Table of Contents
Vol.4: Man in Adam and in Christ
THE FALL WAS DOWN
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1. What is Wrong With Man?
Chapter 2. The Problem of the Will
Appendix: Physical and Mental Deterioration
1967 Doorway paper No. 40, published privately
by Arthur C. Custance
1975 Part I in Man in Adam and in Christ, vol.3 in The
Doorway Papers Series, published by Zondervan Publishing Company
1997 Arthur Custance Online Library (html)
2001 2nd Online Edition (corrections, design revisions)
One of America's
most astute thinkers, Reinhold Niebuhr, has recalled to our consciousness
a fact which both liberalism and Marxism have ignored with almost
fatal consequences to our civilization. Evil, he points out,
is something real, not an appearance only, and the proper name
for it is sin. Its locus is not in institutions, which are but
a reflection of human purposes, but in human nature itself.
It is pride, self-righteousness,
greed, envy, hatred and sloth that are the real evils and the
ones from which social evils spring. When man is thwarted in
his attempts to realize justice it is because he is thwarted
by his own sinful predisposition. The recognition of this inherent
predisposition to sin helps to explain why the best laid
plans of men never quite succeed.
John H. Hallowell
Professor of Political Science
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TO MY MIND,
one of the saddest and most disastrous results of the theory
of evolution as applied to man is that it has led to an entirely
false conception of what man's true nature is.
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If human evolution is true in the
sense that Huxley and Simpson have held it to be, then man is
an angel in the making, changing steadily for the better as he
moves further away from his animal ancestors. His propensity
for wickedness is recognized as unfortunate, but more in the
nature of a relapse, a temporary set-back, a kind of unfulfilled-ness,
which there is every reason to believe he will in time grow out
But if man is a divinely created
being who has fallen from grace and can by nature change only
for the worse, then his propensity for wickedness is something
more than merely evidence of unrealized potential. From the biblical
point of view it is a demonstration that something has gone dreadfully
wrong from which there now seems no possibility of self-recovery.
It is important to know which of
these two alternatives is the correct interpretation. Science
has learned to deal with the forces of Nature with increasing
success, a fact which suggests that within the limits of the
tools we use, we do have a valid and accurate understanding of
these forces. And the greater the measure of success that science
has in gaining dominion in this way, the more critically important
it becomes to achieve a proper understanding of the nature of
man himself, for otherwise in the final analysis science is only
enlarging man's potential resources for evil. Yet it is pretty
generally agreed that whereas the physical sciences have advanced
tremendously, the social sciences have scarcely even taken the
first faltering steps.
If man is part of Nature, as evolutionary
philosophy insists he is, then how has it come about that a method
which is so successful in dealing with the one part of Nature,
the world outside of man, has
failed so miserably in
dealing with the other part of Nature, that which lies within
When a machine breaks down, we
make the general assumption that it really had no intention of
doing so. Inherently, we hold that it merely needs repairing.
So long as man is treated as though he were nothing but a physico-chemical
machine, essentially no different from the rest of the order
of Nature that we have learned to analyze and manipulate so successfully,
we shall assume that he merely needs repairs -- that he is not
really deliberately behaving wickedly, that his sinfulness is
a failure to be good rather than an intention to be evil. What
the theologians would consider to be reflections of the Fall,
are by the scientists and philosophers now looked upon in a fundamentally
different way. Man falls back, not down. He merely relapses,
without actually losing his potential for good.
The point is really fundamental.
For whether one looks upon the wickedness of human nature as
something which is negative (i.e., default) or positive (i.e.,
a preferred occupation when it is felt safe), this must ever
after be the basic guide to all corrective measures whether applied
by the individual or society, to himself or to his fellow men.
One of the Greek philosophers --
I think it was Heraclitus -- suggested a rather intriguing way
to resolve certain types of conflict of opinion. He suggested
that if two quite reasonable people, intelligently arguing about
the significance of the same piece of evidence, find that they
have come to entirely different interpretations which are mutually
contradictory, they may resolve the contradiction in the following
way. If they will trace back the logical steps of their reasoning
until they arrive at the very first point at which they are once
more in agreement, they will probably find that this is the point
at which they went astray. This is the point at which an erroneous
assumption was made, which by its very untruth permitted the
extension of the argument along the wrong paths.
