I Do Not Believe in Evil

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First of all, to anyone who is still following me, I’m sorry that I haven’t been all that active in the last few months. ¬†I’ve been going though a change in career, poor internet connection due to the area I live in, and a few changes in my personal life. But I should be back to my semi-regular schedule. ūüôā

Now, on to the subject of this post. ¬† I have been keeping up with the responses to my post about hydrogen peroxide therapy and I noticed a pattern in the responses. ¬†This pattern is that there is some organization that is trying to keep the common populace from having a cure because it interferes with their plans to profit from the suffering of others. ¬†In fact, that general pattern seems to be pretty common in the media these days. ¬†People are constantly talking about how “evil” organizations are out to get us or harm us. ¬†And this got me thinking about the idea of evil.

To begin, this is the dictionary definition of the word evil:

a : morally reprehensible : sinful, wicked <an evil impulse>

b : arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct <a person of evil reputation>
a: archaic , inferior
b : causing discomfort or repulsion : offensive <an evil odor>
c : disagreeable <woke late and in an evil temper>
a : causing harm : pernicious <the evil institution of slavery>
b : marked by misfortune : unlucky

These definitions of the term evil paint a pretty clear picture.  Evil is against morality, a cause of suffering, and a repulsive thing to be avoided.  But I want to point something out here.  Evil tends to be portrayed as these traits as enacted by a willing participant, with one exception in the example above.

My real issue with the term comes not from the dictionary definition, but from the colloquial use of the word.  When most people use the word evil, they mean a person or act that is destructive or antagonistic with little to no regard for the well being of others.  Evil people actively try to harm others without meaning or remorse.  When I hear people talk about evil, it often conjures up the imagery of fictionalized bad guys.  The key word in that last sentence is the word fictionalized.

Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Throughout history, people have used stories to make sense of the world around them. ¬†Now, since we’re a social species, the anti-social acts of a select few have confused us ever since our society started. ¬†One way that we humans have tried to make sense of the destructive and hurtful acts of others is to create the idea of evil. ¬†Historically, evil has been the excuse for people who do things that hurt others. ¬†This depiction of evil is often associated with individuals who have no “heart” or “soul.” ¬†When people use this definition of evil, they paint a picture of the people or groups that they describe as being without a sense of morality. ¬†This can easily damage our perceptions of the people around us.

This is here because the devil is a classic depiction of evil, and I love the Diablo games.

This is here because the devil is a classic depiction of evil, and I love the Diablo games.

I believe that the vast majority of people do not do anything with the active intent of only harming people.  I believe that when you look into the intent of people, they have an interest in heart that can be understood.  The CEO that steals from their company was doing it because they wanted their family to live in luxury.  The politician who voted against additional funding for schools may have been convinced by uninformed voters that the bill was going to prevent private schools from teaching the religion that they are a member of.  While we may not agree with the actions of the people around us, I believe that we need to look into the reasons behind those actions.  If those actions are based in greed or hate or any other worldview that does more harm than good, then we should be able to oppose them.  However, if there is a logic to the actions that we do not agree with, then we need to be able to learn about that logic and understand it if we ever want to progress as a society.

A Look at Misogyny in The Skeptic Community

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Alright, so there has been a lot of talk about sexism in the atheist/skeptic community lately. Most of this has taken place online and at skeptic conferences. Before I go into my opinions about this issue, I feel like I should give you a brief history about how this controversy started.

About a year ago, a prominent atheist blogger, Rebecca Watson, posted a video about her experience at a conference in Dublin. She talked about how she was drinking with some friends until 4 A.M. She left the bar and took the elevator to her room with a man who asked her if she would like to come to his room for “coffee.”

Rebecca Watson said that this event made her feel uncomfortable and sexualised. She said that the issue of sexism in the atheist/skeptic community needed to be addressed in light of this incident.

Several bloggers in the community addressed Rebecca’s position as an overreaction. They said that while the man in the elevator didn’t have the best judgment, Rebecca overreacted to the incident and that sexism in the atheist community was not as big an issue as she made it out to be.

Rebecca then called out one of these bloggers during a keynote speech she gave at another conference. This triggered more debate online, which drew in the attention of the bigger players of the community such as P.Z. Myers and Richard Dawkins. Myers agreed with Rebecca, while Dawkins pointed out that sexism in other parts of the world was far worse than the incident that Rebecca experienced.

This controversy caught the attention of many others in the community, including youtubers, The Amazing Atheist and Thunderf00t. The Amazing Atheist talked about the stupidity of the entire debate, while Thunderf00t brought up the over-exaggeration of sexism in the community.

Now I will give my opinion on these events. I would like to note that I do not hold any of these ideas in stone and am willing to debate and discuss these opinions with anyone who is willing to debate rationally.

First off, I am in the camp that says that Rebecca overreacted to the event. ¬†I do feel like the man in the elevator was an idiot for hitting on her in an elevator, where she couldn’t walk away easily. ¬†But, this man didn’t seem to push the subject, so I feel the subject could have ended at that moment. ¬†I also think that Rebecca should have taken the high road when bringing up the issue. ¬†This seems to be a simple case of social stupidity that could have been¬†addressed¬†as such in Rebecca’s videos and speeches.

Now in regards to the negative attention that Rebecca has received in light of this incident, I am sickened that people would mock her with threats of violence and rape.  That behavior is unacceptable in a civilized society.  However, in the internet culture, that behavior is relatively common these days; I myself have received a few threats of rape for my post about sexism in the GOP.  If these threats seem genuine, if the person making them gives personal information that shows serious intent, then they should be dealt with by contacting the proper authorities.  But, Rebecca addresses these as all being genuine to further an agenda.  I think that a little bit of common sense would show that there are other issues and causes to the behavior of these internet trolls.

Now when it comes to the opinions of other bloggers such the The Amazing Atheist and Thunderf00t,  I think that everyone is entitled to their opinion.  I also believe that opinion should never have any effect on policy or action when it comes to social issues.  Logic and reason must overcome opinions and feelings when it comes to issues like this.  And on that note, I wish to address a small but important issue that has recently arose from this debate.

P.Z. Myers has a blog called Freethought Blogs.  He recently banned Thunderf00t from this blog for rationally discussing this issue on Freethought Blogs.  Now while I understand that having a new voice come into a debate and criticizing a strongly held view can be upsetting, P.Z. Myers sunk to the level of an ignorant bigot in banning Thunderf00t through strawman arguments and gut reactions.  If issues like sexism are ever going to be worked out and solved, it is going to be thought rational debate and logical arguments.  Not knee-jerk reactions and emotional outpouring.  I am ashamed to call myself a future teacher if people like P.Z. Myers can hold the same title that I will soon hold.

In the end, I think that the issue of sexism in the skeptic community is something to be looked at so that people of all genders, creeds, sexuality, and races can be welcome.  But I feel like this issue has polarized the community, turning free thinking individuals into pluralized mobs that only react on empty emotion.

But what do you think? ¬†Am I right, wrong, or neither. ¬†Is sexism a rampent problem in the atheist/skeptic community? ¬†Leave a comment and I’ll be sure to join in on the debate.

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