Is Evil a Derivative of Good?

DualityJeremy John writes at the Good Men Project:

I constantly meet people wherein we eventually have the following exchange:

(them) “Oh, you’re a Christian, doesn’t that make you judgmental?”

(me) “Any value system causes a person to believe that some things are right and others wrong.”

(them) “No, not mine. I don’t believe in Universal Truths. To do so would be judgmental. That is, I judge only those that believe in something. The ultimate wrong is to attempt to convince another of your own point of view. By the way, WTF, how are you a Christian? Hello, Crusades?!?!”

By this point I always feel thoroughly annoyed but I am glued to this same intellectual train wreck, as always, unable to look away.

In order to confront the great injustices of this world, we must first root ourselves in satyagraha, or, truth firmness. That is, in order to move outwards to change the world we must first know what we ourselves believe. Know thyself, as Socrates famously did not say. Or, know the thing you believe, the thing that is higher than yourself.

The second step in Alcoholics Anonymous is to believe in a power greater than yourself. Why is this essential? Because, if there is no God greater than the mewling self, there is nothing other than the satisfaction of desire. Why is this bad, you may ask? Anybody that has ever struggled against addiction, or any uncontrollable self-destructive urge, will know why you must accept something greater than your own desire if you are to overcome it.

What about those that struggle with darker drives? Those Colombian paramilitary soldiers that rape and kill, who played soccer with a man’s head? How do you tell them not to do what they desire? Or, even worse, how do you tell them that what they think is right is actually wrong?

Read more from Jeremy John at the Good Men Project

29 Comments on "Is Evil a Derivative of Good?"

  1. There is no such thing as Evil.  There is no such thing as Sin.  There is only Action.

  2. JohnFrancisBittrich | Mar 22, 2012 at 4:15 pm |

    imho Nietzsche settled these questions once and for all. At the very least, he did a much more eloquent and thorough job of it than the writer of the above article.

    • Liam_McGonagle | Mar 22, 2012 at 5:18 pm |

      Isn’t citing Alcoholics Anonymous sort of scraping the bottom of the barrel, too?

      Penn and Teller did a Bullsh*t episode on them once, and apparently their track record of “success” is a statistical dead heat with those who received no treatment of any kind whatsoever.

      Also, I don’t like that name.  Alcoholics Anonymous?  Would anyone quote a group calling itself, “Mysterious Speedfreaks”?

      • I might quote such a group, but I might not be the typical example, since I sometimes walk around in a fake hockey mask and of course, when I’m doing so I don’t expect people to take me all that seriously.

        You’re right about AA though. Not the level of success that one would hope to see… They do however help to keep the drunks looking after each other instead of taking up all of our time. Plus, picking up women at those meetings is like shooting fish in a barrel. The only thing easier is picking up the girls at NA with a pocket full of oxy and an 8-ball.

        That hunting is so easy that it’s unsportsmanlike.

        • Liam_McGonagle | Mar 22, 2012 at 7:20 pm |

          I’m told by some that I’m a bit eccentric myself, so I’m basically on board with you there.  My only reservations being:

          1.)  The fact that AA is apparently no more effective than non-treatment suggests that it’s NOT keeping the drunks occupied

          2.)  I myself am not what would be charitably termed “corporeally attractive in the classic sense”.  That, combined with my generalized loathing of the human race, makes intoxication the primary scenario in which I render an heir to the estates of McGonagle of Ballybumfuck, if you catch my subtext.

          Other than that, and possibly including the fact that most folks attending AA are required to do so by court order, effectively negating the Church / State separation in the Constitution, I’m on board.  (Remember all that “higher power” crap AA keeps going on about?  Evangelization).

          • Word. Got a cpl friends who do the AA thing. One is an atheist who is bordering on violating his terms because hes sick to death of Christian sermons being passed of as ‘recovery stories’ that should be faith neutral. Basically the jesus-crispies in the crowd have found their loophole and just beat everyone over the head with the jesus stick for an hour. I can’t imagine anything that would make me hunger for sweet sweet oblivion than listening to that bullshit twice a week.

            Also…got another friend whose been sober 10 years and likes his AA meetings even tho he isn’t a traditional Christian…but even he, in his role as a professional in charitable institution management and funding, expressed concern over AAs lack of provable results…and the unfortunate number of mandatory participants who instantly relapse as soon as their forced terms are complete.

