The Four Witnesses to Natural Law

As many of you know, many in our contemporary society refuse to acknowledge the existence of natural law. From what I recall, Judge Robert Bork was rejected as a Supreme Court nominee partially because of his thoughts about natural law.

I agree with others that those who refuse to accept the existence of natural law have a problem in the area of will rather than intellect. With sufficient reasoning, anybody can and will conclude that natural law exists and is knowable.  Our society though would rather choose to deny it existence so as to advance certain other positions.  I am sure you can name such positions and agendas.

I just read an interesting interview done on April 1, 2004 in which J. Budziszewski, a professor of government and philosophy at the University of Texas, described the “Four Witnesses” to natural law. Here is a segment of that interview.

“There seem to be at least four different ways that ‘what we can’t not know’ is known.  In the spirit of St. Paul’s remark that God has not left himself without witness among the nations, these might be called the Four Witnesses.

“First, and in one sense the most fundamental, is the witness of deep conscience — the awareness of the moral basics that has traditionally been called synderesis.  Although it can be suppressed and denied, and must be distinguished from conscious moral belief, it continues to operate even underground.

“Second is the witness of the designedness of things in general, and consequently of the Designer, which some people have called the ‘sensus divinitatis.’…..

“Third is the witness of the particulars of our own design.  An example is the complementarity of the sexes: There is something missing in the makeup of the man which can be completed only by the woman, and something missing in the makeup of the woman which can only be completed by the man.  Don’t we all really know that? I cannot be completed by my mirror image; I am made for the Other. A Christian, of course, suspects that this prepares us for intimacy with God, for whom we were also made, but who is even more Other.

“Last is the witness of natural consequences. Those who cut themselves bleed; those who abandon their children have none to stroke their browns when they are old; those who suppress their moral knowledge become even stupider that they had intended.  And so it goes.  We may think of this witness as the teacher of last resort, the one we are forced to confront when we have ignored the other three.”

There you have it

I love that third to the last sentence.  Those who suppress their moral knowledge end up stupider that they ever intended!

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
This entry was posted in Ethics and Morality. Bookmark the permalink.