…are that they publicly acknowledge that they are awful, but that there is a perfect role model to serve as a perpetual source of hope and encouragement.
The older I get, becoming wiser and seeing firsthand the nature of men and women, the more I think Christianity is the diagnosis and prescription. Other worldviews lack something essential.
For example, there are secular humanists who think humanity is basically good, with a few bad apples. Just tweak the social institutions a bit (and that “solution” is the same, for a Marxist or an atheist anarcho-capitalist), and the natural goodness of humanity will come shining through. Yet I don’t think that’s accurate. For just a quick rebuttal, I can point out: Even on its own terms, this worldview shows that humans will choose to engage in monstrous cruelty if the circumstances are right. And it’s weird to say our “natural state” is one of benevolence, when we have yet to find the “right society” to draw it out of us.
On the other hand, there are also atheists/agnostics walking around who are absolutely disgusted with humanity. Think of George Carlin in the parts of his routine where he becomes downright misanthropic. That also strikes me wrong. Every act of kindness, every work of art, shows the potential of humanity.
As in other areas, when it comes to the question of the fundamental nature of humans, I think the Christian view is more accurate and “pragmatic” than the other leading contenders. Left to their own devices, people are evil, self-destructive wretches, but they have a divine spark within them. There is hope for humanity, but their salvation won’t come merely from “trying harder.”