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How Can Anyone Judge What is Morally Right or Wrong?


In a recent quite interesting debate on the forums I was asked 'And what moral authority do you have to determine good and evil?'. The forum topic in question can be found if you visit .

I found this a question that has preyed on my mind, not least of which because I feel that surely what is 'Good and Evil', seems to me should pretty much based on common sense and a conscience. I can't help wondering if everyone feels the same as I do, which is that surely it doesn't take a spiritual leader or a genius to work out the accepted standard for good and evil, right and wrong and acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.

To explain my feelings on this I have an immediate list that springs to mind of what every human being should realise is good or evil without much debate. If anyone doubts the sense in these lists then I seriously doubt their sanity, and find it odd that even a so called Christian on the above forum topic had to ask me what moral authority I had to determine good and evil. My immediate thought was, 'Well, I have a brain and a conscience for a start, plus I don't simply blindly follow the words of some religious nut who tells me to do something in the name of the appropriate God whose wishes they profess to be passing on'. Strangely enough I don't think this comment would have been welcomed if I had chosen to voice it in a further post, so I have chosen to write this hub instead and get a more general opinion.

My lists of good and evil, right and wrong, appropriate behaviour and inappropriate behaviour, as I see it basically are as follows:

Good, Appropriate, Moral and Correct Behaviour in my Humble Opinion.

1) Quite a few of the 10 commandments although I am far from a Bible Basher.

2) Being kind to animals.

3) Looking after and respecting the planet and the creatures that reside on it, to the best of your individual abilities.

4) Looking after those less fortunate than yourselves, be it family, friends, neighbours or strangers.

5) Not hurting or being cruel to children.

6) Not bullying weaker people than yourself.

7) Not committing murder, (as in the 10 commandments).

8) Not stealing (except in such circumstances as to save lives).

9) Not having affairs with people who already have partners, (much as in 10 commandments also).

10) Defending others when you feel they are in the right and need moral support, or are incapable of arguing their valid case intelligently enough to make their point.

11) Ensuring animals or the products from animals we eat are treated as humanely and naturally as possible before they, or their products, reach our dinner plate.

Evil, Inappropriate, Immoral and Incorrect Behaviour also in my Humble Opinion.

1) Committing murder, unless you do it as an act of mercy for a dying relative or friend who is having a slow and painful death and asks you to help them die.

2) Being cruel to animals.

3) Being cruel to children.

4) Bullying.

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5) Bitching against others, be it at work or in a neighbourhood, especially if you know it might cause another emotional pain if they found out what you had said about them.

6) Stealing (except in occasions where it might feed a starving person or family).

7) Ignoring the needs of others because you 'have better things to do'.

8) Infidelity, as you always have the option of ending your relationship first if it isn't working, or insisting the person you are interested in ends theirs before you get involved with them.

9) Destroying wildlife habitats without thought for how many species will die out or the effect on the environment. It simply isn't good enough to say such people 'need to make a living' ,as these very actions will ultimately destroy their means of making a living, and then not only will it be too late for the planet and the species destroyed, but these people will still have to find a new way to make a living, so they may as well start doing it now before the damage is done beyond repair.

10) Having a war in the name of religion, especially when no religious book I know of suggests doing this, only the living spiritual leaders of the day use this as a means of calling their followers to kill in the name of their God.

11) Happily eating animals or their products that we know have not had a natural life, or have been cruelly killed, e.g. Veal Calves, Machine Culled Chickens, Battery Hen's Eggs, intensively farmed animals of any variety etc.

These are Just the Basics

Now these are just the basics in my mind, but what is so hard about this that people feel a need to say that we have no right to judge what is 'Good or Evil'. I watch programmes on TV every day that illustrate to me categorically what is good and evil, and I don't need to be a genius to know what feels right or wrong. Surely knowing what is moral or immoral is all part of having a conscience, and not based on blindly going along with what some religion tells you, often misquoted, appropriately interpreted and frequently twisted to suit the requirements of the speaker involved.

I try my best to live the kind of life that allows me to sleep easily at night, knowing I have lived another day in a way that I feel any decent God would approve of. I rescue creatures of all shapes and sizes wherever possible, (mainly from my cats, but also whenever I come across any animal in distress), I try to ensure our fishing lake is surrounded by the most wildlife friendly habitat possible and refuse to allow any shooting of animals on our land. I help others wherever and whenever I can, even if it means going short myself. This makes me feel good about myself, and if anyone can tell me that a God does not approve of this as it is not' Good' by his standards, then I want no part of such a God, and I doubt many would.

So to summarise briefly, I don't think there is anything wrong with being able to say we can judge what is 'Good or Evil', of course we can! God gave us free will apparently, and I am guessing this was a test to see if we could develop enough intelligence to work out for ourselves what 'Good and Evil Behaviour' consisted of, without needing to be spoon fed the common sense required to work it out.

What are your thoughts this, as I would hope to find I am not alone in this train of thought?


Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on May 31, 2012:

I totally agree with everything you said in your comment rmf17,right down to the point you made about having 'done things wrong that you wish you never had'. Thanks for commenting.

rmf17 on May 31, 2012:

hi, i already commented but i must say that i think there is a mainstream morality that many acts alot of people would consider not nice, kind, or humane. i care for all life and love my cat as much as any person. the real question is is there a solution to what would be considered moral by everyone and have everyone live by it. i can't see that ever happening. i just go on what feels good and for me i don't need any book to tell me that. i've done things as we all have i wish i never did but i take full responsibilty for that. to quote nietzsche "human all to human".

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on May 30, 2012:

Thanks for your comment Starmom41. I too believe we have a brain for a reason, and that brain also contains our conscience which we are meant to use (otherwise why do we have one?)

Starmom41 on May 30, 2012:

(I was going to write an article related to this topic awhile back, but never got around to it)

Some of my grandparents' generation had a saying: "Take it from the source." What it meant was before agreeing that something is correct, determine where it came from & whether the individuals or groups it came from were honest, straightforward people.

So- when I started hearing a lot about 'judging' in recent years, I decided to find out who made it so popular; & as far back as I traced it it was very popular amongst C. Manson & his followers.

In contrast, when the Bible says to not judge others, it went on to say people sometimes put judging others ahead of acknowledging their own wrongs.

In addition, many Christians go by the term 'discernment'- and that is about acknowledging the difference between right and wrong.

So it kinda creeps me out whenever people bring up some kind of horrible action on someone else's part & then say 'but it's not my place to judge'-- because even if it isn't one's place to interfere or tell somebody else how to live or what to do, human beings have a brain for a reason.

