The Existence of Evil (On Facebook, Anyway)

I have a discussion going on my Facebook page.  What started as an innocent post about my difficulties as a parent explaining the celebratory attitude about the death of Bin Laden became a debate about the existence of Evil.

I had one comment that struck me, but I completely ignored it on my page. 

“I find this interesting because I have found that most atheists believe in Good and Evil because of overwhelming proof that it exists. Because those that believe that this life is all that they have, it’s the only measure that they have. What is done in this life.  My father, as an Atheist, only believed in Good and Evil.”

I didn’t address it, but I think it is a misconception of atheism.  At least, of my atheism.  The person who posted this seems to be forcing atheists to accept a cosmic force, but not to call it god.  Capitalizing the words good and evil, and then saying he knows someone who believes like this, who he claims is an atheist, looks like a trap.  Good and evil actions exist.  We have proof of those.  How do you prove Good as a concept and Evil as a concept?  I imagine this is a debate for philosophers, not for Facebook.

I tried to keep the “Does Evil exist” thread alive without it resulting in a discussion about religion. 

…Because I am going to freak out when someone says Fundamentalist Islam is Evil.

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About Brick Window

A mother and an atheist--Just trying to do the best I can in a suburb full of believers.
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5 Responses to The Existence of Evil (On Facebook, Anyway)

  1. prosey says:

    Grrrr. Evidence of good and evil? I would want that person to show me evidence outside of homo sapiens. Human beings are seemingly the only creatures in the animal kingdom with this brand of sheer idiocy. What is good for *one* will be evil for the *other*…and vice versa. Good and evil are not stand-alone “things”…they are decisions turned action…

    …to try to claim them as entities is to immediately NOT be an atheist, but some weird brand of agnostic spiritualist. And it really has nothing to do with the killing of OBL. I had some interesting discussions on my FB Wall yesterday…but none that delved into this particular type of discourse. Meh.

  2. Jay Walker says:

    I’ve never heard an argument like that before. Even if true, just because this person’s father believed only in good and evil (yeah, what’s with the caps?), doesn’t mean that all atheists do. Believing in only good and evil? What does that even mean? That’s like saying you believe only in day and night. It has no meaning. Overwhelming proof that good and evil exist? That’s like saying there is overwhelming proof that the sky exists.

    Because we believe this life is the only one we have makes good and evil the only measure we have? That is nonsensical. I can see the idea that because we believe that this life is the only life we have that we are more concerned with the idea of good and evil, and more willing to fight the evil and promote the good, but I don’t think that’s what the commenter had in mind.

    The person who wrote that comment obviously is unable to think critically and rationally, or even to really think clearly. I was listening to a podcast yesterday that said that thinking is a skill, just like playing the piano, or golfing; you have to practice it constantly to be good at it. I don’t think that this person has had much practice thinking.

  3. fribnit says:

    I agree, good and evil (as defined in this discussion) are actions not entities. One can perform good acts, neutral acts, evil acts. As forces they only exist in Superman comics. Good or evil are relative to the beholder. To us, bin Laden was evil incarnate. To some he was a hero, doing good.

    There is much that is evil in this world, all of it, in my mind any way, acts of humans.

    I think what the religious fail to realize is that they are trying to convince themselves that the big guy in the sky exists, much more than they are trying to convince the atheist.

    The religious do not think and hence they can not have practice doing it. The religious follow.

    Oh and Jay, I personally dispute that the sky exists 😉

  4. Brick Window says:

    I come over here to the blog and you all talk to me so sanely. It’s comforting that we can all see this the same way, and so …..easily we see it. Actions, but entity. So simple. I can even add “motivation” in, and evil still is not a force. Sheesh.

    I am still stunned the way I can talk and talk on FB and people slip right past what I say without addressing what I just said. And I don’t know why I even care, honestly. The man who posted this quote is intelligent, and pretty thoughtful, it seems. But he’s stuck. Stuck on this external, supernatural, invisible power that he has deduced partically nothing anyway.

  5. Jay Walker says:

    I’ve had more crazy, rude, and cruel comments on my FB page than I ever have on my blog. The thing about blogs is that they tend to attract people who have similar interests and outlooks. It isn’t until your blog gets really popular (like Pharyngula) that the crazies start to come out.

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