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Many atheists have blind faith in good & evil.

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posted on Jan, 22 2009 @ 10:13 PM
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Yeah atheists do believe in good and evil. My mom for example thinks the middle class are all good people and the upper classmen are all "evil" or bad people. She is an athiest and whether she realizes it or not she has created a polarity of good versus evil.




posted on Jan, 22 2009 @ 10:54 PM
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reply to post by huckfinn
 


An evil person knows the truth. They reject it. They attempt to replace it with a lie. In EVERY circumstance where the word Evil is applied these two conditions must exist. Otherwise it is not Evil.

Not so simple, Huck.

There are times in the life of every human being when the truth is so unpalatable we cannot accept it. We would rather tell ourselves that a lie is true, and alter our representation or interpretation of the facts to support it. Thus many belief-systems arise - some religious, some political, some philosophical. There are many such belief-systems, all fervently believed in by somebody. They cannot all be true.

Is this evil? Or is it simply the instinct of self-preservation acting under extreme circumstances?



posted on Jan, 22 2009 @ 10:54 PM
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Originally posted by Spiramirabilis
the word evil is like the word god - it comes loaded with so many different meanings for so many different people - it ends up meaning almost nothing

but it means what it means to you

if evil doesn't exist - we still need a word to explain just how wrong wrong can feel

"that was really, really bad" just doesn't go far enough sometimes


A dictionary I looked at suggests the when people say "evil" they are mostly likely to mean something that is morally wrong or bad, immoral, or wicked. And furthermore that "moral" is meant to mean a system for deciding what is right and wrong. If you look at it that way its not that foggy of an issue is it?

My interpretation of what atheists/agnostics are all telling me here is that what is evil is entirely an abstraction or matter of opinion to be defined by each person, rather than an absolute or fundamental truth or fundamental force that applies equally to all people.

I'd like to hear examples of things that are evil to them, and then the logic-based justification of why those acts are evil. Then I could actually move towards believing the idea that most atheists have a non faith-based concept of good/evil.

It seems to me that most atheists believe stealing a purse from a financially poor blind elderly woman is evil. Why? From an atheist perspective, what would be a non-faith-based reason that the theft is evil?

[edit on 22-1-2009 by truthquest]



posted on Jan, 22 2009 @ 11:00 PM
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reply to post by truthquest
 


It seems to me that most atheists believe stealing a purse from a financially poor blind elderly woman is evil. Why? From an atheist perspective, what would be a logical reason that stealing from old ladies is evil?

Not evil. Wrong.

It is wrong because it breaches the basic social contract: 'I shall do as I would be done by.' This is the agreement that enables human beings to live in large, genetically distant social groups. One who breaches it by attacking another harms not only his victim but the whole of human society, and thus hurts every member in it. Logical enough for you?



posted on Jan, 22 2009 @ 11:15 PM
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Originally posted by Astyanax
reply to post by truthquest
 


It seems to me that most atheists believe stealing a purse from a financially poor blind elderly woman is evil. Why? From an atheist perspective, what would be a logical reason that stealing from old ladies is evil?

Not evil. Wrong.

It is wrong because it breaches the basic social contract: 'I shall do as I would be done by.' This is the agreement that enables human beings to live in large, genetically distant social groups. One who breaches it by attacking another harms not only his victim but the whole of human society, and thus hurts every member in it. Logical enough for you?


Not quite logical enough for me. Why a sign a contract you don't have to? Signing a contract you don't have to is painting yourself in a corner unnecessarily.

There are a lot of atheists that like small groups better than large ones.

How does stealing the purse from an old woman effect the gene pool of a group?

Yes, breaching the social contract harms the victims but not the whole of society as far as I can tell, but isn't that an appeal to emotion and not logical reasoning?

You may definitely have something here though so please go on but know that I'm not convinced yet.



posted on Jan, 22 2009 @ 11:36 PM
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Originally posted by truthquest
Do good & evil fundamentally exist, or are they just abstractions of human emotion... just words describing emotional opinions?


You're speaking as if good and evil are actual things when they're really intangible ideas spawned of human ethics and morals.


Originally posted by truthquest
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 good." A lot of true atheists seem to have blind faith that there is fundamentally/absolutely right and wrong.

