Phil's Philosophy

Mind Meanderings of an Alchemist

Tag: Ustashe

Introducing Three Degrees of Evil

“The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance.” ~ Socrates

Good versus Evil

A typical setting where good and evil are all too familiar household concepts is offered by religion: God versus the devil, believers versus heretics … . But it does not end there. As the above quote demonstrates, the Greek sages apparently did not shy away from using it either.

So how generally applicable are the terms good and evil?

Good, virtuousness or righteousness versus evil, viciousness or unrighteousness are two diametrically opposed qualifiers used for morally judging an action committed by some intelligently- and willfully operating agent (e.g. a human being, or “God”). To say that some act is good is to voice approval and encouragement of that act, whereas to say that some act is evil, voices disapproval and condemnation. The judgment labels good and evil can however be affixed relative to some moral framework deemed applicable. For example, some religiously defined moral frameworks consider it good to stone women to death as a proper punishment for adultery or even rape. Some systems of morality consider is good to persecute entire peoples that that system deems undesirable at best and detrimental at worst. Likewise some moral systems consider it evil to allow women to enjoy equal rights as men, whereas other moral standards generally considers it good that women are allowed equal rights and equal status relative to men. In other words, what is consider good for some moral standards may very well be considered evil in others, and vice versa.

This article is not about moral relativism however. I believe that treating one’s fellow human being disrespectfully and harmfully constitutes universal evil whereas treating them with kindness and respect constitutes universal good. In order to have universal applicability, a universal morality must incorporate the service to universal human rights, rights that are to be upheld irrespective of race, creed, gender, political preference, sexual orientation, income bracket etc. This means that a universal moral standard necessarily has to be independent of any and all of the existing and possibly competing moral standards, whether they be religious or secular.

This article is about identifying three distinct classes or degrees of evil, judged according to a universal moral standard.

Chemtrails – the practice of spraying toxic chemicals over us, yet not even having the decency of calling it rain.

Can Nature be Evil?

Just a quick note on the causative agents of evil. I am implicitly referring to evil perpetrated by human agents. But more generally, I could have referred to evil being perpetrated by intelligent agents, not necessarily human. It is important to recognise that evil can only be committed by intelligent agents. The idea that evil can be committed by natural agents is fallacious.

“Cloud seeding” – a weather modification technique.

Can natural disasters be called evil? No. It is meaningless to ascribe evil to their causes unless there’s an intelligent agent behind their expression. It’s quite well-known that today the weather can be technologically modified and it’s been widely speculated that HAARP installations may trigger earthquakes and tsunamis. And then there’s another controversial phenomenon known as chemtrails, in which military aircraft release a multitude of poisonous chemicals in order to supposedly modify the weather and supposedly offset the effects of Global Warming. In these instances, whenever there’s an intelligent operator behind artificially induced “natural” disasters or acts of “weather modification” that inflict harm or cause material damage, the operators behind them can indeed be held culpable and their actions are to be branded as evil.

Lightnings are not evil…

But when these disasters are entirely natural, it makes no sense to attribute evil to them. For example, when a lightning strikes your neighbor dead, you cannot sue the cloud or clouds “responsible” for issuing that fatal lightning. When an earthquake hits and claims scores of lives and does untold damage you cannot hold the involved tectonic plates responsible for any sustained losses.

Likewise when someone dies by a gunshot-wound, you cannot hold the death-precipitating bullet responsible. You cannot even pin the sustained death on the gun that fired it. No, it’s the person who willfully aimed and fired the gun who you should be looking for. Bullets don’t have the will or power to kill people, guns don’t have the will or power to kill people. No, it’s people who have the will and power to kill people. Bullets, guns, cannons, poisons, etc. are only the means to carry out acts of killing. The killer, or perpetrator of evil in general, is never a thing, or nature, it’s always an intelligent agent, intentionally acting to either inflict harm or to assist another agent in doing so.

