Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Man is Inherently Evil

Holy cow, it's been too long! Been getting caught up on school, and it's all paid off! Tomorrow is my last day as a junior in high school!

Due to some interesting convo's on facebook that this topic struck up, I decided I would do a post about it. Rather than guide you through my thinking pattern, however, I'll let the thesis paper I wrote/slaved over as an English final do the talking for me!
You'll have to excuse some of my fundamental assumptions: the existence of evil, good, and God for starters. Realize I'm speaking from my background as a conservative, Christian, homeschool, high-schooler. Also realize it is a thesis paper. That being said, I think you'll find it an entertaining read at the least.

Throughout history man has proven that, when left to his own devices, he is intrinsically malevolent. On examination of people, historical events, and written texts, men default to the immoral, debauched, dishonest, and corrupt. Completing an assessment not only proves these results, but leads to one conclusion. Firstly defining ‘good’ and ‘evil’, then digging deeper into examinations of each of the mentioned topics, and finally discussing the one caveat in the logic expressed will aid in proving this one conclusion. Man is inherently evil.

Although language can often be deceiving in its implications, change due to context, and have multiple meanings within meanings, it can also be used to clarify. Abstract concepts are possibly the hardest to define within the constraints and boundaries of language. Unfortunately, both ‘good’ and ‘evil’ fall into this category; nonetheless, their meanings should be tackled to avoid confusion as they are used repeatedly. The Random House Unabridged Dictionary (via defines evil as “1. Morally wrong or bad; immoral, 2. Harmful; injurious, 5. Marked by anger, irritability, irascibility, etc.” Conversely, good is defined as “1. Morally excellent; virtuous; righteous, 4. Right; proper, 6. Kind, beneficent, or friendly, 10. Genuine; not counterfeit, 12. Reliable; dependable; responsible.” Keeping these definitions in mind will help to keep meaning clear as they are discussed in future topics.

Just as a molecule is made of atoms, and an atoms made of electrons, neutrons, and protons, so life is made up of past and present, and each of these is made up of people. Halfhazardly guiding the course of life, people also depict where and how it moves. Exploring the beginning of people (right after birth,) as well as a specific instance in one person’s life can give much insight into the existence of people, who they are, and how they relate to the topic at hand. People form history.
After a child is born it is often given much leeway in its actions. A mother does not love her child any less simply because it cries, throws up, and won’t sleep at night. However, what happens when that child begins growing older? That so-called “leeway” tends to wear off. The child is given more responsibility for its actions, and is even given consequences when it does naughty things. This “leeway” is not physical, or even speak-able, yet it is there. It’s a natural part of the child “growing up.” If we removed this leeway, this social norm, what would happen? What if we were to take a newborn child and just view it as it is, not as we think it should be? Many would argue that adults are simply children with jobs, a house and car payment, and who have to change their own pants. I would support this reasoning; children show every emotion and thought process of adults, simply concentrated into a 15 pound, 24 inch ball of curiosity. Reasonably, children cry when they get something they like taken from them, they turn their heads at things they don’t like, and they are openly glad about things they want or agree with. Using this same reasoning of the correlation between small children and adults, we can see that if humans are indeed inherently evil, they are so from birth.

People live their lives moment-by-moment, choice-by-choice. Each decision they make takes them to the consequence, whether it be good or bad, of that decision. Quickly exploring the life of one man, Adolf Hitler, shows how one decision can, indeed, lead to the next. Adolf was born in 1889 in Braunau-am-Inn, Austria. Until the age of 24, Hitler lived virtually as a homeless man, selling art to stay alive. When the First World War broke out, however, Hitler volunteered for the military. Moving through the ranks, it wasn’t until 1920 that Hitler gained control over the Nazi party, and by 1934 he had re-organized it, seized control of Germany, and broken the treaty of Versailles, starting the infamous WWII and his heinous actions therein. This man, once a poor Austrian, turned into the leader of one of the strongest nations in the entire world, all in a matter of 45 years. Think about what he could have done had his talents not been used towards actions such as one of the hugest killings of any one group of people the world has ever seen: the Holocaust. However, as his life shows, Hitler made his own decisions. He chose to believe in the temptations Socialism has to offer. He chose to create what many consider to be the most evil regime the world has ever seen. He chose. So, this man, who had all the brains and thinking patterns to positively change the world, instead chose to turn hostile and hating. He was left to his own decisions, and he naturally chose the evil and malicious.

Over the centuries history has shown itself to be a valuable resource to everyone willing to pay attention. In many cases, events will unfold so similarly to happenings in the past that it appears as though the present is simply a duplication of the past. Many would summarize this belief by saying “history repeats itself.” Although this belief is up for dispute, it is clear that much can be learned by looking to the past. Observing two completely different, yet very similar, historical events can provide a glimpse into the reasoning of men, and why people do what they do. Fascinatingly, these two events, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and the scandal of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, however dissimilar, can indeed provide that glimpse.

In today’s world, Abraham Lincoln has been turned into a virtual saint. His Presidency is famous for winning the Civil War, giving the United States some of the most famous quotes and speeches, and overall giving America the optimistic personality it loves to talk, sing, and write about. That is why the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the man behind it all, is so distasteful in the pages of history. John Wilkes Booth, the man who pulled the trigger to the gun that ended Lincoln’s life, is a man many Americans have learned to hate. Yet, when looking at his reasoning, his intent and fore-thought makes it rather clear as to why he hated Lincoln so much. John Wilkes Booth was a southerner, a racist, and overall, the antitheses of Lincoln. Hating Lincoln, Booth saw him as the man who was responsible for everything the south was losing- and justifiably so. These reasons and variables, however wrong they may appear, can provide some sense of empathy for this hurting man who wanted to avenge the loss of his home country. They also show how a human will naturally take out such pent-up emotion. John Wilkes Booth needed an outlet, a place to put his anger and frustration. After his first kidnapping attempt of Lincoln failed, he was desperate. Because of this, all the humanness came out of this man’s body at one pull of a trigger on that fateful day of April 14th, 1865. This very thing goes to show the natural outlet of a man caught in his own emotions and conflicts; the natural outlet of evil. John Wilkes Booth defaulted to murder.

“During the administration of William Jefferson Clinton, the U.S. enjoyed more peace and economic well being than at any time in its history.” This quote, from, shows how President Bill Clinton has been received by the world. This man helped America reach one of her “peaks” with little warfare, and much prosperity. His being the second democrat to be elected a second term as president shows how much America appreciated this “modern renaissance man.” Closely looking at this marble building’s foundation, however, allows cracks to reveal themselves. The largest of these, and most assuredly the least disputable, is that of the Lewinsky Scandal of 1998-’99. When this huge pot of information gets boiled down, however, it is seen that Clinton was accused of having inappropriate sexual relationship with a White House intern. He denied these accusations, and later, they were proven to be true. Clinton made a public apology, and became the second president to become impeached. This sad story of a man who was given the highest pedestal America has to offer, then ruined his entire reputation and that of American politics as a whole, shows just how corrupt man is at heart. A happily married man, Bill Clinton had no reason to become inappropriately sexually involved with anyone. Despite this, he defaulted to the debauched and depraved behavior of some kind of nymphomaniac. He defaulted to evil.

Orderly, the last topic to be discussed is that of historical texts. Here, two categories will be explored: one of ancient philosophers, and one of ancient religious text. Within the works of Socrates and Plato information can be found worth dwelling upon; such is the case with the Christian Bible as well. As a point, assuming any of these works are fact or fiction is irrelevant. They are accepted by many different people groups, and as such will be explored entirely in their beliefs. Proving their ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’ is not the point; rather, the point is to see how they relate to the topic at hand.