Marcus on April 27, 2012:

Back at you misty. Obviously were a lot brighter than we look. Maybe were blessed...... LOL

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 27, 2012:

Thanks Marcus, you think exactly the same as I do. Love it :)


Marcus on April 27, 2012:

Lets make this simple. Inherently everyone Knows right from wrong. Its called a concience. Some people have one and some people dont. The trick is taking some time to study each individual person you meet to see what kind of morals they have which will undoubtably ascertain whether or not you should trust them. Treat thy neighbor as thyself pretty much sums it up. Im retarded and even I get it............. Lots of love

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 22, 2012:

No worries rmf17, thanks for clarifying and for sharing your thoughts here :)

rmf17 on April 22, 2012:

hi, i didn't mean it that way or think that it would be ok to do whatever for that reason. just saying morals to me are relative and you cannot control anothers thinking or actions. and stating facts as i see them. thanks.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 22, 2012:

Thanks for your insightful thoughts rmf17, I just guess I feel that even if we only had a month left of this planet's survival, I would not want us to think it was therefore okay to be cruel to animals, torture innocent individuals or generally hurt others because it would not longer matter in a week's time.

rmf17 on April 22, 2012:

hi, enjoyed reading everyone's view and comments. i think we have to look at the end result. death. if this is it, just of this earth (which it appears to be) it matters here and now but that's all. others including animals which we are may suffer because of what someone may have done but they will die eventually also. and the survival story continues. i just don't see anything other than a feeling of what someone deems of value. if someone kills for whatever the reason and ends up living life on death row or in prison until they die that will be their life. it feels good to do what you think is correct but eventually the human species will either die out or migrate. the planet is hostile to life all the time. the sun and earth have a certain life span. so it appears to me other than here and now nothing is really going to matter nor do people worry what will be millions of years from now. think we are a little to self important. seems to make sense.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 20, 2012:

Yes, that is an excellent point Randy, thanks for making it.

Randy on April 19, 2012:

Hmmm...There is the nature of the beast to consider - (that is referring to the species). It is obvious that the masses are followers of a smaller number known as leaders, trend setters. Bearing this in mind, followers adopt social standards which are suggested by the influentials. We often do not realize the vices we embrace without effort. A prime example is excess consuming; that 5% of the world's population consumes 25% of global resources (the USA). Overworked peasants in emerging economies are pumping out popular technologies; the cost takes a human and environmental toll.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 15, 2012:

Some very good points made there David. Thanks for commenting :)

david on April 14, 2012:

Personally. I feel the whole idea of right and wrong is a fraud. How do you PROVE something is wrong. I believe in should and ought nots. For example. Murder has a victim. The murdered person. So therefor is an ought not. Prostitution, on the other hand, although generally believed to be morally wrong has no victim. Some argue what about the prostitute. But to be a victim someone else has to do it to you. I can do anything I please to myself. People smoke all the time. Wouldn't this logic consider the smoker a victim. I can prove that there is a victim but I can't prove it's wrong to do from a good/evil perspective.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on February 23, 2012:

Some very interesting points there. Loved your comment, and it prompted me to edit the part of the hub where I said 'all of the 10 commandments' to 'Quite a few of the 10 commandments', not least because I am a Pagan by religion, so the commandments you list in the first part of your comment are largely irrelevant to me, and if I am honest those ones had slipped my mind when I originally wrote this Hub.

I seriously would love to go through your entire comment and discuss it here, but I am preparing for a 30 hubs in 30 days challenge right now, and simply haven't the time. I do like you style though, and you made me excellent points that also gave me a smile in a few places like the two guys discussing not killing each other.

Nice comment :)

Kirof2427 on February 23, 2012:

Interesting how the ten commandments are stated as an idealistic guidline. for example. (in no particular order)

1)Thoust shalt hath no other gods before me.

2)Thoust shalt keep the sabbeth holy.

3)Thoust shalt not maketh graven images.

4)Thoust shalt not use thy lords nameth in vain.

Four down and what morals do we have? if we continue to play with the others. (Excuse my prior use of olde english)

respect your parents.

Now thats ok as far as I see but what does respect mean?

A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

Well we can all adore our parents. but in some cases it is just not possible. In relationships where parents are abusive to a child should the child respect the wishes of their parent and keep it silent? Perhaps one of the first four commandments could have qualified this by saying "Instead of bothering about graven images. Don't beat ya kids folks."

Don't desire your nabours things.

Really? what motivation would there be to work if we could not want better things for ourselves? True i am advocating a sense of responcible greed here. but to declare off limits the desire to improve your lot. Hardly sounds ethical to me.

Don't steal.

Fairy snuff, no one likes people filching their cookies.

Don't kill.

In the modern sense I can't see fault here. though to be honest most of these values are inherantly intrensic thanks to the emotion of empathy.


Pete says: It woud sure suck if i got killed today.

Dave says: Yeh your right.

Pete says: any suggestions?

Dave says: Lets not kill one another.

Pete replies: Sounds cool.

Don't Lie.

Define Lie: An intentionally false statement.

So by this definition we can willfully Omit the truth. So in the morning i do not have to tell my neighbour he stinks and needs to get a girlfriend. I can simply smile and wave. no felony here. As far as lying. does anyone know why people lie? I would gues it is not neccesserily a malicious act. it could be for defencive reasons. A fear of hurting someone else. Be it mental well being or feelings. I personally would like to know the truth but in all honesty Is that no inherantly selfish of me to subject others who care about me to the inherant agony of the truth? I would argue that perhaps It is good to lie so long as your reasoning is sound. So long as it is not enherantly for ones own gain and rather that it might aleviate the suffering of others. though i would certainly make a point to know what kind of person they are. some people need to truth. others preffer a lie.

Do not commit adultery.

Ok. Well that is an issue between you and your spouse/significant other. However this opens a whole new can of worms. the ethics of sex. Ignroing the attitudes of the abrahmites for a while. Sexual ethics is rareluy explored and should be discussed more openly. For example.

It could be said to be unethical to force sex on another.

It could be said to be unethical to control the sex life of another.

It is ethical to make a choice based upon ones emotional needs or desires.

So if Adrian decides he is done with sex. His commited wife Dora is now stuck in a relationship in which she can no longer get sex and the previous principles are now in conflict. Although I cannot actually think of a solution for this problem. I would hazzard a guess that the immorality is in the concept of monogomy itself. Hense the solution is a multiple member union. I for one seek a solitary mate however I fully understand the limitations of this relationship and accept the consiquences.

Well I have knocked through a few of these divine commands. If we are to contemplate on this topic perhaps agreeing on the basics without reffering to older works. mind you I can agree in part with some of the sages. confucious for example had manny grand ideas. Although personally I am having doubts about the role of patriotism in modern societies. We can explore the reasons behind these basics but we should refrain from dogmaticly accepting things for their own sake.


Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 12, 2012:

Hi JMMBS, I have already been reading it, and it looks like you are getting far more comprehensive answers from the contributors than I had the time to give here, which is great, not to mention those people in most cases can give you better answers than I can!

You can't change the title of a forum thread, but that wasn't what that poster meant in his comment. The title is just fine as it is :)

JMMBS from Sweden, Örebro on January 12, 2012:

Here is the thread I've made!

btw, how do you change the title of the thread?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 12, 2012:

No worries JMMBS, I shall 'follow' you and then I can see how you get on with more experienced people in me in this field :)

JMMBS from Sweden, Örebro on January 12, 2012:

I have done that now and thank you for your answer!

When I read what I've written about I that I've gone off trail. Not completely, but a little bit. Excuse me for that mistake. :)

And once again; Thank you!

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 12, 2012:


I am on my way out now so can't answer you in any detail, but could I suggest that you would get a good range of feedback and possibly more in depth answers if you pose this question, (and possibly others on this topic), on the Hubpages mental health forum. Not saying there is anything wrong with you, but there are experts on here who could probably give you far more comprehensive answers than I can. The link to the forum I suggest is below. All you need to do is choose a sub forum relevant to your question) from the list in the blue/grey box to the right of it, start a new topic and post your question, then wait for the community to respond.

Catch up later :)

JMMBS from Sweden, Örebro on January 12, 2012:

But what if what I think is right, is wrong according to the society? If the common sense disturbs me? If I think that human life holds no value?

Does that make me a person with psychosis/split personalities?

