October 17, 2014

Does the Proportionality of Good Deeds to Evil Deeds Mean Man is Not Completely Evil?

By In Blogs, C.Jay Engel

Gordon Clark answers:

And in as much as men do many more good deeds than evil deeds would you not be forced to conclude that man’s good nature is far stronger than his evil nature? Of course people do what is wrong. But not all the time. Why even the worst criminals only commit murder on Saturday night. And for the rest of us, why we’re pretty good almost all the time. The proportion of good deeds to evil deeds is so great that we cannot accept the biblical position that man is born in sin and that human nature is depraved [for those who don’t know Clark, he is playing Devil’s Advocate here –CJE]. This point concerning the proportion of good deeds to evil deeds is a point that I am not going to avoid or evade I will come back to it in a minute or two. But before speaking of the proportion of good deeds to evil deeds, I would like to make another point and make it clear. Namely that this matter of proportion is not the point. It is beside the point. It is not the issue – it doesn’t have much to do with the discussion.

Well, what is the point? What is the question then? Let us ask the question as clearly as we can. It is this. Is human nature such that it tends toward innocence and favor with God or is [it] not? Listen carefully to this question. Is human nature such that it naturally tends to innocence and favor with God or not? Now innocence and favor with God require complete obedience – uniform obedience to God’s command. For God being God can require no less than His requirements. And to break the law in one instance is [to] be guilty of all. Proportion is not the mater. The question is, is human nature naturally , does it tend naturally to innocence and favor with God?

I’ll give another illustration. We’re approaching vacation time. You’re taking off as soon as possible, and so are we. And it is very lovely, [it’s] too bad we can’t have a longer vacation than we have. If it were, why we might go to Europe and that would be very desirable. Not only being in Europe but [the] ocean voyage too. I like ocean voyages and our family doesn’t get seasick – well hardly ever. But we enjoy sailing and so we might take a slow boat to Europe and enjoy the bonny breezes and the swells as we go up in the bow of he boat and look over and you can see the flying fish jump across. It is vey nice. And so you sail along for nine or ten days, because this is a slow boat, enjoying things very much. And then on the tenth day some bad weather occurs and to shorten the story, some of he plates drop off the boat and there is a hole, and the water gets in and the thing starts to the sink, and you soon find yourself with a life preserver in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. And as one of the waves sweeps you a little higher you can see now at a short distance the stern of the boat disappearing for the last time under the waves. And as you gulp a bit of Atlantic ocean you remark what a wonderful ship that it is. It’s sailing days were nine and its sinking days were one. The proportion of good sailing days to bad sailing days overwhelms me.

Written by C.Jay Engel

Editor and creator of The Reformed Libertarian. Living in Northern California with his wife, he writes on everything from politics to theology and from culture to economic theory. You can send an email to reformedlibertarian@gmail.com