Does evil exist? (Kumar Rouge)

If we consider that the opposite of exixtance is non-existance, then would it not be logical to conclude that the opposite of spiritual qualities which exist is just an absence of said qualities? For instance, according to science, darkness and cold do not exist (they're just absences of light and heat repspectively). So if a loving God exists, and all He created is good, then if he never created evil, then how can it exist? So is evil just an absence of good; hate, love, greed, compassion, etc.?

Then in the material world, how do we explain the venom of a snake, for instance? Can we argue that that venom was created by God for a good purpose (i.e., self defence for the snake)? Thus, if I should step on a snake's tail, then it's biting me in self defence is not necessarily an evil act per se?

What are your thoughts on this? Does evil exist, or is it merely an absence of good? It's interesting to note that many religions use light as a metafore for God, guidance, etc. If so, then what about darkness, which science states does not exist?
Evil, good, whatever you want to call the gray somewhere inbetween is no more then general morals of society which are taught to us by society, either by our family, teachers, government and so on and so forth.

Evil and good are merely concepts by the moral standerds of your society.
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Christian teaching dictates that God does not create evil. However, the Bible teaches the precise opposite: God is the exclusive creater of ALL evil according to Isaiah 45:7. He is also reported to be omnipresent and omnisicent (all knowing) which means that he knew well in advance that the Fall would occur and was actually present when it happened. In many Western cultures the root for the word 'God' is the same for the number 'two'. And that is because God is acknowledged to have duality. He is both good and evil.

So yes, evil exists because an evil God is responsible for it.
Quote: Originally Posted by gopher

Christian teaching dictates that God does not create evil. However, the Bible teaches the precise opposite: God is the exclusive creater of ALL evil according to Isaiah 45:7. He is also reported to be omnipresent and omnisicent (all knowing) which means that he knew well in advance that the Fall would occur and was actually present when it happened. In many Western cultures the root for the word 'God' is the same for the number 'two'. And that is because God is acknowledged to have duality. He is both good and evil.

So yes, evil exists because an evil God is responsible for it.

Which is one of the reasons for me not to believe in the bible and the koran. =-D Because if you believe in them then god is somewhat manic depressant
Dexter Sinister
Quote: Originally Posted by Machjo

Does evil exist, or is it merely an absence of good? It's interesting to note that many religions use light as a metafore for God, guidance, etc. If so, then what about darkness, which science states does not exist?

Science doesn't claim darkness doesn't exist, darkness is just a label for certain physical conditions that certainly do exist. It's a description of a region of space in which there is no radiation of a wavelength our eyes can detect. But I quibble.

Yes, evil exists. Consider this record of slaughter in just the 20th century:

1901-1919, 1 million Armenians as part of ethnic cleansing by Ottoman Turks
1950-1974, 30 million Chinese by 'communists'
1925-1940, 25 million citizens of the former Soviet Union by 'communists'
1940-1945, 20 million citizens and soldiers of the former Soviet Union by Germans
1941-1955, 5 million Germans as a result of WW2
1939-1945, 6 million Jews by Nazis across most of Europe.
1939-1945, 6 million other ‘undesirables' (gays, resisters, catholics, gypsies, the infirm, etc.) by Nazis
1952-1960, .5 million Hindus and Moslems by each other during separation of India and Pakistan
1968-1976, 2 million Cambodians by 'communists'
1969-1984, 2 million Ugandans in a series of tribal wars
1960-1996, 2 million Hutu and Tutsi tribe members in tribal warfare
1989-present, 1.5 million Sudanese Christians and animists by northern Sudanese Muslims, who also still trade in slaves.

