Thursday, March 24, 2011
Thanks, Rob, for your comments on my views about natural law and the Gospel and grace. You are absolutely right: I do not reject reliance on the Gospel and grace. At the same time, I believe that reason, though manifestly fallible, and certainly weakened by sin, is itself a profound gift of God. Indeed, by virtue of our reason and freedom we enjoy a certain (limited, to be sure, but real) sharing in divine power. (I explain this point in some detail and discuss its significance in my 2007 John Dewey Lecture in Philosophy of Law at Harvard, entitled "Natural Law," available here: https://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlpp/Vol31_No1_Georgeonline.pdf.) Even apart from revelation, human beings are thus capable of understanding many very important truths, including truths about morality, justice, and human rights and dignity. As St, Paul said (Romans 2:14), there is a law "written on the hearts," even of the Gentiles who do not have the law of Moses---a law sufficient for accountability and judgment. I would add that even those who have access to revealed truth still need to exercise the power of reason. Reliance on revelation alone is insufficient, just as reliance on reason alone is inadequate. As John Paul II famously put the matter in his encyclical letter Fides et Ratio, "faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit ascends to contemplation of truth."