Invention of Good and Evil - Intent becomes more important then results
In a previous post, Myths - reflections of our cultural subconscious, I described how myths, even ones we no longer believe, affect our subconscious. In this post, I will examine the invention of good and evil and how this myth continues to affect the subconscious decisions of even Atheists. The purpose of this invention is to discredit someone’s positive results based on something called intent. The reverse is negative results can be turned into positive intentions. The concept of good and evil originated with religion, until recent times, culture and religion were the same.
The divide between religion and culture is a modern one, in Britain, the Queen of England is head of the Anglican Church. The roots of the separation of religion and culture have their roots in Christianity, the reason was political.
The ruler maintained social control with religion, social control can either have negative or positive aspects. Prior to religion, the largest social groups humans could maintain would be equivalent to our evolutionary cousins, Apes, Chimpanzees, Monkeys etc. This reason is the leader of these other primate groups needs to maintain control directly. The alpha primate of the group maintains control directly by implied threats. If the alpha primate is not there, the other members of the group will not follow the rules. If your dog thinks you are not looking, he will attempt to take food off the table. A key component of training your dog not to eat food off the table is to create the illusion you can always see what he is doing. For humans, religion played a vital role in this, it provided the illusion that someone was always watching you.
The book The Evolution of God shows that religious/cultural beliefs evolve. Originally all societies started at a tribal level, they had Shamanic religions with countless deities which resembled humans closely. These deities served two purposes, they provided an explanation for things and more importantly they provided social control. What makes the Bible interesting is behind the scenes it is possible to see how Judaism developed. Originally Jews started as 12 tribes which were polytheistic, for the tribes to have unified, the 12 commandments from Moses where required. This prevented individuals from within the tribes killing each other.
The Bible shows an evolution from polytheistic personal gods to a monotheistic abstract god. As scientific knowledge increased, the direct involvement of gods was no longer needed to explain things. The role of gods switched from explaining natural behavior to social control. In the garden of Eden, we see a personal god who walks among humans and talks with them. Later in Genesis, Jacob gets into an argument with God and has a wrestling match with him. After his encounter, in Genesis 32:20, Jacob states, I have seen God face to face, yet my life was spared. A few thousand years later, the son of God crucified on a cross is asking God, why have you forsaken me? There is an evolution from personal gods to an abstract god.
The Bible provides a snapshot of meme theory in action over a 2000 year period. The garden of Eden myth probably originated with the Babylonian religion. Other neighboring religions had similar myths to Noah and the flood. There is also evidence of cultural evolution in action. Example, someone gets the idea that pigs are unclean. In the middle east, eating pork puts one at a greater risk from parasites. You would see your neighbor is healthier, you will think he is blessed by a god, you will be inclined to adopt this belief. The Bible has basic hygiene rules. If a person has an illness, send him away from the rest of the tribe. This prevents the illness from spreading. At the time, the path of infection was unknown, the explanation would be, god doesn’t like you eating pork, people who do not eat pork are blessed.
The Jewish religion evolved into monotheistic one and more importantly one where its believers could not accept the existence of other gods. This is one unique characteristic of Judaistic based religions, it also enabled its believers to keep their religion even when conquered. When the Roman Empire conquered other ethnic groups, it was a simple matter of moving some of the conquered groups gods into a Roman temple. That the Romans beat the ethnic group proved that Roman gods were stronger, with polytheism it was easy for the conquered group to just add Roman gods. The Jewish religion, by contrast, would not allow this. Judaism evolved into Christianity, which allowed the religion to spread throughout the rest of the Roman empire. But before this could happen, the needed to be a separation between God and earthly authorities or the beginning of the separation between state and religion.
13 And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. 14 And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. 16 And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. 17 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marveled at him. Mark Chapter 12, King James Bible
Did Jesus actually say this? It doesn’t matter. Before recording devices or shorthand writing existed, historians got a general consensus of what people believed a famous person said. They then attempted to reconstruct this consensus into a logical account. Historical accounts were inaccurate. Printing presses did not exist, manuscripts were copied by hand. The person copying the manuscript might make errors or they might correct the manuscript to their views. Writers were flexible when it came to facts. When writing a biography of a Caesar or King, their birth was signified by the appearance of a comet or a star. Jesus is King of the heavenly realm, the author of the Gospel of Mathew decided to add in a comet or a star.
