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Beyond good and evil?

By Alexander Carpenter
Update: How does the Stanford Prison experiment and Abu Ghraib inform the way that Christians should talk about evil? Does sin explain evil behavior? From astute read T. Joe Willey PhD (who I just noticed in the intro to The Creationists, stayed up with Ron Numbers that fateful late night). Anyway, Dr. Willey sent over a link to yesterday’s eSkeptic review of Stanford psychiatry emeritus Philip Zimbardo’s new book, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil:
The central metaphor of The Lucifer Effect is “no bad
apples, only bad barrels.” That is, situations and systems, not
individuals, transform behavior and personality. In exhaustive detail,
including a day-by-day, sometimes hour-by-hour, description of the
psychological decline of student volunteers and those conducting the
Stanford Prison Experiment, Zimbardo details countless shameful
examples of human behavior, from the alleged banality of Adolph
Eichmann to the brutal Rwandan and Nanking rapes, ultimately ending
with the offenses performed by our very own forces in Abu Ghraib.

Who among us has not surprised and shamed himself with acts of minor
cruelty, or fails to recall the social hierarchy of his own primary and
secondary school experience? The Lucifer Effect presents data
that is far from inconceivable or unconvincing, and readers who remain
doubtful of the extremes of human behavior after reading it must be
determined to submerge their capacity for reason in the sands of denial.

As we know evil and good Adventists existed right next to each other in 1994 Rwanda. What separated those aided the genocide and those who acted heroically were not separated by doctrine – but by action. But as we know, different contexts or barrels call for difference acts – thus, how should Adventism make good barrels? In the past we’ve worked to keep folks, especially the young out of the world while making sure that doctrine stays firm, clearly attention to the barrel and the apple. In light of Rwanda and Abu Ghraid, what needs tweaking so that Adventists stand out as good fruit.

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