|Good and EvilPage 1 of 5 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)|
|What is evil to one person is good to another and what is good to one is evil to another.|
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Posted: 3/8/2008 9:39:44 PM
|It's all about relativity, nothing is black and white, not even good or evil.|
people do bad things for good reasons (sabotaging whaling ships for ex.), and people do good things for bad reasons(donating money to a fund for publicity) . Not the best examples, but thats the gist of my point.
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Posted: 3/8/2008 9:50:22 PM
I'm not asking if you believe in religion, but if you believe in any sort of spiritual reason for life to exist, then do you believe that good and evil is either the only reason for us to act out a life or just one of many reasons, or that it has nothing to do with it?You can do what you want. So you can define any reason you want for your existence.
Does the importance of good and evil differ depending on one's spiritual stance towards life and reality?I believe that what one defines as good, and what one defines as evil, and how important you consider those things are, can differ from person to person, and so differ based on your beliefs. So it is very conceivable that if 2 people have different spiritual stances towards life and reality, that they could see good and evil and their importance differently. I am reminded of Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg in the film "The Fifth Element", when he demonstrates that life's ballet can only happen when death and destruction happens, for death and destruction bring about change, and change brings forth action, and action means that life has a purpose. So according to Mr Zorg, killing people helps life.
If its important to define good and evil, would you be opposed to actually classifying good and evil acts and charting your life's merits and demerits from birth to death for the public to view?Personally, I'd feel very embarrassed, but I would be open to it, because it would mean that people like murderers and paedophiles would be exposed. But you would need one standard of good and evil to apply to everyone equally. Otherwise, all the murderers and paedophiles would claim their definitions of good and evil mean that they were only good.
Do the subjects of morality and ethics have to come into play here?I don't quite know what you mean by "come into play". But from what I understand, morality and ethics are all about describing what is good and what is evil and how important they are. However, I am reminded of when a historian told me that everyone has a different definition of democracy, and that Fidel Castro's definition of democracy was "one man with a gun".
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Posted: 3/9/2008 10:34:10 PM
1. It wasn't addressed to youLOL!!!Are you displaying aggression and anger because your post is being questioned by a thinking individual?
This is an open forum. That means anything you post can be read, debated by, questioned, and commented on, by anyone else, so long as they follow the forum rules. If you are afraid of that happening, you don't have to post anything, or, if you have posted and you don't like a comment, you do not have to respond/retaliate either.
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Posted: 3/12/2008 6:51:23 PM
|Our moral sense, our altruistic nature, is an adaptation—a feature helping us in the struggle for existence and reproduction—no less than hands and eyes, teeth and feet. It is a cost-effective way of getting us to cooperate, which avoids both the pitfalls of blind action and the expense of a superbrain of pure rationality.|
In applying science to metaethics, Ruse writes:
In a sense … the evolutionist's case is that ethics is a collective illusion of the human race, fashioned and maintained by natural selection in order to promote individual reproduction. … ethics is illusory inasmuch as it persuades us that it has an objective reference.
"Evil" especially is a comic book word, best reserved for those under the age of 10 who also believe in "villains" and "superheros". As a species, we are capable of adhering to an astonishingly wide range of delusions, chief among which is the delusion of an "objective morality." All of our altruistic motivations, all of our moral predispositions are the byproduct of evolutionary instincts with which we, as a species, are hardwired. Nothing more and nothing less.
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Posted: 5/23/2008 6:38:00 AM
|RE msg 27 by strategiki:|
I liked your posts here, and found them quite illuminating. However, I would just like to point out a few points.
The word is Greek, meaning "love of knowledge" or "love of wisdom". So the original word encompasses the concept that knowledge and wisdom are the same, and that one should have as much as possible of both. However, we view knowledge as divorced from wisdom, which makes the word difficult to understand. So we have to look at how we call as philosophical and what we don't. Generally, they are things such as "What is love?", "Can we really know everything" and logic. However, we don't generally say that Mathematical logic is part of Philosophy. Yet Mathematical logic is logic where we apply enough rigour that we can be fairly sure of what we are talking about, and of what we are showing to be true. So Philosophy generally amounts to all those vague questions, that we don't apply rigorous logic to in a way that increases our knowledge, but rather in a way that just argues our POV.
