Three questions for people who believe evil actually exists

Discuss the November 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, In It Together: The Beautiful Struggle Uniting Us All by Eckhart Aurelius Hughes.

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Eckhart Aurelius Hughes
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Three questions for people who believe evil actually exists

Post by Eckhart Aurelius Hughes »

This is a discussion forum topic for the November 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, In It Together: The Beautiful Struggle Uniting Us All.


I previously created a forum topic in which I asked everyone to list the very first sentence in the book with which disagreed, if any.

Of course, some replied to say that they agreed with every single sentence in the entire book, which is wonderful.

However, of those who did say they disagreed with at least one sentence, the most common one by far was the following sentence from page 128:

Eckhart Aurelius Hughes (In It Together, page 128) wrote:There is no problem of evil because there is no evil.


The book is only about 200 pages. So, first, let me say, I am very happy to learn that even for those who don't agree with with me on everything, they by far mostly agree with most of the book.

To disagree about whether or not evil exists could seem like a major point of disagreement. However, really, it means, among those who disagree with that important belief of mine, even they read over 60% of the book, over 120 pages straight, without disagreeing with even a single sentence.


Nonetheless, for those who did disagree with that sentence, and were not convinced by any of the argument or points that followed in that chapter, I want to ask ask three sincere questions:


1. As you yourself use the term, how do you define the word 'evil'?

2. Are the things you think are "evil" things that are in your control or things that are not in your control?

3. Are the things you think are "evil" things that you can change or things you cannot change?



I love learning about different perspectives and beliefs. The more different than mine, the better. So I deeply thank you in advance for your answers to these questions. :D


Also, if you have not already, I invite you to reply in this other forum topic of mine:

There is no "Is-Ought Problem" because there is no 'ought'.

To me, it's the same concept, just worded slightly differently. However, if you define "evil" as something other than simply something that happens that you believe 'ought' not have happened, then the two conversations might interestingly turn out to be very different. :)



---
The book is available for purchase from all major book retailers in both ebook and hardcover format.
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My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
mrlefty0706
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Re: Three questions for people who believe evil actually exists

Post by mrlefty0706 »

1. Evil is anything that intentionally hurts another living being.
2. Evil can be within one's control or not be under one's control. I.e. Hitler ordered hideous crimes against humanity. Hitler had this under his control but his victims could not change the evil acts that were performed in the gas chambers, lab experiments or firing squads.
3. If I believed I could commit evil acts then I could stop these evil acts before I commit them. I could try to stop evil acts committed by others but I cannot guarantee that I would be successful.
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Phoebe Felix
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Re: Three questions for people who believe evil actually exists

Post by Phoebe Felix »

Here's my answer to the first question:

Evil is when someone takes a position of advantage they have over another person to intentionally inflict hurt or pain. The key word in "evil" is intentionality. We can hurt people without knowing that we did. However, if we intentionally do that, then we are evil. I try to use evil as a verb rather than a noun, as I believe no human being is evil, even though we can do evil.
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Re: Three questions for people who believe evil actually exists

Post by Phoebe Felix »

Here's my answer to the second question:

When we do evil, we are intentional. Therefore, the evil we do are under our control. There's always a choice to do or not to do evil. The challenge is that most of us try to take the easy way out. SO, doing evil, or not, is something we can control.
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Re: Three questions for people who believe evil actually exists

Post by Phoebe Felix »

Here's my answer to the third question:

I believe doing evil is intentional. I also believe we have control over whether or not to do evil. So we can change from the evil that we do if we want to.
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Re: Three questions for people who believe evil actually exists

Post by Phoebe Felix »

I had to split my answers into different comments to allow conversation on each of the answers I gave. I do appreciate the philosophical conversations we're having on this platform.
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Re: Three questions for people who believe evil actually exists

Post by Donna Walker 1 »

I'm going to have to break this answer up as there is an awful lot to unpack here. 