Socrates and Plato are perhaps some of the most famous philosophers of all time. Although Socrates never wrote anything of his own, Plato, his faithful student, recorded the beliefs and even history of his famous teacher. Through Plato’s works such as The Apology, The Crito, and The Statesman we are able to more closely grasp some of the greatest minds history has to offer. Socrates, famous for his “Socratic Method,” or method of self discovery through asking questions, was an expert logician; so much so that it eventually led to his death. The people of Athens, his place of residence, believed he was tainting the minds of their youth. Because of this, charges were brought against Socrates. As a biography states “After taking up the charges and showing how they were false, he proposed that the city should honor him as it did Olympic victors. He was convicted and sentenced to death.” This man, although logic driven, and incredibly intelligent, did indeed have a streak of pride through him. And, although the colloquial expression “splitting hairs” may come to mind, pride is considered a step into the outskirts of evil. This is especially true when you take into account that pride, when taken to the extreme becomes arrogance, which often is marked by anger and irritability, which, by our earlier definition, is indeed evil. And, although Socrates may not be considered “evil” by normal standards, his life and death do not discount that all men are inherently evil, if only because of this streak of pride at the end of his life. Realistically, the same can be said of Plato. This student of Socrates continued on with his teachers works, and even started a school, the Academy, to teach philosophy. After Socrates’ death by virtual forced suicide, Plato left the politics of Athens behind him in disgust. This disgust, although a valid emotion, betrays Plato’s inevitable feelings of hatred and odium directed at the Athenian officials and government. These same feelings of “anger, irritability, irascibility” go to show how even the greatest minds history has to offer default to being mean when all is stripped away. Plato defaulted, just as so many before him had done.

The Holy Bible is the very book that has governed the Christian and Catholic religions for centuries. Containing 66 ‘books’ or sections within, each has its own purpose. It is also divided in two halves; the “Old Testament” and “New Testament.” The Old Testament is mainly books of history, where the New Testament contains the gospels (books about Jesus Christ) and epistles (letters by Jesus’ disciples.) The interesting thing about the Bible, however, is not how it is divided up; rather it is the content within. As the Bible teaches love, peace, and thanksgiving, it is different from many other manuscripts of its time. It teaches man should submit to God because of God’s tremendous love for man. It teaches God sent his own son to earth to redeem all of mankind. Finally, it teaches man was created inherently good, but through his decisions decided to become evil at heart. This, I believe, is the fundamental difference between it and so many other religious and philosophical beliefs and customs. Where The Bible teaches man is dependent on God, other writings teach man is dependent on himself. Finally, the Bible gives hope. It defies every definition of “evil” and thus, through the process of elimination, is wholly and fully good.

Logic caveats are the bane of writers, philosophers, and mathematicians. Forcefully, they make a thought “loophole” to open, and sometimes even an assumption to be made. Nonetheless, the logic caveat that has been approached must be dealt with. This loophole deals with how men can do good things. As discussed previously, The Bible defies all that is evil, and therefore must be good. As a result, everything in the Bible must also be viewed through this “good” filter. Something the Bible teaches is that man cannot be good without God. Even with God, it is God being good through man that allows man to do good things. As Paul puts it in Romans 6:4 “For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” As can be seen, it is only through Jesus, through God, that man is able to “live a new life.” This new life refers to the opposite of the old life, the opposite of the immoral, harmful, injurious, angry life; the opposite of the evil life. Trusting in the “Good” Book shows that man is indeed not good on his own, and is only able to live this new “good life” because of Jesus. This is the fundamental caveat in all the logic being presented. Man can appear to do good, only so long as it is God working through him allowing him to do that good.

In summary, through looking at the definitions of “good” and “evil”, through discussing People, history, and texts, and through acknowledging the one caveat, one conclusion can be reached. Informationally speaking, this conclusion, although stemming from substantial research as well as experience, has been proven to be true time and time again, day-in, day-out. This conclusion shows how man is maliciously malcontent, intrinsically immoral, and deliberately debauched. Humans are inherently evil.

Your comments?


  1. You have good examples of people resorting to evil out of desperation or because they see it as their only option, but you don't really link or show how that implies that humans are *inherently* evil. You kind of just jump to that conclusion. I would suggest changing the thesis to fit the content.

  2. Simon Rostron here.

    First off, good job. It's obvious you put a lot of thought and a fair bit of work into this. A solid thesis paper, to be sure.