          • mysophobe | Mar 23, 2012 at 2:22 pm |

            My ultra-conservative parents had me commited to lock-down rehab with thrice-daily Catholic AA meetings at the age of 17 because I came home with beer on my breath a couple times. I just went through the motions, but step 2 was especially troubling. No way I was going to surrender myself to the Catholic higher power, sadistic a-hole that he is. Perhaps if I’d been exposed to other, less passive-aggressive gods at the time it would have been less of a pointless exercise. I did take to heart the whole “grant me the serenity” chant in future interactions with my parents though. Also, another kid introduced me to mushrooms on a rehab sponsored Outward Bound trip, so it wasn’t all bad.

  3. There is no good or evil, just one belief over another. So for example in many Hollywood movies one character wants to preserve or save the world and another wants to destroy it or rule over it, so they both proceed to destroy each other. So who is good and who is evil? Everyone gets wiped out.

  4. No one should follow, or needs to follow, any religion. Most were made with good intentions(tricking people into being good, and lulling them into blissful ignorance) but has since evolved into peoples means of manipulating the masses. If your religion has metaphors built in to tell you, you can be happy and follow them, or be smart and on your own, I firmly believe the world would be better if people would choose to be smart. There could be a god but I guarantee most mainstream religions are based on complete fiction.

  5. this guy needs to join crap logicholics anonymousno one needs to believe in an higher power to recognize when drug or alcohol use or any other behaviors threaten your enjoyment in the long term
    that’s called knowing what you want and not being a 2 year old who can’t think more than 5 minutes in the future

  6. I think some Ishmaelite said it best…

    “Nothing is forbidden. Everything is permitted” –  Hassan i Sabbah.

    • Erick Chastain-Rivas | Apr 28, 2012 at 9:19 pm |

      Let’s take this for granted. So for example, trying to square the circle, or make a perpetual motion machine. All of these are permitted. But are they wise?

  7. For anything to exist there must be polarization. Therefore, the existence of consciousness can only occur if that consciousness forms polarized thought. Hence the reason we (humans) distinguish an act or thought as good or evil. 

    The truth will always be: “Nothing is forbidden. Everything is permitted” as pointed out by Zenc. 

    All the limitations you believe exist are in fact, imaginary. 

    Our physical laws are all bases on a flawed method called observation, whether it be done by humans or human made technology. Nothing is impossible, everything is possible and therefore right and wrong do not exist and are nothing but a figment of your falsely observed and apocryphally limited imaginary world. 

  8. The article is loaded with a big giant strawman argument. I’ve never met an atheist or agnostic that talked like that. Not even Dawkins or Hitchens.

    AA is not the best program for alcoholics who are often struggling with mental illness. Often alcoholics  start drinking as a means of self medicating when they are undiagnosed. AA makes them deny that a chemical imbalance may be the root of the problem. They are to take full responsibility and then put themselves in the hands of a higher power, rather than realize that they may be able to help themselves (seems like a contradiction to me. It’s utter bullshit. A proper diet (the same diet they give sugar addicts, btw) and the proper medication have a success rate of 70% – AA has a success rate around 30%.

  9. Prudisill | Mar 23, 2012 at 1:00 am |

    Interesting article I might give this a little bit of thought late tonight!

  10. I believe in good, no petty God. How about the Lord’s Resistance Army, who recruits child soldiers? They certainly believed in a higher cause, as did the Nazis. If people want to kill themselves like selfish cowards instead of facing reality and their often relatively privileged position, i let them as long as they don’t hurt others.

  11. post mordem, post boredom | Mar 23, 2012 at 1:08 pm |

    lolz, imo we cannot yet conceive of that which we have never done when we cannot even conceive that it never existed in our collective acts….

  12. emperorreagan | Mar 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm |

    He at least gets the part about concepts of good and evil being parsed within cultural traditions correct.

    Belief in a higher power is not essential.  A personal philosophy other than simplistic hedonism is, but that doesn’t require belief in a higher power.  

  13. Calypso_1 | Mar 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm |

    “…if there is no God greater than the mewling self, there is nothing other than the satisfaction of desire.”

    credo quia absurdum est

  14. gwen jackson | Mar 27, 2012 at 6:53 am |

     what your feeble primate “brain” perceives as “evil” derives from the evolution of predators competing for resources and breeding rights.
    all the rest of that bullshit filling your head is just residual suds from the socialization brainwashing. squish, squish, squish, GET IT CLEAN! love all humans, but the ones who have shit you want to steal aren’t human and must be MURDERED.

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