There's more of course, but that's enough for one post. Google for "holocausts" and you'll get that and more. The people who caused those things didn't just lack goodness, they were actively wicked. I suppose it's possible to view people like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, et al, as products of complex social forces and yada yada yada... Bull. They were bad, evil people who deserved to be shot.

edited to fix a format error. I hate that...
Dexter Sinister, of course Pol Pot and the other's are evil by our moral standerds, but was Mr Pot born "evil" and what do you believe the follers of the Kumar Rouge were trying to do. Do you think they all decided "yeah lets be evil and kill lots of people" or where they out for a goal which they thought would better men kind but ended up doing the opposite. I highly doubt these people thought of themselves as being evil and society in itself had a large roll to play on why they did what they did and the perceived threats, real or not which lead them to the actions they would take. These are just a few of the things you have to take into consideration. I understand I am playing the devils advocate in a sence but when questioning the orgins of evil or if it exists you must ask questions which seem somewhat absurd.
Dexter Sinister
I seriously doubt people believe themselves to be evil, they'll have rationalizations and explanations that, at least in their own minds, justify what they do. Even the most horrifying psychopaths can justify themselves: "I heard the voice of God in my head telling me to do..." whatever they did. I can't imagine any moral standard that'd judge such people, or Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, et al, as being in any sense good.

As to whether some people are born evil... I don't really know, but I'm inclined to think the answer's yes. It's pretty clear from modern psychology that a new born child is not a blank slate, there's a genetic component to personality, and it appears that some people are born without what we usually call a conscience. Those are the sociopaths and psychopaths.
So then "evil" or to be evil, is truly in the eye of the beholder. Depending on the set values of your society and not any natural construct in the human psyche.
Good, evil is no difference. There is no good or evil in my religion. Just people going down different paths.
Quote: Originally Posted by Dexter Sinister

The people who caused those things didn't just lack goodness, they were actively wicked.

Well said, Dexter.

The whole idea of evil is one of the things that constantly confused me growing up roman catholic ... if god created everything, he either screwed up big time in that department or had a crappy sense of humour. Either way, it didn't fit what the priests were trying to brainwash me into.

Growing up in a traditional home and being taught a monotheistic belief system, I eventually tossed out the whole package of good and evil along with my religion. I fell into agreement with Plato (he thought evil was really lack of knowledge and enlightenment). I thought evil itself did not exist. I got into the whole "no darkness, only an absence of light" way of thinking. I read Scott Peck and figured he was correct.

Eventually I lapped the block enough times to realize what Dexter put so well ... evil is more than just an absence of good. It is an action that requires more than simple ignorance. I've met people with evil intent. People who lacked basic character elements that make people good and responsible. People that harmed others with no sense of remorse or regret. People that enjoyed seeing others in pain. I'm not talking about those fun S&M games we all like to play, but taking pleasure in truly damaging other living beings.

Evil exists. It is often found in the most unlikely of places. Mothers who play Munchausen by proxy with their kids; the Bundy's and Gacy's of the world. Dexter's list.

These days I follow a simple creed: Harm none. That pretty much covers all the bases. There are times I'm tempted to behave in an evil manner -- to actively hurt someone's feelings or punch their lights out -- but in the end people who have a conscience and do evil suffer for it. I need to be able to look in the mirror and know I haven't stepped over that line.

On a lighter note ...

I ran across this link a while ago and had to go search it out for this topic ...
perhaps-- evil as you describe it can be brought back to earth if we think of it as ---
a disorder--now
or -formally a variation of the norm-- usefull to the tribe

--- not to excuse it
but to describe it--- in naturalistic terms
rather than emotionally charged metaphysical ones

and by disorder i dont mean it can be treated-- or excused

a certain percentage of the population-- lets guess -- 1-2% are trully psychopathic-- they dont care about thier fellow humans-- except as --- means ---

tribes with these members-- have been selected for-- in the sense that the tribe---if enlightentend will put them to work as---
or as soldiers-- to fight other tribes

the tribes without these evil people--
are probably extinct

we dont generally regard members of our own tribe as evil--- even though they may have caused as much harm as those of other tribes

were the crew of the enola gay --evil...
Cortez, I think you pretty much hit the nail, at least close to the head. The Crew of enola gay, were just as "evil" as the proponants of the "Kumar Rouge".

When it comes down to it, people let themselves get fooled by what they consider a greater good. By nuking the japs we will save a million american lives and perhaps just as many japs. Thats what they most likely thought. The Kumar Rouge most likely thought by making sure people listend to our logic of making a new society it will benifit all of society as a whole. If a few people need to be silenced for the common good then you can't make an omlete without breaking eggs.

