Friday, September 7, 2012

Revelation Trumphs Natural Law

Any religion possessing sacred scripture and/or revealed doctrine cannot simultaneously suggest that such scripture or doctrine is self-evident and subjectively experienced by all men.
I've found natural law arguments largely useless and now I know why. If you try to convince someone based on natural law of some Catholic positions, well, you have lost before you've even started.
I was actually thinking about Islam when I came up with this. Generally speaking, if you think you have revealed knowledge of God, then teaching, not violence is your first imperative. Meanwhile, if you are a bunch of secular atheists trying to remake the world in your image, well, you might just project a little when you propagandize against a people.
The Middle East is filled with a lot of people who believe in communism, fascism, and various forms of socialism- and these people tend to be violent. I haven't seen any good analysis on how these foreign ideologies effect Islam, but I suspect they are as damaging as they have been in the West. If the Middle East were decently covered, the ideologies of the perpetrators would be identified, rather than their nominal connection to the major religion in the area. A good example would be Israel, the government of which isn't really Jewish or democratic, but atheist and socialist.


Mhairi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mhairi said...

Your statements about the Middle East are so far from reality, and you lump socialism, communism and fascism together; unbelievable. My juniors and seniors (probably Republican to a man) could blow a hole the size of a bus in your argument. Sorry, but you demonstrate a real ignorance on these matters. Please, please do some reading if you're going to have a blog.

I also teach Theology, so I would be interested to read exactly why you think natural law arguments are no good. Obviously, the Pope and bishops would disagree with you, but it would be good to read your thoughts.

August said...

I am lumping socialism, communism, and fascism together because they are all foreign to Islam. They also all suffer from the knowledge problem, since they all try to do some form of centralized planning.
Finally, I am suggesting followers of these political ideologies tend to be more violent than followers of religions. The World Wars should suffice as some evidence that this is the case.

As a practical matter, arguing via natural law gives your counterpart a logical reason to ignore your argument based on his subjective feeling. You are saying this law is written on his heart. If he doesn't feel it, he doesn't feel it, and spending a many years teaching this mode of argument does nothing to help anyone.
The point of the post is that natural arguments are in a tenuous relationship with revelation. If revealed knowledge was aleady written on your heart, why did God bother with revelation? So, yet again, the person arguing by appealing to natural law is taking a weak position.
Natural law may be useful in other arenas, but it is not useful when you are having discussions with people who don't agree with you.