Welcome to feedback Friday where in I reply to the good people who read my blog (And sometimes to people who just PRETEND that they’ve read it). Today’s comment is in response to my declaration that we all KNOW that objective good and evil exist. And as always, this was his entire comment. This reader says,
We actually don’t all ‘know’ that good and evil exist. Both are concepts proposed by religious supporters. Not everybody accepts those concepts.
To which I reply: Greetings!
Of course I agree that not everyone professes to know the concepts of Good and Evil- the world is full of all kinds of differing opinions, especially on social media. But when I say we KNOW good and evil, I mean as a matter of actual fact, the way we accept as actual fact the existence of minds other than our own or the existence of the material universe.
Sure, anyone who has seen the Matrix has questioned the external universe, and some people may try to question if it’s really there. But even those who profess to believe we are in a computer simulation will enter a room through a door or a window and be shocked if someone else comes in through a wall, or just pops into being in the chair next to them. Why?
Because we KNOW the universe exits outside of our own head.
The same is true of good and evil.
People will argue over the proper application of certain moral principles- such as how to best care for the poor or raise our children, but no one is arguing that the poor should be set on fire for sport or our children thrown into the grand canyon. Only a psychopath denies right and wrong in his actions, and even they probably admit in in their responses.
Compulsive liars will get angry to find they’ve been lied to.
Professional thieves get angry when someone steals from them.
We all KNOW there is good and evil- real, actual, tangible good and evil. Moral LAWS- not merely feelings about right and wrong. We simply disagree how to best live those out, and we especially do our best to give ourselves a free pass when we do wrong. You admit this when you make arguments for your own defense when you have lied or lusted or stolen, and you never try to make excuses when you are kind and selfless and generous. Why?
Because you know some things are good and others are bad. You are not ashamed of doing good. No one ever is.
Naturally anyone would agree with you that good and evil are concepts proposed by religious supporters, but obviously not ONLY by religious supporters. Atheists have written whole books on their view of right and wrong and how we ought to determine right from wrong. Atheists often ASSUME objective morality in their critique of the church or the bible- or what sense would it make for them to criticize priests for molesting children? What atheist says, “The Bible condones slavery (which of course is not wrong because wrong dos not exist) and thus Christianity is immoral”? They make this (admittedly ignorant) accusation with the belief that slavery is actually, morally wrong.
How else could that be an attack on the church?
If there is no right and wrong they may as well attack the church for meeting on Sunday, or for allowing people to drink coffee. What difference would there be between allowing coffee and allowing slavery if there really was no good or evil?
Very few are stupid enough to simply attempt to state (or live out) a world truly devoid of moral laws. And of course, morals are not INVENTED by religious persons, or they would no more be moral laws than the rules of major league baseball would be moral laws. God alone can author the laws of right and wrong, and he bases them on his own character and nature. This is another reason why the Biblical worldview and depiction of God is far more rational than any other. Other “gods” are arbitrary and self contradictory and fail the test of internal consistency.
I hope this clears up my meaning for you.
Thanks again for your comment.
This did not clear it up for him, but he tried to clarify his point for me:
My point is that neither good, nor evil are real, absolute or as you say- facts.
In my view, the concept of evil is quite dangerous. It can lead people to distance humanity from those labelled as ‘evil’. We are all one species, we’re in this together. To force some people outside can lead to treatment like capital punishment.
And I replied: Hey- I understood your point and I think I explained why your proclamation would be in error even according to your own worldview.
For instance, you call the concept of evil dangerous because- you say- it can lead to treatment like capital punishment. Obviously you are suggesting that capital punishment is itself bad and not good, otherwise you could replace “capital punishment” with anything- such as “generosity”, or “a reduction of human suffering”, or “kittens”- and it would carry the same moral point (none).
But you are condemning evil, danger, and capital punishment as bad things- as evils.
In order to stay consistent with your rejection of good and evil you have to argue that the distancing, dangers, and “badness” of capital punishment are merely your own feelings and don’t reflect any REAL facts outside of your own brain chemistry, the way your experience of chocolate flavor is inside your own brain chemistry. But of course you don’t mean that.
You mean to say that some things are good, just, right, and other things are bad, evil, immoral.
Some things are SHOULDs- others are SHOULDN’Ts. You know that as well as I do. Those are real facts. If your atheist (or whatever your worldview is) conflicts with the real observable facts, then you need to be seriously skeptical of that worldview.
And I suggest, look into Christianity. It’s real and true and makes sense of the data of objective morals.
Thanks again for your comments.