In the Roman Empire, Christianity had a problem, they can not accept the possibility the Caesar is a god. Meanwhile, the Romans are worried the Christians will not pay taxes. By separating Caesar into the ruler of physical things and Jesus into the ruler of spiritual things this fixes the problem. To assure the Romans that Christians will pay taxes, Jesus sends someone to fetch a Roman coin. Whoever wrote this passage was an expert at reframing. Placating the Roman authorities allowed Christianity to spread throughout the Empire. But it wasn’t until the founding of USA that a true separation between state and religion occurred. We have seen how the separation of state and religion occurred, how did the evolution of good and evil happen?
Hunter gather societies contrary to popular belief were highly successful when it came to gathering food and resources. The evolution of good and evil originates with societies becoming agricultural based.
Sahlins concludes that the hunter-gatherer only works three to five hours per adult worker each day in food production. Using data gathered from various foraging societies and quantitative surveys done among the Arhem Landers of Australia and quantitative materials cataloged by Richard Lee on the Dobe Bushmen of the Kalahari, Sahlins argues that hunter-gatherer tribes are able to meet their needs through working roughly 15-20 hours per week or less. [Original affluent society
Archaeological evidence shows that people in agriculturally based societies worked harder and had a greater tendency to be malnourished. The advantage that agriculturally based societies had is they could tie up the land preventing hunter-gatherer societies from using it. The garden of Eden myth probably reflects how the knowledge of agricultural destroyed the hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. Genesis Chapter 3, King James Bible
Here we have an example of how certain types of knowledge can be harmful, but there isn’t yet good and evil. As the book The Evolution of God shows, inside the garden of Eden, Eve is tempted by a serpent. Modern Christians assume that the serpent is the devil but the first time we encounter the devil in the Bible is in the book of Job. Here the Devil is described as a daemon, a servant. We see that this daemon has been dispatched by God to tempt Job. The Garden of Eden myth predates the book of Job, but the book of Job is one of the oldest books in the Bible. It isn’t until the New Testament that the Devil is being blamed for all sorts of problems in the world. Why did Jesus and his followers need a Devil or the concept of Evil?
**Intentions become more important than results
Throughout the longest period of human history—one calls it the prehistoric period—the value or non-value of an action was inferred from its CONSEQUENCES; the action in itself was not taken into consideration, any more than its origin; but pretty much as in China at present, where the distinction or disgrace of a child redounds to its parents, the retro-operating power of success or failure was what induced men to think well or ill of an action. Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche
If you decipher what Nietzsche is saying, for most of human history, whether or not an action was good was determined by its consequences. At some point in time, this changed to its intent. The middle east in the Roman Empire was unique in that is was a free market of religion. It was full of traders traveling between Europe, Asia, and North Africa. The traders would bring with them their respective religions. Prior to the this, transfer of beliefs between different religions only occurred at the boundaries of two or more tribes. Within the tribe itself, the religion was protected by the ruler. In the free market of religion, how do you explain how members of competing religions are blessed?
Simple, instead of basing actions on consequences, base it on intentions. For this to work, you need an all powerful, evil entity which Christianity and later Islam called the Devil. Proving intent if you can not read minds is impossible. Then answers questions like, why is the Jupiter worshipper prospering? The Jupiter worshipper is getting his rewards from Satan. Satan does this to lead one astray. How come the Jupiter worshipper does good deeds? The Jupiter worshipper has bad intentions, he does this to lead you astray to Satan. These same tactics could be used within the competing versions of Christianity.
Early Christianity did not have a uniform set of beliefs. This first battle took place between the Gnostics and what would become accepted Christianity. Simon Magus, or Simon the Sorcerer, most likely was a Gnostic. How do you explain the things he was able to achieve? Simple, he from the devil, his intentions are bad. Within the different branches of modern Christianity, you can see the same thing. This argument was used by different branches of Protestantism and Catholicism. The same reasoning is used within competing versions of Islam. What is amusing is this argument is still used by most Atheists.
