Is human nature inherently good or evil? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 30 Old 11-17-2002, 06:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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!
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#2 of 30 Old 11-17-2002, 06:21 PM
 
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good

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#3 of 30 Old 11-17-2002, 06:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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#4 of 30 Old 11-17-2002, 07:14 PM
 
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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.
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#5 of 30 Old 11-17-2002, 08:54 PM
 
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I think it's both
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#6 of 30 Old 11-18-2002, 12:56 AM
 
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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.
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#7 of 30 Old 11-18-2002, 11:39 AM
 
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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.

b.
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#8 of 30 Old 11-18-2002, 11:49 AM
 
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Hi:

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
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#9 of 30 Old 11-18-2002, 11:56 AM
 
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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..
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#10 of 30 Old 11-18-2002, 01:51 PM
 
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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?
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#11 of 30 Old 11-18-2002, 03:08 PM
 
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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.
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#12 of 30 Old 11-18-2002, 05:35 PM
 
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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.
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#13 of 30 Old 11-18-2002, 08:01 PM
 
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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.
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#14 of 30 Old 11-18-2002, 10:42 PM
 
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We are inherently "human"

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

Ying and yang
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#15 of 30 Old 11-19-2002, 02:48 AM
 
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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
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#16 of 30 Old 11-19-2002, 02:55 AM
 
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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.
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#17 of 30 Old 11-19-2002, 03:08 AM
 
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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.
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#18 of 30 Old 11-19-2002, 09:39 AM
 
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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

Elaine
Wife to Sean
Mommy to Nicole and Heidi
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#19 of 30 Old 11-19-2002, 10:19 AM
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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
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#20 of 30 Old 11-19-2002, 11:04 AM
 
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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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#21 of 30 Old 11-19-2002, 05:03 PM
 
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Well, here is my humble opinion, which i guess is my understanding of my strong christian faith:::::

Adam and Eve started it all in the garden of Eden. They were created in the likeness tof God, therefore humanity would be inherently GOOD. The devil, came along and persuaded Eve to take a bite of the forbidden fruit and she did, therefore making there be a choice for all humanity from that point on, between good and evil. Not that we are all BAD by nature, but i think that we all constantly have that temptation and choice to pick EVIL. So as for our nature, i think we know good from evil, have a longing to do good, but a temptation to do evil. Everyone has that delema in their life and it is up to each person what they do with it.
Now another aspect is all of us mommies and daddies. . . . we raise our kids with certain influences and examples that will sway their choices and how they feel about their choices in life. I think too many parents teach their kids that there is no right and wrong and they just decide what is right for them, but there really is good and bad. To me, we need to teach that there is importance in being true to yourself and doing what you think is right for you, BUT within the realm of what is GOOD.
OK, i don't think that made any sense, but i guess i got off topic anyway. Sorry!!
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#22 of 30 Old 11-21-2002, 11:03 AM
 
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Very well put darlindeliasmom


Namaste,
b.
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#23 of 30 Old 11-21-2002, 09:48 PM
 
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thanks, b. Nice to hear after you walk around composing the message all day...
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#24 of 30 Old 11-22-2002, 11:05 PM
 
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Is human nature inherently good or evil?

I would have to say neither. It is what it is. We just "are" and interpretations as to good and evil depend on socialization, organized religion, who has/wants power over people, etc.

I used to believe human nature was inherently sinful/evil, as a Christian. Then one day I asked myself if I *really* believed in Adam & Eve as physical, real 1st creation people as it says in Genesis. I had to answer honestly "no"- based on my gut feeling, based on archeological record, based on geological & palentological records. So therefore, my theology came apart. I had to follow it back logically. If Adam & Eve didn't exist, therefore there was no fall from grace (or a state of grace to fall from, for that matter). Therefore, there was no separation from God called Sin (vs "sin" = actions). Therefore, there was no need for God to rescue humankind from it's Sinful state by Jesus' human sacrifice. Therefore, the designation "sinners" or "inherently evil & needing redemption" was not an appropriate label, since no such thing existed.

So, I ceased to believe in an inherently sinful/evil humanity.

Now I think that we just exist and I judge "evil" and "good" by their fruits - is life promoted or extinguished by this action/thought/intent? Does it bring life to someone/self or does it bring destruction?

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#25 of 30 Old 11-23-2002, 08:57 AM
 
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ahhhhh
we would be such very good world leaders I think...
great discussion, Madison babe, Im with you- and whoever else said its alllll about opinion (and Id add whatever worldly influences on that opinion are)
Things like bombing an intolerant nation- killing for a greater good- how does one measure that good vs bad-
they can try...to do the right thing...thats all anyone can do- and its fun to analyze (has anyone heard the line, analysis paralysis?) but when its all said and done
IT WILL BE WHAT IT WILL BE!
just my big O
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#26 of 30 Old 11-23-2002, 09:06 AM
 
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I don't know.

