Importance of Truth (Part 2)

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The question that is still being debated is what has caused the climate change that we are now experiencing?

One theory is that it is part of a long-term cycle in the climate of the planet. Over the centuries the climate varies and shifts, so that what is now desert was once a lush forest and later vast grasslands.  What was once under water is now a mountain top. What was once a tropical forest is now a polar ice cap. The Earth is living and dynamic. Over time it changes and what we are currently experiencing is simply part of this long-term cycle.

Another theory is that while the planet is dynamic, and no doubt long term cycles play a role in climate change, there have been dramatic changes in the chemical composition of the Earth’s environment that have had a significant impact on the biosphere. These changes have set off a chain reaction that have caused mean temperatures to rise a few degrees, which is enough to disrupt the biosphere. The result is the hurricanes, melting polar ice caps, mass extinction of species, rising sea levels and gross damage to the environment which is seen as the precipitating factor for the climate change, we are experiencing.

The first theory suggests that there is relatively little that we can do to address a changing environment, as it is the result of broad environmental dynamics over thousands of years and over which we have little control.  The second theory suggests that the current climate change related events are largely the result of human action and we can do a great deal to mitigate the damage to the environment by changing our behavior. The scientific community largely supports the second theory by something like 20 to 1. Much of the available research on climate change is consistent with the second theory, which explains why so many scientists support this understanding of climate change.

Further, the consequence of the first theory is to sit back and continue as usual, since there is little that we can do against a broad environmental trend. The consequence of the second theory is that we act to mitigate the damage that we are doing to the environment, if we are to survive.

Truth has the quality of a “law”.  That is, it describes how things work, how they must work.  The law of gravity tells us that objects will be attracted to other objects with a larger mass.  You throw a ball into the air and it will go up until the energy you put in the ball is expended. Once that energy is spent, the massive gravity of the planet Earth will take over and pull the ball to the ground. The ball will not keep going into outer space, unless the velocity of the ball reaches approximately 25,000 miles per hour, which is the velocity needed to overcome the pull of Earth’s gravity. These constraints are imposed by the law of gravity and are its natural consequences. These constraints can vary depending on the relative mass of the objects but that variance will be consistent with the law of gravity. The law of gravity and similar constraints found in the physical universe are known as the laws of nature.

In addition to the laws of nature, the Church has long understood that there is such a thing as “natural law”, which is different from the laws of nature.  The laws of nature deal with how nature works. This includes everything in nature from the movement of the stars to the mechanics of DNA and the dynamics of human behavior.

Natural law deals with how humans ought to act.  It deals with the distinctions between right and wrong.  It deals with morality. Natural law assumes the existence of God and that God is the ultimate source of all creation. God created everything in the universe to serve some purpose. That purpose reflects God’s will. If the purpose of something reflects God’s  will, then acting in a manner consistent with the purpose of something we are using is acting in accordance with God’s will.  As beings created by God, part of our purpose is to do God’s will. When we do God’s will, we are acting as we ought to act. In a sense, we are acting in accordance with natural law.

So, for example, the laws of nature tell us that sexual activity serves several purposes. It is the primary means by which procreation occurs. Observation, as related to the laws of nature, tells us sex also plays an important role in social bonding. The social bonds that occur often relate to the development and maintenance of family structures, which play an important role in broader social structures.

All this information comes from using the methods of science and is an objective description of what occurs in nature. Those laws of nature related to biology are much more constrained than those related to psychology or sociology, but all of these “laws” relate to what is observed in nature.

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