Tonight’s topic is the The Nature of Evil..
What is it?
Is it simply a philosophical construct or something tangible; something physical.
As ever we will publish the ‘primer’ material researched by Catherine Baker and Fee.
BUT FIRST… THE NEWS
From Catherine we have …
May 25th: The lakes and parks surrounding London are being invaded! Several species of rare hybrid turtle are residing in our waterways, including African turtles in Camden Park. Terrapins are also being discovered and numbers are increasing. Theories go that they became popular in the nineties because of the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ cartoon and though they were banned in 1997, a similar species is still sold in pet stores.
May 26th: Jim Morrison, singer from ‘The Doors’ who died in 1971 from an alleged drug overdose, is supposedly haunting his childhood home in Arlington, North Virginia. Rhonda Baron, the current resident of the house on 28th Street, states that she had seen him lying down on her bed as she’d been about to go to sleep. She believes that he is haunting her home because he had been an unhappy individual who wanted to be somewhere he had been happy as a child.
Recurring apparitions this week according to the Paranormal Database include…
01 June (reoccurring) Hairy Earth
Location: Wistow (Leicestershire) – Wistow’s Grave
Further Comments: Concealing the heir to the kingdom of Mercia’s body, this grave is reported to sprout hair throughout the month of June, starting on the first of the month.
01 June (reoccurring) Woman’s Singing
Location: Hickling (Norfolk) – Hickling Broad, south of village
Type: Haunting Manifestation Further Comments: Once a year a gentle female voice can be heard singing. This could be the Woman in White, seen punting from one side for the Broad to another, heading towards a mill. Another ghost is associated with the broad; a drummer is said to be a Napoleonic soldier who drowned while skating across the ice, en route for a secret rendezvous with his girlfriend, can sometimes be heard.
02 June (reoccurring) Ammunition Train
Location: Soham (Cambridgeshire) – Approach to the station
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Further Comments: Every 2 June an accident that cost the lives of two people is re-enacted. An ammunition train caught fire, the explosion shattering every window in Soham and destroying the old station. The rebuilt tracks no longer follow the scene of the accident.
02 June (reoccurring), or thereabouts, after sunset White Figure
Location: Newtyle (Angus) – Bulb Farm (no longer standing, replaced by housing)
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Further Comments: A white figure, thought to be decapitated, was said to move slowly around the area, as if looking for its missing body part. Groaning is also heard in the area.
In Florida, a ten year old boy dragged a 5ft long alligator home from a fishing trip and suffered only minor scratches. He says that it’d snapped his fishing line and taken a run at him, at which point he’d starting hitting it with a stick and jumped on its back, dragging it home to be discovered by his grandfather on the front lawn. Not surprisingly, he has had a stern talking-to.
From Fee we have…
Animal rescues cost fire services £3.5m in the last three years and include the rescue of a lost duckling, a cow and a snail!
Firemen helped 17,000 animals over the period, and only four of Britain’s 56 fire services have passed on the cost of the rescue to the owners.
The figures were uncovered by a Freedom of Information request for BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme.
A crew of nine with ladders and nets rescued a cat that had been stuck 60ft up a tree near Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, for three days.
In total more than 2,400 cats, 2,180 dogs and 1,700 horses have had to be rescued by firemen. Crews saved 2,090 birds, including 1,244 seagulls, 159 pigeons, 57 swans and 12 parrots.
Twenty-six foxes, 19 squirrels, seven ferrets, seven badgers, ten hamsters, 15 snakes, 11 fish and seven dolphins were also rescued.
The Taxpayers’ Alliance questioned the used of resources, but the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) insisted distressed animals could pose a danger.
Twenty-five fire services supplied the programme with figures detailing their total costs for rescuing animals.
Of those, Northern Ireland spent the most with £813,485, Devon and Somerset came second, spending £561,912.
Anton Phillips, animal rescue specialist at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “If we don’t rescue that animal somebody else will or will try to. I’ve seen people have their arms trapped in drains trying to rescue ducklings and we’ve actually had to dig the road up to get the person out.”
Some rescues were complex, especially those involving large animals, such as horses, stuck in ditches.
