Sunday, January 6, 2008

Good & Evil Questions

Young homeschoolers in a study group are considering the following questions. Amazing! I think the questions are valuable enough for everyone to consider---just as all of those who have come before us had.
  1. What is good?
  2. What is evil?
  3. Do absolute good and evil exist?
  4. Are only humans evil, or is there evil in nature?
  5. How do you support your views?
  6. How do you explain the fact that bad things happen to good people?
I'll give my the questions some deeper thought and post my own answers later. In the meantime, what are your thoughts?


Ordinary Joe said...

Here are my own answers for now. Ask me again and they will likely change!

(1) Good is not becoming lost in Good & Evil.

(2) Evil is becoming lost in Good & Evil.

(3) Any thought that you can hold in your mind exists---at least for you. The beliefs to which you cling affect how you live, though, and how you live affects the entire universe, which ultimately includes me.

(4) Concepts such as Good & Evil begin when Man sees himself as something separate than Nature rather than an expression of Nature itself.

(6) All people suffer.

How do I support these views (5)?

* I had a good day. You had a bad day. Was the day good or bad?

* Is Gulliver tall or short?

* Did Hitler believe he was doing the right thing? Did the Crusaders believe they were doing God's will?

* You see me snap a rabbit's neck. Did you see me abusing an animal (evil?) or did you see me feeding my family (good?)?

* A doctor saves a child's life. The child grows up to be a serial killer. Did the doctor do good or evil?

* A doctor harbors some prejudice and so secretly murders a child under his care. That child was on a path to become a serial killer. Did the doctor do good or evil?

* A soldier shoots a man about to trigger a bomb in a crowded market. Did the soldier do good or evil? You saw the soldier shooting a civilian making no apparent threat. Did you see evil or good?

* How much Evil can inadvertently be done in pursuit of Good / in aversion to Evil? How much Good can inadvertently come from people pursuing Evil?

Things are as they are. Truth is as it is. "Good" and "Evil" are dualistic, divisive labels that we apply to what we experience, often decisively and often without full understanding of what we have experienced. Saying "this is good" or "this is evil" implicitly asserts that you have full understanding of the entire universe's workings, seeing back past the universe's beginnings and seeing forward beyond the universe's end, seeing into every being's mind. How amazing for you to have such understanding!

joshua said...

G and E only exist in the context of information. No person/thing is purely good or evil, it is always the motivations for the event. A fire is neither G or E, now when someone sets the fire to do harm to someone or something there is context to it, the fire is still not G or E but the motivations of the person has dictated what it is. If it is a ranger attempting to clear dangerous dry brush to prevent a uncontrolled forest fire but kills a hiker in the process what is it then? As long as there is no intention to harm then it is a tragedy, were the ranger a pyromaniac and the same result happened it becomes murder, or manslaughter depending on the DA. Even with that information it is still neither G or E, it is when the experience of someone becomes involved that we begin to attach a label to it based off of our own sense of right and wrong do we begin to formulate what is Good or Evil. Just some random thoughts on G and E.