I was brought up in a very very! conservative, Christian sect. It was insular and damn near incestuous. (I won’t go into the who could marry thing, cuzz it gets weird.)
The reason I mention this is the philosophical question of who or what evil is, was very clear then. Everything is. Society, people, even children are evil.
This always struck me as odd…How do people who claim God created us all, and we are His children, created in His image, then go on to say we are all evil? Wouldn’t that mean that ipso facto God is evil then? But then wouldn’t our God be the devil?
So having read a decent amount of philosophy and religion, for someone who is not lettered in them, I came to my own conclusions. (I’d be happy to discuss here or in PM). I am not lettered in religion or philo, but I “read” in cults as part of my psych and sociology courses. There is a distinction.
They are innocent of time on earth and all they want is basic needs met and someone to hold them (also a basic need when you are an infant or small child. Unlike my older sisters and step mom, I don’t believe you can spoil a baby by holding it too much. For which my daughter says thanks mom!) They are creatures of need and fear that those needs won’t be met. They need stimulation as well. Without these things, they are unable to learn well and can die. Depends how severe the neglect is.
These things aren’t evil when a baby or small child does them. If you’re still in this mindset when you’re an adult? Let’s revisit that evil discussion. Or at least look at mental status.
The problem with saying that children are born evil is it allows for abuse and neglect. IMO
Adult humans are creatures of passion (which most of the venal sins are, if not all IMO). Our needs don’t really change much, but we gain a sense of propriety and self regulation a baby will never have. (You can train the parent, but not the baby.) Adults often develop a sense of stoicism. At least they control their emotions by serving the interests of the group, rather than their emotional state.
Adults also get more refined tastes. And have aversions that most babies don’t experience. And most of all, an adult can be guided by the group. A baby will cry in church. Funeral, wedding, high holiday solemn service. They want their need met now!! Most adults recognize that this might be a bad moment to ask for a glass of water or food, and will wait till services are over. They wll NOT poop in the sacristy!
Impulsivity and obsessiveness or malignant narcissism aside, adults are oriented by the situation and what is being asked by the group. Because people want/need to belong.
Having feelings is not a crime or a sin; telling someone you have feelings is not a crime or sin. The crime or sin comes when you act against the group’s moral or legal code, If you look at the definition of sanity, it’s that. In a nut shell. Today we consider these people to have a mental defect or disease.
The religions that most people know of were all introduced at a time when there were far fewer people and the hierarchy wanted people to make babies. (Therefore, the sex must be hetero and genital, when the woman was fertile) They wanted the babies to be traceable to the temple, so they wanted monogamy. Or at least a one-penis poly arrangement. OR they traced thru mom. So sexual expression was all about procreation. In those confines. Which is why things were said about homosexuality, loose fornication, adultery… They wanted a chaste bride. And they’d punish her is she wasn’t seen that way.
(Except for the priestesses and temple prostitutes back when sex rites were religious practice. They were not the rule in sexual responsibility)
The groups were mostly ruled by religious practice. Esp back in the day when they came into being. The laws were the same as the religion. So the person who followed the religion was a moral person. The person who did not, was evil. And faced consequences. Usually excommunication from the group.
In most cases, the group was just trying to do the right thing by their people. And gain members. So they warred with their local tribes and built empires to gain members. Conversion by force. They thought they were “the blessed people of their gods”, “the chosen”. And they wanted to “save” the “heathen” around them.
Time and events, science and knowledge, have changed and yet the conservatives of these religions still try to adhere to the literal teachings of their holy books and priests. Which only works well if they are insulated from other groups. That’s getting harder to do.
There are gods of many things, including death and chaos, but the only god that might be “evil” is the trixster god. The only one who makes trouble for the “people”. Who doesn’t follow the rules. And tries to separate the “people” from the other gods. You might call that evil? You might not? Other gods fall from grace and err, and battle at times, but the trixster god is a trouble maker.
Until we get to Christianity (where most of western philo comes from)
there is no systemic “evil” hierarchy. Enter Satan or Lucifer. And the fallen angels. The ones who challenged God and lost the battle (when the victor tells the story, and they always do, the other side lost because they were against God) And were exiled to “hell”, along with any who worshipped them. By practicing those venal sins and not conforming to the group (in this case Christians). So in that frame, trope or paradigm, evil is those who follow Satan. The rest are “heathen” or ignorant.
Or everyone and everything is evil? Back to the ultra conservative Bible thumpers I was raised among. 😛 Yeah I shook their dust off me years ago.
I’m curious what you think, and as I said at the top of this, would love to discuss it. 🙂