Absolute Evil

Is there such a thing as an objective evil?

Is there such a thing as real evil? ISIS is beheading children of families who do not convert to their version of Islam.  If that is not evil, I don’t know what is. There is objective evil in our world.  Anyone who denies it either is amoral, defective mentally or too academic for their own good. What is worse that killing children?  Making these children behead others and justifying it.

The British NewsPaper Dailymail reports that this is happening in our day. Ariel Castro was found guilty 937 counts, including murder, rape and kidnapping of two girls who he held captive for decades and did things so depraved to them that I cannot mention them here.

I can hardly talk about this stuff without breaking down.

This was a video of the http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/11/world/meast/iraq-rescue-mission/that the US military finally helped after pleadings on Capital Hill in 2014.

 

We have to admit that evil is real. How can some people deny that such objective evil exists?  Well it should not surprise you that there are some “educated” people who deny the obvious, from the differences between men and women, the existence of something more than the physical or in this case, evil.
Ron Rosenbaum summarized the current trend to reduce evil to a neurological problem:

A phenomenon attested to by a recent torrent of pop-sci brain books with titles like Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain. Not secret in most of these works is the disdain for metaphysical evil, which is regarded as an antiquated concept that’s done more harm than good. They argue that the time has come to replace such metaphysical terms with physical explanations—malfunctions or malformations in the brain.

Or take the work of Joel Marks, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of New Haven in West Haven, Connecticut.  He wrote 

Even though words like ‘sinful’ and ‘evil’ come naturally to the tongue as a description of, say, child-molesting, they do not describe any actual properties of anything. There are no literal sins in the world because there is no literal God and hence the whole religious superstructure that would include such categories as sin and evil.” (C) Joel Marks 2010 SOURCE

Furthermore, it is not just these atheistic thinkers who deny objective evil exists, Christian Scientists also are among those that teach that evil is an illusion. The movement’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, “ Sin, disease, whatever seems real to material sense, is unreal.”

Residents wait to receive food aid distributed by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) at the besieged al-Yarmouk camp, south of Damascus on January 31, 2014, in this handout picture made available to Reuters February 26, 2014. REUTERS/UNRWA/Handout via Reuters

Residents wait to receive food aid distributed by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) at the besieged al-Yarmouk camp, south of Damascus on January 31, 2014, in this handout picture made available to Reuters February 26, 2014. REUTERS/UNRWA/Handout via Reuters

We must address these thinkers head on.

Lets do it.

First, let us define evil. I know of noone who does this better than Augustine.  Augustine argued well that all nature is good, originally.  Everything that exists has goodness in it.  Even devils.  That goodness may be to be alive, or intelligent or fast, all of these can of course be abused for evil as much as they can be used for good.  So evil then is the negation of or the corruption of the good.  Like rust is to iron. Here is what Augustine said in his Enchiridion:

When, however, a thing is corrupted, its corruption is an evil because it is, by just so much, a privation of the good. Where there is no privation of the good, there is no evil. Where there is evil, there is a corresponding diminution of the good.  See enchiridion

So then evil, is not a thing, or a person, or a devil.  Rather evil is the negation of good.  The less good you have the more evil.  In the same way the less light you have the more darkness there is.  Darkness is nothing more than the absence of light.  The same can be said of evil.  If God is the source of all goodness, then the less of God we have in a society the more evil we would have.

Second, contrary to some popular opinions, there is no absolute evil.  The Devil or Satan is a fallen angel, thus he is not absolute evil, for nothing is. The devil is not the opposite of God.  God is the only being in the universe who is completely and utterly unique.

Third, if objective evil does not exist, then one cannot logically argue that the Problem of Evil is a problem. When we argue that God is guilty for allowing evil in this world or allowing my father and son to die, we are assuming that there is objective evil to blame God for it.  But if there is no objective evil, then there is no problem of evil for it to be a problem about.

Forth, it is very difficult to see how an honest atheist can believe in objective evil like the killing of innocent people. Richard Dawkins said it best,  “The Universe we observe precisely has the property we should except if there is, at bottom, no deign, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” Richard Dawkins, River out of Eden: a Darwinian View of Life (New York: Basic Books, 1996). Most classical atheists would agree with him such as Jean-Paul Sartre,  Friedrich Nietzsche Bertrand Russell , and J. L. Mackie.

Fifth, beliefs about something, don’t change what that thing is.  Merely because we can find some fringe elements in culture and history that approve of mass killings, rape and murder of innocent children like ISIS, does not in anyway undermine the fact of evil. Just because someone or group believes X is true does not make X true anymore than if a student of mine believed he was getting a “A” will in fact get him an “A”! Beliefs do not determine reality, contrary to what Oprah Winfrey and her cohorts may preach. Thus, we need to beware of confusing what people think or believe (epistemologically speaking) about what is evil from what is evil–ontologically speaking.St-augustine-of-hippo

Sixth, we dig our own moral pit by denying that objective evil exists. Even if we cannot prove it, we cannot deny it.  I grant that I have had a difficult time trying to find positive, logical arguments that prove that evil exists, because our moral intuition is not quantifiable empirically.  In light of that, we just cannot avoid dealing with the issue. I think there is a reason for that that is deeper than opinion. As a reaction against dogmatism and authoritarianism the secular scholarly world in the past few decades has backed away from intolerance and one sided, bloody war leading thinking, into an “open mindedness:” A way of seeing things, which as a byproduct embraces subjectivism and dismisses any hold on absolutes. See my blog about why open-mindedness is a problem morally speaking.  Thus, “evil” or sin as absolute wrongs, are dismissed as archaic and backward thinking.

Thus, many have argued that the concepts of evil and sin are a social constructions. Orval Hobart Mowrer, former professor at Johns Hopkins University, and former president of the American Psychological Association, took issue with this. He addressed it in his article, “Sin, the Lesser of Two Evils,” in 1960:

Logo+American+Psychological+Association

For several decades we psychologists looked upon the whole matter of sin and moral accountability as a great incubus and acclaimed our liberation from it as epoch-making. But at length we have discovered that to be “free” in this sense, i.e., to have the excuse of being “sick” rather than sinful, is to court the danger of also becoming lost. This danger is, I believe, betokened by the widespread interest in Existentialism which we are presently witnessing. In becoming amoral, ethically neutral, and “free,” we have cut the very roots of our being; lost our deepest sense of self-hood and identity; and, with neurotics themselves, find ourselves asking: Who am I? What is my destiny? What does living (existence) mean? (“Sin, the Lesser of Two Evils,” American See “Sin”: The lesser of two evils. Mowrer, O. Hobart American Psychologist, Vol 15(5), May 1960, 301-304.

