The Nature of Men


Humanity has no real experience in pure evil, that is, evil for the sake of evil. If humanity commits evil acts it’s in pursuit of something good, they just get the good the wrong way. Evil is the perversion, or the corruption, of good. Evil cannot exist without good existing first. In fact, there is no definitive way to judge whether something is good or evil without having an infinitely good reference point. If no “absolute good” exists, then there are no moral absolutes by which one has the right to judge something or someone as being evil. Evil requires the existence of good.

Humanity’s experience in evil is found throughout history in criminal acts. The thief, the murderer, the drug addict, and the rapist; they are all trying to fulfill a want or a need, whether it be power, sexual gratification, material things, pleasure, an adrenaline rush, satisfaction, or any number of reasons not listed here. These things in of themselves are good. However, the pleasure, or release experienced in attaining them the wrong way is mixed with pain. What you have done stays with you, causing whatever good you may experience to be tainted, and you may have to change your morals to justify your actions. Self may be redefined in the process. This type of behavior can lead to one’s own destruction.

So we understand the evil nature of men, but they cannot be totally evil. However, we can only judge the murderer as evil if we have moral absolutes; otherwise it falls to each man’s definition, and each man’s definition is different. Whose definition, then, should we use? Using men as our yardstick isn’t useful, especially since evil is within every man.

Where do morals fall into human nature? Choice is the main ingredient in morality. Without it there are no morals, just behavior we emit. You can’t judge a man who has no ability to choose what he does. You cannot say his morals are bad. On the outside it may look that way, but if there was no choice on the inside then there is no morality. Without choice we are no better than animals driven by instincts.

Choice may not exist for two reasons: either the man is constrained by an outside force or his psychological makeup is abnormal. When I say psychological makeup, I mean the raw materials in the mind that men use to make a choice. This raw material is composed of feelings and impulses that at once present themselves in any given situation. If the raw materials of the mind are bent or twisted in some way, free choice is hindered.

Example:

Three men go to war. One of them suppresses the natural instinct for self preservation in pursuit of defending his country. The other two have an abnormal psychological makeup that presents itself in the form of abnormal fear. This fear prevents them from choosing freely which instincts to suppress and which to encourage. Both shrink from the fight and protect themselves.

Now let’s say that both of the men see a psychologist and have that twist in the mind corrected. With free choice in hand, one of the men chooses to suppress the instinct of self preservation and joins the fight accordingly. The other man decides that self preservation is still the best course of action and let’s other men go onward to the fight in front of him. We would say the latter man has bad morals. We could blame him now, but we could not blame him before.

Another example:

A necrophiliac is a man who has sex with dead bodies. Two men commit the act of necrophilia, but only one them has a bad psychological makeup. The normal man’s morals are violated and he feels bad about what he’s done. In an attempt to reconcile his actions with his morals, he may construct different morals that allow the action. If this continues, he may inflict psychological damage on himself and eventually become as bad off as the other man.

The man with bad psychological makeup feels his actions are normal and his morals are not violated, though we cannot say he has any morals with respect to his perverted act. Now let’s say that this man begins to understand that his actions are wrong. This is the moment that morality begins. In an effort to change, once he perceives a better morality, he may set an inward law within himself to never do it again. If he follows this correct morality, he may expend more moral energy than some people have done their entire lives. He is going against his nature. Change on the inside is harder on the mind, will, and emotions than just an outward change of action.

Which one is the greater moral work? Is it the psychologically normal man who stops looking at pornography because he is made to, or the psychologically abnormal necrophiliac who goes against his nature, and stops having sex with dead bodies because he has an understanding of better morals. Both men, over time, will not be 100% successful at either pursuit without help, but we would still say it’s important that they try. Notwithstanding, we are not qualified to judge whether a man’s actions matches his morals. We cannot see man on the inside. It would be nice, though, to have a referee to tell us when we are out of bounds.

To sum up, the nature of man has two aspects: men are basically evil (perverted goodness) and strive for good the wrong way; and man may or may not have a good psychological makeup that allows him to make choices on a matter. Man is going one of two directions in relation to his morals. Either he is heading towards inner peace in himself and others (actions being congruent with his inward morals), or he is at war with himself and others (actions not congruent with his inward morals), assuming his psyche is normal. Either he is becoming a hellish creature or a heavenly creature. Indeed, the end result of continually violating an inward morality is hell itself (figuratively). Humanity strives to follow the morals they have while experiencing success and failure depending upon the amount of one’s inner strength on a given day. Humanity must also do mental checks to make sure they have the right morals, and make sure their minds aren’t damaged in any way.

However, how did we end up in this continual inward war with one’s self? It’s quite obvious to parents that small children possess instincts, feelings, and impulses; but do not possess a conductor to set them to the right tune. Like a piece of music that indicates which notes should be played and for how long; a good morality that sets the “human machine” in the right working order regulates which instincts, feelings and impulses must be suppressed and which must be encouraged. We don’t have morality when we’re born, neither did our parents, or their parents before them. Yet, morality is taught as part of the nurturing process. Where did this inward war originate?

This is where I will give the atheist, evolutionist, philosopher, and religious man a chance to answer. I would be very interested in the evolutionists answer, though I doubt they have one. If they have no answer, I will continue with part two.