These questions of good and evil are hard to talk about, because you have to dig deep into human nature and sometimes when you dig deep enough to find out why, what and how it is to be "good", we find the concept of good to be more abstract then we could ever believe it to be.

As I have said before those among of who are blessed with stupity and ignorance are truly blessed because they never think of such concepts and live their lives oblivious and totally buying into one of the concepts of "good" in their society.
yeah-- i generally agree

its the old ethical dilema-- the ends vs the means

i hate to say it -- but even the most evil of people-- hitler---believed what he was doing was for a greater good

good vs evil is --- a duality that exists in each one of us

if we were to try to cut out all the evil in the world--- the knife would slice through everyone of our hearts
Our good is somebody elses evil and their good is our evil. *shrugs* It's almost like a paradox. Though I'm sure in a deeper sence it isn't. But it sure does feel like a paradox, because no matter what we do, the concept of good is still just a concept.
i think the concept of evil--- is really not usefull
except as some kind of emotionally charged propangadist term

if we want to discuss a certain -- historical event---
lets look at the circumstances
the details
the forces and decisions
the consequences
the facts

with respect to the domestic transgressions the
law--- does not i believe use the term evil
there are more descriptive terms--
ie psychopathic-- criminally insane etc
Quote: Originally Posted by cortezzz

if we were to try to cut out all the evil in the world--- the knife would slice through everyone of our hearts

.... yes cortezzz, and that is the crux of it no?

There is not a one of us who has not at the very least, entertained a notion at some time that someone, somewhere might consider evil. Even acted on such notions. This of course doesn't make us 'evil' per se, but it does humanize the concept.

Having at times conducted myself in less than stellar ways, I am cautious now in using such words as 'evil' to describe a set of behaviours and circumstances I have never lived....

There is a saying: "All attack is a cry for help." Somehow this rings true for me ... so in examining the actions taken by perpetrators of 'evil' acts, I just end up counting my blessings that I really don't understand what motivates some people to do the things they do... since the most exact understanding of any person's behaviour is usually gained by sharing their path - it enhances my gratitude for the ease of my own path - relatively speaking. I've never had to know what it's like to believe harming another is what is right or necessary. I hope I never do.
I know hoever, not to complicate this more, that some believe that there is a "natural good" born inheritantly in every human being. That some of our morals are innate somehow. Though I'm not sure if this can be truly proven and I would ask anyone who would like to try, to do so. lol.
Please allow me to rehash what I remember about the Bible and some of its basic messages :
God created the universe not in 6 literal days but 6 indefinite timespans ("a day to god is like a thousand years of man" meaning a timespan beyond the lifespan of humans and therefore undefined)

He created Adam and Eve as perfect humans and gave them free choice along with some instructions and yes the damn apple test.

He must have known about what Satan( which means lyer or slanderer) was irking to do. God knows the end from the beginning.

Satan like the archangel michael (later known as Jesus) plus undetermined amount of angles were the first companions God created ; all were granted more advanced qualities comperd to humans including whatever it takes to be a heavenly creature.
God did not like robots, thats why the free choice was the key feature, which allows everyone to make a choice, right up to today.
Of course with free choice came consequences.

Anyway this guy we call Satan figured he could do better and take over some rulership.
So even if Adam and Eve were perfect and forwarned etc, they fell for this sly troublemaker.
Well perfection was lost, there paradise gone and the hard live begun.
The Bible also mentioned about gods day of rest ; the sevenths which is still ongoing.
During this time period Satan is ruler of the earth and a powerful influence to men.
According to the scriptures the direct guidance and councel towards men was severly limited, cut off for most.
Thats when things started to happen, most not so good.
Murder, warfare, debauchery ,yeah all that sexy stuff outside recommended channels etc...
Since God did not create the world for nothing he put plan B in effect: the repurchasing of believing (behaving) peoples and their final salvation even resurrection through a ransom price you may have heard off>>>>>>> Jesus Christ and his sacrifice as perfect earthly man as a counter price for the mess that the other perfect man Adam got us in to.

God has all the time in the world, quiet literally. So things dont go
quick as we peoples like to see.