As Mowrer argued, when we eliminate evil from our vocabulary and ethics,  we embrace tolerance and relativism, and that leads us to cut the very roots of our being; lose our deepest sense of self-hood and identity; and, with neurotics themselves, find ourselves asking: Who am I? What is my destiny? What does living (existence) mean?”

When faced with the reality of child sexual abuse by clergy, human trafficking, genocide, murder and rape, our collective souls cringe. University of Chicago Professor Lenon Kass was on to something when he called it the Wisdom of Repugnance. There is something within us that turns to disgust over evil, as much as when we smell rotten eggs or milk. That is not an accident.

Seventh, objective evil not just something external to us, it is within each of us. Former United Nations secretary general and Nobel peace prize winner Kofi Annan wrote that evil is real, but it is not to be labeled to groups of people but to events and what individual people do. Annan faced such questions when he headed the UN’s peacekeeping operations during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which Hutu extremists slaughtered more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. He described how difficult it is to determine at which point violence becomes so deliberate and systematic that to continue dialogue achieves nothing. “There are times when the use of force is legitimate and necessary, because it is the lesser of two evils,” he said. “But the lesser of two evils is still an evil, and we should not forget that.” Annan suggested that it is helpful when using the word “evil” to apply it to actions rather than to people. “Of course, it is tempting, when someone commits many evil acts, to say that that person is evil in himself or herself. But I am not sure that it is right,” he said. “I do believe, very firmly, that people must be held responsible for their actions…But to say that any human being is irredeemably evil in himself, or herself–that is a different matter.” http://archive.episcopalchurch.org/3577_38787_ENG_HTM.htm

Eighth, for those who are Biblically inclined, the Bible has something to say about the human condition.

In Psalm 14:2–3 we read:

“The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Here again we see unrighteousness as a property of the human race: “they have all turned aside . . . there is no one who does good.”

Job 15:14 similarly declares that sinfulness is a property of humanity:

“What is man, that he should be pure, or he who is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?” Verses 15–16  “Behold, He puts no trust in His holy ones, And the heavens are not pure in His sight; How much less one who is detestable and corrupt, Man, who drinks iniquity like water!”

Jeremiah 17:9 says that

“the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Ecclesiastes 9:3 declares a similar truth:

“. . . the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil, and insanity is in their hearts through their lives.”  SOURCE

This is echoed in the brilliant and deeply moving writing of Alekasandr I. Solzhenitsyn. He wrote:

“Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart…”  ― The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956

Ninth, objective good is exciting and life-enriching, while while evil is a parasite with the illusion of replacing pleasure with happiness.  Simone Weil summarized brilliantly how our media has also changed our perceptions of evil:

“Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.”

For some of us in this secular culture, our moral plate has been feed the lie that evil is exciting but goodness is boring.  Yet at the same time we are told that evil and good are socially constructed so then we don’t take them seriously anyway!  Nothing shatters this myth better than being confronted with evil…and if not in person at lest in horror films. See my post on Horror Movies here

Tenth and finally,we cannot avoid evil.  In our own way, we became intolerant of the intolerant, or of views we find offensive. Racism, oil companies, religious bigotry, homosexual discrimination, taking away womans’ “reproductive” rights, and the like, have become the new absolute evils.  So we replaced one set of absolutes for another. I don’t think we can get away from them.

OS Guninness gives a brilliant summary of this problem.  See what you think of this short video.

On a personal note, we need to address the evil within each of us personally and take it seriously.

 

I close with the words of Mark Rowlands, in his book The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death, and Happiness by Mark Rowlands

“The idea that evil is a medical condition, or the result of social malaise, is ultimately because we have now engineered in ourselves the helplessness we have carefully constructed in others. We are no longer, we think, even worthy subjects of moral evaluation. If we are bad, or we are good, then this is really something else – something that must be explained in other, non-moral, terms; something beyond our control. To explain away our moral status, to excuse our own culpability in the manufacture of evil, this is the ultimate manifestation of that manufacture of evil – the clearest expression imaginable of the weakness that we have assiduously assembled in our own souls. To think of morality as really something else – the weakness is so palpable that only a human could miss it. We are no longer strong enough to live without excuses. We are no longer even strong enough to have the courage of our convictions.”

I don’t know of any tradition that really deals with the reality and the horror of evil that we have committed against each other as a race, than that bloody cross over 2000 years ago.

Look forward to your thoughts.

 

 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Diego Facciola

    Hi Professor!

    About the suffering of the children I find comfort in Kiko Arguello’s visual: the suffering of the innocents is image of the suffering of Jesus, the Innocent of the innocents, the absolute lamb.
    http://www.sufferingoftheinnocents.com/

    Your post recalled to my mind the following words :
    Sin blots out the law of nature in particular cases, not universally…Summa Theologiae

    “Salam” outstanding Professor!
    Diego Facciolà
    (a student of yours in Philosophy of Religion course at conted.ox.ac.uk)

    • Thanks for the encouragement Deigo.
      The suffering of the Innocent of innocents is enlightening and sober to consider.
      KS

  • Miles Fender

    Hi Khaldoun. This is a very compelling set of arguments. I do have an issue though.

    You claim that the is no absolute evil, but there is objective evil. This is certainly fine (after all, we know that on the temperature scale there is an absolute cold, but no absolute hot). But then, it necessarily follows that evil can only be measured in terms of its “moral distance” from this absolute good (i.e. God).

    If this is the case, then there must be some dividing line; there must be some point on the moral spectrum above which actions are objectively good, and below which actions are objectively bad. There must also be actions that are close to this line; perhaps one example is eating meat. I know that by eating meat I am contributing to the suffering of factory farmed animals, but it’s a stretch to say that it is objectively evil to eat meat in the same way as beheading children is objectively evil. I am not sufficiently motivated to stop eating meat; I know it’s wrong, yet I do not stop.

    In that case, how and where is this line of objective evil to be drawn?

    We cannot draw it ourselves, because the line would then be mind-dependent, and so not truly objective. But that also means it cannot be drawn by God; if God drew the line, it would be mind-dependent on both sides. God is a mind. Even if we exempt God from the mind-dependent necessity for true objectivity (which would be trivially arguable), we are still subject to it ourselves. We could be misinterpreting God’s communication of morality to us. None of us can claim to know God’s will with absolute certainty.

