We noted in the previous posting on this subject that within the Aristotelian concept of the natural law, it is not necessary to believe in a particular deity for the precepts of the law to be binding. The law, as Thomas Aquinas pointed out, is discernible by human reason, and is based on the common consent of all mankind as to what constitutes the "good." Faith in God may illuminate our understanding of the law, but to base any part of the law on faith is to go directly contrary to the law itself. The basic precepts of the law must be "manifestly true" (that is, subject to human understanding through the use of reason), or God or the gods would be inherently unjust — another contradiction in terms.
That is the classic, traditional view of the law. Unfortunately, another view of the matter has become the prevailing belief, superceding in many cases the common sense conclusions of Aristotle, Aquinas, Maimonides, and Ibn Khaldûn. This other view is that something is wrong not because it is inherently wrong (and thus contrary to the natures of both man and God — "against nature"), but because God — or some other authority in the place of God — has so commanded.
In this erroneous view, something is wrong because God (or the Bible, the Qu'ran, the Book of Mormon, etc., etc., etc.) has so declared. This is called "primacy of the Will," meaning that it is only possible to know right from wrong because of your faith in a particular revelation that you regard as the Will of God. Virtue, even knowledge of right and wrong, becomes the exclusive property of a small group of the elect. The elect are, inevitably, a chosen few personally selected by God to understand what is "really" true . . . as interpreted by the elect, of course. The elect is in automatic opposition to the great mass of mankind who, being natural dependents — slaves — and incapable of attaining full human status, must be taken care of or eliminated, as expedience or desire demands.
Primacy of the Will is thus the basis for many of the troubles that afflict modern society. These conflicts fall into two distinct classes. First, of course, are the presumably inevitable clashes that arise because the dependent (slave) class resists the guidance and instruction of the presumed elite, the elite being (depending on the circumstances) government officials, corporate management, academia, the press, or religious leaders. "They" (the dependent class) "can't handle it" — "it" being whatever the elite wants to control. The elite thus has the self-appointed responsibility of seizing power and imposing control and whatever results are desired . . . by the elite, who (in their opinion) have been personally selected for the job by God or whatever stands in place of God. "What's good for GM is good for the country."
Second are the struggles for power among the different elites, as we saw illustrated very well in the Newsweek article denigrating religion juxtaposed with the advertisement featuring the spin-doctored Wizard of Oz. Each elite power group tries to eliminate the competition, either by subsuming the opposing groups into itself, or by attacking it outright. Thus we have the State, usually enthusiastically supported in this effort by the press and academia, either attacking organized religion or setting up an official State religion, whether or not the established church is actually "recognized" as a religion. This also explains why the State at first nearly always opposes organized labor, then grants unions sufficient delegated power to become effective branches of the State to bring management to heel.
Examples are numerous, as this situation exists wherever two or more power groups that take the Will instead of the Intellect as the basis for the natural law collide — as they must. Basing the natural law, the foundation of the social order, on anything other than the Intellect brings automatic conflict of this kind. This is because, rejecting the common consent of all mankind as to what constitutes the good, members of each special interest group will necessarily try to force their understandings of the Will of God (or whatever they have put in the place of God) on everyone else.
Resisting such control means that the offender has insulted the personal faith of the individual or group attempting to impose its private interpretation on the offender, who has thus gone against the divinely-instituted social order, as Thomas Hobbes made clear in Leviathan. Why the imposition by an elite of desired results cannot be effectively countered within the framework that bases the natural law on the Will rather than the Intellect will be covered in the next posting in this series.