Long years ago he had one chap he liked (he behaved theocratically correct etc) that he called him "friend".
We do know him as Abraham the founder of the hebrews .
God promised him that his seed will be like sand on the sea and through him the savior will come. Mind you ,he was old, his wife Sarah menopausal, but why would I doubt God couldnt pull some strings, eh.
To make sure Abraham was standfast and a solid aquaintance he had to pass a test. Inhumane you say, but in the end isaak life was not sacrificed and all was well.
Any way this hebrew group grew in numbers , got themself into all kind of troubles, called on god, promised to behave and were granted certain successes repetitly, but int the end (507BC) lost
The messiah was not yet making his debut, the poor isralites had to suffer few more centuries of servitude and ruled by others.

All along prophetes maintained an open channel to gods announcements and counsel.(actually quiet interesting stuff describing things right up to our days etc)

When Jesus came along ,remember how he was tempted by satan to offer him an act of worship and satan would give him this world and all the riches in return.
Firstly how can he offer something he is not in posession or rulership off.
Secondly, like in Adam and Eves case (solidly confirming his lying) he wouldnt have.
But Jesus was standfast and you know the rest of it.

But the key infos are :
God is not currently in Control; he is at rest (watching I am sure)
Satan is the master over the earth and it shows

But a Guidebook with 66 chapters has been writen by a whole bunch of guys with quiet different levels of education over a time period of 1600 consequtive years.
And than forwarded right into our time(another 2000 years)despite ongoing attempts to supress and destroy it.
Has moved peoples to organise under it etc..

If you have any knowledge at all about this book of books, you ought to muster some respect.
Thats why we still swear by the Bible ; no other book has been published as often and is available to everyone on this planet.
I could not believe in a creator otherwise, he ought to talk to us.

But he also put disclaimers and warnings into the Bible , indicating a rise of false beliefs and bad leaders(wolves) camuflaged with Lambskins.

So does evil exist?
Well we are surrounded by it, cant escape it.
Again bible's definition of evel is our action when inborn sin (imperfection) motivates and drives our actions and the outcame is predicted:
The wage sin pays is death!

Bingo her you have it.
To me a sceptic and doubter, this is the most credible belief
(I didnt say religion) you can find on earth!
How about you?

PS didnt use my wordperfect, so forgive any typos etc
nelk, I don't mean to dismiss any religion as they all have there moral story and they set their beliefs on good and evil and thats how we see good and evil by enlarge in todays society. But really these are for lack of better terms, made up moral standerds. What I'm looking for, is to prove scientificly that their is an inate goodness in the human being.

Though thanks for the story and the bible lession. I enjoy reading the bible, Koran and so on and so forth often as I do base my moral of these great books.
Quote: Originally Posted by Finder

I know hoever, not to complicate this more, that some believe that there is a "natural good" born inheritantly in every human being. That some of our morals are innate somehow. Though I'm not sure if this can be truly proven and I would ask anyone who would like to try, to do so. lol.

there is a natural good
the source is the nuturing parent child relationship---
which would have been selected for
ie tribes without this---- would have killed themselves off by now
the caracal kid
natural good? or natural order?

good and evel, ad mentioned are constructs. "good" is merely that which is favourable, "evel" that which is not. These are labels, and nothing more. If we trace that which is benefitial or not back to its origins: survival; we see that the measure of this "evil" is merely that which reduces the survival likelihood of the individual or society.

The constructs are relative to the viewer.
I think I might add my two cents to this discussion.


I don't think that "good" and "evil" are anything more than perceptions, and therefore they aren't something that can exist, or not exist. By way of example, I would suggest that a majority of the populations of the educated world would consider the late Adolf Hitler to have been "evil"; however, to Mr. Hitler and his supporters, one couldn't contend with any reason that they would have considered him to be "evil", but quite rather the opposite.

This would introduce the topic of whether the perceptions of some would deserve precedence over the perceptions of others, and I would suggest that there is nobody on Earth who can make such decisions — perceptions, and their precedence relative to one's own perception, are not something that can be graded, or put into order. Someone who would think themselves to be a saint, of sorts, could well be perceived by another as being purely evil. There's no definitive end to the speculation of these perceptions — one could run around in cirles, and never hope to come to a sound conclusion.