** Greenpeace had good intentions, that seals were never endangered doesn’t matter.
Greenpeace and similar environmental groups first gained popularity by protesting seal hunting. Seals were never endangered, the method used to kill the baby seals isn’t much different than the method to kill cows, pigs or sheep for food. Greenpeace intentionally chooses to protest seal hunting since baby seals are cute. Smashing in the head of a cute baby seal with a club gets people emotional. Someone smashes the head of a pig, no one cares. That hundreds of thousands of fishermen and native people relied on seal hunting for their livelihood during the lean winter months is irrelevant. That banning of seal hunting robbed these people of their livelihood and contributed to the destruction of the Canadian East Coast Fishery is irrelevant.
In 2013, the Canadian department of fisheries estimated the harp seal population to three million, three times that of the 1970s. Each seal consumed 8 kg of fish a day or approximately 3 tons of fish a year. One doesn’t need to be a marine biologist to see that this would affect the fish population. As fish populations declined, a moratorium on all east coast fishing was imposed. The closing of the east coast fisheries caused more economic hardship for an already impoverished region. Since intent is more important than consequences, Greenpeace for causing economic destruction is a hero. Greenpeace intended to use seal hunting to raise awareness for their organization and it worked.
Using the same logic, Stalin and Mao were not evil. According to their writings, they intended to create a utopia on earth. Unfortunately, evil, greedy peasants didn’t cooperate. These peasants needed to be reeducated. That their economic programs failed caused starvation and uncooperative peasants were killed is irrelevant. Their intentions were good, the consequences do not matter. Stalin and Mao had good intentions they are heroes.
** JD Rockefeller despite saving the whales and cutting down on pollution is evil.
Oil played an integral part in the founding of United States. Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America shows that one of the primary exports from the Northern American colonies was whale oil and whale bones. Whale oil from the blubber was using primarily for lighting in lamps. Spermaceti, the waxy substance found in the heads of whales was used to make candles. The bones of the whales were used in the manufacture of corsets. The benefit of whale oil is that in lamps it burned cleaner and brighter than any other oil. Spermaceti candles also burned brighter and cleaner than beeswax or other types of candles. As a result, whale oil products and whale bones were in high demand in Europe.
The invention of the exploding harpoon in the 1870s increased the rate which whales could be hunted. Whales in the local waters of the eastern USA were driven to the brink of extinction. Whalers then began to travel further north and south to find new species of whale to hunt. Eventually, they reached the waters above the arctic circle and went as far south as Antarctica. The search for new sources of whales after the 1870s is similar to the modern search for new sources of petroleum oil. Why did people stop hunting whales?
Petroleum oil became a cheaper substitute. Originally when Petroleum oil was discovered in the USA it was more expensive to produce and refine than whale oil. The primary substitute for whale oil as a lighting oil was Kerosene. Kerosene is produced from the distillation or refining of petroleum oil. Unfortunately, due to the inefficiency of refining and improper refining techniques the kerosene produced was expensive and often unintentionally mixed with gasoline. Kerosene mixed with gasoline is dangerous since it is explosive. The waste byproducts like gasoline and asphalt were dumped into nearby rivers. One man would change this, JD Rockefeller.
As the book, Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller shows, he was greedy, ruthless and eliminated the competition. His determination was probably a result of his family being abandoned by his father who was a traveling medicine man and conman. The one thing that helped JD Rockefeller and his family survive was his mother’s Baptist faith. This would instill into young Rockefeller the values of hard work and frugality. Rockefeller was determined to escape the shame of his impoverished childhood. An opportunity for this presented itself with the emerging US Petroleum industry.
