The Gathering World Awareness Of The Definition of Good And Evil
Is there a meaning to history?
Is history a collection of events that are inter-related, but in their essence random? Or is there a deep unifying theme that underlies history, that has actually been---completely unconsciously, at least so far---directing events?
Is there, not so much meaning, but a single, simple driving force, a thrust, to history?
From the title of this blog, certainly the reader knows I believe the answer to this question to be "Yes." It is the intention of this blog to convince the reader of this also, in as completely rational, logical and unemotional a manner as possible. I shall adopt a semi-Socratic method, laying out ideas and asking the reader to follow my logic.
So, if there is a single, simple driving force to history, how we would find it, if it existed?
We would examine very large historical events in chronological order, with an eye toward unifying themes. If a single, simple driving force existed, it would be most apparent in very large historical events, in the same sense the existence of the single, simple force of gravity is most apparent in the motion of very large bodies such as planets.
So, as a start, let us list a few very large historical events, major events, in chronological order in order to spot trends. Not by any means a complete list, but a few from the top. Let us further limit ourselves to the last hundred and fifty years or so, because that will be the history most people know best.
(I realize opinions as what the major events are will differ. Fine with me, by all means make your own list and see if you can find unifying characteristics.)
I add one twist. I think there is also significance in major events that DIDN'T happen, although there was historical precedent for them. And so I list those, too.
--- 1860s, American Civil War, fought over the morality of slavery. The slavery side loses a war it had no chance of winning, part of an ongoing historical trend to abolish slavery totally. Slavery still exists today, but only in minuscule form, and it certainly is no longer a significant part of world trade as it once was.
---1940s,World War II. The violent destruction of forms of government based on racial theories and dictatorship. Instead of the totally defeated and prostrate Germany, Japan, and Italy being turned into colonies of an American or British empire, democratic governments are installed and the countries eventually allowed to go their own way.
---1940's, Non-Violent Dissolution Of The British Empire, after World War II. The British Empire just melts away like an ice cube, an absolutely impossible, insane thing to happen given previous history. With reference to India, it melts away under the moral force of one man. During this decade and the following decades, the very concept of colonial empire itself fades away.
---1960s, American Civil Rights Struggle. American blacks struggle---deliberately non-violently---for equal protection and treatment under the law. They succeed, I must emphasize again, without violence. One man emerges as the central figure of the movement.
---1990s, Collapse Of Communism. After decades of Cold War, the quiet collapse of Communism, a form of government based essentially on dictatorship. Incredibly, unbelievably, despite the countries being weak, despite plenty of historical precedent, despite the opportunity for empire, nobody invades the collapsing countries and takes them over. The suggestion is not even made. Instead, the people of the collapsing countries are allowed to try to install democracies. Some succeed, although the verdict is still out on others.
---1980's, Bosnian Intervention. Prevention by coalition countries of genocides in the countries formed from the former Yugoslavia. This event is extremely odd in terms of preceding world history. There were ZERO economic interests at stake. No oil or other economic resources were at issue. In terms of religion it also doesn't fit. Basically, Christians intervened to keep Muslims from being slaughtered by other Christians. The effort proceeded by fits and starts, but it proceeded, and in the end achieved a substantial measure of success.
---1990's, the First Gulf War, the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein and his subsequent expulsion. The significance here for me is what didn't happen. Although a moral concern was part of the coalition countries' reason for expelling Saddam, certainly the impulse to protect their economies was there, too, and that clouds the issue of their motivations. However, at the immediate end of the war, despite the coalition countries urgent economic need for oil, when they owned Kuwait, when they could just as easily have assumed permanent control, THEY GAVE THE COUNTRY BACK TO THE KUWAITIS AND LEFT.
----2000’s, the Second Gulf War, the removal of Saddam Hussein from power.
I could go on, and if anybody else wants to add to this list, go for it, but I hope I have listed enough events so that the reader can see underlying themes.
Does the reader see unifying themes to these events?
Certainly I do. The almost-total abolition of slavery---in all countries, all over the world. The disappearance of the concept of colonial empire---in all countries, all over the world. The way entire societies responded to the moral force of one person---in more than one country(America, Britain, South Africa, Poland). The drawing back from violence, from war---by all countries, all over the world. The fall of dictatorships and the rise of democracies---in all countries, all over the world.
There is something gathering in human history. All countries are now beginning to come together and agree on what right action is.
In reference to violence, there is a starkly clear trend. Over the last hundred years or so, there has been a steadily declining amount of violence in world history. Although violence peaked during World War II, after World War II the amount of violence dropped and continues to drop.
From all this, I make a moral judgment.
The world is a better place morally than it was a hundred and fifty years ago, a hundred years ago, fifty years ago, even ten years ago. Understand my position clearly now, I don't say that this world a moral place, just MORE moral, a relative improvement.
Does the reader's own moral judgment agree with mine?
But we're still not done. We still haven't hit the rock-bottom. Remember, we're after one single, simple idea. Can we boil all these themes down again, to one thing?
