A famous philosopher Socrates once said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” With that idea, the question “Are Human Beings Intrinsically Evil?” has been asked by philosophers for many years. It is known as one of the unanswerable questions. Determinists have come to the conclusion that we are governed by the laws of science, that there is nothing we can do about ourselves being evil because we naturally are. Evil is simply the act of causing pain. In this essay I will argue that human beings are born with a natural reaction to “fear and chaos” to be instinctively evil.
The primary evidence that people are generally evil is evident by the number of wars. Most countries have experienced their share of wars. World War One was the first war that affected many countries such as Serbia, Germany, Britain, France, and North America. It demonstrated for the first time how brutal people can be to each other. This war was fought because of tension between countries for years that blew up in 1914 with the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. The quote, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” highlights that machines did not kill all these people, people kill those from different countries in order to further their cause and do not stop unless they are successful. World War One was also known as “the war to end all wars” obviously this wasn’t true. A few years later, another war took place. World War Two demonstrated that people will kill to satisfy themselves. Hitler in World War Two was the main aggressor; he wanted to make his people, the pure Germans, the master race. He was threatened by other countries and wanted his superior to all others. When other countries became aware of this, naturally, the war began, killing people by the millions. By the number of wars, we can conclude that the natural human reaction to the threat of war and great power released human evil.
Youth cultures are evidence that even youths can be evil once they allow themselves or if they are raised in a chaotic community. An example of youths being evil “Lord of Chaos”, the young boys involved were not necessarily thought to be likely to cause harm. All of these teenager were very good students. One an amazing artist, another superb math student, another a musician, all on the honour roll. So why did these boys shoot a teacher. These boys needed belonging, and when family fails youth turn to gangs and cults. The gang began to go little acts of evil: stealing, fighting. One night after one of the boys got upset with their teacher decided to bring his gang to beat him up. The teenagers were never provoked to take such drastic measures as to kill, and had no intention to actually kill. But the leader of the gang, who had a gun, shot him in an area he thought could not kill him, but it did. This did not happen necessarily because the boy was afraid, but it the heat of the moment and the chaos around him, he did. Another example of evil in youth culture is the youth gangs in California. Young men of 2 different gangs were isolated from their community. They began to make their own rules, which lead to things getting out of control. The mentality of these gangs becomes “this is how we must be to survive and that we must fight to survive”. In most cases, people that have the opportunity to have a good education and raised in decent family make the choice to make their lives chaotic with violence. Others that are raised in a chaotic community do not have much choice. Youth culture are very easily influenced by their communities once they become in a chaotic community, it becomes disastrous for the community and to themselves.
Literature for many years has described human nature as being evil once they fear something or are in a chaotic situation. In William Golding’s novel “Lord of the Flies” which describes horrific exploits of a group of young boys who make a transition from civilized to barbaric. Golding believes that there is an evil seed inside all of us and given the right circumstances, human beings are capable of anything. The boys’ evil was described in his novel once they were left in an unsupervised society it became very chaotic. In a part of his novel, Golding describes the boys’ fear of a beast. With that fear, one night a boy that was away from the group came back and was killed. The boys thought that he was the beast coming from the bushes. Golding has given us an example that people do not have to learn to be evil but are born with the natural reaction to become evil once afraid or in a chaos. Another piece of literature that demonstrates people’s evil is Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. The story is that witches told Macbeth that he would become king, with temptation to become king, the fear in becoming king, and the confusion caused by the witches evil became possible. With the help of his wife, he killed the people who stood in his was to become king. Literature has shown that it is possible for human beings in extremely confusing situations and with fear can be become evil.
Philosophers and scientists have also tried to understand why human nature is evil, many believe that evil in human nature is uncontrollable. Biologist Lyall Watson wrote that evil is “casting its shadow on almost everything we do.” This quote can be generated to prove that evil is in almost everything human beings do. Which is true, if put into chaotic situation, your evil will show even if you believe yourself to be good. For example, you are standing in a bank; someone comes into a bank with a gun with the intensions of robbing the bank. If you saw at gun on the floor, you would pick it up and shoot the person trying to rob the bank. This is a natural reaction of evil that may be seen anywhere given the right circumstances. A philosopher, Xun-Zi, believes that people are “born with the feelings of hate and envy”. That means that as soon as we are born we already posses the ingredients for evil, once stirred with chaos and fear can produce evil. He also said “the true purpose of education is to control this dark side of human nature.” This quote means that human beings must find a way to control this reaction to be good. Philosophers and Scientist believe that evil is something the follows us and cannot be controlled unless we learn to control it.
People may disagree with the idea that human beings because of a natural reaction to fear and chaos that we can become evil. Some people believe that we are created in gods image. Within most religions there is a heaven and a hell. The heaven is the place that we all want to go because of the descriptions from the bible and hell we must fear. Therefore, religions give of the impression that we are capable of being good. If we sin, we must pray or act god for forgiveness.
Another reason why people might not believe in this idea is because of the different perception to war. In wars, many people risk their lives to fight for their country. People sacrifice themselves believing that they are doing something right for their country and if they return home feel they have accomplished something in life.
Some may also argue that people can be evil or good depending on the person they make themselves to be. They believe that we are a blank canvas waiting to be made something. History can also prove this; the books are not filled with evil. There is good that happens in history. Leaders such as Hitler have done good things for his people, or rather had the right intentions. It is difficult to argue that he was evil all the time. A person that is universally known for being good is Mother Teresa. She was seen as good for the majority of her life, but there is not actually proof that she was good her complete life.
In conclusion, people that believe themselves to be good have a different perspective about what is good. The people that go to war believing they are doing the right thing greatly have the wrong impression of what is good. If good is killing off thousands or millions of people, something is definitely wrong. If that is true that killing is right, then what is evil? In almost every case, people become evil when they are in a chaotic environment or if their lives are in jeopardy which is seen in history, scientist and philosophers, youth groups, and literature. The natural reaction to cause evil, in response, fear and chaos cannot be controlled therefore human beings should not be blamed for their actions because scientifically human nature is already determined.