-benedict-xvi-benedicto-xvi-9725/
In fact it is a clear reference to this part of the Epistle to the Romans:
If it ain't there in black and white then it ain't there at all...

We have become accustomed to such approaches to our teachings.

As I said the pericope above is the heart of Catholic teaching concerning natural law.
Thanks for your reply.

Actually you didn't just say (or say at all) "it is at the heart of Catholic teaching" ...you said that it was "clear" in reference to Paul:

Quote from: elijahmarie
In fact it is a clear reference to this part of the Epistle to the Romans:
To say "values... at which all men may arrive through reason alone" (-Vatican Insider) is a "clear reference to Paul's teaching in Romans 2 (which so far as I know is not a Vatican claim) invites the obvious retort:

Quote from: xariskai
The passage quoted from Romans says absolutely nothing about "values... at which all men may arrive through reason alone" (-Vatican Insider).

[/quote]
[/quote]

The reason that I offered the pericope from Romans is to try to demonstrate that you cannot read the comment you reference outside of the light of that particular Scripture.  "Reason alone" in that context is not like "Scripture alone" or "faith alone."   The MEANING of that text is that even non-Christians may grasp the essences of natural law, by the light of reason.  That is not "reason without grace" because we do not exist without grace, Christian or Non-Christian.  So grace is presumed at all times.  However the non-Christian does not have the illumination of baptism so that their reason limits their grasp. 

THAT is how you should interpret that comment of Pope Benedicts.  It is how you might be able to interpret it if you had more exposure to Catholic spiritual teaching, as well as theological teaching, and the frequent references to the very pericope that I offered from Romans.

You have grasped at a statement and taken it totally out of the context of Catholic thinking. 

I will go back and look at what you have to say further, but I don't share your understanding of the papal phrase in question here.

Mary
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« Reply #380 on: December 04, 2011, 03:31:57 PM »

What you are talking about in your extended comments has nothing to do with my experience as a Catholic.  You've moved away from Catholic teaching so I am lost in terms of the overlay of enlightenment thinking that really has been studiously avoided by the Catholic Church for all of these centuries.  Surely there were theologians who argued with one another over such things and contemporary philosophers carried on the tradition, but that is not what guides the systematic theology of the Catholic Church and it certainly is not in line with her spiritual traditions.  So I fear that I am unable to discuss at this level since it is not my tradition and in many ways is counter to my tradition and I have avoided it pretty systematically all of my life...including my academic life which made things difficult to say the least in my philosophy classes.  My professors were kind enough not to penalize me but I was never encouraged to choose philosophy as a profession.  I was told that I was too Catholic.

M.



Natural law is not a law accessed by reason alone.  Natural law is what we are able to know about HUMAN nature based upon revealed truth/Scripture and Tradition.  Natural law is what we are able to discern about creation based upon revealed truth and the illumination of grace.

"In a pluralistic society, the Catholic Church is convinced that it is duty bound 'to intervene in favor of the values that are valid for man as such, independently of the various cultures' - values the Church knows 'through its faith' but at which all men can arrive through reason alone, regardless of faith." -Vatican Insider http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/homepage/the-vatican/detail/articolo/benedetto-xvi-benedict-xvi-benedicto-xvi-9725/
In fact it is a clear reference to this part of the Epistle to the Romans:
If it ain't there in black and white then it ain't there at all...

We have become accustomed to such approaches to our teachings.

As I said the pericope above is the heart of Catholic teaching concerning natural law.
Thanks for your reply.

Actually you didn't just say (or say at all) "it is at the heart of Catholic teaching" ...you said that it was "clear" in reference to Paul:

Quote from: elijahmarie
In fact it is a clear reference to this part of the Epistle to the Romans:
To say "values... at which all men may arrive through reason alone" (-Vatican Insider) is a "clear reference to Paul's teaching in Romans 2 (which so far as I know is not a Vatican claim) invites the obvious retort:

Quote from: xariskai
The passage quoted from Romans says absolutely nothing about "values... at which all men may arrive through reason alone" (-Vatican Insider).

It was your apparent suggestion this is "clear" in Paul that invites comparing your claim to what major contemporary academic commentators on Romans say. None of them(!) say Aquinas's natural law philosophy or Roman Catholic dogma which stems from that are found anywhere in the Pauline text. This at least is suspicious if the claim which is being made is how "clear" Paul was as an advocate for Aquinas's philosophy or the notion of "values... at which all men may arrive through reason alone" (-Vatican Insider).

Aquinas style natural law theory wasn't a part of the dogma of the Church during over the first thousand years of Christianity either, but it came to be official teaching very late in Roman Catholicism.
You are use to that complaint too, I suspect, which is an Orthodox complaint. It isn't "catholic" (universal).

"Knowing Good" according to Aquinas is an aspect of our created nature in God's image. Aquinas, baptized in the waters of Aristotle, supposed and that the image of God allowed Infallible Knowledge of the Good.

Bonhoeffer argued this was the devil's first lie. In the Edenic narrative eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was forbidden. Whether we are speaking of knowledge of the good, or knowledge of evil, the creation narrative describes this as part of our fallen nature, not our created nature, something which was explicitly forbidden to us in Eden, and was in fact hubris (cf. Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall). We were not, according to Genesis, created with Knowledge of Good. That existed only in the tree in the center of the Garden. Truth derived from the Presence of God, not from the fallible logic of finite, contingent creatures, because He is Truth. Truth is a Person: Jesus Christ. He writes His laws upon the heart not because after the fall Knowledge of Good/Knowledge of Evil was now a delectable, nutiritious, and healthy adjunct to the Tree of Life, but because He is in our very being, drawing us, such that if anything we do is good it was itself wrought in God (Jn 3:19-21), "for in him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). We do not think God's infallible thoughts after Him so that our logic may be presumed the epistemological equivalent to His logic: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9).

What is at issue with those of us who are not Roman Catholics is not whether God imprints our conscience providentially, but one of *epistemological method* viz. Aquinas's claims about HOW this is presumed knowable via a philosophical process apart from faith which have been baptized as dogma in the Roman Catholic trajectory.

Many papal/ teachings assert X, Y, Z is a matter of moral law perceptible to natural reason apart from faith. This is originates from Aristotle, is taken up by Aquinas, and baptized by the Magisterium.

This becomes intellectually embarrassing when a particular papal claims "X, Y, Z is clear via natural reason isn't clear to anyone EXCEPT Roman Catholics following some papal statement.

A thing "perceptible apart from faith" yet actually "perceived" only by persons of Roman Catholic faith is at least moderately suspicious.

A thing "perceptible apart from faith" yet not perceived by any Jews, Protestants is at least moderately suspicious.

When a thing "perceptible apart from faith" is also rejected as obvious from natural reason by a majority of practicing Roman Catholics to boot moderate suspicion is approaching critical mass.

The RC claim that *particular moral truths* are "clear to natural reason apart from faith" is not the only thing that is in trouble today. The claim that ANY MORAL TRUTHS are "clear to natural reason apart from faith" is in shambles in philosophy and ethical theory. Non-Roman Catholic philosophers who hold it are bordering on non-existence. As Christian philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff observes,

"Foundationalism has been the reigning theory of theories in the West since the high Middle Ages. It can be traced back as far as Aristotle... Aquinas offers one classic version of foundationalism. There is, he said, a body of propositions which can become self-evident to us in our present earthly state. Properly conducted scientific inquiry consists in arriving at other propositions by way of reliable inference from these (demonstration). A few of these (for example, that God exists) can be inferred from propositions knowable to the natural light of reason.

...within the community of those working in philosophy of knowledge and philosophy of science foundationalism has suffered a series of deadly blows in the last 25 years. To many of those acquainted with the history of this development it now looks all but dead. So it looks to me. Of course, it is always possible that by a feat of prodigious imagination foundationalism can be revitalized. I consider that highly improbable..." (Nicholas Wolterstorff, Reason Within the Bounds of Religion, pp. 26-27).

Now you might ask, don't any of these ethical philosophers that are Jews, Protestants, Orthodox, etc. who reject the outmoded classical foundationalist philosophy that moral truths are provable by discursive reasoning apart from faith (i.e. almost every one of them not conservative Roman Catholic!) believe in PROVIDENCE? Aquinas said natural law originates from PROVIDENCE.

The problem is not that none of these Jewish or Christian non-Catholic theists believe in providence. They do. The problem is not none of these believe God writes his law on the human heart, for "in Him we move and have our being." The problem is they do not believe the manner in which this occurs according to Roman Catholic dogma which has baptized a human philosophy of Thomas Aquinas which most philosophers believe is in a state of epistemological ruin for reasons which began to be investigated in my previous post and to which rather noticeably there has been no Roman Catholic reply. The problem is that "it ain't there in black and white" not only not in the scriptures (a Protestant complaint), but not in the dogma and teaching of anyone for over a thousand years of Christian history (an Orthodox complaint). The problem additionally is a convoluted procession of claims have become part of the Magisterium directly from this human philosophy which is in epistemological shambles among a majority of human philosophers today and which is not part of Orthodox faith or dogma.

