And the arguments always go like this; "Our ancestors thought X was moral but now we consider it evil."
Let's try this with physics. Our ancestors thought the Earth was flat, now we consider it spherical so therefore there must be any objectively right or wrong physics.
Doesn't work. That people at different times and places have had different moral beliefs is not proof that morality is relative*. It's proof that people can have different moral beliefs.
*Although it is proof in a sense of the word "morality". Sometimes the word "morality" is used to refer to people's beliefs on right and wrong, this is known as "descriptive morality" and other times it is used to refer to what actually is right and wrong and this is "normative morality".
Nowadays people mix and match these concepts and don't seem to get that the word "morality" has these two separate and ultimately incompatible meanings.
Descriptive morality is relative by definition.
Normative morality on the other hand is by definition not relative. It is either objective and exists or it does not exist at all and its nonexistence is objective.
As for "spiritual forces" it depends on what is meant by "spiritual". "Physical" has been redefined from directly observable effects to anything that has any effect whatsoever on the world. Hence a long time ago people would not have described sound waves as being physical. Back then people would distinguish "spiritual" and "material" or "spiritual" and "physical". Now that "physical" has been expanded in definition a great many things people would've considered "spiritual" such as God, ghosts, reincarnation, heaven, hell could exist but if they did they would fall under the new definition of the word "physical". Many people think science has disproven all these things, but it hasn't. It doesn't prove they exist either. Though it's not beyond the pale that it could prove or disprove them in the future.
The bible says so:
John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life
1 Peter 5:8 - Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.
The bible does not lie.
I think that there is a world in which we as humans cannot see, but it has a profound influence on us. God and mankind have two different views on this. To mankind, evil is the deliberate harm that we do to one another, such as rape and murder. God's definition of evil is simply anything that goes against His law. With the concept of good, mankind states this as not doing harm to others in any matter, while God's definition of good is following His law. Thanks for hearing me out y'all!
Human beings are spiritual by nature. Whether or not we choose to be "religious". I think it's interesting that I see a lot of responses mentioning Christian idealism. Many religions contrast good vs. Evil. They may not use the same words but the idea is the same. So don't limit your comments to Christian beliefs. If you're going to bash one belief system, please feel free to be thorough and put them all down equally, but do it in an argument that is actually about religion. My sarcastic point of that is that people should understand the actual question.
My argument that yes, spiritual good and evil do indeed exist has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to do with the fact that opposites always exist. Physically or spiritually. There are polar opposites. The opposite of light is complete darkness. The opposite of love is fear. Love is good. I think anyone would agree that what it does for humanity is good. Fear is bad. When someone is afraid they typically react in a negative way and all kinds of nasty things result. Fear is the real cause of most everything unsavory in this world. Fear of starvation. Fear of loss. Fear of rejection. Fear of another race or religion. The list goes on. The root of all evil isn't money... It's fear. Fear of not having enough money is why that saying exists.
It isn't a question of morality either. I'm referring to comments about what was acceptable then is morally wrong now and what was not okay then is perfectly moral today. Come on... You know right from wrong. And if you don't you might be a social pariah and I recommend maybe joining a friendly religion to keep yourself grounded.
Good and evil in the literal sense exist because we exist and we are emotional beings. We are capable of such a range emotions. Some good, some horribly evil. Our actions define who we are and if those actions are harmful to other human beings it's coming from a bad place. Dare I say evil?
First of all our moralities have changed so much that we would oppose our ancestors on almost every precept. And we would oppose each other tremendously on the punishments for ignoring the precepts we do have in common. The force of evil is supposed to be perfect evil while the forces of goodness are perfectly good. Now why would the force of goodness approve of slavery for most of our history but switch places with the force of evil when it comes to slavery, torturing people for not believing a certain way, misogyny, genocide, and so many other things? Christians say these things were appropriate in their time. But they cant explain how circumstances can cause a complete shift in sides of good and evil. And this is irrational to believe. We think slavery is an evil horrible thing now days. Some people dont. And its like that with every other precept which is also evidence against the forces of evil. If the point of life is to bring glory to god and serve the force of goodness then why would some good people be unkowingly serving the forces of evil. Some good people have to be. Some good people have thought slavery was ok and some good people have thought slavery was bad. Both cant be the force of goodness so one of these has to be serving the force of evil. And evil people have served both sides as well. We clearly dont all know right from wrong. Christians believe that we all inherit the knowledge of good and evil because of the forbidden fruit. Why screw that up with religion. They all contradict each other and there is more than a thousand so one has more than a 99.9 percent chance of being wrong. Why not let the child grow up free and decide for himself what is right and wrong without warping their natural sympathy and screwing up their moral feelings and junk? That sounds pretty stupid to me. But then the bible contradicts itself and says "train up a child in the way he should go and when he is older he will not depart from it." that tells us one fact that science has discovered. Our conscience consists of vague reminiscences of precepts heard in early youth. So it isnt inherited. You cant disagree with this fact because the bible supports it. Common sense does too but i cant expect a christian to have followed their common knowledged through to their logical conclusions like the fact that physical things effect and change our will and like i said character is trainable. That proves we dont know right from wrong with the heart or whatever you unicorn believers say. Anyways i think ive said enough. Eager to see how this goes. Probably exactly like i expect it to.