Hitler at a Neuremberg rally.

Does Evil Equate to Ignorance?

Does evil simply equate to ignorance as Socrates would have us believe when he uttered the phrase mentioned up above?

I for one, do not think so. To argue against Socrates, let’s focus on the “only evil is ignorance” part. Consider mentally challenged people: mongoloids, retards, imbeciles, and the like. Surely they can be regarded as being ignorant. Would Socrates then regard these people to also be evil people?

Consider next the following thought experiment. Say a leader with great political skills arrives on the scene and manages to become the head of a powerful nation or empire. Unfortunately however, he also turns out to be a very authoritative and ruthless leader, holding sway over his people with a rod of iron. After a period of successful rulership, it so happens that the mental health of the leader starts to deteriorate. But since the people, including the staff, are too afraid to intervene and seize control through a coup d’état, they grudgingly but cowardly allow the leader to deteriorate into a sure state of mental retardation. And because of his newly gained mental deficit, his ability to make rational and just decisions is of course severely compromised. An unavoidable consequence is that under his now troubled command a lot of poor decisions are made and because of it a lot of his people die and suffer. So here now we have a leader who is both ignorant (because of the infirmity of his mental condition) but who nevertheless, also retains the capacity to act with (political) power.

Is it proper to call ignorance, while lacking the power to act, evil? I don’t think so. Ignorance combined with a complete denial of the power to act, as exemplified by a mute and paraplegic mongoloid, equates to practical harmlessness and so it would be improper to attribute evil to them. Moreover, to persecute certain people considered evil, when they actually do harm to no-one, is itself an act of injustice. Indeed it is an evil act. Think for example of the grave violations of human rights that transpired in Nazi Germany when the mentally infirm were subjected to so-called mercy killings (“euthanasia”) under scientifically bogus eugenics programs.

Therefore it is proper to only speak of evil if and only if ignorance is coupled with the power to act.

But even then, not all harmful acts could deservingly be called evil. It is the nature of intention that is also a determinant. If an act is motivated by a deliberate intention to cause harm, then the act clearly and rightfully can be called evil. If there is no such intention but indeed harm is unintentionally or accidentally inflicted, it would not be righteous to attribute evil to what then proves to be but an unfortunate act of misadventure.

H. L. Mencken, American writer.

“It is a sin to believe evil of others, but it is seldom a mistake.” ~ H. L. Mencken
“Everyone who is not understanding that man produces evil as a bee produces honey must be blind or wrong in his head.” ~ William Golding
“Good can imagine Evil, but Evil cannot imagine Good.” ~ W. H. Auden, A Certain World

Three Degrees of Evil

I hope to have demonstrated that the equation of evil to ignorance is not justified, yielding at best an inadequate definition. A proper definition of evil has to incorporate intention as well as the power to act.

Keeping in mind the preceding considerations, I suggest the following three-pronged definition of evil.

Nazi soldier shooting a woman and child.

“We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.” ~ Oscar Wilde

1.Evil by Intent

An individual or organisation commits first degree evil, if that individual or organisation intentionally inflicts harm to another individual or organisation.

Examples: murder; theft; deliberately promulgating falsehoods; persecution of people, e.g. eugenics; hurtful discrimination on the sole basis of race, gender, income bracket, etc.; war; voluntary support of governments or companies that are responsible for first degree evil.

It may be fortuitous to distinguish between various orders of severity, as first degree evil committed by children by and large is not as severe as that committed by adults. Moreover, the severity of a genocide blots out that of one single murder, although of course any single life should never be undervalued. So one could introduce three sub-degrees: junior, senior and major. Where the junior sub-degree refers to evil committed that has no lasting or traumatic effects on the victims, e.g. kids harassing other kids. The senior sub-degree designates the act of inflicting of traumatic evil on 1 to 10 people, e.g. rape of a woman or murder of a person. One speaks of major 1st degree evil when more than 10 people are traumatised one way or another, e.g. a genocide or war.

