- Education and Science
Are Humans Evil?
"Opening Up Pandora's Box" - F.S. Church
Are Human Beings Naturally Evil or Bad?
In asking this question, we need to first define the word evil. I found it as a noun with the definition being, "profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity, esp. when regarded as a supernatural force." As an adjective it was described as "profoundly immoral and malevolent."
I saw this question posed and the person asking it said that the idea is tossed around a lot, the idea of people being evil. It is a fair question and one that really got me thinking. Here are my thoughts and they are based on what I have observed in life and how I think about things.
The Word Evil, is such a strong word.
The word evil, is such a strong word, as the definition above shows. The definitions above are not my own, but came up in a Google search. I think they are fair definitions. Generally speaking we use such words to describe people that do really awful things in life. In that sense, I think that no, not all people are evil.
However, we see a great many more people doing bad things on a regular basis that do hurt others. These are the very same people not doing things that are considered grossly immoral or depraved. The truth is, many if not most or all people at some time do something in their life that they know is wrong, and that they wouldn't want done unto them.
People Do Bad Things
What an unpleasant idea, that human beings do bad things. This idea actually upsets many people. The thing is, from early on in every human being's life, we see things being done that aren't really good. Take the little toddler, that needs to be taught to stop doing things that are very selfish and that hurt others. Kids can be mean, and it starts very early in life! On the other hand, we encourage the good that we see, and reward that. Why is that? Because we know that that to hurt others and be selfish is a bad thing.
Encouraging and Promoting the Good in Life
Since we do see that people can have a bent toward doing bad, we have come to like and encourage the good in people. We much more highly esteem for instance, the person that gives from their heart to help others. We highly esteem those that do honorable things, and put themselves last and others first. We highly value that person that acts bravely in an act to do what is right, even in the face of danger. We esteem courage, goodness, generosity, etc and discourage things that are hurtful, cowardly and hateful. This is because we see those negative traits in the world, and because in free societies we need to protect the good against those that would upset the lives of others.
Don't All of us struggle on some level?
Don't we all, or haven't we all at some point in life, struggled with doing what we know we shouldn't do? Or asked another way, haven't we all struggled with not doing something we know that we should do? Yes, absolutely. I think it turns out that at the very least, we have broken even our own moral codes in regards to what we think is good and bad in the world. Even if you don't currently, isn't it true?
The Benefit of Pondering Good and Bad Things
There is some benefit to this discussion even if you disagree with me, and that is that we hopefully can be honest with ourselves and try to be better if need be. I have seen though, a various response to the ideas presented here. For instance I have seen a denial that people do bad things, but it feels a bit disingenuous as we know better because of the actions in the world around us.
My husband said something kind of sad to me recently, and it was something to this effect. Are a lot more people than anyone really knows, struggling with issues that would shock us if we knew? We had recently heard of a few stories and also been hearing news of seeming good people that actually had huge issues in their lives, or struggled with some very awful things. Multiply this many times over and one begins to really wonder! In other words, its very clear that a great many people are covering up a lot of stuff they choose to do. Its like that if they don't get "caught", then all is well.
This leads me to something else to ask, and that is what do we do when we know no one else is looking, or if we think it won't really hurt anyone else? Do those possible "bad things" matter? These are all questions we have to ask ourselves and come to grips with.
No matter what you and I believe, no matter what our religion or worldview or lack of religion, we can all agree that it is good to promote the best good for all that we can. To do that with honesty and integrity as well, is one last thing I will add. People don't generally regret doing something nice, helping others, and leaving a positive impact on their world.
My answer is that most people have done bad in their lives, and break even their own moral code at some point. Thus the need to say sorry, which we will use hopefully, if and when that happens. I hope this helps in getting others thinking more about good and evil or bad in our world.