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danielost

why do non-believers always

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Mr Walker

There is a difference between sick and twisted as opposed to evil

Could you explain what you mean by evil and hence why you do not think it exists? Why would humans have evolved a term and a construct for something which has no existence.?

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Mr Walker

That might be considered anti-social but not evil

So choosing to kill 50000 people to let you make a greater profit, is not evil?

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aquatus1

There is a difference between sick and twisted as opposed to evil

Sure. It's pretty easy to spot the sick and twisted. Evil is quite a bit harder. Few (if any) evil people think of themselves as evil.

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aquatus1
it is a fallacy, and quite a dangerous one, to believe that there is no such thing as evil or absolute evil.

Why is that? On the absolute evil thing, I mean.

Only humans are capable of imagining /visualising, intending and performing such acts, and it is only because of us that such evil exists (on the other hand it is only because of us that goodness and absolute goodness can and does exist, also)

What makes you think that? There are quite a few animals who have been shown to kill or torture for the sheer pleasure of it.

We know what is right and wrong/destructive or creative harmful or helpful etc. and choosing wrong is evil. How evil depends on how serious we know the consequences of an act will be.

No, going to have to disagree with you on that one. Choosing wrong and being evil (even if just a tiny bit) are not necessarily inextricably intertwined. Nor are the consequences of such too much of a factor either. After all, one of the defining characteristics of psychosis is the utter lack of fear, particularly of consequences.

One doesn't need empathy compassion etc. to know right and wrong, evil and good. It only requires the basic human ability to understand consequences over time, and the knowledge that every act we choose, has a consequence based on the nature of that act..

That doesn't jibe with what we know of human behaviour. People are particularly bad at determining future consequences to begin with, let alone in situations where they feel justified in their actions. Even at that, the above describes a very, possibly an extreme, form of logical mindset that, at best, can only be applied to about a third of the population, and not all of those in that third at that.

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spacecowboy342

it is a fallacy, and quite a dangerous one, to believe that there is no such thing as evil or absolute evil. Only humans are capable of imagining /visualising, intending and performing such acts, and it is only because of us that such evil exists (on the other hand it is only because of us that goodness and absolute goodness can and does exist, also) We know what is right and wrong/destructive or creative harmful or helpful etc. and choosing wrong is evil. How evil depends on how serious we know the consequences of an act will be.

One doesn't need empathy compassion etc. to know right and wrong, evil and good. It only requires the basic human ability to understand consequences over time, and the knowledge that every act we choose, has a consequence based on the nature of that act..

There are consequences for violating what society deems good but this does not show that evil is absolute. It is dependent on societal views

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spacecowboy342

Sure. It's pretty easy to spot the sick and twisted. Evil is quite a bit harder. Few (if any) evil people think of themselves as evil.

Few sick and twisted people view themselves that way. That's why they are sick and twisted

So choosing to kill 50000 people to let you make a greater profit, is not evil?

Not evil. Definitely anti-social. Was killing every man woman and child along with the livestock of the Canaanites by the Israelites for land evil? Edited by spacecowboy342

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spacecowboy342

Could you explain what you mean by evil and hence why you do not think it exists? Why would humans have evolved a term and a construct for something which has no existence.?

Why I don't know. Humans have a habit of that - see God

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Mr Walker

Why is that? On the absolute evil thing, I mean.

What makes you think that? There are quite a few animals who have been shown to kill or torture for the sheer pleasure of it.

No, going to have to disagree with you on that one. Choosing wrong and being evil (even if just a tiny bit) are not necessarily inextricably intertwined. Nor are the consequences of such too much of a factor either. After all, one of the defining characteristics of psychosis is the utter lack of fear, particularly of consequences.

That doesn't jibe with what we know of human behaviour. People are particularly bad at determining future consequences to begin with, let alone in situations where they feel justified in their actions. Even at that, the above describes a very, possibly an extreme, form of logical mindset that, at best, can only be applied to about a third of the population, and not all of those in that third at that.

Because evil is a conceptual construction of the human mind, and humans can choose to do great or lesser evils or none at all. If you do not recognise this capacity in humanity, you cannot work to prevent it, or its consequences. Thus denying human evil leaves individuals and societies more open to the consequences of evil thoughts and acts. It is not like earthquakes or animal violence evil is a conscious, informed choice, and thus can be prevented and must be legislated against judged and punished in order to reduce its occurrence.

