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Written by Australian biologist Jeremy Griffith, 2011
The greater truth about our less-than-ideally-behaved, seemingly-imperfect, ‘good-and-evil’-afflicted, even ‘fallen’ or corrupted state or condition is that while we humans may appear to be a bad or unworthy species, we are in fact the complete opposite!
How this is possible–how humans could be good when we appear to be bad–is the great paradox of our condition that the whole human race has sought to explain and understand since our species first became conscious some two million years ago. Unfortunately, however, until we found that clarifying understanding of ourselves we needed some way of coping, of protecting ourselves from the unjust condemnation emanating both from within and from the world at large, and so it was that DENIAL or EVASION or LYING became an unavoidable feature of human behaviour.
So that’s why people lie–to protect themselves from unjust condemnation. Since the greater truth is that humans aren’t fundamentally bad, a lie that said we weren’t bad was less of a lie than a partial truth that said we were. In this sense, the lie that ‘The apple pie fell in my lap’ was actually more honest than the truth that ‘I stole the apple pie’!! Yes, only when we could explain the , explain why we humans are fundamentally good and not bad, would the need for denial/lying disappear from human behaviour and the question of why do people lie and live in denial no longer exist.
most wonderfully, biology is now at last able to provide this dreamed-of, redeeming, ‘good-and-evil’-reconciling, ‘burden-of-guilt’-lifting, relieving and thus psychologically rehabilitating, human-race-transforming explanation of the human condition–which means denial/lying is now redundant and will disappear from human behaviour forever, and no one will ever again wonder why do people lie because no one will ever again need to lie!! (And it should be mentioned that this relieving 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 dilemma of our seemingly-imperfect, ‘good-and-evil’-afflicted condition arises from the fact that 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, the reality is that humans have been the most ferocious and destructive force that has ever lived on Earth! Even in our everyday behaviour, we humans have very often been extremely competitive, aggressive and selfish when clearly the ideals of life are to be the complete opposite, namely cooperative, loving and selfless. Of course, even the question of why do people lie reveals just how non-ideal human behaviour is–we uphold ‘truth and justice’ as pillars of society, and yet we regularly flout both.
however, while all the evidence has seemed to indicate that we are a deeply flawed species, even some terrible mistake, we humans have always believed there had to be a greater truth that would explain and, in the process, bring relieving, healing and redeeming understanding to our ‘’-afflicted, deeply psychologically troubled human condition–and we couldn’t rest until we found it! Every day that we got out of bed and faced the world we were defying the implication that we were bad. When we humans shook our fist at the heavens we were in essence saying, ‘One day, one day, we are going to explain that we humans are good and not bad after all, and until that day arrives we are not going to accept criticism!’–hence our defiant refrains, ‘No retreat, no surrender’, ‘Death before dishonour’, ‘Give me liberty [from unjust condemnation] or give me death’–and hence the reason why people lie, both to themselves and others: we simply will not accept that we are a fundamentally bad, worthless species because we don’t believe we are, and, most wonderfully, we now have the truthful, real explanation for why we are not! The fact is, while we haven’t been able to explain why we humans are good when we appear to be bad, denial or lying has been our only way of avoiding unjust condemnation, which means every human has had to be a compulsive liar, indeed a pathological liar!
When the famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung said, ‘wholeness for humans depends on the ability to own their own shadow’ it was because he recognised that only finding understanding of our dark side could end our underlying insecurity about our fundamental goodness and worth as humans and, in so doing, make us ‘whole’. Similarly, when the ancients emblazoned the words ‘Man, know thyself’ across their sacred temples it was because only understanding of the psychological reason for why we humans have not been ideally behaved could heal that condition. Knowledge, specifically self-knowledge, is what the human race has been tirelessly working towards since the dawn of some two million years ago.
Yes, the eternal hope, faith, trust and indeed belief of the human race has been that one day the all-clarifying, reconciling, healing and thus transforming, truthful explanation of would finally be found, freeing humans at last of their insecure, good-and-evil-embattled condition. And, as incredible as it is, through the advances that have been made in , it is now possible to present that dreamed-of, reconciling and rehabilitating, truthful understanding of ourselves. That day of days, that greatest of all breakthroughs has finally arrived. That holy grail of the human journey of finding first principle-based, truthful biological understanding of the human condition is finally here–which before long will make the issue of why people lie obsolete because there will be no more denial/lying. (Importantly, understanding of our species’ less-than-ideal condition doesn’t condone or sanction ‘bad’ behaviour, it heals and by so doing ends it.)
From a situation of bewildering confusion and darkness about what it is to be human we have broken through to a world drenched in the light of relieving understanding. The dawn of enlightenment has arrived; the sun is finally coming up to drain away all the darkness from our lives. This is the most amazing moment in human history.
So, what is the wonderfully reconciling, exonerating and thus psychologically rehabilitating, truthful biological explanation of the human condition that brings about the long dreamed-of transformation of the human race–in the process rendering denial/lying obsolete and thus ending the need to ask ‘why do people lie?’