Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Moral Evil...Does it Really Exist?

Yesterday I made a rough transition from natural to moral evil. Today I'd like to continue that thought with a question on whether moral evil really exists.

This seems an odd question. Most of us use the term evil at various times, and at least nominally accept the existence of moral evil. It seems that the existence of moral evil isn't disputed; what's in dispute is how to define moral evil. However, there is a large portion of the population who hold to a moral philosophy called relativism. Adherents of this philosophy cannot, logically, believe in objective evil since that is in direct opposition to relativism. Right and wrong, morally speaking, are matters of preference which cannot be judged. Since "evil" is a morally judgmental term, it doesn't fit the relativistic paradigm.

Likewise, there is a set of people who preach tolerance and non-judgmentalism. This crowd, for example, chided (at best) President Bush for his axis of evil speech of a few years back. "We can't call people evil" they say, for no reason other than to pay homage to tolerance. This, too, an offshoot of relativism cannot logically agree that objective evil exists.

These people, quite frankly, are in denial. Evil does exist, and is very, very real. Scripture makes this clear. In the story of the fall of man, God points out that man knows good and evil. We couldn't know what doesn't exist. From the very beginning of creation, evil has existed.

But we know this too because we live in the real world. If we don't believe scripture, we should very well believe reality. Hitler is the prime example, but hardly the only one, that proves moral evil is commonplace. The Salem Witch trials and the Inquisition are incidences related to Christians. The killing fields of Cambodia and much of Soviet Union history are atheistic examples. 9/11 and Al Qaeda do acts of evil in the name of another religion. Evil is all around us and comes from any movement or human-created belief system. Yet these are large, systematic examples of evil; those are obvious, and we don't need to worry too much about them. After all, we can deal with those and the rest of us - those who aren't evil - can get along in life peacably.

There are two problems with this line of reasoning. The first is that we can deal with evil on a large scale. Some people refuse to deal with evil and instead insist we can negotiate with evildoers, or they look the other way and say "nothing to see here." The second is that large-scale evil isn't the only evil with which we need to deal. Without addressing the more insidious, and less obvious form, we will never live peacably, even if we somehow rid the planet of macro-evil events.

That's the subject of the next post, which will get into a definition of what evil really is.

God bless!

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