    To deny that certain acts are objectively evil is not amoral. Even if every single person in existence was sickened and horrified by the acts that we want to claim as objectively evil, it would not follow that they were objectively evil. To claim that objective evil really does exist, one need to explain how it is logically and metaphysically possible. It seems to me that God – even as the origin and definition of absolute good – does not provide that argument. If we want to claim that something is objectively true (such as the fact that bachelors are unmarried, or that triangles have three sides), then we need to provide an argument that is mind-independent.

    (That said, I don’t find relativism convincing either. I believe there is still work to be done on all sides of the meta-ethical debate).

    • Diego Facciolà

      Hi Miles, great to see you

      We were the first 2 to enter into the class, and here too!

      I have a gift for you 6 minutes long:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOqGaOxB7Z8

      Take care, Diego

      • Miles Fender

        Hey Diego. Good video – thanks for sharing!

    • Pauline McCaig

      Hi Miles

      Let me introduce myself— I too am an ex student of Khaldoun’s having completed the PoR course about three years ago. I found this topic perplexing then, and continue to struggle to wrap my mind round it now! There is much that I am in accord with in your response, particularly in relation to the difficulties of determining where such a line is to be drawn, given the multiplicity of interpretations within even one faith tradition of what constitutes right and wrong. What I am less sure of , however, is your assertion that even if a God whom was by definition the source of absolute goodness were to exist, such a God would still not provide an adequate basis for the claim that objective evil does not exist— however difficult it might be to work out where to draw the line! Can you enlighten me please?

      Khaldoun— my question to you is a slightly different one! Augustine seems to have started from an already existent belief in the Trinity which he has derived at least partly from what he perceived as revelation, and from which he took his concept of goodness and consequent concept of evil as a corruption of that. Without such a belief– derived from sources other than logical positive argumentation— how possible is it do you think to make a case for the existence of objective evil?

      • Pauline McCaig

        What I meant to say Miles was of course– would still not provide a basis for the claim that objective evil DOES exist–

      • Miles Fender

        Hi Pauline – good to meet you.

        It seems to me that the argument for the existence of objective evil here is something like the following:

        P1 – If there exists an action that is objectively evil then objective evil exists.
        P2 – Killing innocent people is objectively evil.
        C1 – Objective evil exists.

        The obvious problem with this is that it begs the question. We need some way to form a sound argument that doesn’t appeal to the existence objective evil in the premises.

        My contention is that inserting God into the argument doesn’t help us. Firstly, inserting a conscious moral observer (which God clearly is) immediately commits an appeal to authority, which undermines the “objective” argument (a convincing argument for true objectivity surely has to be mind-independent).

        Secondly, what would the premises actually look like when God is inserted? Maybe:
        P* – If an action is not absolutely good then it is objectively evil.
        This fails since there clearly are actions that are not objectively evil, but not absolutely good.

        Or maybe:

        P* – If an action is disapproved of by an absolutely good observer, then it is objectively evil.
        This fails because we can’t say what the absolutely good observer disapproves of; our interpretation is necessarily subjective and so we will still end up begging the question.

        There are certainly other arguments, but I can’t think of one where adding God into the premises would make it any more logically valid.

        I concede that this exercise is largely academic and it doesn’t matter in terms of our own moral obligations. We all agree that the terrible actions Khaldoun describes are wrong, and it does feel a little unseemly to try to prove whether or not they they are objectively wrong. But then, I wasn’t the one who brought it up… 🙂

        • Pauline McCaig

          Thanks Miles! I would never by any stretch of the imagination say that logical reasoning was one of my strengths, but I think that I can now see the argument you are making in terms of ‘ a convincing argument for true objectivity having to be mind independent.’ This sounds to me similar to the argument that in order for what God determines to be either good or evil to be anything other than arbitrary there has to be an objective standard that even God complies with — hence why introduce God into the equation? I am a bit rusty at this so if I am picking you up wrong please let me know!

          As Khaldoun is well aware of– we have had this conversation a number of times in different guises– I am not at all convinced that it is — or ever will be– possible to logically demonstrate the existence of objective evil— hence my supplementary question to him! However I also think that without some objective standard of morality it is impossible to get away from relativism! I wonder how you would ground your comments re us all agreeing that the horrors that Khaldoun outlines are wrong— and I, of course, agree with you about this, — without one? For you and I and Khaldoun agree about that– but patently there are many who disagree!
          Good to talk to you!

          • Miles Fender

            Rejecting arguments for the existence of objective evil doesn’t commit us to run headlong into cultural relativism and force us to say that everything is permissible. Logical syllogisms don’t change our intuitive moral reactions.

            I can point out of the window right now and say “that grass is green” and feel perfectly justified and correct in my statement. But I am not making the claim that the grass “possesses the property of objective green-ness”. I don’t need to embrace Platonism and accept that “green-ness” exists as an abstract object just so that I can comment meaningfully on the color of vegetation.

            Similarly I can point at an action and say that it is wrong without making the additional claim that it possesses the property of objective wrong-ness. There is no need to posit the existence of some unobservable, indescribable metaphysical absolute in order to make the perfectly reasonable, defensible and uncontroversial claim that killing innocent people is wrong.

          • confabulor

            In my mind ultimately it is a theistic versus non-theistic
            debate.

            If God exists, then with God omniscient nature and perfect
            goodness, then objective evil are all actions or events that are not in line
            with God’s nature. God does not have to act as an observer or a revealer
            in this case. The fact that something contradicts Gods nature renders it
            objectively evil.

            I agree with you Miles that we are no further with this because
            as God, if he exists, does not reveal to us his full nature in a literal way,
            and therefore we, as humankind, will never fully know what objective evil is.

            Therefore your reasoning on the contradiction between absolute good and objective evil in my mind, confuses objective evil with absolute evil. Objective evil is a divergence of the absolute goodness but still containing goodness, absolute evil is the total absence of goodness.

            On your second argument. In the theistic view, God cannot reveal himself fully to us. As a result we can never fully know what is objectively evil or not.

            In my view, in a non-theistic reasoning objective evil does not exist. In average there might be actions that are considered evil (such as killing innocent people against their will) but one cannot exclude the relative factor of the circumstances of the perpetrator. For example someone, who against his will has been injected with a high dose of amphetamines, kills an innocent person. Was this an evil act? In my mind it was not.

            Ultimately, as per my first post, I agree with you even without God evil does not have to be fully relative. If more so, following the theistic reasoning God might know objective evil but we do not. The fact that theistic institutions defended slavery based on the scriptures illustrates the inaccessibility of the knowledge of objective evil.

            i have reservations about a theist who claims to know objective truths or values based on the interpretation of scripture or other revelation. This is precisely the problem with ÍSIS quoted in Khaldoun’s post. The consequences of such atttitude in the extreme or abhorrent and almost a warning against religions revering an absolute deity.

          • Miles Fender

            “Objective evil is a divergence of the absolute goodness but still containing goodness”

            So that means any action I can describe, no matter how abhorrent, must contain some degree of “goodness”? Isn’t that a morally worse position than we started with?

            Presumably a counter-argument might be that whatever their actions, humans must always perform some intrinsic good by virtue of their creation by an absolutely good being. But now, doesn’t it seem like the tables have turned on the initial objection of such arguments being “too academic for their own good”? We’re forcing ourselves to see the objective good in an action just so that we can say it is objectively evil. I suppose that is theologically elegant though.

          • Hello Confablor?
            Thanks for your insights.
            A question. Is it not claiming objectivity to claim that no one can be objective?
            Yes many horrors of history have been perpetuated by those who claim to be right (like 20 million people in slavery today) but one cannot condemn what these slave owners are doing unless one has an objective source outside of them and the slave owner, to do that. What is the source? I grant that you do not need to know that source to condemn such evils, but philosophically you have a difficult time doing it.

          • Pauline McCaig

            I guess that I don’t share your confidence Miles that the belief that killing innocent people is wrong is as uncontroversial as you suggest! History seems to be full of instances of huge numbers of people being killed not because they were considered to be guilty of anything as such, but for other reasons such as a conflict over resources, or maybe simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time— Hiroshima? Nagasaki? Dresden? London? Innocent people whom were considered to be expendable in the cause of a greater ‘good’? How without a belief in the sanctity of every individual human life grounded in a common creator could one begin to argue against such actions? You might very well come back to me— and you would be right to do so— and point out that those actions were often carried out be people whom did profess a belief in the sanctity of human life–but without such a belief it seems to me that one has no grounds upon which to object other than I personally believe this to be wrong!

          • Miles Fender

            Oh – I absolutely agree that many of our actions are not nearly as uncontroversial as they should be. Our moral compass is clearly faulty and always has been.

            What we’re trying to do here (or at least what I’m trying to do!) is answer the meta-ethical question of whether or not objective moral facts exist. We can still try to form normative theories to explain our ethical reasoning regardless of which side we take (and as in your examples, straightforward utilitarianism clearly fails). But at the “human” level, I don’t see that my pointing at an action and saying “that’s objectively wrong!” carries any more force than my pointing at it and saying “that’s wrong!” Indeed, in the latter case I am more motivated to explain exactly why it’s wrong, whereas in the former, I am merely asserting it. For my own part, I like to think that I am capable of having sufficient respect and empathy for my fellow man to recognize and defend right from wrong without having to make an appeal to authority.

            So I actually think an argument could be made that appealing to objectivity hinders our moral progress as a species rather than helping it. After all, straightforward assertions of moral superiority are at best unconvincing, and at worst perhaps dangerously antagonistic. A well-reasoned argument is certainly no less likely to change someone’s mind than an unsubstantiated assertion that they are “just plain wrong.”

          • Pauline McCaig

            Hi Miles
            We live in different time zones and I had obviously faded last night before your response came in. Once again there is much here that I would accord with, particularly that’ assertions of moral superiority are at best unconvincing etc Moreover I am inclined to agree that a well reasoned argument could possibly be— or maybe should be — as effective as an unsubstantiated assertion that something is just wrong, Where we differ perhaps is that I am probably less sure than you appear to be of the power of rational argument to impact upon our behaviour, particularly where what we perceive as our self interest may be threatened! That is not to say that I would ever advocate making an assertion that something is just plain wrong with nothing to substantiate that other than an appeal to authority— but then the theologians I most respect don’t do that! But then as you point out this conversation is less to do with that and more to do with establishing whether it is possible to demonstrate that objective moral values exist— and I suspect that we both still remain sceptical of that — albeit maybe for different reasons! Over to you Khaldoun??

          • confabulor

            Hi Pauline, Miles,

            I agree with both of you on that here on earth it is difficult to (with authority) define something as objectively wrong.

            (the example of slavery with Augustine teaching that slavery is never a “natural” condition but one that has arisen as the result of sin. He argued that the institution of slavery derives from God and is beneficial to slaves and masters. However, he also characterized the granting of freedom to slaves as a great virtue. Augustine described slavery and private property not as the creations of God but of sin. Augustine asserted that the practice among the Jews of freeing slaves after they had served for six years does not apply to the case of Christian slaves as the Apostle Paul’s admonition makes clear. He argued that enslaving captives in war was at least better than killing them, and did not exclude the enslavement by Christians of other Christians in this way, as other Church Fathers had already
            done (source Wikipedia.)

            Augustine was obviously too much influenced by the economical necessary institute of slavery then recognising it as an objective evil. One must assume that Augustine was better tuned to listen to and seeing signs of the Christian God than most of us and he still had the objective evil nature of slavery completely wrong.

            The debate is indeed very academic. In my mind, one can
            either

            1) Try to eradicate evil based on a theistic basis. As Dr. Os Guinness worded almost as a resistance fighter who believes in a cause and trust a (perfectly good) leader, who supports but in the extreme event is never heard or seen. To determine if her actions here on earth are
            good or wrong, the person is very much on her own guided by the moral teachings of the Church (who can be wrong about the absolute nature of evil (see slavery) and the community of believers.

            2)
            Try to eradicate evil based on an atheist basis. In this case the person is a kind of Don Quixote, fighting a perpetually losing battle against an indifferent nature and universe. The battle might therefore be entirely imaginary as there is nothing to fight against. To determine if her actions here on earth are good or wrong, the person is very much on her own guided by the humanistic moral teachings and support of other
            human beings.

            Therefore my view is that only God, if God exists, knows at all times what objective evil is. We humans, whether we claim to be atheists or religious, can never claim to have this capability. For us the main importance is to acknowledge that evil is intrinsic to nature and also within us and try to eradicate it.

            I agree with Pauline that the theologians I have discussed this subject with do not claim that the Church can define what objective evil
            is at all time. Similarly to Miles I am of the opinion that for a theist it is not easier to recognise objective evil than for an atheist.

            P.S.

            Maybe I should rather listen than comment because I chose absolute morality as the theme for my final essay in the Philosophy of Religion course. Khaldoun gave me a subtle hint that I still have some reading to do.

          • Pauline McCaig

            That was very brave of you Piet— can I call you that— to choose the subject of absolute morality for your final assignment!! If I remember correctly I did the resurrection.

            Thank you for your interesting response! I am a touch too preoccupied at the moment to respond in kind, as I would like to think more about what you said before I do so. I did however want to acknowledge your response hence this brief reply! I will reply more fully later or tomorrow.

            I have always had a very soft spot for Don Quixote!!

          • Miles Fender

            Hi Pauline,

            “Where we differ perhaps is that I am probably less sure than you appear to be of the power of rational argument to impact upon our behaviour, particularly where what we perceive as our self interest may be threatened!”

            To be fair, I didn’t say it had any particular power. I just said I didn’t think it had any less power than an unsubstantiated assertion.

      • Pauline
        Hello friend!
        In response to your question, I don’t think I can argue the case for objective evil without presupposing the existence of God and my own innate sense of goodness and evil.
        I’m working on it ,…..and could use some help! 🙂

        • Pauline McCaig

          Hi K
          I am afraid that I cannot help you with that one— much as I would dearly love to!!

          Sorry to be so defeatist—but I think that belief in God has to come first!

          What I think that arguments like those you present can do though for those whom start from the position that God may exist is to pose the question of where their ‘innate sense of goodness and evil’— if they have one of course– may have come from! To ask whether if we are solely the products of the kind of process that Dawkins claims we are, we would have ever have come up with a teaching so counter intuitive — and apparently so impossible to put into practice— as “love your enemies as yourself”

          As you know it’s what they did for me— in spite of the fact that I remember arguing vociferously with you throughout the course that the moral argument had nothing whatsoever to recommend it!

          So I still think that you are on a hiding to nothing if you think that you are ever going to find logical proofs for the existence of objective evil— not unless you can find a logical proof for the existence of God that is– but you might just give those whom are fundamentally agnostic reasonable suspicions that God may exist!! Power to your elbow my friend!!!

    • Hello Miles,
      Its been a long time 🙂
      You raise some very important and life-changing points.

      First we have to establish that there is such a thing as evil. I think it is like beauty or joy or pain It is very difficult if not impossible to articulate completely what beauty or joy or pain are in words alone! In fact I don’t think I can prove there is pain or beauty or joy with mere logical arguments alone. They are facts of human experience.
      Alvin Plantinga wrote about what is called in philosophical circles as “Properly Basic Beliefs” in the school of thought called Reformed Epistemology. These things Plantinga argues could be belief in God, other minds or even of freewill. See http://www.thinkchristianly.org/summary-of-alvin-plantingas-reformed-epistemology/

      I think the same can be said of evil and goodness. There are great arguments that we can present that show the absurdity of denying objective evil and good (I hope I did that :)) but the positive evidence for it, logically speaking is something I am still working on and am looking to see if any others have it!
      Secondly. I don’t think God “draws the line” on what is evil arbitrarily like we do on street lanes. Rather he is the very standard of goodness itself.
      See this link http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/perfect-goodness/#PerGooNecConFeaAbsPerBei

      • Miles Fender

        Hi Khaldoun – great to interact with you again!

        I get that God is the absolute standard of goodness – I don’t have a problem there. So let’s grant that there is an absolute good. What I struggle with is how that helps us with the concept of objective evil. Objective evil can’t simply be “that which is not absolutely good” because then every human action would be objectively evil. So how do you actually define it?

        • confabulor

          Hello Miles, Khaldoun,

          My logic is the same as Khaldoun’s. God is the standard of goodness and everything that diverges from this Standard is objectively evil (between 0,001% and 99.999% objectively evil). However as Miles this argument is very academic to me.

          My problem remains:-

          1) God, if he exists, is the Standard of goodness and can judge the degree of objective evil in actions

          2) God cannot reveal himself fully to humankind to ensure that we retain our freedom, hence humankind will never be able to judge (at all times) evil objectively. This is similar to our access to God’s omniscience.

          Therefore (ignoring the academic logical argument) on a moral level a theist is no better of than a atheist and can only judge actions based on human conventions (such as the Universal Declaration of Human rights).

          Only if one claims to have received an objective, in-corrupted revelation from God about morality one has no basis to claim objective morality based on the objective Standard of morality possessed by God.

          The real discussion therefore becomes the absolute and objective nature of revelations rather than objective morality. During the course, based on Mawson’s Philosophy of Religion book, this turned out to be the only argument leading to belief or non-belief.

          Therefore to accept objective morality here on earth one has to accept the existence of objective revelations from God (Ten Commandments, Quran, Hadith or New Testament).

          The final question ones again becomes: “Can we know the will of God here on Earth objectively?”. Considering that Mawson also admitted that a revelation is a personal experience, it is very difficult to ignore the subjective nature of all revelations.

        • Hi Miles,

          I think is is very difficult to define evil as one would define a sum of a math problem.

          Since as Augustine told us, evil is the probation or the negation of the good. We then have to define “good” And that my friend is not an easy task!!

          E.G. More in his Principa Ethia argued that we cannot do!
          [http://fair-use.org/g-e-moore/principia-ethica]

          More argued it’s like trying to explain to a blind man what red is. All we can do it point to something that is good, such as virtues of kindness, love, patience, etc.

          This is how Danile Fincke put it :

          G.E. Moore is famous for advancing the idea that goodness is a “non-natural property,” which cannot be defined by reference to any natural properties but rather is an indefinable, simple intuition. He compares the indefinable grasp of goodness to our indefinable perception of what we might today call a color’s “qualia.” Qualia is the word for the way that a particular color appears to us in our minds (or the particular noise a sound wave causes us to experience when it interacts with our inner ears or the way a smell smells in our noses, etc.). Color qualia, for example, are distinct and distinguishable things from the processes of wave reflection which leads to our qualitative experience of them (as yellow or as red). Similarly noises differ from the sound waves themselves which cause us to hear them. – See more at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/2009/09/philosophical-ethics-on-g-e-moores-notion-of-good-as-an-indefinable-non-natural-property/#sthash.HXpNDcsa.dpuf

          See this link for some great discussion on the definition of evil
          http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/concept-evil/

          But that is not all. If there is a God, which I am convinced there is, His very nature is the standard. That character is where we get our virtues from
          The moral philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas and Aristotelian eudaimonism can help us move forward. Its in one word…
          PURPOSE
          All things and beings, have a goal or purpose on theism. Whatever helps them to attain that goal or purpose or end (telos) is good. Whatever moves you away from it is evil in its various forms. That goal is happiness, or perfection or joy or what some would call well-being. Some call it eudaimonia. I wrote my MA thesis on that! And that cannot be done without connecting to the source of all of life itself, the Creator himself.

          • Miles Fender

            Thanks Khaldoun! I suspect I’m going to end up spending a lot of time on metaethics; I actually just read Principia Ethica a few weeks ago.

            The whole field seems to be a bit of a mess. The arguments for each position (natural or non-natural realism, subjectivism, expressivism etc.) all seem to have fairly weak arguments in favor and plenty of quite strong arguments against. Could well be that none of them are right. I’d like to think the answer is somewhere on the non-cognitivist side, but then the embedding problem seems to be pretty much a knockdown argument against it. It doesn’t seem too hard to argue that any of these positions just _can’t_ be right, but then, there doesn’t seem to be any plausible alternative either.

            Not much more to do except keep reading for now. I’ll let you know if I figure it out! 🙂

  • confabulor

    Hi Khaldoun,

    After reading through all your arguments, the trilemma

    1) Evil is real and objectively evil (with Christian response, that it was not meant by God to be this way and that our abhorrence of evil is a result of the revelation of the natural moral law to
    humankind)

    2) God is perfectly good (with Jesus’ sacrifice the Christian illustration or as otherwise defined in the other theistic religions)

    3) God is omnipotent

    as defined by Dr. Os Guinness clarifies to me very well the Christian philosophical approach to addressing the problem of evil.

    Therefore within the Christian philosophy objective evil exists and is coherent with the existence of God. I fully agree with your closing paragraph that as humans we have to realise and acknowledge that objective evil resides in each of us and actively guard ourselves from it.

    However from the humanistic atheist’s (who as a human is striving to eradicate suffering and objective evil) argument that evil is the consequence of the error of human existence is equally coherent. If no being with moderate intelligence and self-conscience were to exist in the universe then there would be no objective evil. For example, a wasp laying an egg in a living caterpillar for the maggot to be able to eat the living tissue is not committing objective evil. If a human
    were to do something similar, he would.

    As a result, in my mind, the philosophical approach of atheism and theism table a very similar problem of evil

    Either

    1) one poses that our existence is a mere probabilistic event but that despite this we should fight evil and try to make the world a better place, were ultimately all (objective) evil is eradicated. The challenge is to carry on despite phasing never ending defeat in combatting evil, or

    2)
    one poses that our existence is not an error and that an omnipotent, perfectly good being meant for us to live in a place without evil, but that evil came into the world. The challenge is to carry on strengthened by the support of a perfectly good, omnipotent being, who never fully reveals himself and especially not when he seems to be most needed or when evil seems at its
    most irrational.

    Maybe ultimately religion, irrespective of the fact that God or Nirvana objectively exist, is a necessity to the large majority of people to respond to the question of existence, evil, meaning, etc. I do not know other traditions enough to comment but indeed the bloody cross two thousand years ago is a powerful reminder to keep on fighting evil.

    Piet Van Assche (also for the benefit of Miles and Diego, as confabulor is my Disqus handle and my knowledge has gone too rusty to change it)

    • Miles Fender

      This is turning into a school reunion – hi Piet!

      • confabulor

        Hi Miles,

        Indeed it seems that the summer break is over. Good to have you on this forum as well.

    • Hello Peit!!
      Thanks for your insights.
      I would argue that you cannot have objective evil on an atheistic worldview. Objective evil implies and by definition needs an out side source to define it as such. It cannot be us. But if we are the only conscience beings in the universe, then all evil is subjective.
      Furthermore, I am not convinced that God did not want evil to be in the world. If he did not, then it would not be here.

      • confabulor

        Hello Khaldoun,

        Piet is the same person as Confabulor. I had no intention to go incognito but years ago I took Confabulor as my handle and it has stuck.

        Responding to both your posts to Piet and Confabulor.

        I never argued that objective evil can exist in an atheistic environment. On
        the contrary, as I maybe did not write precise enough in my previous posts, I
        argued that evil can only be defined as objective by an omniscient, perfectly good, immanent and atemporal being, i.e. the theistic God. Therefore, in my mind, one cannot argue for objective evil in an atheist environment.

        I also argued that only God can determine what evil is objective evil, simply by knowing what acts are less than perfectly good at a certain time, place and circumstances. God, if God exists, can but we cannot. This is why I quoted Augustine’s teaching on slavery. If a Doctor of the Church can
        err in detecting what objective evil is, then we all can. As a result a believer is none the wiser about what is objective evil is and what is not. He are she can only make a relative judgement were indeed murdering the innocent, torture, genocide, rape of children are generally considered more evil than stealing money from an old woman.

        My view is that there is no difference between omniscience and absolute morality.
        God possesses both, but no single or community of humans does. Therefore, no human can condemn something as objectively evil based on theistic teachings because God does not reveal his knowledge to a sufficient extent.
        Therefore a theist and an atheist are in very much the same “condition humaine”. The atheist a Don Quixote fighting an ever losing battle against indifferent evil, the theist a resistance fighter, who to a more or lesser extent does not know what the
        leader decide in the battle against evil.

        Admittedly the theist approach is more hopeful but only if God exists.
        Logically determining to be faithful is a task for life.

        I agree that theoretically because we evolved free will God, if he exists, had no other choice to allow evil in the world. As evolution is based on the survival of the fittest, there must be pain and insufficient access to resources. The existence of pain (biologically a warning signal that you are being hurt or maybe to stop existing) or scarcity of resources is essential for evolution to work.

        This suffering becomes sometimes evil when creatures more or less able to make moral judgments evolve. In my mind, evil can only exists in places in the universe where conscious beings can exert influence. A black hole swallowing a young star, hereby destroying the potential for intelligent (moral) life in that solar system is certainly not evil, neither is an amoeba digesting a prokaryote. Therefore evil can only enter a world at a certain complexity of evolved life.

        Piet

        • Pauline McCaig

          Hi Piet

          I promised you a response today, so given that you have clarified and expanded upon your post to Miles and I yesterday in this one to Khaldoun, I might as well respond here.

          I agree that if objective evil is defined as K does here as ‘ needing an outside source to define it’ than by definition it can only exist within a universe which contains a consciousness other than ours. As I understand it though there are philosophers — Wielenberg is one—whom although not using the language of objective morality nevertheless argue for the existence of absolute evil on the basis that the universe contains necessary truths — necessary in that they would exist in all possible worlds— and that the experience of pain which Wielenberg contends is an intrinsic evil— is one such necessary truth. Absolute evil then presumably becomes any action which inflicts pain upon another sentient being in the interests of anything other than promoting a greater good for the subject whom is undergoing the pain.

          Not sure what I think about that argument, but I do think it provides an interesting alternative to the one outlined by K! Nevertheless if one frames the debate in the terms that K frames it than yes objective evil can only exists if God exists!

          I am not sure what follows from that though! As I think we have all said in different ways, even if one acknowledges the existence of a source of absolute goodness, and hence the reality of objective evil, beyond perhaps providing one with such generic principles as Christianity’s two great commandments, and the motivation to try and live in accord with them, such principles do not in practice appear to be very helpful in terms of the specifics of how to do that. I thought your example of Augustine demonstrated that very well!

          • confabulor

            Hello Pauline,

            Thanks for your interesting reply.

            Agreed. Objective evil can only exist against an objective external (transcendent) standard (i.e. God in the theistic view).

            I have not heard of or read Wielenberg. I will have to hunt for a book or summary of his thoughts.

            Evil might will be necessary fact in all possible worlds where conscious beings have evolved . Emergence of self conscious beings most likely is a result of evolution by natural selection. Pain is a logical evolution to indicate to an organism that something unpleasant or harming is happening to it to make the organism defend itself, set free booster hormones for life and death battles or simply to take care to allow a wound to heal. As long as their is no consciousness, pain is simply a fact of existence. Only consciousness makes the being reflect on the reason of the pain. If the pain or harm is judged unreasonable or senseless it is declared evil.

            Jesus guidance on morality is indeed a good path to lead a good life. The details developed by the religious institutions is unfortunately a mere good will attempt to formulate a detailed framework. This brings us back to the main question. To what extent does one except that the teachings of religious institutions are based on objective divine revelation.

          • Pauline McCaig

            Thanks Piet. If you google Erik Wielenberg whom is a Professor of Philosophy in Indiana I think, you should find quite a lot of information about his ideas via papers and podcasts! Talk soon maybe?

          • confabulor

            Hello Pauline,

            Thanks for your response. I will have to do some more reading. I seem to turn around in a vicious circle where, in an academical argument, I agree that God, if he exists, possesses omniscience, omnipotence and objective morality, but in a second step I always qualify that humankind cannot know God objectively, hence we do not have access to omniscience and objective morality.

            Logically this might be correct but as a moral or philosophical discussion it is rather useless.

            I fully agree with you on the Syrian refugees. I live in Budapest and can see the inhumane circumstances the refugees are in because they fall between the letter of the Schengen regulations. The letter of the law seems once again to take precedence over humanity.

          • Pauline McCaig

            I don’t think you are alone Piet as far as that particular circle is concerned!! Perhaps, as you have previously expressed, the more important issue is what we can do to combat those circumstances that— I hazard a guess— most of us would agree constitute evil!! Whilst on an intellectual level I thoroughly enjoy exploring such concepts as omnipotence, omniscience etc I am not sure that they mean very much! One view that I have recently encountered is that we start from our understanding of power etc and then multiply that untill we think that we understand God’s power. If, however, we start from the gospels we actually get a very different picture of God’ s power—- makes sense to me!

            It must be emotionally very painful to be in Budapest at the moment— for everybody I guess — but particularly for the refugees! I dread to think what it is like for all those young children, and what impact it is going to have on them as they grow! The chances of them being able to develop— or recognise— the moral compass we all talk about with such ease must I fear be greatly compromised!

            Take Care

          • confabulor

            Hello Pauline,

            Thanks for pointing me in the direction of Eric Wielenberg.

            I have now done some more reading on Eric Wielenberg and his criticism on skeptical theism.

            Whilst not fully agreeing with Eric Wielenberg’s viewpoints I agree with him that skeptical theism is not coherent. A theist has to be open to objective revelations from God for theism not to be reduced to a pure logical exercise without any meaning giving purpose. Apart from objective morality in general the objective nature of theistic revelations is what I am still pondering on. Without accepting objective theistic revelations there is no foundation for theistic (living) religions. One can define a logically coherent God concept, with essential and accidental characteristics, irrespective of the fact that God exists or not.

            This is the crucial difference between an academic logical exercise and a living religion. It is therefore no surprise that a personal experience of a (true) theistic revelation or accepting the personal testimony of others is the only logical way to believe in the existence of a theistic God. The lack of such personal experience is a logical reason not to believe in God.

            Therefore objective morality based on the theistic God as the objective Standard of morality is only useful is one accepts God’s objective revelations on morality. Without the acceptance of the existence of
            objective revelations, the theistic morality and the entire theistic God
            concept is a mere academic exercise.

            I am still agnostic about the existence of objective theistic revelations. Until I am no longer agnostic on this front, my further pondering will remain a mere logical game without any meaning giving purpose.

          • Pauline McCaig

            Hi Piet

            I am on holiday in Cumbria for a couple of days, and don’t have consistent access to wi fi! I have just nipped down to the front of the hotel where I can acces it, hence I have just seen your response. I will respond properly when I get home towards the end of the week— a busy hotel lobby is not really conducive to formulating thoughts about such a rarified topic.

            Talk Soon

          • Pauline McCaig

            Hi Piet
            Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you! I pretty much agree with most of what you say here in that for me the acceptance of the concept of objective moral values only makes sense within a pre existent belief in the existence of a source of such values outside of humanity—- a belief derived via other channels rather than logical argument!

            I sometimes wonder though just what difference it makes in practice! There was a time when I thought that if one really believed in the Christian vision of a God whom loved his creation enough to undergo crucifixion— and everything that preceded that— for our sake — that ‘knowledge’ would almost inevitably lead to the believer acting in kind— to doing whatever they could to— to use a current example— address the injustices of the way the refugees are being treated in Europe! When I look around me I undoubtedly see many professed Christians doing that— but I see many more whom are not!! I at the same time also see many whom reject the Christian concept of God working day and night in an attempt to challenge what is happening, and bring some succour to the refugees!

            If it does not translate into practice one wonders what relevance such a concept as objective moral values has— other than as you say an interesting logical exercise?

            Would be interested to hear sometime— if you have a mind to share that— what the attitudes to the refugee crisis are within Hungary! If you want to do that and want to take this outside of K’s blog, let me know and I will give you my email. If not— good to have talked to you anyway!

          • confabulor

            Hello Pauline,

            For me the translation of objective moral values into daily life revolves around the degree we can grasp and know them. Logically this gets around the problem of who has the best knowledge about moral values. Christians and other theists can only hope to understand a small part of God’s nature here on Earth. Therefore Christians should stand for their main moral principles but on the other hand they should not absolutise the temporal moral guidelines mandated by the Church (e.g. contraception).

            Concerning the refugees. The fact that the refugees are economic or other refugees does not matter. They are obviously seeking refuse from inhumance circumstances. Europe is indeed a continent that can provide them a better life. This will lead to cultural tensions and adaptations- Taking too many refugees at once is not optimal as not enough resources for their proper integration will be available leading to possible segregation. Hungary’s prime minister is playing the letter of the common border zone (Schengen) in Europe. His approach with the fence costs a lot of money and is not very effective. It has merely pushed the migration streams from Serbia to Croatia. A better approach would be a coordinated European response to a real humanitarian issue that will not go away. Europe should prove Mr. Orbáns scaremongery about terrorism, Islam invasion etc. wrong.

            Piet

          • Pauline McCaig

            I think that you talk a great deal of sense Piet! Maybe if we all realised that none of us have a monopoly on truth, or access to the mind of God untrammelled by human interpretation, we might be more able to resist the temptation of consigning those with different interpretations to perdition– in this existence or the next— if there is one that is! Who knows— we might even have been able to avoid a refugee crisis such as the one facing us now! Perhaps when we are fully human? Good to talk to you!
            Take Care
            Pauline

    • Diego Facciolà

      Glad about that!

  • Pauline McCaig

    Maybe —– just maybe—- the people of Britain discovered yesterday that, in spite of the inability to define evil via a process of logical argument, they did recognise it when they saw it!— with the end result that we just might get a change of policy on Syrian refugees today!!!

    • Great example Pauline.
      I just hope we are preparing to deal with the ideology of ISIS in Europe too.
      KS

      • Pauline McCaig

        Any ideas about how that could best be done K??

  • alexis Haro

    After reading this article my opinion on what is evil has definitely changed and my eyes have open. I look forward to this class and learning more about different types of religion as well as other things.

  • GUO JI HE

    Depends on my background, my growth with affects of Buddhism. According to Karma, the idea of evil in Buddhism, someone must be done a lot of sin at the past life, so someone has harmful life in present life. That is, there is no evil concept and evil is not real. After I read this article, and I believe there is an objective evil in the world, both evil and god exist. If there is no evil, I have no more words to describe ISIS. Also I believe evil in result of God in love, so I would think about what cause ISIS, if we kill all ISIS in the world, is that means no more evil in the world? The answer is certainly no, and evil is always exists.

    • Hello Guo,

      Thanks for the feedback. What did you mean that “evil in result of God’s love?”
      Were you a committed Buddhist?

      Professor Sweis

      • GUO JI HE

        No. I am not buddhist..I got the idea from Peter Kreef. He stated the worst aspect of the problem of evil is eternal evil, hell. Free will was created out of God’s love. Therefore hell is a result of God’s love. His idea makes sense to me, and I think about this way to explore more about the problem of evil.

  • Sherita Flournoy

    People who deny the existence of any kind of barometer for good and evil lack empathy and emotion. I do agree that no true atheist could believe in good and evil because without an initial moral law giver where do our moral compasses hail from. I also agree that out own beliefs do not change what is, but that begs the question, “what is?” The Bible and all religious texts are often translated or we interpret what we will from it. So who is to say what is and isn’t relevant. Evil are actions not people, and the Bible says that we are all born into sin. We all fall short of the glory of God but as long as we repent and turn from our wicked ways we could be saved. We were created with God within us. We were given His moral compass that is why I believe that my soul leads me. Organized religion has often come under corruption and I do not believe that a lot of the things people claim to be evil or an abomination to be so because that does not align with my inner moral compass which did come from God and who is someone else to tell me my compass is off or corrupt? Evil is seen as exciting and good is seen as boring because of how the Bible has been corrupted to make people believe that all these things are considered evil that I do not believe are the case. If people would loosen their hold on literal rules then we could live fully and spiritually righteous. When it’s measured in all the same things that the Bible really is about love, kindness, hating the sin, and not the sinner. We all must address and attempt to eradicate the evil both within us and around us, that is how we seek God.

    • Hi Sherita
      Thanks for the feedback! Would you please explain what you mean when you say “…. because of how the Bible has been corrupted to make people believe that all these things are considered evil that I do not believe are the case. ”
      How exactly was the Bible corrupted?
      Khaldoun

  • Nina weathers

    Evil exists and it is not a “condition”. I found it interesting that Professor Emeritus wanted to label, evil as a condition. To me that seems like a way to place blame else where for decisions that are made by us. Conditions or dieseses can be treated or at least tested for, How would you test for evil. Besides that evil would be found in all of us in that case, how would you trace the precentage of evil in a person? Every evil or mean decision that I have made in my life I had a choice to make, thoughts happen before actions transpire. I do not agree that evil should be called or catagorized as anything different then what it is. There is levels to evil, as I said we all have it in us, to choose good and evil, I might trip a co worker I don’t like, but I surely will not behead them because they tell me God isn’t real. I also agree that just because you call evil by any other name doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I think for the sane it is common thought that murdering a toddler is evil or bad, so to say that it doesn’t exist doesn’t mean that we don’t have to address such a heinous act. I think in a world full of evil it is foolish to even entertain the thought that it doesnt exist, call if supercalifragisticespaldocuos if you want to but either way there is bad energy that flows through people allowing them to do bad things that effect themselves and others, and that bad energy is what needs to be addressed.

  • Oddis Johnson

    If a person can understand good it is impossible not to understand evil. It is like yin and yang and it is battling everyday against one another. Good and evil exist all around the world. Examples are displayed everyday. People volunteer at shelters or give a needy person a hand. But, people rape, steal, and kill in this world. To understand the presence of good a person has to believe in the presence of a God or a higher power as said in a theological aspect. To understand evil a person has to also the believe in the existence of God. If you believe in God you know that the freedom given to us by him ultimately explain evil and good. It is the choices made with this freedom that falls in the categories of being good or evil. But, some wish to think that evil does not exist but, it does. Evil is all around and we need to address it otherwise it will consume society.

  • Delaina Walker

    Objectively, evil does not exist independently. Evil is but a label we attach to our perceptions of negative energy expression. Negative and Positive energy are inseparable, they do not exist independently, they exist as opposite aspects of one whole. It is impossible to separate and define something as evil or good, because energy exchange works as a cycle in which positive and negative energy flow towards balance.

    • Hello Delaine
      Do you really believe that a woman who is raped, dismembered, starved, and forced to choose which of her children will die at the hands of terrorists is just experiencing our perception of negative energy? Was it not evil that happened to her? And what makes it negative?

  • Tysheema Brown

    hello…..

    I enjoyed reading this interpretation of evil. With all the unthinkable things going on in my community and all over the world I know there is evil. It is the most effective way to explain why some people have no heart and insist on hurting others and influencing others to do the same. Evil being classified as a medical condition is just a way for evil people to get away with a crime.