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Is human nature inherently good or evil?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
Do you see human nature as being inherently good or bad?

If you see it as good, what do you think causes people to act badly, and if you think it's bad, where does good come from?

Just wondering!
post #2 of 30
post #3 of 30
Thread Starter 
I also see it as good. I believe that poverty and oppression are causes of evil, but have not yet ascertained the causes of poverty and oppression.
post #4 of 30
I believe it is good. I see it as fear makes folks to bad things.

I do not believe that it is poverty or oppression tho those things seem to create more fear and self loathing which is yet again fear.

Fear is the root of a lot of bad/negativity.
Love is the cause of good. I think that is the polarity that we work with.

Just my buck o five.
post #5 of 30
I think it's both
post #6 of 30
I believe we are all good, we are all One...

I do not believe in evil in the sense that there is some extraneous force (like the Devil) that causes us to do evil things.

I believe we make choices, all the time about Who we really are. We make those choices based on love or fear...the ones made based on fear are often viewed as evil...but they do not come from evil people...

Just my .02.
post #7 of 30
Some very good and thoughtful answers here! I think it is like ying/yang; nothing totally good or bad, but blends of different elements entwined. The closer we come to one with our creator, the more we are able to become love. Just my thoughts this morning.

post #8 of 30

I think each baby is proof that human nature is inherently good but, unfortunately, not permanently or even particularly resistant to influences in the other direction.

"Father asked us what was God's noblest work. Anna said men, but I said babies. Men are often bad; babies never are."
~ Louisa May Alcott
post #9 of 30
barbara, that's a good thot!

i believe, like deirdre, that bad behaviour is a result of fear.. and that the only means to battle it, change it, is throo compassion.. probably some of us are born with tendencies toward hurtfullness, or because of circumstances of early life, learn to employ them as means of survival.. but i do strongly believe we are all inherently good and loving people. i can think of no bad behaviour where fear did not seem to be the driving force.

people need love and faith to grow. i see no other choice for myself than to have a vision of a future in which everyone understands the power of love. i have immense faith.. and that is the only thing keeping me from being depressed about the state of things. i think every little bit helps..
post #10 of 30
I have to believe that people are inherently good. I have to believe that it is our experiences and our encounters with others that taint our ability to make good choices. The glass is half full?
post #11 of 30
Comparative religions student geek in front row waving hand wildly:

"Ooh, ooh! This is what I think (today). Was reading a book by a Jewish scholar, about Christianity and how Paul invented it. Was he really a Pharisee (no, probably a Saducee, conflicted ex-pagan, hired by the Jewish Head [himself in the Roman's pocket] Priest to take out members of the Messiah cult for political reasons)? Etc.

But, on the way, this Jewish scholar explained the Jewish take on a persons' degree of good and evil, comparing it to the gnostic view of Paul. In one way, the xian version of good/evil is: god is good, man is evil, and we need god's intervention to stay on the good side. The Jewish view (not sure if this is official, but the guy seemed to know what he is talking about) is: we are both, but the bad isn't really bad. Such emotions/drives as aggression, selfishness, appetite, defensiveness, are neccessary to get along in life. But if they are all you have, obviously you will live a harsh, probably criminal and hurtful life. But these same drives can be harnessed by the good side of you, to drive along your higher drives. So, if love is a higher emotion, your aggression and defensiveness can be used to make the upper one, love , effective.

Say, you love your child. There is a threat to your child, a predator. So, your lower emotion of aggressiveness can be combined with the love, to save your child. If you just loved him, but just sat there, the love would be meaningless.

Then that reminds me of the Hindu idea of chakras. The lower chakras are the basic drives (I call them the drives of the "lizard brain" responsible for simple survival) and they have to be in tune with the higher ones, love of fellow man, ability to speak your mind, connection with God, etc. The chi has to flow between all of them for health/enlightenment.

So, I guess my answer is both, with qualifications. No simple answers."

Sits back down dodging spitballs from USamma and Beloved Bird. Takes comfort in bag of Pirate Booty.
post #12 of 30
People are inherently good, connected to all life, (Godly) but the human experience is one of separation (sin). Peoples not good behaviours come out of fear/anger/hopelessness from feeling seperate/alone. Those actions then create more separation.
post #13 of 30
I believe that the nature of humankind is inherently good.... It has seemed to me that we all have a purpose to serve..... and it is an off balance with that purpose combined with the rudimentry elements of raw emotions that leads someone to act in a way that would be considered evil.
post #14 of 30
We are inherently "human"

Some part good some part bad (no, not evil)

Ying and yang
post #15 of 30
I read this today:

"If it were all so simple! if only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were only necessary to separate them from the rest of us an destry them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"
A. Solzhenitsyn
post #16 of 30
I think human nature is inherently self-serving.

I think good and evil are subject to opinion.

Oh no, maybe I opened a can a worms, but that's my short short answer.
post #17 of 30
the world is both. balance. tai-chi, yin and yang. we are drawn toward good deeds and desire to be enlightened, and we are tempted away from enlightenment by destructive behavior or thoughts. when we lose our connection to the universe, we lose our connection to our inherant nature to seek enlightenment and are led further into temptation and self destruction.
post #18 of 30
Such emotions/drives as aggression, selfishness, appetite, defensiveness, are neccessary to get along in life. But if they are all you have, obviously you will live a harsh, probably criminal and hurtful life<<<

I believe that the "natural" man (the flesh or our body) is weak. Weakness is opposite of strength, therefore, it is "bad." I think that we are all born with inherent goodness......but our life comes from our Spirits or our "souls." So, our flesh is weak (evil), but we (our Spirits)are here to overcome our weaknesses, our appetites, desires, and I believe our Spirit does have the strength within to overcome the flesh.

Just my .02

Wife to Sean
Mommy to Nicole and Heidi
post #19 of 30
I think we are both good and bad.

The dualistic nature is the root of all conflict inherent within our humanity.

As A Christian I believe we have the nature to want to do bad things.

I also believe we were created in the Image and Likeness of G-d. Because of this we have the potential to do so much good.

People are a combination of these two natures. It is part of our responsibility as people to perfect our character.

I think this is an interesting discussion.

Debra Baker
post #20 of 30
years ago, when I was in high school, an otherwise very nutty priest led this discussion of St. Augustine, and this phrase has always stuck with me: "Our hearts are restless until they rest in you." (you being God)

Basically, what he said was that people long for the transcendent, for God, and, as some have said here, for that state of oneness with the transcendent. So we seek for the true, the good, the beautiful. But , being human, and therefore imperfect, we sometimes seek after the wrong things: we define the good as security, and operate out of fear. We think to have the beautiful, we must possess it, and operate out of greed and jealousy. We define the truth as some narrow worldview, and operate out of anger as we cling to that...

Augustine believed that until we REALLY find the end of our searching, we are always unhappy. I can apply all the Christian stuff about sin, etc. in here, and it still makes sense to me.

Sin (evil) is separation from God (goodness/love). We don't think we want that, but sometimes that's where our choices and definitions lead.
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