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TygerTyger
July 27th, 2009, 05:32 AM
What do you believe is the nature of good and evil in a Pantheist universe?

David19
July 27th, 2009, 06:59 AM
I'm not sure about Pantheism, but, for myself, I do think good and evil exist, for a lot of things, it's more grey than purely good or evil, but, there are some things in life that do fit into those categories, for example, pediphilia is an evil (nothing grey about it), same for Hitler, and the Nazi's, etc. I'm not sure how that squares up with a Pantheist universe, though (hope you don't mind me posting though, even though I'm not a Pantheist).

TygerTyger
July 27th, 2009, 07:06 AM
I'm not sure about Pantheism, but, for myself, I do think good and evil exist, for a lot of things, it's more grey than purely good or evil, but, there are some things in life that do fit into those categories, for example, pediphilia is an evil (nothing grey about it), same for Hitler, and the Nazi's, etc. I'm not sure how that squares up with a Pantheist universe, though (hope you don't mind me posting though, even though I'm not a Pantheist).

I am principally interested in a Pantheistic perspective on this question but any reply that doesn't invoke a superantural origin and moves the debate forward would be welcome.

I would be interested if you could expand on one of the examples you given David; your choice?

miromanyth
July 27th, 2009, 07:39 AM
I believe good and evil is a human construct. I have my doubts that animals separate things into those 2 divides.
That being said, good and evil is a personal thing. Pedophilia is evil? It causes pain, and hurts creatures we consider to be defenseless and innocent. We see that as evil. But does a pedophile? Pedophiles have a serious problem and many of them struggle with it there whole lives. Some of them go through counseling, prison, and probably have fairly miserable lives. Could any of there relationships truly be fulfilling?
If you examine it from this angle is it now still evil? To most of us. It's all relative.

TygerTyger
July 27th, 2009, 07:58 AM
I believe good and evil is a human construct. I have my doubts that animals separate things into those 2 divides.


I agree with this. To suggest otherwise would mean that Good and Evil have an independent existence of humanity and I have no evidence for such a phenomena.


Pedophilia is evil? It causes pain, and hurts creatures we consider to be defenseless and innocent. We see that as evil. But does a pedophile? Pedophiles have a serious problem and many of them struggle with it there whole lives. Some of them go through counseling, prison, and probably have fairly miserable lives. Could any of there relationships truly be fulfilling?
If you examine it from this angle is it now still evil? To most of us. It's all relative.

This is an interesting take on the subject. Having done some work with sexual offenders I can verify much of what you say.

If we did not have the capacity to act in ways that could be termed good or evil would we be able to construct a sense of morality?

miromanyth
July 27th, 2009, 08:18 AM
If we did not have the capacity to act in ways that could be termed good or evil would we be able to construct a sense of morality?

I think that we do what is best for as many of us as possible. Over time we've been ingrained with a morality that has been around for so long that we probably don't question it much.
For example, killing someone just isn't good for the village/community/city. It causes grief, loss, resentment, mistrust, and a host of other things. A long time ago we decided that you know what? We should probably try and punish murder so that fewer people do it.
There are still grey areas for sure. War, social class divide, racism, gender divide, etc. I think most of us agree that we would rather not have these problems but still they persist.
Good/evil is also personal. I disagree vehemently with any kind of war but some people I know are all for it, thinking it brings more peace in the long run.

TygerTyger
July 27th, 2009, 08:36 AM
I think that we do what is best for as many of us as possible.

Ethics derived from the principal of utilitarianism then?

miromanyth
July 27th, 2009, 08:54 AM
Ethics derived from the principal of utilitarianism then?

Eh, well. I think it goes both ways. Utilitarianism and also pragmatic. We do whats best for everyone when we are part of a community but there's still personal choice to some degree in
most cultures.
That's another thing, good and evil is probably cultural as well.

When we look at things from a pantheist perspective, as human beings, we probably should think on a grander scale of whats good and evil. I think today we are getting more conscious of how things affect not only our species but all on this planet. Then the nature of good and evil is expanded and much more complicated.
We've encountered a time when we must think ethically about technology, ecology, global communication, etc.
From my view, as a pantheist of sorts, everything is connected and whats "good" for the majority, in the universal sense, is the highest of moral.

TygerTyger
July 27th, 2009, 09:37 AM
Without personal choice we wouldn't need concepts such as Good or evil, everything would be 'fated' to happen.

In fact, from a Pantheistic point of view personal choice is the only source of ethical behaviour, Good and Evil would be the characteristics of the actions resulting from those choices.

*oonagh*
July 27th, 2009, 09:40 AM
i think it's a bit more selfish. we do that which will cause us the least amount of grief/suffering/pain. when one realizes that we are all connected and that our actions effect/affect us directly, we do what we can to bring about the most positive result in any given situation...ultimately...for ourselves.

as for the question, is there good and evil? as long as judgement exists, there is. it is, i agree, based on personal criteria.

Xentor
July 27th, 2009, 10:03 AM
I am principally interested in a Pantheistic perspective on this question but any reply that doesn't invoke a superantural origin and moves the debate forward would be welcome.

Hmm... pantheism without the supernatural... wouldn't that be atheism? ;) Different topic, though.

From a naturalistic, evolutionary perspective, good and evil play no role. There are things that construct, and things that destruct. Between the two, some things change while others stay the same.

From a biological perspective, using an MRI scanner, we can determine that the average person with evil intent shows a different brain pattern than the average person with good intent. This is interesting because though we may claim that good and evil are social constructs, the influence of our intentions on our brain activity and thus on our biology is measurable and predictable.

