My @Quora answer to Dan Brooks wrote: “Society defines what deeds are evil.” What are evil deeds? http://qr.ae/R7i32l
For me, Dan is dead wrong in his claim that good and evil are defined by the society you live in. Now I know this is a popular view, but on an empathetic level it’s just dead wrong because it can be (and has been) used to “justify” anything from murder and torture (Catholic Witch hunts) to extermination and genocide of an entire nation (Nazi Germany and Serbia) simply because “everyone says it’s Ok.”
There’s a large percentage of folks in most societies which ascribe to his assertions, but that looks to me like yet another false justification for “do what you want, and never mind who gets hurt.” (This is also a version of the strict capitalist view). The glaring problem here is that based on his metrics good and evil are useless concepts because whatever you can convince your society to go along with is A Ok.
I prefer a harsher test:
Here’s how I, an atheist since birth, test for Good vs. Evil…
It’s insanely simple and insanely inconvenient, as the foundation stones of any set of morals should be.
I look at what’s being done and I ask one simple, harsh, ugly, little Question:
How would I feel if I, or someone I love was subjected to that?
Here’s the funny part: If you’re in the Right side of things it’s an incredibly beautiful little Question, if you’re NOT it gets really ugly, really fast! Unless, of course, you use Intentional Cognitive Dissonance*
*Lying to yourself.
Be vary careful applying this test, it can cause massive crisis of faith and long, hard, bouts of Questioning the “common wisdom” (which is so often neither of those things).