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Whence Cometh Evil?

The Concept and Mechanics of Natural Evil

EVIL CAN BE DEFINED AS something supernatural (pure evil), such as a dark force or a devil, or as something scientific (natural evil), relating to psychology. The former concept has been shown to increase retribution and hostility, the latter has demonstrated the opposite effect, leaning more toward restorative or rehabilitative justice, so it is paramount that we recognize pure evil as being scientifically groundless. The mechanics of natural evil will allow us to decrease the tendancy of criminals to reoffend through rehabilitation, as outlined by the framework of restorative justice.1

It has been argued that attempting to redefine evil out of a theological and religious framework and into a natural scientific paradigm is illusory and counterproductive2, 3 or that evil cannot be rigidly defined and is thus forever amorphous.4 On the contrary, to say that evil cannot exist outside the realm of metaphysics and theology or that it is unable to be defined objectively is to say that good cannot exist or be defined either. In principle, good acts could be measured as those that allow humans to flourish and, conversely, evil acts would be those that cause suffering. 5 In short, it is possible to measure actions on a gradient of good to evil based on the neurological effects they may or may not have on the brains of conscious beings. To call it evil is simply to distinguish the opposite end of a gradient that also contains good. And just as morality has been tied to theology but has now become secularized within humanism and other movements, so too can our concept of evil.

Diagnosing Evil

Having an understanding of evil begins with understanding morality, which has now been revealed to begin at a very early age.6 For example, in one of numerous studies conducted by Paul Bloom, et al. at their Yale laboratory, 6- and 10- month-old infants were shown a morality play in which a geometrical shape was either helped up a hill by another shape, or hindered. 7 When both the helping shape and hindering shape were placed on a tray and the infants were allowed to choose one, they overwhelmingly preferred the helpful shape.

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About Skeptic

EVIL, THEISM, and ATHEISM Answering the Hard Question “You’re an Atheist?! How Do You Find Meaning and Morality in Life if There is No God?”; God, Heaven, and Evil: A Renewed Defense of Atheism; The Devil’s Mark: The Evaluation of Evil, the Measurement of Morality, and the Statistical Significance of Sin; Whence Cometh Evil? The Concept and Mechanics of Natural Evil; Virtuous Reality: Why Right and Wrong Seem Real: a Critique of Moral Realism; Tearing Down Mr. Hume’s Wall: A Response to Moral Realism Skeptics; Brazilian Cancer Quackery; The “Sonic Attack” on U.S. Diplomats in Cuba: Why the State Department’s Claims Don’t Add Up; Understanding Human Skeletal Variation; Updating the Software and Hardware in Educational Practice: A Way Forward for Science and Mathematics Education; Why Freud Matters: Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud, and the Skeptical Humanist Tradition; Hope and Hype for Alzheimer’s; I, Too, Am Thinking About Me, Too; Junior Skeptic: The Incredible Claims of Pet Psychics…