Please let me know your thoughts on this.


I'm actually kind of offended by the broad (and incorrect) generalization of atheists. True atheism would not have blind faith that there is an absolute right and wrong, quite the opposite. One of our strongest points of pride is our LACK of blind faith.

How could I as an atheist make a leap of faith that good and evil existed before man, when I don't agree that blind faith in ANYTHING is sane?



posted on Jan, 22 2009 @ 11:45 PM
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reply to post by truthquest
 



My interpretation of what atheists/agnostics are all telling me here is that what is evil is entirely an abstraction or matter of opinion to be defined by each person, rather than an absolute or fundamental truth or fundamental force that applies equally to all people.


truthquest - either I'm not understanding what you're after - or you're not reading what people are saying

I just read through all the posts - and I haven't heard anyone say anything that fits what you're saying above - not exactly

it seems to me most people have said something closer to the opposite of what you're suggesting

I do think it's necessary to have a discussion about what evil means before anyone one of us can commit to how they feel about evil - and how they determine for themselves what is and isn't evil

dictionary aside - it's not that simple - defining a word doesn't solve the problem



Then I could actually move towards believing the idea that most atheists have a non faith-based concept of good/evil.


I gather from this that you don't believe that atheists are capable of determining right from wrong without resorting to religion?



posted on Jan, 22 2009 @ 11:48 PM
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Originally posted by The Cyfre

Originally posted by truthquest
Do good & evil fundamentally exist, or are they just abstractions of human emotion... just words describing emotional opinions?


You're speaking as if good and evil are actual things when they're really intangible ideas spawned of human ethics and morals.


Originally posted by truthquest
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 good." A lot of true atheists seem to have blind faith that there is fundamentally/absolutely right and wrong.

Please let me know your thoughts on this.


I'm actually kind of offended by the broad (and incorrect) generalization of atheists. True atheism would not have blind faith that there is an absolute right and wrong, quite the opposite. One of our strongest points of pride is our LACK of blind faith.

How could I as an atheist make a leap of faith that good and evil existed before man, when I don't agree that blind faith in ANYTHING is sane?


Explain to me using only logical reasoning (nothing faith-based) how stealing a purse from a poor elderly women in Miami so you can buy up collector's items for example is evil, wrong, or immoral. If you can do that then I do profusely apologize for having wrongly stated that most atheists use faith-based reasoning.



posted on Jan, 22 2009 @ 11:55 PM
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Originally posted by truthquest
This question is especially for those who believe that nothing should be accepted to be true on blind faith alone. Do good & evil fundamentally exist, or are they just abstractions of human emotion... just words describing emotional opinions?

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 good." A lot of true atheists seem to have blind faith that there is fundamentally/absolutely right and wrong.

Please let me know your thoughts on this.


Great thread...

I believe good and evil are universal and can both coexist in the same space at the same time.

Both are also abstractions of human emotions...

However there is a certain concrete criteria for both that seem to be universal in living,
cognizant creatures.

Tears (crying), anger and pain are universals...

Same with the good stuff.

Dogs cry, pigs shake and scream when they are being slaughtered.

I think the question and answer are very very complicated and at a point both are beyond our ability to understand.



posted on Jan, 22 2009 @ 11:59 PM
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Atheist: a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.

a·the·ist (ā'thē-ĭst)
n. One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods.

I guess according to those definitions, I would be considered an agnostic. I'm not exactly sure what I do believe, but I know what I don't believe in and that is the Christian God of the bible.

I don't live to please any god. I live to please myself. I know the difference between good and bad, right and wrong etc. and I live by doing the right thing, because I have morals. You don't have to believe in any god to have morals and to do the right thing.



posted on Jan, 23 2009 @ 12:00 AM
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Originally posted by truthquest
Explain to me using only logical reasoning (nothing faith-based) how stealing a purse from a poor elderly women in Miami so you can buy up collector's items for example is evil, wrong, or immoral. If you can do that then I do profusely apologize for having wrongly stated that most atheists use faith-based reasoning.


stealing a purse from a poor elderly woman in Miami (?) for ANY reason is evil, wrong and immoral on the basis that it is perceived as such by said elderly woman.

The above reasoning is based purely on science and perception. It has nothing to do with the womans faith, and nothing to do with mine.

