http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saint_Thomas_Aquinas.jpg

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saint_Thomas_Aquinas.jpg

Faced with the prospect that Illinois will become the next state to legalize same-sex marriage, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago is bringing out the big Catholic rhetorical gun: Natural Law. It needs to be spiked.

“Marriage comes to us from nature,” His Eminence told Chicago Tribune religion reporter Manya Brachear over a cup of tea. “That’s based on the complementarity of the two sexes in such a way that the love of a man and a woman joined in a marital union is open to life, and that’s how families are created and society goes along. … It’s not in our doctrine. It’s not a matter of faith. It’s a matter of reason and understanding the way nature operates.”

“The State,” he wrote in a letter to all the priests in his archdiocese, “has no power to create something that nature itself tells us is impossible.”

The purpose of such an appeal to Natural Law is simply to claim a rational, i.e. secular, basis for supporting or opposing a societal practice that the Church happens to support or oppose. Rationalistic theologians like the 13th-century Dominican Thomas Aquinas, building on the work of ancient Greek philosophy, contend that God has embedded moral truths in nature and that all people can discern them by the light of reason alone.

Among other things, Aquinas used Natural Law to justify burning heretics at the stake. The first-century Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria went so far as to claim that Abraham the Patriarch obeyed God’s commandments “not having been taught to do so by written books, but in accordance with the unwritten law of his nature.”

In a society like ours, where appeals to religious doctrine per se have no standing in civil law, it’s super to be able to claim that your religious positions are actually built into the nature of things. The trouble is that Natural Law arguments can and have been used to rationalize many sides of a moral question: slavery and anti-slavery; the subordination of women to men and women’s equality; the segregation and desegregation of the races, you name it.

On New Year’s Day, Pope Benedict criticized “an unregulated financial capitalism” for causing “tension and conflicts” at odds with “the duty and right to an integral social and communitarian development, which is part of God’s plan for mankind.” And yet there are good libertarians who reason that Natural Law is all in favor of unfettered capitalism.

When it comes to marriage, you could argue that Natural Law favors men having as many “wives” as possible, even as it favors women picking the best guy they can find every nine months or so. The sociobiologists, who might have a better line on Nature than Cardinal George, sometimes make out a case along those lines. And there’s sufficient same-sex genital behavior in the animal kingdom for them to claim that Natural Law prescribes a certain amount of homoeroticism as well.

Of course, Cardinal George is no more likely to accept the reasoning of the sociobiologists than Pope Benedict is likely to accept the reasoning of (sorry,  Rep. Ryan) Ayn Rand. Their positions on same-sex marriage and unfettered capitalism are fixed–doctrinal, you might say.

Appealing to Natural Law is, as it always has been, about the rationalization of societal values that the appellant holds for reasons that have little or nothing to do with reason. When you hear Natural Law being used to justify some public policy or other, there’s no reason to take it seriously.

Categories: Beliefs, Ethics

Mark Silk

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service

42 Comments

  1. when someone refers to equality and takes it for granted that any and all desires have no meaningful impact on anything, there’s no reason to take them seriouslyyyyyy

  2. You seem to feel that you have “spiked” Natural Law simply by citing instances when it was used to argue for reprehensible acts such as burning heretics, taking slaves or oppressing women. However, misuse does not discredit anything. After all, Nazis did scientific experiments on humans during the Holocaust, but this did not discredit science.

    Atheists like to insist that people do not need to believe in God in order to be moral. I agree with them. However, in order for that to be true, there has to be some non-theistic, secular basis for a moral system. The development of that system has been the endeavor of Natural Law. As you mention, it has a very long history, reaching back before the advent of Christianity to the beginnings of Greek philosophy.

    If there is no non-religious basis for moral decisions, (and certainly science cannot provide it), then the result is oppression as raw power makes the decisions.

    You may not agree with the Cardinal’s opinions, but on what basis do you argue against his moral position?

  3. You can’t deduce ought from is: even if we could agree upon which states of affairs are “natural” it doesn’t follow that we ought to promote them. Nature is red in tooth and claw–sickness, starvation and death are all natural. We’ve spent millennia fighting a just war against Nature–beginning which such things as clothing and agriculture.

    Of course the Catholic Church has a revisionary notion of the natural such that clothes, agriculture, medicine and technology aren’t “unnatural” but homosexuality is–and disease, starvation, drudgery and violence aren’t “natural” but sex roles are.