No other animal has the capacity to conceptualise or think about the gratification of inflicting pain, versus the knowledge of the consequences of pain on another creature. Thus only humans can be held accountable for deciding to inflict pain for our own pleasure. For example it is not evil to kill a rabbit which is eating your crops. It is not evil to kill a rabbit to eat it. But it is pure evil to set a rabbit on fire while it is alive, just to gratify your sense of pleasure. And we all know this as human beings, because we know what pain feels like and we all understand that other beings experience pain as we do So when we inflict pain it is an informed choice in the knowledge that we are hurting another feeling being. To do such a thing without any reason except for our own pleasure, is logically and ethically wrong. This is not so much a culturally learned thing but something all humans understand because of the way our cognitive processes operate.

When we chose to do a wrong which harms another, without any logical or rational reason or need to do so, then we are choosing evil. For example if I steal another's car to get my wife to hospital or steal food to feed my family,the act is wrong but not evil But if I steal nothers car for my own pleasure then destroy it or I steal form another just to deprive them of something they have worked to earn, then that is a conscious and deliberately destructive act, and hence evil.

Every one of us knows what is good and what is evil, and we must admit to this, and then try always to do good and never do evil. If someone does not know, then they are not committing evil, because evil requires intent to harm but then we need to do more to educate people .

Fear has nothing to do with it. People should not act on the basis of fear, but on the basis of what is right and wrong ie on what effect your actions will have.If you act on fear of consequence you cannot be trusted to act correctly if you know you will not be caught. if you act out of a choice to do what is right, then you will always try to do what tis right, even without harmful consequences to your self or fear of sanctions.

Last week someone stole a small yellow toy tractor from a local gravesite They will never be caught and they will never suffer consequences yet what they did had negative effects, because the family was greatly upset. The tractor was a reminder of a grandfather who was a pioneer farmer in the district and loved his machinery The family was hurt. Now if the thief knew someone might be hurt by his theft, it was a act of evil. If he could not reasonably predict that it would do any harm, it was still wrong and illegal, but not evil.

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Mr Walker

There are consequences for violating what society deems good but this does not show that evil is absolute. It is dependent on societal views

No it is not. The basic nature of evil is that it does harm . For example many societies have different moralities and rules and laws To the plains Indians, stealing was a moral virtue So, in the society of a plains indian a person who refused to steal might be doing evil. I tis not about the specific nature of rules and laws, but about whether what you intend to do will bring constructive results or destructive ones and the intent of your choices.. Stealing was productive to the people, and honed skills needed to survive. Evil for a plains indian remains that which has destructive or negative consequences . here is another scenario In a society which survives on slavery a person decides to give up slavery and free his slaves

As a result he goes bankrupt, his slaves starve, and the whole local economy is weakened. BUT this was not an evil act unless the person KNEW what the consequences would be and went ahead anyway. If he did know those consequences would flow to all concerned, then freeing his slaves was an act of evil not of goodness. if he thought he was doing a productive and right thing which would bring positive consequences, then it was an act of good, not evil, no matter what the consequences..

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Mr Walker

Why I don't know. Humans have a habit of that - see God

I knew you would say that :innocent: . I nearly asked you not to use it as an excuse. It doesn't help me understand your thinking, because I KNOW god is a real intelligent and powerful being who lives right along side of me and within me on a daily basis.

I repeat. What do you mean by "evil", and why do you think it does not exist? Love is real and exists as a human property, with physical effects and consequences So does human evil and human goodness.

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Paranoid Android

I've never seen that happen. Every law and instruction in the bible was to increase good and reduce harm. But it reflected the understandings and realities of the time. If god had said, eliminate slavery, then society would have collapsed.If god had not said marry your brother's widow then that woman would have not had anyone to support her or care for her. Biblical laws are social laws designed to order and protect society. As society changes the laws needed to order protect and assist society also change God says abortion is evil because all human life is sacred. As an atheist I already knew that principle, but in secular humanist terms, yet our society allows abortion on demand. Thus gods law loses out but at detriment to individual people and to society. Once people of any faith realise the intent and purpose of their spiritual books and teachings, then they can apply them using that intent even in the most modern society.