I also have this hunger for something that I cannot put my finger on, something that is far greater than sexual intercourse and such. I get a bit depressed when I don't fulfill it.. Do you think I should do a psychological examination?

We all have problems, we always will have problems etc. "So why not be happy about your problems? accept them as a part of yourself instead of fighting it, so you can truly be free. Even if it may be a 'defect' as judged by today's way of thinking". is it wrong of me to think like that? why is it wrong?

I've read psychology step 1 and 2, I've been to a therapist when I was having thoughts about how it would be after I died. (Was bullied when I was 7 to 14 years, went to a Therapist when I was 15) So I know quite a lot about how the human mind works, not everything, but more than average. But the answers that I got doesn't satisfy my needs for answers.

I made an account and asked you these questions because it's questions that I cannot ask anyone in my presence. And for you to be answering them, I am truly grateful! :)

I am glad that you are helping me get a grip on my morals and I hope that you see my questions as a way to get help.

Good luck in your future too! :D

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 11, 2012:

I am just saying, listen to what you 'know' is right, I wasn't thinking 'insanity' in general, but if you want to put it that way, okay :) The basic rules of right and wrong are common sense to a civilised/sane individual.

Life experience is a big eye opener, I guess I am forgetting (no offence) that you are 17, and only in the very early stages of life experience. Trust me when I say you will look back with new eyes in 10 or 20 years time, and see what I am trying to convey. Text books, lectures etc, are no substitute for life experience, and I probably thought differently when I was 17 too in fairness :)

Good Luck in your future. :D

JMMBS from Sweden, Örebro on January 11, 2012:

Haha! Yeah I thought so too! Sorry to give you a hard time, that is truly not my intentions.

So what you basically are saying is that if you trust your conscience that is made by our morals, which is made by how we are grown up (society), then we are Sane. And all other thinking, all other possibilities about the mind, for ex. "it's ok to kick a dog" (your example), is Insane.

Thank you for you time and also thank you for your answers! :)

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 11, 2012:

LOL, I thought the last question was your 'last question' JMMBS. This will have to be my last answer I am afraid as like I said earlier I am really busy right now, (proof reading 3 novels for my Step Father, working on a new Hub, plus cooking dinner and answering comments on hubs other than this one).

I believe you will find the murderer issue has been covered in earlier comments. Essentially if you kill someone to prevent them killing lots of others e.g. a serial killer or in self defense,to protect your family etc, then that is completely different to just randomly murdering people for no good reason.

I think you will find most murderers (with some famous exceptions) know what they are doing is wrong, which is why they go to such lengths to cover their tracks, avoid the law, claim innocence when interviewed etc. Quite often it is later found out the killers who showed no conscience had problems in their brains that could have indicated why they appeared not to have a conscience. Essentially they were ill, so cannot fall under the same rules as a healthy individual would.

We are naturally influenced by events around us and people we meet, and that can of course help shape us as individuals. I like to see it that we listen to our conscience and our subconscious. If something feels and looks 'right' we adopt it, and if something feels and looks 'wrong' we should cast it out. Growing up we see all sorts of actions and behavior in people around us, some we like, some we dislike, we don't take on all of it though!

Your last point is well made, it is true the people around us judge us on our choices, but in many ways you can gauge if what your are doing is right and correct based on those judgements, generally because the 'majority' are likely to be correct when it comes down to basic opinions on good and evil. The lines become blurred when it is regarding issues that two sides feel strongly about, like whether experiments on animals to benefit humans are acceptable, or whether an animal life is less important than a human life. Is abortion acceptable or not? etc etc. Each side will argue angrily and vehemently that they are correct, and neither side will back down. Who is right or wrong then comes down to the belief of the individual and their own conscience, which for them is their guide and their rule book.

JMMBS from Sweden, Örebro on January 11, 2012:

I rethinked and rewrote. This is the right sentence:


-It is connected, that is for sure. The choices we make is what people around us will judge us from, and they will judge us hard especially if it's something "bad".

Now to keep the red thread in my comment; Killers don't feel bad over killing someone. If we look at it out of society's point of view, then "pure blood" killers don't have much of a conscience.

Who is wrong in this case? Because they have another point of view in morals, and it's because of our free thinking.

JMMBS from Sweden, Örebro on January 11, 2012:

Then what about murderers? Those that murder with reason or no reason at all, those that are said to be true evil.. can we be sure that they are wrong just because we think it is?

They believe that their own belief is the right one for themselves individually.

Not necessarily the only right one, but not wrong either.

Still, you cannot be 100% independent, because you have at least once been in contact with other beings and we are affected by other humans/animals subconsciously when we meet them.

Of course we have free will, we have a free mind! :) It is wonderful, no matter where it came from, be it god or evolution.

But, the free mind that makes us able to do choices is not fundamatally the source of our morals. It is connected, that is for sure. The choices we make is what people around us will judge us from, and they will judge us hard especially if it's something "bad". But we doesn't necessary get guilt from it and that is because our own morals does not match their morals.


It might be a bit fuzzy, hope you understand! :)

Cheers JMMBS!

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 11, 2012:

Interesting JMMBS, I do see the point, but I still stand by the fact that all of us deep down know what is fundamentally right or wrong, and many of the Nazi Youth did not agree with what they were being taught, but they were not given a choice, and merely went along with what they were forced into, partly because they wanted to 'fit in' and 'be accepted' by their peers.

Personally I do not base my conscience on government or society. I am an independent thinker, so if the rest of the people around me are saying it is okay to poison a mouse because it has got into your home, I still disagree, and will endeavor to capture it in a humane trap and re-release it elsewhere outside of my home. My parents however would have put down the poison and killed the mouse.

What happened with the Nazi movement was more a form of brainwashing, like being in a cult. The majority of the rest of the world (not influenced by the cult), strongly and instinctively knew what was being done was wrong, even without taking into consideration they were being told it was by their own governments. This was them using their common sense and conscience to tell them what the German Nazi's were teaching and doing was morally wrong.

We have free will, otherwise there would only be one political party, one religion, one newspaper, one news channel, one way of schooling, one way of parenting etc. No-one would ever challenge it because they were all sheep who believed everything they were told must be correct. People change parties, schools, religions etc all the time, and usually because they disagree, or something about what they are being told feels wrong to them and their consciences, beliefs, common sense etc etc.

Do you see what I am trying to say about our consciences? They are also ever evolving based on the world we live in and how we feel about the stuff going on around us, but largely as individuals, not just as groups, otherwise at the very least the same political parties would be voted in every time because no-one would ever change their views.

JMMBS from Sweden, Örebro on January 11, 2012:

Again mistyhorizon2003, Thank you a lot for your answers!

This is my last question; If we don't know if we have the right morals or not, then can we truly trust our conscience when it's based on the society/governmental morals?

The common sense is based on what we learn in the years of 2-7 from our parents, and our parents have learned from their parents etc. later on you learn things from school, media, religion, politics and you are always influenced by what is right and wrong from the society. The same way as your parents have been.

If we think about the National Socialistic (Nazi) way of reasoning and how they got their "common sense", then it isn't any different from our way.

They made jokes about the Jews, comedy shows that was harassing the Jews, they gave out child books that made the Jews look bad, made social games like monopoly with the goal to jail all the Jews, made up scientific proof that the Jews was another race etc. Eventually it became normal for all the Germans to treat the Jews as nonhuman. It became their common sense.

Do you see my point?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 11, 2012:

Hi again JMMBS, I am rushed off my feet at the moment and due out shortly, so I will have to keep this brief. My answer would have to be we DON'T know the morals of today in our society are the right ones, we have to trust our conscience and our instincts. Much like a child who knows when they have been naughty, even from a young age, when they take their sister's toy without asking, or pinch some money from Mummy's purse to buy sweets, or know something is wrong about their older relative trying to molest them (such as in child abuse cases).

I don't think there is any way for us humans to find out for sure what morals of the world are correct as they are so very different in different places. In one country it would be legal to marry a girl of 8, in another this would constitute the Husband/man being a pedophile. Apart from anything else the moral standards are constantly changing.

We can only go on what feels right to us, and probably based on how we have been brought up, what we are taught in our local schools etc. It doesn't have to be based on religion at all, just common sense e.g. if you know kicking a dog will hurt it, then you know it is wrong to do it because you wouldn't like to be in pain or have it inflicted on you in that way either.

Hope this has helped.

JMMBS from Sweden, Örebro on January 11, 2012:


Thank you so much for your answer, but I need more depth in it, so my question now is: How do we know that the morals of today in our society is the right ones?

For example: Here in Sweden the morals of the society is rooting back to the time of when we were taken over by christians and their belief. Before that we had believes like Thor and such, which was more like the old testament and also like the koran.

Is there any way for us humans to ever find out what morals of the world that is correct?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 11, 2012:

Hi JMMBS, some very good points you made here. Morals do change, which is why a conscience is so important, not least because we are moulded by what is acceptable and what isn't at that point in time, not 100 years before, or even 20 years before! Our conscience will tell us what is right or wrong based on what we know is considered wrong by society now! I also feel much the same as you do about the examples you quote from the Bible, which is why I converted from Christianity to Paganism some years back. It just felt so much more about earth, nature and the planet, without all the scaremongering that Christianity seemed to rely on to keep the followers in line.

JMMBS from Sweden, Örebro on January 11, 2012:

Hi, I have relatives that are Christians (Father, Grandparents, Cousins etc.) and I've grown up with the bible, mosses and all that kind of things.

But even tho I've been lead that path from a very small age, I find it to be a silly childstale. (And I'm currently 17).

First of all, why are we supposed to live in suppression? If we are born with sins and use our whole life to try to "atone" them, isn't that the exact same thing as being suppressed? Just because someone wrote a book (Yes, it is written by humans, only human hans can take up a pencil and form words)- doesn't mean it's true.

And who is to judge people? And to take this question even further, how can "god" possibly judge someone? The morals of today is absolutely different from, for example; 3000 and 1000 years ago.

Then "god" would have to send some people from "heaven" down to "hell". Why? Well the reason is obvious, it's because Morals change.

So my question is fallowing; What is Right and what is Wrong, when the morals of humans keep on constantly changing?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 07, 2011:

Thanks L.R. Many very good points addressed here again. I hope Paraglider stops by again and reads your thoughts.

Lone Ranger on December 06, 2011:

Paraglider eloquently wrote:

"If everybody went about their daily life trying to do no harm, there would be far less need for people to actively try to do good (which so often backfires)."


I think I understand what you are saying and to a large extent I agree with you, but if I plotted this philosophy on a number line with zero in the middle and negative integers to the left and positive integers to the right, "trying to do no harm" would leave one at zero or slightly to the left of center, because "trying" to do no harm does not imply that one was successful.

True, one isn't falling to the left of zero by actively promoting harm, but there is a great need for one to do good in this world, so the world is in need of those who actively strive for the positive integers on the right side of zero.

"Fence riders" may not be offensive through their actions, but when the world is struggling to survive and thy neighbor needs help, it is imperative for one to actively pursue doing that which is good.

Thus, at times, the philosophy of "doing no harm", is as harmful to the environment and to they neighbor, when something pro-active, beneficial, and good needs to be done.

Indeed, one may not have done any harm themselves, but there are many times in life when someone needs to step up to the plate and deliver something good.

Paraglider, I seriously doubt that those who actively pursue doing good are the same ones who are doing harm. I will agree that those who actively do harm leave many opportunities for others to do good and sometimes one's good intentions may not win the day or "backfire" as the case may be.

So, I will agree that one should do little harm AND actively pursue doing what is good for this world and loving thy neighbor. I cannot help but notice that, at the end of the day, this sounds like the classic entanglement between the philosophy of Buddha and Jesus the Christ.

Best wishes to all - L.R.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 06, 2011:

Thanks for your wisdom-filled comment L.R. This is why I believe we have a conscience, because our conscience tells us on some level what is right or wrong. The people that scare me are the serial killers etc who seem to have been born without one.

Catch up soon


Lone Ranger on December 06, 2011:

Moral relativism is a slippery slope that only leads down hill.

Everyone's opinion is sacred to them and everyone feels justified to feel the way they do. But, we all can't be right.

Who then is the final Arbiter of what is right and what is wrong or what is good and what is bad? If the final Arbiter does not exist, then we live in a world of chaos and mass confusion.

If moral absolutes no longer exist and things that were once considered "black and white" have thus been relegated to shades of gray, we have then lost our moral aptitude and the ability to know right from wrong and good from evil and have become no better than the beasts of the field.

We will have then sunk into the cesspool of moral relativism where everyone is right and no one is wrong. It is a world that does not exist - it is a world that cannot exist.

Best wishes to all - L.R.

DK from London on November 28, 2011:

No problem and thanks yourself for replying and writing the hub. Yes, I agree totally that we all have a conscience and are capable of using it, and should do so in each given circumstance, rather than relying on strict rules etc. The law is necessary to enforce and remind what is moral however, as of course greed plays a heavy part in our decisions too D:

have a nice day,


Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on November 28, 2011:

Hi Philanthropy2012,

Thanks for your comment and interesting thoughts. I actually may have worded the hub badly in some ways as what I was trying to convey was that there is an element of common sense that needs to be used, and a listening to your conscience, to quote from the hub I said "Surely knowing what is moral or immoral is all part of having a conscience".

Ultimately we should 'know' what is right and wrong instinctively, therefore, to use your example, stealing to feed your family who were starving, or killing one man to save 100,000 (assuming he was a serial killer, suicide bomber, dangerous dictator etc) would obviously be morally right. We have to judge each situation as it arises, and then our conscience tells us the morally correct action to take.

Will take a read of your Hub shortly. Intrigued!

Thanks for your comment again :)

DK from London on November 28, 2011:

Hey Misty Horizon, a sound hub! If you're really interested though, I'd just like to point you to certain ideas that might just change your views.

At the moment you are taking the deontological view. Stealing is wrong, that's the end. Is it wrong when somebody steals to feed his family? When he has no other way, of course. And to go on step further, is it wrong to murder one man to save 1,000,000? Is it morally incorrect then?

To say that it is not is to take the consequentialist view. An action's morality should be based on the consequence it has, not just specifically what it is. Such rigidness of what is right or wrong is very dangerous I think.

And you mention that there are different views of morality, yes, but I would tell you that there are at least 5 things that we can all relate to, and our morality & law should be based on these five. Check it out if you have the time :

wellwellwell on November 09, 2011:

I gave myself the challenge of commenting here (although quite late) with out bringing my religion into any of it. But then - the more I thought about it, I realized how difficult it would be. Because whether you like it or not most all of you have given your 'beliefs' here, and if that isn't what religion is then I don't know what is. Religion - I believe (oh crap I just lost) - is what you think is right or wrong, and why you think you should choose what's right. But that is just my opinion.

