Not long ago, I attended a mandatory employees’ conference. This conference emphasized the investigative arm of the law enforcement agency for which I work. Much of the material dealt with violent crimes people commit against one another. At the end of the two-day event, I was emotionally spent.
I am aware of the evil we do to one another. But to see how prevalent internet crimes against children are and to see photos and hear descriptions of many, many crime scenes was painful. I was mourning over the condition of mankind.
One of my co-workers that has worked in the lab a little over a year is sometimes called to assist with crime scene processing. She really seems to enjoy that aspect of the job. Knowing this, I asked her what she thought about the conference. The reply was very positive. Learning more about how the agents work scenes and solve crimes was fascinating to her. When the question was then turned back on me, I told her of my heavy heart and the mourning I felt after seeing how terribly people treat one another.
I then asked her another question, “Do you think people are basically good or basically evil?” I wish I could remember her exact words, but they were something along the lines of, “Well, with what I see here I work, I have to believe people are basically good. Otherwise, it would be depressing.”
I found her response to be very interesting. Despite seeing murder victims at crime scenes and working in a forensics lab where evidence related to thousands of crimes each year is analyzed, she says she wants to believe people are basically good. While I would like to think that too, I just don’t think the facts support it. Consider the following questions.
If people are basically good:
- Why do kids know how to lie without being taught?
- Why do we honor character traits such as bravery and integrity? Shouldn’t that those be the norm?
- Why do people participate in rioting, causing more death and destruction than the event over which they are rioting?
- Why do our public school campuses look more and more like correctional institutions – fences and gates and security guards and policemen?
Is it possible to answer these questions and still maintain people are morally good at their core? I don’t see how. Unfortunately, we people are basically rotten to the core. And this is precisely the description given to us in the Bible.
Asking people their thoughts about the good vs evil nature of man is one of my favorite ways to begin an apologetics conversation. I have found people will usually share their thoughts on this topic pretty freely. I then ask some follow-up questions like the ones above. This allows me to begin to understand their viewpoint and formulate more questions for further discussion.
I’d love to hear your responses to the following questions…
Do you think people are basically good or basically evil?
What evidence do you use to support your position?