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Had an odd religious debate with a coworker. Where does Good and Evil come from? I'll be honest I find that to be too black an white; I mean people from the Abrahamic religions teach that butt fucking your chap and tornado twirling your girl friends is evil and an abomination. I spoke, tongue tied because I was slightly taken back by that question, that it can be subjective in some cultures except for like murder or stealing (though I'm sure you guys could think of reason that murder and or stealing could be seen as doing good). And we get good and bad things from ourselves, we are the creation and what classifies it. How? By what we want done to us and what we DONT want done to us. I'm quite sure no one WANTS to be murdered, so why on earth would you want to murder someone else? You know it's wrong because you don't want it happening to you. ( probably a poor explanation but I'm not the most eloquent in speech or learned at this subject). Also, why don't you tell me where we get Good and Bad from?

I just thought his arguments here didn't have much substance to prove a point.
(forgive me of potato grammar)

CrystalKing333 5 Feb 19

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Good are those things that do no harm to you or to others if you or others do them. Bad are those things that are harmful to you or others if you or others do them. Sometimes laws make the distinction and obeying the law is for the most part good. When it is a bad law and causes harm as noted above, disobeying can be a good thing. Religion usually includes a canon of laws to be obeyed and acts that may be considered bad in the context of the religious belief.


It's all about perspective


My definition of evil. Evil is the deliberate harm done by a human to another human or life form. It is premeditated, with malice of forethought. Nothing in nature is evil (earthquakes, tornadoes, a rock falling on you, auto accident, etc). Only humans can be evil. IMHO


Morality is mostly subjective. Objective morality would be a stance that is backed ny science. For example murder is wrong because it harms people and society. Same with theft. Those are objectively bad things. If it's not objectively bad, it's up to the individual to decide what they consider to be moral behavior.


My father thinks I'm nuts because I told him 'sin' does not exist outside of religion and that right and wrong are based on societal norms that change all the time.


I think the question "where does good and evil come from" is entirely the wrong question.

First, it treats good and evil, which are theological concepts, as if they are assumed to be accurate representations of reality. Secondly, it assumes they are things-in-themselves rather than emergent properties of interactions.

Good and evil are treated in scripture partly as adjectives and partly as nouns. There is a totemic fear of them as nouns.

The better question is what is morality and what does it arise from? How do we use it to determine how to behave and how to reward or punish certain behaviors?

My answer to that is, morality is an emergent property of societal interactions. The first time there were two people who had to coexist or cooperate in some way, morality came into being. It is explicit and implicit negotiations about how we should expect people to treat each other. And it is based on the sustained benefits and harms to the sort of civil society most of us prefer to live in -- where we are safe, stable, respected and protected by our fellow man.

That which is moral, then (not "good" or "righteous" ) is that which tends to produce a stable, civil society. That which is immoral (not "evil" or "unrighteous" ) is that which tends to produce an unstable, uncivil society.

"Good" and "evil" require "sin", another religious concept, to define themselves, and "sin" is not based entirely in reality -- in fact it's only based incidentally in reality. It was (or is, depending on your theology) a "sin" to wear clothing made of mixed fabrics, to eat shellfish, or to beat your slave in a way that results in their death within a certain tie limit (but not a sin to beat them with other outcomes). This is clearly not a way to determine what produces a civil society.

Morality is mutable, evolving, imperfect but still plenty up to the task of guiding us in how to coexist and cooperate effectively.

Morality is NOT a product of religion. Religious concepts of morality often claim to be the originators and protectors of ACTUAL morality, but they are not. Religious morality, inherently, can't be very different from societal morality, or society would deem the religion immoral and sanction it accordingly. So the so-called "Christian morality" is just societal morality with a few additional decorations, and it evolves, a generation or two behind the times, to stay in vague synchronization with societal morality.

Christian fundamentalists for example used to say it was "evil" to wear skirts less than ankle length, to engage in unchaperoned dating, to listen to the radio or go to movies. All things that fundamentalists now do without giving it a second thought.

Christian fundamentalists used to say that politics were beneath their lofty concerns and a snare of the devil. Now they have an unholy alliance with extreme right-wing politics and have corrupted themselves to the extent that they are now immoral even by society's standards -- look at how Alabama Baptists gave support, comfort and a platform to a credibly accused child molester running for their Senate seat.

So much for objective, superior morality. So much for good and evil.


