The Natural Desire for God: Part 2, Two Gifts and Two Ends?

In the Catholic debate concerning the natural desire for God there is general agreement that God gives humanity "two gifts." The first gift is the gift of existence, created human nature. The second gift is the gift of grace, (re)union with God. The controversy concerns how these two gifts relate to each other.

Specifically, as described in the last post, does human nature have a natural telos (end) independent of grace? That is to say, if left alone is there marked upon human nature a telos of fulfillment and actualization? Simply, does human nature have a "natural end"? Or, according to de Lubac, do all humans have a single, final "supernatural end" in union with God? 

Summarizing, are there two ends for human flourishing, one natural and the other supernatural? Or is there a single, final supernatural end?

If you believe, with de Lubac, that humans have a natural desire for a supernatural end, then you believe that every human person is only ever ultimately fulfilled in union with God. We have a single, final, supernatural end. But if you believe humans can have a natural end, full unto itself, separate from God, then humanity has two possible ends, one natural and the other supernatural.

Obviously, when comparing the two ends, should two exist, the supernatural end is deemed the "better." But "better" would not imply a "lack" in the natural end. The natural end would be a "good" end unto itself.

If you're having trouble imagining this, consider Dante's Divine Comedy. In the first circle of hell, Limbo, Dante meets the unbaptized, virtuous pagans--philosophers and poets like Vigil, Homer, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Limbo is not torment. Rather, in Limbo these wise pagans pursue human virtue, just as they had in life. In the language of this series, in Limbo the unbaptized reach their "natural end" in human self-actualization separate from God.

By contrast, in the final part of the Comedy, Paradiso, the blessed reach God in the Beatific Vision. This is the "supernatural end" that nature cannot reach alone but requires the "second gift" of grace. And reaching this end is deemed "better" than the "natural end" being pursued in Limbo, even while those in Limbo are happy.

Now, if we reject this "two ends" view we come back to de Lubac's argument that humans have a single, final supernatural end. In this view, there is no final "natural end," for that "ending" would be, of necessity, lacking and incomplete. An Augustinian restlessness persists, even for the happiest and most well adjusted non-believer. Human nature, separate from God, would be "incomplete" in itself. The first gift would ever be longing for the second gift. 

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