2) Ignorance & naivety
I used to think that knowledge was good. Then I heard "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing", and saw examples of it in life, so I concluded that knowledge is only a benefit when you learn all around the subject, in a comprehensive way, that considers all angles. Without such a comprehensive viewpoint, any piece of knowledge can become dangerous, to us and everyone around us.
Then I learned about biology of the brain, and about the psychological concept of "self-invalidation". It occurred to me that the order in which we learn things determines our perspective, and even if we are willing to comprehend and accept truths that contradict what we learned earlier. So knowledge is again dangerous, because the things we learn first, determine what we are willing to accept later on.
So the priority and the order of what we learn, and how we learn things, has a far greater importance than we have traditionally given it in the past.
3) Belief & altruism
Altruism is the idea that you might do something without getting something equally valuable to you in return. However, I've found that what I consider very easy, is very difficult for many others, and what many others consider very easy is something I often find very difficult. So we cannot apply a true system of exchange. As a result, we often evaluate the value of things in terms of what values some others will place on it, and how much we can get in return, rather than how much we value it. So we often give a high value to things that others value highly but will have little benefit to us, and give a low value to things that others don't want, but that we desperately need to survive. This gives us an impression that the things we need are the things we don't need, and the things we don't want are the very things that keep us alive and successful. We need altruism in order to re-balance our existence, so that SOME things that we desperately need but are priced too highly for us to get, can be provided for us anyway, and without that altruism we would not be able to continue living.
Belief is necessary, because Sartre pointed out that all knowledge and experience is based on other things, and ultimately if we keep asking "Why?" like a child, eventually we will get to things that we really cannot be sure are true. Belief is useful, because life is like Star Trek, where in almost every episode, the computer replies "Insufficient Data". We don't have enough answers to know what is the best choice, in 90% of our life. But making no choice at all, or making a choice based on complete scepticism, is often even worse than even choosing at random. So what is our most productive choice, must often be based on our intuition that a certain choice is better, and a lot of that is based on a certain amount of faith and belief, that we just cannot substantiate.
4) Religion and Science
When we look at Science, and Religion, we have even worse problems. Science is a description of our desire to learn about how the world works, like when a child asks "Why is the sky blue?" However, because WE learn about Science, and we are subject to so many psychological processes that can mess up our way of learning things objectively, like "self-invalidation", which can easily happen in group form, we are limited because we are involved in the process. So we can practise self-invalidation, by rejcting anything that disagrees with what we learned earlier, that Emerson called "the hobgoblin of little minds". We can reject anything that goes against our interests, that Nietzsche called "the will to truth".
Science as an ideal suggests that it can learn new things and can correct itself. But what we have learned about the psychology of our minds implies the opposite to be true. Science is supposed to be about proving things false. Yet the Scientific Method is a method that is clearly devoted to only proving things right, as a partial success or a failure is considered to be an invalidation of the method, and so is generally ignored. So the Scientific Method violates our most valued beliefs about Science itself.
Religions mostly deal with metaphysical questions, that are often considered a topic of philosophy. Often religions will prescribe a system of acts, based on things we have great difficultly proving false, such as a prophecy or a miracle that was not witnessed by anyone we can talk to, because it happened so long ago. So very often, what religion actually states as inviolable are those very things that we cannot definitely prove as false within Science, and very often, religion itself will accommodate new discoveries in Science, when those discoveries are found to be so reliable that we doubt the reverse. However, such discoveries often take centuries before we are satisfied that a counter-example will not be found that would invalidate a new Scientific theory, and that enough research has been completed to fully explain all anomalies within a new Scientific theory.
The subject of whether Religion and Science are indeed in conflict, is rooted in the subject of Conflict Theory, which is a hypothesis that the elite try to control the populace through social indoctrination, religion being a possible means. This subject was founded by Karl Marx, the founder of Communism. One of the hypotheses of Conflict Theory is that Science is not a form of indoctrination, and that Religion is a form of indoctrination, and that therefore, Religion and Science cannot agree.
