Trading One Satan for Another
One of the major problems that exist within the revealed religions is the creation of and use of an evil being intent on spreading evil throughout the world. This viewpoint is based on the idea of an all-knowing/all-loving/all-powerful God; therefore, one must have another way of explaining concepts such as chaos and evil in the world. From the point of view of Deism, this contradiction is not a problem, as God is not viewed in such terms.
What is truly bothersome about is how this "theory" explains the evil that men/women do on and an external factor and removes man choice and culpability in the action. It is fortunate that this idea has fallen (no pun intended) from the mainstream thought process (mostly except for some members of revealed religions). However, there is now an unfortunate push by some to replace an external force on humans (Satan) with another purely external source.
This new source is also external and evil is not blamed on the individual but on "Social Domination Systems." The idea is that unfair systems produce economic inequalities and this causes people to do immoral and evil acts against others. The problem is as mentioned above, we have removed and replaced one external source of evil with another. Evil in this context is used to discuss not robbing a store for food but in the greater scale of things as someone who murders, rapes and plunders to get what they want regardless of the results on others.
This idea of external sources is problematic as it places humans as purely good creatures who will do good actions if no improper action is placed on them. Humans are basically born and strive for goodness until external factors act upon them in a negative way. On the other hand, Deism basically asserts that humans are born neutral with basic bio-moral/bio-ethical principles in place but we have free will to act on them as we please. We can chose to help others or hurt others based on this free will.
So, how are we to view the fact that mankind can do evil acts upon one another? Simple, do as my wife does when telling my children about bad people. My wife likes to tell my son that evil comes from bad choices and this is a good definition as it places the responsibility on the individual rather than something else. As with the nature versus nurture argument, both external and internal factors have an effect on the individual but ultimately the individuals makes the choice for themselves and acts upon those choices.
External factors do play a role and it is possible that we can reduce some of these factors over time. Internal factors also play a role and are much harder to control and deal with. It is the understanding of this combination that will lead to a reduction in evil acts and by going backwards we only hurt society and ourselves. The individual that is producing the act must be held accountable and responsible for his actions and by blaming purely external factors we remove responsibility from the equation.
Copyright © 2004 J Hardwick