EvilPosted: September 15, 2012
Evil exists; I don’t doubt that. There are evil people in the world and I personally have very strong views on what I consider to be evil. But I don’t believe that evil is some strange supernatural force. Evil to me is no more than an adjective; a word which describes an extreme of badness or wrong.
It would be convenient if there was some objective measure of evil, something which all scientists and rational people could agree was a concrete definition of evil; something like the speed of light or absolute zero. E=mc2 X4(2) + N2 = Evil. But there is no such thing. Evil is a relative term. What I think is evil, some other’s might not agree and vice versa.
Some people panic at the idea that Evil is not an absolute; they don’t like uncertainty or shades of grey. I think that is why some religious people cling to the belief that evil is whatever their particular God or scripture says it is; if a particular scripture says this is evil then it is so, if it doesn’t say it then it’s not. No ifs. No buts. No maybes. The problem is such people are quite simply wrong; the world is not that simple. But those people fear relativity and panic themselves into believing that in a world without absolutes, society will degenerate into an anarchy where anything goes and there are no moral or ethical standards at all. They are wrong about that too.
In fact, once you leave behind the notion that there are absolute standards of good and evil set by some God, you begin to grow as a person. You are forced to think for yourself and take full responsibility for your own moral behaviour. And as each individual grows, so does the community and society they are part of.
Those who fear relativity and rely on their scriptures instead of their minds to work out what evil is, are quite blind to the obvious. While evil is certainly relative, there is already a large degree of “agreement” about what it is. I am sure most people in the world, no matter what their race or creed, would agree that genocide, rape and child abuse are evil. Most would agree that murder and cruelty are usually evil. Put a random selection of Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Satanists, Pagans, Atheists and Agnostics in a room and I bet there would be a large degree of agreement about who they considered to be the most evil people in history. This is the kind of thoughtful dialogue that will eventually bring us as close as possible to an absolute definition of evil; a humanly constructed definition that the vast majority can agree on. Indeed the only thing getting in the way of this type of constructive dialogue is the belief that some people’s sky daddy has already said all that needs to be said on the subject. Perhaps that is a form of evil in itself.