The problem with Conflict Theory is that it was only stated by Marx as a direct conclusion of his view that the main cause of human suffering is a small minority control the majority to cater to their selfish whims, leaving the majority working all day with little food to eat. Marx called them capitalists. However the view of Science is that the main cause of human suffering is our lack of knowledge and understanding of the world and how to mould it to our benefit. So standard Conflict Theory works on the assumption that both Science and Capitalism are wrong, and that Capitalism is the cause of most human suffering.
So ironically, the notion that Religion is opposed to Science is rooted in beliefs that we consider false and damaging to society, and that directly oppose Science itself.
Conflict Theory has some merit, because we can see that many things are used as a form of PR by one group over another, and by states over their people. However, if we look at Conflict Theory from a Scientific approach, we are forced to acknowledge that anything can be used in this way, and that Science can as well, and we even find that sometimes Science is used as the tool of an unjust society, like the U.S.S.R. used Science for many years to show that Communism was the better system of government.
So when we look at religion in light of Science, we see that religion CAN be used as a method of indoctrination, but only when it is used as the official religion of a group, and is used to promote blind obedience to the elitist members of an unjust society. Often it was not the leaders of a religion that were promoting obedience to injustice, but rather the elite, supported by a few corrupt religious officials who were allied to the elite, and often would enjoy the same privileges as the elite themselves, even when those privileges violated the very laws of the religion, as you can see in the French Monarchy before the French Revolution, and in certain powerful religious figures in French history.
Atheism and Science have been used in this way as well, in more modern times. As I stated, the U.S.S.R. is a clear example. Our own countries regularly employ scientists, which they often instruct to promote scientific theories that will stem criticism of a particular government policy.
4) Why we believe
This is quite a complex subject, as it is influenced by psychological factors, which are in turn used by political groups, and manipulative individuals and groups. Generally, people tend to believe that which will support our previous notions, as Emerson stated in his essay on Self-Reliance, those beliefs that will support their own desires, as Nietzsche stated, and those beliefs that will support the propaganda that is publicised by a particular political group. In addition, our minds have a self-protection mechanism, where we tend to believe those things that will give us the best protection with what knowledge and power we have, such as those men and women who regard all people as likely to cheat on their partner, when they have been cheated on, and have no way to reassure themselves that such cheating will not be repeated in future.
There is also the Stockholm Syndrome to consider, where we will fight to protect those beliefs that will support our captors, in a method of self-preservation to avoid further pain from those captors, as we saw in Patty Hearst, and happens to many others.
There is also our need to protect those we feel we should protect, such as our family, our friends, and even strangers that we feel a sense of protection towards, such as young people, where we will ardently defend their rights to act as they desire, even if we know they are wrong, and will hurt others mercilessly.
As I said, it's quite complex, and is far more subject to psychological factors than we realise.
5) The nature of G-d
G-d is seen in many different ways, and so cannot be treated as one concept. However, I agree that the notion of gods was often considered as a source of power, that was often even in human form, such as the Pharaohs and the Roman Emperors, who declared themselves gods in their own right. However I would not be inclined to believe that children assume that fire or the Sun is a god, as most children I meet who have never been advised of the notion of a god seem to just ask "Why does fire burn?" and "Why does the Sun make things hot?" and seem to see most natural phenomena as something that happens that requires understanding. I believe that children's need for understanding these things makes them turn to their parents for answers, and so it is adults who usually indoctrinate children that fire and the Sun are gods, in an effort to answer their children's questions. Such responses are likely to come from an incredibly strong feeling of protection for their children, as these things can be harmful, and these things are not under our control, so they potentially threaten our happiness and continued existence all the time. It's very scary to think that the Sun could disappear at any moment, or that one day a fire might burn down our homes and maybe kill some of us. So believing that such things are gods, allows up to believe they are under the control of a being who we might manipulate to not allow those things to harm us. Children seem to lack such an awareness and fear of harm from these things. It appears that our fear of harm is something we learn only as we get older and are harmed, and so see harm everywhere. So I cannot see how children would come up with these ideas on their own, and so the only way these children can get these ideas of gods and worship is from their parents.
G-d as seen as the sum of all existence, and the sum of all consciousness, is a different concept, that often occurs to people who have had no exposure to such fearful notions, and is often just an insight into the nature of existence and consciousness.