Orthodox and Roman Catholic may one day find a way to reconcile, as I hope and pray just as Paul himself hoped the Jews could be reconciled: "I tell the truth in Christ. I am not lying, my conscience also bearing witness in the Holy Spirit that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For if I could wish that I myself were accursed for the sake of my countrymen..." (Rom 9:1-3). My personal opinion matters little, but I would hope Aquinas's natural law theory, a veritable dead horse in philosophy aside from Roman Catholic moral philosophers and even subject to a great deal of mental reservation by many of them, which was baptized as dogma within the Roman Catholic church and which has produced tons of Magisterial content on that basis alone which is disputed and not only dimly but *not* perceived by an increasing majority of for all appearances intellectually responsible members of the Roman Catholic tradition itself, will be if not abandoned, subject to the same sort of Hegelian dialectic we have seen in Vatican II which via synthesis has practically obviated other troubling theses whose antitheses have created exponentially increasing and apparently unending factionalism and division both inside and outside of the Roman Catholic faith.

Natural law is not a law accessed by reason alone.  Natural law is what we are able to know about HUMAN nature based upon revealed truth/Scripture and Tradition.  Natural law is what we are able to discern about creation based upon revealed truth and the illumination of grace.

"In a pluralistic society, the Catholic Church is convinced that it is duty bound 'to intervene in favor of the values that are valid for man as such, independently of the various cultures' - values the Church knows 'through its faith' but at which all men can arrive through reason alone, regardless of faith." -Vatican Insider http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/homepage/the-vatican/detail/articolo/benedetto-xvi-benedict-xvi-benedicto-xvi-9725/
In fact it is a clear reference to this part of the Epistle to the Romans:

Quote
12For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
The passage quoted from Romans says absolutely nothing about "values... at which all men may arrive through reason alone" (-Vatican Insider).

Pascal famously argued that the heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of. These laws written upon the heart Paul spoke of may be congruent to reason (e.g. one might describe them), but it is not self-evident they are *arrived at by reason*  much less "through reason alone" as the Vatican Insider spoke of (cf. the Natural Law trajectory in philosophy from the Stoics, Aristotle, Aquinas, Roman Catholicism, Neo-Thomists, etc.)

There is plenty of doubt in the world of contemporary academic exegetes whether "the law written upon the heart" is in fact discursive syllogistic reasoning from things like presumed essences and purposes of things under the influence of Thomas Aquinas's usage of the pagan philosopher Aristotle and the like OR the whole maze of philosophical paradigms of natural law which have developed since then. The Reformers rejected Latin Catholic Natural Law Theory as being what Paul was speaking of in favor of a form of general revelation upon the conscience. Aquinas spoke of reason as something which would be on many points in agreement with revelation, but which was not in any way dependent upon revelation for firm conclusions about natural law or natural theology. Similarly Aquinas and the Roman Catholic Church affirm the existence of God may be proved by reason alone (natural theology), which to many has seemed at odds with the scriptural teaching about a living God who may hide and reveal himself dynamically to human hearts in relation to their response to Him (this doesn't negate something like "pointers" or "warrant" which Bishop Kallistos Ware favors over proof of God by logic in a manner like one does geometry, which he rejects (The Orthodox Way, ch 1). For Aquinas, the existence of God (natural theology) and natural law can be established by reason alone apart from revelation. The Reformers cited the biblical emphasis that such general revelation could become darkened in a flash by sinfulness (Romans 1), which doesn't sound like something a philosophical conclusion arrived at by logical syllogism is easily susceptible to. Similarly, as cited earlier, "two contemporary Orthodox theologians—Fr Alexander Schmemann and Vladimir Lossky—seem to reject the idea that natural law has any application in Christian theology since (following ironically enough, an argument which St Augustine, that paragon of Western theology, would have embraced) what is “natural” for human is our state before Adam’s transgression. Now what we know about humanity is profoundly unnatural" (Father Gregory R. Jensen).

Friedrich Nietzche argued that if God is dead, rationality cannot establish anything as "good or evil" (Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil). Nietzsche was an atheist, but Christian ethicist Dietrich Bonhoeffer thought he did Christendom one of the greatest favors of anyone in modern philosophy by unmasking the "emperor" of natural law ethics via reason alone as having no clothes whatsoever at the end of the day. After the Is-Ought Gap of Hume and Kant (that one cannot derive an Ought from an IS), after Bonhoeffer, after Barth, after the naturalistic fallacy as explained by Moore and others, after Darwinism where "essences/natures/purposes can evolve and adapt to completely different ends the notion that one can derive moral truths "through reason alone" has fallen on hard times indeed; one might say with no disrespect intended that the view is positively medieval.

Now someone may say "but the CCC teaches it as it always has, so we believe it." Fine, it is a religious dogma, but it is one which makes a claim about the capacity of human "reason alone" to arrive at firm moral truths -"at which all men can arrive through reason alone, regardless of faith" (Vatican Insider). This is where Nietzsche, Darwin, Moore, and all the rest come into play. "Natural law theory requires logical universality to be true, yet the supposedly universal practical details of the system have never gained anything like a simple majority. Christian social theorists (there are not many) are among the few remaining defenders of natural law theory. This is ironic..." (North/previous post). "...most ethicists today are skeptical of reliance on natural law" (Bloesch/see previous post). Jacques Ellul has pointed out that speculative natural law theory -whether that of the Stoics or of Thomas Aquinas -has exerted only limited juridicial influence since in practice juridicial systems pay little if any attention to it. Human beings disagree over the content as well as over the source of law and justice.

Quoting Romans 2 as if it is decisive for the dogma inspired Roman Catholic variations of Natural Theology is hardly telling. Although scholarship and exegesis hardly decide this matter it is well to remind ourselves of the peculiar fact that those who see the Pauline texts teaching "natural law" as the Roman Catholics understand it are *almost entirely* (though not exclusively) Roman Catholics. This is at least as curious as the fact that "Natural law theory requires logical universality to be true, yet the supposedly universal practical details of the system have never gained anything like a simple majority. Christian social theorists (there are not many) are among the few remaining defenders of natural law theory. This is ironic..."

"I cannot see why man should not be just as cruel as nature" -Adolf Hitler

Natural law theory can in principle justify just about anything one wants it too.

"Nature evolves" has taken a great deal of the wind out of the sails of "purpose"/telos in nature as self-evidencing moral laws via autonomous human reason. Not to mention the collapse of classical foundationalism in philosophy. The Reformers rejected natural law and rather held to natural revelation. Philosophical based theology and/or philosophically based morality, which became staples of the Latin Catholic tradition from the middle ages, have never been of any sort of central import dogmatically or otherwise for Orthodoxy. Father Gregory R. Jensen relates "two contemporary Orthodox theologians—Fr Alexander Schmemann and Vladimir Lossky—seem to reject the idea that natural law has any application in Christian theology since (following ironically enough, an argument which St Augustine, that paragon of Western theology, would have embraced) what is “natural” for human is our state before Adam’s transgression. Now what we know about humanity is profoundly unnatural" (http://palamas.info/?p=522).

"...most ethicists today are skeptical of reliance on natural law. Yet natural law ethics is not without its defenders... theology of the evangelical type has difficulties with this conception. Instead of a universal moral law, which connotes a certain independence from God, it is more biblical to speak of the personal law rooted in the very being of God. Our appeal is not so much to a general moral law as to the living voice of the Lawgiver... There is no revealed morality in the sense of divinely given moral principles that are accessible to natural reason and universally binding" Donald Bloesch, Freedom For Obedience: Evangelical Ethics in Contemporary Times, p. 21.

Arguably it was failure to achieve the inflated claims regarding the capacity of rationalism to create a scientific natural ethic and a natural theology which contributed respectively to the postmodern moral malaise and the Death of God in the West (and/or retreat from the God of the Gaps to the God of the Guts etc.). It is not so easy to get round those like Nietzsche and Dietrich Bonhoeffer who thought Nietzsche did Christendom one of the greatest favors in the history of philosophy by showing the Emperor that is natural law morality has no clothes at the end of the day.

Most contemporary secular thinkers deny the possibility of discovering in nature any reason for restraining natural passions. Atheist James Sanson believes natural law establishes an ethic of self-indulgence. Hugh Hefner defends a natural law ethic of sexual indulgence on the basis of “a sense of connection to nature on this planet.” Peter Singer of Princeton University sees nothing in nature making sex with animals “an offense to our status and dignity as human beings” (Peter Singer, “Heavy Petting,” http://www.Nerve.com).Homosexual advocate Andrew Sullivan argues natural law justifies “a diversity of moral sexual experience and identity” because, “by empirical observation, Homo sapiens is a moderately adulterous species, made up primarily of mildly unfaithful male-female couples with a small minority of same-sex coupling" (Andrew Sullivan, The Conservative Soul (NY: Harper, 2006), p. 97).

Natural law theory itself has "evolved." Arthur Harding, in Origins of the Natural Law Tradition, says “concepts of natural law are almost as varied as are the philosophical systems which have been evolved in the history of Western civilization” (Arthur L. Harding, ed., Origins of Natural Law Tradition, p. v). Daniel O’Connor affirms “various versions of the doctrine differ so much both in their detail and in their philosophical bases that it is very misleading to talk of the theory of natural law" (Daniel John O’Connor, Aquinas and Natural Law (London: Macmillan, 1967), p. 57). Carl C. F. H. Henry affirmed natural law means so many different things to so many different people some have argued natural law has no “precise content” and “changes with an evolving society” (First Things (January 1995): 54-60).

