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chockfull

Keyser Soze - The Usual Suspects

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A few years ago, I started exploring THIS book.  I have no idea if it's worth investigating because I didn't get too far with it. Lots of things were going on in my life that sidetracked me. And now, it seems a bit too overwhelming a task for a subject I no longer care about as passionately as I once did. But, there it is if anyone is interested.

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18 hours ago, chockfull said:

So with the discussion between objective and subjective evil, some of that is a viewpoint discussion and some of that is a measurement discussion.  If evil can be objectively measured, it is by a standard.  What is that standard?  Well a fundamentalist would obviously say "God's Word".  But then we get down a rabbithole of descriptive virtues and vices such as "fruit of the spirit" vs. "fruit of the flesh" as described in Galatians and all sorts of judgement.

Most religions have virtues they are trying to direct a soul towards.  And moral codes wrapped up in that religion.  From certain garments wore to types of prayer at times to refraining from certain foods or intakes at times.   The more you live according to the moral code, the more you are supposed to see the virtue arise.

If evil and good are subjective, subjective to what?  One individual's moral code?  More often than not it works out to be your local neighborhood's moral code, like the Native Americans for example.  It's OK to rape, pillage, torture, kill, as long as it is a stranger tribe.  Take their wives and kids for your own, grow your tribe.  

Pack animal ethics.

 

Okay, so my exploration about the nature of evil is a direct consequence of my opposition to the opening quote of this thread ("the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he does not exist").

If the devil doesn't exist, how do we explain evil?

And who gets to decide what is or is not evil?

So that's why I thought my comments were on topic at the time. But I do recognize that others may see it as an expansion of the original topic.

In any event, Chockfull still asks some great questions here that deserve an answer.

With your permission, I'll take a crack at it.

"If evil can be objectively measured, it is by a standard.  What is that standard?"

Excellent question, but you only explored half of it. The fundamentalist will say "God's Word." Actually, the fundamentalist will say the Bible, but the more spiritual might say "God's Word" without necessarily restricting that term to the Bible. I know, hard to imagine "God's Word" and "The Bible" being two different things, but most of Christianity has held that position for hundreds and hundreds of years.

I won't get into the inadequacy of the Bible as a standard for determining what is good and what is evil because I believe that concept is explored in quite a bit of detail on another thread.

That thread, however, does not explore the concept of evil. It takes for granted that we all agree slavery is evil, executing someone for a petty crime (like breaking the sabbath) is evil, and punishing a rapist by forcing him to marry the woman he raped is evil.

But the question of what makes those things evil is not explored.

What we do see on that thread is an argument that I was being a little less than fair because "it was another time."

"Different laws for different cultures" was literally the opening of the very first reply, as though that is even remotely relevant. How can we argue that it's NOT "OK to rape, pillage, torture, kill, as long as it is a stranger tribe" if "different laws for different cultures" is an adequate response to the nature of evil.

So we're going to agree here that...

Quote

 

"If evil and good are subjective, subjective to what?  One individual's moral code?  More often than not it works out to be your local neighborhood's moral code"


 

...is inadequate. My moral code does not determine what is good or evil. Neither does yours or anyone else's. Neither does the Bible's.

Good and evil are subjective by definition. But that does not mean their basis has to be.

If we can agree on a sound basis for determining good and evil, then we can independently reach identical conclusions regardless of our backgrounds, cultures, historical time periods, etc.

We won't always agree, but he areas in which we disagree can be narrowed down significantly.

Every culture ever agrees that murder is wrong.

But they do not agree on what constitutes murder. Is abortion murder? Is it murder to kill in self-defense? Is it murder to kill as punishment for violating a law against sabbath breaking? Against stealing? Against rape? Against murder?

Different cultures disagree. But everyone agrees murder is wrong.

Stealing. Every culture agrees it's wrong.

Rape. Most cultures agree it's wrong (I'm being deliberately obtuse here. I want to say "every," but I don't want to presume).

You get the idea. What do all these things have in common?

They all objectively cause harm to people, and causing harm to people is NOT a matter of opinion. 

So I'm going to propose, in a simplistic way, that "good" is our way of describing those acts which benefit society or at least do society no harm, while "evil" is our way of pointing out those actions that harm individuals or society. 

We can explore this basis of determining good and evil, and we can refine it, but people of good will can likely agree that if I'm harming people with no justification, I'm committing evil.

None of this requires a god to define good or a devil to personify evil. It requires people to hold themselves and each other accountable for their actions and their motives.

And it gives us an objective basis to judge outside ourselves without the interference of a deity or a god's law.

 

That's why I flinch at the concept of a devil. Blaming him for the presence of evil is a failure to accept responsibility for the things we do.

 

In my opinion.

 

 

 

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16 hours ago, waysider said:

A few years ago, I started exploring THIS book.  I have no idea if it's worth investigating because I didn't get too far with it. Lots of things were going on in my life that sidetracked me. And now, it seems a bit too overwhelming a task for a subject I no longer care about as passionately as I once did. But, there it is if anyone is interested.

sounds interesting

i found it on Amazon and put it on my wish list

"The Real Devil" on Amazon

thanks for the link, Waysider

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On 2/7/2018 at 10:28 AM, Raf said:

We can explore this basis of determining good and evil, and we can refine it, but people of good will can likely agree that if I'm harming people with no justification, I'm committing evil.

None of this requires a god to define good or a devil to personify evil. It requires people to hold themselves and each other accountable for their actions and their motives.

And it gives us an objective basis to judge outside ourselves without the interference of a deity or a god's law.

That's why I flinch at the concept of a devil. Blaming him for the presence of evil is a failure to accept responsibility for the things we do.

In my opinion.

I will respond to more of your post later.  From this section there are some things to unpack.   First I think exploring a class like someone close to me is taking in the university in a basic "Comparative Religions" class, the common thread among religions seems to be to direct humans toward virtue and away from vice.  The acknowledgement is that humankind has the potential for both of these.  Thus the typical comedic depiction of an individual with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other shoulder, and the person chooses.  His choice causes whatever influence he didn't choose (angel or devil) to disappear and a bond to form with the other.

There actually are a number of very interesting differences when you look at religions with respect to what specifically are considered "virtue" and "vice".  There are quite a number of intersections.  The primitive example you cite is an intersection as are a huge number of other things.  Usually that intersection if you think about it is what the law in a community is based upon.

There are also huge differences.  Look at practices with respect to eating, sex, worship.  Vastly differing even as to the common good for example sharia law.

Then the next question becomes, because humans aren't too bright and keeping their lives according to a mental checklist is boring as all getout,  is personification required?  If not required, then is it helpful for humans?  

Then, you also raise moral questions which in my opinion have really little to do with whether an individual believes personally in an actual devil or a concept of evil or whatever.  People holding themselves and each other accountable for their actions and their motives.    This is good community behavior.  When you get at the intersections and differences in practice is where there is struggle.  For example, some of the reality TV Amish shows recently.   Or Sharia law as I brought up before.

I don't flinch at either the concept of or the actual presence of the devil.  Neither robs me of my right, privilege or responsibility to accept accountability for the things that I do.

Continuing the discussion...

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I guess the other side of the coin with respect to the devil is God.

If you wanted to devise a system where good is rewarded and evil is punished and where people who followed you would be directed towards good, and you could provide strength and encouragement through acceptance of your son, but still respect the heart and behavior of people who didn't even believe in you to be rewarded according to good and evil, what kind of system would you devise?

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