If humankind is good, why haven’t there been any perfect people down through history we can look to and emulate?

I was asked this question recently in response to my opposition to defining humankind as ‘sinful’.  I gave the response below.  I’m posting it because I found my argument to be ‘logically watertight’ but wondered what other people’s responses to this line of thought are.  As usual, comments encouraged!

I expect no-one has answered this question because it is completely illogical. When I first starting reading this post and saw you pose the same question earlier, I actually wondered if you were a troll. I realise that you are genuine now, so I’ll try and explain how it reads to other people as best I can.

‘Perfection’ is an abstract concept. It is not a tangible thing or precise state that exists. Moreover, it is completely subjective. My idea of a perfect meal or a perfect holiday will never coincide with someone else’s ideas.

There have been wonderful people down through history that we can look to and emulate: Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Florence Nightingale and even Jesus. To some, these people ARE perfect. To others, perhaps a time they swatted a mosquito is inexcusable. It’s all completely subjective.

You may think that Jesus was ‘perfect’. As I understand it, this is what most Christians believe, as it is the premise for their belief that he bears their sins. But what about the time he displayed uncontrolled anger, violence and disregard for other people’s possessions and livelihoods? He rampaged through the temple in a petty outburst of indignation. Neither Aung San Suu Kyi nor Mandela behaved like that in the face of much more grievous behaviour that oppressed millions of people. Jesus chose 12 followers. Every one of those was a man. Sure, there are references to a few women on the sidelines, but would God incarnate with a message for the whole of humanity, not understand the basics of gender equality? Would he not be above the societal norms of the day and encourage people to see women as valuable contributors and equal to men? He rose above many other societal norms, why not this fundamental human right? This man was not ‘perfect’ by my definition. He had, at times, a nice message, like many other well-meaning people before and after him.

The ‘not perfect’ part of us is again an abstract concept and completely subjective. For example, some people believe that homosexual feelings are ‘not perfect’ whereas I believe they are a completely natural biological phenomenon, like any other kind of sexuality. Some Christians believe that people who do any kind of activity on Sundays are ‘sinful’ – not perfect – but, again, many others think this is completely acceptable.

Obviously, you think your god is perfect. I think that goes without saying. You will see from the many discussions you’ve had here, that there are many people who find the deity that is presented in the Bible to be far from even pleasant.