Natural moral law
Beginning with the ancient Greek philosophers continuing to the present day, in spite of society changes, those who accept natural law argue that all problems about defining good can be resolved by discovering what is natural.
The basis of natural law is that there is an objectively ideal way to be human and that it is by this ideal that we measure our humanity.
Aquinas believed that everything has a purpose to which they work, this view was greatly influenced by Aristotle. The purpose can be understood through nature and the bible, which reveals the purpose that God created man. In this world humans are free but not lawless, because they live within an ordered universe, and the rules for human conduct are laid down within human nature itself.
Aquinas maintained that:
- The universe was created by God so that everything has a design and a purpose
- This could be understood through an examination of the natural world and a study of the bible
- Humanity was given reason and freedom to choose to follow good, which fulfils God's purpose for them
- He called this natural moral law- the rational understanding and following of God's final purpose
Natural moral law is available to all, since everyone with some reasoning capacity can see that the universe works according to certain patterns and rules that do not change. Aquinas said that there is a natural moral law which human beings are naturally inclined to, that is:
- accessible through the natural order
- for all time
- relevant to all circumstances
- given by God.
All human beings can percieve the natural law, but only believers in God acknowledge that it has implications for them beyond the grave.
Natural law also draws inspiration from the bible, Paul, in Romans 1-3, argues that the moral law of God is evident from the nature of man and the world: 'Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly percieved in the things that have been made'. Paul maintains that, since the natural moral law is so clearly evident in the universe, there is no excuse for sinful men to do wrong. in Matthew 19:3-9, Jesus observes that the divorce law in the Torah is a concession to man's sinful nature and not what God had originally intended in the order of creation: 'For your hardness of heart, Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so'. hence, natural moral knowledge should make it clear that divorce is wrong.
Purposes of human life
The principles of natural law depend on establishing the primary purposes of human life, which are:
- Worship God
- Order society
All things must operate in accordance with these principles to which man is naturally inclined.
Secondary precepts are rules which direct people towards actions which uphold these primary purposes and away from actions that undermine them. Natural moral law identifies two…