The Existence of Evil

Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 12:00 pm
The Existence of Evil

Amitakh Stanford
(republished from the Nara site)
15th May 2005

From the earliest days in this body I was aware of the immense burden of Evil. While children of my age were usually carefree, I was often saddened by the amount of evil I perceived.

Many people do not believe in the existence of absolute evil, even though all at some time in their lives have experienced evil and the influence of evil.

However, unacceptable expressions of belief in evil forces seem to be increasing. For example, not only is devil worship on the rise in the United States of America and elsewhere, it now frequently appears in some of its extreme forms, as in human sacrifice.

For the person with a rationalistic, empirical perspective, all talk about demonic power and evil is nonsense to them. They see it as a reversion to primitive superstition. So, from that perspective, whatever we call evil in human experience is regarded as only the regrettable consequence of faulty breeding, adverse environment, childhood trauma, or poor judgement. According to this view, a demonic force is no more needed to explain evil than is a transcendent, benign deity to provide justification for good.

If we were to assume that human beings have freewill, the problem of evil could become a problem of choice, if one were to know all the consequences of one's choice. But one does not always know the consequences. The saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions has a lot of truth in this sense. If humans lack freewill, there can be no moral evil but a more perplexing problem of physical evil.
One could argue that evil stemming from freewill is incomprehensible since the movement of freewill cannot be analysed causally. If "sin" arises from a prior deficiency in the intellect, then God would be responsible for that deficiency and consequently be the ultimate cause of "sin".

It can be argued that if "sin" is the result of a prior fault, such as greed, then either the greed is God's work and responsibility, or it is itself the "sin", and the whole argument goes in endless circles.

The affirmation that evil exists, yet, it is not absolute, only seems to triumph over the dilemma of either denying the reality of evil because of God's goodness and intrinsic power, or denying God's goodness and infinite power because of the reality of evil.

The existence of evil is not illogically inconsistent with God's existence, if that God is both good and evil or purely evil. If we were to resolve the theistic problem of evil by explaining that the evil around us is due to human merit and demerit accumulated from prior karmic actions, then God is not morally responsible for the evil in the world because He merely administers the consequences of our karmic acts. Hence, the individual agents are morally accountable. If this is so, then, all evil is moral evil and human beings are held morally accountable. This also implies that there is no natural evil per seXee-A Twelve Home Page

The Existence of Evil

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Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 12:40 pm
Plathagoras;168145 wrote:
[...] Evil is real and immediate. Therefore, we should on no account trivialize it. Any entity perverse enough to create this material world with its grossness, misery, pain and suffering, must indeed be evil. It is simultaneously sad and annoying to listen to those ignorant people repeating in parrot fashion what they have been erroneously taught - that "you must have evil to balance the good" or that "you create your own negativity; you attract negativity to yourself, otherwise you can be happy".

This is as nauseating, arrogant and as fraudulent as saying "the Bible is the word of God; therefore, it is true and valid". That the Bible is the word of God is not a statement of fact. It is a statement made by man to deceive, control and manipulate people. If only negativity were due to just thinking negatively! Let us not forget that babies have unpleasantries and illnesses that are beyond their control. Have they purposely attracted the negativity to themselves?

The usual excuse amongst some people is that "it is their karma". Where does one draw a line? If good and evil truly do not exist, then everything in this world need not be taken seriously at all by anyone. It does appear that when one is in a negative mood, one seems to attract all sorts of negativities. Contrary to common belief, karma is an evil imposition by Darkness. It has never been justly meted out.

When one experiences a negative reaction or some negative experience, one is already swamped by negativity which then prompts one to act and think negatively. We are constantly bombarded by all types of negativity floating around our environment. [...]

That part of the article, at least, rings true to me; however, I can't say that I understood the article as a whole. I wasn't clear what its point was, other than to say that evil exists, in some sense. I'm fine with that, but I get the impression that more was being said, which went over my head, or right past me. I'm not sure how much of this incomprehension was my fault. Was a coherent argument of some kind being put forward? And would the sense of this article become clearer in the context of the website you referred to?
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Reply Sat 2 Oct, 2010 03:49 pm
Both evil and good are absolute, otherwise no morality can exist. Sin is not evil, sin is our choosing evil. The ability to distinguish between good and evil makes the difference between humans and animals.
Reply Fri 19 Nov, 2010 10:32 pm
Evil is an abstract term. To understand what evil is, one must understand the motives behind acting in terms that is considered "evil." Psychologists who have sought to understand what may cause a person to act "evil" have performed numerous experiments, such as the Milgram Experiment or the Stanford Prison Experiment. Personally, I believe that everyone has the ability to perform acts that are deemed "evil," but must have an underlying cause. The Stanford Prison Experiment demonstrates that psychologically healthy people can perform acts that are "evil" if they are given the ability and are expected to do so. The Milgram experiment demonstrates that psychologically healthy people can do "evil" acts if a told to do so by a person who is viewed as more educated or in control. Overall, "evil" only exists if you believe certain actions are "evil."
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Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 02:34 am
You misspelled Demosthenes . . . he was a flannel-mouthed politician anyway, and proved to be a disaster for Athens.
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Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 02:22 pm

fundamentally the idea of " evil " was brought along with god

and because of these idea's of god and evil has lead us to the misunderstanding of Human nature

if we had NO concept of a god or evil then what would we then label acts of extreme brutality ....?

