Written by Australian biologist Jeremy Griffith, 2011
How are we to understand and resolve the historic battle of so-called ‘good vs evil’ or 'good vs bad' in the world? Basically, how are we to make sense of human behaviour, specifically the dark side of ? In fact, are we ever going to be able to explain the HUMAN CONDITION? And, more particularly, can we humans ever become truly ?
MOST WONDERFULLY, the answer to these last two core questions about human existence is YES! Biology is now, at last, able to provide the dreamed-of, exonerating, ‘good vs evil’-reconciling, ‘burden-of-guilt’-lifting and thus psychologically healing, human-race-transforming explanation of our ‘good and evil’-conflicted ! (And it should be mentioned that this explanation of our species’ deeply psychologically troubled condition is not the psychosis-avoiding, trivialising, dishonest account of it that the biologist E.O. Wilson has put forward in his theory of Eusociality, but the psychosis-addressing-and-solving, real explanation of it.)
The famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung was forever saying that ‘wholeness for humans depends on the ability to own their own shadow’ because he recognised that only finding understanding of our dark side could end the underlying insecurity in us humans about our fundamental goodness and worth, and, in so doing, make us ‘whole’. The pre-eminent philosopher Sir Laurens van der Post was making the same point when he said that ‘True love is love of the difficult and unlovable’ (Journey Into Russia, 1964, p.145) and that ‘Only by understanding how we were all a part of the same contemporary pattern [of wars, cruelty, greed and indifference] could we defeat those dark forces with a true understanding of their nature and origin’ (Jung and the Story of Our Time, 1976, p.24).
Yes, the agonising, underlying, core, real question in all of human life has been the issue of our seemingly-imperfect, ‘good vs evil’-conflicted, even ‘fallen’ or corrupted, so-called human condition. Are humans good or are we possibly the terrible mistake that all the evidence seems to unequivocally indicate we might be? While it’s undeniable that humans are capable of great love, we also have an unspeakable history of brutality, rape, torture, murder and war–despite all our marvellous accomplishments, we humans have been the most ferocious and destructive force that has ever lived on Earth. And it’s this conflicted situation that we needed to find understanding of–how are we to understand and by so doing resolve the battle of ‘good vs evil’ in the human make-up? Or, to use the Eastern description of the fundamental poles involved in our human situation–how are we to reconcile our ‘Yin and Yang’? Yes, what is the biological explanation for ‘sin’, as our far-from-ideal behaviour has historically been termed? There has never been any mystery about ‘what is sin’, the question has been what is ‘the origin of sin’, and, more particularly, how can it be ameliorated? Even in our everyday behaviour, why have we humans been so competitive, selfish and aggressive when clearly the ideals of life are to be the complete opposite, namely cooperative, ? In fact, why are we so ruthlessly competitive, selfish and brutal that human life has become all but unbearable and we have nearly destroyed our own planet?! Basically, how are we to explain all those darker, so-called ‘sinful’ aspects of our condition–such as ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’ of lust, anger, pride, envy, covetousness, gluttony and sloth?
Unable–until now–to truthfully answer this deepest and darkest of all questions about the origin and of our ‘good vs evil’, human-condition-afflicted existence, we learnt to avoid the whole depressing subject–so much so, in fact, that the human condition has been described as ‘the personal unspeakable’, and as ‘the black box inside of humans they can’t go near’. Indeed, Carl Jung was referring to the terrifying subject of our ‘good vs evil’-embattled condition when he wrote that ‘When it [our shadow] appears…it is quite within the bounds of possibility for a man to recognize the relative evil of his nature, but it is a rare and shattering experience for him to gaze into the face of absolute evil’ (Aion in The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 9/2, p.10). Yes, the ‘face of absolute evil’ in our ‘nature’ is the ‘shattering’ possibility–if we allowed our minds to think about it–that we humans might indeed be a terrible mistake! The great philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev certainly wasn’t exaggerating when, in describing both the agony of our ‘good vs evil’-afflicted state or predicament and the need to resolve it, he wrote that ‘There is a deadly pain in the very distinction of good and evil, of the valuable and the worthless. We cannot rest in the thought that that distinction is ultimate…we cannot bear to be faced with the distinction between good and evil for ever’ (The Destiny of Man, 1931, p.15).
So, what is the dreamed-of, breakthrough, psychosis-addressing-and-solving, truthful, real biological explanation of the human condition that at last allows us to acknowledge, understand and resolve our historic ‘good vs evil’-conflicted existence?
Certainly, we have invented excuses to justify our species’ seemingly-imperfect competitive, selfish and aggressive behaviour, the main one being that we have savage animal instincts that make us fight and compete for food, shelter, territory and a mate. Of course, this ‘explanation’, which has been put forward in the biological theories of Social Darwinism, Sociobiology, Evolutionary Psychology, Multilevel Selection and E.O. Wilson’s Eusociality and basically argues that ‘genes are competitive and selfish and that’s why we are’, can’t be the real explanation for our competitive, selfish and aggressive behaviour. Firstly, it overlooks the fact that our human behaviour involves our unique fully conscious thinking mind. Descriptions like egocentric, arrogant, deluded, artificial, hateful, mean, immoral, sinful, alienated, etc, all imply a consciousness-derived, psychological dimension to our behaviour. The real issue–the psychological problem in our thinking minds that we have suffered from–is the dilemma of our human condition, the issue of our species’ ‘good and evil’/‘yin and yang’-afflicted, less-than-ideal, even ‘fallen’ or corrupted, state. We humans suffer from a consciousness-derived, psychological human condition, not an instinct-controlled animal condition–our condition is unique to us fully conscious humans. (A brief description of the theories of Social Darwinism, Sociobiology, Evolutionary Psychology, Multilevel Selection and Eusociality that blame our divisive behaviour on savage instincts rather than on a consciousness-derived psychosis is presented in the in The Book of Real Answers to Everything!, that this article also appears in, with the complete account provided in of the freely-available, online book Freedom Book 1.)
The second reason the savage-instincts-in-us excuse can’t possibly be the real explanation for our divisive, selfish and aggressive behaviour is that it overlooks the fact that we humans have altruistic, cooperative, loving moral instincts–what we recognise as our ‘conscience’–and these moral instincts in us are not derived from reciprocity, from situations where you only do something for others in return for a benefit from them, as Evolutionary Psychologists would have us believe. And nor are they derived from warring with other groups of humans as advocates of the theory of Eusociality would have us believe. No, we have an unconditionally selfless, fully altruistic, truly loving, universally-considerate-of-others-not-competitive-with-other-groups, genuinely moral conscience. Our original instinctive state was the opposite of being competitive, selfish and aggressive: it was fully cooperative, selfless and loving. (How we humans acquired unconditionally selfless moral instincts when it would seem that an unconditionally selfless, fully altruistic trait is going to self-eliminate and thus not ever be able to become established in a species is briefly explained in the above-mentioned , and more fully explained in Freedom Book 1 of –however, the point being made here is that the savage-instincts-in-us excuse is completely inconsistent with the fact that we have genuine and entirely moral instincts, not savage instincts. Charles Darwin recognised the difference in our moral nature when he said that ‘the moral sense affords the best and highest distinction between man and the lower animals’ (The Descent of Man, 1871, p.495).)
So, what is the truthful, human-condition-addressing rather than human-condition-avoiding, biological explanation of our ‘good vs evil’-conflicted behaviour? The answer begins with an analysis of consciousness.