Others were more trivial; Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service removed a snail stuck halfway up a wall after being called out by a distressed elderly lady.
Jim Green, an animal rescue specialist, told the BBC: “The cost attributed to sending a couple of blokes down the road to help the lady and to reassure her, that was merited, and the actual problem, the snail, might seem ridiculous but it was that lady they were going to help.”
Police Officers are being issued with ‘lifestyle’ guides suggesting bedtime routines and healthy eating options!
It is a far cry from the world of hard-living fictional detectives like Gene Hunt from Life on Mars, but modern day police officers are being issued with “lifestyle guides”, suggesting bedtime routines and healthy eating options.
Among the pearls of wisdom offered in the documents are that officers should assist their spouses with household chores and do activities such as gardening and dancing to keep fit.
The guides even offer advice on what fillings officers should have in their sandwiches.
In a survey of UK forces, around half admitted to issuing staff with such guides, which they claim helps ensure the health and well being of officers. But critics say they are “frankly ludicrous” and say that they treat officers like children.
Between them, forces have issued thousands of pages of such advice, delivered by their occupational health departments, delving into the minutiae of their officers’ home lives.
The guidelines recommend healthy activities for officers when they are off duty and even going as far as providing tips on how they treat their spouses.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland suggests officers get more exercise by doing activities such as “gardening, dancing or housework”.
Another, from Durham Constabulary, urges officers not to “expect your wife to do the chores” and to “make dates with your spouse”.
Much of the advice relates to healthy eating. One document, from Suffolk Constabulary, suggests officers go shopping on a full stomach, so they are likely to buy less food; another, from West Yorkshire Police, advises them to “eat sitting down” to avoid consuming too much.
Several forces advise staff about the sorts of healthy sandwiches they should bring to work. The Metropolitan Police urges officers to “choose brown or wholemeal bread rather than white and avoid mayonnaise based fillings and add an extra helping of salad if possible”.
Durham Police – which trains young officers in “lifestyle management” – suggests a number of fillings: peanut butter and grated apple, tuna and sweetcorn – as well as other items for officers’ lunch boxes: maltloaf, flapjack, boiled eggs, nuts.
But staff are reminded – “if you make sandwiches the night before, wrap them up and keep them in the fridge overnight”.
There is also plenty of advice about the sorts of breakfasts officers should eat before a day’s work. Forces tend to advise against a traditional English breakfast, but where officers are not able to resist, their employers have some helpful hints on how to make them more healthy. The Met suggests grilling, rather than frying, sausages or bacon, and having a poached egg.
A 25-page document for Merseyside Police officers on healthy eating, proposes: “For a change from ordinary toast, try a wholemeal English muffin or some toasted fruit bread”.
One force, Wiltshire, even offers its officers a supermarket tour to encourage healthy eating habits. It also gives a presentation to staff, with tips such as using herbs, spices and vinegar to reduce salt use.
Some of the documents are for officers who might have to work late shifts and contain advice on their bedtime routine.
A 16-page “shift survival guide” for Durham officers suggests they have a “large wipe clean calendar in the kitchen to record all the families (sic) work, school and leisure activity schedules for the week”.
It suggests: “remember your needs are important and you need time to yourself to follow hobbies / interests of just have time to chill”.
It proposes a bedtime routine for officers: “such as soaking in a hot batch and then reading a book or listening to relaxing music”, and adds “ensure your mattresses and pillows are comfortable and supportive.”
It adds: “Try to restrict fluids to prevent visits to the bathroom, although it has to be acknowledged that some people like to have a milky drink prior to bedtime to help soothe them.”
But a guide from Northamptonshire Police reminds staff: “There can be few things more frustrating than just drifting off to sleep then having to get up to visit the toilet. You should avoid liquid towards the end of a night shift – otherwise your full bladder will respond in the correct fashion.”
David Davies, the Conservative MP for Monmouth and a special constable with the British Transport Police, said: “This advice is frankly ludicrous. It is the kind of advice I would give to my children, who are all under the age of ten. Most of my colleagues would find this a little bit patronising.
