In class, Professor Briley asked us how we defined good, bad, and evil. My understanding of what is good, bad, and evil mostly comes from what my parents have taught me. Professor Briley asked us to craft definitions as if we were explaining these values to a child; everyone in the class had very similar definitions for good, bad, and evil. The best I could come up with was:
Good: Something that you would not mind someone else doing to you or something that benefits a greater amount of people than the alternative. For example sharing is good because you would want someone to share with you and sharing benefits a greater amount of people than being selfish.
Bad: Something that is wrong, but it is not detrimental to a numerous amount of people only to the person doing the action. For example lying to your parents is bad and disrespectful because they are only trying to protect you from harm.
Evil: Something that is bad and conducted with malicious intent to hurt a large amount of people.
So as you can see, I could not come up comprehensive definitions for good, bad, or evil. When attempting to write these definitions, I found myself referring back to my foundation in Christianity. I was raised in a Christian household and I was taught those values from a young age. In my definition of ‘Good,’ I fell back on the verse Luke 6:31, “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” without realizing it. My example for ‘Bad’ was about disrespecting one’s parents because from a young age everyone is taught to treat their elders with respect, however this principle also comes from the Bible as well. In Exodus 20:12 the fifth commandment in the Ten Commandments is to “honor your father and your mother.” This exercise showed that a majority of my moral code stems from my Christian beliefs. However a majority of Americans have a similar moral code, but not all Americans are raised in a Christian household. Friedrich Nietzsche in On the Genealogy of Morality wanted to trace “what origin our terms good and evil actually have” (Nietzsche 4). He did not believe that morals resulted from human altruism (Nietzsche 6). From the activity Professor Briley had us complete in class it is apparent that within the United States our morals and values come from the Judeo-Christian tradition.