Saturday, December 18, 2010

Midway Between the Gods and the Beasts

"Mankind is poised midway between the gods and the beasts," wrote Plotinus. A similar theme runs through most of the older mythologies: Did we come from the beasts or from the gods? Are we merely more evolved animals or fallen angels?

The answer, refined through millennia, is this: We're part beast, but far better than they are (though we often sink to their level or even worse), because we are the children of God, made in His image, no matter how much we pervert it. It's the meaning of a fairy tale like Beauty and the Beast, in which the Beast becomes human through love.

When I say we can sink lower than the beasts, it's because we're part devil, which animals aren't. Only people have self-consciousness, and are therefore capable of doing – and rationalizing – evil. Only man is part devil, and rationalizes it as being god-like. It's why we get popular Christian leaders claiming God is pro-war. Of course, they mean God is pro-their war.

Between Monsters and Gods

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