In answering the question, What
is wrong with man? we have a case of such a disagreement. All
are agreed that something is wrong, and up to this point there
is no question. But there is not the same agreement about the
diagnosis of what ails human nature, and therefore how to deal
with it. John H. Hallowell bears witness to this impasse: (1)
my conviction, shared by many others and based on a study of
the historical evidence, that the present-day crisis in which
we find ourselves is in large part the product of the unsuccessful
1. Hallowell, John H., Religious Perspectives
in College Teaching: In Political Science, Hazen Foundation,
New Haven, Connecticut, 1950, p.13.
modern times to found our political philosophies
and systems of government upon a conception of man that ignores
or minimizes his capacity for evil, and hence has no adequate
means of dealing with it.
there are four commonly accepted views about what is wrong with
man. The evolutionist argues that the trouble with man is that
he has not had time to develop sufficiently. In due course he
will learn by experience how to handle himself. The second view,
held by those who believe in eugenics, is that proper breeding
will eliminate or greatly minimize the problem by a process akin
to the inheritance of acquired characteristics. The third view
is that of many sociologists. They argue that the problem is
one of environment. Allow a child to be brought up in an atmosphere
where violence and dishonesty are considered normal and you cannot
expect anything but juvenile delinquency to result. The answer
is to correct the environment. There is also the fourth view.
The Educationists, like the Greek Philosophers, have tended to
equate sin with ignorance. In fairness to them it must be said
there is considerable evidence that this optimistic view, so
characteristic of the close of the last century, is receiving
thoughtful re-appraisal. Yet, the conviction is still very strong
that if a man can only be shown what is best, he will adopt it.
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Now we may apply the Philosopher's
theorem. What is the single point of agreement in all these views?
It is simply that man's wickedness is the result of something
lacking. The evolutionist says time is lacking; the eugenicist,
that breeding is lacking; the sociologist, that the proper environment
is lacking; the educationist, that knowledge is lacking. We might
argue perhaps that the basic fallacy which has led to divergence
of opinion and an unsuccessful attempt to deal with the problem
thus far is to be found here. It is not because there is something
lacking, something yet to be achieved, but something that somehow
got in at the very base of human nature. Sin is positive, active,
effective, there! Sin entered (Romans 5: 12 ), and has
ever since found expression at the root of every man's nature.
This is what is not being recognized.
According to the Bible, therefore,
the trouble with human nature is not that it lags in the achievement
of perfection, but rather that it is possessed by a positive
bent towards wickedness. This view, once almost universally believed
in Christendom, is not popular today because it is pessimistic,
because there is an air of finality about it, because it implies
that no matter how successful science is in other areas of endeavour,
its methods will not work here. At this point, man is inadequate,
a view of human capability which is not acceptable any longer.
Yet, though it is indeed not a popular view, the whole of history
bears witness to its truth and, as we shall show, many lines
lend their weight in
support of it where they were least expected to and where, in
fact, they were undertaken in the optimistic hope of proving
precisely the opposite.
One of the difficulties in admitting
this sad truth comes from the fact that sin affects not merely
the spirit of man but also his mind. These noetic effects have
so clouded man's reason that he is simply no longer able to diagnose
the situation accurately. Where scientific reasoning has succeeded
elsewhere and proved itself a most powerful tool, here it has
served only to sharpen man's weapons of self-destruction, to
arm his wickedness. The expected gains from improving his lot
have somehow been turned into opportunities for greater displays
of perversity by reason of the very increase in leisure, security,
and power resources which have become available. He is not more
wicked, he has merely increased his opportunities to express
the potential he has in this direction, a fact which makes it
all the more imperative that we should achieve a true understanding
of what the root of the problem really is. But because of the
very nature of the Fall, man cannot give genuine intellectual
assent to the proposition that he is incapable of dealing with
his own perversity successfully. Even when he admits that such
perversity does exist in a distressingly persistent form he is
still unable to see how hopelessly lost he really is apart from
divine intervention. The anomaly of a man upon occasion telling
lies in order to "prove" his innocence (!) is merely
an illustration of what goes on all the time -- if he reflects
upon his own behaviour. He sins in one way to conceal some other
sin, never achieving a totally honest appraisal of his true nature
as a fallen creature, except by revelation. A. J. Carlson stated
the secular view succinctly when he said, "The answer to
the claim that science is insufficient is more science."
(2) Herein lies
the problem, the refusal of man to admit his own inadequacy,
a refusal that results from pride and a diseased mind.
But let us now look at the evidence.
2. Carlson, A. J., "Science and the Supernatural,"
Science, vol.73, 1931, p. 217.
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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
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