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Old 02-14-2009, 03:27 AM   #1
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Sabbath Dispatch #3

I believe in good and evil.

I believe good is fundamentally about love, and evil is fundamentally about selfishness.

I believe they are in conflict, and that good will win in the end.

I see both systems--for this is what I believe they are, two opposing systematic approaches to life--at work in the world and in my own life every day.

While I may not be a relativist, I do believe that we sometimes have difficulty sussing out what is good and what is evil in this often messy, complex adventure we call life.

So I also believe in being cautious about declaring things in black and white terms. This has less to do with my feeling that things aren't in reality black and white, and more to do with how difficult it sometimes is to determine which is which.

I believe that good and evil does not mean that life is simple or that the answers are easy.

I believe that Satan is a real entity. This belief is not as vital to my faith, as my belief in God though. But it doesn't seem unreasonable that if I believe Good is personified in God, that an alternative system would also have it's advocate. And indeed some of the ideas that seem to take hold in our society--such as the "eat to get thinner" paradox--seem quite diabolical.

So I guess you could say, I believe in GOoD and the dEVIL

What do you believe?

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Old 02-14-2009, 08:51 AM   #2
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I have trouble with the concept that there is an objective measure of good and evil, our moral intuitions are produced in our material brains and for better or worse are a product of our evolutionary heritage, both biological and social, the humanities may produce accurate models but these may be validated and refined with evidence of our origins.

I have a lot of trouble with the argument that God gives good behaviour a justification, for instance if God says that it is wrong to murder a member of your tribe but smiting other tribes is alright then what makes God right? We judge these proclamations in their context and let our moral intuitions determine religious morality, not the other way around. If none of us can say why God is good or evil then we get back to square one and have figure out how to judge the goodness of actions by a different method.

As a rule of thumb I think we live in societies where we must abide by social codes, developed over millennia, those that have persisted may be the better working models which we all agree to in order to benefit. In day to day life this works, in the extremes it can fall apart, chip away civil society and human morality can all but go out the window. Our tendency for self-destruction gives our goodness worth, rare and hopeful exceptions show off our better qualities.

There are definitely heroic exceptions and examples of resistance to our violent amoral side, but the death and suffering that we are capable of inflicting on one another betrays a plausible end point of our species. Our evil side is the absence of any empathetic morality, not unlike darkness being the absence of light, there is no positive force of evil in the universe and almost definitely not one with agency (a devil).

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Old 02-15-2009, 08:45 AM   #3
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I believe there are good and evil people, but I don't think there are good and evil as independent forces. I would like to believe that good people will eventually win out, but I see too many good people tolerate evil for me to be really hopeful.
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Old 02-17-2009, 10:33 AM   #4
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I believe in Karma. I believe if you project positive energy unto the world, it will have a ripple effect. Like a pebble dropped into water. The circles spread outward, until they have reached their goal.
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Old 02-18-2009, 12:25 AM   #5
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I don't really believe in 'Good' and 'Evil' as distinct metaphysical entities, but it's admittedly difficult to talk theology without falling back on that kind of language.

I believe that 'God is good'...more in the sense of that which is sublimely ineffable than in the everyday sense that a kindly gesture towards a person in need is 'good.' But I don't draw a radical distinction between the two, because I do assume that creation--manifestation, the expression of divine immanence--has an intentionality and an 'ought-ness' to it; that it reflects a desire to know and to be known, to experience and to be experienced, to transform what is(n't) into what ought to be. And that we are partners in this creation through transformation, even though we know and experience only a limited arena of it.

I don't believe in 'Satan,' and especially not as an analogously transcendent being. In Judaism the 'inclination to evil'--the yetzer ha'ra, which literally means 'that which gives form by shattering'--is seen as a necessary, vital part of existence: it's really just our drive to acquire, to achieve, and to experience, and is 'dangerous' only insofar as it's untempered by the yetzer ha'tov, the inclination towards that which is righteous, harmonious, nurturing. Obviously these terms are primarily meant with reference to humans; you could perhaps compare them to the 'instinct vs. reason' metaphor--though there's an emotive, passionate connotation to tov that 'reason' lacks, and likewise intellectualizing isn't by any means exclusive of ra. We need both to survive and to play our role, but in Judaism it's our yetzer ha'tov that marks us as 'made in God's image'--as moral beings who both long for and contemplate 'ought'-ness (and perhaps who seek fulfillment, self-realization, through an I-Thou relationship with an Other, as well).

As for absolute moral truths...if they really are 'out there', I can't see where it makes much practical difference (as Diogenes the Cynic quipped of his friend's Theory of Forms, "I've seen Plato's cups and tables, but not his Cupness and Tableness"). The sheer breathtaking variety of moral codes, theological metaphors, aesthetic traditions, and so on that human cultures have generated and continue to generate is for me plenty evidence enough that while assumptions (literal or expedient) of the existence of absolute moral truths may be universal, nonetheless the capacity to fully access them is beyond us. This does make us vulnerable, perhaps uniquely so; yet it is inextricable from what makes us creators, seekers, and challengers of ourselves, fate, and God.
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Old 02-18-2009, 02:22 AM   #6
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I have experienced both - what I call God and what I call hell - so I believe in them in a way. I also believe in Karma. But not in certain moral truth codes, like "this religion is better than another". I just know violence, egoism and greed are wrong.

As to the last sentence of your post yolland.. life is dangerous and every living being is vulnerable. The mantra of life is to live in insecurity.

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