Albert Einstein once said, “Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity … and I’m not sure about the universe.”
Einstein’s pessimism about humanity was well-founded. We see ourselves as sophisticated, intelligent, and basically good at heart. And yet the history of the world is a devastating indictment to the contrary. Humanity’s potential for brutality and evil is astonishing.
Secular thinkers explain our potential for evil as some ancient evolutionary mechanism we can’t shake. In their logic, we’re evolving toward ever greater enlightenment, but our inner caveman keeps pulling us backward.
Faith traditions see the problem differently. We’re created in the divine image. We’re made for beauty, for love, and for all things good and right. But we’re broken. We’re like a Rolls Royce that’s out of alignment, so it pulls toward the ditch. Our only hope is for something or Someone to adjust our steering.
That potential for a moral realignment of the heart is ultimately humanity’s only hope. We are more than biological machines. We exist spiritually as well, and the spiritual has powerful influence over our motives, our values, and our acceptance of what’s right and wrong.
Only when we believe in something or Someone that transcends us can we escape our proclivity for selfishness, greed, and power and fulfill our potential for humility and sacrificial love.