I wasn't referring to the God of the Bible. Any God, if such a God exists, if it has an absolute moral code then regardless of whether a society says it is "good". You used the example of abortion, and while I agree with you on the principle that life is sacred (even unborn life) others in society do not agree. It could be argued that abortion has societal value - eg, teen pregnancy, a young female now spends the next dozen or so years raising a child, perhaps having more kids as a result. She drops out of High School, lives on welfare for the rest of her days. She passes these values on to her children, and her children end up getting pregnant as teenagers and living off welfare. Or, if the teen decides to abort, she finishes school, goes to university, and works as an Investment banker, she marries a colleague and then has two children who they raise to respect money, not scrounge off the government, and live successful lives with good careers and values, thus their kids in turn pass on said values to their kids, so on and so forth.

This is an extreme example, most pregnancies or abortions aren't going to radically alter a person's life so fully (though the birth of a child is always a life-changing experience, naturally), but the secular humanist who believes in pro-choice may disagree with your assertion that abortion is a "detriment to individual people and society".

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aquatus1
Because evil is a conceptual construction of the human mind, and humans can choose to do great or lesser evils or none at all. If you do not recognise this capacity in humanity, you cannot work to prevent it, or its consequences. Thus denying human evil leaves individuals and societies more open to the consequences of evil thoughts and acts. It is not like earthquakes or animal violence evil is a conscious, informed choice, and thus can be prevented and must be legislated against judged and punished in order to reduce its occurrence.

What is this in response to?

No other animal has the capacity to conceptualise or think about the gratification of inflicting pain, versus the knowledge of the consequences of pain on another creature.

Well, 1), you don't know that, and 2), even if you did, it still doesn't support your claim that evil is defined by logically considering the gain vs loss between causing pain and being punished for it. You can't support a point by using an example that assumes the point is correct.

Thus only humans can be held accountable for deciding to inflict pain for our own pleasure. For example it is not evil to kill a rabbit which is eating your crops. It is not evil to kill a rabbit to eat it. But it is pure evil to set a rabbit on fire while it is alive, just to gratify your sense of pleasure.

Says you. More than one society has considered similar things to be an evenings entertainment.

And we all know this as human beings, because we know what pain feels like and we all understand that other beings experience pain as we do So when we inflict pain it is an informed choice in the knowledge that we are hurting another feeling being. To do such a thing without any reason except for our own pleasure, is logically and ethically wrong. This is not so much a culturally learned thing but something all humans understand because of the way our cognitive processes operate.

But it is a culturally learned thing. Saddam Hussein gassed the Kurds because he simply didn't consider them human. Many massacres in Africa use the same argument. Even in the US there are people who truly do not consider other races to be human. Simply put, there are some people who just don't consider others to be human, regardless of how human they consider themselves to be.

When we chose to do a wrong which harms another, without any logical or rational reason or need to do so, then we are choosing evil. For example if I steal another's car to get my wife to hospital or steal food to feed my family,the act is wrong but not evil But if I steal nothers car for my own pleasure then destroy it or I steal form another just to deprive them of something they have worked to earn, then that is a conscious and deliberately destructive act, and hence evil.

That's all it takes to be evil in your book? To be an inconsiderate ass? Many college roommates would suddenly be labelled as evil.

Every one of us knows what is good and what is evil, and we must admit to this, and then try always to do good and never do evil. If someone does not know, then they are not committing evil, because evil requires intent to harm but then we need to do more to educate people .

In the words of a great philosopher, "Some people just want to watch the world burn".

Fear has nothing to do with it. People should not act on the basis of fear, but on the basis of what is right and wrong ie on what effect your actions will have.If you act on fear of consequence you cannot be trusted to act correctly if you know you will not be caught. if you act out of a choice to do what is right, then you will always try to do what tis right, even without harmful consequences to your self or fear of sanctions.

Oh, okay, I get it now...

This is what you would like to be real, not what actually is. Okay, that puts things into the proper perspective.

Last week someone stole a small yellow toy tractor from a local gravesite They will never be caught and they will never suffer consequences yet what they did had negative effects, because the family was greatly upset. The tractor was a reminder of a grandfather who was a pioneer farmer in the district and loved his machinery The family was hurt. Now if the thief knew someone might be hurt by his theft, it was a act of evil. If he could not reasonably predict that it would do any harm, it was still wrong and illegal, but not evil.

So, again, being an inconsiderate b****** is evil. Standard is kinda low there.

Incidentally, can you explain why it is a fallacy to believe there is no such thing as absolute evil?

Edited by aquatus1

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Anthony North

Tell me, Mr Walker, is 'evil' of the person or outside of the person? And is the interpretation you give an absolute truth, or your opinion?

