Dropped at 4:24 pm on Monday, March 24, 2014
Some conclusions on evil from Philip Zimbardo, leader of the notorious 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment.
"I reckon Zimbardo is right, if there's no way of changing human hearts. Because if there's no hope to change a person's heart, then all we can do is mitigate the evil that people can commit by managing the circumstances into which we place them.
Sadly, though, I think that if this is true, we're in a hopeless situation. We end up in a recursive loop we can't resolve.
- We stop people from doing evil things by avoiding placing them in 'evil producing/tempting' situations.
- We stop people from being placed in 'evil producing' situations by changing the system that creates the various situations.
- We change the system by convincing people to change their behaviour so that they change the system.
But the system exists as the product of people acting in ways that benefit them but hurt others. How do we change the actions of those people? We have to start from step 1 all over again.
And so the loop continues.
If only there was a way to allow the human heart to choose the good even in a tempting situation.
"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works." Titus 2:11-14