Catholic theologian Charles Curran claims "the concept of natural law as a deductive methodology based on eternal and immutable essences and resulting in specific absolute norms is no longer acceptable to the majority of Catholic moral theologians writing today" (Curran, Charles, "Catholic Moral Theology Today" in New Perpectives in Moral Theology, ed., Charles Curran (Notre Dame: UNDP, 1982), p. 6).

The notion of immutable essences or purposes has completely evaporated with the advent of contemporary paradigms of biology, as biologist/paleontologist Stephen J. Gould explains: "Natural selection may build an organ 'for' a specific function or group of functions. But this 'purpose' need not fully specify the capacity of the organ. Objects designed for definite purposes can, as a result of their structural complexity, perform many other tasks as well... Jury rigging of ordinary components for special functions as confutation of design -not "ideal engineering." (Stephen J. Gould, The Panda's Thumb, pp. 57, 20-21). For Gould social and moral norms cannot be derived from nature period "Darwinism compels us to seek meaning elsewhere -and isn't this what art, music, literature, ethical theory, personal struggle... is all about?" (ibid, p. 83). There are evolutionary ethicists who disagree, yet their conclusions are invariably at odds with revealed theology at many points, e.g. the common claim that human beings were biologically designed for unfaithfulness to a single spouse.

Carl F. H. Henry reminds us "proponents of evolutionary theory who stressed the variation of human nature in its supposed stages of development (cf. Poddimattam, Relativity of Natural Law) dealt a serious blow to natural law theory and prepared the way for merely sociological and behavioristic conceptions of law and justice. The Utilitarians and Pragmatists then soon championed law on merely sociological grounds. Today the focus in law and justice centers on specific rights, although the concept of human rights often balloons into vague and vacuous notions like freedom and secularity. Such terms mean different things in different societies. Humanist attempts to deduce human rights simply from the nature of man cannot vindicate such rights as normative. When rights have only pragmatic justification, they soon become postulates that can be easily modified and overturned..." (C. F. H. Henry, God, Revelation, and Authority, Vol II, p. 423).

Natural law theories and their content are culturally conditioned. "...every attempt to spell out the intellectual content of natural law can be shown to be historically and culturally conditioned. While all people seem to have a moral sense, when they begin articulating what this means, their own cultural and religious background proves to be determinative in their judgments. We need to take seriously this telling criticism of Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn: 'Is there such a thing as a natural law in the sense that we all 'naturally' reject murder, lies, deceit, wanton cruelty, adulterary, theft, or contempt of parents? As a world traveler and student of ethnology I deny this in the face of certain Christian theological tradition " Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, "Jews, Christians, and Gentiles," National Review 35, no. 20 (Oct. 14, 1983), p. 1282).

Jacques Ellul has pointed out that speculative natural law theory -whether that of the Stoics or of Thomas Aquinas -has exerted only limited juridicial influence since in practice juridicial systems pay little if any attention to it. Human beings disagree over the content as well as over the source of law and justice.

Protestant/Reformed author Gary North writes "Natural law theory has always suffered from the dualism of all Greek thought: law vs. change. The unchanging pure logic of Parmenides cannot be reconciled to the constant historical flux of Heraclitus. Greek philosophy never resolved this dualism. No humanist philosophy ever has, either. The problem today is that the tiny handful of natural law theory defenders are trying to breathe life into a long-dead horse. They are wasting precious time. Natural law theory has never worked as the basis of any social order, but after Charles Darwin, the academic community abandoned natural law theory. Darwin taught that nature is impersonal and not normative. There is no universal ethics. There is only a constant struggle for personal survival... If the vast majority of men refuse to accept a concept of a fixed, universal common logic, let alone fixed, universal social and ethical laws, we cannot build a society based on natural law. This has always been true, but after Darwin's theory of natural selection, it has become more obvious to all but a handful of natural law defenders. They defend the idea of a universal theory of ethics and social order, the details of which have yet to be presented in a form that more than a few social theorists are willing to accept. "Natural law theory requires logical universality to be true, yet the supposedly universal practical details of the system have never gained anything like a simple majority. Christian social theorists (there are not many) are among the few remaining defenders of natural law theory. This is ironic..."
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« Reply #381 on: December 04, 2011, 07:55:12 PM »


Natural law is not a law accessed by reason alone.  Natural law is what we are able to know about HUMAN nature based upon revealed truth/Scripture and Tradition.  Natural law is what we are able to discern about creation based upon revealed truth and the illumination of grace.

"In a pluralistic society, the Catholic Church is convinced that it is duty bound 'to intervene in favor of the values that are valid for man as such, independently of the various cultures' - values the Church knows 'through its faith' but at which all men can arrive through reason alone, regardless of faith." -Vatican Insider http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/homepage/the-vatican/detail/articolo/benedetto-xvi-benedict-xvi-benedicto-xvi-9725/
In fact it is a clear reference to this part of the Epistle to the Romans:
If it ain't there in black and white then it ain't there at all...

We have become accustomed to such approaches to our teachings.

As I said the pericope above is the heart of Catholic teaching concerning natural law.
Thanks for your reply.

Actually you didn't just say (or say at all) "it is at the heart of Catholic teaching" ...you said that it was "clear" in reference to Paul:

Quote from: elijahmarie
In fact it is a clear reference to this part of the Epistle to the Romans:
To say "values... at which all men may arrive through reason alone" (-Vatican Insider) is a "clear reference to Paul's teaching in Romans 2 (which so far as I know is not a Vatican claim) invites the obvious retort:

Quote from: xariskai
The passage quoted from Romans says absolutely nothing about "values... at which all men may arrive through reason alone" (-Vatican Insider).

[/quote]

The reason that I offered the pericope from Romans is to try to demonstrate that you cannot read the comment you reference outside of the light of that particular Scripture.  "Reason alone" in that context is not like "Scripture alone" or "faith alone."   The MEANING of that text is that even non-Christians may grasp the essences of natural law, by the light of reason.  That is not "reason without grace" because we do not exist without grace, Christian or Non-Christian.  So grace is presumed at all times.  However the non-Christian does not have the illumination of baptism so that their reason limits their grasp. 

THAT is how you should interpret that comment of Pope Benedicts.  It is how you might be able to interpret it if you had more exposure to Catholic spiritual teaching, as well as theological teaching, and the frequent references to the very pericope that I offered from Romans.

You have grasped at a statement and taken it totally out of the context of Catholic thinking. 

I will go back and look at what you have to say further, but I don't share your understanding of the papal phrase in question here.

Mary
[/quote]
Good point Mary. This is why Aquinas refers to it as the "Divine light".
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« Reply #382 on: December 05, 2011, 01:04:18 AM »


Natural law is not a law accessed by reason alone.  Natural law is what we are able to know about HUMAN nature based upon revealed truth/Scripture and Tradition.  Natural law is what we are able to discern about creation based upon revealed truth and the illumination of grace.

"In a pluralistic society, the Catholic Church is convinced that it is duty bound 'to intervene in favor of the values that are valid for man as such, independently of the various cultures' - values the Church knows 'through its faith' but at which all men can arrive through reason alone, regardless of faith." -Vatican Insider http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/homepage/the-vatican/detail/articolo/benedetto-xvi-benedict-xvi-benedicto-xvi-9725/
In fact it is a clear reference to this part of the Epistle to the Romans:
Sometimes it is necessary to deal with meaning.  I realize that is not an habitual practice among Orthodox looking at Catholic teaching.
You have any examples, or are you just taking a broad, general (and unsubstantiated) swipe at us?

Let me give you an example:we all know the Vatican emptying the judgment of the Fathers of the Sixth Council "Anathema to Honorius the heretic!" of all meaning.  You have an example of the Orthodox doing the same thing?

If it ain't there in black and white then it ain't there at all...
You are the one claiming to have supreme pontiff who can put everything in black and white, not us. In fact, the continual stream of snide remarks eminating from the Tiber denigrating the Orthodox Church as having no ultimate authority, unable to give a straight answer blah, blah, blah which "defect" the supreme pontiff will solve if we only submit to him-are you here to tell us not to believe such promises of your "magisterium"?  All those degrees of theological certitude are just shades of grey?

We have become accustomed to such approaches to our teachings.
Evidently not, as you all still have no response beyond alleging that your teachings are being misunderstood and/or misrepresented, when neither is being done.

Does not make you right however.
Your refusal to concede to the facts doesn't make us wrong.

As I said the pericope above is the heart of Catholic teaching concerning natural law.
And Romans 1:17 (according to Martin Luther) is the heart of your Protestant siblings' teaching concerning justification.  Neither of your proof-texting from Romans has anything to do with what St. Paul taught the Romans.

It does have to do with Catholic teaching concerning natural law, which has nothing to do with the Vatican's teaching of natural law.  Which brings this up:
Natural law is not a law accessed by reason alone.  Natural law is what we are able to know about HUMAN nature based upon revealed truth/Scripture and Tradition.  Natural law is what we are able to discern about creation based upon revealed truth and the illumination of grace.