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spacecowboy342

No it is not. The basic nature of evil is that it does harm . For example many societies have different moralities and rules and laws To the plains Indians, stealing was a moral virtue So, in the society of a plains indian a person who refused to steal might be doing evil. I tis not about the specific nature of rules and laws, but about whether what you intend to do will bring constructive results or destructive ones and the intent of your choices.. Stealing was productive to the people, and honed skills needed to survive. Evil for a plains indian remains that which has destructive or negative consequences . here is another scenario In a society which survives on slavery a person decides to give up slavery and free his slaves

As a result he goes bankrupt, his slaves starve, and the whole local economy is weakened. BUT this was not an evil act unless the person KNEW what the consequences would be and went ahead anyway. If he did know those consequences would flow to all concerned, then freeing his slaves was an act of evil not of goodness. if he thought he was doing a productive and right thing which would bring positive consequences, then it was an act of good, not evil, no matter what the consequences..

Harm may be evil to those harmed but that doesn't make it any absolute thing. It i all dependent on the views of the culture. The Maya cut the still beating hearts out of their prisoners of war. This might be considered evil today but it was considered good then. There are things which benefit the tribe or individual and things which harm the same but this does not show any absolute good or evil. Is it evil if a chimp from one band kills a chimp from another? Humans place moral values which are arbitrary not absolute

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Mr Walker

I wasn't referring to the God of the Bible. Any God, if such a God exists, if it has an absolute moral code then regardless of whether a society says it is "good". You used the example of abortion, and while I agree with you on the principle that life is sacred (even unborn life) others in society do not agree. It could be argued that abortion has societal value - eg, teen pregnancy, a young female now spends the next dozen or so years raising a child, perhaps having more kids as a result. She drops out of High School, lives on welfare for the rest of her days. She passes these values on to her children, and her children end up getting pregnant as teenagers and living off welfare. Or, if the teen decides to abort, she finishes school, goes to university, and works as an Investment banker, she marries a colleague and then has two children who they raise to respect money, not scrounge off the government, and live successful lives with good careers and values, thus their kids in turn pass on said values to their kids, so on and so forth.

This is an extreme example, most pregnancies or abortions aren't going to radically alter a person's life so fully (though the birth of a child is always a life-changing experience, naturally), but the secular humanist who believes in pro-choice may disagree with your assertion that abortion is a "detriment to individual people and society".

The living person has choices and potential. One killed before birth does not. Hence, logically, to kill an unborn child is no different to killing one a day old. Only the attachment to another person complicates matters but the same principle applies. Do what is constructive and creative not destructive. I don't quite understand your second sentence.

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Mr Walker

Harm may be evil to those harmed but that doesn't make it any absolute thing. It i all dependent on the views of the culture. The Maya cut the still beating hearts out of their prisoners of war. This might be considered evil today but it was considered good then. There are things which benefit the tribe or individual and things which harm the same but this does not show any absolute good or evil. Is it evil if a chimp from one band kills a chimp from another? Humans place moral values which are arbitrary not absolute

It is the intent to do harm and be destructive which is evil. A person who sacrifices another in order to bring rain, in the honest belief that this will work is not evil, just ill informed. If the mayans acted to instil fear in others or maintain their authority for personal reasons then they were doing evil. If they had constructive intent, for example believing that sacrifice would help their people, then their acts were not evil.

Like wise chimps and other animals can not do evil because they do not have the required level of informed intent in their actions, to do either good or evil They do not recognise the effects of their actions as a human being does. Also young children or the mentally impaired cannot do evil, and nature cannot do evil. Only humans can choose evil, because they know the effects of their actions on others, before they commit the act. Evil is the product of informed intent and choice. So is goodness. It is not the doing of harm which is evil but the choice to deliberately do harm when this is not needed for a greater benefit. Getting drunk and choosing to drive is evil. killing someone in that state is a product of evil. Choosing to drive at 100 miles a hour in a 60 mile an hour zone is evil Killing someone because you made that choice is a product of evil beating your wife because she argues with you is evil Killing an innocent for pleasure is evil Torturing a person or an animal without good reason is evil BUT to torture one man to save the lives of 100 might not be.It depend whether the one man is guilty or innocent and the same for the 100.

So for example. To torture a proven terrorist who has killed many innocent people, in order to extract information to save 100 innocent hostages is not evil. To torture one innocent man to get information to free 100 condemned killers, would be.