6) Judeo-Christian beliefs and guilt
If the apple is knowledge, it clearly is not ALL knowledge, for man is told to be fruitful and multiply. One cannot raise children without knowledge of how to keep them alive and healthy. So the only form of knowledge that would be forbidden would be that which is not taught comprehensively: "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing", such as an unripe apple, which is harmful to the body, because the natural juices which stop an insect from eating an unripe apple, are also injurious to humans, but are denatured and rendered non-harmful when the apple becomes ripe. I picked this up from Science programmes.
So the apple is "unripe knowledge", in my view.
The word unripe also means immature, something that is injurious because it has not been thought out properly, and so will lead to unconsidered harmful conclusions, that would have certainly been avoided, with just a little consideration of the consequences, the practice of which we call part of wisdom.
When we consider Sin, we find that most things that we call sinful are things that we do not consider harmful to us directly, but will be harmful to us because of their consquences that are not immediately obvious. Murder is sinful. If we kill someone else, it doesn't harm us directly. But it could give others the idea to kill as well, and they might kill us or our family, who might not be able to defend themselves. Robbery is also sinful, and also carries the same possible harm to us from others. The same goes for most things that we consider sinful, such as overindulgence of food, which leads to obesity, diabetes, and many intestinal disorders.
So "unripe knowledge" leads to actions which have non-obvious consequences which are harmful to us, and so we are "sinning" by absorbing such knowledge, because the immaturity of such knowledge means that no-one has imparted how that knowledge could harm us in non-obvious consequences in the future, and so we are likely to use such knowledge that will lead to such non-obvious consequences that will seriously harm us and our loved ones in the future.
The First man was not born in Sin, but rather became Sinful as a result of eating this "unripe knowledge", and so did all future generations. We see that prejudices and harmful assumptions are passed from one generation to another, such as the cycle of violence that we find tends to be passed from generation to generation, as boys with violent fathers tend to grow up to be violent fathers themselves, when nothing is shown to them that there is another way to act. When we are children, we tend to accept what we are told by our parents and elders, and not question it in depth. So if any source of information is likely to yield immature knowledge that we will accept heartily, it is the knowledge that we learn from our parents as children.
Original Sin is the implication that everyone in our society suffers from the acceptance of much immature knowledge, and that we pass most of it onto our children unwittingly by example, and that our children accept such knowledge without realising its danger.
To keep from Original Sin is therefore the goal of humanity, to question everything we were taught, even the things that we have adopted by example, to minimise that knowledge that we learned as children, that is immature, and will lead to seriously harmful consequences in the future.
When I look at society, I see that such immature knowledge includes immature attitudes in dating & relationships, which people seem to pick up from their parents and the others in society, and which people only seem to realise needs re-consideration and review when they review their lives, which only seems to occur when they reach their 30s and/or 40s, when they see they are getting older and are just not able to get anywhere near the same level of potential partners that they used to. There very often follows a period of introspection and internal reflection, when people resolve their inner conflicts with the messages of their youth, and are then ready to have successful and happy relationships.
So people eventually come to ripen their immature knowledge that they picked up from their parents. However, they've usually already had kids by this point, and have no desire to start raising children by this stage of their life, even if they have had not had children at all. So most children are being reared by people who are still functioning with immature attitudes to relationships, which harm and destroy all their relationships. So we have a cycle of self-destructive knowledge about dating & relationships, that continues with each passing generation, and will no clear way to end the cycle of harm and abuse.
This is why Original Sin is so important. Without it, cycles of abuse continue in vast numbers, unabated, for many generations, with no foreseeable end.
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Posted: 5/25/2008 8:16:40 AM
|Good and evil. Right and wrong. These are merely subjective terms. These things change from person to person. Society...or in otherwords...the majority, all have similar viewpoints and thus they dictate what is acceptable and what is not, but it doesn't mean they're right.|
I, myself, in societies eyes would be put into a grey region. Some of my viewpoints are acceptable and some are just shot down as wrong or evil, but it's right for me.
I have my own spiritual beliefs, but I'll be damned if anyone tells me what is and is not ok to believe and have an opinion on.
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Posted: 5/25/2008 9:46:07 PM
What is evil to one person is good to another and what is good to one is evil to another.