I don't think "good" and "evil" exists in any way. It's subjective to what somebody thinks is good and what somebody else thinks is bad. What is good to one person is bad to another (and vise versus)-- these aren't spiritual forces of good and evil. There's not magical force of good and bad influencing our lives; those "forces" are our own brains since we're not solely based on instinct, we have self-awareness and complex cognitive though processing allowing us to make decisions that instinctively we wouldn't make. There isn't a lake of evil in the mists of the universe letting evil poor out or a goblet with the forces of good overflowing- this asinine.
At first, I was going to use the Freudian examples of id, and ego but I am sure many of you have heard that stuff before.
The Bible could be looked at as an un-illustrated comic strip. Each line depicting the scene. As with any good comic book, you need a super hero and an almost equally powerful super villain. The each need their secret lair as well as lesser heroes and villains at their aid. I am sure you can draw a number of parallels here besides what I have put but basically, the Bible is just a very old comic book. Even Santa had his opposite. You don't hear much of him any more but in older stories of Santa, he traveled with his opposite. Some called him Black Peter and other called him Krampus. If the children were good, Santa would bring them presents but if they were bad, Krampus would beat them with a stick, toss them into his coal sack and take them away with him. This is how the whole bag of coal thing got started.
Speaking of good and evil, I am sure you all know what the bible says was the original sin. Eating from the tree of good and evil after God had said not to. Obviously, God did not want them to eat from the tree and have knowledge of good and evil, right? What I find funny is one of the main reasons people are told biblical stories is to learn exactly that. The bible too could be called a source of knowledge of good and evil just as the tree was. According to this, Adam and Eve knowing good from evil is bad and worthy of being kicked out of the garden but for the rest of us it is good and a way to become worth of entry into heaven. Odd huh?
Morality is the process by which we classify actions as good or evil. Good and evil are not "things" that actually exist in nature. Much like "tasty" and "disgusting" or "beautiful" and "ugly", these labels are simply words we use to describe our appreciation of something (in this case, an action).
Good and evil as concepts only exist because humans invented them and attributed to them certain characteristics. On their own they do not exist; they are intrinsic values of our perception and our morals, but there is nothing beyond the human mind that we can consider good or evil.
99% of what we perceive in the universe (not a real number, but an apt description of the scale involved) is neutral by nature, every natural process, every atom, molecule, star and galaxy follow a natural order without any agenda. Only the actions of human beings can be described as good or evil, because they are the only morally informed actions - we know of at least.
The reason for this, in my explanation at least, is that we evolved conscience and thus the ability to judge our actions based on the benefit or detriment it brings to our "tribe" - in the past it was the tribe, then the village and today the family or some other social group. (An interesting tangent is that we today can endure more detrimental behaviour from individuals, because we have a much more interconnected structure between different social groups spreading the damage and in effect absorbing it more efficiently.)
From there we built up rules to follow and punishment for disobedience. First in religions, then in laws and politics, and in economics, as well. (As in: You don't play by the rules, you don't get any money/power/freedom/etc.)
In conclusion: Good and evil do not exist outside of the morality we as humans constructed for ourselves within our social groups and societies. It is a moral distinction between beneficial and detrimental behaviour, that has no meaning outside of our own perception of things.
Objective morality? I see no evidence of such. I see evidence that the morality that people have is based off of biology, psychology, and sociology. Biology helps in a way that we are social beings. Psychology helps in establishing a base. Sociology helps in establishing a societal view. Biologically, survival of a civilization/gene pool is important. Some people view their city as their community, some view their state, etc. (psychology). Survival of the society/community is important for the survival of the gene pool. This is why we can expect (and see) that places that have a smaller community are usually more pro-life (to keep society going by not killing potential people), while communities with a high population tend to be pro-choice (because there are enough people that it does not really impact the community). There are other psychological and sociological factors that can influence someone's view on morality (like a religion), but I see no evidence of an objective morality.