To answer your first question: 1. As you yourself use the term, how do you define the word 'evil'?

Evil is the intentionally inflicting harm or suffering to another living being. To me, this being does not need to be human. Any sentient being that is hurt for 'sport" has been hurt due to an act of evil. For example, when a child kills kittens, that act is evil, and there is evil residing in that child. In the same way, the fishermen who catch sharks for a living, just to cut off their fins and then dump the rest of the shark back in the ocean to die, are also evil.

Jeffery Dahmer, Ted Bundy, and Adolf Hitler were evil. They delighted in inflicting atrocities of pain and suffering on other people. The lack of empathy for another soul is a real concern here.
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Re: Three questions for people who believe evil actually exists

Post by Donna Walker 1 »

Second Question: 2. Are the things you think are "evil" things that are in your control or things that are not in your control?
This is a very interesting one. For example, my friend owned a horse many years ago that was, in my father's words, "possessed by the devil." This horse was untrainable, totally wild, and would have had the ability to kill anyone who came near it. No amount of patience and kindness would even slightly chip away at the exceptionally tough exterior, and you could see in the horse's eyes that it was pure evil. It wanted to hurt you. Even Monty Roberts (The Horse Whisperer) was unable to work with this animal and said it was best to put it down for everyone's safety. I honestly do not believe that this horse was in control of its own mental faculties. The same can be said for many serial killers. People who hear voices telling them to do something and feel that they have no control over what those voices tell them to do
I guess my question would be, "Is possession by an evil entity real?" I do believe so.
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Re: Three questions for people who believe evil actually exists

Post by Donna Walker 1 »

And finally the third question 3. Are the things you think are "evil" things that you can change or things you cannot change?

I do not believe that real evil things can be changed. In the example I gave to Question 2 above, there was absolutely nothing that could be done for that horse. It was evil.

Now, on the subject of evil people, of which there are many, I do not believe that it is possible to rehabilitate a truly evil person. The new Hitlers and Bundys of the world need to be completely removed from society. Death is the only way to accomplish this. I'll define "truly evil" as those who intentionally hurt others in irreparable ways. These people want to be evil, and there is no place for that in a loving world.

Philosophy is not normally my thing, but this book has my mind doing mental gymnastics! I keep re-reading certain parts that I initially didn't quite get. It's quite fascinating.
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Re: Three questions for people who believe evil actually exists

Post by jemimapaul »

1. An evil person is a wicked person who wishes to harm others. They can be murderers, thieves, adulterers, abusers, molesters, rapists,... the list goes on and on.

2. I can control myself from doing evil but I cannot control others.

3. I cannot change anyone but Jesus can change anyone who does evil. He saves us from our evil sins.
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Re: Three questions for people who believe evil actually exists

Post by Eckhart Aurelius Hughes »

Hi, mrlefty0706,

Thank you for your reply! :)
mrlefty0706 wrote: February 18th, 2023, 2:45 am 1. Evil is anything that intentionally hurts another living being.
Interesting. Does that mean that, if I kill spider or ant in my house, I am "evil" (as you use the term)?
mrlefty0706 wrote: February 18th, 2023, 2:45 am 2. Evil can be within one's control or not be under one's control.
I'm not asking about whether it is under someone else's control (e.g. the control of the person who is allegedly evil). For instance, generally speaking, my actions are not under your control. So if I killed a spider earlier today and killing spiders is evil, then that is an example of something evil that is out of your control and cannot be changed by you, since you cannot control whether I kill spiders and you cannot change the fact that I killed a spider earlier today (if I did).

In other words, I am asking solely if it is something you control and that you can change.

Are there things that you think are evil that are completely out of your control and that you cannot change? If so, can you give me a few examples of things you think are evil but that you cannot change and that you cannot control?

mrlefty0706 wrote: February 18th, 2023, 2:45 am I could try to stop evil acts committed by others but I cannot guarantee that I would be successful.
Can you give me a few examples of these things you think are evil that you cannot change and cannot control?
My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
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Re: Three questions for people who believe evil actually exists

Post by Eckhart Aurelius Hughes »

Hi, Phoebe Felix,

Thank you for your reply! :)

Scott wrote: February 17th, 2023, 4:08 pm 1. As you yourself use the term, how do you define the word 'evil'?
Phoebe Felix wrote: February 18th, 2023, 6:28 am Here's my answer to the first question:

Evil is when someone takes a position of advantage they have over another person to intentionally inflict hurt or pain. The key word in "evil" is intentionality. We can hurt people without knowing that we did. However, if we intentionally do that, then we are evil. I try to use evil as a verb rather than a noun, as I believe no human being is evil, even though we can do evil.
Interesting definition. :)

As you use the term, are UFC fights evil?

What about masochism?

What do you mean by 'person' as used in your definition? Namely, can only humans be evil? Is it only evil if the victim is human?

Scott wrote: February 17th, 2023, 4:08 pm 2. Are the things you think are "evil" things that are in your control or things that are not in your control?
Phoebe Felix wrote: February 18th, 2023, 6:32 am Here's my answer to the second question:

When we do evil, we are intentional. Therefore, the evil we do are under our control. There's always a choice to do or not to do evil. The challenge is that most of us try to take the easy way out. SO, doing evil, or not, is something we can control.
I'm not asking about "we".

I'm asking if the things you think are evil are under your control specifically.

For example, if something I do is evil, and you cannot control what I do, then that is an example of something that is evil that you do not control.

Scott wrote: February 17th, 2023, 4:08 pm 3. Are the things you think are "evil" things that you can change or things you cannot change?
Phoebe Felix wrote: February 18th, 2023, 6:37 am Here's my answer to the third question:

I believe doing evil is intentional. I also believe we have control over whether or not to do evil. So we can change from the evil that we do if we want to.
Again, I'm not talking only about evil that you do, but rather any and all evil. Is there anything evil in the world that you cannot change? If so, can you give me a few specific examples of evil things/events that exist/happen that you cannot change?
My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
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Re: Three questions for people who believe evil actually exists

Post by Eckhart Aurelius Hughes »

Hi, @Donna Walker 1,

Thank you for your reply! :)

Donna Walker 1 wrote: February 18th, 2023, 10:14 am To answer your first question: 1. As you yourself use the term, how do you define the word 'evil'?

Evil is the intentionally inflicting harm or suffering to another living being. To me, this being does not need to be human. Any sentient being that is hurt for 'sport" has been hurt due to an act of evil.
Interesting. :)

So by that definition anyone who is not a vegetarian is evil, right? That is, at least, assuming they have easy access to healthy vegetarian food options and simply choose the meat options because they enjoy the taste better.

Are people who watch dog fights evil?

Are people who watch UFC evil?


Donna Walker 1 wrote: February 18th, 2023, 10:25 am Second Question: 2. Are the things you think are "evil" things that are in your control or things that are not in your control?
This is a very interesting one. For example, my friend owned a horse many years ago that was, in my father's words, "possessed by the devil." This horse was untrainable, totally wild, and would have had the ability to kill anyone who came near it. No amount of patience and kindness would even slightly chip away at the exceptionally tough exterior, and you could see in the horse's eyes that it was pure evil. It wanted to hurt you. Even Monty Roberts (The Horse Whisperer) was unable to work with this animal and said it was best to put it down for everyone's safety. I honestly do not believe that this horse was in control of its own mental faculties. The same can be said for many serial killers. People who hear voices telling them to do something and feel that they have no control over what those voices tell them to do
I guess my question would be, "Is possession by an evil entity real?" I do believe so.
My question isn't whether an allegedly evil person is in control of the things they do or such. My question is about whether it is in your control specifically, as in you, Donna.