"In a pluralistic society, the Catholic Church is convinced that it is duty bound 'to intervene in favor of the values that are valid for man as such, independently of the various cultures' - values the Church knows 'through its faith' but at which all men can arrive through reason alone, regardless of faith." -Vatican Insider http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/homepage/the-vatican/detail/articolo/benedetto-xvi-benedict-xvi-benedicto-xvi-9725/

This is only a portion of what the Church is talking about with natural law.  It is NOT an exhaustive definition.  In fact it is a clear reference to this part of the Epistle to the Romans:

Quote
12For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

SO that one may not have the fullness of the faith and the fullness of grace but still carries the law of God in their hearts and can be doers of the Word in a natural way.

This is NOT how Catholic morality is formed, however.
No, Catholic morality is not formed that way, but the Vatican forms its morality in exactly that way, from the philosophical musing of Aquinas to the patristic barren Humanae Vitae (or are they not official/magisterial documents?).

St. Paul frames his "pericope" of Romans you quote with those who are without the law, and with judgment according to the Gospel.  Since those who hold to the Orthodox Faith of the Catholic Church have both the Law and the Gospel, this "pericope" has no basis for the formation of Catholic morality.  The Vatican forms its morality on exactly that basis, erecting HV as a monument to reliance to the god of the philosophers for its morality.
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« Reply #383 on: December 06, 2011, 01:12:01 AM »

I am reading your longer post that calls me on my lack of precision.  I haven't gotten to the substance of your further comments but I am interested in getting there.  You are right about the clarification of my remarks though.  Thanks for the continuation of substance!
Thanks again also to you.

You've moved away from Catholic teaching so I am lost in terms of the overlay of enlightenment thinking that really has been studiously avoided by the Catholic Church for all of these centuries.  Surely there were theologians who argued with one another over such things and contemporary philosophers carried on the tradition, but that is not what guides the systematic theology of the Catholic Church and it certainly is not in line with her spiritual traditions.  So I fear that I am unable to discuss at this level since it is not my tradition and in many ways is counter to my tradition and I have avoided it pretty systematically all of my life...including my academic life which made things difficult to say the least in my philosophy classes.  My professors were kind enough not to penalize me but I was never encouraged to choose philosophy as a profession.  I was told that I was too Catholic.
I studied philosophy/theology at a non-Catholic seminary, though I did study Roman Catholic history, doctrine, and philosophy then and in three decades since that time. I did spend one year at a major Catholic university as an undergrad where among other things I took courses in philosophy and ethics; one of my favorite professors there was a Jesuit priest (I subsequently moved and continued my studies shifting to a biology major with a minor in chemistry). I also was familiar with Roman Catholic religious instruction from my youth having attended Catholic schools elementary through high school, and I was personally tutored by a Jesuit priest for a while who was close with my mother. One grandmother was Roman Catholic until her death; her husband, my grandfather, was an Orthodox Christian who died before I was born.

Actually most of the scholars mentioned above are not Enlightenment philosophers per se; Hume/Kant Is-Ought Gap and the Naturalistic Fallacy alone are specifically Enlightenment thinkers (Nietzsche was mentioned primarily insofar as Bonhoeffer incorporated him) are of critical importance to all ethical philosophers, traditional Roman Catholics included -it has been and is impossible to be competent in this area and avoid such issues. It seems significant to me, as I said above in more detail and with more references, that it is at least odd that Natural Law Theory, though a dogma of Roman Catholicism, has been all but utterly abandoned by almost every thinker outside the Roman Catholic faith despite its central claim being over what reason can accomplish apart from that faith! It seems these days that R/C faith has to smuggle itself into the back door to construct the content of what allegedly be accomplished apart from faith (and the attempt is beyond crisis at this point, as I explained above). At any rate, don't worry too much about it if you're not familiar with the philosophers or arguments mentioned; perhaps another Roman Catholic with more background in philosophy might be interested in the issues and challenges I raised.  

I will say that in good conscience I regard that almost exclusively (nowadays) Roman Catholic philosophical trajectory as in shambles, and I am grateful to God that Orthodoxy never pronounced it as a dogma and will hopefully never accept it as one (which is an additional challenge for our mutual hope for eventual reconciliation as much moral and philosophical teaching of the Magisterium derives from it). I also believe this trajectory of philosophical/moral/theological rationalism flowing from Aquinas led straight to both Protestantism and the Enlightenment -"hatched from the egg that Roman Catholicism laid" as Alexis Khomiakov said (paraphrased).

Quote from: elijahmaria
That is not "reason without grace" because we do not exist without grace
I agree this is Roman Catholic teaching and suggested as much with my remarks about providence; I do personally believe the criticisms of the previous posts still stand, however.

Thanks again for your replies.
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« Reply #384 on: December 06, 2011, 03:18:34 PM »


I will say that in good conscience I regard that almost exclusively (nowadays) Roman Catholic philosophical trajectory as in shambles, and I am grateful to God that Orthodoxy never pronounced it as a dogma and will hopefully never accept it as one (which is an additional challenge for our mutual hope for eventual reconciliation as much moral and philosophical teaching of the Magisterium derives from it). I also believe this trajectory of philosophical/moral/theological rationalism flowing from Aquinas led straight to both Protestantism and the Enlightenment -"hatched from the egg that Roman Catholicism laid" as Alexis Khomiakov said (paraphrased).


You'd have to offer more than this to make that one stick. 

Aquinas has been restored in the Catholic Church in the 20th century, as he is and not as others have painted him over the centuries, and none of the philosophers you mentioned ever contributed to Catholic doctrine.  Catholic doctrine is not dependent upon philosophy.

I have much the same history that you do.  I have a graduate minor in philosophy in fact and graduate courses in theology from a Catholic seminary.  So you don't need to compare credentials.  That is not why we see things differently.

You've mentioned none of the important 20th century theologian/philosophers who are prayerful holy monks in the Catholic Church who have contributed greatly to contemporary understanding of St. Thomas and the intervening centuries.  I marvel at that lacuna, particularly given your rather fecund opportunities for learning.

 Wink...Cheer up!  We all get older at the same pace.

M.
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« Reply #385 on: December 06, 2011, 05:53:16 PM »

You'd have to offer more than this to make that one stick.  
It isn't necessary to "argue" that Natural Law Theory is virtually dead today outside of the context of Roman Catholics doing philosophy. That is a simple fact.

This is problematic because Natural Law Theory isn't supposed to be just a Roman Catholic praxis. It is a claim about what can be known by reasonable persons apart from Roman Catholic or Christian faith.

Why then isn't such knowledge seen today more commonly seen outside of the halls of the dwindling numbers of Roman Catholics who still hold on to this theory that is virtually dead everywhere else in philosophy?

The claim "everyone of a class (people apart from faith) can know X by reason alone" where virtually no one of that class "knows" X is a problematic claim.

In Aquinas's day the claim seemed sound because it was affirmed by pagan philosophers like Aristotle and Marcus Aurelius. Now only Roman Catholics still hold on to the claim, which one might conjecture would have disappeared by now also had it not been set forth as a religious dogma.

Had Natural Law Theory been just a dogma about what Catholics could know, postulated as only visible through the eyes of faith or Roman Catholicism this would not be a problem. But that isn't what Natural Law Theory says. It is talking about what all men can know with certainty apart from faith.
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« Reply #386 on: December 06, 2011, 06:14:24 PM »

You'd have to offer more than this to make that one stick.  
It isn't necessary to "argue" that Natural Law Theory is virtually dead today outside of the context of Roman Catholics doing philosophy. That is a simple fact.

This is problematic because Natural Law Theory isn't supposed to be just a Roman Catholic praxis. It is a claim about what can be known by reasonable persons apart from Roman Catholic or Christian faith. Whyaren't claims about certain knowledge of the good more commonly seen outside of the halls of the dwindling numbers of Roman Catholics who practice it?

The claim "everyone of a class (people apart from faith) can know X by reason alone" where virtually no one of that class "knows" X is a problematic claim.

In Aquinas's day the claim seemed sound because it was affirmed by pagan philosophers like Aristotle and Marcus Aurelius. Now only Roman Catholics still hold on to the claim, which one might conjecture would have disappeared by now also had it not been set forth as a religious dogma.

Had Natural Law Theory been just a dogma about what Catholics could know, postulated as only visible through the eyes of faith or Roman Catholicism this would not be a problem. But that isn't what Natural Law Theory says. It is talking about what all men can know with certainty apart from faith.

This is simply wrong and your "proofs" are exceptionally one-sided and poverty stricken with respect to Catholic monastic and priestly authors of the 20th century...not to mention the fact that you apparently are not familiar with the corrective phenomenological writings of Pope John Paul and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross or you'd not be able to make half the claims you make just here in this thread.

Sorry.  You are not making a dent in my education here.
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« Reply #387 on: December 06, 2011, 06:20:13 PM »

You'd have to offer more than this to make that one stick.  
It isn't necessary to "argue" that Natural Law Theory is virtually dead today outside of the context of Roman Catholics doing philosophy. That is a simple fact.

This is problematic because Natural Law Theory isn't supposed to be just a Roman Catholic praxis. It is a claim about what can be known by reasonable persons apart from Roman Catholic or Christian faith. Whyaren't claims about certain knowledge of the good more commonly seen outside of the halls of the dwindling numbers of Roman Catholics who practice it?

The claim "everyone of a class (people apart from faith) can know X by reason alone" where virtually no one of that class "knows" X is a problematic claim.

