Here again, we all realize -- any normal person does, anyway -- that we have these two trends, and you have to engage in an awful lot of self-obfuscation, or auto-pullwoolery, to deny their existence. Frankly, you have to be as adept at self-deception as is our current future ex-president tomorrow, and not a moment too soon!
But the bottom lyin' for any full-blown secular maniac is that the higher and lower cannot exist, despite the fact that they so obviously do -- which leads to all sorts of confusion, ending in the intellectual and spiritual deadzone of diversity, multiculturalism, moral relativism, etc.
One problem with the modern mind is that it wants to search for explanations that cease to be explanations once they leave the human plane.
This is a Very Large Subject, but we all know, for example, that there are decent people and cruel people. Simple as. But if you analyze those terms too far, it's analogous to dissecting a body to find out where the life is: it results in the destruction of what one is looking for. In a different context, Alan Watts said it's like chasing a fugitive while banging a drum.
Which is why such vehicles as mythology, literature, and film are so much more effective at explicating this quintessentially human territory than is naive science. The same is obviously true of scripture and revelation. I have explained this to my son, so his brain won't get spoiled by trying to understand religious wisdom in a less than human way.
For example, the other day he was asking about the story of the Flood, and I explained that it isn't just a mundane weather report, but is supposed to tell human beings something very important about themselves -- in this case, that we are, or can be, so rotten that even God has grave second thoughts about whether to continue the ghastly experiment.
"The Bible's picture of human nature," writes Leon Kass, "is, to say the least, sobering." No political correctness here, no punches pulled, no liberal appeal to sociological "root causes" of the widespread depravity.
Rather, "The tales of the primordial family underline the dangers of freedom and reason, speech and desire, pride and shame, jealousy and anger." The narratives "make us suspicious not only about politics and the arts, but even about man's interest in the divine." Truly, it seems there is nothing that can't be ruined by human involvement.
Nevertheless, these "first stories of human life" accurately depict "the explosive tensions lurking in any human family, both between husband and wife and (especially) between siblings." For example, I have a relative who is one of those diversity tools at a fourth-tier cow college. Not surprisingly, we haven't spoken in years, not least because intra-vertical communication becomes tense at such extremes.
Kass makes the interesting point that not a lot happens between the accounts of the prototypical humans -- Adam, Even, Abel, Cain -- and the Flood, mostly a lot of begetting. But this begetting, in Kass's interpretation (which is too long to provide in full here), results in kind of indiscriminate blending of divine and human qualities, and with it, a gradual loss of contact with the "divine within."
Thus, we may understand God's otherwise cryptic comment in 6:3, to the effect that His spirit shall not judge from within man. In other words, to put it plainly, man gradually loses touch with his divine conscience -- which is obviously a central component of our higher nature -- or at least it is contaminated by various other strands, e.g., rationalization, the lust for glory, self-worship, tenure, etc.
As a result, it seems that "Only two ways are open: total destruction of the world or the imposition of external law" (Robert Sacks, in Kass). This would also explain why we so detest lawyers, because the vast majority of their thousands upon thousands of laws are aimed only at bad people, and in a way, create bad people, because we start confusing morality with obedience to the exteriorized law.
Think, for example, of how liberals conflate big government and charity, when in reality big government displaces and even eliminates man's charitable impulses; real charity is actually in competition with the state, the latter of which is just the quest for power mesmerauding as charity or "public service."
So God can't help gnosissing that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the day. And God says something similar to Colonel Nicholson in Bridge on the River Kwai, in his case, What have I done?
Interesting too that Colonel Nicholson's moral crime fits right into the scheme of what man was up to in those antediluvian days, telling his troops that "One day the war will be over. And I hope that the people that use this bridge in years to come will remember how it was built and who built it."
Rrriiiiiiiiight. It's really about the Colonel's own unhinged lust for glory. Indeed, after the bridge is completed and he is dining with Colonel Saito, he reflects on being "nearer the end than the beginning" of his life: "And you wonder, you ask yourself, what the sum total of your life represents. What difference your being there at any time made to anything.... I don't know whether that kind of thinking's very healthy; but I must admit I've had some thoughts on those lines from time to time."
No, it's not very healthy at all, as Nicholson discovers too late. In short, his higher impulses -- honor, duty, self-discipline -- were totally contaminated by the lower.
As it all plays out below, Major Clipton famously mutters in astonished disgust, Madness! Madness!
That seems to echo God's sentiment as he surveys the human wreckage below: "The experiment in anarchy -- in living law-less-ly -- has failed miserably, so much so that God despairs of His creation. In an extraordinary remark," the Creator "says that he repents His creation of man and the other animals."
Blah blah yada yada, God ends up finding a righteous, pure, and simple heart in the figure of Noah, so all is not lost. For "blessed are the pure in heart."
I'm just consulting the Catholic catechism for any further insights into this issue, and it says that "Because man is a composite being... there already exists a kind of tension in him; a certain struggle of tendencies between 'spirit' and 'flesh' develops."
However, "it is not a matter of despising and condemning the body," but rather, cultivating certain "permanent dispositions" which result from submission or resistance to "the saving action of the Holy Spirit" (which we have symbolized (o) for the submission and (↓) for the saving action).