Are Men Born With Dispositions To Do Good Or Evil?


I remember taking a psychology class in college. The professor was a very nice man and a logical thinker type. He presented to the class an idea about men who do good or bad things to themselves or others and how this might influence our society. He illustrated this idea by bringing attention to the famous outlaws, Jesse and Frank James.

He asked, “Was what they did good or bad for society?” These two men were characterized as the Robin Hoods of America in that day and time. Rob from the rich and share with the poor was their motto…

They were products of the border wars of Kansas and Missouri that began before the civil War and continued for several years after its end.

Thought Provoking Question

His second question was a very deep and thought provoking one. “Are men born with dispositions to do good or evil?”

The assignment was to put together a logical explanation either for the good or the bad these types of actions have upon our society and to keep in mind if men are naturally good or evil, who do bad things, or good things; then how could they do anything else but what their nature or disposition dictates?

I had no other classes that Monday, so I took time to go to the Library. I looked for several books that might have some ideas on the subject assigned. I looked under Froude and Plato and several other authors or writings. I found a book with a title that caught my attention, The Law of Liberty. This seemed like it might have some answers to the questions.

I had already scratched some thoughts down in my notebook, but I just couldn’t seem to be satisfied with my understanding. One note in this book of liberty asked a super question that hit home. Could God who made all things, make a man good or bad, depending upon His own will? From that one question, I had my idea for this assignment.

The Tree And The Rock

Are people born or made like rocks? Rocks are hard and unchangeable for the most part. Are people like trees that live long, grow and bring shade on a sunny day? Do rocks have liberty? Do trees have liberty?

What on this earth has the right to choose, to make decisions that leads one to do good or bad? Man is the only living thing on this earth that can decide what they do every day. A tree grows but it doesn’t decide how or when it will grow because it is dependent upon nature… A rock is hard and has no way of becoming sand by itself.

If God made man unchangeable or inclined to good or bad then we would have no choice as to what we become, good or bad. We do good or we do bad and the reward for our actions is how we feel about ourselves. If we were inclined to do good all the time then we would be like the rock.

The Law of Liberty is intended only for those who can make a choice. Nature may have an effect upon our choices but we are not ruled by nature. We are the product of our choices, good or bad. The law of Liberty allows men to make decisions and then be accountable for those decisions and our choices… True virtue cannot be compulsory, it must be a willing gift, earned through obedience to the rights (choices) to live the law of liberty.

If Frank and Jesse robbed a train and in the robbery they killed a man, what did they really do to the man they killed? They ended his ability to have liberty to choose, or they ended his God given agency. They took away his rights to live and become the best (or worst) person he could have become.

His ability, that every person has, is to have a choice between wrong or right, good or evil. How can they ever repay this man for taking away this great gift of life, his freedom to choose? The effects of bad are visible either in person or in print and today on television.

When people see these acts in person, the vision is usually, or can be, negative experience. When it’s in the papers some may see it not as a crime but a happening. On television it becomes reality. Any publicity of these crimes can have a basic effect upon the population for good or bad.

Back To The Basic Question

This goes right back to the basic question. Are men born good or evil? They are born not with good or evil dispositions, but born to make choices of good or evil… Humans are the only living thing on this earth that have the liberty to make good or evil of their lives.

When we expose ourselves to evil, then we begin to think evil. When we expose ourselves to good, then we think of good. The human mind is the greatest computer on earth. It stores everything we see; we hear or do, whether it is good or evil.

We can’t erase our memories because they remain locked into our mental reservoir of times history… What we see, hear, act upon or do is always in our sub-conscience mind. Does life have a purpose; this should have been the question for this thought provoking assignment.

What we do and what others do has an effect upon, not only us, but upon everything. You can not hurt yourself or others without causing a ripple effect in society that is either good or bad.

The Bad And The Good

The bad, murder, violence, rape, robbery, auto accidents, child neglect and the list is longer than this article.

The good of helping others, service in the community, kindness, loyalty, honesty, integrity and this list continues.

No good deed or bad deed or actions of these two actions goes unnoticed; for it may infect another with the same purpose it was performed.

When men begin to understand the purpose for life, that is when they began to make the right decisions that benefit not just themselves but everyone…

The Universal Law of Liberty is always in force, choose what you want to become, good or evil. Every man (person) lives two lives, one life that they learn with and the other life they live with after they have learned.

God’s Law of Liberty is Universal. It applies to all of His creations (children) they have the gift of agency to choose…

Robert D. Ashford was a Marine during the cold war and is now retired, after 50 years of construction management. He is a keen genealogist and loves humor. He watches the political horizons and likes to write commentary on what’s next.