"It is a commonplace of the Christian tradition," writes Barron, "that the fall had implications at all levels of a person's being," affecting "not only the will but the body, the passions, the imagination, and the mind as well."
Well, that's kind of a downer. Is there anything we can do about it? Is there a vertical CDC that can help us mitigate this spiritual malady, and perhaps prevent it from spreading down and out, to our descendants and contemporaries, respectively?
Yes, but it's not a government agency. Indeed, the whole idea of the intrusive, activist, all-powerful state is founded on the presumption that it -- its highly trained experts in self-deception -- knows how to undo the effects of the fall without even acknowledging its existence: we can fix it, and besides, it never happened!
Which is precisely why the credentialed morons of the state end up amplifying the effects. Analogously, if we know the Chinese flu is out there, it provides a modicum of protection against it, being that this knowledge will alter our behavior. But if we deny the problem, we end up like Kaiser Wilhelmio: it's no big deal, and besides, it's Trump's fault!
There are so many aphorisms about state-sponsored stupidity, it's hard to pick just a few:
Liberals can be divided into those who believe that wickedness is curable and those who deny that it exists.
Asking the State to do what only society should do is the error of the left.
With the generosity of his program does the liberal console himself for the magnitude of the catastrophes it produces.
Political wisdom is the art of invigorating society and weakening the State.
While we ourselves cannot fully undo the effects of the fall (more on the only efficacious treatment later), we can at least mitigate them if we know in advance the mind is fallen. In short, we will be less likely to fool ourselves because we will be less likely to trust ourselves. Unlike, say, atheists and Darwinians, we won't be so quick to naively accept the pronouncements of a contingent being such as man.
In short, if we are totally ignorant (or in denial) of original sin and place our full faith and trust in man, we are headed for an even greater fall. For which reason the Aphorist says (again, it's hard to confine ourselves to a few):
Men are divided into two camps: those who believe in original sin and those who are idiots.
Nothing makes more evident the reality of sin than the stench of the souls that deny its existence.
Evil, like the eyes, does not see itself. May he who sees himself as innocent tremble.
He who does not believe in God can at least have the decency of not believing in himself.
To believe in the redemption of man by man is more than an error; it is an idiocy.
So, if you're rotten and you know it, clap your hands!
Barron goes on to say that it isn't only Christians who will clap. Rather,
the philosophical schools of the ancient world were moral training grounds, places where one passed through a strict discipline in order to learn how to properly think. It was a basic assumption among these philosophers that there is something wrong with the way most people naturally act and reason (emphasis mine).
Who can doubt it? There is no question that 30 years ago I had more raw neurological candlepower than I do today. There is also no question that I had more raw stupidity than I do today. Why is that? Well, I can think of One Big Thing of which I was totally ignorant, and which colored everything else: I completely trusted my own mind, of all things.
Now, it is possible to go too far in the other direction, as did, say, Luther. In overemphasizing the corruption of the mind, he purged his novel and idiosyncratic version of Christianity of intellection, clearing the field for a host of rotten philosophies to dominate intellectual discourse down to this day. Luther railed against "whore reason," but had no earthly idea of the tenured whores to come. Gonorrhea is one thing, AIDS another.
Thus, Barron suggests that "this very exaggeration of the motif of the fallen mind contributed to the counterreaction of the Enlightenment." While the enlightened ones would have agreed that there is something wrong with the mind, they felt it could be fully rectified. (To be perfectly accurate, the radical Enlightenment thinkers felt this way, in contrast to our own Biblically informed and therefore properly skeptical founders.)
Enlightened. As if there can be such a thing as light without the divine Light!
Yes, en-lightenment can be facilitated, but one must first acknowledge the darkness, or rather, the nature of the darkness. For it isn't just that we lack light. Rather, the light shines alike on the good and the wicked, the wise and the tenured. However, we are so composed that this light is always mingled with our own darkness, if only because we are material beings, and matter isn't fully translucent to intellection.
Anyway, if you assume people are stupid until proven otherwise, you'll rarely be disappointed, plus you'll have a good laugh along the way.