Yes, there is a single statement that applies to all of the above themes. It seems obvious to me.
Evil is being removed permanently from the world, and replaced with good.
(Here an aside: The war in Iraq now suddenly no longer looks like the random impulse of one man, but, viewed in the light of preceding events, more like the latest expression of an historical trend, the permanent removal of evil from the world and replacing it with good. And the trend is gathering momentum, rather than waiting until evil attacks us, like we did in the 40’s, we attack it first, which is certainly a lot smarter thing to do. And evil WILL attack good, in some form or fashion. That’s what evil does.)
As justification for this, consider. I will take the above themes and boil them down to fewer words, to their essence.
I ask the reader to make his own moral judgment about the following statements. Rate the following statements as "True" or "False."
---Slavery is evil.
---Colonial empire, exploitation of other peoples for economic gain, is evil.
---Racial theories of government are evil.
---Dictatorship is evil.
---Genocide is evil.
Again: I ask the reader to make his own moral judgment about the following statements. Rate the following statements as "True" or "False."
---Freedom is good.
---The abolition of slavery, freeing people, is good.
---The removal of an evil man from power is good.
---The stopping or prevention of genocide is good.
But we STILL haven't hit the rock-bottom.
Because we have no precise definition of good and evil. The above is extremely fuzzy. We are just dancing around the concepts. We have defined individual actions as good or evil, but we haven't defined good or evil themselves. That's what has been missing all along, leading to massive confusion, the definitions of good and evil. The definition of good is the concept we're looking for here, our unifying principle, a single, simple Universal Law Of Moral Gravity, that human action revolves around.
One test of our definition will be if we can define evil as the opposite of good, its negative, which we instinctively know that it is. If we can’t do that and have it make sense, then we don’t have the correct definition.
People have been killing each other for centuries over this. If we're going to have peace in this world, we're going to have to define good precisely. Fuzziness won't do. And it will have to be something that everybody in the world will agree on, at least in the end.
Is this possible? Is it possible to define good precisely, pin this concept down in just a few words?
The answer is yes. It is quite possible. The way to find this definition is to do it objectively and rationally, to examine all the actions above, in fact all of human action, and see if it is possible to abstract one rule that lies behind it all.
I won't go into the specifics right now. It would take far too long. My concern right now is laying out the conclusion. Therefore, since I haven't laid out the specific logic chain, I will not ask the reader if he (or she) agrees. I will just list the definition and ask the reader if it fits all the above actions.
The precise definition of good that the entire human race is using, albeit unconsciously, is:
"God loves everybody forever."
And the definition of evil, the negative of good, is:
"God does NOT love everybody forever."
These definitions are much more profound than they look. Note, for example, that evil does not create or contribute anything. It is simply pure denial. Also, the good definition says "forever", and that means it includes the guilty. "God loves everybody forever, even the guilty" and that's the law. (Look at Saddam Hussein. No sane person doubts his guilt, but still the world agrees he should go to trial, despite huge expense and risk to human life. This is an expression of the "even the guilty" part. The world, THE ENTIRE WORLD, agrees that Saddam's guilt MUST be proved in an impartial fashion in a court of law before he can be punished. He must be given every possible opportunity to explain his actions first.)
I realize some people are going to react against this because it includes the word "God." There is nothing I can do about this. All I can say is that's the definition the world is using and has been using all along.
One thing I have to emphasize.
This is not me trying to convince people to have faith. This blog is not in any way about trying to convince people to have faith. It's about pure logic, me trying to point out the assumptions that lie behind human behavior. If this seems strange to you, well, it seemed strange to me, too. I was an agnostic myself before I started thinking about these issues. But I had to go where the logic took me.
By way of seeing how this definition of good and evil fits and explains world history, write down your own list of things that are good and evil. The more basic you can make it, the better. Then replace the phrase "is evil" with the phrase "violates the law that God loves everybody forever", and "is good" with "affirms the law that God loves everybody forever."
"Slavery is evil."
"Slavery violates the law that God loves everybody forever."
"Freeing people is good."
"Freeing people affirms the law that God loves everybody forever."
One more thing you can try. Turn on the news. See how many news items have as their rock-bottom the unspoken idea that "This is being reported because it violates the law that God loves everybody forever!" Or "This is being reported because it affirms the law that God loves everybody forever!"
You can play this game on many different levels. The assumption that "God loves everybody forever" is buried very, very deep in human beings and expresses itself in a thousand different ways. Human history. The existence of certain professions. The impulse behind human emotions. The structure of fiction.
Doing this kind of analysis will help you see how universal this law is. Also how unconscious it is, too.
At least, so far. The historical trend indicates that this unconscious idea that’s been driving human history cannot remain unconscious much longer. As I noted, all the world is coming together in defining what right action is these days. Soon, the definition of right action they’ve been using is going to burst forth onto the surface of human history, into conscious light.
Those will be interesting times. See the story below.
Y'all have a good one.