    Admittedly, I do not agree with you on the basic premise of man being "inherently evil." Everyone has a slightly different moral code, developed through life experiences and environment. For example, despite my mostly peaceful views regarding politics, I do not harbor feelings of hatred simply because someone else has a viewpoint that I disagree with. No one is required to think exactly the same as me, and the fact of life is, no one will. How can I blame someone for something that was shaped from the moment they were born through their parents, friends, and happenings beyond their control? I can't.

    I don't view human behavior as inherently evil, I view it as animalistic habits with an overlay of intelligence and morality. Humans will always take that next breath to avoid certain death. Every human makes a subconscious choice to maintain and, if possible, improve their comfort in life, just as a cat will move to a sunny window for its different cat reasons. But only humans have a mind. We share all the same basic survival traits as animals, but we can think for ourselves. This is where morality comes to play.

    Don't get me wrong, some people are evil. But some people are truly good. It all depends on the motives behind their actions -- is the motive selfless or selfish? Sometimes those animal instincts are "inherently evil," or at least if followed through, would serve selfish purposes. That is where a human must make a moral decision to override that instinctive behavior.

    I'm not going to over-summarize my views. I just wanted to lay my thoughts on the table. I'm not going to critique you on your views because you backed up your points and you supported your belief system. No complaints there. I'm afraid I just can't say, "I totally agree."

    Onto this passage: "However, as his life shows, Hitler made his own decisions. He chose to believe in the temptations Socialism has to offer."

    First off, the Nazi regime was not true socialism by any means. The Nazis killed communists. In fact, it's apparent Nazism would most likely come about if an evil, corrupt right-wing politician got his way, if you analyze their core beliefs. As a friend of socialism myself, I can assure you that killing minorities is the last thing on my mind.

    Your analysis of Plato and Socrates are decent, but I feel that Socrates was a martyr for wisdom. He died with honor. Many people look at him today, blown away by some of the things that he understood. Instead of stepping back and saying, "Okay, folks, you're right, I'm corrupting your kids LOL," he stood by his words and beliefs. Prideful? Maybe. But if the wise have little ego, they will not stand by their wisdom strongly enough.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Tuk-
    perhaps you're right. Unfortunately, my paper could only be max of 5 pages, double spaced, 12pt. font =/ Maybe I can expand when I find the time to further connect the dots!

    Thanks for your thoughts! Perhaps we can discuss your views on socialism more later- love to hear em! Also, thanks for your respectful disagreement and acknowledgment of my hard work- greatly appreciated!
    Finally, in my rough draft I actually did delve deeper into Socrates' beliefs, history, death, etc. Unfortunately, this put me closer to 8 pages instead of 5! Had to play the director and make some cuts =/

    Thank you both for sharing!

  4. There is no leed way between good and evil. Evil is the absence of God. Therefore evil is all around us. If you could say missing the mark/sin is evil (which is it is) then, yes humans are inherently evil.

    When you think about it, every sin comes from pride. Look at the fall of Man. God created us to be perfect, but at the same time have a free will. All little children want what they want, so yes, we are born evil.

  5. Darn you Colin, I should be sleeping not reading this! Exceptional paper my friend. 'Twas a good read. May I throw in my two cents?

    "I don't view human behavior as inherently evil, I view it as animalistic habits with an overlay of intelligence and morality." Well stated Simon. But I must ask, where do we get our sense of morality from? You touched on that somewhat when you mentioned how our experiences and environment define us.

    You know it's wrong to bash someone's face in when they are being obnoxious (I hope). Let me ask this: how do you know it's wrong? I'm guessing your parents told you not to do it at some point, and from that point on you knew it was wrong. But what if no one ever told you it was wrong?

    Man does have the overlay of intelligence and morality, but we don't start with the morality. Rather, we accrue it over time through experience and the influence of others. So if man begins life without morality, wouldn't he be inherently evil? And any goodness to come from him would be because of training and conditioning?