It would depend on what your perception is. The most common idea, I think... could be wrong... is that good has to do with whatever the church decides benefits the congregation and the god they serve/worship, and evil is anything that would pull it apart of take members away from the congregation and the god they serve/worship. Different religions have different ideas on what each is or have ideas of what level of bad qualifies as evil... and a few do not have a concept of evil at all. It would take sitting down and tracing back to when the terms were most commonly used first and what religion was strongest at that time. It seems I read something on it as a kid but it didn't stick for some reason... possibly because I still have a hard time accepting the word evil? I do have a fairly clear idea of right from wrong and good from bad, but labeling something evil because I deem something bad seems... off, wrong, not for me to decide perhaps?

AmyLF Level 7 Feb 20, 2018

Yin and yang. I don't believe in evil, as I think it's synonymous with "sin". I think there's love, and an absence of love. Or in other words, everything originates from one of two core emotions, love or fear.


I liked how Nietzsche expressed it in "Beyond Good and Evil". Ayn Rand had a good follow-up. Me? "Do no harm". I had to break that philosophy a few times.


I flatly told him that any religion that shows Murder and homosexuality in the same regard is not a teaching I want to respect or follow. And I asked him, do you find homosexuality Harmful? And he said yes. I said I find religion harmful.


Wait wait hold up just a second. Everybody just blew right past it but what the hell is tornado twirling?

He definition is on "urban dictionary". Heh. I had to look it up myself.


Leaving aside the questionable assumptions the question is framed in I would have answered with further questions of my own. The obvious first is "if all came from God then clearly God created evil, right?"

Then is the basic issue of if God is good as believers insist. Given the deeds attributed to God (I am assuming this is someone who ascribes to the Bible or the Koran) then we have a choice: a) God is clearly not good, as its deeds are clearly not good, b) we simply cannot judge good or evil as we are not God so such questions are meaningless for non-gods, or c) we can judge good or evil but must define good as whatever God does to allow "God is good".

That last means that murder is ok folks, but as God seems mute on ripping off pillow tags best not to do that just in case.

(I do love watching fundies squirm. Why do you ask?)


I hope your argument with the coworker is off work.

No, but he brought it up, I has witnesses XD

@CrystalKing333 You can't take the bait bro.


If morality wasn't subjective, why are there so many religions that contradict one another's morality??


I am sure I could murder for the right motive, like if someone raped my children. I don't think that would make me evil.

A reason why I see good and bad slightly subjective.


There's more and more evidence that things like morality aren't contained to humans or even to mammals.

As for "where does good and evil come from" - it can be looked at two different ways

  1. where does the feeling of empathy come from- that loss you cause by, say, hurting someone else's mom can give you the feeling when you look at the child of the woman you hurt you feel the empathy and can understand that you wouldn't want your mom (or yourself) hurt

If humans can do anything well, it's learning by observation. So we see that if we hurt someone or even their possessions can cause a person harm or hurt their feelings- this is innate in our minds and different parts of the brain inhibit or promote actions and feelings, such as the prevention of acting out in rage is run primarily by the prefrontal cortex and innately understanding that someone else is sad and why (if you saw that cause) is run largley in the Temporal/Parieatal junction on the side of the brain. They have managed to map these out fairly accurately with fMRI studies and have found out even many of these apply to animals, even predatory animals.

  1. Where does the subjective reality that you are causing another harm; where does law or the concept of sin originate
  • This is less known because most of history has been modified or erased or altered over the years for political agenda so it's really "best guess with what we have". take for example your Christian friend should know that the King James Bible is not all of the bible, it's rewritten and cherry picked chapters of bronze age writing that was compiled in the 1600's- but if you can imagine over 1000 years of writing and rewriting, reinterpreting, recopying any scrolls for generations won't be that accurate. The KJV Bible is said to be the earliest "true" compilation of scrolls and Pentocostal logic says the most accurate, but old scrolls have been found with more Bible verses that say other things about some of the New Testament people and more accurate translateions have come by after (which is why there are many versions of the Bible). It's hard to know what the official origins of laws or sin or abomination is and of course it also depends on your faith- a popular example is what animals can you eat or not eat. Hindus don't eat beef and Christian are the only Abrahamic religion that will eat pork, and it doens't ven have to be a religion thing, in the West we don't eat animals that are pets (although there is some overlap with some animals like rabbit and horses, you won't find many Western people who have tried cat or dog).

