You've made a poor arguement when you said that "evil" is like "light" or "matter".
Obviously, both light and matter can be empirically observed. Where as "evil" can not.
"The most emperically verifiable reality is the depravity of man. Yet, at the same time, it is the most intellectually resisted fact!" (Malcomb Muggeridge)
Like matter, evil is manifested into the physical world. Gravity is emperically verifiable too, but we do not know what it is. We see the effects, so we know it exists. The same goes for good and evil. Pinning down the precise definitions of any of the above is an impossible proposition.
What we can say with absolute certainty, is that all of the above exist.
An action can be observed, it can be labelled "evil", but the action is still the action. It's the opinion of the observer about the action that makes it evil.
So in ytour opinion, and depending upon one's worldview, it could be reasonable for some people to ravage an 18 month old baby girl after consuming a mind altering beverage all the while planning and deciding to do so while sober?
The action itself, is only the manifestation of the cause. It is the cause that I am attempting to shed light upon.
If on the other hand you feel that evil is objective, you should be able to give a rock solid definition.
It is only the motivation of the individual that exposes the objective evil. It is the intentional laying down of one's reason and thinking process (conscious) so as to indulge and plunder physical pleasure at the expense of another persons (or society's) well being.
Evil is wrongdoing. It is not an accident. It is intentional. It is the denial and suppression of truth and the temporary fascination with power. It is the willfull misuse of free will.
In other words, the term evil, in this case, is completely subjective.
It is subjective, obviously. Whether it is completely subjective is an unwarranted assumption.
Reason and emotion are not opposites. They are two functions of a healthy personality. As such they can should, and often do, have a profitable dialogue with one another. Emotion can be informed by reason and reason can be informed by emotion.
If I notice myself getting angry, for example, I may ask myself 'What do I cherish that feels threatened here?' It's a very useful question. Reason takes notice of my emotion and asks it for more information. I can examine where I have invested my emotions and reassess the wisdom of the attachment. I can evaluate whether the perceived threat to what I cherish is really so great and, even if so, whether my present response is the most useful one in reducing that threat.
Isn't it sort of pointless, then, to impose one's view of evil over another?
It's a common fallacy on this board to equate subjectivity with pointlessness.
Subjective as the definition is, I think you will find that, in practice, my criteria are universally valid.
Every person recognizes as 'evil' that which threatens what he or she most cherishes.
Every person recognizes as 'absolute evil' that which threatens what the individual cherishes absolutely.
Don't take my word for it. Run your own experiments. I'm confident you'll be able replicate the results.
It's also not logical to assume that subjectivity requires the 'imposition' of beliefs. Other possibilities exist. One is that people will continue to have different ideas, and that's just how it will be. Another is that free and open discussion might yield the discovery that healthy human beings universally love pretty much the same kinds of things. On that basis people might build a consensus.
If motivations can not be observed objectively, how can they "expose objective evil"?
I think you meant, 'If motivations cannot be observed directly.'
Evil is not hard to prove. Neither is motive.
What are the motives of the perpetrator in the following cenario?
Ravi Zacharius tells the story of being on an airplane after leaving a major asian city that he did not name. He happened to be sitting next to a Dutch woman, and after some pleasantries discovered that she was also a Christian.
He asked her what she had been doing in that country and she told him she was involved in rescuing children from some horrible conditions that absoultely debased human dignity.
She said that on this trip she saw the worst thing she had ever seen. She said 'there is a place in the city we just left called Snake Alley. It is a place where the men come after work and are given a concoction of liquor and snakes blood. It ravages the mind. Then thay are treated to their hearts desire even though they make their request before consuming the beverage'.
She said, 'Mr Zacharius, I rescued an 18 month old baby girl from the hands of a man who was sexually devestating her.'
It would be evil and ill-motivated for you to deny it.
If human beings are not evil by nature, then we do not need a savior.
Here, Taz, is an excellent example of what I was talking about in Message 34.
Rob is angry because he perceives a threat to something he cherishes. The thing being threatened, apparently, is his belief that he needs a saviour.
This belief is so cherished by Rob that he places its validity beyond debate. He demands that Phat regard the contemplation of any alternative as taboo on its face. He circles the wagons around his cherished belief and strikes out aggressively--though name calling, in this instance--to ward off the perceived threat.
[AbE] The name he chose is interesting. He tries to shame Phat for 'boot licking.' Rob asks us to believe that Phat's point of view can only be maintained by a person who neglects to think for himself and who adopts a subservient, kowtowing posture toward others.
It seems Rob intends to recognize Phat as an individual who thinks for himself only when Phat manages to repeat, as the result of shaming if necessary, those things Rob wants to hear. An ironic outcome at best. [end AbE]
It would be well now for Rob's intellect to have a dialogue with his emotions in the manner I suggested above.
'Evil' is not a word I throw around, but here's my working definition:
Evil is that which threatens what I cherish. Absolute evil is that which threatens what I cherish absolutely.
Those are the words of a king and sovereign lord who reigns over his own (my will be done).
Allow me to say, 'Very interesting'. You've confirmed far more than you could possibly imagine.
So you do believe evil exists, and is in opposition to you?
The worst mistake you can make in any conflict is to underestimate your enemy. When you think of a human adversary as subhuman, you have underestimated your enemy.
Don't forget that the opposite is also true. If you forget that your enemy is God.
Listen to this:
"Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.
Rob is angry because he perceives a threat to something he cherishes.
All I see is a guy who thinks Percy is God. EVC is not primarily for me a place to evangelize any longer. I do that face to face every day. This is a place for me to study my opponents and learn their arguments.
That is an awfully self-righteous thing for someone to say.
Not if it's true. it's just a fact.
Jesus said the same thing in 1st Century terms. And the Pharisees were as offended as all of you:
Matthew 23:1-12 1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. 3 So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. 5 "Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.'