Anyway. To find out what people think (a.k.a. believe) what's right v.s. what's wrong, you have to first identify what people judge it by:

1. Religion

2. Conscience

3. What's Legal

4. If it hurts others (or yourself)

5. What they feel is right

6. Free will

Some people use all 6 to judge. But how do you draw the line for EVERYONE. What are most of the laws preventing or promoting. Putting all religion, personal thoughts, feelings and wants aside; it all come down to #4 like a few people have said here.

So is lying wrong? Yes. But what about telling some maniac looking for your dad to kill him. Is it ok to tell the guy a lie to save your dad? Well it's not going to hurt the guy if you do or don't. But it will hirt your dad if you tell. So......

Killing is wrong. Period. Right? What about all those wars? Which ever side your on, you are told that the lesser of the two evils is to kill the enemy. Which I agree IF war is the last option. IF and only IF the reasons for the war are 'good'. The American Revolution had a good cause. Liberty. What about the war in Iraq? Well what's the reason for it? Oh really? What's the REAL reason for it? If it is to protect OUR freedoms from a literal threat than that is a good reason.

But that's the problem sometimes it seem like there is no right choice. well then you choose the BEST choice. The one that will bring the most good from it's outcome. Even if that outcome doesn't show until many years later. (There goes me blabbering again. but do you get what I'm saying though?)

We are pretty smart. we can figure out what will bring the most good to others most importantly (we come later). So that's basically the best line I draw.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on May 10, 2011:

I totally agree with you Marcus, you summed it up very well :)

Marcus Coles Peck on May 10, 2011:

Morally right can be summed up quite simply.Treat people the way you would like to be treated. If you wouldn't like it done to you then dont do it to anyone else.If you dont like people stealing from you then dont steal from them.If you dont want prople to treat you badly then dont treat people badly.If you were hungry and didn't have something to eat you would appreciate being fed so feed the less fortunate.This is called the law of the prophets,do unto those as you would have them do unto you.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on November 10, 2010:

Thanks Maddy, I am pleased you like the article and I agree, the ideas coming from it are very interesting.

Maddy on November 09, 2010:

I love this thread. It is bringing out some good ideas what is right and wrong. I believe that these ideas should not be pushed onto others, as others may believe that it is right, and who are you to turn around their opinion?

Joshua Hildebrandt on October 03, 2010:

I believe mankind was not created to decide what is good and evil, rather we were created to respond to what God has already declared good and evil. I recently wrote a book on this very topic. You can check it out for my full opinion on this matter at (

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on July 14, 2010:

Thanks Rahnyier, great comment and very well thought out.

Rahnyier on July 14, 2010:

This was a very interesting read. I agree with the idea that we all possess a basic sense of right and wrong. This develops and changes as we grow and learn both positively and negatively. I prefer to take personal responsibility for my actions, not giving credit to god or the devil.

I think those ten commandments were already summed up in the quote "do to others as you would wish others to do to you" The fact that we are all so unique adds many different facets to this basic fundamental.

I do have an opinion on the smoking thing since just the smell of cigarette smoke makes me nauseous, I am glad smoking bans are in place. Now I can go places I couldn't go before.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on June 28, 2010:

Thanks Dave, much appreciate your feedback and am glad you could see where I was coming from.

Dave Mathews from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA on June 28, 2010:

mistyhorizon2003, you make good sense to me, I think you've covered pretty much what needs covering. I mean the list of things could go on and on to infinity, if you wanted to nit-pick at details. Like for instance the bible says thou shalt not kill, and suicide is killing but what if you are so ill or so injured that your quality of life meant being kept on a machine,AND you are an organ donor, do you have the right to say DNR. I say yes you do.

Brother Dave.

guest on March 04, 2010:

Quote from Misha:

"Good example would be my opinion about USA. During cold war we all been brainwashed into believing our enemy is evil. Americans "knew" Russians are evil, and Russians "knew" the same about Americans. There were rare exceptions on both sides, but I was not the one."

Yeah but the list says that bitching is bad so both sides are wrong! :)

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on October 01, 2008:

Well made point, and I agree :)

Peter from Australia on October 01, 2008:

I entirely agree. I believe that anyone profiteering from pushing drugs to kids is the lowest form of life and I think truly evil! Dare I raise the death penalty in this Hub?.

So am I to gather from what your saying, it's the ACT of doing the deed rather than what the deed actually is that makes it EVIL?

One small example:- You have a smoke ( not bad)

you give a smoke to friend ( is bad).

I'm not quite sure if I'm making my point?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on October 01, 2008:

Hi agvulpes, I can't really see how doing an action to yourself is "evil" although it may not be a good idea for yourself to smoke, drink etc to excess for example. This does not make it evil though, simply unwise. However, if you were to sell hard drugs to an underage child, then I would consider that evil for obvious reasons. Hope that has clarified my view a bit more :)

Peter from Australia on October 01, 2008:

Can we just back up the truck there Misty. Are you saying that if an action is evil if you do it to someone other than yourself, that same action is not evil if you do it to yourself. Or are we just talking about degrees of evilness?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 28, 2008:

Thank you for your response Jwessa, interesting and valid points all round, although one thing I would say is that your quotes about smoking cigarettes, marijuana or drinking beer, are not in my opinion evil because they only effect you personally. I too smoke, (and keep giving up for my own reasons), I drink beer, or more often cider and wine, (separate glasses), and I have smoked marijuana for many years up until a few years ago. None of this is evil, as you only effect yourself, and are not pushing any of these things on to other people.

Also I have to point out that stealing and cruelty to animal is not necessarily about survival and need, as theft is often committed by people who don't need to do it, and more often than not is just an easy living for them rather than getting a proper job. Too often they steal from people worse off than themselves, and more for material gain than to avoid starvation. Cruelty to animals is also frequently committed by those who have simply taken on an animal, and then failed to feed it or care for it properly, causing unecessary suffering that could have easily been avoided if they simply gave up the animal to a local S.P.C.A. charity when they realised they weren't going to bother caring for it, had lost interest,  or could not afford to give it the vet care it needed. What about dog fighting or cock fighting, abandoning pets in a locked house and moving away, allowing a dog to get eaten alive by mange without attempting to get treatment? All of these seem to be acts of evil in my opinion, and those people should be made to experience exactly what they put the animal through so they know how the animal must have suffered. Even as a Pagan, I can identify so much with the Bible commandment, "Do unto others as you would like done unto yourself". Is this not surely the ideal most of us should strive for, and if we all worked as a team and shared what we had, there would probably be no poverty or suffering in the world today. Agreed this is easier said than done, but should not be impossible even if this goal takes many years to reach, all we have to do is aim for it and work towards it with serious intent.

jwessa1 on September 28, 2008:

One of the things I see that has been left out of the discussion is insanity. One persons right and wrong may be different just because they are not hard wired the same way as the rest of us. A Serial Killer for example.

In their minds they are completely sane and we are the insane ones. They are just killing to eat in some cases, so does the survival issue take precidence?

The question we need to ask in this situation is why. Was it the environment they grew up in, the chemestry of their bodies, or are they just plain EVIL? Does this make their actions right or wrong and who is judging them. In a society of Evil people they would be considered Law Enforcement or population control and we would be the herd.

I personally think that there is a lot of good in the world and in people on the whole, but one person can influence and change the world through improper education and brain washing. We have seen it in the past but everyone seems to forget it. In the past we have had prime examples of evil in the world and we forget to teach our children. Then they get to repeat the inevitable cycle. STUPID isn't it?

