Are humans inherently good or evil? It is easy to say that people are inherently evil. We see evil on a daily basis; we experience it every day; we hear about it every day on the news; and we, ourselves, do evil each day. The reality of evil is one which cannot be ignored or denied. Yet, anyone who says that humans are inherently evil is only looking at the world (and themselves) superficially; they have not thought intelligently about the matter. A few things to consider:
- We understand evil to be bad. Why would we have this understanding if we are inherently evil? Rather, would we not think that good is bad?
- If we are inherently evil then why do we call something bad that we accidentally do a mistake? Should we not be calling something good that we accidently do a mistake? (I am making this argument fully aware that we use the word “mistake” for both good and bad things. However, when he hear that someone has made a mistake our initial thought is that they did something wrong.)
- Why do we look at “monsters” such as Hitler as being truly bad? If we are inherently evil, should we not be looking to them as models to be followed, those who have truly embraced their humanity and lived it as fully as they could?
- If we are inherently evil, why is there not more evil in the world? Why do not more parents beat their children, abandon them, or neglect them? Why do not more marriages end in divorce; why are there not more extra-marital affairs and spousal abuse? Why does the average person not steal things?
- Why do leaders of government and law-makers who are inherently evil write laws for the protection of people? Why are there laws against rape and murder? Why are there laws against child molestation and sexual abuse? Why do we have equal employment laws and laws against workplace harassment?
- If we are inherently evil then why is there so much good in the world? Why do so many people care? Why do we recognize good and want more of it?
- If we are inherently evil, why do we desire good so much and rebel against injustice?
I hold that if humans truly were inherently evil then there would be much less good in the world if any at all. We recognize evil to be something twisted and broken, but things do not begin that way. We recognize good as being straight, smooth, and whole. It is easy to explain why there is so much evil if we are inherently good: excepting That-Which-Is-Perfectly-Good, any good thing can be abused or misused and, therefore, twisted into something evil. How difficult is it to take a glass pitcher and break it into many pieces? It’s easy. But if we are inherently evil then the presence of good becomes much harder to explain. It is remarkably easy to break a glass pitcher; it is far more difficult and time consuming to make it whole again. It will also still bear the marks of its brokenness even though it has been fixed.
To the person who says that we are inherently evil I say this: Think hard about the points made above and also take a good hard look at the world. Do we live in a world of good that is easily abused, misused, and twisted; or do we live in a world of evil that is mended with great difficulty? And, finally, if we, ourselves, are evil then why do we want to mend an evil world?