The Devil's Juice... Are Hitler and Alcohol Both Evil?

Thomathy
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The Devil's Juice... Are Hitler and Alcohol Both Evil?

I wasn't going to post this because I didn't think much of it, but, to my surprise, in the back of my mind it creeps up and bothers me!

Not an hour ago, I was performing some of my duties at work.  A co-worker (loosely so and henceforth 'Loosely') walked by and made a joking request of me at which point his colleague chimed in (henceforth 'Other').  Before I could get away a conversation had been struck, something light and refreshing for mid-afternoon in an office.

Amazingly, the conversation took a very wrong turn when the ramifications of allowing workers to drink while at work time were being dicussed.  We agreed that any cases in law (in Canada at least) would set a precedent if a worker was injured, but that if there was a law in place already, a waver might free an employer of responsibility if the accident took place after work even if the worker became intoxicated while at work.  Loosely, insisted, however (to my absolute bewilderment) that alcohol was the devil's juice and that he'd never allow it at work were he the owner of a company.  I was silent.  Other said flat out that the devil did not exist.  Loosely changed his tune.  Alcohol was evil now.  I said that alcohol was not evil and agreed that the devil did not exist.  I also added that I'd not call anything evil because I don't delineate anything based on that criteria*.  Loosely was miffed. 

Loosely invoked Hitler, 'Thom, Hitler was the devil.  Wasn't Hitler satanic?'

I answered, 'No.  Hitler was a person.  A very bad man.'

'So you don't think he was evil?'

'No, he wasn't evil.  He was a-'

'So, Hitler was good?' Loosely cut in.  I tried to cut back in, to explain the error, but Loosely began the Holocaust rant.  Loosely's parents were victims of the Holocaust.

Loosely's story was tragic, but I remained steadfast, 'That's tragic.  I never said that!  Hitler was a terrible, hor-'

'Horrible person!' said Other and Loosely stormed off.

'I get what you mean, Thom,' said Other.

 

*I find evil to be vague.  It's poorly defined and practically meaningless.  The opposite, even as Loosely believes, is also poorly defined and is supposed to somehow create the division upon which I should have based my decision.  So much could be evil.  Are alcohol and Hitler really comparable?  Can the two fall into the same category?  Absolutely not.  Hitler was a human.  A powerful and briliant politician and military leader (the latter is debatable).  Insane.  Terrifyingly capable of carrying to fruition his plans of dominion and genocide.  Hitler was scary in a way that only another human being can be scary.  Alcohol is a chemical.  Alcohol is both beneficial and detrimental to humans.  A human could be hurt (fatally) or (fatally) hurt someone with alcohol as a factor (perhaps even primary), but alcohol can't gain political control of a country and order millions to murder millions in an attempt to carry out an insane agenda.  Alcohol is not equivalent to Hitler.  Hitler is worse, extraordinarily worse, in ways that alcohol can never be.  They both can't be put into the same category, but people are willing to lump such things together and to divide the world into those things which are 'good' and those which are 'evil' and to storm away from conversations because someone isn't able or willing to let them get away with equating someone who is absolutely detestable to a chemical that people choose to imbibe! 

In Loosely's mind now, I am wrong, I may even think that Hitler is 'good', and all because my opinion on the matter takes more time to explain than simply uttering one word that incoherently divides some of everything from some of everything else.

I don't want to know what I should have done or said.  I would like it if people could consider whether my analysis of 'evil' is correct.  Is Hitler indeed evil?  Can Hitler and alcohol both be evil?

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


Vastet
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I have found that the

I have found that the concepts of evil and good greatly depend on circumstance, which is entirely dependant upon a persons moral viewpoint. I would agree with you that Hitler was not evil. Psychotic, perhaps. Or a great many other terms. Insane comes to mind. But evil doesn't qualify. It doesn't qualify for Hitler, Bush, Stalin, Napoleon, Theresa, or Wayne Gretzky. Neither of the terms describe anything more than the term god does. They are completely subjective to the individual, despite the apparent inability of many individuals to realize this.