In Aquinas's day the claim seemed sound because it was affirmed by pagan philosophers like Aristotle and Marcus Aurelius. Now only Roman Catholics still hold on to the claim, which one might conjecture would have disappeared by now also had it not been set forth as a religious dogma.

Had Natural Law Theory been just a dogma about what Catholics could know, postulated as only visible through the eyes of faith or Roman Catholicism this would not be a problem. But that isn't what Natural Law Theory says. It is talking about what all men can know with certainty apart from faith.

This is simply wrong and your "proofs" are exceptionally one-sided and poverty stricken with respect to Catholic monastic and priestly authors of the 20th century...not to mention the fact that you apparently are not familiar with the corrective phenomenological writings of Pope John Paul and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross or you'd not be able to make half the claims you make just here in this thread.

Sorry.  You are not making a dent in my education here.
So your answer to why virtually only Roman Catholics "have" this knowledge today which is supposed to be knowable apart from faith is to appeal to Roman Catholic authors? That doesn't make sense or address the question at all.
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« Reply #388 on: December 06, 2011, 06:40:17 PM »

You'd have to offer more than this to make that one stick.  
It isn't necessary to "argue" that Natural Law Theory is virtually dead today outside of the context of Roman Catholics doing philosophy. That is a simple fact.

This is problematic because Natural Law Theory isn't supposed to be just a Roman Catholic praxis. It is a claim about what can be known by reasonable persons apart from Roman Catholic or Christian faith. Whyaren't claims about certain knowledge of the good more commonly seen outside of the halls of the dwindling numbers of Roman Catholics who practice it?

The claim "everyone of a class (people apart from faith) can know X by reason alone" where virtually no one of that class "knows" X is a problematic claim.

In Aquinas's day the claim seemed sound because it was affirmed by pagan philosophers like Aristotle and Marcus Aurelius. Now only Roman Catholics still hold on to the claim, which one might conjecture would have disappeared by now also had it not been set forth as a religious dogma.

Had Natural Law Theory been just a dogma about what Catholics could know, postulated as only visible through the eyes of faith or Roman Catholicism this would not be a problem. But that isn't what Natural Law Theory says. It is talking about what all men can know with certainty apart from faith.

This is simply wrong and your "proofs" are exceptionally one-sided and poverty stricken with respect to Catholic monastic and priestly authors of the 20th century...not to mention the fact that you apparently are not familiar with the corrective phenomenological writings of Pope John Paul and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross or you'd not be able to make half the claims you make just here in this thread.

Sorry.  You are not making a dent in my education here.
So your answer to why virtually only Roman Catholics "have" this knowledge today which is supposed to be knowable apart from faith is to appeal to Roman Catholic authors? That doesn't make sense or address the question at all.

laff...no.  I am telling you that if you read more Catholic theologian-philosophers who are monks and priests and not just professors at universities, you'd see that your own understanding of Natural Law is not at all Catholic.

I think I am done with this.  Not much more to say.  You're hooked and frankly I don't care.
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« Reply #389 on: December 06, 2011, 08:26:32 PM »

I am lost in terms of the overlay of enlightenment thinking that really has been studiously avoided by the Catholic Church for all of these centuries.  Surely there were theologians who argued with one another over such things and contemporary philosophers carried on the tradition, but that is not what guides the systematic theology of the Catholic Church and it certainly is not in line with her spiritual traditions.  So I fear that I am unable to discuss at this level since it is not my tradition and in many ways is counter to my tradition and I have avoided it pretty systematically all of my life...including my academic life which made things difficult to say the least in my philosophy classes.  My professors were kind enough not to penalize me but I was never encouraged to choose philosophy as a profession.  I was told that I was too Catholic.

I have a graduate minor in philosophy in fact and graduate courses in theology from a Catholic seminary.
Your claim that your professors of philosophy gave you a pass to "systematically avoid" this sort of thought is frankly pretty weird, and completely unlike any Catholic or Jesuit professors I have encountered. It's incredible enough to suppose you could get all the way through a philosophy minor in that fashion, but the notion that this is achievable while going through graduate school is pretty incredible.

All of the major Catholic ethical philosophers I have ever looked at try their best to engage "Enlightenment thinking" on a continual basis. I doubt you could even read 10 or 20 books by major Roman Catholic philosophers and/or standard textbooks to achieve a philosophy minor without mastering these positions even if only through the filter of such authors as this. How did you do this in so many classes? Really, this is true?!

I would think a philosophy minor at the very least would entail thorough familiarity with the likes of Hume and Kant, their Is-Ought Gap, the Naturalistic Fallacy of Moore, etc.

Really, you have a degree with a minor in philosophy? Honestly if your professors told you you are "too Catholic" to "choose philosophy as a profession" surely you couldn't have done too well completing a philosophy minor degree?! Did you finish and/or pass your courses?
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« Reply #390 on: December 06, 2011, 09:04:00 PM »

I am lost in terms of the overlay of enlightenment thinking that really has been studiously avoided by the Catholic Church for all of these centuries.  Surely there were theologians who argued with one another over such things and contemporary philosophers carried on the tradition, but that is not what guides the systematic theology of the Catholic Church and it certainly is not in line with her spiritual traditions.  So I fear that I am unable to discuss at this level since it is not my tradition and in many ways is counter to my tradition and I have avoided it pretty systematically all of my life...including my academic life which made things difficult to say the least in my philosophy classes.  My professors were kind enough not to penalize me but I was never encouraged to choose philosophy as a profession.  I was told that I was too Catholic.

I have a graduate minor in philosophy in fact and graduate courses in theology from a Catholic seminary.
Your claim that your professors of philosophy gave you a pass to "systematically avoid" this sort of thought is frankly pretty weird, and completely unlike any Catholic or Jesuit professors I have encountered. It's incredible enough to suppose you could get all the way through a philosophy minor in that fashion, but the notion that this is achievable while going through graduate school is pretty incredible.

All of the major Catholic ethical philosophers I have ever looked at try their best to engage "Enlightenment thinking" on a continual basis. I doubt you could even read 10 or 20 books by major Roman Catholic philosophers and/or standard textbooks to achieve a philosophy minor without mastering these positions even if only through the filter of such authors as this. How did you do this in so many classes? Really, this is true?!

I would think a philosophy minor at the very least would entail thorough familiarity with the likes of Hume and Kant, their Is-Ought Gap, the Naturalistic Fallacy of Moore, etc.

Really, you have a degree with a minor in philosophy? Honestly if your professors told you you are "too Catholic" to "choose philosophy as a profession" surely you couldn't have done too well completing a philosophy minor degree?! Did you finish and/or pass your courses?


I surely did.  I don't have any difficulty with philosophy.  I just never chose a secular version to follow as a disciple.  That is all that I was indicating.  I followed the Catholic line through the ages and spoke of the rest of the European tradition in terms of its deviation from the core.  As long as I was able to defend those positions, I was fine.  I never had a professor willing to fail me for my beliefs as long as I could demonstrate an alternate route.

Now when I was taking courses in traditional religions and philosophies in Africa, for example, that was a very different experience.

You are still a day late and dollar short on your grasp of Catholic teaching.  You apparently got lost in the modernists.  Too bad really...there's ever so much more and better going on.

M.
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« Reply #391 on: December 08, 2011, 09:15:08 PM »

I will say that in good conscience I regard that almost exclusively (nowadays) Roman Catholic philosophical trajectory as in shambles, and I am grateful to God that Orthodoxy never pronounced it as a dogma and will hopefully never accept it as one (which is an additional challenge for our mutual hope for eventual reconciliation as much moral and philosophical teaching of the Magisterium derives from it). I also believe this trajectory of philosophical/moral/theological rationalism flowing from Aquinas led straight to both Protestantism and the Enlightenment -"hatched from the egg that Roman Catholicism laid" as Alexis Khomiakov said (paraphrased).
You'd have to offer more than this to make that one stick.
If it walks like a duck....
Aquinas has been restored in the Catholic Church in the 20th century, as he is and not as others have painted him over the centuries,
and this revisionism surpasses the received tradition how?

and none of the philosophers you mentioned ever contributed to Catholic doctrine.  Catholic doctrine is not dependent upon philosophy.
Catholic doctrine and dogma is not, but the Vatican has based its doctrine on it.  Potuit, decuit ergo fecit.

I have much the same history that you do.  I have a graduate minor in philosophy in fact and graduate courses in theology from a Catholic seminary.  So you don't need to compare credentials.  That is not why we see things differently.

You say this, and then turn around and say this:
I am telling you that if you read more Catholic theologian-philosophers who are monks and priests and not just professors at universities, you'd see that your own understanding of Natural Law is not at all Catholic.
Neither is the Vatican's.

The university system run by the Vatican and especially the Jesuits see things differently (except for places like Steubenville, where other forces are at work) than in your history with them: when were you doing your minor in philosophy and your graduate courses in theology?

You've mentioned none of the important 20th century theologian/philosophers who are prayerful holy monks in the Catholic Church who have contributed greatly to contemporary understanding of St. Thomas and the intervening centuries.

To be fair, you haven't mentioned any of them either, have you?  Are they too holy for names?

I marvel at that lacuna, particularly given your rather fecund opportunities for learning.
You assUme that he has not studied your authorities.  Since you leave them unnamed, he cannot tell you yeah or nay.

