The Belief In Evil Is the Closest Thing There Is To Evil

When we assign preternatural forces to aberrant deeds and/or individuals we blind ourselves to the actual causes and their solutions.

One of the most pervasive myths of our culture is that some people are just born bad. Despite the fact that this belief has no basis in reason, and cannot even be tested let alone ‘proven, people who identify as rational are just as likely to believe this myth as much as the most radical fundamentalist. And despite the fact that disciplines ranging from childhood development to forensic psychology have provided ample evidence on the side of nurture as the leading factor in deviance, the mainstream narratives still give more credence to the myth.

The logic underlying this belief is equivalent to thinking that a moving ball must be endowed with some sort of intrinsic desire to move, rather than that it was caused by interaction with some other object or agent. Clearly balls do not move independently because it is in their nature to do so, just as humans do not behave free of interactions with external agents.

It hardly needs pointed out this belief has its origins in theology, even though it is also widely found among secular thinkers. However it is a rather singular and pedestrian interpretation of Christian doctrine that has spawned the idea of inherent evil. Until Protestants began breaking down the Catholic-favored idea of free will, evil acts and individuals were thought to have been caused by the influence of Satan.

Early Protestantism took a softer approach to determinism, claiming that although God knew all outcomes because He existed outside of time, and despite his omnipotence, allowed humans to make their own choices without interference. As the literal interpretation of doctrine by fundamentalists began to evolve alongside secular modernism in the 18th and 19th centuries, a harder form of determinism was concluded, and woven into the fabric of our culture. From these influences the western idea that ‘some people are just born evil’ was instilled at large and has influenced our socioeconomic and political trajectory ever since.

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