The Franciscan Order supported the Catholic Ustashe regime and insofar as they were unwitting of the crimes perpetrated by the Ustashes they were guilty of committing 2nd degree evil. Surrounded by monks, in the middle stands Ante Pavelic, leader of the brutal Croatian Ustashes.

“It is always good men who do the most harm in the world.” ~ Henry Brooks Adam

2.Evil by Unwitting Complicity

An individual or organisation commits second degree evil, if that individual or organisation supports another individual or organisation committing first degree evil in such a way that the former is not aware the latter does so.

Examples: unwitting officials/bureaucrats of governments engaged in committing first degree evil; unwitting employees of companies that are more-or-less secretly engaged in committing first degree evil.

Letting people starve to death is an example of 3rd degree evil.

“He who does not punish evil, commands it to be done.” ~ Leonardo Da Vinci
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” ~ Edmund Burke

3.Evil by Apathetic Witnessing

An individual or organisation commits third degree evil, if that individual or organisation is a witness to an act of first or second degree evil but chooses to not intervene.

Examples: bystanders witnessing people suffer and/or die (through rape, murder, starvation etc.) and choose to walk away without coming to rescue in whatever way available, e.g. by calling the police or provide food and shelter; witnessing corporate crime/corruption and choose to not report it to the authorities.

“Fear is the only true enemy, born of ignorance and the parent of anger and hate.” ~ Edward Albert

What Causes Evil?

To finish up, I want to briefly meditate on the underlying causes of evil. In other words:

Why do people intentionally hurt other people?

Apart from probably a relatively few honest and self-aware psychopaths and sadomasochists who do recognise that what they are doing to their fellow human beings can, in fact, justly be branded as evil, I suspect that people for the most part do not realise that their actions may be classified as such, at least not as immoral or unjust evil. People who see themselves as victims or potential victims may relatively easily manage to rationalise away their acts of aggression, acts that can be called evil by objective standards, by reinterpreting them as acts of revenge or even self-defence. As such they likely regard their hurtful actions as morally sound (“good”) rather than morally unsound (“evil”).

Nonetheless, people do need to be properly motivated in order to commit evil, as attempting to inflict harm on other people generally does not come without risk or cost. After all, people who are attacked may put up a resistive fight and strike back as they fend for themselves. And so the would-be perpetrator of evil, realising that he may get hurt due to his act of aggression, must be properly motivated to deal with any possible adversity. The ideal motivator for promulgating an assault on a fellow human being is plain and unadulterated fear, i.e. fear for getting hurt or sustain suffering in general. If you fear that your would-be victim is itching to strike you too, you may consider it in your best interest to strike preemptively. If fears run high enough, e.g. most notably fear for one’s own survival, the discouragement to attack for fear of being hurt or worse may be overridden by the seemingly understandable decision to strike the “enemy” before he strikes you.

Indeed, it is in a cultural atmosphere of fear that evil thrives best. When people live in fear–fellow human beings, especially strangers–are not rarely regarded as a liability and a threat. Therefore, acts that by objective standards can be regarded as evil, may through the eyes of fear be reinterpreted as justified acts of self-defence. When society is plunged into a collective state of fear and the people are trained to be in awe of their leadership, the local totalitarian establishment, it is likely considered a great honor to be given an opportunity to rise within the hierarchical ranks of that establishment, even if it’s in name and status rather than promotion of position or rank. It is in a face of fear and shame that evil atrocities, such as honour killings following the bringing of familial disgrace, find relatively easy expression.

Death by stoning, an exceedingly inhumane form of capital punishment.

Honour killings, e.g. the backward custom of persecuting rape victims, are considered justified if the victim is regarded to be a libelous member of the family (typically deemed a “whore”) who then are deserving of death after supposedly bringing shame to the family with her supposed penchant for fornication or generally violating familial code of honour. The occurrence of honour killings demonstrate that the perceived status of the family is valued higher than the lives of its (female) members. Risking acts of condemnation from the community, whether likely or not–the patriarchal head of the family proves to be more concerned with the fear of bringing shame to the family, than he is concerned for the well-being of the people he is supposed to look after.

This strange and de facto anti-human attitude is akin to narcissism–malignant self-love, in which the narcissist is pathologically obsessed with his own mirror-reflection, a mere image- or surrogate derivative of the self. And rather than tending to matters of importance, substance rather than image, the narcissist prefers to ignorantly wither away as he caters to inconsequential superficiality. Likewise the patriarch is also blindly focused on merely defending the name (image) of the family–something that compared to safeguarding the well-being of his family members, should also be deemed inconsequential. By holding the name of the family in higher regard than the well-being of the family members, the head of the family can be said to have a narcissistic mentality.

Only a culture in the grip of a suffocating fear for social disapproval could possibly foster such phenomena of detrimental self-delusion. If society were loving in character then the fear for social condemnation by one’s neighbours and peers would be redundant; there would be no risk for bringing shame to the family and honour killings could be regarded to not only have no purpose, they could be recognised for the real affronts to civil and humane conduct they really are. Indeed, an ambiance of love nurtures a relaxed social environment with a natural abundance of tolerance, a desire for understanding and willingness to forgive. The heads of family could then recognise the virtue of being able to care for all family members rather than vindictively persecute the ones who supposedly bring shame to the family.

The Roman Testudo (“diamondback turtle”) formation is symbolic for the act of trading individuality for group-identity in order to increase chances of survival in the face of (imminent) danger….

In the face of imminent danger it is generally considered a good strategy to sacrifice one’s individuality for gaining a group-identity in a bid to ideally enjoy increased survival prospects relative to the more vulnerable “loners.” A consequence however is a revocation of responsibility for one’s actions. When you are part of a military unit for example, the unit commander assumes responsibility for all the members of the unit. You are simply to obey his orders. It is under such responsibility-neglecting circumstances that a whole new class of evil atrocities finds way of expression. By having the possibility to basically switch-off your conscience as you merely follows orders or just do your job, you are in a position to commit acts that you would normally prevent yourself from doing.

In 1971 the psychologist Philip Zimbardo based an experiment around the following question: What happens when you put good people in an evil place? Does humanity win over evil, or does evil triumph? The results were shocking as it was shown that normal or “good” people can easily act in an evil manner. Another related psychological test was conducted by Stanley Milgram, who wanted to find out if normal people could be brought to administering lethal shocks to strangers. As was the case with Zimbardo’s experiment, the results were again unpleasantly surprising as it turned out that the majority of people were in fact capable of doing so, as long as they were relieved of having to answer for their sadistic actions.

Other ways of promoting the expression of evil is to degrade or even dehumanise human beings, who are deemed undesirable or inimical, as inferior or subhuman (e.g. “untermensch”) beings. Indeed, an effective technique to motivate one group of people to kill another group of people lies in the success of convincing members of the former group that members of the latter group are not even human but virtual animals. After all, it’s generally considered no big deal to kill a filthy swine, a disease-carrying rat or a pesky roach. See my article Five Steps to Tyranny for more on this.

Why do people fail to come to the rescue of other people who are in need of help?

Fear also lies at the heart of answering this question. I will just leave it by saying that people unfortunately are too cowardly and/or too self-absorbed to be willing to help people-in-need, even when they able to. Under some circumstances, when in general the cost of helping is estimated to be higher than the benefit gained by the receiver of help, it is understandable that people prefer to either walk away or go look for more able potential rescuers. But other than those exceptional circumstances, there is little excuse for able people to refuse to help out.