    On what basis does one argue against the Cardinal’s position. I suggest you try Rawls’ account of how one arrives at a “reflective equilibrium” as a basis for theory construction in ethics.

  4. H. E. Baber: It sounds like you don’t understand what Natural Law is about. Also, I was asking Mr. Silk what his basis of morality was. Is it John Rawls’ Theory of Justice? If so, while Rawls has been influential, his theories have hardly been universally accepted. They have received criticism from Marxists, feminists, libertarians and more. he would have to persuade the Cardinal and a lot of other people that Rawlsian theories were superior. Good luck. The point of Natural Law is it takes as its starting point moral precepts that have been universally accepted by all societies at all times. The problem with Rawls theories is that they can lead to conclusions that violate basic human moral sensibilities. To give you a simple example from utilitarianism (I don’t have a Rawlsian example at my fingertips), the principle states that what is moral is what gives the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people. Now, it could be that killing a particilarly annoying but innocent person would give the majority of people a lot of happiness. However, this is unacceptable as it violates a primary moral intuition that it is wrong to kill innocent people.

    • (1) I am not talking about Rawls’ Theory of Justice as a doctrinal package but about his notion of reflective equilibrium http://home.sandiego.edu/~baber/logic/ethics.html as a rational procedure for arriving at moral principles.

      (2) The moral principles you want to defend have not been universally accepted. Amongst the ancient Greeks male bisexuality was the norm–at least for high status males. And, check the Bible, polygamy was the standard practice amongst the ancient Hebrews for guys who could afford it.

      (3) “Natural law” accounts rely upon questionable metaphysical notions that are far from universally accepted.

  5. All right. Rawls’ reflective equilibrium. Is this what Mr. Rice is basing his moral judgments on? In any event, this is just one philosopher’s suggestion, clever, but subject to a lot of criticism. Again, not at all universally accepted.
    It still sounds like you don’t know much about Natural Law. I suggest that you do a little studying. As I said the starting point of Natural Law is moral precepts that have been accepted by all societies at all times. These constitute what is considered the core. Then, natural law builds from there. Some examples of core precepts are the wrong of killing innocent persons, the duty to raise one’s children. Neither polygamy nor monogamy is a part of the core, but marriage is. Even in polygamous societies, marriage is recognized universally as between one man and one woman, even if the man goes on to contract other marriages to other women without divorcing the previous one. At no time is a marriage contracted between one man and many women at the same time. Again, I suggest that you look into Natural Law if for no other reason than to find out what you are against.

  6. Just to finish up. You’re right that sexual relationships between men and boys was admired by the ancient Greeks; in fact, when Plato recounts one of his Socratic dialogues about love, it is just such love that they are discussing. However, at no time would the Greeks have thought of these relationships as marriages; in fact, they would have thought of such a notion as absurd.

    And you’re wrong to state that Natural Law relies on metaphysical notions. In fact, its basis is simply human observation of societies across time and cultures, starting from the very early Greeks such as Heroditus. Natural Law has metaphysical implications but does not rely on them. Hence, it has for centuries been seen as a good basis for dialogue about morality between cultures.

    • In the discussion between H.E. Barber and L. Rogers, I think academic background is important. Put downs, such as “you don’t seem to know about Natural Law,” etc are not helpful rational arguments–or charitable–the more so if L. Rogers has not bothered to check Barber’s credentials. Barber is a professor of Philosophy, Metaphysics no less. So, even though there is a possibility that Barber’s position is erroneous, one can hardly say that Barber does not know what Natural Law is. And, this is the crux of the problem: despite that Natural Law is instilled in our hearts or minds (I believe it), simple observation would tell us that it is not easily apprehended even among highly rational beings. Today, one will find Catholic prelates and lay professors arguing both sides of the question on everything from gay marriage to war to the pill. Further, it is easily observed that many good-will and well-intentioned people behave differently citing their own conception of what right and wrong is based on Natural Law. All that Barber is saying is that “matter of fact” moral positions based on Natural Law are not that “matter of fact” and ought to be questioned. As a matter of fact–no pun intended–if Natural Law is based on observation it should be put to an empirical examination.

  7. Natural Law will become a meaningful concept once proponents recognize that nature is a statistical continuum rather than, as classicists contend, an absolute.

