Natural Law help

From what I understand of Natural Law, a person can realize truth by observing nature. But nature does not follow the morality due to humans at times. How are these rebutted?

Let me give an example.

I have an aquarium. The fish have baby fish; however, all the fish including the mother will eat the young. I understand they are animals, but animals come from nature and are cannibals.

I hope you understand my question.


Is your question asking why humans are different from animals in that some laws of nature are immoral to us?

If so, it’s because we have a permanent soul, while animals, arguably, do not. Also, God gave us the ability to reason, Which he did no necessarily give to animals.

As humans have several laws according to countries, races and customs, animals too. It is a rule that the lion eats the zebra but you never see a zebra eating a lion.

Some animals are cannibals when there are too few resources. Even humans do it. Are you sure your fish are well fed and are not hungry?

It’s a problem with how you define the law. The fish cannibalize in an aquarium because in real life a lake that crowded would all starve, so they eat the young to save the whole group. The natural law they are following is “thou shalt preserve the species”, and we follow it too, just not in the same way. But for us we also have the natural law “individuals of thy species are in the image of God and have intrinsic value” so when we preserve our species we can’t resort to killing our children (the U.S. Supreme Court notwithstanding LOL). But in the end natural law has to do with the nature of the thing the law is about. Different creatures have different natures, so they will look like they have different laws at first because how they carry out those laws will look different.


I believe where the confusion is coming in, is that you are thinking that when the term “natural law” is used it refers to things we see out in nature. This is not what this term means. If one does not understand what the term “natural law” means and how it is used in the Church, then one will be confused.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church which Blessed Pope John Paul II said that “it is a sure norm for teaching the Catholic Faith.”

#1954 Man participates in the wisdom and goodness of the Creator who gives him mastery over his acts and the ability to govern himself with a view to the true and the good. The natural law expresses the original moral sense which enables man to discern by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie:

[quote]The natural law is written and engraved on the soul of each and every man, because it is human reason ordaining him to do good and forbidding him to sin . . . But this command of human reason would not have the force of law if it were not the voice and interpreter of a higher reason to which our spirit and our freedom must be submitted.


#1955 The “divine and natural” law shows man the way to follow so as to practice the good and attain his end. The natural law states the first and essential precepts which govern the moral life. It hinges upon the desire for God and submission to him, who is the source and judge of all that is good, as well as upon the sense that the other is one’s equal. Its principal precepts are expressed in the Decalogue. This law is called “natural,” not in reference to the nature of irrational beings, but because reason which decrees it properly belongs to human nature:

[quote]Where then are these rules written, if not in the book of that light we call the truth? In it is written every just law; from it the law passes into the heart of the man who does justice, not that it migrates into it, but that it places its imprint on it, like a seal on a ring that passes onto wax, without leaving the ring.

The natural law is nothing other than the light of understanding placed in us by God; through it we know what we must do and what we must avoid. God has given this light or law at the creation.


#1956 The natural law, present in the heart of each man and established by reason, is universal in its precepts and its authority extends to all men. It expresses the dignity of the person and determines the basis for his fundamental rights and duties:

[quote]For there is a true law: right reason. It is in conformity with nature, is diffused among all men, and is immutable and eternal; its orders summon to duty; its prohibitions turn away from offense … To replace it with a contrary law is a sacrilege; failure to apply even one of its provisions is forbidden; no one can abrogate it entirely.


#1957 Application of the natural law varies greatly; it can demand reflection that takes account of various conditions of life according to places, times, and circumstances. Nevertheless, in the diversity of cultures, the natural law remains as a rule that binds men among themselves and imposes on them, beyond the inevitable differences, common principles.

#1958 The natural law is immutable and permanent throughout the variations of history; it subsists under the flux of ideas and customs and supports their progress. The rules that express it remain substantially valid. Even when it is rejected in its very principles, it cannot be destroyed or removed from the heart of man. It always rises again in the life of individuals and societies:

[quote]Theft is surely punished by your law, O Lord, and by the law that is written in the human heart, the law that iniquity itself does not efface.


#1959 The natural law, the Creator’s very good work, provides the solid foundation on which man can build the structure of moral rules to guide his choices. It also provides the indispensable moral foundation for building the human community. Finally, it provides the necessary basis for the civil law with which it is connected, whether by a reflection that draws conclusions from its principles, or by additions of a positive and juridical nature.

#1960 The precepts of natural law are not perceived by everyone clearly and immediately. In the present situation sinful man needs grace and revelation so moral and religious truths may be known “by everyone with facility, with firm certainty and with no admixture of error.” The natural law provides revealed law and grace with a foundation prepared by God and in accordance with the work of the Spirit.

God bless.

The presence of an ample supply of food to the aquarium doesn’t seem to be enough to guarantee that the little fish don’t get eaten. I’ve seen it happen :frowning:

Well, I surrender.
Thanks for the info.
Well, they have good taste, I like fish too.

Well, to know anything about nature you have to know what a “unique experiment” is. I tried looking up stuff on the internet about this but it is all garbage. We are going to have to really dig in to know this. But these kinds of experiments are critical for epistemology. You can’t know anything without them. Too bad not many people today know what they are. Well, if you want something fun to do, here’s a project for you, ok. Let me know if you are interested.

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