Accurately Defining Evil Prepares the Mindset Morally for Self Defense

Settle the “Evil” thing once and for all.

Here are Biblical ways to look at evil:

  • What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. Isaiah 5:20 NLT
  • A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. Matthew 7:18

Sounds simple enough but how does that play out during a fearful situation that demands a decision from you whether or not you will defend your family?  While you are making a ‘choice’, do you think the evil you face is making a choice as well?

American psychiatrist M. Scott Peck on the other hand, describes evil as militant ignorance.The original Judeo-Christian concept of sin is as a process that leads one to miss the mark and not achieve perfection. Peck argues that while most people are conscious of this at least on some level, those that are evil actively and militantly refuse this consciousness. Peck describes evil as a malignant type of self-righteousness which results in a projection of evil onto selected specific innocent victims (often children or other people in relatively powerless positions). Peck considers those he calls evil to be attempting to escape and hide from their own conscience (through self-deception) and views this as being quite distinct from the apparent absence of conscience evident in sociopaths.

According to Peck, an evil person:

  • Is consistently self-deceiving, with the intent of avoiding guilt and maintaining a self-image of perfection
  • Deceives others as a consequence of their own self-deception
  • Psychologically projects his or her evils and sins onto very specific targets, scapegoating those targets while treating everyone else normally (“their insensitivity toward him was selective”)
  • Commonly hates with the pretense of love, for the purposes of self-deception as much as the deception of others
  • Abuses political or emotional power (“the imposition of one’s will upon others by overt or covert coercion”)
  • Maintains a high level of respectability and lies incessantly in order to do so
  • Is consistent in his or her sins. Evil people are defined not so much by the magnitude of their sins, but by their consistency (of destructiveness)
  • Is unable to think from the viewpoint of their victim
  • Has a covert intolerance to criticism and other forms of narcissistic injury

He also considers certain institutions may be evil, as his discussion of the My Lai Massacre and its attempted coverup illustrate. By this definition, acts of criminal and state terrorism would also be considered evil.

Though the topic of evil has historically been the domain of religion, Peck makes great efforts to keep much of his discussion on a scientific basis, explaining the specific psychological mechanisms by which evil operates. He was also particularly conscious of the danger of a psychology of evil being misused for personal or political ends. Peck considered that such a psychology should be used with great care, as falsely labeling people as evil is one of the very characteristics of evil. He argued that a diagnosis of evil should come from the standpoint of healing and safety for its victims, but also with the possibility even if remote, that the evil themselves may be cured.

Ultimately Peck says that evil arises out of free choice. He describes it thus: Every person stands at a crossroads, with one path leading to God, and the other path leading to the devil. The path of God is the right path, and accepting this path is akin to submission to a higher power. However, if a person wants to convince himself and others that he has free choice, he would rather take a path which cannot be attributed to its being the right path. Thus, he chooses the path of evil.   Read More . . .

So if one person chooses good and another person chooses evil, what is the morally correct way to offset evil desires when the two come face to face?

Setting Aside Fear, What Exactly is Our Part in Conquering Evil?

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