By Jesse Sumpter
A lot of people turned off Twitter and Facebook when the Kavanaugh hearings were going last Thursday. It was just too much for them to handle. People on social media were threatening each other. Death threats were tossed around like emojis. I’m sure many people are still hiding in the bushes somewhere until this whole week blows over. When a twitter storm like that happens, it can be easy to wonder: where did all the nice people go? But we should pause first to consider who these “nice people” are that everyone is looking for. Given what we are seeing on social media, is this a new low for humanity or is this how people have always been? Which is to say, where does evil come from: is it Twitter or man?
But some are hesitant to admit that people are the problem. Specifically, nobody wants to say that people are basically evil. If you say that, then all sorts of terrible things might happen. Like twitter. But there are only two options. Either people are basically good or they are basically evil. And only one of those positions really works in the real world.
If you think everyone is basically good, then you are shocked (shocked, I say) when a twitter storm happens. When it happens, people start blaming everything else as the problem: social media, phones, the internet, Joe Biden. But if we take that route then we are led to think that people were nice fluffy angels B.F. (Before Facebook). And that is a plain lie. People have always been angry about something. There have been riots and death threats before Facebook. Just look back a few decades and you see the assignation of JFK and the murder of MLK. Go back a hundred plus years and you get the Civil war and in the midst of that turmoil there were senators caning senators (specifically, caning Senator Charles Sumner). Things right now are pretty bad in American politics but I haven’t seen a senator cane another one. Yet.
Consider the second option: people are basically evil. If you start with that position, then you are ready for this kind of monkey business and the violence still to come down the pike. Yep, mobs really do lynch people. Innocent people do get killed. Facebook doesn’t cause that. That’s just who people are. This is not an attempt to excuse those behaviors and deeds. Those things are vile and wrong but if you understand that people are evil to begin with then you are not surprised by these things when they happen. You are ready for reality in all its harshness. If you realize these kinds of evils are possible then you can seek ways to prepare for them now.
However, it becomes hard to deal with the evil in human nature because people are good at looking like doves. In our culture, there is still great pressure for people to present themselves as moral. As long as you clap for certain things and boo at others, then you will be praised and upheld as a moral citizen. This contributes to the idea that people are basically good. Look, we can say, most people seem pretty decent so people must be pretty decent. But that assumption of how things appear is based on a naturalistic worldview where what you see is what you get.
This naturalistic worldview is based on Evolution. If there is no God and all that exists is the natural world, then all we are left with is what the world seems to be. We are left with the surfaces. If you see someone who looks innocent then he must be. If you see someone who looks like a victim, then she must be. The natural world is all that exists and so all you are left with are appearances. This ties in with Kavanaugh. You don’t have to actually prove the truth. You just have to prove the appearance of truth.
But things are even darker than this because evil people are interested in deceiving others through appearances. And so the key play of evil is to pretend like universal morality does not exist. If people buy into a naturalistic view of the world—that there is no deeper morality in the world—then all you are left with are appearances of morality. And bad guys, like politicians, are good at pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes. What I seem to be is the reality. No, I never lie. I am an innocent, pleasant guy. And now we see that evolution is the father of postmodernism.
And the Devil is good at this trick of looking moral. After all, it is the only play he has. Same for people too. They can only play at being basically good. And then they get on Twitter and make death threats and everyone gets to see what they really are. If you think everyone is an innocent dove, then your world will fall apart pretty fast when the twitter storm starts. But if you understand that God made the world and that there is a standard of truth, then you can enter into the storm and not be frightened. It doesn’t come as a shock to see twitter fights and poo flings. Yep, that’s how people are. Actually, they are worse than this but God sees all these things and He doesn’t run away. Instead, He enters into the messy fights and He speaks. He also sends His people into the mess to speak the truth as well. And this should cause us joy and confidence as we step into the storm. God is not afraid of storms. He is in control of them.