See No Evil: Secularity versus Sacred Scriptures


Jonathan E. Leightner (Author) – Full Professor, Augusta University, Augusta, Georgia, USA

Series: Religion and Society

BISAC: REL000000

The subjective depends on the situation, the people involved, the time, and the environment. The objective is true for all situations, all people, all times, and in all environments. Many issues are uncontrovertibly subjective. However, is anything objective? Current intellectual secular culture (which includes Post-Modernism, Post-Modernity, Atheistic Existentialism, Pragmatism, and Post-Structuralism) claims that there are no objective truths (everything is subjective) and that each individual can pick his or her own goals and values. This book investigates the inadequacies of this secular approach when dealing with the purpose of life and the problem of evil by contrasting the behavioral imperatives of secular culture with what the sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Theravada Buddhism say.

If everything is subjective then each individual does not have inherent worth. “Inherent worth” implies an objective value – a value that is not determined by the situation. The notion that everyone has inherent worth is the foundation on which lying, stealing, murder, rape, adultery, and genocide are judged as “wrong.” If everything is subjective then we cannot condemn Adolf Hitler for wanting to kill all the Jews or for one group of people for wanting to enslave all of another group.

There are two important consequences of current intellectual secular culture’s rejection of all objective values. First, by interpreting everything as subjective and self-centered, current intellectual secular culture cannot provide purpose to life that is bigger than the individual. In contrast, the five religions considered in this book demand that people embrace goals that are bigger than their self-centered desires. Second, current intellectual secular culture’s rejection of all objective values makes it impossible to condemn some acts as evil. When evil is not condemned, it thrives. The five religions examined do condemn evil and provide answers to the following “problem of evil.”

If God is all good than He would not want the innocent to suffer.
If God is all powerful, He could prevent the innocent from suffering.
We notice that many innocent people suffer in this world
Thus God must either not be all good or not all powerful.

This is a particularly difficult problem for the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) because they affirm an all-powerful and all-good God. This is less of a problem for Hinduism and Buddhism because these eastern religions believe in reincarnation. Under reincarnation, what may look like an innocent suffering is actually a guilty person paying for his or her evil deeds from this or a previous life. However, the sacred texts for all five religions provide answers to this problem, but not the answers that we often hear from theologians. This book aims at satisfying some of humanity’s greatest needs – the need for purpose and the need for an answer to why innocents often suffer.




Part I. Current Intellectual Secular Culture

Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. Secular Thought’s Rejection of Objective Values

Chapter 3. Secular Thought and Ethics

Chapter 4. A Formal Model with no Objective Values: Utility Maximization

Chapter 5. Rationally Efficient Evil

Part II. The Purpose of Life

Chapter 6. Judaism and the Purpose of Life

Chapter 7. Christianity and the Purpose of Life

Chapter 8. Islam and the Purpose of Life

Chapter 9. Hinduism and the Purpose of Life

Chapter 10. Theravada Buddhism and the Purpose of Life

Part III. The Problem of Evil

Chapter 11.  Judaism and the Problem of Evil

Chapter 12.  Islam and the Problem of Evil

Chapter 13.  Christianity and the Problem of Evil

Chapter 14.  Hinduism and the Problem of Evil

Chapter 15.  Theravada Buddhism and the Problem of Evil

Chapter 16. Conclusion




“The topic of the book is of great importance, yet there is no comprehensive book of this nature now available for use in classrooms or for the general reader. The influence of secularization has grown dramatically …. and there are now many criticisms of religion from a secular perspective but there are very few, if any, responses from a responsible religious perspective. Yet there are billions of people who are adherents of the major religious traditions in our world. Professor Leightner’s book fills this gap very well. Even people fully committed to the practice of secular thinking and analysis will benefit greatly from Professor Leightner’s insights into the deepest meaning of their own traditions of thought. Professor Leightner’s book will be a major contribution to modern insight.” – Daniel Quinn Mills, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University School of Business Administration, USA

“Leightner argues that secular culture has mislead economists and society more broadly into conflating counterfeit values (evil) with the wisdom found in Jewish, Islamic, Christian, Hindu and Theravada sacred texts, causing severe personal and social harm. Those like Pol Pot (responsible for the Khmer Rouge’s crimes against humanity) persuade themselves and many others that their actions are virtuously motivated, when they are intrinsically evil. People need to step back and appreciate that evil may be contaminating their ethics. This is a message that many professionals do not want to hear, but needs a fair hearing.” – Steven Rosefielde, Professor of Economics at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

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