Small things like theft and animal rights are not actually evil or good they just are part of the natural cycle of Human and Nature, Survival and Need. Some people think they have the right to take what they want, is it evil or just stupidity, is it what they grew up seeing or is it the need for attention that causes it. Stealiing to eat is not wrong unless you needed the food to survive too, then we are back to caveman way, MOB rules, one den of cavemen steaiing from the other den of cavemen to survive and what did it lead to? WAR! Was it right? No! Was it survival? No! It was territorial and based on posessions since if they had worked together it would have worked out fine in the long run. Do we still do it? YES! See how silly us humans are!

Everybody does something that someone else in the world would think was evil or wrong. So how do we decide if they are right or wrong.

If I go drink a Beer am I evil?

If I smoke marijuana instead am I evil, or is that just what you have been taught or brainwashed into thinking? (View the movie "Grass" if you think I'm kidding)

I already smoke cigs so I'm used to being treated like a criminal. (GASP!) It amazes me that after 2000 years or so of humans smoking, some for religious reasons, (tobacco was a gift or burnt offering for many a God in the past) that all of a sudden the health freaks have decided they have a better view and everybodies health is more important than allowing for human dignity and the right to pursue happiness. To hell with human history, nobody has any rights to do anything that offends them. If this were true they would already be dead for offending someone else. Besides even without cig smoke their indoor environment is still more polluted than the outside air. So what real difference does it make. New carpets cause cancer too. And DR's killed more people than cigs in the US last year by about 3 to 1 so do we get to ban DR's too?

So you see our growth and environment, Plus what we observe and how we FEEL as we observe it, as we grow up, is more important in instructiing us than anything else in our lives. That is where the Basis for all of our judgement comes from and is the Starting point for all of our decisions in the future, allowiing for rational thought to insert itself in the right place in the future. Does that mean its right? Who knows?

Unfortunationally, I am never rational so I'm in the dark most of the time. LOL!

So everyones definition is going to be different no matter what, even if they are looking at the same exact laws it will always depend on the views of the observer based on their past experiences and what they grew up with.

It is an impossible task you have decided to try and unravel.

Does your fear of something make it Evil?

Does your approval of something make it Right?

Just because you can't see it does it really exist? Can you actually harm it if you can't see it or it doesn't exist? The amoeba would be pissed I can tell you that! LOL

The easiest way to get along, is try to do no harm and hope you get it right! A sense of humor is always a good component of life.

Without a sense of humor we will end up judging everything and learning nothing.


I have enjoyed reading this and have seen some very interesting view points. As always our growth continues hopefully to the betterment of the world.

By the way about the Kant and Mill comments above. What if to get to the right decision you have to combine the views and compromise them. Right and wrong are viewpoints and the Road to Hell is paved with good intentions, so compromise, pick one and hope for the best! (I wish our politicians and leaders would figure this out!)

As the great philosophers Bill and Ted said "Be excellent to each other" ( see "Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure" the movie.)

Be Well, Visit a friend, and Hug someone you care about, everday is a gift to cherish!

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 28, 2008:

Thank you Misha for your thoughts on this subject. I guess I would still argue that I would try to eat fruits of the forest rather than eat meat if I couldn't kill it humanely. If there was absolutely nothing left to eat other than the rabbit (and that is assuming you can catch the damn thing), there is a quick way of killing them by a short, sharp, karate type chop to the back of the neck with the edge of your hand. I am being a bit pedantic here, as I know the rabbit is just one example though, and of course this wouldn't be quite so easy if say a pig was the only thing left to eat. :)

Kika Rose, thank you so much for your kind comments, and I am glad too that I haven't been "bashed into the ground" for my views.

agvulpes, as always lovely to hear your comments, and I agree that discussion is important so that we can learn from each other and perhaps reconsider our own opinions, or at least revise them.

Peter from Australia on September 28, 2008:

Well said Kika Rose, I agree with what you say, but (funny how there's always a but) unless we do discuss things in forums such as this we will not, as you say, have the opportunity to learn from each other. So lets not try to stifle debate rather lets encourage it! Even on my short time on HubPages I have seen certain changes in the way I view things. I believe that one of the important lessons in life is to(for want of a better word) stay flexible, always reserving the right to change your opinions.

Kika Rose from Minnesota on September 27, 2008:

Morality is like opinions, in my book; to each their own and who am I to judge? Just because one person doesn't think the way I do, does that make them bad or wrong? No, that makes them different, and difference is a great way to learn from one another.

And, as always, there are exceptions to every Golden Rule. It was a beautiful hub, and I'm glad you haven't been bashed into the ground for your views. ^_^

Misha from DC Area on September 27, 2008:

Well Cindy, I was pondering over it for a few days, and can't really come up with anything but what was obvious from the beginning - cruelty to animals on your terms could be "good" when you don't have other choices in survival situations. Like catching a rabbit and cruelly killing it by bare hands when you don't have anything else to eat. :)

I can't say I am completely satisfied by this answer myself, so there is obviously some more musing to do - but it can take several years, and I don't think you are going wait for the answer THAT long :)

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 27, 2008:

Thanks for the compliment agvulpes :)

Peter from Australia on September 27, 2008:

Ah dear paraglider there's the nub of it all. The incidents you suggest indicate a perfectly natural intuition to continue the survival of their species. Hence the wasp stings as a defence mechanism so you will go away and leave him alone, not understanding of course that you will stomp on him. The shark has been misunderstood for many years and rarely unless provoked, will attack unless in its virtually endless quest for food. Most shark attacks you see are usually only one bite, when the shark realizes he has not bitten into a seal or another fish he will generally discontinue the attack unless there is more than one shark and then you might be in REAL trouble. Once again subconciously seeking to keep its species surviving.(as so eloquently expressed by Misty)

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 27, 2008:

LOL, I am guessing from the Shark's point of view you are fair game if you choose to swim in the sea where he hunts and lives. :)

Dave McClure from Worcester, UK on September 27, 2008:

It gets tricky when you start talking about rights. Humans are the inventors of rights and the only animal to consider them. After all, what gives the wasp the right to sting me or the shark the right to chew my leg off?

Peter from Australia on September 27, 2008:

Oh wev'e narrowed it down to animal rights thanks for the clarification Paraglider. I thought the literal meaning was the ability to feel or be capable of feeling. Who has given humans the right to say what or who has a sense of feel (as in pain).

Even so what gives us the right to chop off a chooks head or fire a bolt into a cows head just because wer'e the ones with the weapons.

And thank you for asking my potatos are doing very well, I sing them a lullaby every night.

Dave McClure from Worcester, UK on September 27, 2008:

agvulpes - I think you need to check on the meaning of sentience: "In the philosophy of animal rights, sentience is commonly seen as the ability to experience suffering." That includes your fish, but probably not your potatoes, OK?

Peter from Australia on September 27, 2008:

Jeeesh...You humans how you complicate things. Paraglider you put "sentient beings" before anything else, shame on you!!!!. How do you know what hurts and what doesn't ? I'm with Misha on the fish thing, I wouldn't like my lip pulled on just so some a/hole can brag about how big this fish was! Spryte your not just a pretty face, I almost agree with everything you said!. B'man haven't decided about you yet??? Che eh must read up on him??? Misty even I new wat you meant! Sorry if I missed anyone, but all this readings given me a headache and I'm gonna take a nap in my foxhole. good night all.

gwendymom from Oklahoma on September 26, 2008:

It is pretty funny how you can still drink in this coutry that kills many but if you have a cigarette your going to hell, I'll smoke with you guys too!