Wink...Cheer up!  We all get older at the same pace.
I guess, whatever that is supposed to mean.  I don't see how xariskai needs any cheering up.
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« Reply #392 on: December 17, 2011, 04:10:05 PM »


What Natural Law is Not
   When one surveys modern discussion on the ethical theory of Natural Law, one will come across an astounding fact. The concept of Natural Law is grossly misunderstood by many people, including some who are educated concerning philosophical and theological issues. One casual example can be found here at a popular Eastern Orthodox forum: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,21230.225.html

At post 255, one Eastern Orthodox Priest states,
“The 'Natural Law' is a tricky thing. We had a dairy farm and while I never saw either bulls or cows giving one another oral sex, it was not uncommon to see bulls enjoying anal sex with one another. It seems to be part of the Natural Law and certainly I cannot see any way to lecture them on morality and persuade them to see it as evil and contrary to the Natural Law.”


His argument takes the form of a sort of a reductio ad absurdum, where one follows the logic of an argument to a ridiculous conclusion, in order demonstrate the absurdity of the argument. Basically, this priest is suggesting that if one looks to the natural or intended purposes of sexuality, one finds that the oral and anal sex are contrary to such goals. Thus, in animals, if they engage in such things, then they are guilty of morally depraved actions. Of course the conclusion is absurd because animals are never held to be morally responsible for their actions. For this reason, the priest rejects Natural Law theory as a faulty in its foundations.
However, he does not reach this erroneous position because there is a defect in Natural Law theory. Rather, its because his argument contains a an implied premise that is false. That premise is that man and animals relate to God's ordering of reality in the same way. This is incorrect. Animals participate in the Eternal Law of God in a lesser way when compared to man. As Aquinas states, “Now among all others, the rational creature is subject to Divine providence in the most excellent way, in so far as it partakes of a share of providence, by being provident for itself and for others.”, The manner in which man partakes of the Eternal Law of God, is in that he can make rational decisions with regard to such a rule, and thus, his actions take the form of moral acts. As a result, when man acts contrary to this order, he can be said to be guilty of sin or moral defect. Animals, on the other hand, because they do not possess the power of reason, cannot be held responsible for their actions. Thus, everything they do is the result of of instinct for aimed towards survival. True, some actions of animals may not be the result of the direct will of God in through his Eternal Law, and, for this reason might be viewed by man as somewhat distasteful. Yet, such acts might be considered matters of defect in the material order due its limited nature. In any case, the lesson that can be drawn from this matter is that the Natural Law is not simply a teleological code of conduct intended for all created beings. Rather, it is “the rational creature's participation of the eternal law”.

Further on in this conversation, at post number two-hundred sixty five, another Eastern Orthodox posters mocks the philosophy of Natural law, stating, “You're the ones basing your 'morality' on what happens in nature. Not us.” He, thus, charges Natural Law philosophers with holding the particularly grave error that if something happens in nature, then it is “natural”, and what is “natural” is, therefore good. Given this view of Natural Law, just about any grave crime can be justified. For example, it is often suggested that because animals sometimes engage in what appear to be homosexual acts, that they then must be “natural and are morally justified”. Another example is the sexual impulse in man. It can be argued, via this particular view of Natural Law, that sex is “natural” and the desire to have sex with many people is equally “natural”; therefore, one should conclude that fornication and adultery are morally justified acts. As result of such thinking, one would have to adopt the “if it feels good, do it” philosophy. Consequently, the  Eastern Orthodox poster in this forum believes that a Natural Law philosophy is entirely untenable.
However, as in the case of the Priest's reasoning discussed above, this poster is also guilty of faulty thinking. He has engaged in the material fallacy known as “equivocation”. The terms “natural” does not mean the same thing in this posters argument as it does in Thomistic Natural Law theory. In the former case, naturally merely means what comes easily or what happens in the natural world. However, in the case Natural Law, “natural” refers to the fact that the moral law can be know by means of natural reason, apart from supernatural revelation. For this reason, Aquinas calls it “the light of natural reason, whereby we discern what is good and what is evil”. What is more, it is called “natural” because “according to the order of natural inclinations, is the order and precepts of natural law.”Or, in other words, the natural law ethics, which are not determined by the desires that come most easily to man, are determined by the objective inclinations or purposes of man's nature.
This seems to be quoted from somewhere, but where?
I wrote it for a project that I am doing for my course in Natural Law and Life Issues. The blog will be up and fully functional by Wednesday evening. In the mean time I will cite the source.... me.  Smiley
Is the blog up?

In the meantime, came across this.
http://cantuar.blogspot.com/2011/12/can-natural-law-be-erased-from-human.html
Quote
Can Natural Law be erased from the human heart?

Can you become so evil that you strike the "delete" button and erase the natural law from your heart? In order to answer this question, we must first define "natural law."

Natural law relates to the inclination in human nature that inclines us to the good. Saint Thomas defines the first precept of natural law as" "good is to be done and pursued, and evil is to be avoided."

It would seem that natural law could in fact be erased from the human heart since we can lose the Holy Spirit and sanctifying grace - both of which are greater than natural law. However, this is not the case because the Holy Spirit and sanctifying grace are granted to human nature - they are not natural to man. Natural law, on the other hand, is just that: natural. So long as a person has "human nature" his nature is oriented naturally to the good. We all still have human nature and so we all still have natural law - no matter how evil you are.
Were a man to loose his logos and the divine energy which enlivens them, not only would he loose his human nature, he would cease to exist.  On that, a reply is cogent (but I don't think he meant it to be):
Quote
Also of note is Jeremiah 31:33: "But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days—oracle of the LORD. I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people." If God Himself will write His law upon our hearts, how can we delete that?
not sure if he is seeing this as a proof-text for the blog title, or sees through that and points out that the ability "to loose the Holy Spirit" doesn't provide a contradiction to the fact that "natual law...be erased from the human heart."
« Last Edit: December 17, 2011, 04:14:51 PM by ialmisry » Logged

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« Reply #393 on: December 20, 2011, 03:33:06 PM »

Thought this was appropos here:
You might even want to read Palamas and think about uncreated energies in light of these quotes from Maximos the Confessor:

Here is Maximos the Confessor from the Philokalia,vol II, p.180-181.

Quote
#27.  The Holy Spirit is not absent from any created being, especially not from one which in any way participates in intelligence.  For being God and God's Spirit, He embraces in unity the spiritual knowledge of all created things, providentially permeating all things with His power, and vivifying [animating] their inner essence in accordance with their nature.  In this way, He makes men aware of things done sinfully against the law of nature, and renders them capable of choosing principles which are true and in conformity with nature. Thus, we find many barbarians and nomadic peoples turning to a civilized way of life and setting aside the savage laws which they had kept among themselves from time immemorial.

++++++++++++++++++++++

And then for the other actions of the grace of the Holy Spirit:

Quote
#28.  The Holy Spirit is present unconditionally in all things, in that he embraces all things, provides for all, and vivifies the natural seeds within them.  He is present in a specific way in all who are under the Law, in that He shows them where they have broken the commandments and enlightens them about the promise given concerning Christ.

In all who are Christians [baptised into Christ] He is present in also yet another way in that he makes them sons of God.

But in none is He fully present as the author of Wisdom except in those who have understanding, and who by their holy way of life have made themselves fit to receive His Indwelling and deifying presence.  For everyone who does not carry out the divine will, even though he is a believer, has a heart which, being the workshop of evil thoughts, lacks understanding, and a body which, being always entangled in the defilements of the passions, is mortgaged to sin.

and this beginning of a thread:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,33871.0.html
what's "thought-wills"?

I always considered "logoi" as blueprints of our being.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2011, 03:35:52 PM by ialmisry » Logged

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« Reply #394 on: December 22, 2011, 04:43:18 PM »

This this issue, in discussions with the Vatican, involve HV:
THE EX CATHEDRA STATUS OF THE ENCYCLICAL HUMANAE VITAE
http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt43.html
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« Reply #395 on: December 22, 2011, 05:10:12 PM »

In response to Isa,
Yes, I finished my blog. And, I was asked to shave it down to a ten page article to published in Social Journal Review.

A couple of notes: The blog is nowhere near as polished as I would hae liked. I was so busy with my own students at the end of the semester, that I didn't edit it as much as I would have liked. It pretty much still looks like a draft and not a final product.

Here is the link to the blog: naturallyprolife@wordpress.com

When I finish the polished article, I will also provide that.

One more point. Isa, I am providing this blog for informative purposes only, and you are free to debate the points. But if you choose to behave like you normally do, then I will not engage you even once. IN FACT, if Isa resorts to any of his usual tacticts with regard to this blog, I suggest that the rest fo my Catholic friends here at Oc.net simply ignore him. Don't feel the troll.
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« Reply #396 on: December 22, 2011, 05:14:19 PM »


One more point. Isa, I am providing this blog for informative purposes only, and you are free to debate the points. But if you choose to behave like you normally do, then I will not engage you even once. IN FACT, if Isa resorts to any of his usual tacticts with regard to this blog, I suggest that the rest fo my Catholic friends here at Oc.net simply ignore him. Don't feel the troll.

