Detecting Evil

The problem of evil has confounded philosophers since time immemorial. One would think that our age’s rationalistic bent and tendency to steer clear of moral judgments have finally led us to abandon this concept, shelving it together with everything else that our enlightened Western minds find hard to believe in, such as the virgin birth, the miracles of Christ, the resurrection and the tooth fairy.

Yet, unlike the above, the problem of evil stubbornly refuses to be denied. Kosovo, Cambodia and Nazi Germany serve as grim reminders, to name but a few.

One person who found that he could no longer deny the facts is noted psychiatrist and personality expert Dr. Michael H. Stone from Columbia University. Some time ago a New York Times article reported that Stone is now urging psychiatrists and forensic specialists “not to avoid thinking of the term evil when appraising certain offenders.” It is time, Stone said, to give their behaviour the “proper appellation.” According to the article Stone drew his conclusions after years of research and having examined hundreds of killers.

The same article quotes another scholar and professor of psychiatry, Dr. Robert Simon from Georgetown Medical School, as saying: “Evil is endemic, it’s constant, it is a potential in all of us. Just about everyone has committed evil acts.” Simon recently published his own findings in a book with the telling title “Bad Men Do What Good Men Dream.”

When we can no longer deny the reality of evil in our world, perhaps we shall find reason to reconsider the reality of the cross. The cross is God’s response to the problem of human evil and sin, and no less a myth or invention. When we come to terms with the problem, it should only follow naturally that we come to terms with the solution.

2 thoughts on “Detecting Evil

  1. luikat October 4, 2011 / 7:10 am

    On the topic of evil vs. psychology/psychiatry, you may also want to read “People of the lie” by Scott M. Peck. This book has stirred up a bit of debate, so it is possible you already know of it. In any case, I am aware that that the author seems to have become somewhat of a dodgy chap himself later in his life and I believe he might have let his imagination run wild in some parts of the book. It is always good to read critically but on the whole, for a smallish paperback self-help book, I was impressed – I found a lot of very interesting, useful and true things. Have an insightful day!

  2. naturalchurch October 4, 2011 / 8:48 am

    Thanks for the comment, Luikat. I happen to recommend the same book in my blog post of yesterday! In fact, much of my thinking regarding parenthood and the danger of parents turning their children into extensions of their own selves comes from People of the Lie. I agree with you. Some of M Scott Peck’s conclusions are controversial, but the main theme is spot on. We have been duped into thinking that evil has to do with the way Hollywood and Stephen King depicts it, while it is in fact a manifestation of narcissism.

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