On Evil, part 2
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from All-Creatures.org


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

On Evil, part 2

Last week, I discussed what I think evil is not, and this week I will start to explore what I think evil is. I think evil is related to intentions and not necessarily outcomes.

Our bodies are subjected to the same forces of nature as inanimate objects such as stones. Sometimes those forces prove fatal, but I donít regard the forces of nature as evil. Rather, they are just impersonal and impartial, and tragic outcomes of natural events do not indicate that natural forces are evil.

It seems to me that we should rarely, if ever, describe the actions of nonhumans as evil. As best I can tell, they have limited empathetic capacities. I am doubtful that the cat who toys with a mouse appreciates the pain and terror that the mouse likely feels.

When it comes to human behavior, outcomes do not necessarily correlate with intentions, because results of well-intended actions might prove tragic. For example, a ride to someone in need might end in a terrible accident.

Of course, if there are unfortunate outcomes from human decisions, it is more likely that there have been bad intentions. How do we discern intentions? I will explore this next essay.

Go on to: On Evil, part 3
Return to: Reflections on the Lectionary, Table of Contents

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