The word "evil" has always carried a sort of supernatural connotation in my opinion. Before I rejected the idea of God, I would go to church on Sunday and listen to the kind, eccentric pastor give his sermon. In everything he preached there was an underlying message about the distinction between good and evil. He never spoke a hateful word about gays or nonbelievers. He always associated evil with theft or murder or cruelty or dishonesty...things that were pretty easy to condemn. Of course the people who lied and cheated and inflicted harm on other are evil, I would say to myself as a listened to the man who I had, and in many ways still have, such admiration for.
Then I threw away faith, however, and the idea of evil became more and more silly. If I was to reject the idea of divinity incarnate, wasn't it also my responsibility to reject the idea of the satanic? I think the notion of an evil force creates just as much of an "us and them" division as does the idea of a divine power picking and choosing habits and people to send a invitation to the promised land.
Of course it's predictable that humans would invent such a label. Who wants to think that Hitler has any similarity to the average, decent human being? Who wants to consider for a second that the spiteful reverend, Fred Phelps, who leads protests against the funerals of soldiers and homosexuals, actually has, in some twisted way, good intentions? Though the label should be expected, however, I don't think it should be tolerated. Instead making a futile attempt to label these people as supernaturally subhuman (and I know it's tempting) It may be more beneficial to look at the human motivations (the thirst for power, the tendency to fall into senseless, dogmatic habits) that spark such horrifying behavior.
International poker champion Liv Boeree teaches decision-making for Big Think Edge.
The way that you think about stress can actually transform the effect that it has on you – and others.
- Stress is contagious, and the higher up in an organization you are the more your stress will be noticed and felt by others.
- Kelly McGonigal teaches "Reset your mindset to reduce stress" for Big Think Edge.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Tracking project establishes northern Argentina is wintering ground of Swainson's hawks
- Watch these six dots move across the map and be moved yourself: this is a story about coming of age, discovery, hardship, death and survival.
- Each dot is a tag attached to the talon of a Swainson's Hawk. We follow them on their very first migration, from northern California all the way down to Argentina.
- After one year, only one is still alive.
These quick bursts of inspiration will brighten your day in 10 minutes or less.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.