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.
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.
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.