As to the reasons for the reluctance of people to help other people, cowardice is just another form of fear and selfishness can also be viewed as fueled by fear, namely the underlying fear that other people end up with more goodies than you will and the ensuing animosity for people elicits a fear to socially connect with people. This is what narcissism is all about, in which people are extremely self-absorbed not necessarily because they think so highly of their own external appearance but because they are too afraid to intimately, rather than superficially, connect with other people. Cowardice convinces a person that the perceived cost/risk of helping out is too high, whereas selfishness fails to provide the necessary sympathetic connection between the person and people in need. Needless to say, both factors may reinforce one another–in fact, as they are they both grounded in fear, they often do.

We can thus see that both ignorance and fear lie at the heart of the promulgation of evil. In order to overcome evil, we must first recognise that indeed ignorance and fear are its root causes. Until the moment that we manage to do so, we have no way of preventing or even mitigating its expression.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“The love of money is the root of all evil.” Perhaps this so-called “the love of money” is best to be reinterpreted not as a love but a fear, namely the fear of not having enough (with respect to greedy peers). As such, the “love of money” is in reality a false love. It’s the kind of “love” that lies at the heart of addiction, in which a successful monetary gain is like a “fix” that may, at best, only give temporary relief amidst a backdrop of perpetual anxiety.

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Musings on Atheism, Religion and God – Refuting Epicurus’ Argument

 

Table of Contents
The Religious Aspects of Atheism
Motivation
What is Belief?
Atheism and Agnosticism
Strong Atheism versus Weak Atheism
The Strong Atheist,… Religious?
The Atheist Dogma
Throwing Out the Proverbial Baby with the Bathwater
Rejecting God by Rejecting the Actions of Religious Adherents
Reality, Physical Reality and Scientism
Refuting Epicurus’ Argument
Postulating the Personality of God
“Whence cometh evil?” – The Cause of Evil
“Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.” – The Purpose of Evil
What about Rooting out Evil with Violence?
Epilogue
Refuting Robert A. Heinlein’s Argument
“…wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures,…”
“…becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery.”
“..swayed by their prayers,…”
“…copulation is inherently sinful.”

Continued from The Religious Aspects of Atheism.

Epicurus (341 – 270 BC)

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is? not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” – Epicurus

It is not at all my intention through this article to try to diminish the accomplishments of Epicurus as a philosopher and meritorious contributor to humanity. However, what do want to do is to point that Epicurus’ paradox or trilemma can be resolved consistent with the nature of an all-knowing, all-powerful and all-loving God.

 

Postulating the Personality of God

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear. 1 John 4:18

Apart from having accepted God’s existence, it is furthermore my firm belief that the nature of God is purely benevolent. I know however that this contention clashes with the biblical rendition of a god who is both loving and hateful. But I do not think that such a portrayal is accurately representative of God. Therefore I do admit to cherry-pick scriptural passages that back up my belief while disregarding conflicting passages for the present purpose.

I assert the following scripturally supported postulate about the nature of God:

God is a god of love (1 John 4:8; John 3:16; Romans 5:8), grace (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 103:8; 1 Peter 5:10) and mercy (Ephesians 1:4-7; Deuteronomy 4:31; Psalm 103:8-17; Daniel 9:9; Hebrews 2:17). (G)

By inverting the three-pronged meaning of G, we obtain what God would be not: a god of fear, control/intolerance and vengeance/vindictiveness. In other words, consistent with the G postulate, God is not to be presumed to be a de facto dictatorial tyrant.

I will try to show that it is possible to refute both Epicurus’ and Heinlein’s atheistic argument (see next part) with logical argumentation combined with the assumption of G.

Why would love rather than fear be definitional to God? What are the fundamental differences of fear and love in their respective impact on the maintenance of life? Let’s have a comparative look.

