This is an article that Tom Ascol wrote nine years ago, but last week he tweeted out that it “seems relevant the day after Dylan Roof murdered 9 people in church.”
Through the influences of both theological and secular humanism the modern American mind long ago jettisoned any belief in human depravity. Thus, as Rabbi Kushner has widely taught, when bad things happen it is “good people” who must grapple with the question of “why?”
His views simply reflect contemporary thinking, which, when it comes to the issue of evil inevitably begins with the presupposition that man is basically good. After all, look at the many beneficial things the human race has accomplished. We are constantly reminded of the vast advances being made in science, technology, medicine, and education. Surely the examples that can be cited from these and other fields of human endeavor reflect a nature that is, at least, pretty good.
This assumption renders one ill-prepared to deal with the reality of moral evil in the world. Explanations must be sought from places other than the human heart. So the blame is usually placed on some kind of social deprivation. The arguments which are offered from this wrong-headed perspective are hardly tenable, much less convincing…