1 of 22
1
“Evil” does not exist?
Posted: 03 August 2013 04:56 AM   [ Ignore ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  129
Joined  2011-11-06

I am reading a fictional novel by Anne Rice and one of the characters presents the concept the evil does not really exist, only mistakes. Actions we perceive as “evil” are results of hormones, chemical reactions in the brain and even mental illness—but there is nothing behind it beyond that (i.e. supernatural forces such as evil). I agree. I don’t think this would be well received in general society though, but it is the only scientific answer, in my opinion. What do you think?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 August 2013 07:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1396
Joined  2010-04-22

I’ve read a couple of Anne’s books. She strikes me as a very sharp writer. And for there being a lot of intelligence in the books, they’re still easy to read. She’s good.

I also think that this “evil” concept permeates her books; she just doesn’t always spell it out.

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 August 2013 08:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2243
Joined  2012-10-27
FinallyDecided - 03 August 2013 04:56 AM

I am reading a fictional novel by Anne Rice and one of the characters presents the concept the evil does not really exist, only mistakes. Actions we perceive as “evil” are results of hormones, chemical reactions in the brain and even mental illness—but there is nothing behind it beyond that (i.e. supernatural forces such as evil). I agree. I don’t think this would be well received in general society though, but it is the only scientific answer, in my opinion. What do you think?

I agree with her analysis. Evil is a supernatural concept.  I reject all supernatural concepts.  None has any objective evidence. You’re right that it would not be well received by general society, but general society has an unshakable belief in the supernatural.  It has no effect on the truth. 

Ann Rice sounds like a skeptic at heart, maybe even an atheist.

Lois

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 August 2013 10:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1283
Joined  2011-03-12

I agree.

Two words: Charles Manson.

So much for the notion that evil does not exist.

 Signature 

Question authority and think for yourself. Big Brother does not know best and never has.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 August 2013 01:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  129
Joined  2011-11-06
Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 03 August 2013 10:46 AM

I agree.

Two words: Charles Manson.

So much for the notion that evil does not exist.

I am not sure I understand. Can you explain?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 August 2013 02:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1283
Joined  2011-03-12

I am not sure I understand. Can you explain?

If you and anybody else reading through this thread do not understand who and what Charles Manson is, then you’re all so far out of touch with all reality, there’s no point in even going on.

To say that this guy and his followers are poster children FOR the death penalty is the grandest of understatements.

If you can’t understand that, try checking out guys like Hitler, and Stalin. Maybe then, somebody will get it. Evil exists. That’s not a supernatural precept.

 Signature 

Question authority and think for yourself. Big Brother does not know best and never has.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 August 2013 03:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2885
Joined  2011-08-15

I am not sure I understand. Can you explain?

If you and anybody else reading through this thread do not understand who and what Charles Manson is, then you’re all so far out of touch with all reality, there’s no point in even going on.

To say that this guy and his followers are poster children FOR the death penalty is the grandest of understatements.

If you can’t understand that, try checking out guys like Hitler, and Stalin. Maybe then, somebody will get it. Evil exists. That’s not a supernatural precept.

Unfortunately EOC this is someone I know a lot about as his mother was born and raised in my home town, and he spent his early years in our area with his aunt and uncle near Charleston, WV. Not only did he committ petty crimes,  but they investigated the murder of one of his relatives here. Given his abusive background I have to agree with Lois that there was no supernatural motivation. Mansion, in all probability was born with sociopathic tendencies and his lack of nurturing helped to create a true psychopath. Neuroscience is revealing that certain anomalies in the brain create sociopathic tendencies and given the right nurturing switch (or lack of) a psychopath is born. Also remember that Hitler’s father (who married his own niece and had little Adolph) hated Hitler and beat him often. Hitler responded in kind and hated Dad. He lived in a fantasy World and when he became powerful acted on those fantasies. Yes, I’ll readily agree that there are evil people in the World who have no empathy nor sympathy for their fellow man but no Satan caused it. Besides he exists only in the brain anyway; we made him up.