It's interesting though when you get to certain sects within a religion they are almost expected to go against their own Biblical law- Baptists are famous for calling their congregation sinners and accepting that they are (Sin being those who violate any of the 10 commandments) and they are relatively forgiving of sin as Jesus (according to the Bible) instructed. So that is why you have so many Christians who shoplift, for example, even though it is a clear violation of one of the 10 commandments. Then they cherry pick which Abominations can be violated, such as mixed fabrics and eating shellfish are fine but being gay is unacceptable. It doesn't make sense and I can't tell you why one is ok and not the other

Anyhoo, this post is the longest way of saying "nobody knows" but we're learning 😀


Well, morals are not derived from religion per se but, more often than not they try to present ownership of morals. The fact is that morals were around long before monotheistic religions. The actions of doing harm would invoke harm upon you while doing good would likely invite good thing your way is a very pagan concept. However, as a significantly developed species we face more complex social situations. We rationalize behaviors that we deem "good" or fair because the outcome is favorable to us. We therefore deem unfavorable outcomes as bad. The term evil is implied as a willful intent to do bad things. In example, to plant and nurture crops was considered good to early humans, and if someone who came along and burned or destroyed those crops would be labled evil because they destroyed the crops which meant less food for people. Self preservation derives the value of life. If a person will plant crops so they can feed themselves and possibly others as so to survive then they value life and thus would likely preserve it. A person needs no religious knowlege to do this. It is instinctive for a living being to eat, drink, seek shelter, and sleep. Also in most cases seek companionship and or a mate. So our most basic functions are really the base of what creates our moral structures. The persuit of happiness is where things get a bit more complicated as there are too many variations to mention here, but suffice it to say what makes one person happy may be violent and destructive to others or the community so we have a moral code that if it does not harm anyone else then do what ya want. However the bible and other religious doctrines frown upon that because they need the control mechanism to keep people obedient. That also implies that there are auterior motives at play as so with respect to religion. They pick and choose carefully their moral codes and standards to coral people into thinking and behaving in a certain manner. They use fear to enforce it. The greed and the desire for power over other people drives a evermore vicious circle of moral stipulations mandated by those im charge. To violate these psuedo morals is to be evil or blasphemous. Just my 2 cents.


Good and evil are social constructs that allow us humans to socialize without killing each other. for example, killing your neighbor, for his crops, is considered evil because not only have you left his family in dire straits, but now the community must find someone else to raise his kids and next years crops. If, however, you kill him because he was leaving his crops to die in the field to attract pests, and he was beating his family and you feared for their lives, it may be considered good. Stealing is considered evil because if he steals from that guy, he might steal from me...Then again, Robin Hood might have a different opinion about that. Polygamy could be evil because it shrinks the gene pool. Then again, if you just lost 3/4 of your male population, it could be good because you need to repopulate. Good and evil are determined by circumstances. Sometimes someone must be fed to the wolves. I'm just glad I don't have to decide who.


In the context of the universe, good and evil do not exist. They are man made concepts and really depend on your point of view. Atheists are evil according to many, hundreds of years ago I would have been burned at the stake. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake with the approval of the Catholic church who later canonized her, she is now Saint Joan. Galileo Galilei claimed the earth revolved around the sun and was facing the bbq and he recanted, but remained under house arrest for the rest of his life. OK, he was right, but obviously evil. Hope you can see where I am heading. We can consider events good and bad, rain that ends a drought, or a devastating flood. But we do not consider them evil. We reserve that adjective pretty much for people, oh and made up things like devils and demons.


I used to think there was no bad pizza...then someone talked me into trying that pineapple and ham travesty.

It's all in the eye of the beholder. Here in the land of humanists we tend to be more altruistic but, even so, by our own definitions.

Everyday ethics are easy but I do struggle with the debatables such as the death penalty. I don't at all with climate deniers and holy warriors...but instead of "evil" I tend to see them as destructive and dangerous to the future of humanity.

Which brings me back to the death penalty...I just don't see the establishment of theist concentration camps ever catching on.

What are you talking about? Pineapple and ham are awesome together. Well, except on pizza. That shit should be illegal.

@Taijiguy I thought that might get a response, not necessarily so civil.

The disappointment on the girl's face who talked me into trying it at the faces I made at the first bite will haunt me forever. She looked at me like I'd just drop kicked her puppy. Our relationship after was never the same.

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