Group 2: Discussion of Evil

Sorry it took so long to post, originally we were going to post the presentation straight to the blog, but I couldn’t figure out how to do that. So here are some points and bits of information from our presentation. There are discussion questions at the end, but remember it’s open for discussion so if anything is unclear feel free to ask. I understand some of it may seem garbled, but that’s because you were supposed to have me explaining it to you as you read the points. 🙂

During the researching of our project, we found it was extremely important to define the subject we were studying. I know I’ve said this a lot, but I can’t really stress it enough because it is pretty much the entire point of our project. Can we really put the evil that happened in Haiti before the earthquake, and the “evil” that happened to Haiti because of the earthquake in the same category? That is, is a disaster really a form of “evil?” And if it is, why does it happen?

Evil vs Disaster?

•Merriam Webster defines evil as the fact of suffering, misfortune, and wrongdoing: something that brings sorrow, distress, or calamity.
•Thomas Aquinas (one who, for his time, was considered an expert on theodicy and religious philosophy) defines evil as the absence or privation of good, in his SUMMA THEOLOGICA.
•While calamity is universally defined as an event causing great and often sudden damage or distress; a disaster.
•In Augustine’s On Free Choice of Will, “evil” is ultimately attributed to man.
•Augustine argues that God is perfectly good, and the only way to share that goodness is to allow others to do good by the free will He gives them.
•The problem of free will is that misused it creates a mockery of good, or allows good to not be done, thus evil “existing.”
•“what causes a man’s will to become violent, and is this violence involuntary?” Basically, what causes a man to do evil, and is it his choice, or does it just happen?
•According to Aquinas, a man’s will becomes violent if it’s prevented in any way from executing its own desire.
•Aquinas also discusses the effect of fear on people and their will (the actions they choose to take).
•Actions done in fear are of “mixed character,” being partly voluntary and partly involuntary. For what is done in fear isn’t voluntary, but in the particular moment, the actions become voluntary in order to avoid or confront whatever is feared.
•“For a stone can be thrown upwards into the air, but a stone does not natural fling itself into the air. “ Aquinas’ argument is that men are not inherently  evil, but that we are forced into it by our own decisions or by the decision those around us make.
•Augustine says  “evil” exists because of man’s “inordinance.” And that this “inordinance” is what the true definition of evil is. Inordinance is simply having your priorities “mixed up.” Putting wealth above your family, putting yourself above the poor and helpless.
•People commit evil acts against one another because it’s easier.
•These philosophers ultimately contribute evil to people, and the actions they choose, or choose not to take.
•“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”
•On natural calamity, Aquinas and Augustine use the idea of providence that is seen in the Old Testament.
•Similar to the cynical wisdom found in Ecclesiastes, the world is just the way it is. God isn’t necessarily responsible, and the evil man suffers at the hand of nature is surely different than the evil they would suffer at the hands of their fellow man.
Why do you think there is evil in the world?
Is evil necessary for good?
What is the source of evil?
Was it always in existence since creation?
What are some present day examples of evil in the world?
Is there an exact definition of evil?
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