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The Problem of Human Government

People have usually styled Capitalism as a “Christian friendly” economic system. And it is, in that Capitalism makes similar assumptions as Christianity about human nature. Christianity says that everyone starts out with an evil nature. This nature must be dealt with by a righteous, albeit forgiving, God. Christians believe this to be self-evident because, for instance, you don’t have to teach a child how to lie. But if you want him to tell the truth even if it hurts, you must train him to adopt the principles of honesty in daily living. Capitalism makes a similar assumption by saying that human nature is generally fallible based on historical precedent. It does not say necessarily that everyone will be bad. Instead it says that in any society of humans, there will invariably be those who justify taking advantage of other people.

Capitalism may be “Christian friendly” in the sense of the two “matching up” in it’s claims about such realities. But Christians are dissatisfied with the outcomes of Capitalism. Sure we like the fact that people get to decide their own level of risk. We are all for the idea of personal responsibility. But inevitably there will be people who fall short of the merits of the Capitalist system, or in essence, fall off the radar: people who are “at risk”, according to sociologists. Empathic Christians feel it is their responsibility to do something to help these “at risk” individuals or groups. Although we may agree with some of Capitalism’s viewpoints, if we are intellectually honest, we must inevitably be disgusted by some of it’s outcomes.

If capitalism, then, does not fit the bill, what else is there? Many who disagree with capitalism find communism a better alternative. The question must arise, where should Christians stand on this thing called Communism? It certainly appears to be a good thing, everyone working together and sharing everything equally. It sounds great. It definitely fits the picture many Christians have of their own church. Many churches strive for a communal inner atmosphere. We believe we are meant to enjoy each other and help each other, just like we are meant to enjoy God forever. It appears that although capitalism may line up with Christian realism, communism is the system of government that most closely matches Christian idealism – they just don’t call it communism or may not know that it is a form of communism. It may work in the church or a commune where many folks volunteer and agree on the same standard of social morality. But this begs the question, is the rest of the world up to it?

To answer this we have to look at what Marx predicted. He claimed that all resources would be collected and distributed by the ruling class – socialism. Then the working class would become aware that they are being exploited and take power from the ruling class in a bloody revolution, ushering in communism.

Now, some will agree that communism is the best form of government on paper. Some might praise the merits of capitalism. But who amongst us is ready to take the step of socialism to get there? It may be for good intentions. However, as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with such things.

Socialism is a form of total government – or totalitarianism. Total government attempts to put “all” under it’s rule. This is for any number of reasons. But let’s consider the implications of only the ‘good’ reasons. Benevolent socialism might be done in an attempt to curb all manner of poverty and illness – basically to decide the level of risk for it’s citizens. Does it accomplish this task? Consider an analogy –

A lake full of some toxin may be cleaned up if enough money is spent. The lake may be 99% toxin free once the clean up is done. That one percent left, or some number less than one percent, is nearly impossible to attain. The trace amounts left of the toxin are so elusive that one might spend a fortune just trying to eliminate that last one percent. In some cases it’s like what mathematicians call a tangent – a line curving infinitely closer to zero (the axis) but never getting there. No matter how much money you spend, you can’t quite eliminate that last one percent.

Socialism is like the tangent that demonstrates the infinite dollars spent in trying to clean up the last little bit of toxicity. Or, in our case, poverty and illness. So by the time socialism has culminated, poverty and illness has not been eliminated and in the mean time we have taken away everyone’s freedom to choose their own level of risk (clean up their own toxins) for a solution that is unsustainable, economically speaking. It can’t be sustained by wealth unless wealth is being created. If the creation of wealth plateaus so will the amount of wealth we can tax.

But even if somehow we make this step of socialism successfully, true communism, as it’s successor, may still be deterred by human nature. A revolution to take power creates a power vacuum. According to communist ideology, that vacuum is never again filled by a government. There is no government in true communism. The only thing left is simply the shared principle of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” – Marx and Engels. Communism never accounts for human corruption or selfishness. It claims that those things are caused by people owning what we now call “property.” But even if all “property” is eliminated they can never eliminate the feeling that we are our own property. The ultimate thing we think we own is ourselves. It is the alleged ownership of that property which makes us consequently selfish. It is that selfishness which bites us back and reminds us of it’s existence every time we think it can be done away with by some trick of government or even no government at all as it were. And if there is no government in this great communism, how will we be protected from others’ selfishness if they at once decide they want or deserve more?

This leaves us with a problem. How are we to handle human nature? The options are either to eliminate human existence all together, leave the flaws alone, or somehow fix human nature. This is where both capitalism and communism part ways with Christianity. Communists don’t think the human nature itself needs to be fixed but only it’s environment. Capitalists think human nature is impossible to fix and adjusts policy accordingly. Christians, on the other hand, believe that human nature is the very thing to fix and that it really can be. Christians also believe that it is for the ultimate individual and collective good that human nature must be fixed. Of course, we believe that it’s fixing is no doing of our own and that it is not really fixed but forgiven first and then dealt with as it is till it is something different.

All government systems may eventually fail. However, they may survive longer if they account for the inevitable flaws in government that human nature will create. Capitalism admits to these flaws. We’re heading towards socialism because in a capitalist system were always trying to fix the flaws. Fixing the flaws in a Capitalist society can lead ultimately to communism. Fixing the flaws in a Communistic society can lead to Capitalism. If Marx was right and we see Communism on the other side of Socialism, how will we then account for the flaws without perpetuating the cycle?