Psychologist Confirms Depravity of Man
It’s in human nature to do wrong. Experiments show that this is the case.
An old preacher used to say, “People aren’t sinners because they sin. They sin because they are sinners.” There’s sound Biblical theology in that simple contrast. The Bible teaches that we are sinners by nature, in need of salvation.
Now, a psychologist at The Conversation says, “Scammers don’t cheat because they need the money — they cheat because they’re cheaters.” Because they’re cheaters? How did they get that way?
As a behavioral economist, I am fascinated by how money affects decision-making. If money were the driving factor behind cheating, for example, it wouldn’t really make sense for wealthy people to break the law for financial gain.
To find out whether cheating is driven by economic necessity or personality, economist Billur Aksoy and I conducted an experiment. We wanted to understand the role money plays in financial frauds.
Our findings, published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization in July, suggest that people’s propensity to cheat does not reflect their economic situation. People inclined to cheat will do so whether they are rich or poor.
The author, Marco A. Palma, a Professor of Agricultural Economics and Director Human Behavior Laboratory at Texas A&M University, may not hold to a Biblical doctrine of human depravity. He probably thinks there are people who are good by nature (undoubtedly including himself). So what causes this phenomenon where some are “inclined” to cheat?
The evidence suggests that wealth influences cheating much less than a person’s ethics – that is, whether or not they are inclined towards cheating. This conclusion is in line with recent studies suggesting that people who engage in antisocial behavior or commit crimes may have a genetic predisposition to do so.
In other words, some people may be born with a propensity to cheat others out of their money. If so, then environmental factors like poverty and opportunity are not the reason for cheating – they are an excuse to explain bad behavior.
His answer is genetic determinism. So now, the question becomes, why would Darwinism make some people “born with a propensity” to do evil, and not others? Where is the gene for cheating? If it is genetic, how do we know that Palma and his colleague are not infected with the bad gene? Is this article designed to mislead us?
If the Bible’s view of man is the true view, then scientists cannot help but uncover evidence for human depravity, despite their protestations to the contrary.
Although one can observe that certain negative behavior attributes or tendencies may be passed on to the offspring genetically (such as being more suceptible to alchohol abuse, uncontrolled anger or tendency to violence), but still these biological influences are not primary – the the inner man/the spirit of that person is primary. I know of so many cases where people displayed destructive attributes of their parents or grandparents, but then when they turn to Christ they experience a spiritual new birth (John 1:12,13), their lives are radically changed and are set free from their previous destructive behavior. What happened, was their biological, genetic make-up changed — no, but their spirit was transformed. I know of one man who was a seemingly conscienceless person who from his youth spent most of his life in and out of prison. He had over 140 offenses on his rap-sheet. When he was about to be sentenced again in court the judge called his father to appear and asked: “What can help your son get out of his life of crime” His father responded with tears: “Only the death penalty can help him!”
This man was given a Bible in prison and he used the pages to make cigarettes. It took him six years to smoke through the whole O.T. and read it before he smoked. When he got to the Sermon on the Mount it shook him up and he challenged God to change him — and He did! The man is now a pastor and evangelist here in Germany and a tender-hearted person! No biological, genetical change, but he got the death penalty — died with Christ and was born-again to a new life! Until psychologists acknowledge the reality of the spirit of man and the preeminence and power of the Spirit of God, they will never figure out what can transform a human life in a lasting way –(1. Cor. 2:11-15)