Are Humans Inherently Good or Evil?

This age-old question seems to pop up in times of uncertainty. We want to know if people are evil and taught to be good or good and taught to be evil. We want to know because we find it hard to believe some of the things we see going on in today’s society.

But try as they may, religion, philosophy, and life experiences have failed over the years to answer this question. To get a real insight into whether we are good, evil, or indifferent, one only needs to look to science and history.

The Great Society

Before we are aware of society and as cute as babies and toddlers may be, we are born selfish, indifferent, and lacking empathy.

For someone to overcome the selfishness of childhood and show love, generosity, and compassion over their own self-interest is exceptional. I am not talking about the “love” that is due to instinct such as a mother’s love for a child. I am speaking of love for which that person will see no personal gain.

Here are some human attempts to keep society in check:

  • Religion says to “love thy neighbor” and “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9
  • Human law is introduced to make society tolerable.
  • Blood says me and my family first.

Exceptional is the one that supersedes these without religion, without law, and beyond the family.

Ironically, the same society that creates laws to make life more livable also creates the very things that nurture the evil they struggle to prevent. Money, drugs, sex, power, etc.

Has society polluted an otherwise good human or is an attempt at a civil society necessary to squelch an inherently evil human?

The Science and History of Us

Is the fox evil when it kills the hen? The answer depends entirely on the participant’s point of view. To the hen, it is obviously evil. To the hen’s chicks, other hens and the hen’s owner, it is equally evil. To the fox and its pups, it is unquestionably good, because otherwise, they will starve.

According to science, we are mammals, members of the group of vertebrate animals. What differentiates us from “ordinary” animals is that we have complex brains with the ability to reason, think rationally, imagine and ultimately create a “good” and “evil”.

We are simply, animals. Are animals good or evil?

Like all animals, we are born with the powerful instinct to survive and the majority will do very “evil” things to survive.

Further, since the beginning of human existence, there have always been those that seek to have power over others. Those throughout history have shown they will do whatever it takes to get that power.


This post doesn’t really answer the question but it is an attempt to get us to think about it from a different perspective. I am not a scientist, a pastor or a philosopher but one thing I believe to be VERY true is, we wouldn’t want to live in a society without God.

“For this can be said of men in general: that they are ungrateful, fickle, hypocrites and dissemblers, avoiders of dangers, greedy for gain; and while you benefit them, they are entirely yours, offering you their blood, their goods, their life, their children,…when need is far away, but when you actually become needy, they turn away.”

– Machiavelli