Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Dual Nature of Man; Key Biblical Warnings - Part 2

These thoughts are brought to you by an agnostic; a seeker. I am an agnostic who studies scripture in hopes to find what supports belief, not that which undermines it. My understanding increases with discussions I have with others. By sharing my synthesis of all these ideas I hope I am repaying my debt to those who have endeavored to enlighten me.

[Readers note: Part 1 has not yet been published.]

It appears to me that man wants two primary things after basic needs are met.
  1. To enjoy themselves as much as possible.
  2. To think that they matter; that they are important.

In short, man wants both to be carefree and taken seriously.

There certainly appears to be a dilemma in choosing between the two. Is the conflict unresolvable? Those who want it all can be said to be seeking a perfectibility of human desires. Or, quite simply, seeking the perfectibility of mankind.

Are they kidding themselves? More importantly, are they a danger to others for wishing it so?

So. How is this dichotomy revealed in scripture? Is it resolved there?

Let me make something clear. Not all biblical warnings are explicit. While I could be in error to believe that this biblical warning is unstated, I know this warning is implied in many ways.

For example, with "Dust thou art; and to dust thou will return," scripture is clearly warning that we individuals ought very well consider our humble origins before thinking too grandly of ourselves.

We love the earth out of which we were formed. We'd love to be able to shape the earth to deliver to us our fondest delights. As more and more this comes to pass, what do we find happening? Many people look at that success, and consider it to have been inevitable. They see it as a consequence of our mastery.

In a humbler time, a sense of gratitude for success was at least given lip service to Something outside of man. It seems that today, when there is any gratitude for this grand success -- our progress -- there seems no end of men willing to accept the honor. Rather than see it all as having been put there for us, there are those of us who are inclined to think -- and have the rest of us grateful for "the fact" -- that it was all made accessible by them.

Funny that. Also funny is how this attitude feeds those with the affliction I explore in part 1.

Isaac had twin sons, as different as could be. One carried out his obligations, the other pleased his worldly desires.

The pronoun "his" in the last sentence works as a double-entendre, for both Isaac and each son's inclinations. Isaac favored the latter, but grudgingly accepted the former's claims as superior. This last sentence is also a double-entendre. Both the son and each son's mission were for what Isaac had dual feelings.

This almost certainly ties back to the seminal event in Isaac's life: his being offered to God as a burnt offering. Surely Isaac had dual feelings about the covenant with The Creator to which he and his dad, Abraham, had agreed.

I do not think the dichotomy is ever resolved in the old testament. It repeats regularly.
  • Abraham's two sons.
  • Jacob's two wives.
  • Joseph's two sons.
  • Moses and Aaron.
  • Saul and David.
  • Life and Sacrifice.
  • Justice and Charity.
  • Naivety and Innocence.
  • Wise in ones own eyes and wise indeed.
  • Enjoyment and Obligation.

Without a doubt, many take the new testament to be witness to One Who avoided life's finer things.

But was it that He avoided life's finer things, or really that He avoided acquiring those things for what they would tell the world about Him? The enjoyment of the finer things cannot itself be bad for one; but He warns that the wishing for them could be. He said the path to Him is narrow. Be careful in your choices.

So I think the dichotomy continues.

For me perhaps the following is the most revealing evidence as to why I think man is imperfectible. The universe has its physical laws. Everything within it decays. Yet some men want to live forever: certainly when they are untroubled, especially when they are taken seriously. How can man's wants ever be satisfied? In the pursuit of sating the insatiable, those who succeed to sufficient power have never stopped short of consuming other men.

There are on the horizon those who wish to live forever and who demand to be taken seriously.

The more mankind achieves, the greater too many think they have become. And with that thought is accompanied something quite dark: a greater threat to far too many by those who feel obligated to control those lesser than themselves.


  1. Thanks Og. I hope I improved and didn't ruin it with the clarifying additions I just made.

    Near the top I added: In short, man wants both to be carefree and taken seriously.

    And I reordered and expanded the 3 paragraphs which preceded the last, including this: There are on the horizon those who wish to live forever and who demand to be taken seriously.


View My Stats