    Well, that's my two cents :)

  6. Justin--

    on the topic of morality, in your last paragraph...
    You say that because we start life without morality, we are inherently evil. Since evil is defined as morally wrong or bad, in implies that you need the umbrella of morals to be able to classify it. Further definitions of evil (anger, irascibility, injurious) - don't fit with the within the [amorality] of very young children. I don't think that their actions are meant to cause harm, neither do I believe that they themselves mean to cause harm.

    Just a note!

  7. The biggest thing holding this paper back is the inclusion of religion in your argument. I know you said to excuse your assumptions, including the existence of your god, but any time an argument includes statements which cannot be tested or proven, the entire thing goes straight out the window. It's no longer in the boundries of logical debate.

    I can sit here and assure you that I am the physical incarnation of the planet Mars, but unless the statement is provable, it holds no value.

    The rest of your points were quite interesting, but any time you introduce religion to support the points, you're defeating yourself. Anyone who was listening, aside from someone who shares your religious beliefs, will immediately stop taking you seriously. That's my advice.

  8. Humans are a derivative people created by a God who is inherently good but chose to give us free will so when we love Him, it's because we chose to, not because He forced us to.
    This also proves that love is a choice. But that's a rabbit trail.

    As a christian, I know that we were born into perfection but fell from grace by disobeying God's commandments of not eating of the tree of good and evil. But, once we ate of the tree of good and evil, this opened up a door for sin to come into our lives because we let the knowledge of it in. Now, I would say that pre-Christ, yes, we were inherently evil between the time of the leaving of the Garden of Eden and the death of Christ. We had no other choice. That's why the Lord had us do sacrifices to cover our sins. But, once the Lord sent Jesus and Jesus died on the cross, Jesus set us free from all sin- past, present, and future. We are no longer under the control of sin. Sin has no hold over us any longer. We are no longer slaves to our sin-nature because we have all been given Christ's nature. THE ONLY THING IS, is that if people are ignorant of this fact, how can they apply it? Slaves are free, but no one is telling them! lol! So, therefore, we are not inherently evil. We never were from the beggining. We were made in God's image. He is perfect. Therefore, so were we. It's if we give power to the enemy to work in our lives by listening to his temptations and fears that evil enters in and causes destruction. Sin and evil has no place in this world unless we allow it to be there.

    1. God warned Adam and Eve to not bite the apple. God forbidded the eating of the apple. It was in fact (according to christian belief) Satain or Lucifel who convinced Eve to bite the apple, thus giving us free will, and along with it all the evil in the world. You could of course argue that God is not only omnipotent, but also omniescient; however if both of those statements ring true, the christian God is evil to the core, a murderer, a smoker blowing smoke onto a babies face, they're just as responsible. If this were true, he is not in my opinion worth worshipping. Then again there is always the "mysterious ways" argument, however if this argument is brought up, it is simply not worth having as little to no logic with be evident in their argument.

    2. Oh, and it never says God is particularly good. If he's omnipotent, he can be whatever the hell he wishes to.

  9. You're arguments are incredibly well put together and entirely valid, it is rare that I find someone my age with such intellect. No one is truly evil. Of course one must ask themselves what true evil is, as it is entirely subjective. I believe good or evil lies only in intent. If guy A for instance, meant to save a little girl, and ended up destroying a planet full of people, he is not evil. If guy A meant to destroy an entire planet full of people, but ended up saving a little girl, he is evil. Of course one could then argue that he is not evil even then. Does ones commiting of an evil act make them evil? I find myself asking the same question with criminality, if I brake a law am I, from that point foward, a criminal? If I kill another human being for funzies or whatever, am I evil. I agree with others observations of your thesis statement, I feel you do not truly sum it up. You explain that many people are evil, not really that people as a whole are inherently evil. To be inherently evil, one must be born as such. I personally believe humans to be born as good individuals, as humans are social creautes, they wish always to be in the right. Of course in an evil society one may be evil to please his peers; so far in recorded history, such a society has yet to exist, a society which is truly evil. I would love to continue this conversation, however not only am I finishing my English project right now, but my English class is about to let out. Please shoot me an email so we can continue to conversate, I would love to hear your other opinions as well. Hit me up at: