Can we call things "evil"?
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
13-09-2011, 11:40 PM
Can we call things "evil"?
I have heard it put out there that we shouldn't call things evil, since this is kind of biblical.

I'm thinking tho this word has a definite use. We need a label for things that are bad beyond our imaginations. What do you call it when someone can do any bad thing to you, when their mind contains depths of unfathomable darkness & no internal governor? I, for instance, would call Cheney & Bush evil. They had nearly absolute power & happily sacrificed countless lives for their own sense of power, & to increase their already vast fortunes. If you are a fan of Bush, then think instead of a classic sociopath - someone able to lie with total believability, all the while pondering what it would feel like to cut your fingers off 1/2 inch at a time. The terrifying things is this level of depravity is beyond all outside influence, & what could make you feel more desperate? To be totally helpless in the face of fellow humans who are so unbalanced away from the rest of their species that they function 100% on self interest, & 0% on interest in others.

I think the word evil pretty well captures that sensation of horrors in the night. It touches us on some deep, lizard brain level. We have to have names for these extremes of human behavior.

Every time you say you don't believe, Jesus rips the wings off a fairy. - SkepticalParenting.com
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
14-09-2011, 12:26 AM
RE: Can we call things "evil"?
(13-09-2011 11:40 PM)EvilMomLady Wrote:  I have heard it put out there that we shouldn't call things evil, since this is kind of biblical.

I'm thinking tho this word has a definite use. We need a label for things that are bad beyond our imaginations. What do you call it when someone can do any bad thing to you, when their mind contains depths of unfathomable darkness & no internal governor? I, for instance, would call Cheney & Bush evil. They had nearly absolute power & happily sacrificed countless lives for their own sense of power, & to increase their already vast fortunes. If you are a fan of Bush, then think instead of a classic sociopath - someone able to lie with total believability, all the while pondering what it would feel like to cut your fingers off 1/2 inch at a time. The terrifying things is this level of depravity is beyond all outside influence, & what could make you feel more desperate? To be totally helpless in the face of fellow humans who are so unbalanced away from the rest of their species that they function 100% on self interest, & 0% on interest in others.

I think the word evil pretty well captures that sensation of horrors in the night. It touches us on some deep, lizard brain level. We have to have names for these extremes of human behavior.

No other single word has quite the same meaning as "evil".

"To think of what the world has suffered from superstition, from religion, from the worship of beast and stone and god, is
almost enough to make one insane."

Robert G. Ingersoll
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
14-09-2011, 12:41 AM
RE: Can we call things "evil"?
(13-09-2011 11:40 PM)EvilMomLady Wrote:  I have heard it put out there that we shouldn't call things evil, since this is kind of biblical.

I'm thinking tho this word has a definite use. We need a label for things that are bad beyond our imaginations. What do you call it when someone can do any bad thing to you, when their mind contains depths of unfathomable darkness & no internal governor? I, for instance, would call Cheney & Bush evil. They had nearly absolute power & happily sacrificed countless lives for their own sense of power, & to increase their already vast fortunes. If you are a fan of Bush, then think instead of a classic sociopath - someone able to lie with total believability, all the while pondering what it would feel like to cut your fingers off 1/2 inch at a time. The terrifying things is this level of depravity is beyond all outside influence, & what could make you feel more desperate? To be totally helpless in the face of fellow humans who are so unbalanced away from the rest of their species that they function 100% on self interest, & 0% on interest in others.

I think the word evil pretty well captures that sensation of horrors in the night. It touches us on some deep, lizard brain level. We have to have names for these extremes of human behavior.
There are some people who are evil, Hitler, Stalin, ideas can be evil, like slavery, I think it needs to describe the extreme behaviours, those levels of depravity that are unthinkable to most of us.
As far as the bible is concerned, evil is anything that is not of god, so you and i are evil because we have rejected god. The biblical definition devalues true evil..

I want for myself what I want for every women, absolute equality. Agnes Macphail
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
14-09-2011, 10:02 AM
RE: Can we call things "evil"?
(14-09-2011 12:41 AM)Blythe Wrote:  There are some people who are evil, Hitler, Stalin, ideas can be evil, like slavery, I think it needs to describe the extreme behaviours, those levels of depravity that are unthinkable to most of us.
As far as the bible is concerned, evil is anything that is not of god, so you and i are evil because we have rejected god. The biblical definition devalues true evil..

I didn't know that. But yea, that would take the zing right out of it. So me, here, reading bedtime stories to my kid - embodies evil. I hear people use the word when they're talking of something at the far end of awful. I haven't heard religious people use it so....lightly & inclusively, but then I don't hang around them.

Also, does evil have to be smart? I had a continuing debate with a friend on whether Dubya was smart & doing everything on purpose, or a fool & a pawn, & just doing stuff he was told. I said smart, they said stupid. then I said that either was, it was totally evil. Even more so if he was stupid, because if someone has the power to act in a way that is really damaging & they don't even have the hope of thinking about the horrendousness of what they are doing, that is a very dangerous kind of evil. One can dig into the question of which kind of evil is worse - informed yet conniving & self-serving, or ignorant to the point where not even one scrap of conscience might moderate?

Every time you say you don't believe, Jesus rips the wings off a fairy. - SkepticalParenting.com
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
14-09-2011, 10:22 AM
RE: Can we call things "evil"?
This is difficult without a religious framework - simply because we are accustomed to that frame - but we do possess a sense of the difference between crime and sin even if not always clearly articulated. A crime is an act that goes counter to specific laws - with which we do not always agree (possession of marijuana?), some of which we may not take seriously (speeding?); rules that we know are necessary to the smooth functioning of society, but arbitrary and subject to change. A sin is an act that goes counter to what we feel are universal laws, the rules that govern our ability to coexist as a species. Simplistically: a crime is a breach of contract; a sin is a breach of humanity.
Of course there is a large area of overlap, since bodies of law are made primarily from a consensus of what we consider unacceptable behaviour. But the law doesn't cover every sin; it makes exceptions for the elite, makes exceptions for circumstances such as war. Our sense of human decency makes no exceptions.

A wrong action is one that serves a selfish impulse to the detriment of other people and society. Everyone commits those acts, to some degree and with some frequency. An isolated occasional sin, like a single crime, can be expiated, forgiven, rehabilitated. Habitual law-breaking might be punished an forgiven, if the crimes are minor (theft, forgery); not if they are severe (serial murder, arson)
It is our recognition of habitual, persistent, highly anti-social acts, whether punishable by law or not, that we find abhorrent and label as evil.

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
14-09-2011, 03:06 PM
RE: Can we call things "evil"?
For me, evil is a meaningless word. It just means really bad. But what happens is that we use it to denote states of being, "person X IS evil," and we convince ourselves that we are personally incapable of anything really bad, "THEY are evil, I am good." But no one can be evil as a state of being. People can commit shitty acts, murder, rape, whathaveyou, but doing something "evil" and being "evil" are two different things. Built into not only Salvationism, but Western law, is the idea that something is wrong with certain people and they should be punished for it. But that's horseshit. There's nothing wrong with people. Everyone is capable of every act. There isn't a human alive that is incapable of murder. Most people might never be in the situation where they would need or want to murder someone, but everyone can do it. So this idea that THEY are evil is not only silly, it's dangerous. It’s also misleading. Saying that Bush did what he did because he was evil puts a screeching halt to the investigation. We no longer need to determine and learn from the actual process that led to his decisions, we just say he’s evil and poof. Lastly, I see no mechanism through which evil affects us. That is to say, if evil is a force, live gravity, then by what mechanism does it make evil people do evil things? The answer, I believe, is that it doesn't. And when we speak of sociopaths and psychopaths and schizophrenics, they don't harm others because they're evil, they do it because they're mentally ill. And when we speak in absolutes, it fails. Murder isn't "evil" as an absolute. People have found all kinds of justifications for murder. So if it isn't objective, then it's just a subjective term that means things I don't like or that I believe are injurious. So if it's not a force and it's not an absolute and it's not a state of being and it’s misleading and if it's not what drives the mentally ill and if acts of evil are not exclusive to the "evil people" then what use does the term have? I think it's meaningless but ubiquitous. Like stupid or crazy. They don't actually mean anything. But like evil, we use them like water. I prefer to get more specific.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
14-09-2011, 03:19 PM
RE: Can we call things "evil"?
(14-09-2011 12:41 AM)Blythe Wrote:  As far as the bible is concerned, evil is anything that is not of god, so you and i are evil because we have rejected god.

No, according to the bible, god has everything to do with evil:
Isaiah 45:7 (KJV) I make peace, and create evil; I the Lord do all these things.




(13-09-2011 11:40 PM)EvilMomLady Wrote:  I have heard it put out there that we shouldn't call things evil, since this is kind of biblical.

This is a ploy used by Christians to avoid The Problem of Evil.

It is claimed that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent.
But evil exists
- If God doesn't know about evil he is not omniscient.
- If God knows about evil but cannot stop it, he is not omnipotent.
- If God knows about evil and he can stop it but doesn't, he is not omnibenevolent.

QED: God does not exist.

Apologists have come up with dozens of explanations for this "problem of evil" (as it is known), but every single one of those explanations have been refuted and the conclusion holds good - God does not exist.

That's when they introduce the idea that evil does not exist:

If someone is murdered by a serial killer, nothing evil has occurred (says the Christian). The victim just happened to be in a place where there was a little less than the usual amount of good - and the serial killer is not evil, he's just not quite as good as you and me.

The mere fact that apologists find it necessary to raise such a ludicrous defense of their God, is enough to suggest that the conclusions drawn from the problem of evil are more effective than they would ever dare to admit.

Believe nothing you hear and only half what you see
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Joe Bloe's post
14-09-2011, 03:31 PM
RE: Can we call things "evil"?
(14-09-2011 03:06 PM)Ghost Wrote:  For me, evil is a meaningless word. It just means really bad. But what happens is that we use it to denote states of being, "person X IS evil," and we convince ourselves that we are personally incapable of anything really bad, "THEY are evil, I am good." But no one can be evil as a state of being...

I agree, Ghost. In fact, this is the same way I feel about happiness. Happiness is not a goal, something that is obtained and always had. When people ask me if it's possible to live a happy life as an atheist, I always wonder what defines a "happy life". There are highs and lows, just like anyone's life.

To call someone evil is to say that everything they do is evil. Is that even possible? There are people who act without considering how their acts impact others (we call them psychopaths), but they suffer from a mental disorder. Does anyone define evil as a mental disorder? But even psychopaths can do good works, even if it's just accidental.

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
14-09-2011, 04:23 PM
RE: Can we call things "evil"?
Hey, Starcrash.

Cheers.

The other day I was looking into sociopathy and I found a sociopath message board. It was an eye opening experience. Not everyone on the board, but many of the people on the board we sociopaths. They were discussing anger in this particular thread. But my stereotype of the sociopath as this out of control malevolent force was shattered when I found myself reading the posts of sociopaths who were just speaking matter of factly about their disorder and about the effect is has on them. But that effect is not them any more than a broken bone is you or I. So without doubt, a sociopath might lie, cheat, steal, murder and may do "a thousand dreadful things as willingly as one would kill a fly" but the rest of the time, they're just people.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
14-09-2011, 08:57 PM
RE: Can we call things "evil"?
I go along with evil being not the definition of a person, but the evaluation of an act. Antisocial behaviour is the expression of a complex of selfish/ destructive impulses and inappropriate response to circumstances. It begins as misdemeanors that accumulate and escalate over time.

One problem of classification comes with that "rest of the time" between evil acts. If sociopath does one evil act every week, he has more than six days of being a normal person. If he commits one evil act a day he has probably 23 hours to be a regular person. How about once an hour?
It seems to me that we can reach a point where the acts are so close together that the line between them and the person committing them begins to blur.
At what frequency does 'evil' become an adjective applicable to a person, as 'generous', 'cowardly' or 'charming' might be descriptions of character traits? At what point is the person primarily identified by his bad actions? Can evil acts reach a magnitude, severity, quantity or long-term damage where they would disqualify the perpetrator from humanity?

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: