I do not have any answer to your question Pat, but I do have some additional questions I think it is necessary to answer before one can begin to tackle the main question. The two additional questions I will add is:
What is human nature?
What is good and what is evil?
Before we can make a judgement regarding if our nature is good or evil, we need to first figure out what our nature is!
We(humans) share with our cousins in the animal kingdom some traits, like our need for food, water and oxygen. Like other animals
we also have sex to procreate and we empty our bowls and bladder. We therefor spend alot of our time as humans taking care of the most basic needs mentioned above and it can therefor be said that the pursuit to eat, fuck, piss etc is an important part of the human experience and also therefor part of our nature and our culture(s). However these beastly traits of ours is not what defines us as human beings, but they are rather what defines us humans as animals. What make us humans separat from other animals is our large brains with the ability of abstract thought. With this ability of abstract thinking, we are able to envision thinks that are not, envision a future that may or may not happen, think up concepts like tools, written languages, Music etc. The total sum of these creations with its sui generis in our minds, constitutes what we often call human culture. My conclusion is therefor that what is inherintly human and ergo what is human nature is our culture. Said simpler: Human nature is culture!
Before we then go further and ask if our nature(or culture) is good or evil, we must try to figure out what good and evil is and further if it is possible to answer such a question. The first problem when trying to figure this out is the problem of knowing if good and evil are concepts that exist by themself in nature outside the minds of humans, or if they are concepts derived from the human mind? If good and evil are concepts not contigent on human thinking, then who’s thinking are they contigent on? Or are they uncontigent entities existing like forces of nature. If however they are products of the human mind, then they are likely relative concepts and there might even be more than one human definition of whats good and whats evil dependent on in wich historical and cultural context those who define good and evil find themself in. Obviously I cant say as matter of fact if the concept of good and evil are absolutes existing by themself outside our minds or if they are products of our mind, but I find it reasonable to think that good and evil are human concepts and that the best we can do is to try define for ourself what we think constitutes good and evil. My subjective opinion of what is outright evil is acts of murder, torture and rape. Outright good in my opinion is helping and caring for our fellow humans without expecting anything in return, in essence acts of altruism.
After reflecting over what human nature is and what good and evil is, my attempt to answers Pat’s original question is: I do not think human nature is inherently good nor evil, because I think human nature is rather defined by our ability to create our own nature(culture) because of our ability for abstract thought. When it comes to what good and evil is, I find it to be a hard question
to answer, but when it comes to good and evil as it relates to humans, my obvious answer is that we have the ability to do acts of both evil and good. So in conclusion: No I do not think our essence as humans are good or evil.