I guess what offends me here is the insinuation that, because I am not a religious faithful, I may have no concept of right and wrong which makes me feel like you think i'm somehow less than you. By you, i don't so much mean YOU as I mean all of the other religious people who seem to think atheists are somehow worth less because we do not believe in a supreme being.

[edit on 1/23/2009 by The Cyfre]



posted on Jan, 23 2009 @ 12:07 AM
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It's late and I'm a little tired so I might be totally off here, but why not ask the opposite? Many Christians have blind faith in good and evil?

Does the thought that their God is 'all seeing' that makes them realize the difference between good and evil?

I am surrounded by Christians who do things that I would never do. Not saying all, or even most, I'm just saying there are Christians who have no sense of right or wrong, or if they do, they feel no obligation to do the right thing.

People are people, no matter if they believe in God or not, some will do good, while others have no problem doing bad deeds.



posted on Jan, 23 2009 @ 12:16 AM
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Thought I consider myself a pseudo-atheist or a staunch agnostic, I do believe in good and evil. It just seems fairly evident that everything has a counterpart. Day has night, happiness has sadness, anger as love, matter has anti matter, and of course good has evil.

Everything has a counterpart, and true peace seems to always lay right in the middle of the two.

[edit on 1/23/2009 by Irish M1ck]



posted on Jan, 23 2009 @ 12:23 AM
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Originally posted by Spiramirabilis
I just read through all the posts - and I haven't heard anyone say anything that fits what you're saying above - not exactly

it seems to me most people have said something closer to the opposite of what you're suggesting

I do think it's necessary to have a discussion about what evil means before anyone one of us can commit to how they feel about evil - and how they determine for themselves what is and isn't evil

dictionary aside - it's not that simple - defining a word doesn't solve the problem



Then I could actually move towards believing the idea that most atheists have a non faith-based concept of good/evil.


I gather from this that you don't believe that atheists are capable of determining right from wrong without resorting to religion?



I believe people who abandon their religion may still retain their moral values because they still have faith-based beliefs despite claiming to not hold faith-based beliefs. Personally I determine most of my moral values using slow and measured gut instinct... and 0% logic. I think I only use logic to justify what my blind-faith gut instinct is regarding good and evil. If I say to someone: "Why is stealing evil/immoral/wrong." what they are going to do is as quickly as possible look for logical reasons to justify a faith-based belief.

I'm not trying to offend atheists but rather show that perhaps blind faith is not by default bad since that may be what gives us our moral values. Either that or learn how I am wrong.

But again, by showing the logical thought process you have used to determine any specific thing is evil/immoral/wrong then you can without too much difficulty I think change my mind. So I'd say regarding the definition of evil to tell me something that you think is evil and then explain the position without faith-based reasoning.

[edit on 23-1-2009 by truthquest]



posted on Jan, 23 2009 @ 12:44 AM
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Originally posted by truthquest

Originally posted by Spiramirabilis

I believe people who abandon their religion may still retain their moral values because they still have faith-based beliefs despite claiming to not hold faith-based beliefs. Personally I determine most of my moral values using slow and measured gut instinct... and 0% logic. I think I only use logic to justify what my blind-faith gut instinct is regarding good and evil. If I say to someone: "Why is stealing evil/immoral/wrong." what they are going to do is as quickly as possible look for logical reasons to justify a faith-based belief.

I'm not trying to offend atheists but rather show that perhaps blind faith is not by default bad since that may be what gives us our moral values. Either that or learn how I am wrong.

But again, by showing the logical thought process you have used to determine any specific thing is evil/immoral/wrong then you can without too much difficulty I think change my mind. So I'd say regarding the definition of evil to tell me something that you think is evil and then explain the position without faith-based reasoning.

[edit on 23-1-2009 by truthquest]


I disagree with your assumption that morals are faith based regardless...

I think morality is inherent in all people...
If you believe in god - wouldn't you assume that god would have design his / her creation with functional PURPOSE built in????

I can say the same thing for animals...

If you run at a dog with a stick screaming it will react much the same way that a human would.

The concept of Morality is the BLIND faith here. Morality is a concept as defined by humans who have assigned a particular definition and notion for the WORD.


