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“Evil” does not exist?
Posted: 04 August 2013 07:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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This subject is a tough one to even be free to discuss with most people, religious or not, because instead of defeating another person’s cling to moral absolution, it sometimes has undesirable consequences on you for just arguing it. While I absolutely agree that no moral absolution exists, I’ve had experienced unintended bad consequences towards myself and those I’ve discussed this with. For some, I think I convinced the rationality of it without realizing that in their state of loss, they acted out in undesirable ways that previously kept them in check.

One guy I remember had seemed intellectual and interesting to discuss this with. He agreed with my argument. And then he confessed that he often liked to go out and bash people on the street at night and steal their money! In the following days after he said this to me, a report on the news came out about how this guy was mugged in this very guy’s neighborhood, hospitalized and almost dead. I was afraid of going directly to the police for obvious reasons and instead used the “Crime Stoppers” to report this too.

I’ve also discussed this with people I have become close to only discover that their disgust for the realization of it made me a bearer of bad news and sometimes even caused them to feel justified in behaving in derogatory ways toward me. Note that even many atheists will have the same response. It is one of the reasons that the Skeptical Inquirer and this site base their ideological conceptions around the title, “humanist” as opposed to atheism.

While we may recognize that morals are mere conventional concepts, a caution for discussing this with others is necessary because for those ill equipped to handle a truth without their own stability and self discovered insights on the issue, can be very dangerous to yourself, the person you discussed this with, and those this person could potentially act out on. I believe some psychological and gradual preparation is needed for some to adjust to certain truths healthily. I want to believe it, but I am convinced that truth can be harmful to one’s health and welfare. What’s worse, even internalizing that truth is an unwelcome and often destructive force in personal relationships, I am so habituated and comfortable with regards to matters of truth that it is harder in many ways to avoid it in practice.

I point to one author in regards to how and why people do actually succeed in relations: Robert Greene. His main opus was “The 48 Law of Power”. I was at first disgusted with its truth and yet couldn’t deny it. In fact, when the person person referred it to me, it brought up real questions as to his own behavioral sincerity towards me and others. You won’t find this book being promoted openly by too many people who abide by its contents because of the very thing that even brought me to find discomfort with the person who told me about it. For those of you who read it and his other works, I’m sure you’d agree. If you don’t want to talk about it, I got yeah.  zipper

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Posted: 04 August 2013 11:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Micro and Macro viewpoints, may each in turn be more accurate than the other.

Building a tunnel from both ends toward the center.  Some adjustments required to complete.

Building in opposite directions is just crazy. Maybe even evil.

What is the scientific name for “Fear of Metaphor”?

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Posted: 04 August 2013 11:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Mid Atlantic - “Evil just means ‘really bad’. ... it’s in our nature to perceive things to be good, evil, etc. and that is what matters.”

Yes evil exists in our experience.  As humans in relationship to other humans.  The counterpoint to good.

Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - “Evil exists. That’s not a supernatural precept.”

Yes, and what doesn’t exist is “supernatural”.  This is impossible. there can only be ‘natural’. But we are still ‘Babes in the Woods’ when it comes to knowing the scope of that.

Mid Atlantic - “...so called evil behavior is a result of biology, like all behavior is.”

But saying this, like using terms such as “sociopathy and psychopathy”, just replaces the term “satan” with more modern terminology and reference points.

A thousand or ten thousand years from now, it will all make us chuckle. Perhaps, having then completed the previously alluded to tunnel…

... and achieved ‘evolutionary superconductivity’. (Just threw that in for fun.)

[ Edited: 04 August 2013 12:18 PM by brmckay ]
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Posted: 04 August 2013 12:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 04 August 2013 05:17 AM

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


That’s a good concept: escape clause.  Evil, Satan, miracles, God, all escapes. Escape from thinking, escape from responsibility, escape from reality.


Lois

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Posted: 04 August 2013 02:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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But saying this, like using terms such as “sociopathy and psychopathy”, just replaces the term “satan” with more modern terminology and reference points.

