Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lucia The evil that men do

Carl Olsen looks at what Dr. Theodore Dalrymple has to say about Anders Breivik, the infamous Norweigan who in cold blood killed unarmed teenagers and those who were barely twenties. He draws a parallel between the mind of such a killer and how he perceives himself by comparing him to a man who threw acid in the faces of two of his girlfriends.

"Most people," Dr. Dalrymple says, "now have a belief in the inner core of themselves as being good. So that whatever they've done, they'll say, 'That's not the real me.'" He recalls an inmate he once encountered: "I remember one particular chap who'd thrown ammonia at his girlfriend's face because he was jealous. He denied he'd done it. And the evidence was overwhelming that he had done it. So I said, 'Why did you say you didn't do it?'"

He delivers the convict's response in a convincing working-class English accent quite different from his own, more refined, speech: "Well, I'm not like that," the man told him. "I don't do them things." Dr. Dalrymple explains that "for him, his core was more real than what he'd actually done." It turned out that the man had been to prison before—"and it was for throwing acid in his girlfriend's face."

Dr. Dalrymple suggests that a similar self-detachment could have been at work in the mind of Anders Breivik. As the world now knows, courtesy of his 1,500-page manifesto, Breivik "did actually have, perverse as it was, a political purpose." He had a worldview and a vision, however deranged, of what was needed to achieve it. And, says Dr. Dalrymple, "I assume that when he was shooting all those people, what was in his mind was the higher good that he thought he was doing. And that was more real to him than the horror that he was creating around him."

Olsen then takes where Dalrymple has gone with this to say that

The sick and tragic irony is that the more man attempts to use purely material, scientific (or scientistic) means to "liberate" himself from (take your pick) poverty, hunger, oppression, illness, bigotry, death, the more he distorts and destroys his true nature as a creature created for good and for God. Put another way, he merely furthers the Fall by falling even further, if that is possible.

In my reading of the evils the Nazi's perpetuated before and during WWII, I came to the conclusion that man can logic his way to any position and call it good. Men who want to be independant of God will always lead to evil, be that evil big or seemingly small. They will refuse to recognise what they do as evil because no one wants to think of themselves as that way - even when their actions are truly diabolical.

The only way to counter evil is personal repentance, suffering on behalf of others and prayer. God rewards this with streamloads of grace to counter the evil in the world. It's the only way.

Evil and the empty soul ~ Insight Scoop

21 comment(s):

KG said...

And who gets to define what's "evil" Lucia Maria?

Jeremy Harris said...

The I AM.

Psycho Milt said...

Allah, you say? Don't fancy that much.

Jeremy Harris said...

Yahweh.

KG said...

Well, that's not much help to someone who isn't a Christian, is it?
Belief in a creator doesn't make one a Christian.
So the Christian definition of "evil" is meaningless to such a person.

Lucia Maria said...

KG,

Every one knows good from evil - we are built that way - by God. However every act of evil disfigures the soul and if not confessed, requires coping mechanisms. Typically denial and numbness, or inverting the sense of good and evil so that the sense itself all but disappears. Long years of training in evil will do that.

Man by himself can never climb out of this hole. However, God loves each and every one of us as a Father and therefore does and will provide moments of grace where a real choice for or against Him can be made. These moments are increased if the person himself seeks the true God of the universe and is not content until he knows who He is.

Lucia Maria said...

And then the internal war begins where pride of the self struggles with the person who wants God has to then proceed on God's terms, not his own. God allows that war because the person has to use his will to choose God rather than being totally passive.

Jeremy Harris said...

Belief in a creator doesn't make one a Christian.

True but it does open one up to the belief system that there is an authority higher than this world can provide.

KG said...

I don't really disagree with either of you. But having heard all kinds of things described as 'evil" (the Taliban, for example put out a statement some time ago describing education for women and music in just those terms) it seems to me that there can never be an absolute standard for what constitutes evil.

I certainly don't agree that everyone knows good from evil though. I've met a few people who genuinely didn't.

Lucia Maria said...

KG,

Those people whom you have met who did not know evil from good would have known the difference at some point earlier in their lives, and maybe since then have rediscovered it. There is very little that men do that God cannot forgive.

There is an absolute standard for what constitutes evil, and the Taliban do not have it. I mean, their idea of heaven is where they get to have sex with virgins. Sex is only a foretaste of heaven, it's only necessary on earth as a means of bonding and procreation, there's no need for it in heaven at all. That one concept alone should throw the Taliban out of the running for having any sort of insight into evil.

You asked before who gets to define evil - Jeremy is right, God does. God as in Yahweh, God His Son that came down to earth. That event split history in two so that we now number our years as to before He was born and after, to the point where God-haters have been trying to introduce BCE and CE instead.

Jesus is the only religious figure in history whose coming was predicted, not just in the Hebrew scriptures, but in Greek, Roman, Persian and even Chinese writings. Only God could ensure that men knew He was coming. Mohammed can't boast of that.

Psycho Milt said...

There is an absolute standard for what constitutes evil, and the Taliban do not have it.

In which you blow your own argument out of the water. If there's a more God-fearing bunch than the Taleban, I've never heard of them.

Lucia Maria said...

PM,

Don't actually see the connection.

The Taliban get their ideas of what and what constitutes God from Mohammad, who has some strange ideas to say the least. He never really proves he was from God, either, just raised an army and conquered. Then there was a massive split into two factions after he died.

I don't believe he was from God, surely you don't?

Psycho Milt said...

I don't believe in gods, let alone people running their errands. But you're making an argument that belief in God provides a sure moral footing, unlike the secularist's tendency to blather morality into whatever he'd like it to be. The problem with your argument is that we have these pretty intense God-believers peddling a moral foundation that's repugnant to just about every non-Muslim on the planet.

Lucia Maria said...

PM,

After rereading my post and comments, I cannot see where I make that argument. I don't think I've ever made that argument as belief is not enough. Satan and all the fallen angels believe in God and they're not even close to being on a sure moral footing.

KG said...

Hmm..I'm not convinced. Nothing you have written, LM demonstrates that there is an absolute standard by which something can be judged to be evil.

The opinion of the Catholic Church won't suffice, any more than the words of Jesus to one who isn't familiar with either. I'm no theologian and I belong to no church so I'm not qualified to argue the point in detail.
But it seems to me that the judgement of what constitutes an evil act resides outside religious dogma for people like me.

I'll answer to the creator if I'm wrong. :)

Psycho Milt said...

"...I came to the conclusion that man can logic his way to any position and call it good. Men who want to be independant of God will always lead to evil..."

Lucia Maria said...

PM,

That wasn't an argument for belief. There are numerous people who have believed in God and rejected Him because they want to be independant. I was one of them when I was in my early 20's.

KG,

I'm not trying to convince you. :)

Lucia Maria said...

KG,

If you'd like to be convinced, read this link: A refutation of moral relativism

Religious dogma just explicitly defines what man could discern for himself, if were in a state where all the actions of his life didn't get in the way. As Peter Kreeft says in the link above, first quoting Chesterton:

"Morality is always dreadfully complicated to a man who has lost all his principles." Principles mean moral absolutes. Unchanging rocks beneath the changing waves of feelings and practices. Moral relativism is a philosophy that denies moral absolutes.

Moral absolutes are what define good and evil. If what defined evil was what a man wanted it to be, then any man could do an evil act and call it good. It does not give a universal standard of behaviour to which we should all be subject. It allows us to be our own god, which is the very fault that caused humanity to fall from grace in the first place.

KG said...

"Religious dogma just explicitly defines what man could discern for himself, if were in a state where all the actions of his life didn't get in the way."
Yep. Life's messy.And complicated.
But religious dogma is also messy, inasmuch as it has been subject to various interpretations and distortions in the service of individual humans.And organisations.
So it's little better than "what a man could discern for himself" in the light of his experience, far as I can see.
I can't stress enough (if it isn't already obvious) how unqualified I am to offer an opinion here but just be patient and regard it as a reconaissance mission. :)

ZenTiger said...

My 2 cents worth:

If God exists, it is quite possible we have a soul that lives beyond this physical realm, and it would most likely follow that there is an absolute standard of good and evil.

Evil would be acts of thought or deed that harm your soul and create a break or separation from God.

Hell is often seen as a complete rejection from God, and that in itself creates perpetual suffering.

People that are deliberately evil are making a conscious decision to reject God and are likely therefore to continue that choice rather than truly repent, after death, although that path is often open to people.

All people have some sense of good and evil, but it can clearly be warped, blinded, suppressed or misunderstood.

At the very least, ones cultural context and the environment one is brought up in will form part of that mask.

When viewing different cultures, we can more easily see this degree of blindness. However, that doesn't provide a justification to assert moral relativism, just because an observer can see that the people committing evil don't see it that way.

Rather than accept that people have different standards, why not presume people have different levels of blindness to such things?

Even ignorance is no barrier to committing evil, and people may harm their immortal soul through evil acts in their ignorance, although such evil is more easily forgiven than deliberate acts.

"Forgive them father for they know not what they do"

Men can justify any evil, so man's justification is of suspicious use in determining good or evil.

If one strives to live a life of perfect love and charity, free of pride and other sins, one would soon begin to see the lines between good and evil more clearly.

Unfortunately, I haven't so its no use asking me for specifics.

ZenTiger said...

Just read the Peter Kreeft link on moral relativism. Nice.

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