How far can natural law arguments take you?

31 Dec

Could it be that natural law arguments in ethics can ultimately be only about as persuasive as natural theology arguments in the philosophy of science or metaphysics? Maybe natural revelation darkened by the Fall can only take one so far without light from special revelation.  Joe Carter expresses some of my ongoing thoughts about this complicated issue:

As an evangelical who is extremely sympathetic to natural law theorizing, I’ve struggled with a question that I’ve never found anyone address: Why aren’t natural law arguments more persuasive?

We evangelicals are nothing if not pragmatic. If we were able to recognize the utility and effectiveness of such arguments, we’d likely to be much more open to natural law theory. But conclusions based on natural law don’t seem to be all that useful in compelling those who are unconvinced. Indeed, not only do they not seem to change the minds of non-believers, they often fail to sway believers. For instance, nominal Catholics, a group that should (at least theoretically) give them a fair hearing, don’t seem to take such arguments all that seriously. Why is that?

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