Are we predisposed to evil? Is our human nature inherently evil? What matter what we do we will always be like that? Did Christ ever taught about it? How did the apostles and the church fathers saw this question?
No, we are not predisposed to evil. And it is not human nature right across the board. In my estimation about 20% of people are inhumane, i.e., evil.
You need to appreciate that humans are made up of two vastly different groups.
One is humane, i.e., they have a conscience and they have empathy (a form of love).
The other is the inhumane, i.e., they have NO conscience and NO empathy.
How does a person become inhumane or evil? My late husband, who admitted he was a psychopath, said that there are two steps in becoming evil.
He said in the first step you do harm to others, humans and animals, and feel nothing, indifference.
In the second step you do harm and get pleasure from seeing the pain and suffering of the other.
So it is a conscious choice to become evil. It is not a case of “no matter what we do” because we, as humans are not all evil, nor is human nature evil.
Only in the sense that we are surrounded by people with self-destructive habits. It is more true that we are predisposed to goodness – that is what we were created for. On the other hand, it is a matter of competition between learning two different things: power and a regard for the well being of others.
Many have this bizarre notion that we are born evil because we begin selfish and self-absorbed. But this is nonsense. As infants, growing and developing ourselves is our only responsibility – so of course we are self-absorbed. We should be. There is no evil because we have no power to do any harm to others. But this changes with every bit of power we gain… to walk, to grab, to hit or kick, and to talk. Then we have to hope that we learn a regard for the well being of others in order to use our power without hurting other people and doing evil.
What is human nature? We have two inheritances: a biological one from evolution and one of ideas from human communication.
The biological one is an accumulation of successful survival strategies and while evil strategies (quite numerous in nature) have some success, the most successful strategy has proven to be that of cooperation. As social animals this strategy of cooperation is prominent but it is also in tension with our role as the running hunter – so we are social scavengers and predators.
The inheritance of ideas is likewise a mixed bag. We have the ideals of love and justice we attribute to the divine and we have bad habits whereby we lie (to ourselves and others), look for blame and excuses, and look for advantage and entertainment in hurting others.
So I think all these considerations give the same conclusion: we are very much on the front line between good and evil with both of these competing for our own choice. I believe that we were never meant to navigate the moral landscape without the guidance of God, perhaps because life was designed as a moral gauntlet to teach and train us to know the difference and thus to be ready to fight for what is right.
I guess it depends on how you want to define it.
I think that just like every other animal, and we are animals, we have instincts and urges. Both nature and nurture plays a part.
However, we were also given commands by God on how to live and we have evolved emotionally and intellectually further than other species and in different ways. So we are not slaves to the flesh, but the flesh is always there. We must choose to be slaves to Christ and pursue his righteousness.
So take sex outside of marriage. Sex itself is not evil. But god lays out some commands about sex. Such as being married. So does the fact that even as teenagers we have hormones and desires mean we are predisposed to evil? I don’t think so anyone than we are predisposed to good.
I think we have too battle the flesh and I think the flesh is distinctly different from the spirit.
Not sure if that helps. But it’s not natural from instincts for us to want to hold out until marriage. We naturally don’t care. We have to make a choice to wait. In the same way consider the disgusting crime of rape. I don’t think rape is natural either. I think rape is a evil twist on our desires for sex.
So I don’t think humans are instinctually evil. I think we have natural desires and those desires can be used as the drive to pursue righteousness or wickedness.
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