This debate has been going on for a long time. Is Man basically good or evil? Personally, I believe Man to be basically evil, and have plenty of evidence to support my claim. If you disagree with me and believe Man is basically good, I suggest you stick around to find out the truth.
Let’s begin with a classic psychological experiment: the Stanford Prison Experiment. In 1971, an experiment was conducted with students from America and Canada that answered an ad asking for volunteers for this experiment (whom would be paid $15/hour) and were in the Stanford area. This experiment was on the effects prison life has on people. A group of male students were then selected to either be a guard or prisoner through the flip of a coin.
When arriving to the ‘prison’, the assigned guards ordered the prisoners to strip naked in order to search their bodies for either foreign objects or germs. The prisoners were given prison-style clothes and were chained around the ankles to remind them of the oppressive environment in which they live, even though they don’t do that in prisons.
Often times, the guards would wake up the prisoners to do “counts”, a way for the prisoners to familiarize themselves with their new ID numbers, which is what they are always to be referred to as. In an assertion of authority, the guards would force the prisoners to do push-ups as punishment of prisoners misbehaving. However, this was usually not done in prisons, but done in Nazi concentration camps.
This was all done in the first day. On the second day, the prisoners staged a ‘rebellion’ in which they barricaded the cell doors with their beds and were taunting and cursing the morning-shift guards. The guards were infuriated by this rebellion and decided to use force. They used fire extinguishers to blast the prisoners away from the cell doors. The guards then forced their way into the cells, stripped the prisoners naked, took the beds out and forced the people in charge of the rebellion (the ones who came up with the idea) into solitary confinement (a 2x2 room with just enough room to stand in) and began to intimidate and harass the prisoners.
As a response to this rebellion, the guards stepped up their control, surveillance and aggression. After “lock-up”, the 10:00 PM curfew, they would often have the prisoners urinate or defecate in a bucket that was left in their cell unless the prisoners asked to use the bathroom. Even then, the guards would sometimes deny that request. Sometimes, the guards wouldn’t even let the prisoners empty the buckets, so the prison would often reek of what the prisoners left behind.
One prisoner eventually suffered from some serious emotional disturbance, disorganized thinking, uncontrollable crying and fits of rage. Keep in mind that, this is a STUDENT, NOT AN ACTUAL CONVICT! This young man became scarred by the torture of the environment he was surrounded by in just 36 HOURS! He was, consequently, released.
At one point, there was a rumor of an escape attempt, in which the released prisoner would gather his friends to rescue the other prisoners. So what did the guards do? They put the prisoners together in chains and had them moved to a storage room elsewhere in the campus until the supposed plan was meant to take place. In fact, the lead researcher, who had been made warden, acted as more of an actual warden than a researcher. They didn’t even collect any data on the day of the alleged escape attempt.
After the rumored escape attempt, the guards once again stepped up their level of harassment on the prisoners.
Everyone in this experiment was severely submerged into their roles. The prisoner students acted like real prisoners and the student guards acted like real guards. Even the lead researcher of the experiment acted like a real warden. It wasn’t until he had realized just how far into the role he had gotten that he told a prisoner who had been very sick, weak and crying that it was all just an experiment. An experiment that the prisoner, up to that point, had come to believe was real life.
I can talk more about this horrendous experiment, but it would make this article far too long. In fact, I only planned on this experiment being only one of the examples of man being basically evil. Thankfully, I think it teaches us a valuable lesson: Man is basically evil, particularly when given power over someone else.
Even the man that was leading this whole thing showed an evil side when he heard of the escape attempt.
Man is, indeed, basically evil. Only through God can we have a sense of morality that is unwavering. It’s easy to say that you wouldn’t do evil, until the choice is presented to you. I can’t imagine anyone, Christian or otherwise, saying they would act the same way these guards did under the same circumstance of a psychological experiment. But only a Christian, would really not do these things. Because he would be able to recognize the evil in those deeds. Particularly knowing that what he’d be doing is hurting an innocent person.
Without God, man is basically evil. With God, man is made good.
“as it is written: None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
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