More from “Christian in America”

More precisely, the virtues of human experience, intuition, and consensus may well outpace the impulse to reach for written revelation or philosophical argument in the public square.

What I want to suggest here is that Calvin’s lack of a theoretical development of natural law theory may actually be a strength rather than a weakness. If it is precisely the theoretical and rationalistic nature of many natural law arguments that make most people skeptical of them, a version of natural law that emphasizes human experience, intuition, and consensus should strike us somewhat differently. After all, in the real political debates of our day, are not these the points of common ground on which people often come together? Take abortion for instance. It is one thing to hear someone tell you that God has forbade abortion, or to hear someone offer a philosophical argument against it. It is another thing to watch an ultrasound, see the evidence that a fetus feels pain, or view pictures of tiny aborted babies. Or take marriage.  Whose argument is based on theoretical top-down reasoning and whose is based on centuries of human experience? Here too, experience, intuition, and human consensus are bastions of common sense.

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