I often feel that individuals are what most would consider "good" (which is often just a combo of Christian values such as generosity), while large groups are often what is usually called "bad".

At the same time, I think capitalist values are replacing Christian ones. So assertiveness if good nowadays, while modesty can be frowned upon. And that that goes for individuals vs. groups, too. So an individual's "good" (assertiveness) is a company's "bad" (aggression).

The whole dualist idea is so limited. I think if I decide to view something as good, it is. And because I have already decided that most individuals are good, they are. While most companies aren't. Which means that my opinions goes before forming it, in a way. Very quantum

So I don't know. Obviously. Forgive the rambling, it's beddytime.
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#27 of 30 Old 11-23-2002, 10:18 AM
 
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So no one can relate to my Judaic/Hindu idea of "lower" impulses (contol, power, sexuality, selfishenss) being harnessed with "higher" impulses ( generosity, love, connection with humanity and god), for harmony and effectiveness in the earthly plane?

madison-- even if Adam and Eve didn't exist, even if Moses didn't part the Red Sea, even if Jesus never actually walked around as a flesh and blood person, the stories( IMO) have symbolic and philosophical/moral value. As do any myths to fairy tales. You don't find this?

I find there is a way to get deeper emotional and useful meaning from the bible (or any other holy book) without having to say, amen! I believe in it all as literal truth.

Jos Campbell talks about The Fall, not as God's punishment for man's sin, being passed down then to all his ancestors. But instead, as humanity getting wisdom (knowledge of good and evil) from the tree, thereby becoming more godlike. Some interpretations (gnostic) see the serpent as a benefactor. It was is a sacred animal in many cultures. We are separated from God in that, we are now less animal like or even child like (less innocent) and have to then find our way back to God (or become more godlike), in our search for the other tree, the Tree of Life. "Life" being life in the spirit, not just being involved in the material world of the lower impulses of appetite and lust for things. It is almost a Buddhist idea. Of course, the tree of life is the one Jesus was crucified upon.
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#28 of 30 Old 11-25-2002, 02:45 PM
 
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Darryl,

Good question.

Even if all those things never happened, yes I can see a common thread - of a need of human beings to be wanted & needed, a need to be part of something greater than themselves, a desire to be "more" than the sum of our parts.
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#29 of 30 Old 11-27-2002, 03:15 AM
 
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I don't think human nature is good or bad, it just is. By calling it "nature" we imply that we have no real control over it, that it is natural for us to act how we act. And, it is.

As far as people, I think some ppl are "bad" and that's how they are supposed to be, for whatever reason. Mainly, it's because they choose to be that way, just like for "good" ppl. Life is really all abt choices. I like to think that I am not a "bad" person b/c I do not put blatant destruction out into the Universe. But, I know I'm not as "good" as I could be, either. I think it has a lot to do w/how in touch you are w/your essence. If you are not connected to your own self (spirit, soul, whatever you call it), then you aren't gonna be much good to anyone. And, since I believe this "life" is all abt experience and spiritual growth, I believe that ppl who act "badly" do so for a grander reason than I understand at the present.
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#30 of 30 Old 11-27-2002, 01:46 PM
 
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i look at it this way. when i feel poorly about myself (or anything, which i realize boils down to feeling sorry for myself or whatever), i start seeing things in other people that i don't like. i think on a metaphysical level, this is me attracting other negativity to me because i am feeling that way. so, i see the "bad"ness in others if i'm feeling down...

and like you, chaka, this is when i see that i have a choice. realizing i am experiencing negativity, i look into myself to see why i am feeling this way. it is usually about insecurity, for me..

this happened yesterday. i had less than 3 hours of sleep and was on an errand run, missing and catching lots of busses, walking over 2 miles altogether in -15 degree whether... i stopped at a coffee shop while my son was sleeping in his stroller to get warm and have a coffee. there were about 5 other people there. this one older man was sitting about 10 ft. away from me.. for the first 15 minutes or so something about him was bugging me. he had a hard, yuckly expression on his face.. i wanted to be feeling good, but this particular man was bothering me.. it took me a few minutes to realize my feeling this way about him, was really my feeling crappy about myself. so i cleared out all the bad feelings in my heart, and when i looked at him again, he looked content and kind.

i experience this all the time. when my son is being whiney and demanding, if i open my heart and change my attitude, he becomes the sweet and caring child i feel he really is. when my boyfriend is being a jerk, if i stop defending myself and listen for his sadness/fear and shift myself into loving and hearing him, he becomes the wonderful, compassionate man he wants to be.

i think i owe it to everyone and the universe to see it as inherently good. because i think it wants to be.
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