I’ve been debating with myself for a while now on whether people are inherently good or evil. Good in the sense that they would want what is best for others, but evil in that it can never come at the expense of themselves or what they love. For many, good and evil are defined by selfishness and the lack thereof.
I suppose based on this criteria people are inherently evil. This can be arrived at as a natural conclusion from the fact that it goes against every fiber of our being to sacrifice what we love for someone else or some other cause. Our own love is what drives us and there is rarely a greater love than that of ourselves. This is the crux of the argument that states there can never be a selfless act because any act taken is in essence an act that is selfish because it is the act chosen by the self to act upon as opposed to all other possible actions.
It is the definition of good and evil, selfish and selfless which is flawed. Was God selfish to send His son in order to save the creation that He loved? The Bible itself states that no man hath greater love than this. So this, by our earlier definition, can be construed as an incredibly selfish act because God was merely protecting and restoring that which He loved most. In fact, the Bible itself states that God is a jealous God. Not exactly the picture of selflessness.
A new definition of good versus evil, taken with the help of religion and philosophy as its backdrop, can help us to understand this dilemma. Religion, all religion, asks that we reject the self. Not necessarily, a rejection leading to asceticism, but the rejection of placing a significant relevance upon oneself. Now if we combine this with what philosophy teaches, we can understand that ourself is simply our perspective, more precisely our relative perspective. Perhaps this is the answer, a good act versus an evil act is the difference between an act that considers our perspective versus one that does not consider our perspective.
Imagine choosing what we love most, without the bias of our own perspective. What would result is that all creation would be equally loved, and therefore our actions would result in the greatest or just benefit of all creation. Is this not the perspective in which God views creation? Is this not an apropos definition of a good and evil act?
Now the real question is whether or not man is inherently good or evil. Can man, with all the flaws that come with his own, relative perspective, make a decision from God’s perspective, that is from an absolute perspective, or no perspective at all.
I suppose the best I can do is make an assumption. Perspective is a result of nurture, not nature. It is learned the minute that our senses take hold. Therefore, the minute before that, man, the fetus, has no perspective of creation, and therefore a Godlike perspective. In this way, I for one believe that man is inherently good. And this seems consistent with the fact that God’s creation must necessarily be good.