A thousand or ten thousand years from now, it will all make us chuckle. Perhaps, having then completed the previously alluded to tunnel…

If that’s true then I’ll opt for the science rather than representations of the supernatural, and these are more than just “terms” of identification, they’re based on emperical knowledge. And ten thousand years from now, providing we don’t blow ourselves up or destroy the ozone layer we may find a way to control or prevent aberrant behavior. but as an optimist I always see light at the end of the tunnel.

Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 04 August 2013 03:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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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).

From a Christian perspective, evil simply means bad and describes a behavior that is contrary to God’s ways which are good.  In order for man to be bad, or evil, he must have the free will to choose his behavior.  When you take God out of the equation and view mankind from the perspective of Evolution, then you must answer the question of where free will comes from if it exists at all.  If we are a product of hormones, chemical reactions and experiences, then we have no free will.  Instead our actions are determined for us by chance of how all these things previously mentioned came together.  That’s Determinism.

I don’t think it depends on the supernatural, but on the question of free will.

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Posted: 04 August 2013 06:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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LilySmith - 04 August 2013 03:27 PM
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).

From a Christian perspective, evil simply means bad and describes a behavior that is contrary to God’s ways which are good.  In order for man to be bad, or evil, he must have the free will to choose his behavior.  When you take God out of the equation and view mankind from the perspective of Evolution, then you must answer the question of where free will comes from if it exists at all.  If we are a product of hormones, chemical reactions and experiences, then we have no free will.  Instead our actions are determined for us by chance of how all these things previously mentioned came together.  That’s Determinism.

I don’t think it depends on the supernatural, but on the question of free will.

And we can also be both determinate and indeterminate at the same time. If, that is, you assume that every possible choice exists in totality but that from any one perspective (your given universe), you are only able to experience one of those results at a time. This way of understanding reality doesn’t require a God.

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Posted: 04 August 2013 06:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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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.

I remember reading that she underwent a “born again” conversion a number of years ago, at which point she decided to stop writing her vampire novels. Whether that’s accurate or not, people change.

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Posted: 04 August 2013 07:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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I haven’t read any Anne Rice but like most vampire movies, including the ones on her behalf. The metaphor of the vampire is one of the best creations to describe how we love those who threaten us the most regardless of the obvious logic in us to run away. It shows that even though we can maintain a moral conviction, we’d gladly give it up for happiness and comfort.

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Posted: 04 August 2013 08:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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mid atlantic - 03 August 2013 09:30 PM

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.

If “really bad” is all it means, why not call it “really bad” instead of using a term that has supernatural connotations and is so easily misunderstood? I doubt that anyone translates “really bad” into a supernatural force.

Lois

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Posted: 05 August 2013 07:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 04 August 2013 02:57 PM

But saying this, like using terms such as “sociopathy and psychopathy”, just replaces the term “satan” with more modern terminology and reference points.

A thousand or ten thousand years from now, it will all make us chuckle. Perhaps, having then completed the previously alluded to tunnel…

If that’s true then I’ll opt for the science rather than representations of the supernatural, and these are more than just “terms” of identification, they’re based on emperical knowledge. And ten thousand years from now, providing we don’t blow ourselves up or destroy the ozone layer we may find a way to control or prevent aberrant behavior. but as an optimist I always see light at the end of the tunnel.

Cap’t Jack

I would suggest that we all become more aware of the stratification factor.  There are more than 7 billion people in the world.  A certain percentage of them lack the kind of education that you and I are privy to.  The nature of their “practical wisdom” will be a little fuzzier in the area of reason than yours or mine.  It will rely more or less on intuition, myth, conditioned reflex.  The expression of this in their daily lives, the survival of their selves and their culture, empirically proves the validity of their belief structures.

Modern specialization in reason, scientific method, etc. is a discipline.  It is not it’s self truth.  It’s function is to aid in alignment with truth.  The Buddhist/Yogic disciplines of meditation, mindfulness, etc. serve the same purpose.  Even Christianity has it’s deeper traditions and techniques that rise to these levels of validity.