“Police officers can have highly stressful jobs and can work unusual hours. But it is going too far to tell them to have a wee before bed and to check their pillows are comfy. And while I like to have a healthy sandwich, I don’t need a manual to tell me what to put in it.”
“The intentions behind all this might be good. But it will just infuriate officers. Any good advice the guides might contain will be binned in a state of fury.”
A spokesman for Durham Constabulary said: “Our officers and staff are our greatest asset, and as such we have a responsibility to protect them and promote their well-being.
“It makes good sense to provide staff with advice and support to enable them to function effectively while maintaining a good work/life balance.”
Lithuinian Men Celebrate “National Men’s Day” by having a swimming gala where inflatable dolls are used as rafts!
Over 200 men registered for the race on the Neris river in the capital Vilnius but only 20 were chosen to take part in the event.
Liudas Pestininkas, accompanied by his inflatable doll “Vaida”, was the first to cross the finish line winning the 2000 litas prize (£250).
“Vaida was a very good girl, and only listens to me. She is cool. Other participants don’t have dolls as cool as mine,” he said.
The race was arranged to mark what one radio station had called “National Men’s Day”, which is not officially recognised in Lithuania
“We did a survey on the internet and all voters said that they needed to celebrate such a day.
“Therefore, today a race between men swimming on inflatable dolls on the river, the “Baracuda 2011″ is to be held, and we will see who will be the fastest,” he said before the race started
Obama ‘sex doll’ for sale in China!
A doll wearing a dark blue suit and red tie, and with Mr Obama’s face carefully screen-printed onto its head, was exhibited at the recent 8th Sex Culture Festival in the southern city of Guangzhou.
The doll was photographed by Chinese state media nestling behind several other standard plastic female toys.
Mr Obama is widely popular in China, and a “Maobama” t-shirt, bearing an image of his face crossed with a portrait of Chairman Mao, has become a best-seller.
The Guangzhou show, which was only open to adults, cost 30 yuan (£3)
to enter and was visited by “tens of thousands” of people, according to a spokesman for the Guangdong Gongchuang Economic Development company, the organisers. One star attraction was a female doll costing 98,000 yuan.
“We do not know which manufacturer produced this doll,” the spokesman added.
However, the picture of the Obama doll, which circulated on the Chinese internet, drew an wide array of responses. “How could they place the US president behind those other poorly-made models. He is the head of a big country, after all,” wrote one anonymous commentator on the Netease internet forum.
“Why can’t we have a Mao Tse-tung toy?” asked another.
A list of interesting ‘excuses’ from fraudulent benefit claimants
People making false claims for benefit told inspectors they didn’t realise they were on benefit, must have their identity stolen – or had an identical twin making claims.
Ministers published the list to highlight the £1.6 billion of taxpayer’s money lost through fraud in benefits and tax credits each year.
A survey by fraud investigators revealed their top ten worst excuses used by benefit cheats:
– “We don’t live together he just comes each morning to fill up his flask”.
– “I wasn’t using the ladders to clean windows, I carried them for therapy for my bad back.”
– “I had no idea my wife was working! I never noticed her leaving the house twice a day in a fluorescent jacket and a Stop Children sign.”
– “My wallet was stolen so someone must have been using my identity, I haven’t been working”.
– “I didn’t know I was still on benefit.”
– “I didn’t declare my savings because I didn’t save them, they were given to me.”
– “He lives in a caravan in the drive, we’re not together.”
– “He does come here every night and leave in the morning and although he has no other address I don’t regard him as living here.”
– “It wasn’t me working, it was my identical twin.
– “I wasn’t aware my wife was working because her hours of work coincided with the times I spent in the garden shed.”
Lord Freud, Welfare Reform Minister said: “Benefit fraud is no joke, and yet our investigators are routinely dealing with barefaced cheek and ridiculous excuses for stealing money from the taxpayer.
“Universal Credit will simplify and automate the benefits system. This will make it much easier to catch people who make false claims.”
So back to our main topic – EVIL!
In the show we’ll hear from Bishop Manchester, psychologist Phillip Zimbardo, author James Bradshaw and comedian Eddie Izzard have to say on the topic of ‘evil’, ‘the devil’, ‘God’ and ‘free will’.