To that end, no, I would suggest that "evil" doesn't exist.

Consequently, nor does "good".
Fascinating conversation you guys!!!

I still maintain evil exists. I've seen it. I'd love to believe that we all are inherently good (the old nature vs nurture argument) but I have looked into the eyes of people when there was no goodness, no humanity there. Nobody home that I wanna visit!

It's not just tribe mentality/judgement calls ... one person I met had killed a woman (beaten, raped, murdered and left in the bushes) and ended up getting away with it. You looked into his eyes and you knew he was dangerous and evil. It wasn't his actions (reprehensible as they were), but the sense that there just was no soul there. Or if there was, it was twisted and ugly. It isn't an abstract concept when you see it. When you would catch glimpses of the truth behind the facade he put out, it was like looking into the eyes of a grizzly bear (which I have done) ... no sense of right and wrong, no empathy, nothing beyond a kind of basic predatory intelligence.

I'm sure most people have met, however briefly, someone that just gave them the chills. Some people just are not good. At the centre of ourselves there are times we just know ... it's primal.

Having said that, I'm a bit of a sap and tend to give everyone the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. That killer I spoke of ... I had thought him simply "misunderstood" when he was a true sociopath. That was when I still agreed with Plato that all evil was just ignorance. People like him have convinced me evil does, indeed exist.

There's the old story about the devil ... his greatest feat was convincing people he didn't exist. I'm not sure there's some supreme being of the underworld, but I think the concept is relevant. If we don't believe evil exists, we are unprepared for it. With the amount of evidence around us supporting the truth that evil is alive and well, it's a bit like saying "cars don't exist" and walking out onto a busy road. Doesn't make sense to me.
Dexter Sinister
Well congratulations Machjo, you've obviously asked a provocative and subtle question here, with deep philosophical and religious complications. It's easy to give a short answer, yes or no, and offer a relatively simplistic justification for it, but frankly I don't think anything less than a book-length treatise will really do it justice. And we're not going to get that on a message board. We've seen both yes and no answers here, varying degrees of moral relativism, invocations of Higher Authority as the arbiter of morals, and everything in between.

I tend to the view that the answer is yes, evil does exist, in the sense that there are people who do evil things, but I'd also generally agree with those who view good and evil as social constructs that are defined relative to an action's impact on the people making the definitions. For instance, I'm quite sure the Mongol hordes who over-ran much of eastern Europe in, what was it, the 13th century? didn't consider themselves to be evil, but the people who were subjected to their pillaging, murder, and burning certainly did. There are people today who consider the United States to be evil, and a former U.S. President once labelled the Soviet Union as the Evil Empire, quite seriously. He wasn't just playing at politics, he really believed that. The current U.S. President defined an Axis of Evil a few years ago, though again, I doubt that the nations he identified would agree.

It's quite clear, I think, that evil is often defined in relative terms, but part of the burden of the original question, at least implicitly, is this supplementary question: is there anything that is absolutely evil, anything that all societies, all people, at all times, under all circumstances, would define as evil? I think the answer to that one is probably no. The partial record of 20th century holocausts I posted in my first response to the question suggests, at least to me, that slaughtering large numbers of members of groups you don't happen to like, for whatever reason, is so common that we could legitimately call it normal human behaviour. Even the Jews, one of the most persecuted and reviled people over millennia of history, the one time they were in a position to inflict such harm on their perceived enemies, did it too. I find that notion, that it might be normal human behaviour, deeply distressing, but that's simply a reflection of my own values.

Ah, it's late, I'm rambling, I need to go to bed. But just to bring this full circle by referring back to my first paragraph, there are some good book-length explorations of this question, and in particular I recommend Michael Shermer's The Science of Good and Evil, ISBN 0-8050-7520-8
Dexter Sinister, thanks for the book recommendation, I shall seek it out.