So, for example, if I do something evil, and what I do is not in your control, then that would be an example of something evil that is not in your control.

So, if the horse was evil, then the question isn't whether the horse's actions are in the horse's control, but whether the horse's actions are in your control.


Donna Walker 1 wrote: February 18th, 2023, 10:36 am And finally the third question 3. Are the things you think are "evil" things that you can change or things you cannot change?

I do not believe that real evil things can be changed. In the example I gave to Question 2 above, there was absolutely nothing that could be done for that horse. It was evil.
Fair enough.

Is it reasonable, then, to conclude that you do not choose to practice the principle of unconditionally accepting the things you cannot change? Is that correct?

I'm not religious, personally, but I still love the Serenity Prayer and implement it in my life nonetheless:
Reinhold Niebuhr wrote:God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.
How do you feel about the Serenity Prayer?
My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
User avatar
Eckhart Aurelius Hughes
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Re: Three questions for people who believe evil actually exists

Post by Eckhart Aurelius Hughes »

Hi, jemimapaul,

Thank you for your reply! :)

Scott wrote: February 17th, 2023, 4:08 pm 1. As you yourself use the term, how do you define the word 'evil'?
jemimapaul wrote: February 18th, 2023, 3:27 pm 1. An evil person is a wicked person who wishes to harm others.
What do you mean by 'person' and 'others' in this context? Namely, are you referring only to humans? Can an animal be evil? Is it only evil to wish harm on other people, or is it evil to wish harm on animals?

Scott wrote: February 17th, 2023, 4:08 pm 2. Are the things you think are "evil" things that are in your control or things that are not in your control?
jemimapaul wrote: February 18th, 2023, 3:27 pm 2. I can control myself from doing evil but I cannot control others.
So, in short, the things and events that you think are evil are things and events that you do not control; correct?


Scott wrote: February 17th, 2023, 4:08 pm 3. Are the things you think are "evil" things that you can change or things you cannot change?
jemimapaul wrote: February 18th, 2023, 3:27 pm 3. I cannot change anyone [...]
So, to be clear, your answer is that the things you think are evil are things you cannot change; correct?



What are your thoughts regarding the Serenity Prayer:
Reinhold Niebuhr wrote:God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.
?
My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
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jemimapaul
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Re: Three questions for people who believe evil actually exists

Post by jemimapaul »

Yes, I was referring only to humans, not animals. But an animal can be evil too.

Yes, I try but cannot control evil things and events since they are out of my control.

Yes, I cannot change them, but Jesus can use me to change others. God has used me to tell people to repent from evil and accept Jesus - the only way they can be saved.




Scott wrote: February 20th, 2023, 4:15 pm Hi, @jemimapaul,

Thank you for your reply! :)

Scott wrote: February 17th, 2023, 4:08 pm 1. As you yourself use the term, how do you define the word 'evil'?
jemimapaul wrote: February 18th, 2023, 3:27 pm 1. An evil person is a wicked person who wishes to harm others.
What do you mean by 'person' and 'others' in this context? Namely, are you referring only to humans? Can an animal be evil? Is it only evil to wish harm on other people, or is it evil to wish harm on animals?

Scott wrote: February 17th, 2023, 4:08 pm 2. Are the things you think are "evil" things that are in your control or things that are not in your control?
jemimapaul wrote: February 18th, 2023, 3:27 pm 2. I can control myself from doing evil but I cannot control others.
So, in short, the things and events that you think are evil are things and events that you do not control; correct?


Scott wrote: February 17th, 2023, 4:08 pm 3. Are the things you think are "evil" things that you can change or things you cannot change?
jemimapaul wrote: February 18th, 2023, 3:27 pm 3. I cannot change anyone [...]
So, to be clear, your answer is that the things you think are evil are things you cannot change; correct?



What are your thoughts regarding the Serenity Prayer:
Reinhold Niebuhr wrote:God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.
?
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