Many attempts to define evil are hypocritical and stupid never mind wrong. They are refuted by everyone’s life experience.

People have a motive for pretending to think things are evil. It means they are distinguishing themselves from others who are supposedly bad. They are good and know what good is while the others are to be avoided. Also, they will be bullied to pretend. You cannot fully trust people who talk to you about evil for you don't know what pressures they are under to do so.

If you are not certain in yourself about what boundary must never be crossed you will project that to others especially those of a different faith or group or political party. Tensions arise. Wars happen.

That is the psychology but they also keep conflicting with themselves over what is evil and even about what evil itself means.

Some say that all evil is wrongdoing but not all wrongdoing is evil. This is based on the strange assumption that doing wrong may not do great harm so if when it does, then it is evil. Now people with okay or good intentions can do worse harm than one with evil intentions. It is not fair to say that somebody intentionally doing evil is evil just because of the horrible results. That is looking at the aftermath and working backwards. Surely the problem is the intention in the first place? If it is then it does not matter if the evil backfires and turns to good. You are evil and doing evil.

If evil actions wreak more damage and hate than just plain ordinary bad ones then you are basically saying that if one intends evil more harm will happen. This is magic. This is not philosophy.  How can you say that an evil motive is only evil if bad things happen after it is acted on?

The word evil is often misused. If you have to do one of two things and both of them will do harm, you may talk about the lesser of two evils. You don’t mean they are necessarily horrific or extremely harmful. You will even regard your choice as good under the circumstances. This calls the situation bad. And you call yourself the brave victim who has had to choose carefully.

You will do this if you have to pull a switch to torture billions to death on Planet Zod or Planet Zid. You might choose to spare the Planet that you think there are more babies on. The person who makes such as choice should suffer terribly simply at the ramifications of their choice. What happens is they seek the reward of feeling they did what they had to do and that they are good. Others pat their backs. And what about God if he set up the situation? You should lend no worship to a being that forces you to choose. God cannot blame harm on human free will and avoid responsibility for putting you in a catch 22 situation. He is killing the people on the chosen planet through you. He is the murderer even if you are not for you are forced.

The view that evil is something horrific, attacks those who feel that it is evil for their partner to cheat on them. Most of us would not consider adultery to be evil but just harmful and stupid.

To define evil as something that is extremely wrong does not fit how a relatively tame wrong can escalate and show itself to be a Pandora’s Box. Also it denies that the problem is what the action is. Instead of that it concentrates on how much harm it does. And what about the harm it threatens? Much of that harm will not happen and you will never know if this would be greater than anything that has already happened.

Religion seems to think that the volume of evil in the universe is irrelevant to the goodness of God. So God can be good even if the universe is a torture chamber for all. This arises from its view that the amount of evils does not matter for God is infinitely good and no evil however big even registers in comparison. Evil is just evil. So God can allow some evil or virtually complete evil. There is no room to argue that excessive and useless suffering exists and that if it did it would refute God. Most of us would consider that too contrarian and too extreme. It does not fit what many of us think we need to believe. If you need to believe in evil to drive you to battle, it this takes away your engine's steam.

It makes no sense to call something evil because the harm it does passes a certain border. That is like saying murder is not murder when you kill one person but it is if you kill two.

Some say that evil versus good teaches there is a cosmic battle between two kind of forces, perhaps supernatural ones or ones that are like the supernatural.  They reject that as too easy and too uncomplicated and as simply untrue.  One problem is how no two people agree on where the supposed good is and the supposed evil is or what they are.  People can do great harm even as they mean well.  So evil and good and have no real explanatory power.  Yet the people saying all that in fact are no better than those who frame the conversation along the lines of a cosmic war.  The war in us against that which we hate and that which we love is war that counts to us and to them.  You can hate something with the same force whether or not you believe in a universal war of God v Satan and Just v Injustice.

Many say that evil is anything that makes or should make those who are aware of it experience great horror. They feel a moral revulsion. This is too subjective for if you are depressed the thought of living another day seems unjust and evil.

Their view is often associated with actions that show a level of malice. You want someone hurt just because they can be hurt. But that would mean that shooting people when the plague is coming to spare them suffering is not evil but misguided. There would be no malice there. What you see from this is that talk of battling evil is just talk. It does not really help that much in the real world for most of us do harm for a perceived greater benefit. Even if a person has malice that does not mean they are harming you over it.

Many say that evil is something that is morally wrong and you can detect it when you ask yourself, “Can I ever see myself doing that?” and get a no. Again that is too subjective and too smug.

Many gravitate toward the idea that an evil deed is one that is unfathomable. You cannot find the motive and you would not understand even if you could. This is nonsense for you are never going to know the culprit as well as the culprit knows themselves. There a difference between something unfathomable and something that cannot be communicated well. If the therapists are told the reasons they will not share them. Plus the person is unreliable so is it true? Will some withhold their reasons simply because they want others to keep guessing? Will some invent reasons so that they have a chance of being seen as stupid and crazy rather than evil as in unfathomable?

The "unfathomable" approach actually writes the person off by saying therapy and reformation are a waste of time. It is evil itself if anything is.

To argue as some do that evil is normal and normal persons can do it, “the banality of evil”, and that they do it for they are just following orders without thinking or some other insipid reason minimises the importance of evil. It makes evil boring and thoughtless and denies that the victims really matter that much. It is just something you have to expect to happen just like you expect the fridge to break down.

Hanna Arendt with regard to the monster Eichmann said he was not an inhuman villain but just an ordinary man like anybody else. She ignored how he wrote in 1945 that he would be happy to face his deathbed knowing that he helped destroy millions of Jews in Nazi Germany. He went as far as to say that he would take happiness in having destroyed the 13 million of them in the country.

Many defend her by saying she was not claiming that sadistic and malevolent evil is a fiction. They say her view was that such evil does exist simply because unremarkable and normal people do terrible things out of ordinary reasons and do not grasp how much injury they bring to others. Or themselves either if you believe the evil person damages herself or himself and thus becomes sort of a slave to evil. So the conversation then is not about the damage but about the ordinary mundane motives. The harm is not banal but the reasons for dealing it out is. Some against this say that evil is about the severe injury rather than the motives of the person inflicting it.

This is incoherent for it tries to redefine evil malice as the bad aftermath of an action. It would suggest you can act from a malevolent motive and it is still only evil when the results are looked at.   To argue or hint that Nazi evil was lazy and was just "following orders" is very foggy.  That is not how we tend to see evil.  It over-simplifies.  And every order needs interpretation by the person who receives it.  They have to apply it to the day to day business.  They have to show initiative.  They have to interpret and nobody else not even the commander can do that for them.  They were not obeying the Nazi ideology so much as making it their own.  They moved towards it and internalised it.

What happens if you say that evil is a form of normality?  To maintain that you would need to argue that behind this guise, this face, it is indeed like some magical monstrous Leviathian.  You are accusing the ordinary people of masking a great supernatural malice.  If you are serious about that then there is no reason why you cannot blow up a village that knowingly protects a murderer.  The killers friends are worse than he is for their make their evil lurk.  At least you see his.

Imagine in a dystopian world where a mother had to kidnap other people’s babies to cook them to feed her own children. Would you consider this an unmitigated evil or would you say though she should do no such thing her desperation is a mitigating circumstance? Does it make what she did more understandable and lift some of the blame from her though moral condemnation remains due to her? How can she be evil? Everybody says she would be if she did it for no real reason but she has diminished responsibility so she is bad and culpable yes but not evil. We talk as if fighting evil helps. We know fine well it is about judgement and not about the realities of life. Most evil is not evil.

Imagine Jesus is here. He tortures a person for a few minutes and that person is psychologically wrecked for life. And he takes another person who has a momentary agony every 100 years for all eternity. Notice how the real objection is to how the damage and harm is done not the damage and harm. We know we can take a few seconds of indescribable pain and abuse our issue is that it might last too long. Jesus like everybody else is no real authority on what evil is and how to fix it.

