[This series is part of Section Four, Ethics and the Third Person. An index with links to all parts of the work as they are posted can be found [url=https://forum.evangelicaluniversalist.com/t/sword-to-the-heart-ethics-and-the-third-person/1335/1]here.]
[This series starts Chapter 40, “An Introduction to the Concept of Sin”.]
One especially important part of a discussion about ethics involves the question of ‘evil’. If ethics are only a human invention, or if ethics are only a perceptual illusion based on irrational response to our environment (micro or macro), or if ethics are only some combination of those two general explanations, then any discussion of ‘evil’ is rendered somewhat moot. ‘Evil’ would mean only what you and I have been automatically conditioned to treat as ‘evil’, and/or only what you and I happen to reject (whether for self-practical purposes or aesthetically).
Learning ‘what is evil’ would mean learning what we have been automatically conditioned to treat as evil, and/or learning what other people have opportunistically chosen to treat as evil. We could still discuss something we (or other people not ourselves) call ‘evil’, and perhaps even make some rational choices concerning our own perceptions of it. But under those two theories that’s as far as the usefulness of the concept would go.
Remember: the shared distinction of those two explanations for ethics, is that what is being either discovered or invented (or both) is not really ‘ethical’ in an objectively qualitative sense. Ethics, according to those theories, are only what we personally want them to be, or are non-rational reactions to stimuli (or perhaps are a combination of both behaviors).
Consequently, ‘evil’ is put into the same boat.
This can lead to some amusing inconsistencies from advocates of those two theories: I once again recall the popular atheistic naturalist who explains our concept of justice to be a mere species bias similar to racism, but who goes on later to vent against British settlers for mistreating the Australian aborigines. He expects his readers to agree that the settlers’ racism was really unjust, aside from his own mere opinion about it, and thus should be decried!
When I first discussed the general kinds of ethical theory, such inconsistencies might be neither here nor there. But based on what I have argued since then, I am now in a position to fit them into the shape of my metaphysic.