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Mr Walker

Few sick and twisted people view themselves that way. That's why they are sick and twisted

Not evil. Definitely anti-social. Was killing every man woman and child along with the livestock of the Canaanites by the Israelites for land evil?

It depends on the choices the Israelites had. If that action was necessary for their survival, then arguably it was not evil. If they had other choices for survival then it was evil. I do not know the circumstances involved personally I would rather die myself than take the life of another innocent human. Likewise I would not kill another woman or child to allow my wife or child to survive, because ALL humans have precisely equal right to life. My wife and child have no more nor no less right to life than any other woman or child.

I would protect myself and my wife or child from any aggression or danger, however, because an aggressor forfeits the unilateral right to life in seeking to take someone elses. So I would tend to say that the Israelites actions were evil They made a decision which they did not have to make to harm other human beings to benefit them selves. Their actions might be seen as a necessary evil from their perspective ,yet they would be evil unless outweighed by other more creative and productive outcomes for all the humans involved. They could have found a compromise But humans are not yet good at this. Just look at the present scenario in the crimea. History shows us what is about to happen there, yet it will happen; when compromise would solve the problem without violence.

Edited by Mr Walker

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spacecowboy342

It is the intent to do harm and be destructive which is evil. A person who sacrifices another in order to bring rain, in the honest belief that this will work is not evil, just ill informed. If the mayans acted to instil fear in others or maintain their authority for personal reasons then they were doing evil. If they had constructive intent, for example believing that sacrifice would help their people, then their acts were not evil.

Like wise chimps and other animals can not do evil because they do not have the required level of informed intent in their actions, to do either good or evil They do not recognise the effects of their actions as a human being does. Also young children or the mentally impaired cannot do evil, and nature cannot do evil. Only humans can choose evil, because they know the effects of their actions on others, before they commit the act. Evil is the product of informed intent and choice. So is goodness. It is not the doing of harm which is evil but the choice to deliberately do harm when this is not needed for a greater benefit. Getting drunk and choosing to drive is evil. killing someone in that state is a product of evil. Choosing to drive at 100 miles a hour in a 60 mile an hour zone is evil Killing someone because you made that choice is a product of evil beating your wife because she argues with you is evil Killing an innocent for pleasure is evil Torturing a person or an animal without good reason is evil BUT to torture one man to save the lives of 100 might not be.It depend whether the one man is guilty or innocent and the same for the 100.

So for example. To torture a proven terrorist who has killed many innocent people, in order to extract information to save 100 innocent hostages is not evil. To torture one innocent man to get information to free 100 condemned killers, would be.

A chimp knows very well that his actions are destructive when he kills. All the examples you cite are just about what social structure brings about not about evil in any absolute sense. The Mayas sacrificed prisoners so the rains would come and so the sun would continue tor rise. This was a noble reason but the prisoners might still have objected

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Mr Walker

A chimp knows very well that his actions are destructive when he kills. All the examples you cite are just about what social structure brings about not about evil in any absolute sense. The Mayas sacrificed prisoners so the rains would come and so the sun would continue tor rise. This was a noble reason but the prisoners might still have objected

A chimp knows very well that his actions are destructive when he kills. All the examples you cite are just about what social structure brings about not about evil in any absolute sense. The Mayas sacrificed prisoners so the rains would come and so the sun would continue tor rise. This was a noble reason but the prisoners might still have objected

No. Chimps do not consciously and with reflective self awreness know they are doing harm, hurting another, or being destructive. They can not because they do not have have words or symbolic understandings for such concepts and so can not form or hold onto such abstract ideas or concepts Chimps are driven by evolutionary forces which they cannot choose to control by "conscience" because the y do not have the cognitive evolved abilty to have a conscience. An alpha male doesn't feel bad (or good) about killing its rivals including all the young offspring of an earlier alpha male, it just does it instinctively to enhance its own genetic reproductive potential. Conscience, guilt etc can only come with quite sophisticated thought/language

The mayans made choices based on outcomes they believed would occur .A choice they knew would lead to a destructive outcome was an evil choice. A choice they believed would lead to a productive outcome was not. This is the nature of good and evil. It dpends on our knowledge and understanding of the effects of our decisions and actions. Humans can predict the future shape it to their will we have ral informed choice to make in that knowledge We also understand the difference between self and other and yet can know that what we feel another also feels . When I chose to rape a woman (have sex without her willing consent ) I commit an act of evil. When an animal does the same thing there is no evil involved. The difference is that I KNOW it is hurtful and harmful to force a person to have sex against their will and I can make a free willed and disciplined choice to rape her or not to rape her. I also KNOW these things as well so when I do chose to rape her I know I am doing evil and this causes a psychological reaction in my mind. if I chose not to rape her, the same thing occurs but the reaction is more positive and helpful to me.

