Why people don’t act like the theory says they should

It is because we rejected the doctrine of original sin that we on the Left were always being disappointed. Disappointed by the refusal of people to be reasonable, by the subservience of intellect to emotion, by the failure of true socialism to arrive, by the behaviour of nations and politicians, by the masses’ preference of Holly-wood to Shakespeare, of Sinatra to Beethoven. Above all, we are disappointed by the re-current fact of the war. The reason for our disappointment is that we have rejected the doctrine of original sin.

C.E.M.Joad, Recovery of Belief, in Roy Clements, Masterplan: How God Makes Sense of Our World (Leicester: IVP, 1994), 43–44.

As a result of the war he said:

For years my name regularly appeared with H. G. Wells, Bertrand Russell, and Aldous Huxley as a derider of religion…. Then came the war, and the existence of evil made its impact upon me as a positive and obtrusive fact. The war opened my eyes to the impossibility of writing off what I had better call man’s ‘sinfulness’ as a mere by-product of circumstance. The evil in man was due, I was taught, either to economic circumstance (because people were poor, their habits were squalid, their tastes undeveloped, their passions untamed) or to psychological circumstances. For were not psycho-analysts telling me that all the regressive, aggressive, or inhibited tendencies of human nature were due to the unfortunate psychological environment of one’s early childhood?

The implications are obvious; remove the circumstances, entrust children to psycho? analyzed nurses and teachers, and virtue would reign.

I see now that evil is endemic in man, and that the Christian doctrine of original sin expresses a deep and essential insight into human nature.


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