As some of the panelists indicated, one of [J.] Budziszewski's main ideas is to oppose what he calls "the Second Table Project." It is said that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai Ten Commandments on two tablets of stone. Traditionally, the first four commandments are identified as the first tablet or table, and they concern the worship of God; the last six commandments (beginning with honoring father and mother) are identified as the second table, and they concern moral laws. Some Christians (Roger Williams, for example) have seen here a separation of Church and State, in that the Church enforces the first table of theological law, while the State enforces only the second table of moral law. The first table requires religious faith. But the second table can be known by natural reason. The first table corresponds to divine law that can be known only by those who are believers in the Bible as divine revelation. The second table corresponds to natural law that can be known by all human beings, even those who are not biblical believers, because it depends on natural human experience. The second table can stand on its own natural ground without any necessary dependence on the supernatural. But this is exactly what Budziszewski denies, because, he insists, there cannot be a natural law if there is no divine lawgiver.In the title of my post I used the term "weakness of fideism." Admittedly, it's only a weakness if we understand the Bible's apparent sanction of slavery to be problematic.
A third example of natural law correcting the Bible is recognizing the wrongness of the Bible's endorsement of slavery. While the Bible sanctions slavery (see my post here, which includes links to other posts), Budziszewski knows by natural law that this is wrong, and therefore he looks for some way to correct the Bible to conform to his natural moral knowledge that slavery is wrong. He writes: "Consider how many centuries it took natural law thinkers even in the Christian tradition to work out the implications of the brotherhood of master and slave. At least they did eventually. Outside of the biblical orbit, no one ever did--not spontaneously" (The Line Through the Heart, 36). The explicit teaching of the Bible is that the "brotherhood of master and slave" is consistent with preserving slavery as a moral good, and this was the understanding of many Christians in the American South before the Civil War. But Budziszewski rightly judges that Christians had to correct the Bible by seeing that human brotherhood demands the abolition of slavery as a great moral wrong.
Tuesday, November 01, 2016
Arnhart on Natural Law, Darwin and Weakness of Fideism
See here from Larry Arnhart. A taste: