Now that we have—by illustrating the rank contradictions which make up its substrata of rationale—dispensed with the theological and logical fallacy of the “Problem of Evil” as presumed by Christian orthodoxy, we can talk about the real problem of evil.
But what do we mean by “evil”? Well, first, we need a reference. That is, in order to call something moral or immoral we must reference it to that which can rationally arbitrate ethical value. Without such a reference, it’s impossible to ascribe a moral label. So, what’s the reference? The only reference which is rationally consistent is the Individual. Now, please note that in this article I am not going to explicate ethics in detail at the philosophical primary level. You can find that elsewhere on this blog.
I thus define evil this way:
The willful action of one individual which violates another.
Think Old Testament. Think Ten Commandments. Stealing, hurting, killing, lying to yourself or others.
Now, there is a subsection of ethics which deals with “acts of nature”, so to speak. Those incidents where the innocent are subjected to torment, neglect, and death that have nothing to do with the willful acts of other human beings. Like natural disasters, accidents of poor judgment (e.g. getting lost in the wilderness at night and falling down a steep ravine), or even something like a bridge collapsing. We can argue that these things are technically violations of human life, and thus may be described as evil. But I don’t think they fall under the category of a “problem of evil”, unless you consider God the fundamental controller of everything and thus must implicate Him in some way. But as I explained in my previous article on the subject, this is not really a problem, because it is not actually paradoxical. It’s a contradiction and thus a lie. So, when we are talking evil, we’ll keep it simple…basic rational ethics a la the Ten Commandments. Kiling, lying, stealing, and all their various forms (bullying, psychological abuse, manipulation or fraud, etc.). That’s basic rational ethics, and it need not be complicated. What is complicated is dismantling the fraudulent ethics of irrational philosophies and other various hijacking of reason. But true ethics is simple, and I would argue, innately understood by all of us as a function of our nature. This innate understanding of goodness is corrupted by bad philosophies, and specifically bad metaphysics, not unlike those which underwrite governments. All of them. Which leads us to the main thesis of this article.
Why do people do evil?
Who are the greatest and most prolific and persistent culprits?
The answers to these questions most likely will surprise you, and I can tell you right now that the rest of this article won’t win me any friends, and will likely lose me some. Because the answer to the second question is: you. And me, in the past. And the why is this: because we think evil is good.
I must step carefully around this prickly subject. I am not trying to shame anyone. I am not condemning you to fire and brimstone. I am not ultimately imprecating the character of friends and family, or even of humanity in general. I am not saying you ARE evil, because I know that that simply isn’t true. This is an admonishment to a new thinking, not a condemnation of your soul. I am aiming to help people to re-evaluate their root assumptions about he nature of man and reality, and to realize that those assumptions are the difference between our lives contributing, on the whole, to sublime morality or the utter abasement of God and the world. Because no matter how good and reasonable and true and honorable we think we are, our root assumptions—and we all have them—define, ultimately and foundationally, our moral contribution to reality. And that contribution is either evil or it is good, period. The question begged, then, is this: Can a person with evil assumptions who truly believes that these assumptions are good ultimately do good with their life?
I guess I should explain what I mean about “evil assumptions”. What I mean is assumptions about the nature of man and his relationship to realty which nullifies man’s will, and demands him inadequate, by dint of no less than his very own birth, to existence, itself. The philosophies in which this is done are varied and copious, and without any rival anywhere in the world I submit, but at root they all share the same theme: Man is fundamentally controlled by some determinative force outside of himself, be it God, or natural law, or mathematics, or his own “sin nature”, or the Unknown, or evolution, or all of the above, and therefore his will—his sentience and agency—is, at the very foundation of his existential make-up, fraudulent. Will is an illusion; choice is determined and thus a lie. Man is incapable of being himself qua himself—there is no such thing. And thus, for his own good, and to ensure his own real and true existence, his will must be censured, and he forced into “goodness”. He must be forced to thrive because he cannot do it on his own. Man speaks as if he is an individual, but this is a function of a root existential error, and his individuality is an illusion at best. His reality is that he is collectively driven by a single Cause (God, Nature, some other Force), and thus his false sense of self must be oppressed so that his true self—his determined and collective self—can prosper. He must be forced to thrive—forced into his proper collectivist role—because he simply cannot do it on his own.
