is Evil real?

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

  1. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Hmm, seems to me you're describing the "tools" we are given at birth, or talents/characteristics for lack of a better term. How we choose to use them as we live is entirely up to us.

    I also think there we are describing two forms of reprimand here, punishment, and then discipline. A reward is a reward no matter how one looks at it, but punishment, is usually used to make some one pay for a serious wrong (intentionally committed, for self interests), wherein discipline is used to correct/remind/reprove those who most likely erred out of ignorance or thoughtlessness, and to prevent/warn that further actions if left unchecked could become evil.

    Punishing someone out of bigotry or loathing, or as a form of control over another (as in upper class towards those less fortunate materialisticly, or by virtue of pedigree, or as in spousal abuse, child abuse, etc.), is evil Brian.

    I think you've hit the nail on the head Avinash. From my perspective, recruits in basic military training are broken down two ways, in order to be rebuilt and fine tuned for their new life (physically and mentally). But they are never to be harmed spiritually (at least in the US military). In my family upbringing, I had my share of spankings and groundings, and lectures, but I was never told I was worthless. In fact I was told the opposite, how important I was, and how neccessary it was that I knew right from wrong.

    My backside stung, and my heart may have been heavy, but I still felt loved, and worthy.

    v/r

    Q
     
  2. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Yes, I sort of like playing with determinism and its principles. :)

    And thus is precisely one of the points I wished to push to next -> namely that if society imbues us with a sense of morality, but that this sense of morality then judges society to be "evil"...then doesn't that present some form of contradiction? Namely in that exploitation of the lower classes by the landed classes has been the absolute norm throughout human history.
     
  3. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Good point, and one of the precise reasons the colonial forefathers drafted the principals of the constitution (in the United States anyway), and specifically pointed out the way for the "common citizens" to beat that "evil" into submission.

    We can start over...

    Hmm, interesting thought - in Christian lore, we can also "start over"...

    ...not as invasive or immediately supplantive, but just as radical in thought, and undermining of the status quo.

    v/r

    Q
     
  4. pswfps

    pswfps Member

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    Perhaps "good" is simply a set of life rules defined by society which in turn are based on the needs of the individual who in turn is dependant on society. So then "evil" is anything contrary to the rules of "good", ie, the rules of society.

    Maybe the two concepts are a sort of psychological schism created by an inherently selfish and basic need for personal survival combined with mutual social cooperation as a tool for survival? Where is the line to divide the two?

    That's my simplistic suggestion anyway.

    Regards
    Paul W.
     
  5. louis

    louis Well-Known Member

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    for those who do not believe, no explanation is possible. for those who do believe, no explanation is necessary.

    From Louis.....
    I've read that statement so often.... quite fascinating
    to someone like me - one who neither believes nor
    disbelieves - at least not in the "religious" sense.
    The only belief I can understand is the kind that
    DEPENDS ON explanations, proof, evidence, etc.
    For example, I equate "evil" with "negative" - the
    basic imperfection of all physical reality - no matter
    how "good" something appears to be, there is always
    the possiblity that something can go wrong with it.
    And "Satan" is a personification of that real possibility -
    like "Mother Nature, Old Man Winter, Santa Clause" -
    all abstract symbols for REAL things.
     
  6. pswfps

    pswfps Member

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    louis,

    For those who do not believe in what exactly? Do you believe that my suggestion is devoid of all merit?

    Thanks
    Paul.
     
  7. inertia

    inertia New Member

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    hi all, new here and enjoying reading all the posts...i myself dont even like to use to word evil or good as in describing a person. same as good and bad. what makes a evil person. we are all put into positons everyday and who knows what we could be faces with in the moment and what we would do right then and there as in action. i would not even say i am a good person. i am human, i am not perfect, i stuff up, i hurt people, i get hurt. i guess the difference would be if u lived ur life in selfishness or out of selflesness. i once lived a life in fear where i was always taking and always looking outward to see what i can get, get away with, always thinking of myself. i guess thats the difference now. i look within and see what i can give. if life is always about taking rather then giving then i would say i am a selfish person and if i saw someone else living this way. i would think no wrong of them but they fear, are scared but they are still human. if u can live with urself being that way then thats ur life but there comes a pointk, where ur not happy, u dont like living in fear and through the grace of god u start to change without even realising it in thought but u r much happier. i still fear and i still hurt people, i am human , i have selfish moments but i know the difference and i try and stop it as it stands out to me like someone screaming in my head. if i know i have done wrong by someone i acknowledge it, see myself and am responsible for it. even if that other person does not know, i cant live with the feeling inside of knowing. i know and god knows. i once read this bit online here somewhere. i will cut and paste it. its how i feel about the whole good and evil thing.
    Our moral hearts, like our physical ones, are weak and prone to disease. If we acknowledge this and determine to exercise them, we have a chance to live. If we deny it and insist our hearts are failure-proof, we let the disease in at the door
    Like fragments of a hologram, each of us contains an image of the whole of our species; each of us participates in all of the beauty and all the evil of being human. We all participate in the music of Mozart and the murderousness of Mengele. If, in the morning, you look in the mirror and you say, "I have the face of a murderer," you have placed yourself in a position to begin the work that needs to be done
     
  8. inertia

    inertia New Member

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    lol..sorry left a bit out

    It involves drawing a daily balence, asking yourself each night what you have done that day to deny that murderer.
     
  9. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Hi inertia, welcome to CR!

    Yes, I think that taking a balance at the end of the day is a good part of daily spiritual practice.
     
  10. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Yes and taking periodic account through out the day is even better. It renews awareness of actions and results constantly. Far better to have an immediate "I'm sorry" than a latent "Oh, s*&$", later.

    Never let the sun go down on angry thoughts or words. The next day might be tainted with angry actions. And remember, Anger, is one letter away from DANGER.

    Oh, and how is a one year old the friend of Entropy Luna? Because a one year old keeps things simple? Or is it because a one year old will soon give Entropy a challenge?

    v/r

    Q
     
  11. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    I just finished reading A Wrinkle in Time. I know it's written for youth, but I kept feeling like I was missing something when I read references to it here and there. Anyway, I thought it was interesting that M.L'Engle portrayed pure evil as pure conformity and uniformity on the planet Camazotz. The time/space travellers end up on this planet which has totally given in to Evil, The Black Thing (which also threatens Earth, but Earth has not yet given in). As you turn the page you wonder what kind of murder and mayhem they will find as they descend into the first town they encounter on Camazotz, what will Evil look like. And, it turns out that it looks pretty much like Earth, except without the diversity of thought, word and deed. It's quiet (too quiet), and everyone believes the same thing (or else!) and lives precisely the same way. Of course, there is that hideous brain thing controlling everything from the center of town...

    Any thoughts out there on evil as the quenching of all individuality?
     
  12. Ami

    Ami Sanctuary

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    I beleive there is good and evil in all of us, Its not necessarily defined by what we do but more about why we do it.
    It is quite easy to do evil with the best intentions but that does not make one evil,
     
  13. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Welcome to CR, Ami!
     
  14. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Dear Q,

    I missed your post until now--sorry for not replying.

    There is a prayer I saw on a friend's refrigerator long ago that I used to think was a joke; the gist of it was: Thank you Lord, so far today I have not been angry or lost my patience, I have not burned the toast, been short with my kids, impolite at the supermarket, or frustrated in traffic...but, Lord, in a couple of minutes I'm going to get out of bed, and then I am really going to need your help.

    I now find myself saying that prayer....

    I need to update that tagline--Entropy's friend is now almost two! Entropy is the tendency toward disorder in the universe. The toddler is the tendency toward disorder in my household, a small fraction of the universe!
     
  15. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Welcom Ami,

    Hi Luna.

    I quite agree with you Ami, on actions vs. intent. In my line of work, we often strip people naked in front of God and country, deliberately break the ribs of people, particularly around the Z process and breast plate, among other physically damaging acts to the human body. And 9 times out of 10, it is without the consent of the "victim".

    It's called Prehospital Emergency Care & Crisis Intervention. Or SAR (Search and Rescue), with the emphasis on Rescue. The above results are part of what can happen during (CPR) Cardio Pulminary Resucitation.

    Usually the "victim" is grateful, rather than truamatized, and usually the damage inflictor is glad to have done the damage.

    Just a thought to reinforce your view.

    v/r

    Q
     
  16. Ami

    Ami Sanctuary

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    Cheers :D
     
  17. Joshua

    Joshua New Member

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    Is Evil Real... that seems to be the subject that has been discussed. And yet, I don't think that anyone has really hit the nail on the head. I will address this question and hope not to beat around the bush or waste time in doing so.

    If you wish to simply discuss this concept without any religious connotations, than you must consider it in a clinical light.

    Forget what other men have taught you, your beliefs, creeds, and bodies of doctrine for a minute and listen to your own thoughts, feelings, and life-experiences.

