Where Does Evil Come From?

 A question asked by a man about a murder. He said the devil.

Does the devil really make you do it? Well since there is no devil, evil has to come from within us. Whether we are taught it from others, weather it grows from an experience, a desire for revenge, a desire to control others, to obtain someone’s success or their possessions. We think about it, we stew it and cook it until we get the nerve to act on it. But it comes from within. For some it is a form of mental illness and for others it is a wanton need of greed and to control. It's a bitch taking responsibility for ones own actions isn't it



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Good topic, one I've thought about a bit since leaving TSCC. I think Satan is mostly used as an excuse by either people who have done "evil", or by those who don't want to accept that someone just like them could do such "wicked" things without being made/tempted to do so by something purely evil. Most people don't want to admit or examine their own negative actions, thoughts, behaviors nor take responsibility outright for them. It's easier to just give credit to being possessed by evil. I agree with you that Satan/Devil is unnecessarily to explain harmful human behaviors as the studies of psychology and neurology give us plenty of verifiable and explainable reasons for why we do the things we do.
First things first, what's good? What's evil? It's all pretty relative, isn't it? Things become very different in various situations. There are very few things that could be argued to be wrong all the time, and for that matter, there are very few things that everyone would agree on as being "evil". It all depends on where we live and our specific culture.

So, that's my answer. Evil is simply a label we give certain behaviors that are not socially and culturally acceptable for various reasons, generally because they do not help improve or keep our society stable. Everything is morally ambiguous, and morality is actually pretty damned relative. Yes, it's harder to understand ethics and the like from this perspective than the black/white stuff that the LDS church (and so many others) teach. Reality is that there's very little white, very little black, and a whole lot of debatable grey area.
I agree. Culture has a lot to do with what society's norms of good and evil are. In Borneo it is good to eat your enemy, Here cannibalism is unacceptable, as it should be, unless your Catholic and are partaking of the sacrament.
I think the hardest part about doing something evil, is having to convince yourself before hand that it's right in a way... When you factor the Devil in, it's just that much easier to get around it.
It may have come from the Plip Wilson television show in the 60's were he did a sketch protraying Gerladine. Her excuse was The Devil Made Me Do It !
It may also come from brain impairment--whether genetic or not. Psychopaths and sociopaths would fall into this category.
In reply to Wayne A Wilson's comment, which was in this column but is now on the side comments "I think the scientific method fails on a personal level because it is next to impossible to be objective about one’s own actions”.
To some extent I agree but I, you and others have done so when reaching our design about the church, there are times we all do things we know can have bad results but we weigh the risks and do it anyway. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to overcome is #4. We think and act according to emotion. The scientific approach is a process that most are not taught to use because it does not allow one to take control of an individual. It is process many have to find on their own. So share it we those you know and hopefully they will be willing to examine their prejudices.
I like what Richard Dawkins has to say about the root of evil. Dawkins argues that "the process of non-thinking called faith" is not a way of understanding the world, but instead stands in fundamental opposition to modern science and the scientific method, and is divisive and dangerous.

The Root of All Evil? - The God Delusion
I have always felt that evil come from EGO. I need to be better than you or my EGO is diminished, So I will do what ever it takes to either look better, and if I can't do that I will be noticed by doing really bad things. But I will be noticed and I will feel in charge. If I can't be rich and famous, I can always lord it over my family, employees, gays, minorities.
The world owes me and I have the right to take it.
My $0.02

Evil, per se, does not exist at all. There is only good in varying amounts. What people call evil is just "less good" than whatever reference point is used to call it evil in the first place. And it's not just vice social norms either, but can encompass biology, chemistry, etc.

The analogy I like to use is hot and cold. Technically, "cold" as a physical property does not exist at all. Cold is relative. What we call cold is just "less heat" than whatever reference point it's being compared to. The coldest temperature at the south pole is very very "hot" compared to other locations in the universe or absolute zero. Heat exists across a spectrum and cold is just a point on that scale that is lower than another point. Likewise, evil is just a point on the spectrum of good that is lower than another point.

If I were to label a hierarchy of "goodness" it would go something like:
- inorganic (organic molecules, crystals, etc are more "good" than random elements)
- organic/biological (a living, reproducing, animal is more "good" than inorganic rocks)
- social (societal rules that organize biological critters in ways that are more successful are more "good" than biological anarchy)
- intellectual (some societal/religious rules, although helpful, hold us back in other ways so pursuing an intellectual understanding of the universe in spite of it is more "good" than following the rules just for the rules' sake).

So, for example .... indiscriminate sexual promiscuity has "value," even the highest value possible, within the biological level, but is rightly condemned by the higher social level as represented by governments, churches and etc. but may become more of a gray area (e.g. free love, and etc) at the even higher intellectual level.

And ... although Hitler may be an example of very low social and intellectual goodness and so "evil" in relation to societal standards, he still had biological quality (he could have if he chose, reproduced another human) that made him "better" than a rock.
Its a complex phenomenon. The "devil" can be a useful metaphor when discussing it (as long as its not taken literally), like when we talk about facing our own personal "demons", etc. Just to name a few factors:

brain physiology, failure to "meet" one's own Jungian "Shadow", non-submission to truth......

Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend by Barbara A. Oakley

Facing Evil: Confronting the Dreadful Power Behind Genocide, Terroism, and Cruelty - Paperback (Nov. 28, 2001) by Paul B. Woodruff and Harry A. Wilmer
(Symposium on the subject of "Facing Evil", attended by such dignitaries as Maya Angelou, Hilberg, Scott Peck, etc)

People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil by M. Scott Peck

The Anatomy of Evil by Michael H. Stone

Jung on Evil by C. G. Jung and Murray Stein

The Heart of Man: Its Genius for Good and Evil by Erich Fromm
I like to think of good and evil in the psychological terms, anti-social and pro-social. Most demons are more pro-social than anti. It seems like I read some description of "the devil" as being the guy who makes an individual take a hard look at their actions. I know that's the way "devils" are in some schools of Buddhism, not so much tempters but truth tellers.


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