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spacecowboy342

No. Chimps do not consciously and with reflective self awreness know they are doing harm, hurting another, or being destructive. They can not because they do not have have words or symbolic understandings for such concepts and so can not form or hold onto such abstract ideas or concepts Chimps are driven by evolutionary forces which they cannot choose to control by "conscience" because the y do not have the cognitive evolved abilty to have a conscience. An alpha male doesn't feel bad (or good) about killing its rivals including all the young offspring of an earlier alpha male, it just does it instinctively to enhance its own genetic reproductive potential. Conscience, guilt etc can only come with quite sophisticated thought/language

The mayans made choices based on outcomes they believed would occur .A choice they knew would lead to a destructive outcome was an evil choice. A choice they believed would lead to a productive outcome was not. This is the nature of good and evil. It dpends on our knowledge and understanding of the effects of our decisions and actions. Humans can predict the future shape it to their will we have ral informed choice to make in that knowledge We also understand the difference between self and other and yet can know that what we feel another also feels . When I chose to rape a woman (have sex without her willing consent ) I commit an act of evil. When an animal does the same thing there is no evil involved. The difference is that I KNOW it is hurtful and harmful to force a person to have sex against their will and I can make a free willed and disciplined choice to rape her or not to rape her. I also KNOW these things as well so when I do chose to rape her I know I am doing evil and this causes a psychological reaction in my mind. if I chose not to rape her, the same thing occurs but the reaction is more positive and helpful to me.

Chimps absolutely do know when they are being destructive. If the Mayan actions were an example of absolute good they would still be good and not change with changing societal norms. As far as rape suppose it was a holocaust survivor raping Hitler?

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Mr Walker

Chimps absolutely do know when they are being destructive. If the Mayan actions were an example of absolute good they would still be good and not change with changing societal norms. As far as rape suppose it was a holocaust survivor raping Hitler?

It is cognitively impossible for a chimp to know (as a human knows) that they are deliberately doing wrong and that they have a choice in their behaviour. Such knowledge requires sophisticated language structures and other cognitive processes, that chimps do not possess. They react to internal and external stimuli such as reward and punishment, but not from internal conscience, because conscience requires a level of thought that is beyond a being without sophisticated language skills. If this was not the case then chimps could, would, and should, be charged with murder when they make a choice to kill another chimp. For example unless a being is capable of understanding, and understands intellectually the nature of life and death, and the difference between those states including the permanence of death and the fleeting nature of life , then to deprive another of life is "natural." If a being cannot transfer its own understanding of pain and joy to another being then it will not understand the harm done in hurting another being.

You do not get my point about evil. Evil is absolute and consistent across human behaviour. It occurs where a person knows that one choice will be creative and another will be destructive, and then chooses the destructive path, despite knowing and understanding that his /her actions will cause unnecessary harm. Eg for me to deliberately deprive a child from learning or from love, is an act of evil because I know it will, for ever, limit the potential of that child. For me to smack a child in order to enforce productive behaviour is good, not evil because of the intent behind it . A holocaust victim raping hitler would be doing evil. Two wrong acts do not make a right act. Hitler and the rapist would then both have committed acts of evil.

Edited by Mr Walker

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spacecowboy342

It is cognitively impossible for a chimp to know (as a human knows) that they are deliberately doing wrong and that they have a choice in their behaviour. Such knowledge requires sophisticated language structures and other cognitive processes, that chimps do not possess. They react to internal and external stimuli such as reward and punishment, but not from internal conscience, because conscience requires a level of thought that is beyond a being without sophisticated language skills. If this was not the case then chimps could, would, and should, be charged with murder when they make a choice to kill another chimp. For example unless a being is capable of understanding, and understands intellectually the nature of life and death, and the difference between those states including the permanence of death and the fleeting nature of life , then to deprive another of life is "natural." If a being cannot transfer its own understanding of pain and joy to another being then it will not understand the harm done in hurting another being.

