is Evil real?

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by maya, Mar 29, 2003.

  1. louis

    louis Well-Known Member

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    evil

    From Louis...
    It depends on what you mean by "evil" .
    There's a line in the Bible that says something like "God made the universe and saw that it was GOOD " ( meaning stable, harmonious and being the way He liked things ) .
    Which implies that God had to know about "evil" (meaning unstable, chaotic and not the way He liked
    things ) and that tried not to include evil in his design.
    But "good" is not the same as "perfect" - and, like all imperfect things the universe contains elements that can go wrong. WE classify such elements as "evil".
    The "devil" is a PERSONIFICATION of such elements.
    In that sense, the devil is "real" - like Mother Nature or
    Santa Clause are real because they are symbols for
    real things and the way we FEEL about those things.
     
  2. louis

    louis Well-Known Member

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    Is there such a thing as an absolute evil that transcends dictates of local culture and belief? An evil that goes beyond the bounds of mere social taboo or religious law?


    From louis ....

    Truly fascinating....
    May I suggest "force" ? - anything from psychological
    pressure to physical battery to acheive a private purpose -
    such as in the Bible story of Cain and Abel .
    All animal life survives by killing and eating other
    living things - preserving some lives by forcing others to
    give up theirs. Is that "evil" or just necessary ?
    How about a CRIMINAL - willing to violate the propety
    and lives of others just to make his own life more enjoyable.
    Or think of a CANCER cell - it refuses to do the job it was
    designed to do - instead, it uses up more than its proper
    share of nutrients and infects other cells until it eventually
    kills the host that supports it - thus killing itself.
    Is that "evil" ?
     
  3. suanni

    suanni Confused

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    If good is real then evil is real. There is balance in everything. Where it comes from? Likely man. But what is bad for one, won't be bad for another.
    So therefore it boils down to perception of actions.
    I believe to use an entity as an excuse for an action is a cop out. We are responsible for everything we do, good or bad.
    Why some people are bad and some are good? I have no idea.
     
  4. 9Harmony

    9Harmony goin' with the flow...

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    a Baha'i perspective

    Dear Friends,

    The Baha'i understanding of this topic is basically that evil is nonexistant, it is really just the absense of good. The following quotes help to explain this concept from a Baha'i perspective.

    Loving Greetings, Harmony

     
    Last edited: May 12, 2004
  5. samabudhi

    samabudhi Well-Known Member

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    Marvellous. Baha'i will go far with this sort of thinking.
     
  6. StrangeQuark

    StrangeQuark Wannabe Scholar

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    Okay, but what's the difference between "right" and "good" in this context?
     
  7. StrangeQuark

    StrangeQuark Wannabe Scholar

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    This is loaded question if I ever heard on. As usual, I will attempt to answer it in the context of my own belief:

    The word "evil" may be misleading because of certain connotations. I believe in "sin," however, which is an equally loaded term--but what the hay. I do't define it exactly the same way as other Christians might. The main reason I believe in it is because I do it, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not, and I am tempted to sin.

    Sin is still part of the conscious condition, therefore I need to "own up" as it were. It's not Satan's fault (although some may say that "Satan" it the personification of sin) when I do something wrong--it's mine.

    The words "good" and "evil" actually suffice; I''m just uncertain how they are interpreted in some spheres. God, I believe, is transcends space-time, but something in him was not satisfied in one way or another--before creation. There was some kind of imperfection, or chaos, or unhealthy state that needed to be addressed. Chaos was "unsatisfying," for one reason or another. Maybe it threatened, in some way, to destroy the deity? Something like a cancer within God, you might say.

    Whatever God has done, I think it may have been done for several reasons: a) to know himself; b) to heal himself; c) related to b, to love. Was he lonely? Who knows--there was just something. since I believe that God's plan it ultimately to reconcile all of existence with love, then evil must be opposite of love, and it must be a force that works against it.

    I realize this stuff is very vague, even more so than many myth cycles. It just works for me.

    Man, I really am living up to my signature here, aren't I? I may need to refine these ideas a lot, but like I said, in a sense at least I believe that evil exists.

    Of course, this still does not answer the question. Yes, I believe in a force that is counter to God's will, but no, it is not responsible for the choices I make (although it probably does actively try to influence my choices.) And yes, when I sin I have done something "wrong."
     
  8. StrangeQuark

    StrangeQuark Wannabe Scholar

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    The post above confuses me even more after reading it. I'll try to avoid taking on these kind of topics until I'm a little more clear on the subjects. I still appreciate everyone else's thoughts!
     
  9. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    SQ said: "since I believe that God's plan it ultimately to reconcile all of existence with love, then evil must be opposite of love, and it must be a force that works against it."

    Actually this bit is quite nice. Hang in there, you're doing fine.

    I'm not sure that evil is a "force," but then I don't really know how to call it otherwise. Let me first think about what love is, and then if evil is the opposite of that.

    1. Let's see, love is attachment. Is evil detachment? No, I don't think so. Perhaps it is a matter of what the attachment is to. Loving people, loving virtues, loving God, these are good things. Loving money, loving material things, this can lead to evil because others might be hurt by one's selfishness. What about love of self? Some love of self seems healthy. Hmmm, no simple theory here.

    2. Love is an emotion. Actually, is love an emotion? I know that when I love someone I want more than anything else to be with them, I can feel joy, anticipation, thrill, passion, endearment. If I am denied my love I feel pain, loss, even anger. Some say that the opposite of love as an emotion is hatred. Hatred seems like it could be related to evil. What makes hatred? IMO, hatred comes from fear, which comes from lack of understanding and lack of a feeling of control. Everyone needs to feel they have some control over their lives. Maybe it comes from a feeling, somewhere along the line, of being unloved.

    3. Love is a policy. I kind of like this one. I know I feel the emotions and the attachments of love when I am with people I "love," my husband, my children. But there are days when I don't feel real loving. I feel grumpy, tired, ill. My children are testing me all the time, my husband comes home too tired to help out. Yet we all muddle through because of this policy of love. And this is the kind of love we mean when we practice love of mankind. I mean, we don't really feel that same attachment and emotion for every single person in the world. And what about for our enemies, those who would harm us or our families, as Christ told us to love them also. So here, love is a policy. Do unto others etc., the Golden Rule. Found in some form in every religion I am aware of. This is also the best place to see that evil is the opposite, or the adversary, of love.

    Cheers,
    lunamoth
     
  10. StrangeQuark

    StrangeQuark Wannabe Scholar

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    Thank you, lunamoth. This will help me to think about it some more. :)
     
  11. frogsong

    frogsong Member

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    In asking "Is Evil Real?" we turn the adjective evil which is a property of an action or event and turn it into a noun. Suddenly we are asked to discuss a substance where there was only a property. I will talk about the property. I think there are plenty of things that happen that are not good. People suffer, they weep and they die.
    There are at least two sorts of things that can happen that cause this pain. First there are the random acts of a complex world. We can get sick, we can fall down, we can loose a loved one. Then there are the delibrate acts of others intended to cause us pain. Some of these acts I would call evil. For example, a con artist talks grandma out of her life savings. So there are evil acts.
    The real question is how to reconcile these evil acts with an all powerful god. People have been gnawing on this bone for a very long time and all the answers I am aware of come down to, "Sometimes we cannot understand God". Some would say that being unhappy with this answer is actually an unbridled act of hubris.
    My own take on this question comes out of my vision of a divine spirit that is becoming, not all powerful and ever lasting but on the way to being. In this view, the problem with evil acts is two fold. First the person that commits the act is cutting themselves off from the divine and secondly is harming someone else and in that harming may make it more difficult for that person to know their own divine spirit. That is the short version
    Pax Vobiscum
    Dave
     
  12. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    No, evil does not exist. When I steal from you, it isn't evil, when I steal your wife from you, that isn't evil, when I take all I can get from you...that is not evil...it's merely business. and you can not do a damn thing to stop me. Because it is not evil, it is just business... just business...shall I go on?
     
  13. Mus Zibii

    Mus Zibii QUID EST VERITAS

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    When I punch you for taking my stereo...? LOL

    Anyway, evil does and does not exist. Just like love and excitement do and don't exist. Two thousand dead babies is horrible, the force that brought about the pile of rotting infants was evil, the same force was no more unnatural or hateful than that which brings about orgasm.

    Stick that analogy in your pipe.
     
  14. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    "O, generatio incredula et perversa quousque ero vobiscum usquequo patiar vos..."


    Oh, disbelieving and perverse generations, how long (until what time) shall the Master suffer you…

    My Latin is a bit rusty, but I think I got partially right.

    Anyway, what's with the "pipe" thing? Is that the new buzz phrase of the hour? I hear people using it all the time now (just not necessarrily at me).

    You are correct, and you are incorrect (I think). Nature can destroy indiscriminantly, but that does not make nature evil. "The wind, no one can fathom, it can be heard, but it is not known from where it comes or where it goes, and it knows not what it does..."

    Man, however, can choose to destroy, or to build, to harm or to heal. In short, Man can strive for the good of all before self, or place self before all.

    This is why Man's actions can be (and are) judged as good, or evil.

    v/r

    Q
     
  15. Mus Zibii

    Mus Zibii QUID EST VERITAS

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    Well, its one of those, 'for all intents and purposes' kinda evil. LOL I remember having this preconceived notion of love when I was a kid and then looking the actual word up in the dictionary. Further down in the definition there was nuance, but the initial description was: affection for any given thing. Not exactly the gut wrenching search for completion that one might make it out to be.

    Sticking your hand into a fire hurts. Physically its the body's way of relaying the point that the body is receiving damage. Its a blinding agony in the mind. In appearance it can be anything from a reddening to total loss of flesh. And that's just the tip of the nuance. The so-called evil would originate from whoever holds your hand into the fire. Now what are their motives, where do they come from, and on and on.

    You can freely call that evil, and be accurate, but to think of that cause and effect as sitting squat in a corner waiting to pounce...

    Well, everything is so relative, the closer you come to conclusion the further it retreats.

    And I thought I was being old fashioned when I mention pipes and sticking.
     
  16. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Heh, I think one of the other threads is straying into the territory of this one. :)

    As for "good and evil" - I find the whole subject of morality fascinating - how it is often considered a received notion, yet eventually people can learn to question it - and then find that answers are not necessarily forthcoming.

    More specifically - and I'm not sure if it has been raised in this particular thread - I wonder how much any personal or social concept of morality is entirely connected to the general rules of social behaviour hard-wired into us - those same social rules that affect other social mammals, such as how the individual who puts themselves first can put the entire group at risk, and how only the higher "alphas" are allowed such indulgences, and therefore not so subject (to themselves) to the same sense of morality.

    In other words, in comparison to human society, the alphas of our world feel less and less obliged to be bound by the same sense of morality as socially lower animals - the upper classes screwing over the lower classes. They are empowered to make decisions for their own benefit, because ultimately they control the direction of the wider group - or "troupe". The lower classes are not allowed to be so self-serving simply as a consequence of being a lower class, that must therefore work within a social heirarchy.

    Hm...I'm not explaining it very well, but either way, I wonder how much of this hierarchial social development isn't a cornerstone of human morality.
     
  17. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Good explanation...however (however is not an if, and or but), not all alpha personalities act that way (consider self first). Some become altruists. When they do, they move the world (not just their world - everyone's world).

    As far as good and evil (getting back to the origins of this thread), Judeac/Christian "Lore" states that God will (or has) writ the laws into the very heart of each man (human). What we do with it from there is up to us.

    Hmm, evil and good seem to come from the concept of conscience. We must be self aware. Instinct does not work, natural forces make no difference. Deliberate choices must be made in order for Evil/Good to take effect.

    In order to make choices, we must be self aware, aware of others, have the ability to descern between the two, and decide who is valued higher...
     
  18. Avinash

    Avinash Well-Known Member

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    Namaskar,

    I think you can't see evil apart from harm. Without any harm being done, there can also be no evil. So when is anyone harmed? When someone's spiritual progress is thwarted, then that person is harmed.

    Hurting someone physically or mentally may be harmful but could also have been done out of love in order to teach. If it furthers the person's spiritual development then it cannot be called an evil action because no real harm has been intended or done.
    Which doesn't imply that crimes that are not evil should not be punished.
     
  19. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Ah, but I think you looked in the wrong 'dictionary'. Even if you do not believe in God, the Bible has a splendiforous set of definitions for love...the kind you were looking for in Websters...I think.

    The most famous biblical chapter on love is from 1 Corinthians:

    If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

    This is a description of apage love. It is described as being patient, kind, truthful, unselfish, trusting, believing, hopeful, and enduring. It is not jealous, boastful, arrogant, rude, selfish, or angry. True love never fails.

    Now, there are four other forms of love! Which one were your looking to define?

    If you wanted romantic love, try Songs of Solomon. SHE searches for HIM everywhere, and HE comes to HER like a thief in the night.
    (Sneaky little b*$@*&d ;-) ).

    I do agree that sticking your hand into the fire is not wise, the fire does not care whether your flesh cooks or not. But the act itself is not evil, nor is the result. (stupid maybe, but not evil).

    Any person who deliberately places you into the fire 'against your wishes' has comitted an evil. (Human choice to harm another is evil).

    A cop defending self, and killing another in the process (or be killed), is not evil. But a cop who kills, because someone might talk of his/her indiscretions is EVIL.

    Sharks kill indiscriminently, but the is no evil...they just know to kill and eat, and reproduce.

    Evil...natural...ability to choose.

    v/r

    Q
     
  20. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Ability to choose? Ah, but even if we put aside determinism, we are still well-shaped by our genes and environment. Is it not that some degree of this very choice is taken from us by these factors? For example, I don't remember chopsing to be hterosexual; I don't remember choosing when I fall in love; and I don't remember choosing to have some creativity with music and words. Of course, I'm simply trying to stoke the discussion here. :)

    Also a point, that because morality is a very much a social construct - where society determines that some actions will be rewarded and others punished (especially when committed by the lower classes) - then just because an action is deemed punishable does not make it evil. The decision as to whether something is to be regarded as evil surely remains a relative point?
     

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