If you are interested in early Stalinist morality, or even soviet morality I'd recommend David Remnick's "Lenin's Tomb : The Last Days of the Soviet Empire". Even though it centre's around the end of the Soviet union it has an awful lot of documention on Stalinist era as well. Remnick at one point interviewed at one point a man who had been a low ranking soldier during ww2, and who's main job was to write down the names, place of birth and a few other tid bites of information of thousands of polish officers inside a small make shift house, in one room where he knew in the next there would be two other soldiers with german hand guns in the next room which would exicute the officers by placing the gun on the back of their head.

The man said he had processed countless officers and knew what was happening to each one, and was told to make the process part as fast as possable so that more could be killed during the night. He had told Remnick that he had done it for the revolution and Stalin and believed he was doing it for the betterment of socialism. Remnick even wrote that even today the retired man didn't appear to be too moved by what he had done. But said he could tell that he was repressing some emotions and also explained that he was told that the men were goven large amount of vodka each night to drink after "work".

It is amazing something which is so cold and heartless can be done by anyone, so systematic, yet how society works if it becomes the accepted norm, all of the sudden it's not so wrong. BTW the Soviets tried to hide the fact they had murdered these polish officers by training to make it look as if it was the Germans who had murdered them. At some point, before, during or after the fact they knew they were doing something wrong.

Without using sources for my next statment, which I could if I cared to pull them up, I'd say the Germans knew they were doing wrong or evil at some point since they also tried to hide the fact or lessen the fact of the millions they killed. This would indicate that they knew they were doing evil and they knew they were in the wrong.. would it not?
Dexter Sinister
Quote: Originally Posted by Finder

I'd say the Germans knew they were doing wrong or evil at some point since they also tried to hide the fact or lessen the fact of the millions they killed. This would indicate that they knew they were doing evil and they knew they were in the wrong.. would it not?

It may, but unfortunately other interpretations are possible. Maybe they knew others would perceive it as wrong and criticize them sharply for it, but they themselves thought they were doing the world a favour. Certainly some individual Nazis thought that way. A Dutch friend of mine has described to me several encounters with an aging former SS officer in Hamburg in the 1960s who expressed exactly that view, and a deep bitterness that they were prevented from completing the program by soft-headed and decadent liberalism. Pretty ugly.
the caracal kid

your example demonstrates how "good" and "evil" are labels for that which benefits or does not benefit one (or a group.

That fellow, running free, would be perceived as a threat to your well-being, and thus you apply the label "evil".

The issue is people over generalize concepts to absolutes. Rather than the fellow being a potential threat or being given another more specific term, he is generalized into a classification that is presumed to be of absolute value.
Think of a potter making clay vessels; if numbers are produced, he likely will use a mold to make things go quicker.

If this original mold has a certain feature not wanted or needed it is called a flaw. Any subsequent vessels made using that mold will
feature the imprint of that flaw and it is impossible to expect the perfect flawless vessel from it; that we can understand.

According to biblical teaching in context with this thread, this flaw is called lack of perfection, or state of sin.
Even peoples like mother Theresa or Dr. Albert Schweitzer were Sinners.
To be a sinner is something nobody can escape.
Since it was not your fault; you were born with it , I/we personally
dont have to fall into depression about that.

But it should ( since we eventually die because of it) act as a reminder of our shortcomings and precipitate certain behavior and make us aware of the potential damage we humans can be doing to each other.
Herein lays the inherent value of the christian religion.
I know ,didn't work many times!

In the history of men a few things are remarkable:

*the desire to worship
*the inborn instinct about what amounts to gross wrongdoing
*to demonstrate interest and godwill towards the next of kin, group
or tribe; kind of an agape' love
particular the last was important to survival day to day

So developing rules and behavior codex were the first hallmarks of
organised societies.

To step outside these rules was considered as breaking the law or being outright evil.
Of course degree matters and penalties were also invented to keep us in line.

So if a tree happens to fall on your head because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, thats called unforseen (because in your imperfection you could not anticpate this )event.
But if you bad neighbor down the road secretly cuts this tree and mangage its fall just as you happen to pass by and impresses on your dear head..... thats called evil.

Has nothing to do with God; he delegated day to day mangement of mother earth; may notice but thats all for the moment.

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