People committing rank atrocities against their fellow man are easy to spot when the definition of evil is rational. It is hard for the liar, or thief, or murderer to hide when the ethical context is clear. They stick out like a dead fly in a glass of milk. And thus, I don’t consider them, and whatever pathology drives them, be it physiological or behavioral or genetic or whatever, to be the real root of the problem of evil. The liar lies, the killer kills, and the thief steals. This is clear. The real problem evil—of evil which is endemic and pervasive—my friends, is not the evil person, but rather the good one. That is, real evil is found in the majority…the masses who wish to do good, to save and promote fellow man, but do so from a false assumption. The assumption is this: The only way to get men to behave morally is ultimately to grant a small group of people (or a single person) the power to compel human behavior by violence.
I’m talking, in essence, about government. And the fact that after thousands of years of state-sponsored mass murder, oppression, exploitation, slavery, torture, economic regression, and nepotism, we all still accept that the most moral form of humanity is that in which it is governed. We accept that by eradicating morality, which destroys choice by forced compliance to legality, which is an entirely different ethic altogether, goodness can be brought about in the world.
It can’t. It hasn’t. It won’t.
What is the assumption which guides our moral code, almost to a person? It is found in the answer to the question: Why government? The answer is always the same, though in various semantic molds: Without government, man is doomed. Left to himself, man’s base natural instincts to oppression, exploitation, and murder will erupt and the earth will be a cauldron of misery…a hell, itself. That man’s very inherent and natural ability to choose his own actions cannot be trusted. And choice, dear readers, is the root of what makes a human being a human being. Absent choice, there is no individual. And thus, this concession to the necessity of government implies that man IS EVIL, ITSELF. And that’s why government. That’s why human will must be replaced by obedience to law.
Of course, how the political elite get a pass on their own mendacity and natural depravity is a question that is alway punted into the cosmic abyss of grand Mystery. The fact is, we are told, that our sense of One Self—of “I”—is by nature false, and our choice thus is the vehicle for our own destruction. And therefore we must be ruled. It is the only way to save us. We must have ourselves forcefully denied so that humanity can survive.
And that is REAL evil. That idea…right there.
So you shall never get to experience life out from under the unblinking eye of Authority, no matter how benevolent or special or God-ordained that authority is claimed to be. The Bill of Rights, Magna Carta, Pax Romana…it’s force, force, force. It’s the State, and it means law, and law is the eradication of choice by its nature, and this means the nullification of morality, which means that there is no longer any consequence for actual evil…because evil becomes not that which violates the individual—YOU or ME—but which violates Law. Because YOU and ME are a lie, we are told and believe. So, you will never know what it means to be you, ultimately. You will never know the freedom of You qua You. You must always have an overlord, and a cage in which to put you, even though its borders be the size of a continent. You may have a shadow of freedom, but you will never have it in the flesh. You will never get to be the real You. The Self is dead at birth.
And now, right now, you’re telling yourself that I’m a fool…a nut, a radical, a denier of reality, lost, or angry, or irrational, or all of it. Perhaps you should no longer associate with me, you’re thinking. Perhaps you will unfriend me on Facebook…or perhaps you already have. I’m a bad influence, a reprobate, a rejector of clear truth. An arguer, a rebel, a non-compromiser, a denier of God’s sovereignty, a rejector of the empirical, unenlightened, unsaved, a know-it-all, arrogant, and without faith.
Of course we need government, you’re thinking. Of course we can’t just let people do whatever they want! That’s complete madness! The death of us all! Idiotic!
Nothing I can say will change your mind. Nothing I can do will cause you to question. I can show you the graves of the millions that government has slaughtered; the starving children ravaged by polical despots who are called the “savior of the people”, the “dear leader”, the “Fuhrer”. I can show you internment camps and gas chambers and killing fields and nuclear craters and whole cities on fire and severed heads on poles on castle walls and bodies littering the colosseums and the crucifixion of Christ, and all of it a government program, and yet you shall reject the idea that government, and in particular its philosophical roots, might just be the source of the horror. No, in your eyes, I am forever the fool.
And that, my friends…is the problem of evil.