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Good and Evil

Instead of hijacking soyousay's post, I will ask my own question.

I consider that "good" and "evil" are arbitrary unnecessary value judgements. There is only choice. Thoughts?

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Asked by judimary at 4:55 PM on Jun. 29, 2011 in Religious Debate

Level 21 (12,107 Credits)
Answers (38)
  • Unnecessary? That may just be a question of semantics. Value judgments have a place in how we live our lives. Without them, you would be an eternal victim (or an eternal oppressor). That doesn't mean the concepts are as cut and dried as people like to pretend. Posit any situation as an example of evil, and it's possible to invent a set of circumstances that justify it. Same is true of good, whether it's Mother Theresa or the heartwarming story of a 13 year old volunteering at a food pantry, it's possible that there is an ulterior motive not apparent in the 6 oclock news, feel good, 60 second story.

    The problem is morality is not carved in stone, no matter how hard people insist they invented it. What's evil in Ohio is moral and expected in Tunisia. What's abominable in India is dinner in Seattle.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 5:00 PM on Jun. 29, 2011

  • There is only choice.
    I'm reminded of a line from the movie Unfaithful. Connie says, "This is a mistake". Paul replies, "There's no such thing as a mistake. There is what you do and what you don't do".

    I disagree with that statement as well as yours. There IS such a thing as a mistake and there IS such a thing as good and evil.

    Answer by popzaroo at 5:05 PM on Jun. 29, 2011

  • I see them as merely descriptors of the things actions/ oh whatever

    Evil is explained here, "Good" would be the desirable/wanted aspects. Each individual and culture has a different "measurement" of what they consider good and what they consider evil but in either case it is a descriptive word to help categorize an event/aspect/thought/whathaveyou.


    Answer by KristiS11384 at 5:05 PM on Jun. 29, 2011

  • Of course I did get the DVF visiting me on that one, maybe if I had said I was evil it would have been better received. LOL

    Answer by KristiS11384 at 5:06 PM on Jun. 29, 2011

  • I don't necessarily believe in the idea of "evil". It connotates the idea that when things go "wrong" there is a supreme being somewhere lurking in the corners making it hapen. when in reality, like you said,we all make choices that lead us in a postive direction or a negative direction.

    There is also the idea as NP touched on that the ideas of good and evil are too subjective. We each have our own ideas of what is good or bad, and make choices accordingly.

    Answer by sahmamax2 at 5:09 PM on Jun. 29, 2011

  • I have a hard time with this. How does one look at, for example, Hitler and assign his "choices" any value other than evil or wrong? How does one spin that to see the other side? What moral measure makes that acceptable behavior? This isn't eating beef or revering cow. It's mass genocide based solely on faith.

    Sure, there are circumstances where people make bad choices - although 'choice' as we use the term typically undervalues the grotesque actions at play in some cases. Are they evil or voluntarily engaging in destructive behaviors? Isn't it semantics?

    I am a Christian, but I don't' believe there's some supernatural puppetmaster behind real-life horror. I do believe some people lacking the moral compass needed to function properly in any society. It's not evil in terms of an outside force influencing them, even if their actions are "evil" for lack of a better word.


    Answer by Anonymous at 5:19 PM on Jun. 29, 2011

  • I have a hard time with this. How does one look at, for example, Hitler and assign his "choices" any value other than evil or wrong?

    It's beyond my ability (or perhaps a better way would be my willingness) to justify genocide. However, there are analogies to that same action that get excused more easily, because it's easier for people to stomach. As an example, there are regular posters in the P&CE section, people who have dozens of friends on their friends list, who get voted up 10+ times every day, who have openly said they believe Muslims should be kicked out of the country or put in camps, who have justified the attacks on a Mosque in TN, and who think victims of anti-Islam hate crimes deserve it. If Hitler is categorically evil, why has the woman who has repeatedly said "Muslims are terrorists" for years not been chased out of here? What's the difference between anti-Muslim rhetoric and anti-Jewish?

    Answer by NotPanicking at 5:26 PM on Jun. 29, 2011

  • Well Hitler's actions, to us in reterospect, were horrific beyond our comprehension. But at the time, given the stuggles Germany had been through, the Germans (many) welcomed a charasmatic leader who led them to think that they were "better" than another outside race. Um, nationalism taken to an extreme maybe? You ever hear of a country whose citizens are told, "we're the best!" (think chants along the lines of "U.S.A.! U.S.A!" that sound so appealing when they are uttered by the masses to which you belong, but very dangerous when you're of another nationality).

    Anyway, Hitler was probably genuinely outraged by his belief that the Jews killed Jesus, and he blamed them as a race. Like the Muslims are being blamed for 9?11? Maybe?

    I'm not saying Hitler was not doing to wrong thing, but I am saying "Evil" is a matter of perspective, and hindsight tends to have 20/20 vision, but when things are happening...

    Comment by judimary (original poster) at 5:47 PM on Jun. 29, 2011

  • Perspective is ALL-IMPORTANT and what choices one makes depend entirely on one's subjective reality, in the moment and circumstances of the choice. No good or evil. Only choices.

    Comment by judimary (original poster) at 5:50 PM on Jun. 29, 2011

  • I think the teaching that there is "good" and "evil" is a way of imposing an external set of rules called "morality" onto what is really transitory and highly subjective. It's a way of reminding society to act in the interests of the group even when one is tempted to make a choice that is vulnerable to being swayed by the individual's immediate gains more than the "good" or benefit of the collective.

    Perhaps, in that sense, it is a useful way to describe the world, but not an accurate one.

    Comment by judimary (original poster) at 6:05 PM on Jun. 29, 2011

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