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Wertbag

Duality of good and evil

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I've heard it said that you can't have good without evil, the very binary thought that is often said is required for comparison (light/dark, good/evil, truth/lie).  Some Christians will use this as an explanation of why evil exists (for a good god to exist there must be evil to compare against) but that just leaves me thinking what about heaven?  If you are going to claim you can't have good without evil, and then in the next breath say heaven is perfectly good, then there is an obvious contradiction. 

 

It also shows our natural inclination to use binary thinking for all situations.  It used to be fight or flight, now it has changed to fight, flight or freeze when it became obvious the binary option didn't fit many situations.  I think this is a major gap that we fall into, the lack of understanding of either a third state or even a range of possibilities.  Even good and evil, when looked at from a high level, should have a third neutral state.  Imagine I'm sitting on a chair, its peaceful and quiet but nothing is happening.  In this state I'm neither good nor evil.  Then my wife walks in and gives me a hug.  With no knowledge of evil I can see say that action was good, in that it has a positive effect on my life and my happiness.  Likewise if she walked in and slapped me, I can say that hurt, made me sad/angry, and was a negative event.  I don't need to comprehend the other extreme in order for a single event to not be obviously positive or negative.

 

Of course you can take that a step further in saying what are the degrees of good and evil?  Murder is evil, so multiple murder is really evil?  Genocide is massively evil?  You have to expand the very terms used because they are so limited in their own meaning that it becomes unclear.  The binary terms are used to cover such a huge range of events that they become meaningless.  God is all-good, and yet he is willing to kill and commit genocide, so does that mean the action is now good because He did it?  Our justice system is built around the variety of crimes and making the punishment fit the crime.  We understand that crimes come in a vast array of evil, from littering to mass murder, so understand it is morally right to have a equally wide range of punishments.  In opposition to this God has a single punishment, hell, which is used for all crimes.  A purely binary answer to the variety of crimes, all evil in hell and all pure good in heaven, the very idea of which is horrific, impossible and immoral.

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That undifferentiated center is the Tao, Nirvana, the neoplatonists’ One.  Heraclitus used the analogy of a bow and bowstring to illustrate it; you have to pull both ways (one interpretation).

 

Not to say that everything has to be both good and bad.  Of human behavior, I think it is more like, the capacity for good implies the capacity for evil.  If we were robots mindlessly carrying out preprogrammed instructions, there would be neither good nor evil.  Our capacity to think, “I am going to choose this action because it is for the common good, even though I personally could do better,” it implies that we could have thought, “I am going to get mine even if it means ruining everybody else.”

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Any discussion of reality, The Way Things Are, is muddied with the introduction of religious and god concepts.

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15 hours ago, Wertbag said:

God is all-good, and yet he is willing to kill and commit genocide, so does that mean the action is now good because He did it?

 

Ooooooooooops!

 

Watch the fundies squirm when you pose THAT argument! :close:

 

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