Originally posted by truthquest
This question is especially for those who believe that nothing should be accepted to be true on blind faith alone.
Then it is a question especially for me.
Do good & evil fundamentally exist, or are they just abstractions of human emotion... just words describing emotional opinions?
Good and evil are purely human concepts, but they arise from much more fundamental intuitions about right and wrong that may be universal.
Human beings invented good and evil. They do not apply to the world around us. They apply only to us and our actions.
But our intuitions of right and wrong are largely instinctive. We didn't invent them, we evolved
To an atheist or many agnostics, I suppose what is good and evil should be purely speculative and opinion. "One man's evil is another man's
Why do you suppose so? Haven't you noticed that, all over the world, people are pretty much in agreement about which actions are right and which are
wrong? Where they disagree, it is usually because of religious or cultural differences. This suggests that morality goes deeper than culture or
religion. There is plenty of other evidence for it, too.
Every human attribute has evolved for a reason. Our intuitions of right and wrong help protect us and those we care for against injury by others
ill-disposed towards us; they regulate sexual behaviour to minimize inbreeding and enable us to live in large societies without excessive conflict.
All this increases our ability to survive and reproduce successfully.
The urge to be with and interact with others who are like us, to preserve ourselves from harm, to protect those who are like us but weaker than us, to
care for one another, to defend ourselves and what is ours against predators, to see fair play and punish offenders, to offer gifts and trade favours
- all these are deep-rooted in us, instincts that evolved over untold millions of years and many of which we share with other social animals. These
instincts - not religious doctrine - form the true basis for our judgements of 'right' and 'good'.
Other instincts - such as our innate aggression, sexuality and drive to acquire status - conflict with the social and nurturing instincts. They are
just as important for our survival as the other sort of instinct, but their expression has to be controlled and limited to the appropriate set and
setting, or they will destroy us, our families and societies. The uncontrolled expression of these instincts is what we call 'wrong' or 'evil'*.
When they are expressed appropriately and their potential for damage is contained, then we say it is 'good' or that someone has 'done the right
I don't know if there really are atheists who 'have blind faith that there is fundamentally/absolutely right and wrong'. Frankly, I doubt it;
atheists are not stupid people. But if anyone wants to know where human concepts of morality come from, they should look to Darwin, not to the Bible
or the Koran or the Baghvad-Gita or the Diamond Sutra.
*What are the Seven Deadly Sins but the uncontrolled expression of our instincts?
[edit on 22-1-2009 by Astyanax]