Humanist Psychology Why Good People Bad Things

QUESTION: Humanist Psychology – Why Do Good People Do Bad Things?


To explain why good people do bad things, Secular Humanist psychology blames social influences rather than the individual. Maslow, for example, explains that our good impulses “are easily warped by cultures—you never find them in their pure state.”1 Virtually every Humanistic psychologist shares the view that culture provides the only means available to explain the odd fact that we are inherently good, yet still tend to commit evil acts.

Rogers notes, “Experience leads me to believe that it is cultural influences which are the major factor in our evil behaviors.”2 Humanism thus explains that evil is in the world as the result of societal influences thwarting our natural tendencies for good.

Humanist Psychology – Culture Causes Evil
Humanist psychologist Rollo May, however, is unwilling to accept this premise. In response to claims by Rogers, May cuts to the heart of the matter when he writes, “But you say that you ‘believe that it is cultural influences which are the major factor in our evil behaviors.’ This makes culture the enemy. But who makes up the culture except persons like you and me?”1 Indeed, how could culture or society ever have become evil if there were no tendency within us toward evil?

Humanist psychologists offer no solution to this dilemma. They seem to acknowledge the dichotomy, however, when they focus on treating individuals rather than society.


Rendered with permission from the book, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews (Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 I. David Welch, George A. Tate, and Fred Richards, ed., Humanistic Psychology (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1978), 189.

2 Carl Rogers, “Notes on Rollo May,” Journal of Humanistic Psychology (Summer 1982): 8.

3 Rollo May, “The Problem of Evil: An Open Letter to Carl Rogers,” Journal of Humanistic Psychology (Summer 1982): 12.

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