Evil: a baseless construct

This morning on BBC Radio 4’s “Though for the day”, the Right Reverend James Jones claimed “Evil triumphs when the imagination is inebriated with evil”.

So as a logician I would like to know what exactly “evil” is. Can it be measured (like energy)? Or detected by our (5) senses? Does it conform to the known laws (models) of physics?

For something so darn vague it is amazing how much we use it day to day. We blame so much on it, and justify so much in its name.

But in a strange dichotomy, if you pay close attention the the professions (medicine, law, engineering, etc) you will find scant mention of this concept – it does not help in the treatment of criminals or the mentally ill it does not explain earthquakes or building collapses – it seems has no use in the real world, but is used by politicians and preachers like a moral blank-cheque.

I therefore suggest that the concept of evil is a relic from a mystical past in which gods were invoked to explain thunder and demons to explain crop failure.

Surely all talk of someone being ‘evil’ or an act being ‘evil’ has no place in our secular world?

3 thoughts on “Evil: a baseless construct

  1. Maybe because it’s easier to slap the evil label on than deal with the reasons why people resort to horrible behaviours. Easier to label than work on changing what’s really wrong with the world?

  2. I agree. ‘Evil’ is assigned to acts and events by measuring it against our sense of right and wrong. It is not (as many imply) an inherent property of acts and people. The word ‘evil’ is an anachronism, just as the word ‘morality’ is. Ethics has superceded it just as surely as philosophy has superceded theology.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *