Monday, February 27, 2017

Does Evil Exist?

Some people do not know whether or not evil exists. In the words of a wonderful friend of mine named Elizabeth, how can it not?

Anything human is capable of choice. Anything capable of choice can do good or do bad. Evil is knowingly choosing to do the wrong thing.

In a film about Richard Nixon, a member of the administration tells a journalist, “60% of what he did was right, and 30% he thought was right even though it was wrong.” The journalist responds with, “But that still leaves 10% when he was doing wrong and knew it was wrong.” For 30% there was an excuse of ignorance; for 10% there was no excuse at all.

Now there have been different conceptions of evil through history. In Christianity and Islam all evil originates in a single source – the angel who rebelled against God. According to ancient Greeks, there is no such a figure; evil is ignorance. I believe that there is a room for both conceptions of evil. There is intelligent, calculating evil. There is also evil that blindly does stupid things. Whether the person poisoning the air is a knowing villain such as Exxon or an ignorant person who thinks that global warming is a liberal scam, the air gets poisoned in either case.

There are all sorts of ways to arrive at undesirable outcomes. Sometimes the road to hell is in fact paved with good intentions; there are many times when these intentions are not good at all. Sometimes people do wrong knowingly and sometimes people do wrong unknowingly. In either case the wrong gets done. Evil can be deliberate wrongdoing and it can also be result of ignorance.

Knowing evil is less excusable than unknowing evil. However to avoid bad scenarios both need to be held in abeyance and confronted. Knowledge and education fixes evil according to Greeks. Choice and scrutiny fixes evil according to Bible and Quran. Confront ignorance with education; and if someone chooses knowingly to do wrong then stop them.


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