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 Post subject: The law in the hearts of men
PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2017 8:36 pm 
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Can the Decalogue be found by reason alone?

If so, can the existence of a weekly recurring Sabbath be found by reason ?

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 Post subject: Re: The law in the hearts of men
PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 7:39 am 
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"May our tongues proclaim Your truth. May Your Cross be a protection for us as we let our tongues be turned into new harps and sing hymns with fiery lips"

-From the introduction to Our Father, "On the feasts of the Lord and other important feasts", Syro Malabar rite


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 Post subject: Re: The law in the hearts of men
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:46 am 
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Jack3 wrote:
Can the Decalogue be found by reason alone?

If so, can the existence of a weekly recurring Sabbath be found by reason ?

I doubt that that specific observation as such can be drawn from the Natural Law, but the virtue of religion--a natural virtue--will clearly involve its possessor in some regular observations of worship and obeisance to the Divine. Along those lines, Mircea Eliade's The Sacred and the Profane brings out the centrality of sacred time in every culture--the need to connect ourselves to the "illud tempus" wherein the world was created. God built into us this natural recognition of sacred time, and in response to the recognition he built into us, he also gave his chosen people a certain set of ways to act upon it.

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 Post subject: Re: The law in the hearts of men
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:00 pm 
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I would say that the Decalogue cannot be derived from reason alone. Not the way I understand it anyway. In the first place, while reason can demonstrate that God exists, I don't know how much further you can get that Aristotle's Prime Mover. Reason certainly suggests that God is to be worshipped, but can such be demonstrated? I don't really think that's the case simply because, even though humans are rational and so that says something about us that differentiates us from the rest of creation, I'm not sure you can get right from there to man as the image of God and so all of its implications. As such, I don't know that reason can give us the prohibition against graven images (particularly not if I'm right that the root of that prohibition is that God already has an image and so to reduce His image to something like a bull or whatever causes great confusion and is offensive to what God has actually revealed about Himself). Moreover, I understand the commandment against taking God's in vain not merely as a commandment against swearing or taking oaths but, along with the LXX, as claiming to be part of God's people (so take = receive -- don't receive the name of God) and not properly representing Him. But how can reason alone get us to how God is to be represented (more, represented as His image)? Reason certainly can't get us to the theological motivation for taking a day of rest (that God created in six days, whatever you take that to mean), and it seems obvious to me that the Sabbath is much more than just an old way of saying take care of yourself while you work. It's much more closely related, I think, to seeing God as provider, the one whom we trust to provide for our needs, that work is important but that He is the real source of blessing. Can reason alone get us that far? Suggest, yes, but prove/demonstrate. I think you need revelation for that.

Even the rest of the commandments that are more closely related to the moral law, I don't think you can get exactly there from reason alone. Yes, natural law can tell us definitively to honor our elders, not to steal, not to murder, not to covet, not to lie . . . but it seems very much to me that the Ten Commandments are not merely a list of ten things but actually, taken as a whole, tell us something greater than the sum of the parts. It's not just about being moral but about what it means to be the people of God. Can reason alone demonstrate that? I don't think so.

So I think that the moral law, to a great extent, really is a matter of general revelation. But I think that revelation has lifted, as it were, the moral law so that what is known by reason points beyond itself to what is known by revelation, to what morality is really supposed to be about.

Of course, I could be off the mark here and I don't suggest this as necessarily correct. I'd be curious how others answer your question (the pickle's answer also noted and appreciated).

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 Post subject: Re: The law in the hearts of men
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:14 pm 
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I would say that the commandment to honor the Sabbath day is not a matter of natural law, but of positive law, like most of the Mosaic law. Positive law is distinct from the natural law.

In the same way, many human laws are positive laws and are not an expression of the moral law. For example, the law in the United States that no one can consume alcohol until he is at least 21, is positive law, it could be different, it could be abolished altogether, it is not a question even of morality, but of the will of the state.


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 Post subject: Re: The law in the hearts of men
PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 10:00 am 
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Certainly, the second tablet of the law can be derived from natural reason. This is commonly held by theologians (though probably not universally held).

The first tablet of the law in the standard reckoning among Catholics consists of three commands:

"Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."
"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain."
"Thou shalt observe the Sabbath and keep it holy."

(The standard Protestant reckoning just splits the first commandment and combines the last two commandments, so it's not really wrong, but I just wanted to be clear on which convention I was observing.)

Certainly, the first and second commandments are aspects of the natural law and are therefore accessible by natural reason. Monotheism is accessible to our natural intellects unaided by grace and both of those two commandments follow from the tenets of monotheism.

Therefore, the only commandment that can even be under question is the commandment concerning the Sabbath. St. Thomas distinguishes 2 aspects of this commandment in Ia IIae, q. 100, a. 3, ad 2 (http://newadvent.org/summa/2100.htm#article3). In one respect, the commandment is a moral precept - and this is insofar as it commands us to observe the virtue of religion (which as gherkin pointed out is a natural virtue). In this sense, the commandment is accessible via natural reason. However, insofar as this commands a specific time to make sacrifice and to give worship to God, it is an aspect of positive Divine law. In other words, the choice of the day - while not arbitrary - is not essential to the moral precept of the commandment but is itself a ceremonial precept unique to the Old Covenant. [Our corresponding ceremonial precept concerns the observance of the Lord's Day on Sunday.]

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