A Discussion of EVIL

It’s been said that evil is a subjective term open to interpretation. I’ve been giving this statement some thought and decided I’d like to hear from my blog visitors on how they would “interpret” … EVIL.

I think for many a logical response would be that Evil is the absence or complete opposite of that which is ascribed as being “good” (substitute: “God”).

But that doesn’t really tell us anything.

So let’s take a closer look at (ominous music) … evil“EVIL”

Do you believe Evil is subjective — taking place within the mind and modified by individual bias;  or objective  — undistorted by emotion or personal bias, based on observable phenomena?

In your opinion, which of the following best describes Evil?

  1. Morally reprehensible, sinful, wicked
  2. That which causes harm, destruction or misfortune
  3. The quality of being morally wrong in principle or practice

Is there more than one kind of evil? The New World Encyclopedia says there are three kinds of Evil:

  • Moral – Evil that human beings volitionally and intentionally originate (i.e., cruel, vicious, and unjust thoughts and actions, such as murder, rape, abuse, terrorism, genocide)
  • Natural – Evil that occurs independently of human thoughts and actions, but which still causes pain and suffering (e.g., earthquakes, volcanos, storms, droughts, disease)
  • Metaphysical – (Too confusing to be discussed here!)

Does Evil exist as a force, power, or person, i.e., evil incarnate? (If your answer is “yes,” why do you believe this?)

Are there degrees of Evil?

Is there a relationship between Evil Action and Evil Character?

Do humans commit Evil acts voluntarily … or is it due to a neurological glitch or malformation in the wiring of the physical brain?

WHO, in the end, decides what is Evil?


NOTE: An interesting read on this topic can be found here.


12 thoughts on “A Discussion of EVIL

  1. Great post, Nan. It’s an interesting question.

    Going by the definitions you posted, I believe in the first two forms of evil, but not the third. Before anyone cries foul, I admit that “evil” is just a human construct in a way. But I don’t think that makes it any less real.

    I’m a web developer, and I can tell you there’s definitely a difference between good and bad code. The definitions are a bit subjective, and to non-programmers, they’re somewhat meaningless. But this doesn’t mean that the labels don’t have value, nor does it change the fact that good and bad code exist.

    I view evil in much the same way. There may not be a transcendent definition or standard for evil, but we don’t need it to be transcendent in order to be practical. At least, that’s how I see it…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Nan, when you wrote metaphysical evil is too confusing to be discussed here, it reminded me of a response I gave to some lecturer in campus. He had asked me a question and I told him that was beyond the scope of our level, but I digress.

    You ask very tough questions.

    In my opinion #2 describes evil best.

    I don’t think evil has an independent existence except in our minds. I think it is our way of seeing the world.

    Are there degrees of evil? I guess so

    I don’t think there is evil character. Only actions can be described as such

    I don’t think anyone commits an action believing it to be evil. I need to be convinced this is the case.

    The weaker person decides what is evil.

    Thanks for the link

    Liked by 2 people

  3. WHO, in the end, decides what is Evil?

    It’s simply a matter of aesthetics. We breathe oxygen, we enjoy it, but to cyanobacteria it would appear a filthy, grotesque, and unquestionably revolting diet. How else but with certain repulsion would one organism describe the dietary practices of another organism that consumes the first organism’s waste: its faeces?

    Liked by 1 person

    • B’wahahahahaha! No, I’m not that clever, so we can either put it down to a pleasant accident, or the Great Lord Veles (the Most Awesome God of Mischief, Magic and Musicians), briefly possessed me and forced my fingers. Personally, i’m going for Veles 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ve been thinking about this for some time now. Some how, it seems to me to be a waste of a good word to ascribe it to natural disasters. Earthquakes etc. simply are. They are no more good or evil than sunny balmy days. I think it should be saved for purposeful human acts designed to either harm others or to not care if they are put in harm’s way by an action. Also, whether or not I like the usage, it’s going to be applied to people performing actions that are proscribed by one of the gods. Just like with the Ten Commandments, some of the things on the list would definitely hurt someone else, and they are usually banned by just about everybody, not just Abrahamics. Others on the list are taken very seriously by some folks and considered a joke by others.
    So, that’s evil in a nutshell.
    Oh, and Mak? I have definitely seen people plot and carry out things that would cause harm, sometimes great harm to others knowing full well that that’s what would happen. Often with revenge as a motive.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. “I think it should be saved for purposeful human acts designed to either harm others or to not care if they are put in harm’s way by an action.”

    I tend to agree, Mariah. To be “evil,” in my book, means you just don’t care about what happens to another human being — and although Victoria (neuronotes) hasn’t commented to confirm this, I feel the brain’s wiring plays a big role. I do not think morals enters into the picture at all.

    Also, contrary to the fundagelical belief, there is no personality, spirit, entity, force, power, what-have-you that exists. Any evil that is performed is motivated/instigated by the individual human, not by any outside unseen, nasty influence.

    Thanks for stopping by and offering your take on the subject.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I guess I should modify that a bit and say “religious morals” because based on the New World Encyclopedia, the “moral” type of evil is more what I’m describing.


  7. I believe evil is a construct in our minds, so definitely subjective. The meaning is far too broad to have any precise meaning.

    Personally, I would like to say evil is “That which causes harm, destruction or misfortune”, a consequentialist view, but in practice #1 is what it’s viewed as, and #1 is #3 masquerading as #1.

    Evil is definitely not a force, power or person. It is a metaphysical abstract.

    “Are there degrees of Evil?” There are things that disturb me more than other things, but those are often defined by my level of emotional reaction, not actual harm or anything objective.

    “Is there a relationship between Evil Action and Evil Character?” It’s not always the same, but I think people are often born with a lack of compassion or conscience which makes them act in ways we couldn’t fathom.

    “Do humans commit Evil acts voluntarily … or is it due to a neurological glitch or malformation in the wiring of the physical brain?” The second, although sometimes people choose. We are all one giant glitch of evolution anyway, and our brains and environments dictate who we are so I see it all as one big accident.

    “WHO, in the end, decides what is Evil?” No one. Ethics and morality should be discussed, debated, and reasonable people decide what is right and wrong for themselves. That sounds scary, but I don’t believe calling something “evil” has any real objective meaning. Of course we can use the word to describe that which is abhorrent to us, but if we think evil exists outside of human philosophy we are wrong I believe. I think mentally healthy people in healthy environments generally are moral, and have a sense of what morality is, even if we differ on the specifics. Creating a culture that values morality is very important though, as we should try to encourage it.

    Just my thoughts. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you, TA, for a VERY comprehensive response! This is what I was hoping for when I wrote the post.

    The word evil is thrown around a lot on blogs … generally as the opposite of good/”God” so I was curious to see what people had to say about the word as a standalone.

    Liked by 1 person

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