During the US Civil war, while other’s were prospecting for oil, JD Rockefeller saw the importance of refining oil. The primary purpose of refining the oil was to get kerosene, the other 60% of the refining products like gasoline and asphalt were thrown away. Gasoline an explosive by-product was dumped into rivers. Rockefeller saw that instead of throwing away the gasoline and asphalt it could be used to heat the petroleum oil for the distillation or refining process. The distillation process in other refineries was a haphazard process. Rockefeller hired a chemist to make the process scientific, that way all kerosene produced from his refinery was of uniform quality. As a result, he was able to decrease operating costs and as a benefit decreased pollution. Using the extra profits he earned, he bought out other refineries and make them more efficient. These savings he then passed onto the consumer which made Kerosene a competitive product to whale oil.
Rockefeller saw that the transportation of oil was inefficient. Originally oil was transported by railcar in barrels. To lower costs, he made contracts with railway companies agreeing to a guaranteed amount of oil every month on a specific schedule. This benefited both Rockefeller and the railway. The railway had a guaranteed income and they could schedule shipping oil during downtimes, Rockefeller benefited due to reduced shipping costs. These reduced refining and shipping costs Rockefeller passed onto the consumer. For his entire life, Rockefeller was constantly looking for ways to reduce waste and inefficiency. For example, originally natural gas was flared off as a waste product, He pioneered creating natural gas pipelines turning a waste product into something that could be used to heat homes cheaply and cleanly.
As the price of Kerosene dropped and with the invention of petroleum-based substitutes, the demand for whale oil decreased. By the 1920s, whaling ceased to be a major industry in the USA. So here we have a man who helped saved the whales, cut down on pollution, dropped the price of oil from $120 (2013 dollars) a barrel to $20 (2013 dollars), maintained this price for the next 70 years is evil. The cheap price of kerosene also allowed even poor Americans to light their houses which encouraged literacy. Whatever benefits Rockefeller gave society are irrelevant since he was only concerned with profits, he was greedy therefore he is evil.
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
To determine whether Rockefeller provided more value to the world than Greenpeace requires a cost/benefit analysis. The point is, one should judge by results, not the alleged intentions. As Nietzsche points out, by working backwards one can turn failure into good intentions. On the other hand, using the same methodology, one can turn positive results into evil ones by claiming bad intentions. Another side effect of the myth of good and evil one can use it to turn a person’s natural instincts work against him.
Modern Liberals or Progressives claim to be open minded and tolerant, they denounce religion for being intolerant. Meanwhile, if their false prophets are attacked they will use the same methods as the false prophets of old. They inevitably use variants of the seven deadly sins:
Their methods are similar to old fashioned evangelical preachers. To see these methods in action old-fashioned revival service. First, they have good looking girls dressed in white singing with the voices of angels. The man looks at these women, he naturally feels lustful. Then the preacher gives a sermon about how it is wrong to feel lust. These feelings are wrong, they come from the devil, you must renounce them or be cast into the burning pit of hell. Then afterwards he has the same angelic ladies sing songs about redemption, the pastor then sends people to collect money.
The modern Liberal uses a similar tactic. Besides being a good way to make money, it also sabotages competition to their ideas. Instead of competing, the man will be busy trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. Men like JD Rockefeller, Mao, Stalin etc had strong natural human instincts. These human instincts directed properly are what enabled them to achieve the status they did. In the case of Stalin and Mao, the problem was the system they lived in didn’t allow them to direct these instincts in beneficial ways. Both China and Russia where tyrannical states, to achieve their ambitions, both Mao and Stalin overthrew the leaders of these tyrannical states. They replaced it with a more efficient system of tyranny.
Instead of setting up systems which direct these natural tendencies in a healthy direction, the modern Liberal like the false prophets of the past attempt to change human nature.
Until recently, the artificial divide between religion and culture did not exist. Culture evolves to fit the environment but within the culture, but within the culture will be vestiges of the past. The concept of good and evil, the seven deadly sins are from this past.
Religion itself isn’t bad. It depends on what the beliefs are of the religion. In Judaism and early Protestantism, both religions required its followers to be able to read the appropriate scriptures. Then the followers were encouraged to debate or interpret what these scriptures meant. This then had unintended positive consequences.
The point behind this post like most of my posts is to provoke thought and cause people to question conventional wisdom. In this case, why are certain things considered good or evil? Where did these ideas originate from?
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