Tag Archives: evil

Is Evil A Passé term? An Atheist’s Thought Experiment.

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on what it means to be an atheist. Since I wasn’t always one, how might I feel differently than someone who never had faith to begin with?

For instance, there are people who behave as though they hate their respective deity, then call themselves atheists. I’d argue those people are deists who hate themselves, yet blame their god for their own shortcomings instead of accepting personal responsibility for the way their lives are turning out.

zeus_1[1]
Mythological Greek God Zeus
In my mind, an atheist wouldn’t have any stronger feelings about God, Jesus, or Allah than they would about Zeus or Odin. To me, the only difference between mythology and religion is that the latter still has people who believe in it.

But one thing has curiously struck me lately; the concept of evil. Is this a passé term?

For those who are religious, evil is something put forth by the counterpart of their chosen deity. But I feel this term thwarts understanding of these acts by blaming a being like Satan instead of the perpetrator.

So let’s break down humans for a minute; or as we’re affectionately known in the biological community;  Animalia (Kingdom); Chordate (Phylum); Mammalia (Class); Primates (Order); Hominidae (Family); Homini (Tribe); Homo (Genus); H. sapiens (Species).

Regarding the kingdom classification of Animalia, that means that despite our own desire to feel special, we are ultimately just an animal in the animal kingdom. We are certainly the most intelligent, but there are many animals that are stronger, faster, or otherwise better adapted to their environment, as natural selection dictates.

So while we are special for our intellect, all animals have their own unique specialties, making us all special in different ways, or none of us particularly special at all; depending on how you want to look at it.

Homo-sapiens have evolved as well or better than any other species to life on Earth in many unique ways. For instance, because of our intellect, we’re the best at customizing our environment to suit our needs, instead of having to adapt like all the others. We build houses with air conditioning and heaters, after all.

We’re also intelligent enough to not only be excellent hunters, yet also quite adept at growing our own food. When’s the last time you saw an elephant planting a row of corn?

One trait that many overlook however, is our unparalleled linguistic skills. Because we are social animals, our advanced ability to communicate with others, whether it be face-to-face, or using technology such as the phone or internet, strengthens our society in ways other animals cannot achieve. Every time you ask for help and receive it, you’ve exemplified this.

Oddly enough, we’re the only animal smart enough to have observed and understood natural selection and the benefits it brings to life as a whole, yet we’re compassionate enough to try to prevent it by helping the weak among us instead of allowing them to succumb to whatever their inferior traits might be. If that’s not an ultimate display of commonly accepted morally benevolent societal behavior, I don’t know what is.

This can be seen in the way we help the disadvantaged through charity, medical care, etc. Or simply the endangered species list, where we actively work to preserve an animal that seems incapable of adapting to its environment as natural selection dictates it should.

stalin-hitler_1644235c[1]
Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin
But back to the term “evil.” The term conjures up names like Adolf Hitler, Paul Pot, Saddam Hussein, Josef Stalin, et al., who are often touted out as examples, and it seems quite fitting on the face of it.

The reality is that if we define murder as the killing of an innocent life, the animal kingdom is full of mass murderers. Cheetahs are mass murderers of gazelles, but maybe we will give that a pass since they eat them to survive.

Lions however, will often kill cheetahs, not for consumption, but just to eliminate the competition for food. Not very sporting at all, if you ask me. So are they evil too? Of course not.

So what makes them different from human mass murderers? The fact that we are smarter, or that we understand the value of empathy and therefore can associate with the victim? In reality, it’s just that we are societal in ways that many other meat eaters are not.

The concept of morality is generally thought to be a religious one, where you are either with or against a particular dogma. Some people would argue that morals are universal, but this is a false premise. Whether it be gay rights, abortion, the death penalty, drugs, prostitution, gambling, etc., what is immoral to some is moral to others.

If we throw out the religious component, morality would generally describe behavior someone does for the good of society, immoral behaviors are to the detriment of it. While many deists would argue that without religion, there would be no morality, Professor of Psychology, Dr. Michael Shermer explains the evolutionary benefit of commonly held moral behaviors here. Evidence suggests we would be just as moral without religion.

When people think of natural selection, they often use the phrase “survival of the fittest,” which can be misleading. It conjures images of some unyielding beast who kills anything that gets in its way. But societal beings are actually “fitter.”

If a strong violent psychopath were going through the neighborhood killing people, he might be successful if everyone in the neighborhood were also a sociopath and failed to band together to combat him. But if the others unite, the psychopath would likely end up dead due to simple strength in numbers.

They wouldn’t do it for the thrill of killing as the psychopath does, but simply for the betterment of their group. Via the death penalty, war, self-defense, and vigilantism, we tend to weed out the violent psychopaths among us for our own mutual benefit.

Lethal Injection Table
Lethal Injection Table

Many like to think it’s because we’re exterminating evil, but if there is no deity or anti-deity, all we’re really doing is preserving our societal construct.

As for those we consider evil, they’re just psychopaths, pure and simple. People lacking empathy and the innate desire to contribute to the advancement of the human race through societal behavior.

When we think of them as evil, we feed their ego by giving them the impression that they’re somehow closer to a deity or otherwise superhuman. But if evolution has worked in our favor because we are societal, they are actually inferior—arguably, mentally handicapped beings.

As psychological research continues to advance our understanding of the human brain, there is hope we’ll find solutions to mental disorders like sociopathy and/or psychopathy. But in the meantime, it would be nice if we stop sensationalizing these people by calling them evil; they’re just genetically and behaviorally defective. Elevating their status to something superhuman by calling them evil, will only encourage their behavior.

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Political Bipolar Lenses: How Not To Have A Political Discussion

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

 

Bipolar: a word not often understood. Magnets are a good example; having a positive and negative pole, there is no in-between.

Bipolar disorder is a mental condition that is similar in that people who have it suffer from violent mood swings where they are perfectly happy one minute, then intensely angry the next. They generally have a hard time occupying what would be a “mildly-irritated” middle ground.

Unfortunately, we see a similar condition with many political analysts, whether it be professionals, or just the politically-charged social-media warriors. They constantly look to prove a candidate is either perfect or evil. Logic should dictate that this is a foolish way to think, but sadly so many of us do it anyway because it makes us feel good destroying our enemy’s credibility.

The fact is no one is neither perfect nor 100% evil, and there is value to be had towards one’s credibility in acknowledging that.

Pope BenedictTo give extreme examples, the Pope, who is arguably the pinnacle of altruism, is still a sinner according to the bible. If you focus only on those sins, he could seem like a bad person, but if you look at the overall breadth of his actions, you’ll find a largely selfless man.

Adolf Hitler is arguably history’s least altruistic individual, but no matter how twisted his ideas were, they were born out of national pride with the intent of benefiting Germany.  He didn’t think he was an evil man, and if one only looked at his motives, they’d think he was just a passionate patriot. His actions however, proved he was a murderous psychopath who ordered and committed so many attrocities, it’s difficult to give him credit for any good he might have intended.

Conservatives want to find the skeleton in the closet that would prove once and for all that president Obama is an evil man hell-bent on ruining America. The left looked for that one thing that proves Mitt Romney dined on the dreams of the poor while snidely laughing all the way to the bank.

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney

Sensationalism sells, and the news media has instinctively learned that it’s a lucrative tactic, but it is dishonest journalism at best, and both sides of the aisle should be better, yet they often refuse to be. Intelligent debaters apply logic and reason to their arguments, and as a result, are seen as less of a blowhard and given the utmost respect.

Let me exemplify the benefit of using this approach in your daily lives. When I was young, I worked for a car dealer. The owner decided to invest in a “Buy Here Pay Here” division. He hired a man from the banking industry to run it, and moved me to a sales position in the department.

It was soon evident to me, that this man knew lending like the back of his hand, but was completely ignorant regarding most things automotive and sales. The department was failing miserably, and I feared losing my job. So I decided to write a letter to the owner, but opted to try a novel approach.

Instead of attacking him on every front, I first pointed out that my new manager was brilliant when it came to lending, and would be very well suited to doing something that specifically revolved around that. However, I had concerns about his work ethic, (He put in a strict 40 hours in an industry where 50+ hours is the norm), his ability to purchase vehicles properly (we were far too heavily invested in most of our inventory), and his management techniques (he had the personality of a ratchet, not a salesman).

Once completed, I put the letter on the owner’s desk and hoped for the best. Less than a month later, the department was terminated, my boss was moved to financing as I suggested, and I was given a position in another department as opposed to being terminated.

Not only was I NOT fired, I didn’t even get reprimanded. The owner quietly investigated my concerns, confirmed the complaints I lobbied with others, and my advice was heeded. While the owner surprisingly never talked to me about the letter, other salesmen were let go, while I was retained, leading me to believe he appreciated what I had done.

I believe the reason for this was that I made my argument intelligently, I pointed out my manager’s strengths, and then his overwhelming weaknesses honestly and fairly. I demonstrated objectivity, and as a result was given credibility, and my idea was put into place exactly as I suggested.

The purpose of this post is simple. I’m asking for anyone with a conservative voice to be a voice of reason, not rhetoric, hate, and division. America is headed down a path of financial turmoil, and liberty is being stripped away at an overwhelming pace.

Winning this election is very important, and those making the most attractive arguments will win the votes of the undecided. Don’t believe me? Ronald ReaganReagan won 49 states after his first term, including the liberal bastions of California and New York! It wasn’t just his content, it was his delivery. Try to remember Reagan saying anything hateful and mean-spirited. I can’t do it, can you? It’s because he didn’t talk that way, and our leaders, our media, as well as ourselves shouldn’t either.

I believe Obama’s intentions are generally altruistic, but that doesn’t mean they’re right. As I advanced into management, I often had to dismiss wonderful people, not because they were evil or dishonest, but because they repeatedly made mistakes that put the company at risk. I believe this is our president in a nutshell, and when pointing out his flaws, it would do us all well to frame it in that light.

Don’t fool yourself into believing people aren’t on the fence. We need every one of those votes. Independents aren’t impressed by idealistic bloviators. Zero objectivity begets zero credibility. If we limited government types try to paint the president as an evil communist, the independents will run away from that rhetoric in droves. So if you’re slinging that mud, you’re not helping the cause.

By all means, have persuasive discussions with those whom you think will listen; we need to win this fight. But demonstrate that you are fair and reasonable in your dissent, try to find the good in your enemy before you list all the bad, and you will attract the fence-sitters we need to usher in a more liberty-friendly revolution going forward.

The Myth of Evil Corporations

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

How many times have you heard “that’s how they get you” in reference to corporations? Advocates of socialism love to paint a picture of corporations as evil entities that get rich at the expense of the poor working class.

I had someone ask me about corporate person-hood—in particular, the legislation that among other things, allows corporations to donate funds to a political campaign.

I responded that corporations should be able to donate as much money as they want, since it’s their money. As long as the donated money is publicly available information, and there is no expected “behind-the-scenes” quid pro quo—meaning that it remains a donation, not a secretive payment for services rendered, then there is no reason to deem such transactions as inherently bad.

In my perfect scenario, we would get rid of corporate donations along with corporate taxes. Logic being that if they have to pay into the system, they have a right to participate in it. But, if we move to just taxing the incomes of the corporation’s employees and officers, we don’t need to tax the corporation as well, and then we make all political donations come from private individuals.

But back to my friend and his “evil corporations” thoughts.

His argument was that politicians getting large donations from corporations will act at the behest of those corporations at the expense of the American people. But let’s analyze the flaws in this argument.

The most abhorrent reason to me is that they assert corporations are the archenemy of the electorate as if it’s unquestionable fact. While Michael Moore and other self-described socialists would have you believe that corporations are evil, it’s simply not true. They have a highly-vested interest in being responsible and beneficial parts of society, because a free market, and free press guarantee they’ll be destroyed if they’re not.

Filmmaker Michael Moore
Filmmaker Michael Moore

My friend’s arguments are the position of people who form opinions based off of fictional idealistic utopias, not the historical data available to them. History has routinely shown that economic freedom has always done better by its people than state-run totalitarianism—the evidence is overwhelming.

Nearly every American, including many of the socialists among us, has dreamed of owning their own business or being their own boss, even if few actually achieve it. Usually, those dreams are of providing a product/service they enjoy using or doing themselves. So am I to assume that they would call themselves evil if they were to achieve their dream?

Jealousy is a powerful emotion, and it drives people to say mean, hateful, and ignorant things. What these people are saying, in effect, is, “Although I’d be a responsible business owner, I don’t believe anyone else would be.” It’s a pathetic blend of class warfare and hypocrisy to assert that you and only you would be a kind and responsible business owner.

Corporations are a group of human beings just like the rest of us who deliver a product or service in order to make a living by way of making a profit. There is nothing wrong with that, and you should be wary of anyone who thinks a corporation looking after its bottom line is “evil”.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates

While some corporate big-wigs might be bad people, to classify them all as evil is irresponsible and unfair. Bill Gates donates over a billion dollars to charity, and yet he ran one of the largest and most fiercely competitive corporations.

The free market is driven by competition. If a corporation didn’t do everything in its power to sell more products and gain market share, then it shouldn’t be in business.  The success that comes from this creates jobs and delivers superior products for a reasonable price.

The other problem I have with this is the notion that a politician acting in the interest of a corporation must be acting against the interest of America. The two are not mutually exclusive.

For example, if legislators deregulated the auto industry by curtailing the overreach often employed by OSHA and the EPA because GM, Ford, and Chrysler lobbied them to do so, that would allow those companies to grow, beat their overseas competition, and create more jobs here in the United States. More often than not, what benefits corporate America, benefits all of America. To insinuate otherwise equates to ignorance of basic economics.General Motors

America should avoid painting corporations out to be evil. They are the backbone of economy and are inherently good. They provide virtually everything we enjoy for a far more reasonable price than we could attain if we had to build it ourselves, and they help us pay for it by providing us jobs.

If corporations are bad, the only alternative is government. The evidence we have from the former socialist Russia, Cuba, North Korea, etc. all indicate those folks have a significantly worse quality of life than you and I here in the USA.