A Personal Apologetic: Corrupt Beings

The world of nature we live in is amazingly complex and well-tuned, from the macroscopic (general cycle of life) level, down to the microscopic level. Virtually all of life works to keep the system in balance and flourishing. In one part of the cycle, bees pollinate flowers so plants can produce fruit. Animals eat the fruit, and in doing so scatter the seeds so the plants can reproduce elsewhere. All of the participants in the cycle benefit. It appears simple when you look at the overall picture, but it is mind-bogglingly complex when you examine the role individual creatures play to keep the cycle going. 1

When we add man into the equation, however, nature tends to get out of balance. We pollute the air, the ground, and the water supply, we deforest, we eliminate some species and transport other invasive species, we wage wars, and so on. If evolution has so fine-tuned the workings of nature over billions of years, why are we, the supposed apex of evolution, so destructive to ourselves and the world around us?

For all the natural problems we cause, they are merely symptoms of a more severe moral condition. While we have a moral sense, corrupted as it is, we can’t even live up to our own ideas of right and wrong. This manifests itself through everything from breaking the speed limit, not wearing our seatbelts, and cheating on our taxes, to bribery and political scandals in the highest levels of government, to terrorism, torture, sexual slavery, murder… you name it. Animals are not moral creatures, yet overall, they behave better than we do!

Yes, we humans aren’t perfect. But most of us prefer not to get into the specifics (especially when it becomes personal). When we admit to failings, we usually refer to the occasional ‘minor’ moral infraction (such as telling a lie or stealing a pencil from the office), or something non-moral (such as breaking one’s diet). We believe most people, even hardened criminals, are essentially good deep down inside, and that the good just needs opportunity to express itself.

But this view of ourselves is just self-deception. Read today’s newspaper. It’s full of reports of crime across all levels of society. Criminals come both educated and uneducated, rich and poor, religious and non-religious, black and white, from the highest government offices down to the homeless living on the street. And the newspapers only cover a tiny fraction of our illegal or immoral activities.

Materialists explain our moral nature as just one more thing that came about through evolution. If we favor what is good and beneficial, it would certainly be advantageous to our species and increase our chances of survival. But why is it so difficult to do what is good and beneficial? Everything else that supposedly evolved about nature and ourselves is finely tuned. Why does it take more self-control to do the right thing than to do the wrong thing… even when we agree the right thing is beneficial?

I don’t see how evolution can explain our corrupt nature, because doing wrong always has a detrimental effect on our species. For all the progress we have made over the decades and centuries in terms of education, science, technology, medicine, infrastructure, and the like, mankind is still going down the proverbial toilet.

The Bible, on the other hand, doesn’t try to gloss over who we are. It is full of accounts of people like us today who were greedy, selfish, deceptive, violent, sexually immoral, robbers, murderers, etc. The Bible describes our nature as “sinful”, meaning we’re unwilling and unable to live in a way that is in harmony with God intent and the rest of creation. When I examine myself, I find my nature exactly matches what the Bible says about me. One of the four founders of Johns Hopkins Hospital (now the university) also recognized the same thing:

“Perhaps one of my strongest reasons for believing the Bible is that it reveals to me, as no other book in the world could do, that which appeals to me as a physician, a diagnosis of my spiritual condition. It shows me clearly what I am by nature—one lost in sin and alienated from the life that is in God. I find in it a consistent and wonderful revelation, from Genesis to Revelation, of the character of God, a God far removed from any of my natural imaginings.”

Howard A. Kelly, M.D.

Notes:

  1. Take a look at the life cycle of the lancet fluke (Dicrocoelium dendriticum) for example.