Feed!!...dahlinks...Feed!!!
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« Reply #397 on: December 22, 2011, 05:23:27 PM »


What Natural Law is Not
   When one surveys modern discussion on the ethical theory of Natural Law, one will come across an astounding fact. The concept of Natural Law is grossly misunderstood by many people, including some who are educated concerning philosophical and theological issues. One casual example can be found here at a popular Eastern Orthodox forum: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,21230.225.html

At post 255, one Eastern Orthodox Priest states,
“The 'Natural Law' is a tricky thing. We had a dairy farm and while I never saw either bulls or cows giving one another oral sex, it was not uncommon to see bulls enjoying anal sex with one another. It seems to be part of the Natural Law and certainly I cannot see any way to lecture them on morality and persuade them to see it as evil and contrary to the Natural Law.”


His argument takes the form of a sort of a reductio ad absurdum, where one follows the logic of an argument to a ridiculous conclusion, in order demonstrate the absurdity of the argument. Basically, this priest is suggesting that if one looks to the natural or intended purposes of sexuality, one finds that the oral and anal sex are contrary to such goals. Thus, in animals, if they engage in such things, then they are guilty of morally depraved actions. Of course the conclusion is absurd because animals are never held to be morally responsible for their actions. For this reason, the priest rejects Natural Law theory as a faulty in its foundations.
However, he does not reach this erroneous position because there is a defect in Natural Law theory. Rather, its because his argument contains a an implied premise that is false. That premise is that man and animals relate to God's ordering of reality in the same way. This is incorrect. Animals participate in the Eternal Law of God in a lesser way when compared to man. As Aquinas states, “Now among all others, the rational creature is subject to Divine providence in the most excellent way, in so far as it partakes of a share of providence, by being provident for itself and for others.”, The manner in which man partakes of the Eternal Law of God, is in that he can make rational decisions with regard to such a rule, and thus, his actions take the form of moral acts. As a result, when man acts contrary to this order, he can be said to be guilty of sin or moral defect. Animals, on the other hand, because they do not possess the power of reason, cannot be held responsible for their actions. Thus, everything they do is the result of of instinct for aimed towards survival. True, some actions of animals may not be the result of the direct will of God in through his Eternal Law, and, for this reason might be viewed by man as somewhat distasteful. Yet, such acts might be considered matters of defect in the material order due its limited nature. In any case, the lesson that can be drawn from this matter is that the Natural Law is not simply a teleological code of conduct intended for all created beings. Rather, it is “the rational creature's participation of the eternal law”.

Further on in this conversation, at post number two-hundred sixty five, another Eastern Orthodox posters mocks the philosophy of Natural law, stating, “You're the ones basing your 'morality' on what happens in nature. Not us.” He, thus, charges Natural Law philosophers with holding the particularly grave error that if something happens in nature, then it is “natural”, and what is “natural” is, therefore good. Given this view of Natural Law, just about any grave crime can be justified. For example, it is often suggested that because animals sometimes engage in what appear to be homosexual acts, that they then must be “natural and are morally justified”. Another example is the sexual impulse in man. It can be argued, via this particular view of Natural Law, that sex is “natural” and the desire to have sex with many people is equally “natural”; therefore, one should conclude that fornication and adultery are morally justified acts. As result of such thinking, one would have to adopt the “if it feels good, do it” philosophy. Consequently, the  Eastern Orthodox poster in this forum believes that a Natural Law philosophy is entirely untenable.
However, as in the case of the Priest's reasoning discussed above, this poster is also guilty of faulty thinking. He has engaged in the material fallacy known as “equivocation”. The terms “natural” does not mean the same thing in this posters argument as it does in Thomistic Natural Law theory. In the former case, naturally merely means what comes easily or what happens in the natural world. However, in the case Natural Law, “natural” refers to the fact that the moral law can be know by means of natural reason, apart from supernatural revelation. For this reason, Aquinas calls it “the light of natural reason, whereby we discern what is good and what is evil”. What is more, it is called “natural” because “according to the order of natural inclinations, is the order and precepts of natural law.”Or, in other words, the natural law ethics, which are not determined by the desires that come most easily to man, are determined by the objective inclinations or purposes of man's nature.
This seems to be quoted from somewhere, but where?
I wrote it for a project that I am doing for my course in Natural Law and Life Issues. The blog will be up and fully functional by Wednesday evening. In the mean time I will cite the source.... me.  Smiley
Is the blog up?

In the meantime, came across this.
http://cantuar.blogspot.com/2011/12/can-natural-law-be-erased-from-human.html
Quote
Can Natural Law be erased from the human heart?

Can you become so evil that you strike the "delete" button and erase the natural law from your heart? In order to answer this question, we must first define "natural law."

Natural law relates to the inclination in human nature that inclines us to the good. Saint Thomas defines the first precept of natural law as" "good is to be done and pursued, and evil is to be avoided."

It would seem that natural law could in fact be erased from the human heart since we can lose the Holy Spirit and sanctifying grace - both of which are greater than natural law. However, this is not the case because the Holy Spirit and sanctifying grace are granted to human nature - they are not natural to man. Natural law, on the other hand, is just that: natural. So long as a person has "human nature" his nature is oriented naturally to the good. We all still have human nature and so we all still have natural law - no matter how evil you are.
Were a man to loose his logos and the divine energy which enlivens them, not only would he loose his human nature, he would cease to exist.  On that, a reply is cogent (but I don't think he meant it to be):
Quote
Also of note is Jeremiah 31:33: "But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days—oracle of the LORD. I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people." If God Himself will write His law upon our hearts, how can we delete that?
not sure if he is seeing this as a proof-text for the blog title, or sees through that and points out that the ability "to loose the Holy Spirit" doesn't provide a contradiction to the fact that "natual law...be erased from the human heart."
One would have to cease to be human in order to lose the natural law entirely, because it rests in man's final cause, and man's final cause is derived from his formal cause or nature. To lose the natural law, man would have to lose his human nature.
Also, I think that the writer that you came across needs to distinguish between God's presence in us, that is always there and necessary to keep us in existence, and his sanctifying presence.
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« Reply #398 on: December 22, 2011, 06:33:19 PM »

In response to Isa,
Yes, I finished my blog. And, I was asked to shave it down to a ten page article to published in Social Journal Review.
Congratulations.
A couple of notes: The blog is nowhere near as polished as I would hae liked. I was so busy with my own students at the end of the semester, that I didn't edit it as much as I would have liked. It pretty much still looks like a draft and not a final product.

Here is the link to the blog: naturallyprolife@wordpress.com

When I finish the polished article, I will also provide that.

One more point. Isa, I am providing this blog for informative purposes only, and you are free to debate the points. But if you choose to behave like you normally do[/b]
you mean, my sticking to the facts?
then I will not engage you even once. IN FACT, if Isa resorts to any of his usual tacticts with regard to this blog, I suggest that the rest fo my Catholic friends here at Oc.net simply ignore him[/i]. Don't feel the troll.
I don't know about the trolls, but I don't want to be felt up by anyone here.  No offense.
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If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
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« Reply #399 on: December 22, 2011, 08:36:14 PM »


I don't know about the trolls, but I don't want to be felt up by anyone here.  No offense.

I've wondered periodically if crude is your style.  Guess so.
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« Reply #400 on: December 23, 2011, 01:28:54 AM »

Given all the issues about "natural ends," I thought I would refresh my memory on Aquinas' thoughts on woman.

Quote
Article 1. Whether the woman should have been made in the first production of things?
Objection 1. It would seem that the woman should not have been made in the first production of things. For the Philosopher says (De Gener. ii, 3), that "the female is a misbegotten male." But nothing misbegotten or defective should have been in the first production of things. Therefore woman should not have been made at that first production.

Objection 2. Further, subjection and limitation were a result of sin, for to the woman was it said after sin (Genesis 3:16): "Thou shalt be under the man's power"; and Gregory says that, "Where there is no sin, there is no inequality." But woman is naturally of less strength and dignity than man; "for the agent is always more honorable than the patient," as Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. xii, 16). Therefore woman should not have been made in the first production of things before sin.

Objection 3. Further, occasions of sin should be cut off. But God foresaw that the woman would be an occasion of sin to man. Therefore He should not have made woman.

On the contrary, It is written (Genesis 2:18): "It is not good for man to be alone; let us make him a helper like to himself."

I answer that, It was necessary for woman to be made, as the Scripture says, as a "helper" to man; not, indeed, as a helpmate in other works, as some say, since man can be more efficiently helped by another man in other works; but as a helper in the work of generation. This can be made clear if we observe the mode of generation carried out in various living things. Some living things do not possess in themselves the power of generation, but are generated by some other specific agent, such as some plants and animals by the influence of the heavenly bodies, from some fitting matter and not from seed: others possess the active and passive generative power together; as we see in plants which are generated from seed; for the noblest vital function in plants is generation. Wherefore we observe that in these the active power of generation invariably accompanies the passive power. Among perfect animals the active power of generation belongs to the male sex, and the passive power to the female. And as among animals there is a vital operation nobler than generation, to which their life is principally directed; therefore the male sex is not found in continual union with the female in perfect animals, but only at the time of coition; so that we may consider that by this means the male and female are one, as in plants they are always united; although in some cases one of them preponderates, and in some the other. But man is yet further ordered to a still nobler vital action, and that is intellectual operation. Therefore there was greater reason for the distinction of these two forces in man; so that the female should be produced separately from the male; although they are carnally united for generation. Therefore directly after the formation of woman, it was said: "And they shall be two in one flesh" (Genesis 2:24).