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Matt-Evolved
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Another question:

I agree with your analysis of the terms 'evil' and 'good.'  They are impossible to define and they are also dimensionless.  They cannot be measured with any sense.  The only way good and evil exist are relative to each other in everyone's own subjective definition.

 

I recently had a debate with a friend of mine who said that he "has faith in human beings."  This was after we defined faith as "belief in things without any evidence."  We also agreed that when he said he had "faith" in humans, he was referring to the common usage of the term in that he meant that he believes humans are inherently good-natured.

However, after a while he said that his "faith" in humans was not based on anything and thus the type of faith as defined above.  I said that that is impossible because faith only makes sense in terms of religion or god -- faith cannot be sensically justified when applied to any other aspect of human nature.  I pointed out that his belief in human nature was obviously attributed to his knowledge of good deeds done by humans in the past, so that his "faith" in human beings was just stemming from his knowledge of the capability of humans to be good.  He maintained that his faith in humans was based on nothing and that it was a justification for faith being applicable to other facets of human nature besides religion and god.  I then said that his mere knowing other people gives him a way to base human nature upon, and thus his belief in the goodness of humans was based on at least something.

 

My question: can a person believe in the goodness of human nature based soley on faith?

"I call Christianity the one great curse, the one great intrinsic depravity, the one great instinct of revenge, for which no means are venomous enough, or secret, subterranean and small enough - I call it the one immortal blemish upon the human race." -


Thomathy
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Sure, if they've never met

Sure, if they've never met another human or experienced a human doing something 'good'.  I know, not likely.  And then you'd have to wonder why such a person would have 'faith' in humans being basically good. 

What your friend has done, though, is either renig on the definition you accepted and then lie when presented with the fact that his 'faith' in humans is not the 'faith' you defined at the get-go or he has performed an intentional or unintentional logical fallacy: equivocation. 

I have faith (confidence or trust in a person or thing) that people are basically good.  I wouldn't use the word faith normally because of the confusion it usually causes, but I use it here to illustrate the logical fallacy your friend has committed.  That is one definition of faith and it doesn't mean 'belief without evidence' and it is a perfectly acceptable usage.  However, you decided in the terms of your conversation that 'faith' was to mean 'belief without evidence'.  Your friend equivocated the two terms and then when you called him out on it, he lied, despite the evidence you had that he has actually has experienced and thus has evidence that humans can be good.  Simply, his 'faith' in humans is not 'belief without evidence' it is confidence, based on experience, that humans are basically good.

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


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If evil did exist, and it

If evil did exist, and it was an alcoholic beverage, it would be tequila.


BobSpence
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I am inclined sometimes to

I am inclined sometimes to use the word 'evil' as way to describe something that strikes me as so 'bad' that it calls for something stronger. I think the holocaust, or Pol Pot's regime in Cambodia, would classify, in my mind at least.

But again, like the non-religious usage of the word 'faith', this is distinct from the idea of 'evil' in religious usage.

The idea of describing alcohol as evil, in any sense, is totally insane. That is a reflection of the tendency of the religious to consider all sins as equivalent. They tend to object to the very idea of the 'lesser of two evils', or deciding a course of action which will minimise harm if they perceive that both options involve 'sin'. So the Catholic Church says we must not distribute condoms in Africa to fight the AIDS epidemic, because condoms are seen by them to encourage extra-marital sex and contraception, so it is not permissible to fight the evil of AIDS with something which encourages sin.

The go even further into the absurd by listing the seven 'deadly' sins, 'pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth'.

To treat any of these as somehow worse than murder or torture ( which is not actually explicitly condemned in the Bible AFAIK ) demonstrates how disconnected religious doctrine can become from any meaningful concept of ethics and morality.

So religion can, and often does, totally f**k up a person's ability to make reasonable and even compassionate judgement of relative good and 'evil'.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology