From a religious perspective there are two types: Natural Evil and Moral Evil.Â Natural Evil will be that of earthquakes and tsunamis etc.Â Moral Evil is of the sort when acting immorally, such as when someone murders another, or acts in an immoral way against a ‘righteous’ viewpoint etc. But the use of the word ‘Evil’ is always from a subjective position.Â One man’s Evil is another man’s Good.Â Also, the word ‘Evil’ has superstitious connotations and the followers of most religions will say that Evil is a force working against ‘good’.Â
Within the philosophy of religion there is indeed the ‘Problem of Evil’, especially for the monotheistic traditions.Â Apologetics will use the defence that Evil occurs to bring about a greater ‘good’ because otherwise it would be against the nature of a supposed omnipotent and benevolent God.
We are all familiar with what happened when hurricane Katrina struck a devastating blow on the city of New Orleans in 2005 – a Natural Evil, one might say.Â Well, there is a chap here in the UK whose name is Stephen Green.Â Green is the head of an evangelical group called Christian Voice, and they particularly dislike homosexuals â€“ they see homosexuals as Morally Evil.Â He believes that hurricane Katrina was an act of God sent to clean up the Evil immorality that was occurring within the city.Â I’ll summarise what he wrote in a press release just a week after this tragic event occurred:
“There are many ‘homosexuals and perverts’ in New Orleans.Â There are also abortion clinics and other ‘un-Christian’ stuff there too.Â New Orleans needed to be ‘purified’, just like the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.Â By divine work, Katrina, which actually means ‘purity’, went about and ‘cleaned up’ New Orleans of ‘Sin’.Â God only gives one warning, and this was it.Â Katrina [assuming all God’s work is ultimately good], was a good thing.”
(Full article, if you can stomach it, is here: http://www.christianvoice.org.uk/Press/press010.html)
Green is one example of an evangelical apologetic of Christianity who has justified the occurrence of a ‘Natural Evil’, to clean up the acts of a Moral Evil, and thereby maintain the status that his God continues to be benevolent and omnipotent. This isn’t unique to Christian Voice either. Recently in the UK we suffered the worst rainfall for decades, devastating communities throughout many parts of England. The Bishop of Carlisle â€“ Rev Graham Dow â€“ is on record as saying:
“This is a strong [(the result of the floods and subsequent deaths)] and definite judgment because the world has been arrogant in going its own way,” he said. “We are reaping the consequences of our moral degradation, as well as the environmental damage that we have caused.” He goes on: “The sexual orientation regulations [which give greater rights to gays] are part of a general scene of permissiveness. We are in a situation where we are liable for God’s judgment, which is intended to call us to repentance.”
In other words, the Bishop is saying we deserved this natural disaster as punishment for acting in an Evil fashion, which so happens to be not to God’s liking.
Coming from an atheistic point of view, I reject all notions of supernatural force, so I therefore reject Evil as an existing occurrence. Usually, the word ‘Evil’ is interchanged with the word ‘bad’ â€“ and is used to evoke emotion or to take a higher moral ground.Â But what theologians really mean when they use they invoke the notion of ‘Evil’ is to describe, or to justify, something of which they actually disapprove of.
So, where does the Evil come from?Â It is my view that Evil comes only from the wicked imaginations of theologians, their apologetics and their followers. These people use the notion to manipulate the minds of the vulnerable and unwitting.Â They use the fear of ‘Evil’ to bring about obedience and to force followers to behave to their version of what is ‘good’ and what is ‘not good’.
Warning: Declaration of Social_Walker_Comment::start_lvl(&$output, $depth, $args) should be compatible with Walker_Comment::start_lvl(&$output, $depth = 0, $args = Array) in /homepages/4/d164111972/htdocs/reason42main/wp-content/plugins/social/lib/social/walker/comment.php on line 60
Warning: Declaration of Social_Walker_Comment::end_lvl(&$output, $depth, $args) should be compatible with Walker_Comment::end_lvl(&$output, $depth = 0, $args = Array) in /homepages/4/d164111972/htdocs/reason42main/wp-content/plugins/social/lib/social/walker/comment.php on line 60
Is there really any such thing as evil, or its supposed counterpart â€œGood?â€
Consider the new male lion that takes over a pride on the plains of Africa. The first thing he does is murder all the young cubs. Then the females go into heat, breed with him, and raise his offspring. He murders the youngsters and is rewarded with sex and offspring.
Why does god make that okay for lions but not people?
What about when male chimpanzees get together and hunt down and beat to death other chimpanzees. Why does god make that okay for chimps, but not us?
Why have we never seen god punish anyone for their â€œevilâ€ behavior. Never.
There is no evil or good, just what we have decided to accept and not accept as a society.
Society as we humans have created it cannot function without rules to go by and rely on. But who is to say what is evil and what is not? And how do you justify that position?
Morality, it seems, is relative. As I wrote, what is good for one man may be bad for another.
Let me quote an ancient Greek philosopher: â€œMan is the measure of all thingsâ€ â€“ Protagoras (490-420 bce). This means that there are no objective truths (absolutes) only subject human beliefs. With this, we cannot help but have a tiny bit of prejudice in everything we do, given that we are bound by our own subjective viewpoint.
Perhaps there arenâ€™t any objective moral truths. Well, actually…maybe I can think of one with the human condition in mind. All that we know is that we are humans. We are all humans BEING. Perhaps from here we can build a moral framework with the justified idea that the one thing we all have in common is that we are of the same kind. So, we might reasonably argue that we all have a right to life. However, I can see potential problems here… when is a life worth living? Or, in the case of abortion, when does a foetus become even become a human? These are very difficult questions and not ones that I could possibly answer without some reflection time.
Without wishing to defend the comments of others, I would like to to realistically consider whether you realy believe that ‘all evil comes from the wicked imaginations of theologians’. By using the word ‘wicked’ you yourself are adopting a judgement of what is ‘evil’! So are you any different to the bishop’s and others you condemn?
How can anyone atheist or not, possibly imagine that the perverted killing of innocent children for the sexual gratification of someone (a very situation to the case of a lion acting by instinct to farward his genes pool) can be anything but morally evil. Or the extermination of 6 million Jews, because of the race (and countless similar atrocites) can be excused as of zero moral value?
On what planet do some philosophers live?
I seem to be unable to correct typos in my posts to you – is it possible for you to introduce a review screen so people posting can check what they have written?
The subtle point I was alluding to in my article is that â€˜Evilâ€™, as a force, is the creation of twisted (wicked) minds. Evil no more exists as a force than does â€˜Goodnessâ€™, from a theological perception. My article states at the beginning that what Iâ€™m talking about is â€˜Evilâ€™ from a religious perspective.
Now, this is not to say that thereâ€™s no such thing as moral wrongs, like the killing of an innocent child or the slaughter of millions of people. The point Iâ€™m making is that â€˜Evilâ€™ is a loaded term with a whole lot of prejudice attached to it.
What separates me from the Bishop is that I do not make a judgement on how some people go about in their personal lives. What I take issue with is that the Bishop has attributed a â€˜Godlyâ€™ punishment to those who he believes are acting in an immoral way.
All philosophers that I know of have come from the same planet as you and me. Well, itâ€™s reasonable to assume, there doesnâ€™t seem to be any evidence to the contrary! 🙂
Regarding typos in posts – I’ll look in to it, but if you want me to edit something (or delete your post), just let me know.
You elaborate evil within a religious context but how can you actually define evil when the notion of evil varies in many world religions? You say within religion evil comes in two forms natural and moral, but this isn’t really true for every world religion- is it?
Also, as I understand the notion of “evil” as force isn’t exclusive to religion or theologians per se. Ideological leaders and followers throughout history regardless of being secular or spiritual have named many things to be evil. I agree with you let’s condemn Christian theologians who believe New Orleans to be Divine retribution but let’s be consistent and say that evil within a moral definition isn’t solely believed by religious people.