An atmosphere of love sustains life as it enables and promotes growth and prosperity. On the other hand, an atmosphere of fear stifles life as it encourages the application of life’s available energy into the building of defences against potential threats (think for instance of the fashionable global political hype called Terrorism™). Love is the great agent of reconciliation and fosters harmony, unity, symbiosis and cooperation. Fear is the great agent of alienation and promotes chaos, division, parasitism and rivalry. Love graciously and freely gives and shares. Fear wants to seize and hoard. Indeed from love naturally derives other divine virtues: grace (patience) and mercy (forgiveness). Fear breeds impatience and vengeful vindictiveness. Love affords the patience needed to foster wisdom and rationality. Fear, by necessity, is too much in a hurry and so cannot hope to escape irrationality.

I could probably go on comparing the attributes of love and fear for a while, but you probably get my drift.

It should have become clear, that whereas fear is the currency of destruction, love is the currency of construction. As the supreme overlord of creation, how then can God be anything but an agent of love? In this article I will further argue that indeed God not only is a god of love, but a god untainted by fear and anger, a god of pure love.


“Whence cometh evil?” – The Cause of Evil

I suggest that the existence of evil is predicated on the existence of free will: God’s great–arguably, greatest– gift to humanity. Why did God gave us free will? Well, conformal to G, it is only fair to assume that God wants us to love him and to love each-other. This notion is also repeatedly confirmed by scripture, see e.g. Mark 12:28-31; Matthew 5:43-48; John 13:34-35; 1 John 4:9-11, 19; 1 Corinthians 13: 1-8. The manifestation of love however, cannot happen if we do not have free will, i.e. free choice, at our disposal. If we do not choose to love God based on our free and unguided volition, but rather are forced to do so, then the kind of associated “love” cannot be genuine as it is ultimately rooted in fear, the polar opposite of love. In addition, if hypothetically we would be incapable of experiencing fear, i.e. by not being sufficiently conscious (of our own existence as beings and the environment we thrive in), and also are forced to “love” God then that “love” would even be less genuine. In effect, we would then be oblivious to our servitude and in a way merely programmed to love God, similar to how robots are programmed to fearlessly and unconsciously and therefore blindly “obey” the commands of their programmer or “master.”

Since God –by his nature, as the embodiment of love— does not desire to coerce us into fostering false love, nor does he want us to act as unconscious automatons, he endowed us with the possibility of free choice. And that is what genuine love is all about: to love without compulsion and regardless of conditions, whether those conditions are good or bad. In other words, God desires our true love. He desires us to love him for better or for worse.

A consequence of having obtained free will however, is the power to do evil — which basically is the ability to do the opposite of good, the latter which would be preferential to God. By virtue of having free will, one has been granted the freedom to act in very opposition of God and so to freely engage in the pursuit of evil. Nonetheless, those who chose to antagonise God, by violating any of his commandments, should also be prepared to take responsibility for their actions.

Is God to blame for the existence and proliferation of evil? No, an emphatic no, because we ourselves choose to commit acts that are counter to the will of God. Therefore human evil exists because we ourselves choose to create it, not God. To hold God responsible for actions we ourselves choose to do, is like always blaming car factories every time a car accident happens. Assuming for sake of argument, that factory-errors are negligibly influential, it makes much more sense to focus on the driving errors committed by the car drivers rather than it is to seek the blame at car factories. Indeed, it’s simply irresponsible for car drivers to shift the blame onto the car factories when they really should be pointing the finger at the man in the mirror.

And so the proliferation of evil could be understood as the consequence of the possession of free will combined with a lack of ethical sensibility or maturity of being. Nonetheless it should be admitted that –by virtue of his omniscience– God is perfectly and intimately aware of the existence of evil in all of its dimensions (motive, execution, victims, culprits etc.)but through his gracious gift of free will– he generally maintains a policy of non-intervention as–I dare say–evil has a function, a purpose.

Croatian "Ustashe" Nazis casually posing in front of the camera as they are about the decapitate a captured non-combatant with a SAW. The utterly barbaric depravity of the Ustashes is known to have even embarrassed German SS officers and the degree of their manifested sadism promptly places the dreaded Ustashe regime among the most brutal of despotic regimes the world has had the misfortune of having to deal with over the last few centuries. Noteworthy detail: the Ustashes, being a Catholic movement, were openly supported by the Vatican.