  8. Ricardo Planas: Whatever Barber’s credentials, his comments did not reflect the least knowledge of Natural Law. My statement is not meant as a put-down but simply a statement of fact. In discussionis such as this, arguments stand on their own merits. Arguments do not have PhDs therefore for these purposes it is irrelevant what Barber’s credentials are.

    • L. Rogers. I beg to differ, credentials matter, although perhaps not absolutely. You would not want to spend much time arguing with a medical doctor about the structural stability of a building; instead, you would want to talk with an engineer or an architect. But if I understand your point, you seem to be saying that only those who espouse your point of view on Natural Law would seem to understand and know about Natural Law. If that is your view, there is a logical fallacy somewhere in the argument. And, again, based on what you said–that Natural Law is based on observation–this means that it can be subjected to empirical (scientific) testing. Such testing will likely show how divided the assumed universality of Natural Law is. I wish it wouldn’t be, as humanity might be more humane and behave more ethical if we all understood that in morals as in arithmetic 2+2=4. However, and sadly, that is not the case. Take a look at the American bishops, they are divided on how they should address the issue of human poverty!!!

  9. Speaking of fallacies, I believe the appeal to authority is a classic one. Just because people have credentials doesn’t mean their arguments are more valid on that basis alone. That was my point. Arguments stand on their own merits; it doesn’t matter who presents them.

    And, another fallacy is the ad hominem argument which I believe you are employing by implying that my position is that only people who agree with me understand Natural Law.

    Yes, Natural Law’s core precepts can be studied and verified by anthropologists, historians, etc. … and they have been. That’s what gives them their authority.

  10. L. Rogers. Very well, let’s leave it here, at least on my part. As I said, appeal to authority is, indeed, important, although not absolutely. It would be a fallacy if authority were the only element in the discussion. As it is, it needs to be one of them, not the only one. Nonetheless, while you seem to reject appeal to authority, in your own exchanges with Barber, you assert on three occasions, “you don’t know much about Natural Law. I suggest that you do a little studying.” So, authority is important to you; you cannot have it both ways.
    Regarding your view that I am employing an ad hominem argument, nothing can be further from my intention, which is why I couched my statement, “if this is what you’re saying, then you seem to be implying x,y,z.” In no way am I questioning your integrity or debasing you as a person.
    Finally, you never addressed my points: Natural Law is not easily apprehended even by intelligent, well-intentioned people. Natural Law carries authority, but its authority is vastly limited; observation would tell us that much. And again, look at the American bishops, they cannot easily figure out what Natural Law says about the core of the Christian precept and the Beatitudes. So much for authority.

  11. It would seem that a permanent commitment to another person would be healthier and more “natural” for human beings than to live a life of non-commitment. For Cardinal G to think otherwise is not helpful–like so many recent churchmen, it might be sex that he finds repugnant (or is obsessed with). I have often thought that the stereotype of gay men, particularly young ones, as promiscuous, pleasure seeking creatures may fit some of them, but wouldn’t it be better for these young men to grow up with the expectation that they aim for marriage (civil–not necessarily sacramental marriage) to be more “natural” and better for society as a whole? Marriage isn’t about sex, actually, it should be about building a home with love, peace and harmony. A hard bargain for a little bit of sex, not easily achieved as witnessed by our high divorce rates!

  12. What these religious seem to not accept is that Nature is what determines a person’s sexuality – what’s more Natural than that? Many Catholic priests find refuge from their sexuality (gayness) by being ordained. I sure hope we don’t have to endure a letter from the Pope during this Sunday’s mass because I will feel bad for the gay couples who have the courage to come to Mass every Sunday at my parish and worship their God in the way they see fit. This is why my children and the children of the generation before that find the Catholic church hypcritical and run as fast as they can away from it.

  13. Mark Silk

    This has been an interesting and useful discussion, and I want to thank all of the above for participating. To answer L. Rogers’ direct question about my own basis for morality, I’d associate my approach with Rawls’ notion of reflective equilibrium, as Harriet Baber suggests. My sense is that some moral positions–say, on the death penalty–have involve a good deal more active reflection than others (not stealing items from the convenience store). It does seem to me that a belief in Natural Law based on universal human norms is problematic for two important reasons. First, it subordinates morality to counter-examples. There are, for example, traditional human societies that practiced exposure of female infants–thereby violating Rogers’ claim that the protection of innocent human life is universal. In addition, the belief that morality is built into the natural order is a a priori–empirically indemonstrable. That’s to say, it’s religious. But leaving these objections aside, it’s a form of bait-and-switch for religious leaders to cite natural law as the basis for their position, and then refuse to be open to rational, empirically based arguments that they may be mistaken.