Reply to Objection 1. As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence; such as that of a south wind, which is moist, as the Philosopher observes (De Gener. Animal. iv, 2). On the other hand, as regards human nature in general, woman is not misbegotten, but is included in nature's intention as directed to the work of generation. Now the general intention of nature depends on God, Who is the universal Author of nature. Therefore, in producing nature, God formed not only the male but also the female.

Reply to Objection 2. Subjection is twofold. One is servile, by virtue of which a superior makes use of a subject for his own benefit; and this kind of subjection began after sin. There is another kind of subjection which is called economic or civil, whereby the superior makes use of his subjects for their own benefit and good; and this kind of subjection existed even before sin. For good order would have been wanting in the human family if some were not governed by others wiser than themselves. So by such a kind of subjection woman is naturally subject to man, because in man the discretion of reason predominates. Nor is inequality among men excluded by the state of innocence, as we shall prove (96, 3).

Reply to Objection 3. If God had deprived the world of all those things which proved an occasion of sin, the universe would have been imperfect. Nor was it fitting for the common good to be destroyed in order that individual evil might be avoided; especially as God is so powerful that He can direct any evil to a good end.
http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1092.htm
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« Reply #401 on: December 23, 2011, 03:35:14 AM »

Don't feed the troll.
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« Reply #402 on: December 23, 2011, 11:38:36 AM »

Don't feed the troll.

I still love Aquinas.  Do I care if I am inferior to men?.... Wink...nah
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« Reply #403 on: December 23, 2011, 11:59:09 AM »

Don't feed the troll.
I thought you liked Aquinas. Huh
Quote
According to the medicine of his century, which, of course, Thomas did not correct, woman was an incomplete man, a half-baked male, whose unfinished characteristics come about through some weakness in the parents, some disposition in the human material or some extrinsic cause such as, for example, a strong south wind at the time of conception. Nevertheless Thomas thinks it is unjust to consider woman a cosmic accident; she was not an accident, this creature was made on purpose, deliberately planned by God.
http://www.domcentral.org/farrell/companion/compfram.htm
Not sure if this is an occasion of "God...direct[ing] any evil to a good end."

I am not sure how many Thomists would agree with Dom Farrell (or how much I agree) in this assessment:
Quote
Domestic life in the Garden of Eden: Difference of sex

The diversity of sexes in man's original state is plain from the account in Genesis. That it should have been so is plain from human nature itself: with only one sex, the species would have been incomplete, indeed, the individuals would have been incomplete as the sexes complement and perfect one another. So Eve was given to Adam as a helper, particularly in the work of generation.

Generation of children

There would, of course, have been generation in the Garden of Eden. Thomas thinks this is true beyond all doubt, though it might be argued that, since generation is for the maintenance of the species, it was unnecessary in this state where men did not die; or, at least, it would have been sufficient to restrict the generative act to Adam and Eve since they were to live forever. Such argumentation overlooks the fact that the individual man is much more important than as a mere means to the good of the species. [emphasis added] Nature intends the enduring and each man and woman, by reason of an immortal soul, is a much more enduring thing than any species however complete. In other words, the purpose of generation is not only the duration of the species but the multiplication of individuals within that species. As for the notion of restricting generation to Adam and Eve, St. Thomas says that it is as much a part of man's nature to live the domestic life and have children as it is to eat; so much so, that in the Garden of Eden there would have been no sterility, no perpetual virginity, everyone would have married. To this end, it would have been necessary that there be as many boys born as girls; Thomas thought that the control of the sex of the child would have been in the power of the parents, thus eliminating months of maternal anxiety and guesswork. At any rate, there would have been children born in those days, and born in exactly the same way as they are today; for, from the very beginning marriage has been a holy thing. However, the physical difficulties and pain of childbirth would have been avoided by man's preternatural gift of dominating nature and of impassibility.
http://www.domcentral.org/farrell/companion/compfram.htm

It would be an improvement on St. Maximus, who seems not to have had much use for the distinction of sex:I don't recall if we are supposed to all rise as hermaphrodites or as men.  On that St. Thomas is also an improvement:
Quote
Chapter 88

ON THE SEX AND AGE OF THE RISEN

[1] One ought, nevertheless, not bold that among the bodies ,of the risen the feminine sex will be absent, as some have thought. For, since the resurrection is to restore the deficiencies of nature, nothing that belongs to the perfection of nature will be denied to the bodies of the risen. Of course, just as other bodily members belong to the integrity of the human body, so do those which serve for generation—not only in men but also in women. Therefore, in each of the cases members of this sort will rise.

[2] Neither is this opposed by the fact that there will be no use for those members, as was shown above. For, if for this reason such members are not to be in the risen, for an equal reason there would be no members which serve nutrition in the risen, because neither will there be use of food after the resurrection. Thus, then, a large portion of the members would be wanting in the body of the risen. They will, them, fore, have all the members of this sort, even though there be no use for them, to re-establish the integrity of the natural body. Hence, they will not be in vain.

[3] In like fashion, also, the frailty of the feminine sex is not in opposition to the perfection of the risen. For this frailty is not due to a shortcoming of nature, but to an intention of nature. And this very distinction of nature among human beings will point out the perfection of nature and the divine wisdom as well, which disposes all things in a certain order.

[4] Nor is this position forced on us by the words of the Apostle: “Until we all meet into the unity of faith, and of knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). For he did not say this because everyone in that meeting when the risen shall go forth “to meet Christ into the air” (1 Thes. 4:16) will have the male sex. He said it to point out the perfection of the Church and its power. For the whole Church when meeting Christ will be like a perfect man,—as is clear from the words which precede and follow.

[5] But all must rise in the age of Christ, which is that of youth, by reason of the perfection of nature which is found in that age alone. For the age of boyhood has not yet achieved the perfection of nature through increase; and by decrease old age has already withdrawn from that perfection.
http://dhspriory.org/thomas/ContraGentiles4.htm#88
which seems to go against much of what he argued: since the Resurrection is the End of man, on that basis it is odd that he would retain that which serve no purpose in that End.

Since the Fathers use the term ἐκπορεύομαι for Eve coming out of the side of Adam as they do for Christ's explicite statement on the Spirit proceeding from the Father, I find Eve no more a half-baked Adam than I find the Spirit a half-baked Father.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2011, 12:00:46 PM by ialmisry » Logged

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« Reply #404 on: December 23, 2011, 01:06:48 PM »

Btw, I came across this:
Quote
The Fathers state specifically, by the way, that Adam and Eve did not have sexual union (nor, of course, eat meat) in Paradise. I believe Thomas Aquinas says that they did—which would accord with the Roman Catholic doctrine of human nature.

 (Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works (Platina, CA: St. Herman Press), pp. 804)


I'm not sure Aquinas says that they did.

The quote comes at the end of a rather pernicious article.
http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/frluke_newage.aspx
an example of the reasons why Hieromonk Fr. Roman Braga says monks should stay away from getting involved in giving marital advice (yes, I am aware of Fr. Trenham, as many here know, is married).

A better article on the same site (and also by an archimandrite):
http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/marriage.aspx
Quote
...Watch out for certain pseudo-Christians, who see marriage as something sordid, as a sin, who immediately cast their eyes down when they hear anything said about it [Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to Polycarp]. If you marry someone like this, he will be a thorn in your flesh, and a burden for his monastery if he becomes a monk...

...When did marriage begin? When man sinned. Before that, there was no marriage, not in the present-day sense. It was only after the Fall, after Adam and Eve had been expelled from paradise, that Adam "knew" Eve (Gen 4.1) and thus marriage began. Why then? So that they might remember their fall and expulsion from paradise, and seek to return there. Marriage is thus a return to the spiritual paradise, the Church of Christ. "I am married" means, then, that I am a king, a true and faithful member of the Church...
That last part sets on its head much of the patristics (St. Gregory, St. Maximus) on marriage being instituted only in preview of the Fall.  (though I am not sure if I dare say the elder is saying here that the marital union is the reminder of the innocence of paradise (Gen. 2:25)).
The Archimandrite also has an interesting take that responds to St. Maximus' aversion to the duality of sex in the pursity of the unity of Neoplatonism:
Quote
[M]arriage is a journey of love. It is the creation of a new human being, a new person, for, as the Gospel says, "the two will be as one flesh" (Mt 19.5; Mk 10.7). God unites two people, and makes them one. From this union of two people, who agree to synchronize their footsteps and harmonize the beating of their hearts, a new human being emerges. Through such profound and spontaneous love, the one becomes a presence, a living reality, in the heart of the other. "I am married" means that I cannot live a single day, even a few moments, without the companion of my life. My husband, my wife, is a part of my being, of my flesh, of my soul. He or she complements me. He or she is the thought of my mind. He or she is the reason for which my heart beats.
It would seem union is fundamental.

Rereading it I was just struck that the Decalogue contains two commandments that involve marriage: "Thou shalt not commit adultery" and "Honor thy father and they mother."  The last is interesting as Christ reiterates the command of Genesis that a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, indicating a superior relationship.
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Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
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