“Evil” is not a word I am comfortable with.
Part of the problem is its range.
“Evil” can be used to describe anything from a bad temper (“an evil disposition”) to a bad cup of coffee (“that is just evil!”) to a bad person (“s/he is evil to the core”) to something bad we can’t even comprehend (“I felt the presence of evil”).
Evil can also be applied in both religious and secular situations (although the latter tends to talk in terms of “positive and negative,” “white and black,” “light and dark”).
In this way, using the word “evil” feels more like a description or a judgment – in other words, more like an adjective than a noun or verb.
But where I have no real issue in cases where one person’s opinion may be that the coffee is stale and another’s is that it is fresh, I don’t like to think of “evil” as a matter of personal opinion.
It is a strong enough term that any use of the word should be (in my, um, opinion) definitive.
For instance, let’s say there is a fire raging. Someone yells “fire!” and everyone makes a run for it, injuring or even trampling others in the process.
No one wants to find out later that the person who yelled only thought s/he saw fire.
In the same way, if a fire is on the loose, we don’t want a situation where a person in a position to issue an alert isn’t sure what to call it or if it is dangerous and so hesitates to sound the alarm.
And while I feel like I have a deep inner faith that presents itself to me at the level I can open to it, I don’t personally process evil in religious terms.
It feels like it must be broader than “just” religious or “just” secular (or even scientific) to be classified as such.
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