Here’s what Catherine has been thinking and researching…
Charles Darwin stated that one of the reasons he couldn’t believe in a beneficent God was because of the existence of something like a parasitic wasp, its life cycle seemed to him to be evil. Investigating its living habits, it’s easy to see why he came to this conclusion. The wasp injects a caterpillar with a unique virus-like substance that renders it paralysed and stops its immune system from attacking; effectively making it into a living incubator for the eggs it lays. Lovely.
This falls under what is called Natural evil or surd evil as opposed to moral evil. This is defined as an uncontrollable occurrence, such as illness or natural disaster. In these circumstances evil is inflicted on a person but there is no perpetrator, which raises many questions about the reason for natural evil.
Christians believe that everything has a purpose even if we cannot see it, that God works in mysterious ways and that His divine will is not always clear to us as He is beyond our small human understanding.
The fact that God gave us free-will ties into the idea of natural evil as well as moral evil, as it is thought that for us to be able to fully utilize our ability to chose between God and evil, there needs to be evil in the world in the first place. It is mostly thought that God is pure and benevolent and that He therefore did not intend this evil Himself.
“He Who formed the sight did not make blindness.” (Gregory of Nyssa)
This notion can be further explored by the concept that evil is a non-being (Athanasius). That it is not a force, a thing of physical matter, or something that can exist on its own but merely the absence of good. God does not create things that do not exist, therefore He did not create evil.
Some say that the fall of man when Eve was tempted in the Garden of Eden was not just something that affected humanity, but nature as well, hence the unpleasantness of things such as the Ichneumon wasp.
Some think the ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ motto perhaps comes into play here, as good can come out of evil. A tornado, for example, while causing suffering and destruction, could also unite and bring out some nature of harmony as communities gather to help and people naturally do what they can to assist.
“There has to be evil and disaster so that there can be goodness and hope”, (Clark)
“Without the capacity for evil, man would not have the capacity for moral virtue.”
We’d be unable to define evil in the first place unless we knew it’s opposite.
Furthermore, what of the beautiful things that come out of suffering? Such as art and poetry? If nobody suffered we wouldn’t have the fairy tales of Oscar Wilde or the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe. Sometimes it feels right to indulge in a kind of melancholy, is that evil?
“If you suffer, thank God! It is a sure sign that you are alive.” (Elbert Hubbard)
Lucem demonstrat umbra: It is light that makes shadow/the darkness shows forth the light.
Even the most pious of us occasionally enjoy a good horror or a twisted computer game, (I regularly make visits to the delightful Silent Hill!) which seems to be an indication that it is part of human nature and that as we are old enough to know what we should and should not imitate it is acceptable to indulge in such a thing. However, when it comes to children, who are impressionable, who are more likely to imitate ‘evil’ behaviour, what do we put this down to? Are these games or programmes allowing them to become more open and corruptible from the ‘forces of evil’? Or are they merely more likely to deviate from the socially accepted limits after observing it as enjoyable behaviour? Or, is it a chemical thing? An addiction to the adrenaline produced when frightened?
Religion is an enormous factor in investigating the nature of evil, the origin of Satan being the most significant as it seems to mark a point when evil became especially personified.
Biblically speaking, Lucifer was an anointed cherub before he fell and there are thoughts that he was one of the most beautiful residents of Heaven, possessing twelve wings and perhaps even being the Angel of music, or, at the very least, of praise and worship. He is supposed to have been dissatisfied with his position and pined for higher things, no longer wanting to be ‘just’ an angel of God.
His falling is meant to have been the first sin, the temptation of Eve occurring after this. The idea that Satan makes people sinful is a perhaps incorrectly interpreted, as though his role in the story of evil becoming borne in the hearts of men is significant, he did not put it there himself. The idea is that he tempts us to be sinful but that God gave us free will, therefore we chose whether or not to commit the sin. Therefore, he inspires evil in man.
The Hebrew word ‘Satan’ actually specifies an adversary or someone that opposes something, so historically speaking ‘the Satan’ was not necessarily a specific person or character.