Misha from DC Area on September 26, 2008:

If you don't drink and you don't smoke you are healthy when you croak :P

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 26, 2008:

Karenlee, yes I think that pretty much covers it. Thanks :)

Spryte, too right, let's smoke everyone to death instead !!!

spryte from Arizona, USA on September 26, 2008:

:P Brainstormer -

What a funny world we live in when it's okay to contemplate killing somebody in defense of a loved one...but smoking a cigarette is just simply unacceptable. :)

Smoking gun...Okies.

Smoking cigaratte...OMG!!! NO!!!

Thanks for making me smile...hehehehe.....*walks off chuckling*

karenlee from new york city on September 26, 2008:

Can I just state basic kindness and compassion for ever-y-thing. Would that cover it.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 26, 2008:

Or perhaps they have become experts at pole vaulting back into the garden. :)

Misha from DC Area on September 26, 2008:

Ummm, may be snails just like to fly?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 26, 2008:

True Amanda, I guess I woudn't have too much problem with killing headlice either, or defending my loved ones, although I think I would need to defend them directly against the person threatening them.

Hey, don't bank on the snails not returning though, as I know of a guy who did an experiment to prove this. Each time he found a snail in his garden he marked it's shell with a tiny blob of paint and then threw it over the wall. When they returned he repeated the exercise so the snail now had two blobs of paint on it's shell, and so on. Within weeks he had snails coming back that now had numerous blobs of paint on their shells, so unless you want to take them for a drive and drop them off a few miles away, I think you will find it is the same snails you are throwing into the copse on a regular basis :)

Amanda Severn from UK on September 26, 2008:

I think perhaps we make the rules up as we go along (I guess that's pretty much what Misha said). I don't like the idea of killing anything including spiders or wasps They all have a right to life. But I take great pleasure in killing head lice on the odd occasion that the kids come home with little visitors, and I don't have a problem in hurling snails over the high fence at the back of my garden into the oblivion of the small copse that we back onto.

It's the same with war. I don't believe in war, but I know that if my family or loved ones were threatened or killed I could readily become a one woman army. The ten commandments are great guidelines, but there's always a caveat.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 26, 2008:

A point well made Brainstormer, we can only judge by the facts we have available, and I agree with your opinion on that man.

Brainstormer from Australia on September 26, 2008:

I was reading the Bio of Che Guevara today. Here was a man who fought for the people, defended his soldiers, fought for political and economic reform. He also either killed himself or ordered the killing of hundreds of people. Was he good or evil? Can I make a judgment on it? In my opinion he was evil. I just made the judgment based on the info that I had. I have every right to make that judgment. I equally reserve the right to change my opinion at any time I like, after all it is MY opinion, my judgment.

P.S. spryte - you smoke as well. Bit by bit I am learning about the real you and I have to say I am just a little bit disillusioned. However, I have to say that I am with you 100 % when it comes to blowing someone away to save a loved one. Does that leave our world in a mess? Yeah it does. Our world is a mess. But then sunrise is only 10 hours away.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 25, 2008:

Thanks bright_sorcerer, good point about "intent". I agree that stepping on an ant makes me feel bad, and I would not go out of my way to step on one for sure. Even with my terror of large house spiders, I never kill them, only catch them in a glass and release them outside. I even used to go mad if my Mum put poison down for mice and rats, and I used to feed the one rat that hung around my Guinea-Pig hutches, I even gave him a name 'Crunchie'. When I told my Mum how tame he had got she called out the environmental health people and they poisoned him.

bright_sorcerer from London, Canada on September 25, 2008:

Quite an interesting list that has made some extremely valid and important points. I personally think that it is largely our intent - as opposed to action - that really defines whether something is "evil" or "good". The most basic guideline I live by: Will my actions cause harm or injury to myself or another? It's like stepping on an ant by accident and feeling badly as opposed to a person who purposely goes out of their way to do so. As with all energy we put out to the universe, it is always returned in some form.

An interesting hub.

Jewels from Australia on September 25, 2008:

Thank you. Awhile ago I began collecting my own words of wisdom (they seem to fall from the sky at times) and those of people I read. There are some pearlers that are very profound and so spot on. Look forward to the hub. It could cover the martyr syndrome, rescueing the victim, hmmm - lots to cover.

I've been following 'that' discussion which also made some good points on judgment. Good fuel for your hub as well.

Dave McClure from Worcester, UK on September 25, 2008:

Hi Jewels - Please do, with the byline "by Paraglider" ;) Actually, I've been musing on building that into a hub at some point.

Jewels from Australia on September 25, 2008:

"If everybody went about their daily life trying to do no harm, there would be far less need for people to actively try to do good (which so often backfires)." Paraglider, may I quote you.?

Dave McClure from Worcester, UK on September 25, 2008:

I tend to think that good and evil are artificially counterposed ideas that hinder rather than help ethical judgment. The concept of evil in particular is so tied into religious tradition that even in a post-Christian society, or among non-religious 'pragmatists', it is still likely to carry too much baggage to be able even to be discussed fruitfully.

My preferred guideline would be "Do as little harm as possible", and when considering the harm that you do, sentient beings should be considered first, as only they 'feel' the harm you do.

If everybody went about their daily life trying to do no harm, there would be far less need for people to actively try to do good (which so often backfires).

Tim from Philadelphia, PA on September 24, 2008:

I like points 9 and 10. 9, however ideaological, is technically impossible unless you tell Javez in Nicaragua or Ping in China that their environmental problems are harming animals. They'll just laugh you off and remind you that England and America once had similar smog in the name of industrial growth...which then we can retort "we've improved" but then again they will too once they've achieved similar affluence.

10 is my favourite because generally speaking most religious manuals hardly advocate war [in rare circumstances most religions have resorted by means of gaining their 'holy ground']. Oddly enough the NT of the Bible screams the opposite...which is funny that so many 'christian' politicians like war...although I genuinely believe that many mean well and are simply misguided by a little more corrupt individuals. Like...Karl Rove... :P

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 24, 2008:

Thanks for commenting Barranca, good thoughts, and I can see an element of sense in both arguments. I prefer the Kant opinion given the choice, as not everything bad has future consequences as Mill argued, e.g. someone beats their dog to death and dumps the body and then gets away with the crime. No consequnce to them, only the dog.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 24, 2008:

Thanks for dropping in Spryte, always nice to read your thoughts. Actually I agree with your point about being able to happily murder someone who had just murdered your family member, actually I would like to do it to anyone who murdered my pet, never mind anything else, but wouldn't think this was 'evil', just making sure 'what goes around comes around' :)

barranca on September 24, 2008:

The two great ethicists argue: Kant....we have a hard-wired conscience that judges based on something like the golden rule + treating everyone with dignity. Subsidary rules can be deduced such as do not steal, etc. Moral rationality is universal, and is our human birthright according to this view. The fact that the United Nations agreed on a relatively specific list of "human rights", argues that Kant might have been right. The other ethicist is Mill who argued what is right and wrong can be calculated based on the future consequences of the decision. We should optimize the utility for everyone concerned by minimizing suffering and maximizing utility. Cost/benefit analyses are examples of this type of reasoning, commonly used when politics and legislation is involved.

spryte from Arizona, USA on September 24, 2008:

Heheh...I'm giggling only cuz I know how much that forum just pissed ya off :) here's my take on moral authority and deciding what is good and what is evil...

It all boils down to that ever popular "free will" thing that we have. Everyone is their own personal moral authority. The real trouble begins when others begin to enforce their own moral authority over anybody else.

