People are created in God's image. This sets us off from the animals. People have the capacity to think about higher order concepts like good and evil and to make moral decisions which the animals cannot do. Mankind has the capacity to act both in a great and honorable manner or to behave in an utterly evil and perverse way. So how can we explain the capacity of people to act in such contradictory ways? This question takes us back to who human beings are and what their nature is like. According to scripture what sets us apart from the animals is having been created in God's image. We are capable of higher order thinking that involves decision-making which includes the moral issues we encounter in daily life. Christianity explains the apparent contradictions in our behavior as a part of the fallen human nature of mankind. As a result, we are capable of choosing between both good and evil but are bent toward evil by our inherited nature.
A major way that Christianity differs from the worldview of the secularist is how we view human nature. Christians believe human beings have a fallen human nature which they attained from the rebellious fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They believe this as a basic statement of fact presented within the Bible. It describes how the sin nature of Adam and Even was transferred to the human race. Christians believe this sinful human nature has led to the many problems we see within the world today.
The secularists don't believe the Bible is factual. They reject anything is says regarding human nature. This is an important point to bear in mind when comparing the ramifications of these two worldview. If you believe there is a God who describes the reality of the way things are in life then your approach to life will be radically different than that of a secularist. When dealing with life issues this plays a major role in how one attempts to address major life issues. If we believe people are by nature sinners who are bent toward evil, we will take precautions to protect ourselves from their actions. In contrast, secularists believe people are by nature prone to be good people. They are less likely to take precautions to restrain human behavior.
These two differing views of human nature are a major dividing point between the Christians and secularists. We often see the tension between these two worldviews clearly with regard to how we establish our laws, government and public policy. The early founders of our nation were strongly influenced by the Christian perspective regarding human nature. They believed that government needed to be kept small so that sinful leaders would not use it for their own selfish purposes. Our constitution was established with a strong checks and balance system which distributed the power so no one person could become a tyrant having all the power of the state.
As time progressed secularism grew in popularity among Americans and this changed the course of how we determine public policy. Secularists believe people are generally good and those who commit crimes only need to be re-educated by the government to make them "good" citizens. Government was seen as an essential tool they could use to establish their secular utopia in which basically good people could be taught to live with one another. In their eyes the growth of government to accomplish this end was a good thing. Government also needed to be given more power to achieve this goal. This this required that human rights could be overruled for the common good in pursuit of a secular heaven on earth.
The difference between how human nature is viewed explains the basic hostilities we see in politics today. How these two worldviews play themselves out will determine the future direction of this nation. Christian leaders need to get their act together and reclaim both the American people and our nation for Christ. The Gospel has become anemic in American pulpits and we need new leadership that will preach the total sovereignty in all of life by Christ. Christians also need to be discipled in the teachings of the Bible so they live ethically and help to extend the values of the Kingdom of God within American culture. If this does not happen, we will this nation that many have sacrificed their lives for.