In George Kurian (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Christian Civilisation. Blackwell (2012)

Jacqueline A. Laing
Oxford University (DPhil)
An analysis of the concept of law, its source and connection with human positive law. The article begins by noting that “law” relates not only to prescriptions governing the behavior of human individuals. The term has a far wider sense. It can also refer to a standard or rule that binds things or events. This sense of the term covers the laws of the physical as well as the moral sciences. There is a distinction to be drawn between scientific laws of nature and moral laws. Regularities in natural occurrences are often regarded as laws of nature even though what we ordinarily think of as laws are those rules that govern human behavior. We speak, for example, of the “law” of gravity and of Newton's, Einstein's, and Kepler's laws. In so doing we emphasize the regularity and binding nature implicit in each of their formulas. The thought that there are laws of the natural sciences as well as moral laws has traditionally been seen as implying a creator and regulator of all things, and an eternal source of these laws. Equally it raises the disputed question of the place of miracles, or those suspensions of regularities, in the natural scheme of things. In the same way, sacred scripture speaks of Divine Wisdom as directing all actions and movements. This article considers the physical and moral laws more generally and considers human law and its connection with the natural law.
Keywords Law  Natural Law  Positive Law  Eternal Law  Human Law
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