Comparative Religion Concept of Good and Evil

coolguy111606 posted on Nov 04, 2008 at 02:24AM
For those of you who are Naturalists, I am interested to know what are your concepts of Good and Evil, as in how it will be rewarded, conscience, and how evil people get rich (not all but some), and why good people aren't rich (again not all but some)?

Or just for those looking at this, what do you think of good and evil, (if you're not a naturalist)?

P.S. Probably a very poorly worded question, but hopefully gets my question across. (also not meant to be a debate question, just a question).
last edited on Apr 11, 2009 at 03:52PM

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lebih dari setahun yang lalu amazondebs said…
good and evil is a grey area I think each individual case need to be looked at i don't think you can make blanket rules like

"thou shalt not steal"
"thou shalt not murder"

is it wrong for a staving child to steal bread?
is it wrong to defend yourself?

I think whether something is good or evil all depends on the person's intentions

I think we would all agree stealing for a personal gain is a bad thing

as for rewards who knows if there is a reward in the after life, don't get me wrong i hope there is but i don't need that thought to spur me on
if tomorrow scientists proved there was no after life or any kind of reward from god for good deeds I would still try and do good deeds where i could, i would still and be the best i could to my fellow humans because i believe doing a good deed for a individual or for humanity is it's own rewards, it's made the world a better place, it's all about trying to one day have a perfect world where everyone is feed, sheltered and healthy and no one has masses of power over people

it might be unrealistic but if you can make life slightly better for one person then it's one step closer and knowing you have helped someone does give you a good feeling and that's the reward

personally i think people who do believe in a god of some kind have more to answer as to explaining why some people are rich and some people aren't

some people are richer than others because they were born in to or manipulated themselves in to that position, I blame religion as to one of the reason why the poor stay poor and the rich stay rich, have you ever noticed all religious figures from local priest to the pope have more wealth than most, more power than most
they even inprint it in to hymns
"the rich man at his castle, the poor man at his gate, god made them high or lowly and ordered their estate"
or what about the caste system in Hinduism where everyone is taught to believe that if they stay in their social place and "behave" they will be reincarnated in to a better caste
pretty much every religion finds money to take away form the poor and give to the rich, although by most religious rule it's not evil because it's not directly stealing

I don't think there should be any set rules for what good is good and evil period but to have rich powerful oppressive men tell you what these rules are is even more messed up
lebih dari setahun yang lalu amazondebs said…
i realise this came off a bit defensive and probably also offensive to certain religions but i am not attacking the believes or the people who follow them but the establishments of religions and churches
lebih dari setahun yang lalu coolguy111606 said…
Awesome thanks for answering that question.
Just one more, what is your opinion on the conscience, as in how it exists, what it is, and how it works.
lebih dari setahun yang lalu SG1-090 said…
Hey i thought i'd give this question a try!

Fist of all people are rich/poor whatever...because they are born into a family who is rich or poor then they either experience good/bad/amazing luck or/and they work hard/don't work at all .......lets just say there are a ton of different factors that can effect why some people are rich and some people are poor. Sometimes it helps to be a good person because people like you and can help you out and sometimes (more often than not IMO) it helps to be a selfish person who steps on people to get what they want.

It just comes down to situation and for me has nothing to do with whether you are being rewarded for being a good person or punished for being a bad person.
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lebih dari setahun yang lalu SG1-090 said…
Good and evil....okay well, i have a personally opinion to every situation like Debs said, for me it's not black and white.

You kill someone trying to kill you....fine it's self defence - if they're attacking you unprovoked then you deserve to live more than they do (this is asuming that you aren't some kind of child raping sicko or something but just a normal person who is generally nice).

I don't think everyone has the potential for evil inside of them either - some people are bad...sure but that's different from how i class evil.

Evil, for me, is someone who enjoys killing/torturing normal(/innocent but it's hard to say who's innoncent....).

=S This is so hard...i'm trying to write more but short of making a list of each&every situation and saying who i think is right/wrong good/bad i'm not really sure how to really explain!
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lebih dari setahun yang lalu SG1-090 said…
I believe killing for your beliefs is wrong (possibly even evil). I believe killing someone else to save your own life is cowardly and wrong - (unless they happen to be evil, like i said know...child rapist, serial killer etc..).

I don't think you get a reward or punshment because i don't think anything happens after death but hopeful you will be punished in this life if you are evil. Like if you kill some one you go to jail or get exacuted(yes i am pro death penalty - if only we had a better/fairer legal system)....

And i don't think you get rewarded for being a good person either - but if you are really a good person it's impossible for you to be anything other than a good person so it doesn't matter....sorta like not being a bad person is it's own reward.
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lebih dari setahun yang lalu SG1-090 said…
Also i thought i'd try and answer you second question - WAY easier and quicker to answer BTW!

I am scientific, everything can be explained it's just that we're not smart enough to understand it - that's all. Conscienceness is a mystery something we cant explain that doesn't mean we never will be able to...and even if we never can, perhaps that just means it's outside our grasp of logic.

It must be some sort of energy that we haven't encountered though, or that's all i can think it could be....
lebih dari setahun yang lalu amazondebs said…
your welcome :)

coincidences normally either have scientific explanation or they are just by chance

if there is a god i don't think he/she/it would be doing individuals miracles anyway

I seem to agree with SG1-090 although i think i am slightly more open to the idea of higher being than her i just don't want to follow a specific religion
lebih dari setahun yang lalu Sappp said…
'..what is your opinion on the conscience, as in how it exists, what it is, and how it works.'

I think your conscience is just you. When I cheated on school (yes I did) I could justify it all I wanted to myself ('I was sick, did not have time to study, the teacher always makes the test too hard,' etc) but at the same time I knew it was wrong.

I don't think it's an outside force or anything: it's just me looking at something from a different angle and checking myself. I can then choose the 'good' or the 'bad' option.

Hope this makes sense.

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lebih dari setahun yang lalu Cinders said…
Oh this is a fantastic question. The concept of morality, what is just, what isn't, has been plaguing humanity since the dawn of time. Machiavelli argued once that the ends justifies the means, but is that always true?

I would disagree with debs when she says it's about intention. Plenty with good intentions have caused heartache, and some of malicious intent can cause joy. I asked once, long ago, what the definition of a sin was, echoing Socrates in his discussion with Euthyphro of what piety is. The article may be found here:


I have often asked theists to justify their beliefs without biblical/koranic/talmudic support. IE, logically, why do you feel that what your holy book says is wrong... is wrong? I think that this question is the reverse of that. A lot of people use religion as the basis of a moral code. I often recommend (with no offense intended) that one uses that base as a foundation and then continues to build upon it with their own ideas and interpretations. Although some would argue that the foundation is all you need (something akin to fundamentalism)... I find the majority of theists agree with me.

You'll see in my article that I defined a sin as "Anything that causes physical, emotional, psychological or financial pain to oneself or others." That is the root definition. But often it's determined on a case-by-case basis.

Homosexuality, for example. The reason most logicians, naturalists and non-theists believe it not to be a sin is by logical conclusion. Let's look at some of those reasons why:

A) It is not hurting anyone physically, emotionally, financially or psychologically.
B) It provides happiness for practitioners.
C) We (and by we, I mean those who agree with me) see it as an expression of love.

Now these three points may be debated by theists. For example, a theist may say that it hurts the practitioners spiritually and/or psychologically. Some would also argue that it is not based on love (an argument I see as being similar to Martians deciding that humans do not have emotions. As they have never been human, what basis do they have for that argument?)

So the point of this discussion is that we (and those who agree with me) judge good and evil based on our own logic and empathy.

Evolutionary speaking, I can tell you exactly why we developed a conscience, and this sense of good and evil, and why certain personality disorders prevent access to this part of the brain (APD, for example). But that is an explanation that will get far too scientific.
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lebih dari setahun yang lalu amazondebs said…
i would be interested in that scientific explanation cinders

okay so what about your definition that it's about whether it hurts someone or not
is is wrong for a starving child to steal bread? that affects the shop owners financially
lebih dari setahun yang lalu Cinders said…
Yes, I go into detail on situations like that in the article. I'm just gonna copy-paste knifewrench's comment:

Wonderful article :)

"Some may argue that helping yourself at the expense of others is a sin, and hurting yourself for others' benefit is a sacrifice."

These are the factors I think about when considering morality:

-AMOUNT of people benefiting from action
-Amount of TIME they benefit from action
-How MUCH they will benefit from the action

-How much you will have to SACRIFICE for the benefit of others
-How LONG you will have to suffer for the benefit of others

If you sacrifice something for someone's gain, then it's not a sin (in my opinion), in fact it's quite admirable.

Others may view it the opposite way round, that NOT sacrificing something of your own happiness for the benefit of others is a sin (in some people's opinion). It depends, if their gain is a lot greater than your sacrifice then it's selfish to not do so (and therefore a bad thing).

On the other hand, it's great if you "-2" your own happiness to "+1" someone's" but it's not a sin to keep your +2, it's a lot to ask.

Feel free to cyber-smack me round the back of the head and tell me to make sense :P
lebih dari setahun yang lalu harold said…
Cinders, I don't think sin and evil are synonymous, but it reads to me that you've been talking about sin a great deal in this thread and not much about good or evil.

To answer the original question: It's a tough question, as others have said. I think that there must be an universal good and universal evil common to all people. I think this because the idea of each individual determining what is good and evil or a democratic determination of what is good and evil by the majority in any given group is untenable. Whether this universal definition comes from our human biology or an external force is another matter.

SG1-090: I may be wrong, but it sounds like you were interpreting the second question to be about consciousness, rather than the conscience. I may have misunderstood you or the original question, which I took to mean "What do you think about an innate sense that distinguishes between right and wrong as we go about our daily activities?"

To answer that question (and let me know, coolguy, if I did misunderstand), I have to say much the same thing. I think that the conscience must be common to all people, as the means whereby people know those universal goods and evils. However, I believe that everybody also is fully able to ignore his/her conscience, and people can be damaged to the point where they can't "hear" their conscience at all (abuse victims, addicts, people with some serious mental illnesses) and so go through life doing good and evil indiscriminately.
lebih dari setahun yang lalu SG1-090 said…
Haha no your not wrong Harold your totally right. I got so wrapped up and twisted around with trying to answer the first question i read the second wrong =S Well...i would put down my thoughts but honestly i'm much better in a verbal debate. When i type things out i always try and improve on what's already down it inevitably makes things worse and i end up with something uninteligable...and to be honest i'm really tired. But thanks for pointing it out =]
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lebih dari setahun yang lalu thetacoman said…
Evil people are rich because of greed. Good people are poor because of generousity. Your conscience (if you are Christan) is the Holy Spirit lecturing you for sinning. Good is anything God would do, Evil is anything Satan would do, and good people will live in Heaven with God, evil people will suffer in Death.
lebih dari setahun yang lalu bri-marie said…
Oh, this is gonna be long :p

Good and Evil
I believe that "good" and "evil" are very much subjective. For example, murder isn't always bad, keeping your opinions to yourself isn't always good. For me, I agree with Cinders. If it intentionally causes harm, it's going to go on the bad side. If the intent is cause good, it's going to go on the good side.

how it will be rewarded
I think this varies on a case-by-case basis. Not everyone's idea of a "reward" is the same. For some, dying and going to the stereotypical Valhalla would be an awesome reward for doing good deeds. For some, being surrounded by family in a safe, warm place is good enough. Since everyone is so diverse, no one is rewarded in the same way.
Or, for that matter, punished in the same way.
However, I don't see the rewards and punishments as being tangible, either. For example, if I donate money to a shelter, and the next day get an A on a test, I don't see the A as a reward for my good deed. If I lie to my mom, and the next day my dog pukes on my shoes, I don't see that as me being punished, either.

I believe the conscience is something almost all humans are born with (like the fight and flight response). It's an inner morale code, a gut instinct that tries to stop us from doing something bad that will not better a situation. However, I think that, much like the fight and flight response, humans have evolved and changed so much over time that it's become something that is much easier to ignore or "turn off" if we want.

how evil people get rich (not all but some), and why good people aren't rich (again not all but some)
I don't see being rich or poor as necessarily being a reward or punishment, or relative to good or evil. Monetary gain (or loss) is purely a human concept -- we are the only species that sees money equating happiness. So, I don't see it as being any divine intervention.
Humans have free-will. We have choices, and do our own actions. "Evil" people become rich because they manipulated and swindled and cheated their way there. Or because they were born or worked their way into the right circumstances.
On the other hand, "good" people become poor because they were born or worked their way into the wrong circumstances.