In his pat-worthy 2006 book The Human Potential for Peace, the anthropologist Douglas P. Fry deplores, as I do, the widespread, fatalistic conviction that war, murder, mayhem, aggression are inevitable. He blames this fatalism in part on “the Christian doctrine of original sin. Few people may believe in it, but the view that evil is endemic has become embedded in our society.”
This is one of my chief objections to Christianity, that—even more than Darwinian theory--it propagates a fatalistic view of human nature. See, for example, my interview with Francis Collins in the February National Geographic (still not available online). Collins is the born-again Christian who oversees the Human Genome Project, and whom I’ve mentioned in previous posts.
Collins believes that God gave us free will and the capacity to be good. But then he offers this extraordinary comment:
Collins: In spite of the fact that we have achieved all of these wonderful medical advances and made it possible to live longer and eradicate diseases, we will probably still figure out ways to argue with each other and sometimes to kill each other, out of our self-righteousness and our determination that we have to be on top. So the death rate will continue to be one per person, whatever the means. We may understand a lot about biology, we may understand a lot about how to prevent illness, and we may understand the life span. But I don’t think we will figure out how to stop humans from doing bad things to each other. That will always be our greatest and most distressing experience here on this planet, and that will make us long the most for something more.
Christians castigate atheists such as Richard Dawkins for propagating a dark, nihilistic view of human existence. But Dawkins is Pollyanna compared to Christians like Collins, who has so little faith in human reason and decency that he thinks we’ll kill each other until the end of time.