On Wheat & Tares we frequently get comments about how our posts are so negative towards the Church, and we fail to see the good it does. Just yesterday Buddhist Bishop found fault with the way the Church spends its money for buildings. I got to thinking about why some people seem to look for the fault in other people, organizations, possessions (my car is a lemon), etc. I have enjoyed reading lots of books on evolutionary psychology, and I remember reading in one of them the idea that we have a propensity to find fault as a survival instinct. I was unable to find the reference, but it was just one authors opinion (which is what most of evolutionary psychology is), so I’ll offer my opinion on the subject! (I wrote about a similar subject, the “Gift Of Fear” three years ago)
Lets suppose there are two men that lived 100,000 years ago in a hunter/gather situation. If you believe the earth is only 6000 years old you can stop reading, as none of this will make sense. One was named Bob, and the other Jim. (I tried to come up with some old sounding names, and even found a Caveman Name Generator, but I thought I’d just stick to something easy)
Bob finds fault in almost everything he does. It is just his personality. One day he trades some mastodon meat to a fellow tribe member for a spear. The spear looks good, but the person that made it did not let the plant fiber used to hold the rock blade to the wood shaft dry sufficiently ( he rushed it), so it was too pliable. When Bob used it on a rushing saber-toothed tiger (Smilodon), the blade twisted to the side when it hit the tiger, only partially penetratingly the skin. The wounded animal was still quite capable, and it took Bob much longer to subdue the cat, not without some danger to his life. When he returned to his cave, he let spear maker know his spear was garbage, that it didn’t work. Bob found a new spear maker after that incident.
Something similar happens to Jim who lives the next tribe over. But Jim only sees the good in everything, its just his nature. So when the spear fails, and he is almost killed, he does not want to confront the spear maker, figures the spear maker was only human (or neanderthal), and maybe the next one would be better.
On Bob’s next hunt, he has a much better spear, and kills a tiger without incident. Bob lived a long life (50 years), and had many children from multiple wives. Each of these children had their father’s gift for fault finding. Jim on the other had went hunting with another faulty spear, since he was giving the spear maker the benefit of the doubt (he was doubting his doubts!). Jim was killed this time when his spear complete failed him. He never had children, and never passed on his “look on the bright side of life” gene.
I think today we don’t need to have the “fault finding” gene, and it is slowly being bred out of us. We have Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA), Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), local building authorities, etc. It is usually not a life and death situation if we fail to find faults in people or things. The person without the fault finding gene is being saved by society and its safety nets, so that they can have children. But this will take several thousand years, so until then, you have me and the other writers on Wheat & Tares with the fault finding gene looking for faults anywhere we can find them, and saving the the human race!