You do not get my point about evil. Evil is absolute and consistent across human behaviour. It occurs where a person knows that one choice will be creative and another will be destructive, and then chooses the destructive path, despite knowing and understanding that his /her actions will cause unnecessary harm. Eg for me to deliberately deprive a child from learning or from love, is an act of evil because I know it will, for ever, limit the potential of that child. For me to smack a child in order to enforce productive behaviour is good, not evil because of the intent behind it . A holocaust victim raping hitler would be doing evil. Two wrong acts do not make a right act. Hitler and the rapist would then both have committed acts of evil.

Chimps do no what the results of their actions will be. They don't think of it as evil, as that is a human invention. What you describe is anti-social but not absolute evil. Things one society might consider evil another might not

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aquatus1

Mr. Walker, the reason why your definition fails as an objective one is because it requires, at its foundation, a subjective appraisal of both the subject's intention and of their capacity to determine consequences (danger to oneself and others, which takes a professional psychologist to diagnose, and even then is often questionable).

You claim that chimps are not capable of thinking things through in the same manner as humans are, but you fail to remember that this precise terminology was (and is) used by certain groups to justify their hatred of other groups (in particular, the notorious KKK in regards to African-Americans). When you get to the point that you are defining evil by intention, you are in a very dangerous area. To use Spacecowboy's example, the Maya sacrificed thousands of people because they believed it would avert disaster. How are you going to determine intent out of that? How are you going to decide whether or not they really believed it was necessary, or if they just considered it a good form of population control? You claim that depriving a child from learning is going to be an act of evil, but there are things that children can learn that will affect them in a very negative way. How is anyone going to judge whether you are evil or not based on your intention? As they say, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

More importantly, who will care? Time has a habit of depersonalizing actions. What your intentions were begins to lose relevance moments after the action takes place. Does this mean that things become more or less evil as time goes on? Wouldn't that mean that your definition of evil is based on something that is transient, not absolute?

The definition of evil, particularly if one proposes something as unlikely as "absolute" evil, cannot be tied in to something either transient or subjective. The evilest person in the world who internally hates with a murderous passion anyone they see isn't going to be considered evil if they never actually do anything about it. Even taking destructive action isn't a guarantee. Let's say this evil person notices a serial killer entering his neighbor's home and decides this is the perfect opportunity to indulge his desire for murder. He kills the killer and is hailed as a hero. Is he evil? Only if you consider his intentions, which do not, in any way, affect the situation at all. How can you justify a definition that only applies to your personal view of a situation, while everyone else involved would staunchly disagree with you referring to this person as evil? If everyone else believes one thing, but you claim the polar opposite, doesn't it make sense that it is likely the one person, and not everyone else, that is likely to be at fault?

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Mr Walker

Mr. Walker, the reason why your definition fails as an objective one is because it requires, at its foundation, a subjective appraisal of both the subject's intention and of their capacity to determine consequences (danger to oneself and others, which takes a professional psychologist to diagnose, and even then is often questionable).

You claim that chimps are not capable of thinking things through in the same manner as humans are, but you fail to remember that this precise terminology was (and is) used by certain groups to justify their hatred of other groups (in particular, the notorious KKK in regards to African-Americans). When you get to the point that you are defining evil by intention, you are in a very dangerous area. To use Spacecowboy's example, the Maya sacrificed thousands of people because they believed it would avert disaster. How are you going to determine intent out of that? How are you going to decide whether or not they really believed it was necessary, or if they just considered it a good form of population control? You claim that depriving a child from learning is going to be an act of evil, but there are things that children can learn that will affect them in a very negative way. How is anyone going to judge whether you are evil or not based on your intention? As they say, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

More importantly, who will care? Time has a habit of depersonalizing actions. What your intentions were begins to lose relevance moments after the action takes place. Does this mean that things become more or less evil as time goes on? Wouldn't that mean that your definition of evil is based on something that is transient, not absolute?

The definition of evil, particularly if one proposes something as unlikely as "absolute" evil, cannot be tied in to something either transient or subjective. The evilest person in the world who internally hates with a murderous passion anyone they see isn't going to be considered evil if they never actually do anything about it. Even taking destructive action isn't a guarantee. Let's say this evil person notices a serial killer entering his neighbor's home and decides this is the perfect opportunity to indulge his desire for murder. He kills the killer and is hailed as a hero. Is he evil? Only if you consider his intentions, which do not, in any way, affect the situation at all. How can you justify a definition that only applies to your personal view of a situation, while everyone else involved would staunchly disagree with you referring to this person as evil? If everyone else believes one thing, but you claim the polar opposite, doesn't it make sense that it is likely the one person, and not everyone else, that is likely to be at fault?

