Query:

I am relatively new to Thomism and find your blog posts helpful, but I have a question.  Does our knowledge of the natural law begin with sense data?  Is the natural law a sensible thing?  If so, by which sense?  St. Paul states that the natural law is written on the human heart.

 

 

The classical natural law tradition holds that there really are such things as exceptionless moral precepts, rules that must never be broken, lines of conduct that can never be placed in right order to the ultimate and final good.

 

A hundred thousand grains of sand is a heap.  If you take away one grain, it is still a heap.  If you take away another, it is still a heap.  Skip ahead.  If you take away all grains but one, the one remaining grain is not a heap.  When did the collection stop being a heap?

Philosophers call this kind of puzzle the sorites paradox, or the paradox of the heap.

 

There really are exceptionless rules, but we lose a lot focusing on rules to the exclusion of the corresponding virtues.

Consider two different acts:  Murdering and desecrating the body; murdering and eating the body.

 

Can someone pray if he doesn’t believe in God?  I don’t see why not.

In trouble, I might scream “Help!” even if I don’t think anyone can hear me, just on the chance that someone can.  In the same way, I might cry “God, I need you.  I don’t think you are there, but if you are, I will try to do what you ask.  Please get me out of this dark.”

 

Common sense urges that the easier it is to commit crime and the harder it is to detect it, the more crime will be committed.  Against common sense, the “fact-checkers” are out in force, chanting in unison that very little fraud is associated with mail-in voting.

How would we know?  The same things that make such fraud easy to commit also make it difficult to discover.

 

A student told me that he doubted the reality of good and right, wrong and evil, because they are “abstract” qualities.  I mention the anecdote because I hear this sort of thing often (and also for penance, because long ago I used to say things like that myself).

 

On some campuses students have demanded and won the establishment of “safe spaces” in which they don’t have to hear non-woke opinions (called “micro-aggressions”) and can calm themselves with coloring books and other childish distractions.  They don’t even have to bring their own coloring books, because college officials supply them for free.