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Are Humans Evil?

Updated on December 6, 2015

"Opening Up Pandora's Box" - F.S. Church

An interesting piece of art.  Hopefully, when letting everything else out, eventually hope is let out as well.
An interesting piece of art. Hopefully, when letting everything else out, eventually hope is let out as well. | Source
Interesting Sculpture
Interesting Sculpture | Source

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.

Are people evil, Poll - Make Sure to read all options before voting.

Are people Evil?

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    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hello Penofone, thank you for your thoughtful comment, I really appreciate that. Thank you for your kind words as well. Have a nice day.

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hi Bainsy, my definition of doing evil is pretty simple. I hear what you are saying though, but if I may differ some, I am not sure that just because a thing is not defined in a particular place, in this case evil (here), it does not necessarily follow that it means they are not evil, for that reason. In other words, human beings can very well be evil or not, and not dependent on how defined that is. I see your point in the form of an argument, or in terms of if I was trying to convince people of it.

      Thanks for your comment, as I am a big fan of defining things for better discussions. I will think on that and perhaps add a definition of what I think it means to be evil, and not assume that people generally know what I mean or what is meant by that.

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hello EChestnut, I appreciate your comment and visit here very much. I agree that we ought to encourage more good over bad, and that a lot is up to our choice and how we look at things. I think the world would be a better place if more people did what you said there.

      I am happy to talk and write about topics like these, as they stimulate some thought, or that is the goal anyway! Have a great week.

    • penofone profile image

      Anish Patel 

      7 years ago

      I thought of the world as a Buddha as an agnostic being destined to save the planet form and foreign concept in a foreign thinking brain. In other words god has a destiny for evil persons in society and tend to be sympathetic to their plight. This can be widely observed in the lower classes of individual living conditions or a standard not met not punished by the individuality that exists throughout the world in its greed and animosity. There is some faction of the world that diminishes the effect of evil on the foundation that evil takes on a new life again and again as the world is evolving into a more higher state in a soulful journey as they would say. More or less it is true that studies take precedence over the fact that evil people tend not to distinguish themselves by their traits of character whether good or bad. Actionless statements to the effect of producing negative outcomes in society versus a positive overall experience for the rest of us!

      Nice detail about origins of evil.




    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hi Sallieann, Thanks for your comment. I tend to agree with what you say there. Evil is a strong word, stronger than the word bad. You touch on some extreme acts that we see in humanity, and I think those are indeed evil. The motives do vary, and some people do seem to take joy in some things, which seems to be especially evil. None of us want to be victims to those kinds of things, nor do we want that for our loved ones. Why? Because it steals life and is purely evil, almost for evil's sake if that were possible.

      I really appreciate your comment, thank you.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      humans aren't evil as the definition of evil is not clarified

    • echesnut profile image


      7 years ago from Houston, TX Area

      This is actually a very difficult topic to answer with a yes or no. I would have to say that the power of good and evil are within each and every person. There is an old Native American Legend about the two wolves within.

      The moral of the story is that you have a good and kind side of you as well as an evil and mean side. What determines which side wins, depends on which one you feed. If you are bitter, angry, and take everything out on others, your evil said will win. If you are kind and caring no matter what, then that side will win.

      I do believe that at any point in your life, you can choose to find the side of yourself and in doing so, starve the evil side.

      Thank you for starting this topic.

    • sallieannluvslife profile image


      7 years ago from Eastern Shore

      We have people who condone and promote infanticide, the murder of a living and breathing aborted baby...we have people who mustard gas their own people without blinking an eye....we have rapists and serial killers...people who do not care about human life, morality or right and wrong...Are human beings "naturally" evil? We were born sinners and we will die sinners but only by the grace of God and the redemptive blood of Christ are we able to overcome evil. Those people who embrace "bad" and turn from all things good and are capable of atrocities on other humans without regret but actually love to hurt and murder others - especially for the purpose of obtaining power and money...I believe are evil.

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hello Nights Dream, I think what you say makes sense for the most part, as that is what I think most of us observe in other human beings in life. Depending on how balanced or not the two are, we can know they for sure can shift depending upon an individual's choices. We all have the free will to chose what we do.

      I appreciate your thoughtful comment, thank you and have a great evening.

    • Nights Dream profile image

      Michael Phoenix 

      7 years ago from Allentown, pa

      I think most people are neither evil or good, but a combination. I believe that we are a balance of both positive and negative (good and evil). Combined with a line separating the two. The balance will shift due to a variety of circumstances. A small minority are on either side and stay that way.


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