T Nation

Is There Meaning in Evil and Suffering?

Interesting portion of a debate including different world views and religions. Listen to “Is There Meaning in Evil and Suffering?” and let me know what you think.

Me Solomon Grundy

http://resources.christianity.com/ministries/rzim/main/searchItems.jhtml

Firstly one would have to know what evil is. what is it? Is it a religous concept, is it something that we tag with that description as there is little or no understandng to it. peadophiles…evil or just wired differently (notwithstanding the heinous nature of what they do, i would like to mention),

any thoughts on that point.

my personal contention is that there is no meaning, these things just are like trade between two people or cancer. the fact they exist does need explaining or understanding, is just that they are facts of life almost means they escape that explanation.

havent listened to the files yet, just taking a break from the hell that is my thesis. But, on the topic of evil having meaning I have conversed some. You could look at it like this- without evil, how do we as humans know what good is? Look back to the fall from grace. Paradise incarnate. And as humans, Adam and Eve had no idea what it was that they had. Without suffering they had no idea how good not suffering was. Without evil they had no idea what good was. Not that it lends much comfort, but without evil I dont think we would realize just what good is.

The good and evil part is just mankind’s interpretation of an act. The act itself happens, witnesses then interpret the act according to their own values, making good or evil a reflection of their moral values.

Even with good we do not realize what evil is. You cannot define good as the opposite of evil and vice versa. Otherwise you have an infinite loop as your definition.

As for the meaning of evil and suffering, it has only the meaning you choose to give it.
Sure, it is painful that we should suffer without meaning, but is it really any better to believe something illogical so that your suffering is given a reason? For me it not.

How’s this:

Evil: “Caused” suffering, basically. Be it physical (pain, hunger) or mental (fear, anguish, sadness, loss). All those feelings are natural; “evil” could be seen as voluntary, thought out actions that inflict these sufferings on others.

An avalanche pinning you under a big rock might cause you pain and anguish, but wouldn’t be evil, since there is no intent or “thought” behind that phenomena.

On the other hand, if someone waits for you to pass by and causes the avalanche to bury you, his action would be considered “evil”.

Good, by opposition, would be actions that reduce suffering in self and others.

There are grey zones too. Stealing from another might be good for the thief, but “evil” from the victim’s point of view.

Stealing bread from a store to feed your kids is another example. Is it wrong? Is it less wrong that letting your kids die?

Personal values will also be considered by individuals when considering right and wrong or good and evil. So getting clear cut definitions for all cases is impossible.

Basically, “good” can be seen as causing the least suffering to the greatest amount of people. “Evil” would be causing the most harm to the greatest amount of people.

People will also value other people diffently. Generally, we value ourselves and our immediate family the most (especially offsprings); then the rest of our family, our neighbors, community, etc. Because of those relative values, people will be willing to cause harm to many “low valued” people if it means less suffering for even one of their “high valued” people; and they will consider that “good”.

[quote]Solomon Grundy wrote:
Interesting portion of a debate including different world views and religions. Listen to “Is There Meaning in Evil and Suffering?” and let me know what you think.

Me Solomon Grundy

http://resources.christianity.com/ministries/rzim/main/searchItems.jhtml[/quote]

I have heard this debate before. It is quite excellent. People who espouse a certain worldview ought to have good logical arguements to back up their beliefs. This rarely seems to be the case.

Human suffering is both necessary and beneficial as shown in Raskolnikov’s redemption.

eh? EH??

sorry.

Read “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist who survived the horrors of the Holocaust.

De ja vu? Didn’t this thread already take place? Can I copy and paste those 26 pages underneath this post?

Read origins of virtue by matt ridley…

This is not about good or evil, but why, on the whole, it helps humans to assist each other whilst not being genetically related.

Those that perform “evil” ie advantageous acts of aggression/theft or whatever tend to, in the long run, fail against groups that allow some leniency, and retaliate if that leniency is pushed agin (hawk/hawk dove)

if you have seen a beutiful mind (russ crowe etc.) this is what the Nash’s game theory essentialy stated.

The biological adavntage of assisting one and other far outweighs that than one of just being a shi2 to everyone. the term karma/what goes around etc is about recipriocal(sic) virtuosity. this is seen in trade/politics/biology

look around you.

If you say good/evil (i dont…that is some quasi religous concept in my eyes)
the good outweighs that evil. thins of the smallest acts of “virtue” (or selfishness…this can also be virtuous in the common sense) and you will have your faith restored.

Oh, and the assistance to others cannot be expalined by nepotism, as would family, where the genetic link is obviously there.

[quote]miniross wrote:
Oh, and the assistance to others cannot be expalined by nepotism, as would family, where the genetic link is obviously there.[/quote]

If forced to choose between saving a family member and a complete stranger (all else being equal); I contend that most people would save their family member. You have a genetic link with both (all the same specie); but the family member shares some of your particular genes. Stronger link. No nepotism there.

Hiring your brother-in-law for a job over more qualified applicants would be nepotism.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
De ja vu? Didn’t this thread already take place? Can I copy and paste those 26 pages underneath this post? [/quote]

It goes against almost every force of nature - but I agree with Professor X. I don’t think anything was accomplished other than a nice place for athiests to pick on the religous, and vice-versa.

Did anyone listen to the debate? I only saw one person that did. The purpose of this was to share this resource. Listening to these men debate from greatly differing perspectives was impressive. I thought that it would be appreciated by the individuals on here that love to get into deep philosophical debates. I will check back later and see how this progresses.

Me Solomon Grundy

[quote]Solomon Grundy wrote:
Did anyone listen to the debate?[/quote]

I listened to 15-20 minutes of one of the parts.

Then I fell asleep.

You Somolon Grundy.
Me Pookie.

[quote]pookie wrote:
miniross wrote:
Oh, and the assistance to others cannot be expalined by nepotism, as would family, where the genetic link is obviously there.

If forced to choose between saving a family member and a complete stranger (all else being equal); I contend that most people would save their family member. You have a genetic link with both (all the same specie); but the family member shares some of your particular genes. Stronger link. No nepotism there.

Hiring your brother-in-law for a job over more qualified applicants would be nepotism. [/quote]

Pookie

that is nepotism. favouring family members over and above others. Admitedly, that is not what the general take on nepotistic behaviour is, and is commonly understood as the last example you have given.

In a true case of nepotism it would have to be a family member.

[quote]miniross wrote:
that is nepotism. favouring family members over and above others.[/quote]

Replace family member with “best friend” in my previous post. It’s still valid.

No nepotism there.

i understand what you are saying.

“What is a good man but a bad man’s teacher?
What is a bad man but a good man’s job?”

Another way of saying the essentially the same thing most of you have said already. Without one extreme the other really can’t exist (good/evil).

I’ve yet to come up with/or heard anyone explain the true meaning of life. So to the concept a clear definition of a relatively obscure concept like “meaning of evil and suffering” wouldn’t make any sense to most people.