One of the reasons you and I get along is that we have similar ideas of what is good and what is evil. However, even in our similarities there are differences...

For example, I would list murder as being evil. However, if somebody murdered somebody I loved? I'd be more than happy to inflict a slow tortuous death on them personally...*shrugs* If I were required to defend my home? I'd pick up a gun and blow the person to kingdom come without a second's thought. There are just some scenarios I can live with more so than others...

So now we have billions of people deciding what is good and what is evil...changing their minds as they learn new things or face new challenges...what a mess! No wonder we can't agree all the time.

Now...some people came up with a great idea (or so they thought). Let's make GOD the ultimate authority on what is good and what is evil. Only one have to accept the existence of such a being in order to accept that He is the ultimate authority on what is good and evil.

I happen to be a bit skeptical about taking the word of people who have had as much direct interaction with this entity as I have...

Yes...I realize that I run the risk of being refused entry into heaven. I also smoke despite the surgeon general's warning.

Instead, I kinda adopted the taoist idea of good & do good purely for the sake of doing good and not because you believe you'll be rewarded for it in an afterlife. As for what is good and evil, I'll decide that for guide myself...and not cram it down the throat of everyone around me.

It's the best I can do with what I have at my disposal.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 24, 2008:

Hi Misha, Okay, looking forward to your response.

As for the fishing thing, well it is a hard one to judge, as firstly a fish such as a Carp can survive out of water for well over an hour, (even though they are usually only out of the water for a couple of minutes), yet a human couldn't survive underwater without air for an hour. Quite often the anglers even unhook the fish without lifting it out of the water at all, so it never does suffer any deprivation of it's natural 'breathing medium'. Also, the fishing line we use in coarse fishing is quite easy to break, and therefore it isn't about simply hauling the fish in to land it, and it takes a good while to "play" the fish until it gently comes in and you can net it to lift it out of the water. Even then they are unhooked on soft unhooking mats to avoid damage to the fish. More often than not the fish escape before being landed, and often that same fish may not be caught again for many months, sometimes years. :)

Misha from DC Area on September 24, 2008:

Thanks, now I have at least some kind of boundaries and can try to come up with something :)

It may take a while.

As for the fishing - I think you have some thinking to do, too :) Imagine you are forcefully deprived of air supply. Just for a minute or half a minute even. Also, imagine you have a rope attached to the hole in your fingernail, and someone forcefully pulls on this rope... ;)

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 24, 2008:

Hi Misha,

My definition of cruelty is if the animal is caused pain, physical pain, such as the kind that we wouldn't like done to ourselves. I also consider it cruel to keep an animal in majorly restricitve and unnatural confinement and wherever possible believe they should be left in the wild, or given as much space as they need to live contented healthy lives, breeding successfully and having the freedom to exercise. If an animal has to be killed for food, then I only condone it if the animal is killed instantly, such as by a shot to the head, a bolt gun or similar instantaneous methods used by well trained experts.

If the animal isn't physically suffering such as the example you gave of the ferlilized grass, then I do not take this as actual cruelty, and in fact here in Guernsey where we are famous for our rich creamy milk from our world renowned cows, the fields in question are only ever treated with natural manures anyway, and the cows are generally kept free in the fields and live contented free range lives.

The fishing one is not relevant in my case, as in coarse fishing the beauty of it is that you don't kill the fish at all. In fact they are handled with incredible care and respect by the anglers before being released back into the lake. Many of these fish go on to live for 50 years or more, and are given affectionate nicknames by the anglers. The hooks we use in coarse fishing are tiny, (no bigger than a woman's stud earring), and barbless, and as the fish are hooked in the part of the mouth that is much like a fingernail, they don't seem to suffer any distress at all, and gently swim away once released.

Misha from DC Area on September 24, 2008:

So, you don't like this example Cindy. The fact that some other people honestly do not think it is cruel does not work for you. :)

OK, I can understand that, and definitely I often think pretty much the same. You still did not give your definition of cruelty, and this makes my task even harder. I have to admit that in this case "easily" definitely was the wrong word, and I am having hard time now trying to think of an example for you. But I do appreciate the chance to refine my beliefs, so it is an interesting challenge.

I still need a definition, though. Where do we draw a line? Apparently beating animals to death is cruel on your books. How about cutting their throat? Breaking their neck? Electrocuting them? How about keeping them in cages? Or inside a fence? Feeding them unnatural diet? Or letting them eat grass that has been fed with fertilizer?

Oh, and how about fishing? You seem to like fishing. Isn't it cruel to fish to be killed for human enjoyment? Or fish does not count as animals?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 24, 2008:

You see Misha, I would define that as cruelty and wrong, because we do not need to make an animal suffer to slaughter it, and we don't need our meat to be tender to live on it. In fact it has been proven that if an animal senses or smells death, and is scared or fearful it will instinctively tense it's muscles up, and the end result is tougher meat.

Misha from DC Area on September 24, 2008:

Well, you have to define cruelty first, so I can come up with an example that makes sense to you. Without that, first that comes to mind in that area are methods of slaughtering dogs for food some Asian countries use. For a Western person it's cruelty, but it is not so for people who do that, they just want meat to be tender...

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 24, 2008:

Thanks Aya, all thought provoking points and I appreciate your comments. I guess if I had food of my own, but I saw another who had none, I would feel the right thing to do was to share my food, however, I am not likely to go out of my way to save an amoeba either, (pretty hard if I can't see them LOL).

Aya Katz from The Ozarks on September 24, 2008:

Mistyhorizon, very thoughtful hub. I agree with you that we each have a very strong internal understanding of what we mean by good and evil. One doesn't need to be a genius to have that. Even a chimpanzee can state categorically that something is "bad" or "good."

However, we don't actually all have the same values. You and I share many of the same values, as expressed in your list, but not all of them. To me, not hurting others or interfering with their personal rights is what moral behavior is all about. Whether we then choose to help others is a question of choice. To kill someone for no reason is wrong -- but we are not under an obligation to share our food with others who have no food. There is a world of difference between stealing from another -- and giving another cart blanche to draw on what we have "at need".

Beyond that, many people draw the line of which "others" they're obliged to respect in different places. That line is important, but essentially arbitrary. Do you respect the right of all amoebas to live? I don't. I don't go out of my way to destroy life for no reason, but I do have a priority list, as do many people.

Like you, I don't feel that my values come from the authority of anyone. They just make sense to me. However, many traditional religious people don't have morals of their own, so much as accepting the authority of scripture, without which they imagine there would be complete chaos. To understand those people, you have to try and see it from their perspective, too.

We are not all the same. We don't all believe the same things. For some people, authority is a very important issue. The moral ascribed to the Book of Job is all about that.


Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 24, 2008:

MXMAN, thanks for pointing that out, error now corrected. Please feel free to point out any other typos I may have made.

Bard, thanks for your comment and glad your lists would be much the same as mine.

Misha, great points all round. I have to say I was thinking more of day to day good and evil of individuals rather than including the judging of entire countries, who are, after all, full of individuals with their own good/evil ideas, and if there is a heaven, then it won't be a whole country that is judged, but the individuals. You asked me for a suggestion for one of the items on my list going from good to bad or visa versa, so as a matter of interest my selection would be, 'cruelty to animals'. I cannot see how this could ever be considered good in any way, but would be interested to hear your take on this.

Shalini, thanks for commenting, and I too agree there are exceptions, as naturally no-one should think of a starving child stealing food as being the same as simple stealing.

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