A Serious Matter

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by davidelkins, Apr 1, 2014.

  1. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    so then it does exist....
     
  2. Shibolet

    Shibolet Member

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    No, it does not exist. It has to happen when man ill-uses his freewill and chooses to do what is not good. Evil is the absence of good. Just like darkness which is the absence of light.
     
  3. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    It doesn't exist but happens by free will...

    I am just so glad you've been so clear on this.

    evil doesn't exist...it happens...you've said it at least three times...and I've said "WHAT??"

    I guess I am incredibly dense....
     
  4. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    The OP actually queried where does evil come from. He was not questioning whether it existed or not.

    From my perspective evil is a byproduct of an imbalance in the duality within each of us. Humans are creatures of the Light. But they are also creatures of the Night. Too many institutions, including though not exclusively, religious ones teach people to Shine in the Light and Hide from the Night.

    Our darker natures must be repressed. Suppressed. We are told to try and pretend that side of ourselves does not exist. By stepping fully into the Light, we can defeat the Night. The problem is that we live in a reality that contains Day (Light) and Night (Dark). It is a fundamental reality from which we cannot escape.

    That day and night also exists within as well as without. Within each of us there is the dark side and the light side. Turning away from the dark side is suppressing it. Whenever humans suppress a part of their persona, that part finds its way out in perverted ways. Or in other words - Evil.

    For me, it is a balance that is required. Open ourselves to the dark side of our nature. Face those inner demons. And find a balance from your light to counteract the dark. Each of us is a duality. The healthy duality is one that accepts this simple truth. The healthy person is one whose dark is balanced by their light.
     
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    But isn't that what you would say?
     
  6. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Devils' Advocate –

    I tend not to see it in such dualist terms.

    I don't see man as having a good and evil side to his nature, rather, he has a nature which is prone to weakness. He desires knowledge, but doesn't know everything. In general terms, man has an instinct for what is right, but that doesn't mean he always does the right thing.

    Oh, I don't think that's true at all. Self-discipline and ascesis is fundamental to all traditional religious teaching. It is largely unfashionable today, I agree, so perhaps you're talking about the more recent denominations?

    Evil is no big deal. Just don't do it. In Christianity, for example, Jesus said the same thing with regard to sin. No need to make a song and dance about it, just don't do it (cf John 5:14, 8:11).

    We don't see it that way. We see it as weakness. And if you exercise the weak, it becomes strong.

    When we think we're exorcising our demons, we're actually exercising them. "You become what you think about" is one of the most powerful and under-rated aphorisms I know. There is a tendency to 'engage' our 'darker nature' in the belief we are overcoming it. Actually, we're feeding it, and if we're not careful, it begins to feed off us. This is the road to obsession.

    Told by whom? That's seems remarkably naive.

    I don't see Light and Dark as fundamentally real, but as a way of seeing, and a way of understanding.

    Then you are not 'suppressing' it, you're actually fuelling it. Better, and simpler, is engage with the good, rather than engage with suppressing the bad, which will not, of itself, lead to the good.

    Rather than suppressing one's nature, try metta meditation and transcend that self-perception.

    Oooh, no, no, no! All the world's wisdom suggests that's what not to do.

    Go looking for Pandora's Box, you mean? Facing those inner demons is giving way to them. Again, it's not exorcising, it's exercising.

    Why?

    Because, as every world-won wisdom assures us, whatever inner demon we face down, there's another one behind it ... why? Because we become addicted to it. When we run out of demons, we manufacture new and better ones.

    And so it goes ... and when, eventually, you come up against the demon that's too big for you (and the ego knows precisely when to let that dog off the leash), then down you go, and every demon you thought you'd overcome follows on its heels.
     
  7. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Well you haven't really. You're simply saying it as a fact, without any commentary ... at least Maimonides explained it to you!

    I happen to agree, but then I come at it via Dionysius the pseudoAreopagite, Augustine and Aquinas, who argue the same thing: evil is not a presence, but an absence.

    In men, however, it can be likened to a 'presence' if we think in terms of egregore, or a meme, then it becomes 'real' and has 'presence' in the psychic sense.
     
  8. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    Hi Devils' Advocate –

    Hi Thomas! I enjoyed your thoughts and responses. Lots to discuss. Your responses to my original posts are in italics. My responses to yours are in red.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Devils' Advocate View Post
    From my perspective evil is a byproduct of an imbalance in the duality within each of us. Humans are creatures of the Light. But they are also creatures of the Night.
    I tend not to see it in such dualist terms.

    I don't see man as having a good and evil side to his nature, rather, he has a nature which is prone to weakness. He desires knowledge, but doesn't know everything. In general terms, man has an instinct for what is right, but that doesn't mean he always does the right thing.


    Admittedly it was an analogy, simplified for the sake of clarification. To be more specific, we all have a nature which contains the duality within us. It is more a sliding scale from one extreme to the other, rather than two points of absolutes. People fall on different points on that scale. The reasons are myriad, essentially fall into the two broad categories of nature & nurture.

    People have an instinct, I agree, though not necessarily for what is right. Nor does everyone desire knowledge. That is more than obvious in the world today where all too many people choose to desire ignorance.


    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Devils' Advocate View Post
    Too many institutions, including though not exclusively, religious ones teach people to Shine in the Light and Hide from the Night.

    Oh, I don't think that's true at all. Self-discipline and ascesis is fundamental to all traditional religious teaching. It is largely unfashionable today, I agree, so perhaps you're talking about the more recent denominations?

    Evil is no big deal. Just don't do it. In Christianity, for example, Jesus said the same thing with regard to sin. No need to make a song and dance about it, just don't do it (cf John 5:14, 8:11).


    Self-discipline is fundamental to most traditional religious teachings. No disagreement there. Ascesis, however, is reserved mostly for the most ardent followers, not the religious population in general. And the nature of the self-discipline is at the core of where we differ. Self discipline is not as simple as a choice of 'just do not sin'. Would that it were. I perceive that as an over simplification.

    For one, how does one decide what is the sin and what isn't. Yes, many of the time, it is clear to see. Just as often, the difference is much cloudier. And what of the choices where one must choose the lesser of the evils. There are no good choices, only levels of bad ones. They are all technically sin in this case, yet a choice must still be made.


    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Devils' Advocate View Post
    Our darker natures must be repressed. Suppressed.

    We don't see it that way. We see it as weakness. And if you exercise the weak, it becomes strong.

    When we think we're exorcising our demons, we're actually exercising them. "You become what you think about" is one of the most powerful and under-rated aphorisms I know. There is a tendency to 'engage' our 'darker nature' in the belief we are overcoming it. Actually, we're feeding it, and if we're not careful, it begins to feed off us. This is the road to obsession.


    The above is a very orthodox point of view. I'm not saying that is a bad thing, mind you. Only that the definition determines the result. If our darker nature is evil by definition, then engaging it would be an evil act as you say. In my reality, though, our darker nature is not inherently evil. It is what we do with our darker nature that determines whether it is evil or good.

    Take extreme anger as an example. We all have had such dark moments in our lives. If one takes that anger out on another, that is evil. If one takes that anger and uses it as a drive to make a meaningful change for the better, that is good. There is always the choice within each of us. It is how we choose that makes us good or not. This applies to both sides of our nature; the light and the dark.


    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Devils' Advocate View Post
    By stepping fully into the Light, we can defeat the Night. The problem is that we live in a reality that contains Day (Light) and Night (Dark). It is a fundamental reality from which we cannot escape.

    I don't see Light and Dark as fundamentally real, but as a way of seeing, and a way of understanding.

    Very cosmologist of you. ;) Yes, fundamentally, light and dark are but differences of the same state. The limited senses which we have to perceive them, though, means that they might as well be real. They are real to us as a species. And they affect us in real ways, too.


    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Devils' Advocate View Post
    Turning away from the dark side is suppressing it. Whenever humans suppress a part of their persona, that part finds its way out in perverted ways. Or in other words - Evil.

    Then you are not 'suppressing' it, you're actually fuelling it. Better, and simpler, is engage with the good, rather than engage with suppressing the bad, which will not, of itself, lead to the good.

    Rather than suppressing one's nature, try metta meditation and transcend that self-perception.


    We radically differ on this one. Specifically this statement "Then you are not 'suppressing' it, you're actually fuelling it." No, no and no! Suppressing the dark side is fueling it. We see this in the world around us everywhere we look. Where is there the most sexual perversion? Where sex is suppressed; its natural expression locked away under a ton of rules. Is it a coincidence that it is the Catholic Church that has the most problem with sexual abuse of children? I think not. Priests are men who are told that a completely natural part of being a man, their sexuality, must be throttled.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Devils' Advocate View Post
    For me, it is a balance that is required. Open ourselves to the dark side of our nature. Face those inner demons.

    Oooh, no, no, no! All the world's wisdom suggests that's what not to do.

    Go looking for Pandora's Box, you mean? Facing those inner demons is giving way to them. Again, it's not exorcising, it's exercising.

    Why?

    Because, as every world-won wisdom assures us, whatever inner demon we face down, there's another one behind it ... why? Because we become addicted to it. When we run out of demons, we manufacture new and better ones.

    And so it goes ... and when, eventually, you come up against the demon that's too big for you (and the ego knows precisely when to let that dog off the leash), then down you go, and every demon you thought you'd overcome follows on its heels.


    I wish I had not used that word 'demon' in my last sentence. That is a word best left for theologians. In truth there are no demons except the ones we create ourselves. If our darker nature were evil, yes your response would be logical. As I said earlier though, our dark side is no more evil than our light side. It is our choice of how to respond to any of our sides that makes those responses good or evil. We are animals with a huge range of potential reactions. All on that sliding scale from one extreme to the other of the possible choices that are open to us. To try and say that half of who we are is inappropriate, or somehow 'wrong' is to cut ourselves off from half of who we are.
     
  9. mehdi I

    mehdi I New Member

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    No beating around the burning bush here.

    Where does evil come from?

    Without dancing around the topic God created evil, so evil comes from God. The Quran teaches that all things come from God:

    {….. If some good befalls them, they say, "This is from Allah; but if evil, they say, "This is from thee" (O Prophet). Say: "All things are from Allah." But what hath come to these people, that they fail to understand a single fact? Whatever good happens to thee is from God; and whatever evil befalls thee is from thyself…} (An-Nisaa' 4:78-79)

    Even in the story of able and Kane, evil was not inspired by thr devil. The inclination to do evip was inspired by jealously. Evil was created in order for God to test man whether or not he's willing to do good. There can't be free choice if the only choice is to do good all the time.
     
  10. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I thought Islam does not say God is the cause of evil? Interesting ...

    No, that's not quite right either, is it. The victim of evil should not be blamed for the evil that befalls him or her.

    I reject this kind of thinking completely. It's idolatry. It's making God in man's image, in the assumption that God 'doesn't know' ...
     
  11. mehdi I

    mehdi I New Member

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    No its not, its logical.

    Who created hell, who created satan. Are satan and hell evil?

    Yes God created evil. However God loves all things good, thus that statement. When people sway from Gods path evil befalls them.
     
  12. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi mehdi. Unfortunately, it's not logical from the Christian understanding of God.
     
  13. mehdi I

    mehdi I New Member

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    I can see how one can struggle with that concept since your told to believe by faith, but christianity is not some radical new concept and not much different than judaism or islam.

    Why not?

    Is drug abuse or alchoholism evil? Sure it is. The dependence on substance abuse is an evil one inflicts on oneself. By being an alcoholic or drug addict one becomes withdrawn from society, unproductive, or worse can develop mental diseases. One inflicts evil on themselves by not following the parameters G-D set out for us.

    I would argue the opposite.

    Saying that G-d did not create evil would be idolatrous. For instance, certain G-d attributes like all-wise, all-knowing, and the creator would not apply, neither would the concept that G-d created hell or the devil. Why one may ask? Because that is saying the wisdom of giving man free will did not come from G-d as G-d only created the choice of good, implying that bad must've been created by another force, thereby necessitating the need for an equally wise other G-d or co-creator who must've created evil (things like bad choice, hell, punishment, jealousy, envy etc...).

    I don't agree with the opinion that evil is the absence of a power of good. My question is say there was a roomful of saints, and a devil or evil spirit enters that room. Does evil exist in that room, does good? Evil in my humble opinion is a presence as much as good is.
     
  14. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    But that's a very specific example though? Let's take another, like loosing a child to cancer?


    It sounds more like a difference of opinion concerning the definition of evil.
    But didn't you evade Thomas point of limiting God?
     
  15. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    Thomas, I put a lot of time and thought into responding to your responses to my initial post. Unfortunately the Internet Gods were not kind and my post got trapped in Inter-Pergatory! I have hope it might still see the light of day, but if not just want you to know you were not ignored.
     
  16. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Well explain to me how the victim of rape and murder, be it man, woman or child, is responsible for being abused, raped and murdered.

    And saying that the victim is atoning for ills in a previous existence is a very convenient excuse, and one I don't accept for a moment. I don't think God is so dumb as to be incapable of coming up with a better solution than that.

    For your god, maybe. But not the God of the Abrahamic Traditions, nor with the deity of the Western Philosophical Tradition, either. Judaism, Christianity and Islam reject that opinion.

    God gives man freedom to will. Man wills what he chooses, God does not predetermine his choices. Evil is the measure of the degree to which man falls short of his own perfection.

    The analogy does not apply to God. You're anthropomorphising.

    There's the difference.
     
  17. Shibolet

    Shibolet Member

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    I do not believe that evil comes from Allah. No one who is tempted into doing some thing evil is free to say, "I am being tempted by Allah into doing this or that evil act." Surely, Allah Who is beyond the grasp of evil, tempts no one. Rather the tug and lure of his own passion tempt every man. Once evil has conceived, it gives birth to more evil and, when evil reaches maturity, it meets catastrophe. Allah has created man perfect; then man, by ill-use of his free will has turned into many evil distortions. (Eccles. 7:29) The bottom line is that evil does not exist; it must be made to become real.
     
  18. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    I've seen this dispute before, I suspect it has more to do what ascetic acts we are talking about. Fast was very common here not too long ago and still a big part of [insert volume] religious practice today.
     
  19. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi –
    Has it turned up? Is it the one in black and red above?
     
  20. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    Why yes. That's the one! In this time of Thanksgiving I give thanks to the life of brian!
     

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