A Facebook friend asked a question about the nature of evil, and here was my response:
I don't believe in evil and find that, unless we're simply defining it as "really really really bad," the entire concept is a red herring. Because the point is that it's some thing inside people that's somehow so beyond the normal level of behavior, that mere mortal flaws aren't enough to have caused it. Yet, would could that possibly be?
For example, is Hitler evil. No, of course not. He was a product of his genetic makeup and life experiences, and those things combined together to form a warped mind who imagined that he was the victim of some vast conspiracy and countered that by taking vengeance upon the people he imagined were conspiring against him. And he aspired to create a new world with a master race of people who would make the world a better place.
In other words, he was nuts. And why? Because he was evil? No, because of a mix of his genetic makeup and his life experiences, neither of which he had any control over. After all, what can we use to make decisions other than the genetic makeup and life experiences that came before them; which again, we have no control over.
So...at what point did "evil" enter the picture? This isn't to excuse his behavior, as humans need to draw the line on certain behaviors for the sake of everyone; yet, when you really think about it, you realize he was just as much a victim as anyone else. He didn't "choose" to be a delusional paranoid. Why would he? He didn't "choose" to be a sociopath. That's how he was born and he had no more control over that than you had with the color of your skin. He did the things that seemed right for him to do and he obviously didn't think there was any reason he shouldn't.
Because that's the thing, there *IS* no real freewill, as we're just doing what our genetic makeup and/or life experiences dictate we do. And there *IS* no evil. There's just crazy people doing horrible things and if you were born with Hitler's genetics and lived his life experience, you'd have done exactly what he did. To suggest otherwise is an absurdity. Hell, we can even add a soul to the picture and it STILL doesn't change anything, as we wouldn't have any control over what sort of soul we had either.
And really, the whole thing's a farce, and while it's still necessary for us to punish people for doing bad things, we always need to remember that it's not their fault and that we're only punishing them for the good of everyone and not because it's anything personal we're holding him responsible for.
Evil is just a label we use when we don't want to admit that the world's a crazy fucking place that really doesn't make any sense to anyone. Don't let yourself believe otherwise, as it's just a delusion. This shit just doesn't make sense. I know. I checked.
There's the old joke about the girl who thought the world rested on the back of a turtle. And the professor asks her what the turtle is standing on, and she says it's another turtle. And he asks what *that* turtle was standing on, and she says it's yet another turtle. And so he asks, "well, what's at the bottom of all these turtles?" And she says "Oh no, you can't trick me. It's turtles all the way down."
And that's exactly where we are with any system that posits "freewill" and "evil." Whether you believe in the Christian god, or Hinduism or whatever else people might dream up, you still get to a point of origin where we had to make that first decision that was based upon something that was out of our control, and that's the point that started us on our way.
If God created our soul in Heaven and that turns into Charles Manson, then God and society created Charles Manson. If the Pope was a good aardvark in his past life, which had been a bad human in the life before, and started with whatever it is Hindus believe we all started with; then it's whatever the Pope was given at the beginning, as well as society, that made the Pope who he is.
There can be no other explanation. At a certain point, we have to acknowledge some starting point which is at the bottom of the stack of turtles, and that's what's holding the turtles up. We cannot be held truly responsible for what we do because we are simply products of our genetics and environment. There is no other piece that could be missing, because if there's another piece, than that too is something that was out of our control.
Even if you picked your soul and your parents and everything else about your life, at some level you're basing those decisions upon something that was out of your control, so you can't be held responsible for the decision you made.