  14. Mr. Silk: Thank you for answering my question. Regarding counter-examples in Natural Law, this has been dealt with extensively over the centuries. Exposing babies is certainly an example of people giving themselves an “out” from the basic moral precept which in fact was still operative in their society. Their “out” was that they decided that these babies were not their children. Yet, as many scholars have observed, societies that routinely expose babies have shown their anxiety about this practice by the numerous myths and stories about exposed babies being picked up and raised by compassionate shepherds (Oedipus is an example) plus other evidence. From time to time, anthropologists claim to have found tribes which depart from these basic precepts, for example Colin Trumbull’s 1972 study of the Ik tribe, but it turned out later that Trumbull’s study was flawed. Another example is Margaret Meade’s “Coming of Age in Somoa” which turned out also to be flawed.
    As for Natural Law being religiously based, I would only point out that its beginnings and early development were in Greek philosophy. Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics and later, the Roman, Cicero, were neither Christian nor Jewish and ethics were not a prominent part of pagan religion at all.
    I agree that this issue should be decided by reason and evidence, but you seem to claim this for your side only. This is a very emotional issue and many people have trouble dealing with studies and evidence that do not support their opinion. Witness the extreme reaction to Mark Regerus’ family structure study or Robert Oscar Lopez’ account of growing up with two lesbian parents.
    Thank you all for this discussion. It’s a very difficult, emotional topic. I encourage all to have respect for all sides.

  15. As a theologian who graduated from an institution bearing his name, I knew St. Thomas Aquinas didn’t use Natural Law to justify burning heretics. Still, I wasn’t surprised someone might claim it. But I was surprised when I clicked on the link you offer as evidence. The first sentence of the 2nd paragraph reads: “Burning heretics at the stake is not justified in Aquinas by appeal to natural law…”
    Your article offers evidence for claims that actually contradicts the very point you make. I know that blogs don’t have to be journalistically neutral but most people expect them to be honest.

    Also referencing the homo-erotic behavior of some animals only reveals that you have no understanding about the philosophy of Natural Law, which is not based upon simplistic observations of animal psychology.

    If you’re going to mock the oldest intellectual tradition in the western world and a most saintly man, you might try a little hard to understand either the Catholic Church or Cardinal George.

  16. Mark Silk

    L., My claim was not that a belief in Natural Law is specific to any particular religion or religious tradition, but that it is in itself religious, i.e. based on an unproven and unprovable conception of the nature of things.

    My mistake, Daniel. I should have written that Aquinas held that slavery was not inconsistent with Natural Law–a position that would elicit disagreement from Natural Law philosophers today.

  17. Actually my comment was that Aquinas never used Natural Law to justify burning heretics. He didn’t and even evidence you site unambiguously contradicts your claim.

    But since you brought it up. When it comes to slavery, treating another person like property *is* contrary to Natural law. But the legal arrangement of slavery can go either way. Often a rich man’s slave had a pretty good life. This is why Aquinas holds it is not inconsistent with Natural Law. His writings were making technical definitions. They didn’t make excuses for the institution of slavery.

    So of course I’d take issue when in false and misleading ways you associate the Catholic Church’s most famous spokesman with burning heretics and slavery.

  18. I should comment that I don’t mean for my comments to offend. Provocative is the aim, but sometimes I hit the snarky target. Also, I should apologizing for saying you have no knowledge of NL, it’s just that your article doesn’t show it. But let me say something about your comments on the subject.

    Presuming the universe has no purpose or creator is one philosophical view and presuming the opposite is another. But neither is actually religious. So, Natural Law’s view that the universe has a design and this reveals the intention of the one who created it, is not a religious belief. It’s just a reasonable perspective about the ordering of the world.

    Second, your claim that it’s positions are un-provable is likewise not the case.
    When it comes to marriage, Natural law ‘s positions are easily demonstrated. A stable permanent partnership between a man and a women, which brings new members into the world is what creates stable societies. They exist because of those unions, something that can’t be said even of permanent partnerships of two men or two women. To treat it and traditional marriage as the same thing is, if nothing else, illogical.

    A society based on polygamy or polyandry excludes large portions of either gender from marriage and creates it own set of dysfunctions. A society of marriage and divorce and remarriage is obviously not ideal. And a society of homosexual marriages is unable to perpetuate itself. The design of human society reveals what marriage is support to be.
    And this isn’t a religious principle pretending to be philosophy. It has nothing to do with making the creator mad if you violate its “Natural” Law. Rather NL claims that the world works best when you use it the way it was designed.

    To give an analogy, one can in fact use a Rolls Royce to go off the road joy riding. It will function bouncing on rocky terrain, but it’s not made for it and it’s not good for vehicle. The same is true about Natural Law’s position on Same Sex Marriage.

  19. Mr. Silk: Thank you for your response. However, you keep insisting that Natural Law is religious in itself. On what basis do you make this claim? As I’ve said numerous times, Natural Law takes as its starting point observation of human behavior across time and across cultures, pure and simple. Sounds scientific, doesn’t it? It definitely has metaphysical implications but does not force them.

    Daniel: Good catch.

  20. “Natural Law” isn’t religious–it just isn’t rational or evidence-based. I don’t think that we should characterize what isn’t rational or evidence-based as religious–I think better as religion. We should, rather, characterize it as stupid, superstitious bullshit. So, do you prefer that characterization?

  21. H. E. Baber: Ricardo Planas says you’re a professor of philosophy. Is your last comment an example of how you conduct your classes? Is this your idea of philosophical argument? Just insults? Mr. Rice says that your side of the dispute is the side of reason and evidence. I only wish that were so.
    Again, I realize what an emotional topic this is and I’m sorry you’re upset.

  22. One last thing: I had the time to read carefully H. E. Baber’s linked description of “reflective equilibrium.” It turns out that it starts with clear moral “intuitions” and builds from there. Here’s a quote: “Ethical issues are controversial, but that doesn’t mean we can’t reason about them. One way of understanding moral reasoning is as a back-and-forth process where we consider our feelings or moral “intuitions” in clear cases, try to formulate general principles on the basis of these intuitions, and then test our principles further cases until we reach a “reflective equilibrium.”

    This is what Natural Law is. You start with basic moral intuitions shared by all humanity, based on observation of all cultures across all time. Then, you reason from there.

    Mr. Rice, do you realize that you believe in Natural Law?

  23. Mark Silk

    I didn’t say that Natural Law is religious but rather that a belief in it is. Of course, we all have moral intuitions. What I think is religious is the belief that all humanity shares the same basic ones–especially when all evidence to the contrary is explained away.

  24. Is it really useful to characterize this commitment as “religious” rather than just “non-evidence based”? Or just plain contrary to the empirical facts? I suppose what irks me here is the implicit assumption that religion is by its nature non-evidence-based or contrary to empirical facts. That’s neither necessary nor sufficient. Not necessary I think because some religious claims at least purport to be evidence-based, or supported by argument, e.g. classic arguments for the existence of God. Not sufficient because people hold a great many non-evidence-based, contrary to empirical fact views that we wouldn’t call religious, e.g. beliefs about the benefits of alternative medicine, conspiracy theories, etc. Why call the admittedly non-evidence-based assumption that all humanity shares the same basic moral intuitions “religious”? Why is that doctrine any more religious than, e.g. the belief that vaccinations cause autism or that chiropractic is a legitimate science?

  25. Mark Silk

    I take the point: not all empirically undemonstrated or indemonstrable belief should count as religion. But belief in Natural Law does seem to me to be something of special case–at least when it is used by (for example) Catholic bishops as the basis for doctrinal positions of the Church. Perhaps it would be better to characterize this as the Dogmatic Belief in Natural Law.

  26. I can see the point, since Natural Law, as I understand it is bound up with Aristotelian metaphysics–about natural kinds and natural ends–picked up by the RC Church via Aquinas. But there are in fact writers who’re sympathetic to Aristotle’s ethics on non-religious grounds, and in an extended sense, to Natural Law. I suppose Martha Nussbaum would be one. Why “Dogmatic Belief in Natural Law” rather than just a controversial ethical theory–in particular a version of the theory that few reflective people find plausible.

  27. Mark Silk

    I guess I’d put it this way: “Dogmatic Belief in Natural Law” because “Natural Law” is used by the Church as a means of establishing dogmatic positions not established via Revelation, and employed as a means of justifying its advocacy of such positions in a secular state.