There have been a few cases of dolphins saving drowning humans... Why - Morality??? Religion???

We are all hard wired, distinct, unique and universal all at the same time.

Morality is a standard and subjective, far to small a field to understand creation.

"GOD" is far more awesome then our one dimensional minds can comprehend.



posted on Jan, 23 2009 @ 05:19 AM
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reply to post by truthquest
 


You may definitely have something here though so please go on but know that I'm not convinced yet.

I am not in the business of convincing anyone. I have no agenda.

But I will go on, since others, too, may be puzzled by the questions that you raise.


Why a sign a contract you don't have to?

The contract is not voluntary. You signed it when you were born - born a member of a social species.

But I think what you really mean to ask is: why do I have to obey the terms of the contract?

Well, the answer is that you don't. Criminals don't. Sociopaths don't. Tyrants rewrite the contract so that the terms are all in their favour. And ordinary citizens, too, flout the contract whenever they think they can get away with it. The contract is pretty robust and can withstand a certain amount of monkeying. The trouble starts when everyone believes they can repudiate the contract as they please without being called to account for it.

I live in a third world country where law and order have been hijacked by the State and the police mainly exist to protect our rulers. This has been the situation for more than a generation, and it shows. Everyone here is a criminal; people who obey the law are looked down upon as sentimental, idealistic fools. Why obey, when disobedience brings immediate benefits and no apparent costs?

Because of this attitude, society in my country has crumbled. I don't mean simply that it has functional problems, like Western countries do; I mean it is a failing state awash with corruption, violent crime, ethnic warfare and political repression. Our systems have broken down, our culture has imploded, the population is declining, quality-of-life indicators are plummeting, poverty and misery are rampant and people resort to life-threatening violence for the most petty, ridiculous reasons - recently one man shot and killed another in a row over the price of four coconuts.

That, my friend, is what happens when you don't sign the contract.

Now,


How does stealing the purse from an old woman effect the gene
pool of a group?

Like so:

  1. Truthquest, a fit young male, bashes an old lady on head, steals her purse and runs away. The old lady dies.
  2. Bystanders observe the incident and give an accurate description of Truthquest to the police.
  3. Using the description, the police find and arrest Truthquest. He is tried for manslaughter and jailed for twenty years.
  4. When he is free it last, he discovers that nobody wants to marry a middle-aged jailbird.
  5. Truthquest never fathers a child.
  6. The human gene pool is affected - for better or worse - by the lack of a contribution to it from Truthquest.

You may say this is an exaggerated, literal case. Of course it is. But it is a case that human beings recognize instinctively as paradigmatic. That is why we punish people for beating old grannies over the head - because we can't afford to let people see that they can break the contract and get away with it. Now there's a compelling reason for obeying the terms of the contract: because if you don't, society's enforcers will be after you, and they'll make you...

***


The real reason for obeying the contract is, of course, the advantages it provides. How long could we live without the support of others? Not just family and friends but farmers, grocers, tailors, builders, technicians, miners, oil drillers, transport workers and all the rest? Sure, you could probably survive without them - at the level of a Paleolithic savage - but what kind of a life would it be? No conversation, no help with even the smallest task, no sympathy, no affection, no advice, no backrubs, no hugs from a loving son or daughter, no sex...

Human beings are designed to live in close proximity to one another, sharing resources and cooperating with one another sometimes, competing (within socially-approved limits) at others. Life in groups is as natural to us as breathing. If you refuse to abide by the social contract, you become an outcast and lose the benefits of living in the group. It's as simple as that.

* * *


In a valuable appendix to a later edition of The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins explains the evolution of the social contract through game theory. I think you will find it pertinent to the subject.
  • First, imagine a society of 'doves' - unaggressive individuals who will not attack one another, but will not defend themselves against attack either. Naturally this society will be frictionless. Everybody obeys the social contract and cooperates. The population will expand to the limit of the food supply and remain stable. It would be a Christian Utopia, the Sermon on the Mount brought to life.

  • Now imagine that in this society of doves a mutant is born. Let's call this mutant a hawk. Unlike its parents and all the other doves, it will attack others to obtain what it wants and to hell with any contracts.