I will suggest that we would delve into more of the Human nature of the cause rather than looking at the action as an act of evil
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Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 09:51 pm
Imo GW Bush fits the bill of absolute evil.
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Reply Wed 5 Jan, 2011 01:49 pm
Perhaps evil is the opposite of good as much as cold is the opposite of hot.

Heat is measurable, however cold is not. Cold is the word we give to the absence of heat, which is relative.

Just as heat is measurable, so is goodness measurable by our deeds, evil is the word man gives to the absence of goodness.

Just a thought

Fil Albuquerque
Reply Wed 5 Jan, 2011 01:55 pm
There´s no such thing as "Good" or "Evil" at all...
There are construction and destruction forces on nature...and both are needed in the cycle of change if to attain any sense of value and accomplishment...WORK pleases, say´s it all...
Same is to say, satisfaction is build upon effort and risk...take that out and you are dead of boredom...and yes...one must risk everything !!!...
Reply Sat 8 Jan, 2011 06:52 am
"Both evil and good are absolute, otherwise no morality can exist."

Are you sure about that? What about back during the time of buring women for their supposed magical abilities? It was moral to kill them because they were considered abominations.

The problem is, there is no absolute good or evil. They are just things that we as a collective society decide what it is we want to be good and evil. It changes, it fluctuates. As we grow as humans we learn that we have made mistakes in the past that we now view as evil that were once considered good.

There is no such thing as sin. It is just an invented word to use against people to try and control them, to make them behave. We don't have an innate knowledge of good or evil and that is why we need to be taught it and why it changes over time.

I should also mention that humans ARE animals. You just have a superiority complex and refuse to accept the reality that you are an animal.
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Reply Sat 8 Jan, 2011 08:47 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil Albuquerque wrote:

There´s no such thing as "Good" or "Evil" at all...
There are construction and destruction forces on nature...and both are needed in the cycle of change if to attain any sense of value and accomplishment...

true and agreed

WORK pleases, say´s it all...
Same is to say, satisfaction is build upon effort and risk...take that out and you are dead of boredom...and yes...one must risk everything !!!...

sometimes , yes
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Reply Sat 9 Jul, 2011 07:28 pm
i still think atheism stands a better chance of defeating this beast you call lord.
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Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2011 04:01 pm
Smileyrius, you're on the right track. I do think that both "good" and "evil" are opposing poles on the spectrum by which we evaluate behavior. No actions should be seen as completely evil or completely good; they are evaluations on a scale between poles. It's the old issue of black and white ideals and shades-of-grey realities.
But the notion of bad as the absence of good is interesting. At the lowest level of Hell, Dante put sinners in ice rather than fire. The cold in Hell represented the distance from the warmth of the love of God. Interesting metaphor.
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Reply Tue 12 Jul, 2011 05:52 am
As an atheist, I have no belief whatsoever in these "absolute terms", to which you are referring.

To elaborate, here are two scenarios:
Stalin sent roughly 400,000 troops on the suicide squad straight into war against the Germans. Stalin is often referred to as an "evil man" seeing as he was responsible for so many deaths.

In the Vietnam war, more than 420,000 lives were lost, and when depicting this event absolutely no mention of evil is made because there was a greater purpose.

Let's translate this into everyday lives -
A man who commits murder is evil.
However, a man who commits murder on a serial killer is a hero.
They've both committed murder, but only one is evil - Why is that?

Well, evil is what the individual perceives as evil. Just like good is. For one, a good deed might be helping someone cross the road, while for others a good deed is something larger, like saving a life. An evil deed might for some be just a rude comment, while to others it's something larger like violence or murder.
Therefore, I consider the two "very" abstract terms with no final solution.

Like in the typical paradox question "If a tree falls in the woods, and no one hears it, can we be sure it made a sound?" - There is no way to be sure, reality is now what we perceives it to be. The exact same phrase does - in my opinion, be it - apply to good and evil. Your perception matters.

Something isn't evil just because it breaks the law either - For example, trespassing on another person's private space is a breach of the law, however if you see someone choking in their bedroom, and you break the window to save them, you're actually breaking the law, but was it evil?
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