Cap’t Jack

 Signature 

One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.

Thomas Paine

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 August 2013 03:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4619
Joined  2007-10-05
Lois - 03 August 2013 08:55 AM

Ann Rice sounds like a skeptic at heart, maybe even an atheist.

Lois

Out of curiosity I checked her website. I don’t think she’s an atheist, or a skeptic of any sort, judging by the quotes she put on her site.

 Signature 

“In the beginning, God created the universe. This has made many people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”
Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 August 2013 04:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2243
Joined  2012-10-27
Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 03 August 2013 10:46 AM

I agree.

Two words: Charles Manson.

So much for the notion that evil does not exist.

Still doesn’t.  Many factors went into making Charles Manson amd none of them was the supernatural. They were all natural phenomena. It could happen again or it could be worse. 

Does it make you feel better to think it comes out of some supernatural force instead of natural forces? I’ve never been able to understand people’s tendency to believe that. If it’s natural it can be analyzed, understood and perhaps prevented.  If you attribute it to the supernatural it’s an excuse to throw up your hands and say it’s beyond understanding. That’s what they used to say about mental illness in general. It’s an excuse to do nothing, IMO.

Lois

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 August 2013 04:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2243
Joined  2012-10-27
Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 03 August 2013 02:35 PM

I am not sure I understand. Can you explain?

If you and anybody else reading through this thread do not understand who and what Charles Manson is, then you’re all so far out of touch with all reality, there’s no point in even going on.

To say that this guy and his followers are poster children FOR the death penalty is the grandest of understatements.

If you can’t understand that, try checking out guys like Hitler, and Stalin. Maybe then, somebody will get it. Evil exists. That’s not a supernatural precept.

If it isn’t supernatural, what is it? Where does it come from?  Can you show any objective evidence that aything that you call evil exists?

Lois

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 August 2013 04:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2243
Joined  2012-10-27
Thevillageatheist - 03 August 2013 03:06 PM

I am not sure I understand. Can you explain?

If you and anybody else reading through this thread do not understand who and what Charles Manson is, then you’re all so far out of touch with all reality, there’s no point in even going on.

To say that this guy and his followers are poster children FOR the death penalty is the grandest of understatements.

If you can’t understand that, try checking out guys like Hitler, and Stalin. Maybe then, somebody will get it. Evil exists. That’s not a supernatural precept.

Unfortunately EOC this is someone I know a lot about as his mother was born and raised in my home town, and he spent his early years in our area with his aunt and uncle near Charleston, WV. Not only did he committ petty crimes,  but they investigated the murder of one of his relatives here. Given his abusive background I have to agree with Lois that there was no supernatural motivation. Mansion, in all probability was born with sociopathic tendencies and his lack of nurturing helped to create a true psychopath. Neuroscience is revealing that certain anomalies in the brain create sociopathic tendencies and given the right nurturing switch (or lack of) a psychopath is born. Also remember that Hitler’s father (who married his own niece and had little Adolph) hated Hitler and beat him often. Hitler responded in kind and hated Dad. He lived in a fantasy World and when he became powerful acted on those fantasies. Yes, I’ll readily agree that there are evil people in the World who have no empathy nor sympathy for their fellow man but no Satan caused it. Besides he exists only in the brain anyway; we made him up.


Cap’t Jack

You’re right, Jack everything has a natural explanation.  But it may be impossible to convince people who believe in what they call evil, which they can’t define.  It’s like trying to get a person to define god or to understand that it’s a myth. The concepts of Evil and god have a lot in common, they’re easy answers that stand in for rational analysis of what is going on around us.

Lois

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 August 2013 04:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2243
Joined  2012-10-27
DarronS - 03 August 2013 03:39 PM
Lois - 03 August 2013 08:55 AM

Ann Rice sounds like a skeptic at heart, maybe even an atheist.

Lois

Out of curiosity I checked her website. I don’t think she’s an atheist, or a skeptic of any sort, judging by the quotes she put on her site.

Thanks.  I guess I was hoping for something better.

