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The age old question when discussing man has always been: “Is man naturally good or evil?” There are many arguments that say that man is naturally evil. There are many counter arguments that say that man is naturally good. Which one is it? Is man naturally good or evil? That’s why I’m here. I will present arguments from both sides, and maybe some that share an entirely different argument, and then share my opinion about which I think. This papers purpose is not to tell you which is right, which is wrong, but to get you to think about man and his nature.
I must first define the terms “good” and “evil” before I am able to discuss which medium man is. I went to dictionary.com to find what the definitions of both terms. “Evil” produced five definitions, while “good” produced 41 definitions. I will discuss why this is weird later, but for now, just the definitions. “Evil” is basically something that is morally wrong. It’s something that’s intent is to hurt others. “Good” is basically something that is right, and its intent is to help others or do something for someone else. Now that I’ve basically defined the terms, we can now discuss what man is.
I conducted a survey on an internet forum asking people what they thought man naturally was. 33% think man is naturally both good and evil, 28% think man is naturally neither good nor evil, 28% think man is naturally evil, and 11% think man is naturally good. When I proposed the question, I was thinking that people would just say “good” or “evil.” It was not my intention for them to also say “neither” or “both.” What surprised me the most was that “good” was so low, while “evil” was so high.
Is man naturally evil? Possibly. Many believe that humankind is entirely selfish, only looking out for oneself. “It’s our animal instinct” they say. We do what we must to survive. If that means hurting someone else to get ahead, then that’s the way it is. Me, me, me; it’s always about what I want, and not what anyone else wants. There are wars in our world simply because one side thinks the other is evil and must be destroyed and vice versa. This usually involves religion. Man is evil because Satan persuaded Adam and Eve to eat from the forbidden tree. They wanted to be like God, so they ate the fruit. That’s where sin came into play. So because of their act, all mankind is born into sin, which makes man naturally evil.
Is man naturally good? Possibly. Even though many people do not think man is good, there are some people that do. They think that love is a natural instinct, and love is good. Man does not have the instinct to hurt or kill simply because they choose to. Man is compassionate. Man wants to be happy. Man wants to love and to be loved. Man cares about whom they love. Humankind tries to help one another in times of need. Man believes in the humanistic perspective, in that man’s mind is inherently good, constantly striving to learn more and reach its full potential. Anything that happens along the way is subject interpretation. Once again, religion can come into play.
God created man in His image. God is good, which makes man good. Even though sin came upon humankind, man is still created in God’s image, so man must naturally be good.
Perhaps man is neither good nor bad. Perhaps when we are born we simply are there, we are neutral. 28% of people say this. They say that man is neutral, and is influenced by their culture on what is good and what is evil. “Good” and “evil” are just terms created by man; opinions. Wars are never a battle between good and evil, but rather a battle between differing opinions of what goodness and evil constitute. Good and evil change based on the morals that you learn. There is only the perception of humanity which attempts to give itself some fundamental depth where there is inherently none. Evolution didn’t design us to be civilized and polite. We are hunters and gatherers. In the end we are carbon based life forms evolved from single celled organisms. Good and evil are objective constructs. They don’t exist without people to perceive them; they are not a priority. For example a soldier can be seen as a hero from one side and a terrorist from another. It’s all about perspective. Religion can come into play here as well.
Is atheism considered a religion? Is believing in nothing but what you see considered a religion? A belief in God creates a religion, so a belief in something else (in this case, nothing) should create a religion, right? I’ll just say belief and leave it like that. The atheistic belief is that the terms “good” and “evil” are nothing more than terms, created from religion. They believe that what we see is what we get. Man is born and is influenced into doing things (“good” or â€˜evil” things). Evil is perspective, as is good. One side of the world may see themselves as good, while another side of the world might see those same people as evil. The terms are simply opinions, nothing more.
Maybe man is naturally both good and evil. 33% of people seem to think so. Man always has a choice. Man can either do good, or do evil; their choice. They can choose to hurt or to help. It’s easier to go down the dark side and act on greed and other negative impulses, but we have the ability to choose the person we want to be and choose the light side instead. That is what makes man special, instead of a common animal that runs purely on instinct. Man can love and man can hate. Man can kill and man can create life. Man is compassionate. Man is vengeful. Humanity can choose to do good, and choose to do evil. It’ 50/50; heads or tails.
