More on the nature of man and the implications of different beliefs

Dennis Prager starts with underlying beliefs about the nature of man in looking at the Differences Between Left and Right: Part I.

Left-of-center doctrines hold that people are basically good. On the other side, conservative doctrines hold that man is born morally flawed — not necessarily born evil, but surely not born good. … To those who argue that we all have goodness within us, two responses: First, no religion or ideology denies that we have goodness within us; the problem is with denying that we have badness within us. Second, it is often very challenging to express that goodness. Human goodness is like gold. It needs to be mined — and like gold mining, mining for our goodness can be very difficult.

This so important to understanding the left-right divide because so many fundamental left-right differences emanate from this divide.

Material poverty doesn’t cause murder, rape or terror. Moral poverty does. That’s one of the great divides between left and right. And it largely emanates from their differing views about whether human nature is innately good.

One of they key understandings in looking at this is that the belief starts at home. The belief that all people are basically good means a belief that the self is intrinsically good as well. That mean’s one motives must be good ones and the impulse to control the behaviors and thoughts of others must also have ‘good’ motivations. That also leads to the idea that ‘since I an basically good then those who don’t agree with me must be bad.’

The striving to overcome one’s own evil tendencies leads to introspection of one’s motivations and to skepticism about one’s conclusions. That is one reason why science and reason has flourished in a Christian environment as science requires taking a close look at reality and weighing one’s observations against a greater whole.

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