It would be interesting to see whether people whose brain patterns show evil intent more than good intent, develop a significantly differing physiology. In the past centuries, we thought phrenology would help us determine good and evil by measuring deviations of the skull. We also learned that things were a little more difficult, and now frown upon such thinking. Contradictingly, some researchers recently claimed to have found a gene that promotes criminal behaviour.

Some proponents of evolution would claim that evil constitutes a man-made obstruction to natural evolution, including for instance DNA therapy and dedicated breeding. The problem with such a stance is that it assumes an evolutionary goal, the reaching of which is thwarted by man's actions. I doubt the existence of such a goal.

In my path of faith however, a religious goal to life is taught worthy of pursuance. This goal underlies reasons for incarnation and universal existence in the first place. The obstruction of this goal is defined as evil, while good behaviour is defined as trying to achieve it. From that and some other dogmas, an ethic is extrapolated, culminating in the following rules of thumb:

- do not kill
- protect the weak and needy

Follow those rules, and your actions are considered good. Break those rules, and face the consequence of being punished by your society.

*oonagh*
July 27th, 2009, 11:17 AM
From a naturalistic, evolutionary perspective, good and evil play no role. There are things that construct, and things that destruct. Between the two, some things change while others stay the same.


well put.

miromanyth
July 27th, 2009, 11:22 AM
From a naturalistic, evolutionary perspective, good and evil play no role. There are things that construct, and things that destruct. Between the two, some things change while others stay the same.


Good/Evil and the notions of what we should or should not do as expected from our self and peers is all human-centric. The universe as a whole has no moral compass.
The notion of good and evil outside of human intellect does not seem to exist.

Once you've said that though it is of some importance to humanity. Because we have sort of special privileges as human beings, making choices outside of need and necessity, good/evil does play a role on the planet. Our actions, while neither good nor evil DO make change.
Is all change neutral?

A giant asteroid looms on the horizon and will destroy all life as we know it. Is the asteroid evil? Some human beings would say so. The scientific minded might say it's an unfortunate accident. And the cats, dogs, and ants on a log? Is it evil to them?

TygerTyger
July 28th, 2009, 03:10 AM
Hmm... pantheism without the supernatural... wouldn't that be atheism? ;) Different topic, though.


You are right, it was badly worded but I didn't have the time to go back and re-write it. I was trying to avoid appeals to obvious sources such as the Christian God and Devil. I suppose that I also presumed a human origin for the concepts of Good and Evil too.


From a biological perspective, using an MRI scanner, we can determine that the average person with evil intent shows a different brain pattern than the average person with good intent. This is interesting because though we may claim that good and evil are social constructs, the influence of our intentions on our brain activity and thus on our biology is measurable and predictable.

It would be interesting to see whether people whose brain patterns show evil intent more than good intent, develop a significantly differing physiology. In the past centuries, we thought phrenology would help us determine good and evil by measuring deviations of the skull. We also learned that things were a little more difficult, and now frown upon such thinking. Contradictingly, some researchers recently claimed to have found a gene that promotes criminal behaviour.


This is interesting and might warrant further research.



In my path of faith however, a religious goal to life is taught worthy of pursuance. This goal underlies reasons for incarnation and universal existence in the first place. The obstruction of this goal is defined as evil, while good behaviour is defined as trying to achieve it. From that and some other dogmas, an ethic is extrapolated, culminating in the following rules of thumb:

- do not kill
- protect the weak and needy

Follow those rules, and your actions are considered good. Break those rules, and face the consequence of being punished by your society.

I have no doubt that ethics began with the development of human society. When beings live together there has to be rules and this is seen in all communities irrespective of species.

I would amend your rules, however, to read:

Do not kill your own.
Protect what is yours.

The latter might be extended to include the weak but there are plenty of examples of the weak being considered expendable.


Good/Evil and the notions of what we should or should not do as expected from our self and peers is all human-centric. The universe as a whole has no moral compass.
The notion of good and evil outside of human intellect does not seem to exist.

Once you've said that though it is of some importance to humanity. Because we have sort of special privileges as human beings, making choices outside of need and necessity, good/evil does play a role on the planet. Our actions, while neither good nor evil DO make change.
Is all change neutral?

A giant asteroid looms on the horizon and will destroy all life as we know it. Is the asteroid evil? Some human beings would say so. The scientific minded might say it's an unfortunate accident. And the cats, dogs, and ants on a log? Is it evil to them?

I agree. God does not have a human concept of morality because God's perception of existence is totally different to ours.

Ethics are important to us as humans however, because they regulate our behaviour by influence. Personally I think it is healthier to see ethics as a human concern rather than a system of morality imposed upon us by a deity.

~Nixie
August 3rd, 2009, 02:29 AM
I think that "good and evil" exist within the human mind, and society...

They are not predisposed by higher beings, but many tend to be natural inclinations that promote the survival and content of our species...

(not always, of course, sometimes one more than the other)

in general, morality is necessary for societies to form and exist, even though there's different systems and interpretations of it.

*oonagh*
August 3rd, 2009, 02:10 PM
They are not predisposed by higher beings, but many tend to be natural inclinations that promote the survival and content of our species...

(not always, of course, sometimes one more than the other)

in general, morality is necessary for societies to form and exist, even though there's different systems and interpretations of it.

so, people act in such a way that is best for the survival and well-being of the society and the species?

that makes sense. however, i maintain that the reason people do so is because it is in their own best interests.