Philosophy Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

Is good a more powerful force than evil in the modern world?

Expert Answers info

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write11,328 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

I would say that good is a more powerful force than evil in the modern world. To argue this, we have to briefly define good and evil. This is a task that takes a certain about of hubris, as this subject has long been debated by far greater minds than mine. Nevertheless, across cultures, a rough definition of good arises: Do unto others what you would have them do to you, promote creation over destruction, and treat the vulnerable with compassion and kindness. Evil, on the other hand, can be defined as treating other people as objects to be exploited, enjoying destructive activities that inflict pain, and lacking empathy for the vulnerable.

Today, unlike any other time in history, we have the capacity to destroy ourselves and our entire planet. For 70 years, we have managed not to push that nuclear button, which most would define as good. We have managed to abolish legal slavery and are working to eradicate de facto slavery, such as imprisoning a person and forcing him or her to work endless hours with no escape. Behavior that was acceptable in the period of slavery in the Old South, such as branding the face of a slave who attempted to flee, would be treated with horror today, if, say, applied to a misbehaving employee. We have extended rights and privileges to groups that, for centuries, were denied these rights, such as women, thus affirming the full humanity of much more of the human race. We have rejected ideologies, such as Nazism, that justify genocide, and we react with horror to violence that takes innocent lives. This is not to say that evil is not always lurking at the door, looking for a way to get in and ravage humanity, but that we have so far managed to outweigh evil with good.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write35,413 answers

starTop subjects are History, Literature, and Social Sciences

This is, of course, a question that can never truly be answered in an objective way.  My own view is that good is a stronger force than evil today, but that may simply be because I live a good life in a free and prosperous country.

I would argue that good is a stronger power than evil today because most people live lives that are fairly happy.  Compared to other times in world history, we are much less likely to be killed by rampaging armies.  We are very unlikely to be enslaved.  In most countries of the world, we are unlikely to be persecuted for our religious or political views. 

To be sure, there are conspicuous examples of evil in the world, such as the people who commit mass murders or terrorist acts.  However, it seems to me that such people are cancelled out by the people who do acts of goodness and kindness to one another each day.  The good that the majority of people do is rarely as splashy and conspicuous as the bad that a few people do.  But I would argue that it is, overall, more important.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial