This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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Not everything in nature is natural

One further confusion needs to be set aright, if only because it is so common. Consider the following statement: “Whatever exists, is found in nature, and is therefore natural.” This way of thinking—called “naturalism”—leads to the rejection of any morality whatsoever, because it rejects the possibility of anything being unnatural. But we must recall that the Church does not speak of “nature” simply in terms of “everything that exists.” Certainly the Church acknowledges the totality of creation as “nature,” but it considers it as a grand diversity and within the context of natural law, which takes into account the particular end toward which a being tends. Considered in this way, if an action or behavior conforms with its proper end (or its “perfection”),[1] then and only then is it natural. Thus, we can easily imagine acts which are in no way ordained to the proper end of the nature in question. For example, the sexual function and the pleasure associated with it are natural insofar as they conform to their obvious natural ends; they are unnatural when they do not. The deviant who seeks pleasure with himself alone short-circuits both the purpose of the sexual function and the pleasure associated with it. An analogous consideration can be found in the intellectual sphere: although human reasoning is performed by the “rational faculty,” no one would be naïve enough to claim that every decision produced by this faculty is therefore rational. Whether or not a decision is rational depends not on whether or not it is produced through the rational faculty, but whether or not it was produced in conformity with the laws proper to that sphere. It is entirely possible for the rational faculty to produce irrational conclusions. Returning now to the sphere of natural law, we must not lose our ability to distinguish the normal (“natural”) from the pathological (“unnatural”), simply because they both appear “in nature.”

[1] ST I-II, q. 94, a. 2.

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