Some say we are all born evil. Others say that some of us are. It is easy to move from, “Joseph is evil” to “Joseph is innately evil. He will never be anything else.” This risks writing him off as a lost cause. In fact attempting to show him why he should reform and giving him exercises that may help him is only making it worse. So there is no point and you could do better with your time. And if you are evil in some kind of fatalistic unchangeable way you will use this help to harden yourself in evil so it is not really help. Being fixed in evil does not mean you cannot use things to maintain your bad self. If you are set to be evil then whatever happens to you will be used to keep you that way. You are innately going to use what you can to stay bad. And those who help despite seeing how he is responding are just hypocrites. Praying alone can do this.

There is innate and as good as innate. If I do evil now, I cannot change that any more but can only change in the future. All I all have is the present moment. In a sense I am fixed in evil NOW. I fixed my past in evil perhaps too. I cannot go back and alter that at all. I am written off NOW.   Whatever about the future, if writing me off is demeaning and cruel and smug that is being done to me even if you think I have changed since I did the evil thing.  The fact remains that if you could try to go back in time to fix me you would not bother.

The notion that you can do evil and not be an evil person is rather unclear. What do people mean by it?  They want to avoid people being attacked.  If evil needs eradication then if a person can fuse with it and become it that person needs eradication.  The fact remains that if you act from a bad motive you are a malicious person.  The malice is not some force that is stuck to you like a plaster cast.  People want to call evil evil but don't want the consequences of being accused of incitement to hatred.  So they lie.

All agree that a kind of person does an evil. If you murder somebody once and never do it again, you are the kind of person who kills once. The separation of evil from evil person does not work.  The person who needs a gangrenous toe removed cannot be told, "We are not cutting your body but just cutting the gangrene away."  We are told by Jesus that evildoers hate the light for the light tells them how horrible they are. To separate the sin from the sinner is telling them the light shines on the person who shines back but not the sin so is the complete opposite of what Jesus is saying.

How does God relate to our examination of evil? We will be warned that if we say, “Evil exists. Or needless evil exists. Therefore there is no God” that we mean, “I would not morally tolerate the evil and suffering I see therefore God cannot exist for he is not moral like me.” Against that we are told that God knows better than us and knows morality better than we do.  Both of these risk us believing we have special information from God which means that say attacking another nation is just in some big complex plan that God only knows.  They make us distrust ourselves.  Is the help I give Joan really help?

We hear of the sensible knave, the hypothetical nice person who does bad things and who is never caught and never will be. Religion says God is good. But could God be a sensible knave? In fact they cannot tell us why we should think God is good. And the fact remains that the vast majority of religious opinion, even among those educated ones whose view carries weight, does treat the divine as having a naughty underhand side. Part of that is refusing to admit that their God is like that. They don't want you to think they are conspiring with God to get the upper hand.

The book Evil a very short introduction by Luke Russell from Oxford University Press decides that evil should mean. “An action is evil if and only if it is a wrong that is extremely harmful for at least one individual victim, where the wrongdoer is fully culpable for that harm in its extremity, or it is an action that is appropriately connected to an actual or possible extreme harm of this kind, and the agent is fully culpable for that action”. We have refuted this definition. It does not work.  And is it fair to say there is a creator or something when it might be culpable too?  Why put the blame all on the agent?  You cannot prove the creator is innocent.

We are not against evil. We are only against it when we fear it might spiral out of control completely. We don’t see most evil as capable of going too far. We are only against evil that can touch us or affect us. Otherwise we want others to be evil for us. Or to do the evil we would to do instead of us. So we are only against evil when we don’t like it and when it does not suit us. We want it to be contained in some way. This is not about the principle or morality but what we prefer.

If evil exists then the Christian faith rightly says we are all carrying it. We are attached to it. We do it.

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