Where Do Good and Evil Come From?

Where Do Good and Evil Come From?

Where Do Good and Evil Come From?


1280 Posts



If there is a God, why is there so much evil? How could any God that cares about right and wrong allow so much bad to happen? And if there is no God, who then determines what is right and what is wrong? The answers to these questions, as Boston College philosopher Peter Kreeft explains, go to the heart of ethics, morality and how we know what it means to be a decent person. 
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I’m going to argue for the existence of God from the premise that moral good and evil really exist. They are not simply a matter of personal taste. Not merely substitutes for “I like” and “I don’t like.”

Before I begin, let’s get one misunderstanding out of the way. My argument does not mean that atheists can’t be moral. Of course atheists can behave morally, just as theists can behave immorally.

Let’s start then with a question about good and evil: ‘Where do good and evil come from?”

Atheists typically propose a few possibilities. Among these are evolution, reason, conscience, human nature, and utilitarianism.

I will show you that none of these can be the ultimate source of morality.

Why not from evolution? Because any supposed morality that is evolving can change. If it can change for the good or the bad, there must be a standard above these changes to judge them as good or bad. For most of human history, more powerful societies enslaved weaker societies, and prospered. That’s just the way it was and no one questioned it. Now we condemn slavery. But based on a merely evolutionary model, that is an ever-changing view of morality, who is to say that it won’t be acceptable again one day? Slavery was once accepted, but it was not therefore acceptable. And if you can’t make that distinction between accepted and acceptable, you can’t criticize slavery. And if you can make that distinction you are admitting to objective morality.

What about Reasoning? While reasoning is a powerful tool to help us discover and understand morality, it cannot be the source of morality. For example, criminals use reasoning to plan a murder — without their reason telling them that murder is wrong. And was it reasoning — or something higher than reasoning — that led those Gentiles who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust? The answer is obvious: it was something higher than reasoning — because risking one’s life to save a stranger was a very unreasonable thing to do.

Nor can conscience alone be the source of morality. Every person has his own conscience and some people apparently have none. Heinrich Himmler, chief of the brutal Nazi SS, successfully appealed to his henchmen’s consciences to help them do the ‘right’ thing in murdering and torturing millions of Jews and others. How can you say your conscience is right and Himmler’s wrong if conscience alone is the source of morality? The answer is you can’t.

Some people say ‘human nature’ is the ultimate source of morality. But human nature can lead us to do all sorts of reprehensible things. In fact, human nature is the reason we need morality. Our human nature leads some of us to do real evil, and leads all of us to be selfish, unkind, petty and egocentric. I doubt you would want to live in a world where human nature was given free reign.

Utilitarianism is the claim that what is morally right is determined by whatever creates ‘the greatest happiness for the greatest number.’ But to return to our slavery example: if ninety percent of the people will get great benefit from enslaving the other ten percent, would that make slavery right? According to utilitarianism it would.

We’ve seen where morality can’t come from. Now let’s see where it does come from.

Fo the complete script, visit https://www.prageru.com/videos/where-do-good-and-evil-come


32 thoughts on “Where Do Good and Evil Come From?

  1. Feco Máté

    Morality is based on empathy, and since empathy is subjective, so is morality.

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  2. Kade Daivis

    First I’d like to thank you guys for accepting that I’m not an immoral monster like some pastors would claim. Such is being intellectually dishonest.
    The flaw in this video’s reasoning is this, as far as I a libertarian atheist understand it.
    -preface 1. The argument of evolution and human nature do not contradict one another
    -preface 2. These arguments could work complimentary
    -preface 3. Human nature is fixed by evolution on the search for prosperity. (Therefore allowing us to survive, adapt and spread our genes.)
    -preface 4. In despite of the “bad side” of our human nature, our needs as human beings intrinsic in our nature circumvent our immoral nature in our heads as an evolutionary measure to ensure our individual prosperity.

    -preface 5. Therefore morality, and good.

    Theists feel free to go on in the comments if you can RATIONALLY prove your point.

    I say rationally because I wanna be clear on a matter, just because your sacred cow [whatever your religion may be] “feels” right does not make it so. Its the PragerU channel and I’m sure we can all get on board with the point “facts don’t care about your feelings.” -Ben Shapiro. In other words the argument doesn’t come from intellect and is therefore mute. I’d also like to preface that an argument from faith is also mute because being that you can achieve a wrong answer from faith, an idolatrous wrong religion for example, it can be reasonably demonstrated that faith is not empirical & therefore unreliable.

    With this in mind I also have a counter argument to religion’s claim. If morality is contingent on god riddle me this, is it good because god said so? Or is it good because god knows what good is?

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  3. Aravind Krishnan

    I'll tell you the flaw with your argument. You are assuming there is a constant or fixed morality. Without that assumption the argument is pointless. And assuming universal morality is an argument in itself!

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  4. Theo S B


    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  5. Satan Lover13

    5:06 nope

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  6. Satan Lover13

    4:57 You started with a conclusion and then you decided to point out that your conclusion fits the premis of your existence.

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  7. Satan Lover13

    4:45 Moral comands dont exist, design does not suggest a designer. If gods existence is required by the complexity of reality then god himself is proof of a super god, repeat at infinitum.

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  8. Satan Lover13

    4:11 Basically like ruel utilitarianism you decide on an aproach that fits your morality only your morality is linked and dependent on christianity meaning that bad ideas linger on for longer.

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  9. Satan Lover13

    3:48 Nope, straw BS

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  10. Satan Lover13

    3:33 utilitarianism is a philosophy, an aproach to moral and ethical reasoning. Its most positive development is rule utilitarianism. Code Geass

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  11. Satan Lover13

    3:22 Define human nature. Every major political party has their own pet version of sociology to define how people work, human nature comes in all shapes and sizes. Also stop zeroing in on one topic and ignoring all the others together.

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  12. Satan Lover13

    2:54 Because contionce alone is not the only source of morality there are sevural sources of morality and I'm compairing my morals with his and valuing mine over his!

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  13. Satan Lover13

    2:46 based on religiouse nationalistic grounds. Also showing exaples of how morality works to show that morality doesnt work a certain way is idiotic.

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  14. Satan Lover13

    2:31 contience is a vital source of morality

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  15. Satan Lover13

    1:49 I can make the destinction because my morality is logical, theres nothing objective about it, you cant just label something currently self evident and expect me to agree with you, just because. The world oesnt work that way.

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  16. Satan Lover13

    1:43 I can critisize slavery because I understand how it work and whats wrong with it, that how morality evolved! ??

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  17. Satan Lover13

    1:12 The pyramids were build by honored servents, the reason why rome had laws against mistreating slaves was that badly treated slaves were a national security risk.

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  18. Satan Lover13

    1:06 why?

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  19. Satan Lover13

    0:46 utilitarianism is rearly if ever depicted well and doesnt have much to do with explaining evil, infact the best example of utilitarianism, rule utilitarianism – Code Geass involves a christ like sacrifice where the main protagonist of the story takes on the world sins in a final death.

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  20. HS Zhou

    Human nature is relative And is bound to hypocrisy. They feel pain And empathy yet besides its Sins. That's Why Its human nature that created the concept of religion And believe in things like God to seek order And balance to save Them from their immorality they are suffering from.
    And Atheists gave us most of your understanding merely better tools to understand things through reason. If it werent for that This man couldnt argue in This fashion today.
    My conclusion is nor atheism OR god Alone is the sole saviour to morality. Its humanity that created religion And science which Both were made in the name of morality . Sorry but This how i think who is grown up with another philisophy.

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  21. Mr. Fossil

    Morals were made by people.

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  22. G3:16 LosCabos

    Everything was perfect, but you are wrong as many Americans are, you called God religion, and there are many religions that are utterly wrong in their morality, you should call instead, God of the Bible and the rescue for our immorality, his son Jesus. This little detail makes all the difference, between taking a path of real solution or just playing around with words.

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  23. #1 Homelander

    Hey prageru. Did know that the german public at the time was fully aware of the holocaust, and actively supported it.

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  24. Karolis Karolux

    Most of the video was quite in depth, good reasoning. But then you quickly concluded that morality is non physical and therefore supernatural and that means it's god. Morality is human construct even if it sacrifices egocentrism. House plan in one's imagination is not supernatural or god the same way as morality. Morality and house plan is still an idea or thought construct.
    I really felt huge jump from explanation to conclusion. Explanation is great but really underdone. Also conclusion is hurried, not quite thought trough.
    Personally I think good and evil is not from god but we as humans constructed it by our experience of pleasantness and unpleasantness and labeling it as good or evil. I hope this video wasn't made just to prove that god or god's morality exists.

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  25. Twin Ruler

    There is still Wage Slavery!

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  26. The Four Books Unknown

    In a land of fairness ruled by one ring, where black knights roam the streets from the dying opposition, a single surviving evil from a distant past comes forth to remember its cause and speak. The ring of forks is from its prince. He reaches for a ring of celestial silver he keeps from a distant opposition struggling to remember its traditions. He must hear out the evil keeper and decide on the fate of the evil man. He beckons to the guard to bring him forth and the guard remarks that the man has traveled and seeks to rest.
    'He has little food, few things, and no ring that he remembers, but brings news from an evil land.', remarks the guard.
    'What is his name?' asks the prince.
    'Roafocal the Flatulent Baby Eater. He comes from the land of Amuk, where the evil waits.'
    'I will cast my logic to his cause, since if I remember evil is a cause of instinct, then. Give him food and shelter and watch if he strays.'

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  27. WhoIsJordan

    morality is subjective though.

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  28. Software Science

    Great argument !!! I like that

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  29. vEnus FLy trap

    I was atheist till I saw this argument

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  30. Christian Gibbons

    If, you could explain what “LOVE” is through Energy, Vibration, & Frequency.

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply
  31. Oddy Stef

    I think Prager U imagines atheists twirling their evil mustaches in their secret evil lab while they are plotting to turn America communist, brainwash kids that there is no God, and make their wife convert to Islam.

    February 12, 2021 at 6:01 am Reply

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