Good, Evil, Morality, and Human Nature

embpent1.gifI recently ran across the LJ community pagan_prompt, which looks to be a pleasant replacement for the mostly defunct Witch’s Weekly site.  As I feel I’ve been suffering from a bit of writer’s block, I decided to blog about their latest prompt:

Is Human Nature generally ‘good’, ‘evil’, or something else? Why?

In many ways, I’m inclined to declare the question inappropriate and irrelevant.  Discussing human nature in terms of “good” and “evil” makes no sense in the faith I have come to understand and practice.  This is because in my mind, the question is based on an understanding of “good” and “evil” that is absent from my faith.

The question is rooted in the idea that “good” and “evil” are abstract realities embodied and controlled by external, often supernatural forces.  The question at its core is asking which of those two forces have the most direct influence over, control over, and ownership of human beings.

To me, however, good and evil are concepts in morality.  And morality is about choice.  A choice is good or evil, determined by factors such as what virtues or vices it promotes and what overall effect it has on a person, those around them, and the world at large.  There is no good or evil without a choice, and therefore human nature itself cannot be good or evil, because human nature is an abstract concept rather than a choice.

Human nature consists of impulses, desires, needs, feelings, and many other things.  Human nature will certainly influence the choices we make in our lives, and those choices will ultimately be moral and immoral (and I think it’s safe to assume that the average human being will make both kinds of choices throughout their lives).  However, all those complex factors in our nature make both kinds of choices possible.  So to say that we are inherently moral or immoral makes absolutely no sense.  It’s simply a matter of what aspects of our nature we choose to nourish, encourage, and pay heed to.

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