 

“Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.” – The Purpose of Evil

“Memory is the mother of all wisdom.” ~ Aeschylus
“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” ~ George Santayana
“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” ~ Plato

Is it true that God would be malevolent by choosing to not actively prevent evil from taking place? No, not all all. In fact, it’s arguably God’s greatest gift to us to let us act freely and to truly freely live and learn from life as we go. Only a guardian who truly loves us would grant and trust us with complete freedom.

If God were to noticeably intervene in our affairs without us asking for it, even if the nature of his interventions were such that direct injustice would be prevented from taking place, then he would likely be regarded as a guardian who’s worthy of our fears as he gathered a reputation for being intolerant and even tyrannical; having an approving heart only when our intentions are good and a prohibitive heart when we intend to do bad.

This may sound surprising, so allow me to explain myself.

Concretely, let’s say that God would actively thwart human beings from committing the worst acts of evil, e.g. murder and rape. Consequently, by not being able to engage in evil acts, the nature of the most grotesque forms of evil always remain abstract and theoretical to us. Therefore, by having been denied to know the effects of the worst kinds of evil, we would never truly know what it’s like to inflict maximum harm to our fellow human being. We would never truly know what it’s like to inflict raw and uncensored suffering.

For example, the husband who wants to kill his wife because she committed adultery, is now obstructed from accomplishing his lust for vengeance. Besides possibly having some vague theoretical idea of the potential experience, he will thus never really get to know the full first-hand experience of inflicting horrific pain and suffering on his fellow human being. Or, as another example, the wife who wants to kill her husband for deserting her for another woman and it so happens that she now is stuck not only with a broken heart but also a multitude of hungry mouths to feed. Through God’s precrime policing enforcement, she now too cannot follow her vengeful intentions through. She will thus never truly know what it’s like to overrule evil with evil; to repay evil in kind. She too will be denied the possibility from ever truly grasping what it’s like to inflict the most grotesque forms of suffering on fellow human beings.

But the denial of the realisation of evil retributive plans does not automatically take away the desire for doing so. The hearts of the people who have been thwarted–unless they come to their senses on their own–will remain vindictive and likely grow bitter. They will likely learn to fear and hate their then demonstrably oppressive God. Since God is a god of grace–at least, that’s my conviction– there is a contradiction here and this alone speaks in disfavour of the idea that God would have a tyrannical streak.

It would thus seem that it’s necessary for us to experience evil in its most unrepressed and uncensored guise; so that we can learn–literally through bloody trial and bloody error–to foster a closing and complete love for our fellow human being. A love that rises the better we understand the full scope and impact of what it is like to inflict harm on other human beings, and more importantly getting hurt by reprisal. By understanding the fabric of evil in its most intimate gory detail, we will learn to measure the effect of evil acts on other people by our own experiences, i.e. when we ourselves were the victims of evil. After having learned what it’s like to be on the receiving end of evil, we are thence able to build uncoerced sympathy and empathy for our fellow human being.

If however, we were to be censored from bringing the full ugly gamut of evil into fruition then–beyond mere speculation and theorising–there is no practical or experiential means available for its true discovery and understanding. One may even wonder if we would then be able to foster a genuine sympathetic relationship to fellow human beings beyond the circle of family and friends.

It would thus seem that an unadulterated catharsis of evil is a necessary condition for us–as free but inexperienced beings–to able to learn to clean up the messy products of evil that we ourselves choose to spill; and so to be able to finally learn to prefer doing good over evil or, as Jesus said in Romans 12:21, to overcome evil with good.

Evil can thus be understood to be our cruel but self-invited and thus vitally needed faceless teacher. It is thus important to not only not ignore evil but to also learn from it, especially when we fall victim to it; to scrutinise its character and motive, so that we can finally learn to overrule it and trade it for proper. The function of evil could thus be understood as a stimulant for us to learn to wanting to do good, based on free volition and experiential background, rather than having to do good, facilitated by mechanical coercion and possibly robotic ignorance.

Raising public awareness to the full spectrum and depth of evil is crucial to the ongoing learning process of choosing to replace evil with good.

 

What about Rooting out Evil with Violence?

Hypothetically, would it be consistent with the personality of God– as represented by postulate G— for any of his agents to seek to rid the world of a body of established or organised evil through violent annihilation?

This is what I argued in a previous article:

Suppose that out of the entire human global population evil is decided to be confined to a subgroup of people who engage in acts of evil. By the fact that human beings are social beings, it’s only fair to assume that those evil people have family members and friends who may not be considered to be evil, i.e. people who do not engage in patently evil acts. If an exterminator were to go ahead and kill all the evil people, then a new group of victimized people would be catalyzed into existence whose members would naturally resent the exterminator. Consequently, that new group now in all likelihood grows to hate the exterminator.

If a representative of God were to be the exterminator, then he would rather understandably be received as someone who uses deadly violence as a means to restore peace and harmony. In other words, he would be interpreted as a tyrant who’s not afraid to inflict death unto people who meet the classification for evil. In addition, it’s to be expected that the new group is to become the new evil as its members become motivated to actively seek opposition to a God they perceive as being a tyrannical god of death. Therefore, the people of this new group probably will grow to hate God.

Now compare the actions of that representative of God with the God is Love principle of 1 John 4:8, only to find a contradiction. If indeed God is Love then it’s proper to assume that God wants to be loved rather than hated. In fact, the Bible is replete with encouragements to do just that.

Therefore maintaining the peace with the proverbial sword and at the same time abide to the divine attribute as mentioned in 1 John 4:8 is simply impossible. In addition, there is no such thing as a clean and permanent extraction of evil with violent means. Hence, the only reasonable alternative to overcome evil, one which is compatible with 1 John 4:8, is to resort to grace instead of coercion, mercy instead of revenge and the extension of love rather than the imposition of fear-driven violence.

Or, in the words of Jesus:

17Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. Romans 12:17

21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

Source: Would God Condone Attempts to Root Out Evil with the Sword?

Epilogue

Human life as such can be understood to be a life-long educational experience, a school if you will, albeit unmistakeably also a school of brutal hard knocks. In this school, which no-one can escape, the study of the law of cause and effect is fundamental. How well you do on this school depends on how well you grasp this law. Of particular curricular interest is the discipline to learn by observation from the cause and effect of acts that can be termed evil and the cause and effect of acts that are good. Observation can be done whether you are a spectator or an actor, in the latter case observation becomes introspection.

If your actions have a cause in fear, then suffering and misery is the likely effect. Alternatively if your actions are borne out by love then prosperity is likely to follow. If you are good to your fellow human beings, they will likely return the favour.

Learning to accept to take responsibility for your actions rather than pinning them on others or on God is a fundamental element in getting to truly master the law of cause and effect and to use it to become a better and more righteous person.

It is perhaps somewhat ironic that it was Epicurus himself who also understood the virtue of analysis in order to better them. The abstinence from inflicting harm on fellow human beings was pivotal in his teachings:

It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly (agreeing “neither to harm nor be harmed“), and it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life.

Therefore, in addition to spending most of the time with one’s friends as being crucial for experiencing happiness, Epicurus very well understood the virtue of treating the people whom one interacts with on a basis of respect and love. In fact, he proved to advocate the type of moral compass that was very much akin to the kind Jesus years later would also come to preach about:

28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a]30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[b] 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c]There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31

The way of doing good is the way of love and so is the constructive way of God. And to those in denial of its merit, choosing to swerve onto the destructive path of doing evil, the path of fear, ought to induce a painful and unpleasant reminder for the need to return to the former again.

Continued with Refuting Robert A. Heinlein’s Argument