I think people make a huge confusing ordeal out of something that is actually quite acceptable. I believe good and evil (I prefer wrong and right) are separate from circumstance. I have yet to hear of a society that, as a whole, applauds the man who runs away from battle, that awards the thief, that loves the pathological liar, that adores the murderer.
Separate and apart from wrong and right is circumstance. When circumstance is involved, as it usually is, sometimes a wrong may be accomplished for the GREATER right- the assassination of a warlord, for example. Sometimes a right may be accomplished for the GREATER wrong- being generous to a company which deals arms to said warlord. Murder is wrong, generosity is right, that does not change- it is just that circumstance is involved.
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Posted: 5/26/2008 12:03:59 AM
|In response to the above post:|
In your opinion. The hole I see in the "evolutionary morality" theory is that there are plenty of people who will choose to do the "good" thing, even if it is dentrimental to the whole, simply because they cannot bear (for whatever reason) to personally commit such an act of "evil". What is holding them back? It is supposedly a better decision, if you use your mind, to act for the benefit of many over the benefit of one, but some people simply cannot bring themselves to override their internal locus of morality- they cannot kill the man in front of them, even though he is a completely defenseless serial killer...
Most people have the ability to override this becuase of the way people are raised- they way you described. Nature vs. Nurture
You say that the ideas about good and evil evolve to protect individual groups and societies from threats- I have a difficult time taking this seriously. As if I feel O.K. about stealing from a foreigner just because it is beneficial to my society and dentrimental to theirs... I know it is wrong- whether I choose to override my knowledge of right and wrong with intellectual ideas such as the ones you are spouting is different, and I may choose to delude myself into believe what I am doing is "right". But it isn't, and no matter how much I justify it, I KNOW it isn't right, regardless of how beneficial it may be to me or "how much they deserve it"...
Why so cynical? Why does doing something that feels inherently right have to have an evolutionary explanation? If you continue down the materialist road you will eventually have to come to grips with the conclusion that according to materialism, there is no free will- and that, for me, is unnacceptable.
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Posted: 5/28/2008 5:21:37 AM
|You guys are having a very interesting debate.|
I'd say hitler was more crazy then evil...I'm not a nazi, nor do I condone racisum, but some of his ideas and viewpoints were correct.
One of you said the whole thing about how some people think you die and you still move on as a celestial being and some believe you die and that's it...ect ect. I wouldn't say that's an opinion for most people. That's either a truth, belief or reality, but almost never an opinion.
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Posted: 5/29/2008 4:43:31 PM
|That's very true! Christianity also stole a large amount of its mythos from Norse Mythology.|
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Posted: 5/29/2008 7:52:27 PM
Interesting thread but how could you think good and evil do not exist in this world? Watch the news. Examples abound. Where one exists, so does the other, but hopefully good prevails.
Many times the kids and I have talked about religion and the similarities between different ones. I don't find that odd as there are always synergies that support development. We wouldn't be considered religious by most but how can you beat "thou shall not kill" or "do unto others as you would have them do unto you".
I think many people chose the "light" not because of religion but because it is the right thing to do with the best outcome.
because people think that "intellectual" ideas that have come up in the last few centuries override thousands of years of meaningul knowledge
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Posted: 9/14/2009 1:16:07 AM
|With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.|
Steven Weinberg (1933 - ), quoted in The New York Times, April 20, 1999
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Posted: 11/21/2009 12:30:39 PM
|RE Msg: 107 by quietjohn2:|By your own point about Hitler causing good things, even mass murder and horrendous torture would have to be considered good, in which case, there would be parades for paedophiles and kiddy-killers. So we cannot describe good and evil as purely relative without unleashing unspeakable horrors on the world that will end up destroying everything in their path, and no-one wants that, not even the ones you call evil.
*sigh..the classic Judas-Jeasus paradox.
The point, Milton was not a paradox, but a proposition, from msg 92, that evil may beget good. Suggesting, as others in the thread have said, that evil depends upon perspective. As we should also suggest of good.
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Posted: 11/22/2009 7:49:42 AM
The realization to some that this is just how it is may come down like news to a child the Santa Clause doesn't live in a Candy Cane house in the North Pole.
