Does a good, perfect man struggle with evil
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Good: the state of acting on influences to be a better person today than yesterday. It is not a static condition, but continually dynamic, demanding of one to not just espouse goodness, but to be committed to its action in all circumstances.
Perfection: living a perfect life is living a life without error of any kind, being good under any circumstance. It is always making correct choices to be good when faced with every circumstance.
Struggle: either a combat against an initiating assailant, be it from an external or internal source, or combat initiated by the person against another person, or an idea conflicting with their own.
Evil: The opposite of good. Any obstacle that attempts to prevent the effort of a good person to act contrary to their sense to be good. The choice to be an obstacle to one's self, or others, to use their agency to be good. The effort to entice another, or the self, to seek power, pride, and possession; the roots of all evil thoughts or acts.
This is appropriately a philosophic, not a religious debate. The definitions above may seem to have a religious tone, but the challenge is to conduct this debate purely from the limited definitions of all terms defined herein, which have not referred to religion, or deity [good or evil], or morality couched in religious jargon. No holy writ ought to have place, even by reference, in the debate. The challenge, then, is to question whether even a perfect person still must struggle to avoid evil behavior.
No one is perfect for the reason that they are immune from evil; no one can be that immune. In fact, H.J. McCloskey, described as an atheologian [one who argues for the nonexistence of God], of the University of Melbourne, maintains that it is unavoidable. He claims a construct of the following:[i]
 God is omnipotent
 God is omniscient
 God is perfectly good
 Evil exists
McCloskey contends that even if one, two, or three of the above statements are true, all four cannot be true. He argues that if God is omnipotent, He could end all suffering in the world, but He has not; therefore, He is nonexistent. McCloskey argues the same point for God’s omniscience.
McCloskey ignores, but it must be considered, that neither omnipotence nor omniscience imply that either power must be used, only that it is available. The wisdom of Theodore Roosevelt’s “Big Stick” ideology says otherwise: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”[ii] The idea is to try to negotiate in peace, but be prepared to wield strength. McCloskey further ignores that God employs a third construct in addition to omnipotence and omniscience: the free agency of man.
“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”[iii]
We often interpret this passage as allowing Adam to eat of every tree except of the tree of knowledge, but that is not at all what is said. God said that Adam could “freely eat” “of every tree of the garden,” including the tree of knowledge. It’s just that eating from the tree of knowledge had a consequence apparently different than the other trees, but God’s gift of agency to man remains intact. There are consequences to our actions, and they can be good and bad.
It is proposed that one is perfect in the use of agency only if that person always makes the correct, good choices when confronted by any circumstance, evil, or not. How many of us do that, consistently? So, the argument is not that it may be possible to avoid all evil. It is proposed that is distinctly impossible, even if we never interact with anyone. We can conjure evil all on our own in a total solitary condition.
There are always random choices, not necessarily just two. And few choices we encounter are your-life-is-utterly-ruined-if-you-do-this serious. The question is would a perfect person struggle with these challenges, in spite of being, to that point, perfect?
The contention of this argument is that a perfect person still struggles each and every time such circumstances are presented. Are they obligated to think the situation through and determine, once again, that the consequences will not yield what they aspire to be? Yes.
How to be perfect
Based on the definition of “perfect” as offered in the debate description above, the question must be posed: How do we become perfect? One article, The Science of Decision-Making: 5 Ways to Make the Right Decision Every Timesays yes.[iv] It contends that a formula exists to do just that:
1. Focus on the big picture.
2. Know what you value.
3. Recognize and overcome the sunk-cost [a losing path] bias.
4. Create the necessary environment.
5. Take immediate action by the 5-second rule [If you do not take action – physical movement - in the first five seconds, the brain will dismiss the idea].
Application of being perfect
Most people would say, “That formula can be applied for two or three day’s, but, inevitably, we fail.” Yes. But, what if we didn’t? What if we last five days, then ten, then more? It is possible, just unlikely.
As the days of perfection mount, having a continuous string of a variety of choices, at least one of which will be to respond with imperfect evil, that becomes a challenge with potential loss of the perfect record. Is that a struggle?
John Wesley commented, “A person may be sincere who has all his natural tempers, pride, anger, lust, self-will. But he is not perfect until his heart is cleansed from these, and all its other corruptions.”[v]
However, if, as a young child, we learn that we should not hit somebody else, or take their toy as if it was ours, do we fail our test if, one day, learning we should not hit, we strike by words? Well, at least we did not hit physically, so we do not need to go back to square one, but square ten may need some re-acquaintance before moving on.
The same argument would apply to evil as a continuous trend toward more and more evil, ad infinitum,or at least as sustained consistently.
There is, by observation, no good in embracing Nazism, the KKK, or in fact, inherent evil in a monk, unless any of those terms are defined, which my opponent did not bother to illustrate.
Further, Con argued against the definition of “struggle” by use of nonanthropogenic examples, to wit,foxes and chickens, neither of which figure into the discussion since neither are human, endowed with moral judgment, in spite of my opponent’s several efforts to give them anthropogenic ability.
For example: foxes are given by my opponent to make value judgments in their dining fare: vegetarianism. Show me a vegetarian fox. There happens to be one, but it, Jumanji, by name, is a forced vegan by is owner, Sonia Sae. The result is that Jumanji is mostly blind, discolored with a skin ailment, patches of missing fur, and lacking a plethora of needed nutrients.
This is uniquely a human struggle, and needs to stay on point.
Further, do we really need to define “good” and “evil” by any further detail that that offered in the Description? According to the Oxford English Dictionary: [Unabridged] [hereafter, OED]: “Good: a. Of a person: having the qualities, characteristics, or skills needed to perform the specified role or pursue a specified occupation appropriately or to a high standard.”
“Evil: a. adj. The antithesis of good adj., n., adv., and int. in all its principal senses.
“Struggle: 4. To make great efforts in spite of difficulties; to contend resolutely with (a task, burden); to strive to do something difficult. †Also const. at. to struggle for existence: cf. struggle n. 1d.
Do any of these definitions disagree in principle with my definitions in Description? I think not. Judges will decide.
To continue, then, with more argument:
Perfect, by command:“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”[ii]We are, some of us, willing to accept commands of God as listed in Exodus, as well as the other four books of the Pentateuch, as legitimate, praiseworthy, and of generally good comport. We even accept other commands offered by the Christ, such as the entire set of attitudes offered by him just in the Sermon on the Mount.[iii]So, why should we expect that this singular verse, number 48, is not included as a command? How hard is it for us to resist bearing false witness?[iv]Impossible? No. Does it require commitment? Yes. So does working perfection.
Perfect, by commitment:In a book unfamiliar to many, I suppose, is a brilliant admission of how to deal with commandments of God: “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”[v]
Taking the values presented herein, it seems that any perceived barrier to keeping any commandment of God is removed by our willingness to:
1. Commit to keeping commandments
2. Acknowledge that God can prepare our way to be obedient
3. By preparing our way, the accomplishment of our effort is possible.