This is not a political article. Don’t worry. I do want to address something briefly, though. I hear people saying often some incarnation of the following statements, “This story restores my faith in America!” “This restores my faith in humanity.” What a strange thing to say. If one thinks about it, it is beyond absurd. Absurd, vanity, and vanity of vanities!
These statements assume that humanity is basically good, and that there are things which tempt us to believe that man is not good [though not the Evil One, who is the tempter, and who actually tempts us to think that we are good, funny huh? But not “haha” funny], and then, alas, something restores our faith in the “goodness” of humanity. It is almost liturgical. I want to explode that assumption. Man is basically bad.
First, let me invoke the scientific method. It is demonstrable and repeatable in many different contexts that humans are not good. Humans are at root sinners, evil, nasty little cruddy creatures. Here is a test. Drive your car in California. Try not to get angry at any of the selfish sinners taking selfies while they drive themselves down the road to where they can take themselves to have some self-time. Another test: go to the mall, or any place where large numbers of the test subjects… humans gather, and consider their distinct political views. Then consider how different groups of human pit themselves against one another and fear one another and are willing to vote to cause damage to the other. Consider the many test cases of the current news about terrorism, kidnappings, rapes, murders, and thefts. If you are older, consider the kids these days. If you are younger consider those old people who run the world and how much you disdain them. I believe this repeatable exercise proves not that man is basically good, but is basically bad, though having a capacity for and knowledge of good and evil.
Second, let me invoke History. Think of the last century. Holocausts in Europe, Segregation in America, Abortion on demand nearly worldwide are examples of human evil. Look up the Road of Bones in Siberia and see human depravity as its nadir. These things prove the thesis on the macro level. Man is evil, yet has a capacity to know good and evil. There are glimpses of good, but only to alleviate the primary wickedness of the nature of man.
Next let me invoke common sense. It is time for another experiment. Consider something that enrages you. Arouse indignation at something. Think about that person, group, past event, movement, tendency that really ticks you off. Maybe it is blogs? One’s understanding of things as evil, or things as good is part of the image of God in man. A commonly repeated critique of Christianity and theism in general is that God cannot be real because he is not good because there is suffering. Actually, suffering in the world confirms the reality of God from a Biblical and Christian worldview standpoint. First, it confirms the image of God. One knows that something is evil or good intuitively. We get angry intuitively. We are please through our experiences as good or bad. That moral rational capacity is the image God in which man has been created. Now, moral capacity does not mean one is morally good, but can also mean that one is morally bad, so no excuses. Second, suffering confirms the biblical doctrine of the curse. The wrath of God is revealed against all unrighteousness. God placed a curse on this world because of the rebellion of the first man and woman Adam and Eve, having eaten from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil rather than the tree of life, plunged all mankind in to sin and rebellion. Through sin came death, and death rules. God must justly judge sin because he is just, and will not let sin win. That is a fairly satisfying thing in a world of trouble. God won’t let evil win. All that awaits every man, woman and child is a life of relative discomfort followed by eventual terminal sickness followed by death. So, when I hate holocausts or cancer in children, it is because God also hates it, and he has revealed himself as God who loved the world, and sent his Son to die for the sins of his people, that whoever believes in him would be saved.
That’s why the Bible’s answer of salvation is a legal reconciliation of sinners followed by a moral renovation which lasts the whole life. Man is bad.
Now, the use of this is that we can be healthily skeptical of the world, and assume that man is basically motivated by self, not by others, and even if we do help others, if not already reconciled to God it could only be one of two things. 1 Trying to merit something before God (which does not work, get thee to the protestant reformation). 2. Doing good to alleviate suffering. Which is good! Don’t get me wrong, but it is only good that alleviates current suffering. We are all terminal, so any alleviation of suffering is a painkiller that helps us slip away into the darkness of death with greater ease.