    What can we define evil as? I suppose that the best way I've heard it put is simply a destructive force: our dragon; that thing that we have as a constant in our existance which works against our progress and happiness.

    If you call it Satan, Loki, or whatever, fine. That's one way to describe it to others.

    In the end, the name or label doesn't matter so much as the meanings associated with what we're describing and how others can understand it's meaning.

    How do we comprehend light? Can we comprehend light without darkness? How can you know sweet things if you've never tasted bitter ones? Nothing has meaning without opposite ends to the spectrum.

    We must have something with which to compare what we see, feel, and experience in our lives. If we finds or experience things that create an atmosphere of 'happiness', or 'contentness' or when we feel ways that are pleasurable to us, we label it as 'good'. Things that work against these feelings of joy that we seem to be constantly seeking in this life we label as 'Bad' or 'Evil.'

    If you deny the existence of 'Evil' than you deny the existence of anything 'good' and in doing so, refuse to even try to recognize anything that you know. Without these ends to our comprehension, we cannot understand anything that we experience.

    With no good and no evil, than we identify this life as a gray, bleak and tasteless enviornment where there's no difference between experiences, or feelings; an existance where our self-consciousness means nothing, and our ability to make choices really has no effect in the outcome of anything.

    If you have found anything in this life that you enjoy, anyone that you've loved, anything that has gladdened your heart, etc. You cannot deny the existance of 'goodness' in this life.

    And if you cannot deny that there is goodness than you cannot deny that there surely is evil.

    I'm done.
     
  18. ISFP

    ISFP Well-Known Member

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    hi all-

    many Quakers see evil as those actions or thoughts which arise when we do not listen to the spark of God within us, or when we disregard the spark of God within others. many believe that harming another being, emotionally or physically, is doing harm to God as well, and is something to be avoided / corrected.
     
  19. mirrorinthefog

    mirrorinthefog Well-Known Member

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    At this point in time I don't really believe in evil or in good, as much as in what is socially and personally acceptable and unacceptable. There are some rules which we obey perhaps because it is in our nature to do so (I don't think anyone would agree that murdering another human being is 'good', even if it is 'justified', most of us certainly wouldn't encourage senseless killing or violence), others we have observed from our social environment (lying is wrong, stealing is wrong, help others less fortunate than yourself). Would we migrate towards these 'favorable' behaviors if left to ourselves? Maybe, maybe not. (personally I doubt we would) It would depend on the circumstances and each individual case. As was said before intent is just as important as action. Ultimately it's up to the individual to decide on a course of to take, whether to profit from the suffering of others, or bring it about for personal gain, or to refrain.
    Still, these are simply occurances that are harmful and undesirable, because they threaten or disrupt our way of life, defy our personal/social code of ethics, etc. They are not what one would call 'evil' in the universal sense, as in the work of some supernatural force bent on causing destruction.
     
  20. Sam K

    Sam K Baha'i :)

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    Firstly a big hello as this is my first posting here and a big thank you to the hosts of a wonderful site :)

    Secondly, I agree with very very good points made (too many to acknowledge so I won't) here and just wish to add my 2p's worth with respect to the question "Is evil real?"

    We/I (Baha'is) believe that evil has no real existence, that it is merely the absence of good. An analogy is that you can take a light into a dark room and light it up eliminating the darkness, but you cannot take a piece of darkness and take it into a bright room and cause it to go dark. This is because light does have real existence - it does have a real source. Darkness itself has no real source - it is the absence of light. Similarly evil has no source - it is the absence of good.

    This is not to say, however that evil doesn't exist. Darkness, after all, certainly exists - shadows exist, dark places exist. They may be formed by blocking light but nevertheless darkness still does exist. The point is though that it has no source and no real existence in that sense. Similarly there is no ultimate source for evil.

    I think the teaching of duality, of an equal and opposite source of evil which comes from Zoroastrianism/Christianity etc. is not wrong - it's just a different way of looking at things. This is how it was explained to the peoples of the time and it fitted in well with the beliefs current at the time, but now, we have this explanation.

    But it doesn't matter really - the 'fact' that evil has no real existence basically means you can shine goodness on evil and goodness will always drive out evil. This view is shared by those who believe in a definite evil source anyway - that evil always loses to good. It is also shared surely by those who have no theological viewpoint - that one can always overcome weaknesses if they wish to. Practically there is no difference.

    Other aspects of this discussion I see have been sumarised earlier in 9harmony's post on page 2 of this thread, so I won't repeat them here.

    Sam.
     

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