When I was growing up, we had some tapes of R.C. Sproul that my mom liked for us to watch. One thing I remember is him talking about “the depravity of man” in his deep voice. I thought about this last weekend, when my coworker and I were discussing whether man was inherently evil or not. She is an atheist and was very curious why I believed that human nature was evil. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really able to give her a good answer without just quoting a Bible verse. Below is the conversation we had. As you can see, I was caught off-guard and floundered a little. I would like to know your opinion: How would you answer her questions? Do you believe man is ultimately sinful? Or do you believe that we are all good people who make mistakes?
Her: You think that people are evil?
Me: yes i do
Me: i believe the very nature of man is sinful… i think people can do good things, but ultimately evil exists and it’s impossible to break away without the power of God (sorry I am not trying to Christianize it, but it’s hard to separate God from my worldview)
Her: But why do you think that man’s very nature is sinful? Wouldn’t that make you hate yourself and everyone else?
Me: i guess i’m having trouble answering it because i’ve never thought about hating someone because they’re evil
Her: well, go back to the first question, then…why do you think that man’s very nature is sinful?
Me: i believe man’s very nature is evil because Adam and Eve ate from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which opened their eyes to evil… it was also outright disobedience to the only command God had given them. that sin was passed down through every generation
Her: Why would God do that? Why would he make humans the way they are and then tempt them and condemn them for being what he made them?
Me: He didn’t tempt them; Satan did that… He made humans perfect, yet He gave us the free will to choose whether we would serve Him or not (because who wants a lot of robots worshipping you?)
Me: i honestly don’t know why God created a tree at all… perhaps so they would have a choice, even in their perfect world
Her: But didn’t God create Satan too? And isn’t he omniscient? Wouldn’t he have known that all of that was going to happen?
Me: about God being omniscient…. it didn’t come as a surprise to Him; yes He knew it was going to happen yet it still comes down to free will
Me: God always wanted us to have a choice about whether we served Him or not
Her: I guess that for me it all comes down to this… if God made us, then he made us evil by choice, no matter what the route, via Satan, etc.
Her: Why would he want his creations to be cursed by his own hand and have to struggle to redeem themselves from a sin that he made us have?
Me: well evil is the absence of God (like dark is the absence of light)… so it’s not like He “created” evil
Her: “Omnipresent – Present everywhere simultaneously.” If he is everywhere then how could there be an absence of him somewhere?
Me: that’s a good question :-)
Her: And if there is a possibility of an absence, then he created it too, since he created everything
Her: And also, the original sin is knowing the difference between good and evil. How is that bad?
Her: It is that which is what was supposed to give us free will, right?
Me: no the original sin in the knowledge OF good and evil… so you know both Good and Evil, and since it’s all or nothing you have to go the evil route
Her: Can you explain how it’s all or nothing? And why you’d have to go the evil route?
Her: Without the knowledge of good and evil, we can’t have free will, and God wanted us to have free will, so he created us and made us sinful and evil?
Me: here is what is going through my head: i believe the Bible is clear that man is by nature evil, and I believe that the Bible is true… but I also think that my beliefs can be defended without just spouting a Bible verse
Me: so, i think there is an answer but I don’t know it… and now I’m curious so I want to go look it up and ask people Smarter than Me
Me: i think this would be a great question to post on my blog
Her: I’m curious too. This could be an interesting ongoing discussion.