  • The doves have no defence against the new hawk mutant, so it will thrive. Rising to the top of the pecking order, it will avail itself of all the mates it wants and spread its hawk gene far and wide. Offspring in which the gene is expressed will show the same hawk characteristics. They think twice about attacking each other, because that's dangerous; instead, they all prey on the doves.

  • Eventually, they overpower and kill all the doves. A society of doves has turned into a society of hawks.

  • So what, you might ask. Birds are birds. But note what happens next: the hawks, having outcompeted all the doves, now face each other. And every hawk's instinct is to attack others and fight to the death when it is attacked itself.

  • Now every bird in the society must go in fear of every other bird. Yet, by its own hawkish nature, it cannot help preying on the others. So every avian interaction becomes a fight to the death. Avian society disintegrates and all you have left are individuals circling warily around each other, waiting to kill or be killed.

  • Thus, and in a very short time, the society of birds will shrink to just one lonely hawk, which has killed all the others. By the way, this is not a merely theoretical outcome. When the survivors of the mutiny on the Bounty were finally discovered on Pitcairn island in 1801, only one adult man was left alive out of the fifteen who originally landed there in 1790. Only one of the fourteen who didn't make it died of natural causes.

  • The lonely hawk, having murdered all potential mates, dies of natural causes (or injuries received in its final battle). Bye-bye birdie. And bye-bye birds. That is what happens when people flout the social contract, thinking they can get away with it.


How to prevent the triumph of the hawks over the doves, followed by the demise of the hawks themselves? Dawkins asks us to imagine another mutant, unornithologically dubbed a 'grudger'. The grudger is a do-as-you-are-done-by bird. It cooperates with those who cooperate with it and attacks those who try to injure it. With the doves it's a dove, with the hawks it's a hawk.

According to the mathematics of game theory, a society with more than a certain proportion of grudgers in it will become a stable do-as-you-are-done-by (and, ultimately, do-as-you-would-be-done-by) society. I think the proportion is 25%, but don't quote me. The point is that every successful social species (including Man) has achieved that critical mass, otherwise it could never have survived.

Unless a certain minimum of individuals in a society are social-contract-upholding grudgers, the society is doomed.

I hope all that makes things a little clearer.



posted on Jan, 23 2009 @ 07:57 AM
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Originally posted by Astyanax
reply to post by huckfinn
 


An evil person knows the truth. They reject it. They attempt to replace it with a lie. In EVERY circumstance where the word Evil is applied these two conditions must exist. Otherwise it is not Evil.

Not so simple, Huck.

There are times in the life of every human being when the truth is so unpalatable we cannot accept it. We would rather tell ourselves that a lie is true, and alter our representation or interpretation of the facts to support it. Thus many belief-systems arise - some religious, some political, some philosophical. There are many such belief-systems, all fervently believed in by somebody. They cannot all be true.

Is this evil? Or is it simply the instinct of self-preservation acting under extreme circumstances?


It is Evil. Take what you are saying and add The Singularities assertion that we should all be able to fight touth and nail for our beliefs and You have the Recipe of Endless War and suffering on this Earth. Oh, wait, you already have that.

A person who would send someone off to certain death for a cause or belief they know for a fact to be a lie is Evil. That is the character Satan. Yes, people do this every single day.

But what they also do is not allow the concept of Evil to have a concrete definition. This way they can continue this behavior indefinitely. And idiots follow and die forever and ever.



posted on Jan, 23 2009 @ 08:42 AM
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reply to post by huckfinn
 

I like your response and the cut of your jib. I've given your post a star.

If you look at my post immediately above yours you'll see that I have already outlined the same process you describe. I agree that such a thing is possible; not only that, but it has happened on Earth times without number.

Unlike The Singularity, I am no moral relativist. I believe our moral notions are instinctive to us, and that they are common to us all, psychopaths and sociopaths excepted. But every man and woman does wrong at times; that does not make us all evil. We all do good at times, too, even those of us who do most wrong in this world; it does not make us good. There are no good or evil people; there are only right and wrong actions.

