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How dumb are we?

In this blog I will rely chiefly on what St. Thomas Aquinas observed about the intellect and how our intellect or capacity to reason is wounded by sin.

Since we are created in the image of God, we have within us a natural disposition or knowledge of what is good and what is evil. However when we go against God's laws or sin, we are essentially weakening our ability to reason. Here is how it works:

St Thomas writes that "insofar as reason is destitute of the order of truth it is the wound of ignorance" Our intellect as a result of sin lacks the ordering of truth that is to say that it no longer functions properly. The intellect, the imagination, the memory and the ability to reason are all affected. By order of truth it is understood that our intellect is guided towards the truth. However when because of sin, we substitute what is the truth for something else, our intellects then lose as it were their guidance systems and like rockets programmed for a target they aim at the wrong target namely that which is not true.

In terms of how our imagination functions, since our imagination would be as it were aimed towards that which is not true, we become more prone to distractions. Does this ring a bell with anyone? How many times when we try to concentrate and use our imagination we find ourselves suddenly distracted by any sound, or any notification etc. Our imagination in fact resists being forced and the more we try the more distracted we are.

Likewise our memory become subject to forgetfulness. We have deficits in short or long term memory and are even at times plagued by false memories where we act and believe as if we were victims of trauma or abuse when in fact it is not the case. There was tremendous controversy about this a few years ago when psychologists would attempt to extrapolate backwards from presenting symptoms to suggest and event and sometimes this would be a false memory. Thankfully that practice is discredited.

Unfortunately all of these effects can be made worse by sin as the "inclination to the good of virtue in each is diminished by actual sin. So sin weakens our intellect.


How dumb are we? Very dumb indeed. We are wounded from original sin but insofar as we continue to sin and ignore God and choose for ourselves what we believe is right or wrong, our intellectual faculties grow dimmer still.

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