It was not until 168BCE that the idea of the Satan that we are more familiar with gained some nature of notoriety. At this time, Antiochus Epiphanes declared that he was to eradicate the Jews and their culture and those who resisted called the Jews who did not ‘Hellenising Jews’, using Satan to demonise them. They felt that their Jewish opponents had been ‘seduced by the power of evil/Satan’. The stories of Satan circulated and the tale of his fall and his origin began to gain more influence along with the idea that he was a force that worked as a source of negativity and conflict from within a community of believers. It became a central theme in early Christianity.
“They saw the foreign occupation of Palestine – and the accommodation of the majority of Jews to that occupation – as evidence that the forces of evil ruled the world – and, in the form of Satan or Mastema, had infiltrated God’s chosen people, turning most of them into allies of the Evil One.”
This also led to the idea that the battle in Heaven also takes place on earth, those who side with the forces of immorality and those who strive for goodness – the traditional good vs. evil.
Thusly, Satan could also be a social reflex, a notion designed to keep certain things in check. The fact that Lucifer was beautiful but became corrupted warns against vanity and pride, as well as against hoping for power above God, perhaps warning against rebelling against authority on earth as well?
Christianity states that we should beware of Satan as he disguises himself as an Angel of light, or in pleasing forms, and that he will do whatever it takes to deceive us as he is the King of lies/liars and his ultimate goal is to get us to sin.
Things that destroy unity are usually attributed to ‘forces of evil’. Governments and other such authorities ultimately want cooperation and obedience of their subjects and therefore anarchy and the destruction of unity is something that they would benefit from the demonizing of.
Having said this, these are reasons behind moral evil, evil with a perpetrator, but the debate surrounding the issue of natural evil is harder to deal with. Therefore, perhaps that makes it impossible to define the complexities and varying levels of evil as something that is used just to keep us in line?
William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies puts forward some interesting musings on the subject of evil. He uses children, the least influenced by society, to illustrate that evil is something that exists within everybody, that without laws and hierarchy we could fall subject to our own personal evil and pursue pleasure and self-gratification instead of the civilized ideals that would better us. It is not black and white; he shows how some simply do not have any barbaric or savage nature in them while others fall prey to it the moment they are left to their own devices. The children symbolic of morality are killed, suggesting that evil is afraid of morality as it could put a stop to their deeds and bring them back to a selfless existence. The one child who is intelligent enough to understand that the evil they all fear is one that stems from within them is also killed, this character often drawing parallels with Jesus – Jesus tried to teach us moral truth, but our ignorance led us to killing him. Thusly; ignorance is an evil and we fear the unknown. This character also converses with a barbaric token of sacrifice left for the ‘beast’ that the others are afraid of, it tells him that evil lies in every human heart and that it will yet have some fun with him, perhaps illustrating a supernatural element and manifestation of Satan’s influence in human affairs. He summarises evil as something we know intimately, then. Cleverly, however, he does not let on whether he believes evil would eventually entirely overrule civilization without intervention from other sources (In the story, adults rescue the children as they are pursuing the final child symbolic of law and authority, we never know what might have happened).
Areas that are hazy are issues such as euthanasia, as murder is a sin, but the suffering is also a sin on its own, so where do we draw the line? Which is the lesser of the two evils? Most laws define euthanasia as a sin, and it is difficult, from a Christian point of view, to understand how Satan might play a part in such a scenario. If we are fighting against the forces of evil, which evil do we fight in this situation?
And Fee asks…
EVIL IS THERE SUCH A THING?
People, places and things have all been labelled “EVIL”, so what is it – what constitutes evil? Adolf Hitler is a favourite reference when you are looking for an example of an evil person followed by Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler).
As for ‘Things’ that are considered evil … what are your thoughts on alcohol and drugs unusual sexual practices like paedophilia, rape, sodomy and incest. How about a religious Biggie? Blasphemy! Wow! That one is – or was – punishable by excommunication from the church – even death.
