by Bill Lehto
But to call the shooting, and other such acts, “pure evil” is to give it a metaphysical, other-worldly quality: something that is beyond this world; something that, perhaps, only prayer is effective on; something, even, that cannot be prevented other than through prayer. We need to get past this notion of prayer being effective at all, other than making the person praying feel better about things or themselves. There is nothing beyond this world that prayers are reaching. There is nothing beyond this world that determines what is good or evil. There is no “pure evil”; evil is a human construct, a relative construct because there are no absolutes here: absolute evil is just as fictional as God or angels and demons. Calling the act “pure evil” is really a cowardly thing to do—it’s to point to something fictional for an explanation. No! This is a human act, not an act of pure evil or an act of Satan. Instead of appealing to something both fictional and not of this world for help with or an explanation for events like the Las Vegas shooting, let’s look at what, in this world, caused this person to do this. What, in this world, could have prevented this? What, in this world, can we put in place to help prevent this in the future? Blaming “evil” and calling for prayers is a complete cop out. Secularists should not be afraid to call this out. Secularists need to drop this notion of absolute morality.
“Whatever is done from love always occurs beyond good and evil” said the 19th century German atheist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Yes! But here we are, over 130 years later, still stuck in the quagmire of good and evil.
Bill Lehto is the publisher at Freethought House and editor of Atheist Voices of Minnesota.