T Nation

Why Does Evil Exist?


Pat gets credit for this thread, but I would like to hear everyone's thoughts on why evil exists.

Note, the thread isn't about "Why bad things happen to good people", but is about evil itself.

What is evil?

What is the purpose of evil?

If there is a god, why would he create evil? Or has evil always existed, without being created by god?

If there isn't a god, why would people do evil things?

Does evil even exist, beyond someone's personal belief that it exists? Is one man's evil another man's good?

As an agnostic, I don't believe in a supernatural devil, or in a metaphysical construct called "evil" that exists beyond human perception. I think evil is defined by men, and the definition can vary from one man to the next.

For me, evil is doing harm to others and is the opposite of love. I think evil hurts our survival as a species, and that we have genetically evolved the capacity to choose altruistic rather than self-serving behaviors, when doing so is in the best interest of our race.

But if that is true, does it mean evil men are simply less evolved?

Will we ever reach a point in our evolution where evil is eradicated?

I doubt it, but it's a nice thought.


Evil isn't a thing. It isn't the opposite of good. Evil is the perversion of good. Good exists on it's own, evil does not.

It's kind of like light and dark. People think of them as opposites, but in truth, there is only light. Darkness isn?t a thing, it's the lack of a thing.

God didn't create evil, because evil isn?t a thing. He created good only, we perverted his good.


Like Ovid said : "video meliora proboque, sed deteriora sequor"
I see the best way and approve it, but I follow the worse one.

That's evil.


Is evil really just the absence of good? By that definition, a dead body would be evil because it isn't good. Wouldn't evil have to be more like actively fighting against the good?

Maybe less like light and darkness, and more like matter and anti-matter?


If you truly see and approve it as the best way, why wouldn't you follow it? Maybe you only approve it as the best way for society, but not as the best way for yourself?


No, I was claiming evil is the perversion of good. The light thing was a metaphor. Showing that they werenâ??t opposites. And that only one exists.


maybe i approve it as the best way for myself, but :
-i'm too envious, too aroused, too angry, too arrogant, too afraid, too confused to follow it correctly.

There could be many things that make us less and worst than we should be.
Religious and philosophical traditions have tried to list them.
See the deadly sins of Christianity, the five poisons of Buddhism, the five passions of Buddhism, Spinoza's "sad passions". etc


So you see evil as the perversion of good rather than the absence of good?

How then do you define good?


So we know what is best for us, but lack the willpower to act on it? Perhaps we value a smaller reward at the moment, at the expense of the greater reward in the long run.

I can see that. I can also see people believing that what they're doing is in their best overall long term interest, but just not caring how it affects the interest of others.


Did you not pretty much define good as living in accordance to nature and helping out in society to help advance and maintain a good quality of life?

My question to you is why do you state that people who do "Evil" are less evolved?

What constitutes good actions and bad actions? What must you consider in this, yourself, or the greater good of your race? Who is most important to you?


I defined good for myself earlier, but was interested in DD's take.

I was suggesting that the species would be most likely to survive when people evolve traits that contribute to the best interest of the species, even at personal cost to themselves. There's a new study by Samuel Bowles finding support for the "Survival of the nicest" model, where altruism in Australian aboriginals, African tribes, and Inuits was shown to improve the overall fitness of the group.

Altruism makes sense, from an evolutionary perspective. What I find especially interesting are cross-species altruistic behaviors, like when dolphins support sick animals by swimming under them and pushing them to the surface so they can breathe, or when dogs adopt ducks, squirrels, or even cats to help raise them.


If we are talking about good and evil it is necessary to understand that people are neither good nor evil; rather it is the actions people take that are good or evil.


What is it about their actions that makes the actions good or evil?


No ground-breaking news that acting as a team is better than acting in self interest, however I do plan to read that - thanks for the information.[I currently have a discussion going with my housemate about evolution and "traits". . . it's a never-ending topic, that one!]


Good is self evident. It's part of the universe, like gravity or matter.


In answer to the OP:

I do not believe evil exists. I believe the outcomes of actions are either favourable or not. The trick is to deal with all unfavourable situations with a stoic mind, for the more you concentrate on the negative, the more negative the situation is made.

In rejecting the possibility there is good or evil, the less stress you bring on yourself to make a choice, therefore the better choice you can make.


How do you define favorable and unfavorable?

Sounds like you are playing semantics with yourself.


If that were the case, why would people disagree on what is good, even among different religions?


Well I tried to create a new 'Why did God create satan" thread but it just won't show up...I am going to wait a while to see if they do, I don't want to make 6 of them. I have all ready tried 3.

I will begin my retort, by saying that it's easy to say anything is possible, it's a whole other to prove that something that isn't possible is....


If evil doesn't exist, what are your thoughts on laws and law enforcement?