  28. I’d like to quote the American anthropologist and ethnologist, John M. Cooper, who wrote in 1931: “The peoples of the world, however much they differ as to details of morality, hold universally, or with practical universality, to at least the following basic precepts. Respect for the supreme being or benevolent being or beings … Do not “blaspheme.” Care for your children. Malicious murder or maiming, stealing, deliberate slander or “black” lying, when committed against friend or unoffending fellow tribesman or clansman, are reprehesible. Adultery proper is wrong, even though there be exceptional circumstances that permit or enjoin it and even though sexual relations among the unmarried may be viewed leniently. Incest is a heinous offense.” In other words, there is plenty of evidence for the universality first of all of the sense that there is a moral code and secondly that basic precepts are known to all. This is recognized in Chinese tradition as an aspect of the Tao, in Hinduism as the dharma or rita, in the Talmud as the Noahide Code, etc.

  29. Mark Silk

    Even assuming you’re right, L., why privilege those ancient codes over, say, modern codes that legalize abortion, same-sex marriage, etc.? Universal is universal, no? That aside, I’ve always thought that the deepest Christian intuition concerned sin. If human nature is by definition (since Eden) sinful, why should we expect to be able to read universal human norms out of the huge variety of human societies and culture?

  30. Good discussion and now I’ve gotten intrigued. Politically the RC bishops are on the horns of a dilemma. Suppose they say Natural Law ethics is a specifically religious theory to which Catholics in particular are committed. Then they can’t appeal to it in defense of public policy: that would be like fundamentalists citing Genesis to promote the teaching of “creationism” in public schools. But if they claim that it isn’t specifically religious then they have to give some reason why we should accept this theory and, in particular, the interpretation according to which gay marriage would violate natural law. But to make the case that policy should be based on Natural Law ethics they would need to show that it was the generally accepted theory, backed by the preponderance of expert opinion. And it isn’t by a long shot.

    There are lots of ethicists. Most don’t buy any version of Natural Law theory, and of those that are into something like it–”Virtue Ethics” or some Aristotelian thing–I can’t think of anyone who buys the “unnaturalness” argument against gay marriage besides conservative Roman Catholics or other religious conservatives. This version of Natural Law is only on the table at all because of special pleading by religious conservatives–who claim that it’s not specifically religious.

  31. Mr. Silk: Thank you for your response. Why privilege “ancient” codes? The fact that these precepts are universal cross-culturally and over thousands of years is very good evidence that they are part of the deep structures of the human mind in the same way that the capacity for language is. Therefore, they don’t go away just by labeling them out-of-date or antiquated. Anyone truly concerned with human flourishing would not ignore them but it is a modern conceit that human nature is infinitely malleable and that we can remake ourselves anyway we want, starting from scratch.
    According to Natural Law, there is really only one moral code and “new moralities” are really just distortions of the one. “New moralities” usually depend for their validity on promoting one precept of the Natural Law which every human being resonates with, but they use that to justify violating another precept. As an example, in the Nazi death camps, the German troops were told they were protecting the purity of their race and promoting the flourishing of their people (a natural good) by murdering millions of innocent human beings. In order to make it psychologically possible for these men and women to carry out their horrific tasks, they were told that Jews and others were inferior beings, maggots, infecting the society, etc. One journalist asked a concentration camp commander why, if they were going to kill all these people anyway, was it necessary to humiliate them and treat them like cattle. The commander replied that it was necessary in order to enable the executioners psychologically to do their jobs. Despite all this brainwashing, Nazi psychiatrists reported that these men and women still suffered from severe PTSD.
    Regarding the issues you list, in every case, the same technique is used. For example in the case of abortion, the natural good of respecting an individual’s physical integrity is used to justify violating the precept to protect and nurture one’s children. In order to help make it possible psychologically for women to abort, the baby in their womb is labeled “fetus” and “blood clot” etc. It’s why the pro choice crowd is against women having sonograms before making their final decision to abort; sonograms tend to show fully formed, if small, babies doing typically baby activities such as sucking their thumbs. This is also why after more than 40 years of pro-choice propaganda and a virtual black-out of pro-life messages in the mainstream media and entertainment, the American public is still very skeptical about abortion, with large percentages still identifying themselves as pro-life and many more wanting restrictions on abortion. I hope this is clear.

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  1. [...] Among other things, Aquinas used Natural Law to justify burning heretics at the stake. The first-century Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria went so far as to claim that Abraham the Patriarch obeyed God’s commandments “not having been taught to do so by written books, but in accordance with the unwritten law of his nature.” [More] [...]

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