Our interests should not be what methods are used, but what intention is expressed.  How honest is the enquiry.

As for what is the Truth we hope to align with?  That must remain open ended and ever new.  If we think we have found it, we have been fooled. It is unknowable.  It is All….

[ Edited: 05 August 2013 08:12 AM by brmckay ]
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Posted: 05 August 2013 07:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Scott Mayers - 04 August 2013 06:31 PM

This way of understanding reality doesn’t require a God.

I’m amazed at how hard it is for even very smart people to get free of this “neolithic” notion of “a God”.

Using this phrase, indicates an inability to contemplate absolute, undivided totality.

When arguing for the non-existence of “a God”, what are you arguing against?

If you are really, but ingenuously, arguing against the existence of “God”, you are really arguing against the “existence” of absolute, undivided totality?

One can not say that “God” does not exist or that “God” exists.  Existence and non-Existence are relative terms.  “God” as absolute, undivided totality, existence and the potential to exist, is Undivided, Eternal, Singular, Now.

I would suggest acknowledgement of this from both sides of the politic.  The debate could then move into new territory or disappear altogether.  Who knows what wonders we would behold?

[ Edited: 05 August 2013 07:40 AM by brmckay ]
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Posted: 05 August 2013 07:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Lois - 04 August 2013 08:03 PM
mid atlantic - 03 August 2013 09:30 PM

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.

If “really bad” is all it means, why not call it “really bad” instead of using a term that has supernatural connotations and is so easily misunderstood? I doubt that anyone translates “really bad” into a supernatural force.

Lois

I’ve always used “Evil” when I want to emphasized the extreme or archetypal quality of some behaviour or situation.  Thats what four letter words are for.

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Posted: 05 August 2013 07:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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brmckay - 05 August 2013 07:45 AM
Lois - 04 August 2013 08:03 PM
mid atlantic - 03 August 2013 09:30 PM

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.

If “really bad” is all it means, why not call it “really bad” instead of using a term that has supernatural connotations and is so easily misunderstood? I doubt that anyone translates “really bad” into a supernatural force.

Lois

I’ve always used “Evil” when I want to emphasized the extreme or archetypal quality of some behaviour or situation.  Thats what four letter words are for.

Like, LOVE?

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Posted: 05 August 2013 08:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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I would suggest that we all become more aware of the stratification factor.  There are more than 7 billion people in the world.  A certain percentage of them lack the kind of education that you and I are privy to.  The nature of their “practical wisdom” will be a little fuzzier in the area of reason than yours or mine.  It will rely more or less on intuition, myth, conditioned reflex.  The expression of this in their daily lives, the survival of their selves and their culture, empirically proves the validity of their belief structures.

Modern specialization in reason, scientific method, etc. is a discipline.  It is not it’s self truth.  It’s function is to aid in alignment with truth.  The Buddhist/Yogic disciplines of meditation, mindfullness, etc. serve the same purpose.  Even Christianity has it’s deeper traditions and techniques that rise to these levels of validity.

Our interests should not be what methods are used, but what intention is expressed.  How honest is the enquiry.

As for what is the Truth we hope to align with?  That must remain open ended and ever new.  If we think we have found it, we have been fooled. It is unknowable.  It is All….

Everyone who is a product of higher education, I.e. able to draw conclusions based on reason rather than intuition, is aware of stratification as our knowledge is a product of same. And yes there are those who attempt to reconcile their earlier held beliefs with the knowledge that religion, i.e. the supernatural element, isn’t fact based. And that these concepts of good and evil must be used to communicate with someone not well versed in the emperical method. I view them as nothing more than a method of communication, good and evil , angelic, satanic etc.as most Americans still believe these concepts are part of their “truth”. And no, I don’t believe that the function of science is to align in anyway with those self truths as you call them, but to dispell them as myths. As for truths, everyone forms their own regardless of the amount of or lack of knowledge gained via research or intuition. And in this instance, you’re right; your “truth” and mine will be unknowable.


Cap’t Jack

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