Well, much to the chagrin of my biblicist commenters, I’m not going to start this series of reflections on Original Sin with the Bible, but with my own intuition. (Don’t read too much into this. I will get to all of the questions that many of you have posted so far. And, to those funny, funny commenters who accuse me of starting my own religion-without-the-bible, just take a dep breath and see where we go with all of this.)
I remember some late-night dorm conversations in college in which a half-dozen of us would stay up debating the biggest ideas in the universe: the existence of God; the meaning of life; which fraternity to pledge.
One that took a great deal of our time was the question of whether human beings are inherently good or inherently bad. It may sound like a philosophically silly question now, but it was all-consuming to us as 18-year-olds.
Reared as a Protestant Christian, my answer was always the same: human beings are inherently bad, from birth. This answer was based on my notion of Original Sin, taught, as I described in my last post, as a matter of biblical fact in all of my various youth group experiences (church, Bible camp, YoungLife, Teens Encounter Christ).
But, I must admit, I always felt a bit uncomfortable with my own response. I really had nothing to base my “humans are bad” concept except what I’d been taught. Although I was surely aware of my own sin, I didn’t really get the impression that I or anyone else was inherently evil. In fact, my experience was the contrary: I generally felt that people are good, kind, and generous.
Since then, I’ve become more uncomfortable with the notion that people are inherently bad, prideful, etc. I don’t deny the reality of sin. But I do doubt that human beings are depraved from birth.
So, without quoting the Bible, what do you think? Are human beings predisposed to good or evil?