Lois

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 August 2013 09:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2588
Joined  2011-04-24

Evil just means “really bad”.  I agree that so called evil behavior is a result of biology, like all behavior is.

However, it’s in our nature to perceive things to be good, evil, etc. and that is what matters.

 Signature 

Raise your glass if you’re wrong…. in all the right ways.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 August 2013 02:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  129
Joined  2011-11-06
Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 03 August 2013 02:35 PM

I am not sure I understand. Can you explain?

If you and anybody else reading through this thread do not understand who and what Charles Manson is, then you’re all so far out of touch with all reality, there’s no point in even going on.

To say that this guy and his followers are poster children FOR the death penalty is the grandest of understatements.

If you can’t understand that, try checking out guys like Hitler, and Stalin. Maybe then, somebody will get it. Evil exists. That’s not a supernatural precept.

Of course I know who Charles Manson and all the rest of the individuals you named are; the point of my original post is that people in society generally do not accept the concept the evil does not exist—see my original post. You proved that point in your first response. The point of the thread was to present the concept that certain people attribute what most of society perceives as “evil” to mental illness, chemical imbalances mixed with hormones. Sometimes, these factors can sway people to be completely against the death penalty. When I originally posted, I wasn’t exactly thinking of a 5 year old taking bubble gum from a candy shop without paying.

[ Edited: 04 August 2013 02:53 AM by FinallyDecided ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 August 2013 02:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  129
Joined  2011-11-06
Lois - 03 August 2013 08:55 AM
FinallyDecided - 03 August 2013 04:56 AM

I am reading a fictional novel by Anne Rice and one of the characters presents the concept the evil does not really exist, only mistakes. Actions we perceive as “evil” are results of hormones, chemical reactions in the brain and even mental illness—but there is nothing behind it beyond that (i.e. supernatural forces such as evil). I agree. I don’t think this would be well received in general society though, but it is the only scientific answer, in my opinion. What do you think?

I agree with her analysis. Evil is a supernatural concept.  I reject all supernatural concepts.  None has any objective evidence. You’re right that it would not be well received by general society, but general society has an unshakable belief in the supernatural.  It has no effect on the truth. 

Ann Rice sounds like a skeptic at heart, maybe even an atheist.

Lois

Anne seems to be an atheist but also remains fascinated by religion and lived part of her life under Catholic influence. At times, she has seemingly vacillated between atheism and Christianity. Check out the section on her “Renunciation of Christianity”, if interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_rice

I follow her on Facebook and I can say with certainty that she is not a traditional Christian, if one at all.

[ Edited: 04 August 2013 02:55 AM by FinallyDecided ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 August 2013 05:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2885
Joined  2011-08-15

You’re right, Jack everything has a natural explanation.  But it may be impossible to convince people who believe in what they call evil, which they can’t define.  It’s like trying to get a person to define god or to understand that it’s a myth. The concepts of Evil and god have a lot in common, they’re easy answers that stand in for rational analysis of what is going on around us.

Advancements in the field of neuroscience have uncovered more evidence of the causes of sociopathy and psychopathy. The problem seems to lie in the underdevelopment of areas in the prefrontal cortex and PET scans on criminals confirm it. Injuries to the brain may also alter personality, creating sociopathic behavior. Most are born without sympathy or remorse, are often thrill seekers and can appear to be normal when they need to but they’re only acting a part. There’s a lot of research on this and IMO a great place to start is Pinker’s book “How the Mind Works”. Another good one is Barbara Oakley’s “Evil Genes”. Both discuss the causes of these abnormalities that our ancestors chalked up to a supernatural evil guy. Well, it made sense then, if there is a good god or goddess it has to be balanced with a bad guy. No human could be THAT evil and thoughtless so it had to be some malevolent outside influence. Besides, it’s a lot easier to say “the devil made me do it” than to admit that you have a brain malfunction, and you don’t have to do all that boring research when you can read some bronze age tome that explains it all, and it has an escape clause for all the evil you did!


Cap’t Jack

 Signature 

One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.

Thomas Paine

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 22
1