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Archive for Saturday, September 15, 2007

Faith Forum: Why are some people fascinated by evil?

September 15, 2007

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Often things we can't have interest, infatuate us

The Rev. Paul Taylor, associate pastor, Mustard Seed Christian Fellowship, 700 Wakarusa Drive:

Have you watched the reaction of a child when told something is off-limits? They suddenly become focused on what they can't have.

That's called human nature. It started in the Garden of Eden after God told Adam and Eve that one tree - the tree of the knowledge of good and evil - was off-limits. Even though there must have been thousands, if not millions, of trees that they could have, they became fixated on the one they couldn't have.

God told them to stay away, not to keep something good from them, but to keep them and mankind from suffering. The tree represented the choice to believe that God was good and knew what he was talking about or rely on their own wisdom and understanding (Genesis, chapter 3).

With the encouragement of the serpent/Satan, they rationalized away God's instructions and decided because it was good for food, pleasant to look at and would make them wise, they both chose to rebel against God's wisdom. All suffering in the world started with that choice.

Since then, the same scenario plays itself out with all mankind. When we give preference to our human wisdom and understanding instead of God's wisdom, we say we know more than the creator, and that's called rebellion. Good parents warn their children away from evil, knowing it may hurt them physically, emotionally or spiritually. Most children dislike having restrictions placed on them.

At the same time, Satan is actively making evil look attractive and pleasurable. He deceives us like he did Adam and Eve. When we believe the truth - that God is trying to protect us - evil loses much of its fascination.

- Send e-mail to Paul Taylor at pastmedic@sunflower.com.

Many whom we consider evil think themselves just

Judy Roitman, guiding teacher, Kansas Zen Center, 1423 N.Y.:

Outside of bad guys in movies, I don't think there's anyone who thinks, "I am fascinated by evil! Bwah hah hah!"

Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot all thought that their cause was just. Pedophiles convince themselves that what they do isn't really that bad. Murderers think that what they do is justified because of what others did to them.

So the question isn't why some people are fascinated by evil. Here's the question: Why are some people so deluded?

The answer is this: We all are deluded. In Buddhism it's said that our suffering comes from desire, anger and ignorance. And not just our own suffering. My desire, anger and ignorance cause other people to suffer. That can be the hardest part to accept.

Rather than asking why other people are fascinated by evil, we should look at ourselves and ask how we can cut through our own delusions. How can we not be trapped by our desire, anger and ignorance? How can we stop hurting other people? How can we live our lives in a way that helps instead of hurts?

All our delusions come from the same place - from the belief that we know what's what. In fact we don't. Two people see the same thing and describe it very differently. This isn't relativism. It is how the human mind works. Our minds are shaped by our notion of self, what Buddhism calls the small self. This small self distorts everything. But when we become intimate with our true nature, the small self loses its power.

So the buck starts here, with each of us. Each of us is responsible for exactly our own life. Can we accept this responsibility? No one else can do it for us.

- Send e-mail to Judy Roitman at roitman@ku.edu.

Comments

chungasrevenge 7 years, 3 months ago

'Evil' is first and foremost a religious notion, it is defined as whatever a religion dislikes. Lucifer represents and personifies the things the church wished people to stop liking and doing, high on the list are our appetites for sex and pleasure. Like a governments use of propaganda in times of war, the church portrays what they wish to suppress, as ugly and dangerous things to be feared. Absurd and dangerous as it may be, the church introduces the idea of evil and the devil to children, thus gaining control through fear, as children they aren't able to assess the credibility or worth of such ideas. This is a serious form of child abuse.

The traditional christian concept of god points out a logical contridiction. If god is omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent then evil should not exist. If he is willing to prevent evil, but unable, then he is impotent. If he is able but not willing, then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing, then how does evil exist?

"We find human faces in the moon, armies in the clouds, and by a natural propensity, if not corrected by experience and reflection, ascribe malice and good-will to every thing, that hurts or pleases us." -David Hume

mick 7 years, 3 months ago

It has to do with the individual's desire for sovereignty over his/her universe. "The heart of man is desperately sick. Who can understand it?"

denak 7 years, 3 months ago

Why do some people assume that if one is "fascinated" by evil, then that is bad.

Some doctors, psychiatrists, police officers, criminalogists etc are fascinated by "evil." If they weren't, they wouldn't be effective in applying the very real life reasons for crimes and then stoping them.

Most things aren't evil but we want to apply that label so that we can justify what is heinous and incomprehensible. Genocides, parents cutting off their children's heads, war..all of these things are considered evil by some people but they aren't evil in that there is a supernatural cause to them. They aren't evil because of Satan. They are evil because of socio-economic, physical, societal, cultural reasons. It might make people feel better (superior) to say someone is evil that way they don't have to think about how there are real life reasons for these people's actions.

Dena

Speakout 7 years, 3 months ago

God allows evil in the world so that mankind can make and appreciate choices and to have a means of distiguishing the bad from the good in the world. God placed the tree in the garden and asked Adam and Eve not to eat from this tree. They did as they were told until Satan convinced them that it was alright. Doesn't this show a couple more things than Adam and Eve doing evil? First, there was a choice for them to make and Satan was pretty convincing. Second, after they had eaten from the tree, they were ashamed of themselves and thus humility and the concept of asking for forgiveness was born. These are things that are missed by those who commit evil acts. They are not humble nor do they ask for forgiveness.

I believe that God is wiser than anyone else and I believe that to have been this subtle in His creation was a good thing. Those who cannot see the evil or discern it from good are in trouble. If God did not create the tree and ask A and E not to eat from it (and I believe He knew they would) the question of good and evil would never be an issue.

gr 7 years, 3 months ago

"the question of good and evil would never be an issue."

And where do you suppose satan came from and his ideas?

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