Where do I fall into this? Is man evil, good, both, or neither?
I don’t believe man is neither good nor bad. I don’t believe man is here simply because of chance. I don’t believe “good” and “evil” are just terms created by man to help ourselves feel better about our choices. Humanity isn’t here because of an accident, or because of an explosion. We’re too perfect to be. I’m not saying man is the perfect being, because we all make mistakes, but we’re just made up so well I just don’t see how we are just an “accident.” Do I think man is influenced in his decisions from family, culture, or even the media? Yes. But I believe man has this natural instinct to be good or evil.
I do believe that man is both good and evil. Man can do great, wonderful, terrible, and horrifying things. Tony Soprano from the television series The Sopranos is a good example. He is a loving husband and father, but he’s also a mobster who kills people and puts hits on people. Benjamin Franklin had many ideas for America and even invented electricity, but he was also an adulterous and a very sleazy man.
If the perception of man being both good and evil is true, then each decision that humanity makes must be struggle, since good tells you to do one thing, while evil tells you to do something else. It’s like you’re mind is split in two. I realize that’s a stretch, but I’m trying to deduce all ideas around this belief. And if man can be both, can they be one or the other? I guess we’ll find out.
I do not believe man is naturally evil. Do we have evil tendencies? Sure, but that doesn’t mean that the first thing I think of when I see someone is that I want to kill them. I don’t wake up every day thinking “Oh goody, I get to hurt someone today!” because that’s just stupid. Do I think that people think this? Unfortunately, yes. I don’t think there are many people that do think this, but I believe there are some. People can be selfish, sure, but people’s intentions usually aren’t to hurt others. There is the exception though, like the popular kids in high school who make fun of the geeks just because they think it’s funny. Luckily, life isn’t like high school at all. Evil is very real in my opinion, but we always have a choice to do evil, and I do my best to avoid it.
I do believe that man is naturally good. We as humans strive to be happy. That’s what we’re all searching for in my opinion. We want to love and to be loved. Plus, man has this wonderful thing called a conscience. It’s this “little voice” inside ones’ head that tells you when you’re doing something wrong. We try to have a good day each day, even if we know that day is going to suck. Humanity tries to help each other out in times of need. Some people give to charities; others become counselors or doctors. Many people when they are children want to become policemen or firemen because, not only do they have cool uniforms, but because they help people.
It’s very hard to talk about good when all people usually think about is the bad. Even I think more about the bad rather than the good. Is that because I feel bad for thinking about the evil? I think so. The evil might be affecting us in one way or another. We try to do good, but sometimes the evil simply takes over and there’s not much to stop it. We simply give in because it’s easier. There’s a quote in the bible that says “The road to hell is straight and wide, and it’s filled with people, but the road to heaven is shallow and is filled with many turns. There aren’t many people on this road.” I know the quote isn’t exactly that, but that’s not the point. The point is, doing evil is easy, while doing good is hard. But how can one truly live their lives if all they ever did was the easy thing? It’d be very hard to do.
What’s really sad is that at dictionary.com, there are 41 definitions for “evil” and only five definitions for “good.” Why is this sad? Because it seems like we as humans always are trying to do good, but for one reason or another, it turns into evil, and so people get hurt. So there are 41 definitions because people get hurt. People usually think about the bad times rather than the good times. We don’t really think about good things because we don’t think they come in our lives very often, so there are five definitions of “good” because they seem so far away to attain, even if they’re not.
My choice is that naturally, man is good. Sure, we all make mistakes, but when we do we try to learn from those mistakes. I believe that we are not born and are here “just because.” How can one truly live their life knowing that they are an accident? I don’t see how that’s possible. Humanity can do terrible, horrible things, but humanity can also do very good, even great things. Finding a cure for cancer, donating to a charity, helping someone paint their house just because they asked with nothing in return, the March of Dimes, Walk for Life, donating to Hurricane Katrina victims, or whatever else. We do a lot of good things yet we never really think about it. Maybe we give someone a quarter to help pay for something just because we have the change, or buying a friend dinner because they don’t have any mother. Moving a shopping cart out of the road at Wal-Mart because someone might hit it or letting someone in front of you because they have one item while you have 25. Humanity does more good than what they think. We aren’t evil. We aren’t here “just because.” We’re just naturally good, and it can’t get better than that.