In religious circles not only Christians are pointing fingers, but all mainstream religions decry the evilness of the above mentioned, as they do thousands of other people, places and things. Let us not exclude ‘thought’. That one is a real ball-buster for the “Kings of Piety” to lord over us. It seems that you or I can THINK evilness. Perhaps that is true, but if it is it holds true for every man, woman and child on the planet. Talk about thought police …
If you ask any religious person of any faith the question, “Is God the maker of all things?” they will inevitably answer yes. Is God good? A resounding, “YES!” Can God do EVIL? “NO!!!” Fact is, God can do, and has done evil. The great flood in my view was an evil doing – purifying the lands sounds almost like pre Hitler thoughts – not only did it destroy millions of innocent people if it did happen but all those animals that were innocent too. Isn’t that inhuman and could that be classed as Evil???
Evil is measurable. It has substance. It is a present force like Gravity, magnetism, transmitted waves, etc… these things were unknown to us before we understood them and could measure them. We’ve taken evil for granted. The time will come when we “discover” that it is as real as anything else in this “physical” world or will we??? Is it merely an extension of the baseness of our nature?? Is it our lower self?? And could it be that Without us evil is nothing??
What is evil anyway?
Is it that it was the human dimension that underpins nearly all interpretations of evil?? Evil is something created or committed by humans. This means that evil is not random and therefore it generates a very emotional response. Could the below be interpreted as Evil???
Abuse of Power:
* Abuse of power is seen as constituting evil when it results in unnecessary suffering or gross neglect
* Abusers of power have denied their victims the right to free will and fairness
* The abuse itself may be very deliberate (Nazis, organised torture, arsonists, corporate evil or animal abusers), or a neglectful shirking of responsibility (governments who tolerate homelessness)
* The Terrible Unknown is a distorted or disguised version of humanity
* Evil masquerading as goodness (in human form but really soul-less, behind a mask) includes an element of deception, amplifying the evil via a demonstration of intent
* Common disguises interrupt the accepted norms of safety: clowns or other common children’s icons of safety
* The Other is evil as it disrupts conformity (EMOs, extremists, scientologists): humanity fears that which we don’t understand
* The lack of conformity is seen as irrational due to the breaking of accepted social norms, therefore it is possible for individuals or groups to be non-conformist and non-evil (goths, EMOs) –the evil occurs when The Other attempts to challenge social norms via recruitment/preaching (religious fundamentalists)
* Vices are evil willingly played out in the face of evidence and reason
* Cigarettes, alcohol, gambling and drugs were repeatedly raised as evil that is amplified because it’s unnecessary and preventable
* Interestingly, humans who fall victim to vices aren’t the evil, the humans who provide, create and encourage the vices embody evil (cigarette companies, drug dealers, pokie manufacturers)
* Impotent Evil is a representation of the old manifestation of evil
* This version of evil has been so commonly used in public dialogue that the icons of devils, demons, skulls and the fires of hell have become impotent and kitsch
* Impotent Evil has been so neutralised it’s now commonly used for invoking humour rather than fear
* The only core theme that isn’t a human evil, Everyday Beasts invoke an emotional response from pure fear
* Sharks, snakes, spiders and aggressive dogs all represent a fear of violent physical harm
* Unlike the other themes, this evil is largely random, often heightening the fear
* This theme was strongest with kids, indicating the fear is often neutralised with age
Some other thoughts I will be adding into the debate…
Spinoza : The difference between Good and Evil is merely one of personal inclinations.
Jung: depicted as the ‘dark side of God’
M Scott Peck: describes evil as ‘militant ignorance’
Anton LeVay: asserted that evil was actually good – reflecting the natural pleasures of men and women
Perhaps the greatest of all evils is CONSCIOUS SILENCE!
To appreciate all of the points being made and any discussions which may stem from it please download or listen to the podcast.
Music on tonight’s show
Benny Tetteh Lartey – You Can’t Hide
The Truths – Miracle Drug, Everybody’s Crying
Raising Days – It’s About Time, Heart Stand Still
The above can be found on www.aardvarkmusic.co.uk
Geoff & Michaela Smith – Fill My Cup
Ahanan – Bedlam
Details of Ahanan’s Music can be obtained from firstname.lastname@example.org