Next, you'll be saying he didn't bring me that lump of coal last year. Am I being good this year just for laughs? My being good so I get something better than a lump of coal PROVES that Santa must exist! Moreover, it proves that Santa is the cause of moral behaviour, not us.
It's one thing to doubt the existence of God, but Santa?....You go TOO FAR!!
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Posted: 11/23/2009 11:33:05 AM
|RE Msg: 117 by quietjohn2:|Alexander the Great DID do a lot of atrocities. That's why my ethnic group called him "Alexander Mukdan", Alexdander the Arsonist. He destroyed so many cities and so many people, with such zest, that it was like he torched everything, and burned the people alive.
By your own point about Hitler causing good things, even mass murder and horrendous torture would have to be considered good, in which case, there would be parades for paedophiles and kiddy-killers.
Didn't all this happen for Alexander THE GREAT? Torture, mass murders, destruction of entire cities, slavery for women and children - Thebes, Tyre, Gaza, Massaga, Ora. Sound great to you?
But Western civilisation seems to regard him in a slightly different light. As historians used to say, "history is written by the winners", and Alexander was definitely a winner.
Not that I condone any of this or believe that it is really good. I 'm just pointing out that standards of good and evil are extraordinarily variable - and that the two may ON OCCASION (not always!) be inextricably intertwined.The standards of good and of evil change with different societies and different generations. For instance, when I was a kid, if your kid was found beating up other kids, the parent would be blamed for not disciplining the kid correctly. Now, if the parent does discipline his kid for beating up other kids, he's likely to be called a child abuser.
Also, standards of good and evil don't apply equally for all people. Each person has personal individuals whose actions they see as good or evil, independently of their own beliefs. Someone might be inclined to say that their friend didn't really mean to rape that girl, and just misunderstood her when she said "no". The same is true of society, like with Alexander. We tend to see certain people either much more favoruably, or much harsher, depending on our personal feelings about those people.
Also, standards of good and evil don't apply equally for all situations. There is a tendency to ignore the violence and rape carried out by some members of the armed forces, or by our own children, or by the stars of school sports teams, because they "need to let off steam somehow". The argument seems to be that if we didn't let them "let off steam", they couldn't do what they do, and what they do, is vital for the continuation of our society.
I think that although we have an idea of good and evil, in general, it's seen as more a manner of social agreement to act in a certain way for the benefit of society in general, in the same way that manners are. It's impolite to not say thank you to a host. But if someone like Einstein or Hawking did it, we'd overlook it, because we're just glad to have them, and will do whatever we can to support them, so they will benefit society in their own way. I think in that way, good and evil in this society are not things that people MUST do, and we will overlook them whenever it is more convenient for us to do so.
Although some feel blessed with divine insight, I have to wonder if humanity's perception of good and evil are even closely aligned with the realities of the world and that which created the world.I agree with you. You can see that in what I wrote above.
Again, as others have pointed out, the perceived cruelties visited upon the world did not entirely originate from humanity. Evolution doesn't favor only our perception of 'good'.Yes. However, that's only according to our perception of "good".
Meerkats will leave an injured meerkat to make his own way home, even though odds on, he'll never do it, and will die from his injuries or from the cold or be killed by predators. But dragging him along with them, will slow them down, and will ensure they won't get home till well after dark. Being out after dark will expose them to night-time predators, as well as the day-time predators they are already exposed to. Also it will leave their babies and their home burrow unprotected.
When we see a cheetah killing a gazelle, all we see is murder. But in nature, each species is food for the next level up, and the top level dies and is food for the bottom level. That's how the system works, by a cycle. The killing is useful in itself, for animals that die of themselves often die of illness, and that will infect the next level of animals needlessly. Even dead corpses will decompose and decay, and become inedible for the next level of animals. But even the decomposition process is necessary, because without bacteria eating corpses and making them decay, they would not be broken down to their base minerals to be absorbed into the soil and become food for the lowest levels like plant life.
Life is much more about a cycle of necessary killing, than killing for sport or selfish reasons. In that respect, if we only consider those aspects of killing which are not really necessary or useful in the cycle of life, then what we call murder becomes evil, but what animals do becomes good. But without such a system, life in our ecosystem would probably have come to a stop many aeons ago.