What you haven't accounted for, I think, are our capacities for self-deception and indoctrination. The Inquisitor, the Gestapo man, the vengeful Khmer Rouge and the abortion-clinic bomber don't believe they are doing wrong: they are, by their own lights, respectively saving souls, meting out well-deserved punishment to the enemies of the Reich, saving the new Socialist Utopia from saboteurs or fighting the Lord's good fight. Even common thieves and confidence-tricksters have ways of justifying their wicked ways. So it isn't correct to say these people do wrong in full knowledge of their wrongdoing; no, they have persuaded themselves that they are doing right, or at least that they are committing a minor sin in order to expiate a greater evil.

A word about moral relativism. If we accept that there is no gold standard of right and wrong, then all these self-deceptions, these fruits of conditioning and brainwashing, these self-serving excuses for acts of crime become as valid as the Four Noble Truths or the Ten Commandments; none of them can be said to be more or less true than any of the others. That is why moral relativists have to 'fight tooth and nail' on behalf of their chosen beliefs*: those beliefs have no validity unless they exist. But if we accept that our notions of right and wrong have a biological foundation, then they continue to exist and govern us even if nobody believes in them.

And as anyone can see by looking at things head-on, without preconceptions, they do.

You could say I'm a fine one to be arguing the bases of morality, anyway, because I don't believe in free will. Good and evil don't exist for me because, for me, human beings have no choice but to act as they do. However, it isn't hard to see how this fits with the concept of morality as an evolved function, and I feel no contradiction between my philosophical views and what I have written in this thread.
 
*Though it's hard to see how a true moral relativist could choose to have any beliefs at all!

[edit on 23-1-2009 by Astyanax]



posted on Jan, 23 2009 @ 09:19 AM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 


I agree. I don't think a person is evil because they do wrong. In my post from the first page, I wanted to leave open the possibility that a person doesn't know any better.

A person who can admit that their actions were incorrect is abandoning Evil. While their crimes may be unexcusable, the acknowledgement that what they did was wrong is redemptive. An evil person never does this. They will always develop a line of reasoning which justifies their actions.

Evil, which is pure, then requires complete knowledge of the truth, but a total rejection of it, without self reflection or apology.

There are murderers in prison for life, who know what they did was horrible, but they admit this and accept the consequences. It is rare to find a murderer who denies their crime was wrong or accept responsibility for it. Charles Manson, for example, is a human anomaly but Evil is real.

PS

When I was young I played this game called Dungeons and Dragons. It was somewhat popular at the time. When building a character each player would choose and alignment composed of two parts. I was always most intrigued with the alignment "Lawful Evil".

It seems to mean that a person can never personally commit a crime and by all measures be considered Good, but be Evil. So, although my definition is simple it should be applied with care.







[edit on 23-1-2009 by huckfinn]



posted on Jan, 23 2009 @ 04:51 PM
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\A person who can admit that their actions were incorrect is abandoning Evil. While their crimes may be unexcusable, the acknowledgement that what they did was wrong is redemptive. An evil person never does this. They will always develop a line of reasoning which justifies their actions.\

An evil person will do it for his own sake. Evil one doesnt mean stupid

They are not so stupid to confess that they are moral degenerates - they will rationalize their deeds by ... acknowleding them and developing a line of reason for all they do. And the society will accept this rationalization.... Look at the society you live in... plenty of books about maniacs and moral perverts shown as victims of "circumstances", people are taught to simpathize and find reasoning for the most evil actions and the majority THINKS that good and evil are relative terms... If they are relative, there exist plenty of shades and one can always rationalize his actions

A normal person will not be able to go against his nature, his will be even a physical pain to commit smth that is against his in-born inner core or universal unverbalized rules of Moral that are in his genes.

\I don't live to please any god. I live to please myself. I know the difference between good and bad, right and wrong etc. and I live by doing the right thing, because I have morals. You don't have to believe in any god to have morals and to do the right thing. \

no need if you have no need. God is inside you. universal rules of Moral are the same for every religion. except judaism. and in Norm, they are in-born in human beings.

one can be atheist or a religious man, no difference, if he is a normal person - he will be able to differentiate good from evil without any philosophies and religions.

But!... there are people who need guidance... and church, in this case, can either help or do harm. the latter happens most often, unfortunately... The reason is that different churches oppose each other nowdays despite the universal moral of God and they often do a bad service to a person - no quidance but harm the result of which is often mental deseases.


[edit on 23-1-2009 by Russi]

[edit on 23-1-2009 by Russi]





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