There is nothing subjective in ascertaining that which is positive creative or constructive, and that which is negative and destructive. Nor is there any doubt about intent in human terms. Constructive and destructive outcomes are measurable and quanitifiable. That is why I use them as the basis of my value lines and ethics.

All functioning adult humans have the cognitive capacity to recognise consequences which is why we are held legally responsible when we do not. Education and experience help in this, of course. It is a scientific fact that chimps are not capable of the same level of cognition as humans based on their neurology, on their behaviour, eg no physical expressions of abstract thought like reverence for life or burying their dead with ceremony. and most importantly their lack of biological/neurological ability to form abstract concepts and symbolic understandings. A being cannot chose to love or hate if it has no conceptual understanding of the nature of love or hate. No one really disputes this.

Liklewise it is a scientific fact that race or gender has no effect on human cognition while things like age does.So you are comparing apples and pears The abilty of humans to know good and evil extends to the duty to care for other animals and the environment. No other animal has a similar duty of care because they cannot form the concept of caring..

Depriving a child of learning is evil because it deprives the child of some of its potential. it is not up to an adult to curtail that personal abilty to grow and learn.

Evil is not transient or changeable or subject to social mores. At heart it remains the same. Doing harm, being destructive, hurting another or depriving them of their potential etc just because you can, and in the knowledge that you are so doing. That is always evil. It is permanent in that it has existed since humans evolved self awreness and our present level of cognition. It is a choice anyone can make or not make and honestly, everyone in their hearts and minds knows this.

There is a great danger in denying the existence of pure human evil, in that we will accept certain behaviours as NOT evil and find justifications for them. We will fool ourselves about the nature of humanity and our capacity for great good and for great evil We will fool ourselves as individuals as to our capacity to do evil and good.

And actually the person who hates in their heart is just as evil as one who does something. It is the intent which is evil even if not carried out. The evil in the heart of a man will corrupt him and destroy him even if it hurts no one else but almost always it will manifest in harmful ways to others around him. We act as we are.. A person who kills a known serial killer is probably not evil but good especially where he is protecting other innocent people. Again, it goes to intent. If he is killing the killer for pleasure and nothing else and could stop him hurting the family using other means then he is evil. It is all very simple clear and basic.

It is easy to ascertain intent from people like the mayans.(or indeed most of the early civilizations) We have records of their beliefs behaviours and reasons for their actions. But for older peoples we can apply modern knowledge and understanding say for example by studying traditional aboriginal australian behaviours at the time of white settlement and for 100 years after that. Most societies organise under laws to protect, regulate and secure the growth of that society, making individuals subject to the greater good of the society which protects and nurtures all. It can be as small as a family or as grea t as a nation but ur motivations politics social behaviours beliefs religious practices etc remain the same. From my reading of mayan history, in general their sacrifices were not evil although some individuals might have acted with personal evil intent as humans tend to do if they can get away with it.

Nor were the actions of gehghis khan necessarily evil although again it goes to intent. He used a system designed to give a city a chance to surrender without punishment or bloodshed . He also treated individuals with respect and dignity, even honour, if they deserved it. His prime motivators were the security of first family, second clan, and third nation.

Ps I don't know if I said this, but I have a duty to care for chimps, other animals and the environment because of my cognitive self awareness. A chimp owes me no such duty . That is the difference between us. I spend thousands of dollars a year protecting animals from pain, suffering, cruel treatment etc. donating to animal welfare organisations and writing to governments about animal rights A chimp cant do that either. A failure by me to do this, when I know I can make a difference or should at least try to make a difference would also be evil on my part. But when a chimp fails to care about a human , or take such actions to protect humans, the chimp is not doing evil nor is it evil. It knows no better.

Edited by Mr Walker

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Mr Walker

Chimps do no what the results of their actions will be. They don't think of it as evil, as that is a human invention. What you describe is anti-social but not absolute evil. Things one society might consider evil another might not

Evil is indeed a human invention Without humans there would be no evil nor any good in the world. Only one primate other than man has ever demonstrated an ability to predict consequence and plan ahead that is the one particular ape which stores up stones to throw at people later on. he probably learned this from observation of human behaviour rather than intellectual awreness.

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