It seems to me that our definitions of good and evil are more based upon what we believe best comforts and protects us rather than a realistic evaluation of how both affect our lives.That type of definition is itself "evil", because it is thinking only of what suits us, irrespective of how much it wrecks the ecosystem, leading to the extinction of many key species, and even resulting in the death of many of our children. However, that doesn't mean we have the right definition at all. Rather, it means that many of us have become so mired in negative repeating patterns, that we no longer see what is positively beneficial, and what is negatively increasing, and we now define "good" and "evil" according to what promotes our desires, rather than what promotes the welfare of the universe.
Both evolution and God seem to require progress and improvement.1)The theory of evolution expresses the idea that life is hugely pressurised for most species, there simply not being enough food to feed them all, and so the ones who are best adapted to survive in any one moment are the ones to survive, and the rest will go extinct, according to how much food there is. One has to put the species competing for food on a scale of successfulness in this moment, and then draw a line somewhere through that scale, according to the amount of those species above the line that can be fed by the amount of food available. The rest become extinct. Sometimes that means whole species become extinct.
In that way, it's rather like getting a job in an office which has done rather poorly, and there is only enough money to pay 20% of the workers. The best 20% get paid. The rest get the sack. If that increases productivity, then so be it.
The other thing about evolution is that adaptation is only based on the environment and the food as of this moment in time. Next year, things change, and the species that were just scraping by, becomes the best adapted and the best fed. The species that were the best adapted become completely ill-adapted to the new environment, and they just go extinct.
In that way, it's also like when the office sells products that change each year. One year, electronic toys are in, and the toy salesmen get the big bonuses. The next year, designer clothes are in, toys are out, and the toy salesmen get the sack.
Evolution can be about progress and improvement. But it's only because everything that doesn't "improve", dies, and our definition of "improvement" changes from decade to decade. In that way, "good and evil" aren't anything to do with evolution. The theory of evolution is a scientific idea, and science is all about keeping opinions about religion out of science, either pro or anti. So it's just not part of the discussion of evolution.
2) Scriptures about G-d tend to state that G-d wants a certain method of behaviour, and that doesn't seem to change in any one type of scripture. Different types of scriptures seem to have a very common thread, such as the Golden Rule. G-d only seems to tell the prophets that the people need to improve, because the people are just not doing what G-d originally instructed in the first place, and still aren't yet. It's not so much about progress, as being given a fixed target in your office to meet, and rarely ever meeting that target. I guess you could call that "progress and improvement". But only in so far as you are STILL trying to make progress in getting a little bit better at doing what you were supposed to do from day one, but weren't.
Do we best do this by being 'good and avoiding all evil, or should we wonder if some evil has merit? Are we hiding from something essential by blinding ourselves to the realities of good and evil?We are blinding ourselves to something if we assume that because we overlook gang-rape in young boys, with the claims that "boys will be boys", and "our boys wouldn't do something that bad", that rape isn't rape. We cannot just make things up to suit ourselves. We're not the lost boys. We cannot just imagine that food is there when it isn't. If we eat all the food, and there isn't any left for the kids, they won't have food to eat. We can either live in denial, or face the truth, that X is X, and Y is Y. Some things that we say are good might not be good. Some things that we say are evil might not be evil. But we have an innate concept of what is good, and what is evil, in general. We cannot state them exactly. But we can say that we have an overall concept of what they are.
It only remains to refine those feelings and intuitions, to understand what we really mean by our innate feelings of what good inherently is, and what we really mean by our innate feelings of what evil inherently is. Then, we can use those definitions exactly. We might find that many things have a bit of good and a lot of evil, or a lot of good and a bit of evil, or a lot of both. But we have our moral compass. We have our innate understanding of what to do, and we have defined it clearly. We can work with that, and use it to discern actions. We only have the problem that if we do this, we just might find that most of the people we want to be, and much of the things we enjoy doing, are pure evil. It would not make us feel too good to conclude that we are truly as evil as Hitler. We are likely to want to reject the lessons we have learned.
Good and evil are about courage as much as truth or morality, the courage to do what you believe is right, even if it looks to you like you'll never be able to do it and survive.
5 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)