Is little evil for greater good allowed?


#1

For example lying so one would not die or something greater like killing an innocent person so a ten thousand people would not die


#2

Lying is always a sin, but we do not need to reveal all of the truth nor explain/divulge things to others they do not need to know. So, that’s how you deal with a situation like that. You say what is true but you are not obligated to tell all that you know.


#3

Consider this hypothetical situation. Your home in Nazi Germany, and hiding Jews in the cellar. The authorities knock on you door and ask if there's Jews in the house. You can answer No. Why, because the Lord taught that the Ten Commandments are reducible to the Two Great Commandments They are Love God, Love your neighbor. Gods law can't be twisted to justify evil. You should never kill innocent people deliberately. In a war some innocent non combatants are always killed, in bombings etc. That wouldn't be a sin in my opinion, unless your deliberately targeting them..


#4

Killing an innocent is akin to taking God’s place, YOU judged him unworthy to live.
The operative word here is “innocent” by the way.

We cannot make that call. Others have allready commented on lying so I won’t.

Peace :thumbsup:


#5

The Catechism will have the answer for you, if you will look. ;)


#6

You can answer no in that, in a convenient truth, you could say that your neighbors, brothers, sisters, and loved ones are in the house (if not thru Christ, then thru the fact that we are all God’s children - even Cain was loved by God!) … semantics - and yet the truth! :slight_smile:

Basically, no good can come from any intrinsically evil act.
CCC1756; 1759; 1761; 1789

CCC 1759:
“An evil action cannot be justified by reference to a good intention” (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Dec. praec, 6).
The end does not justify the means.

CCC 1789:
- One may never do evil so that good may result from it;

  • The “Golden Rule” “What you wish that men would do to you, do so to them”
  • Charity always proceeds by way of respect for one’s neighbor and his conscience… “Thus sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience… you sin against Christ.” Therefore, “it is right not to … do anything that makes your brother stumble.”

#7

What if the innocent person isn’t innocent? Or what if someone tells you that you have a choice of killing one person or ten thousand will die. What to do then? This is only an example of curse, hope this never happens :slight_smile:


#8

[quote="Timi_Celcer, post:7, topic:333872"]
What if the innocent person isn't innocent?

[/quote]

Not relevant.

[quote="Timi_Celcer, post:7, topic:333872"]
Or what if someone tells you that you have a choice of killing one person or ten thousand will die.

[/quote]

The answer is the same-- we may never do evil to achieve a (perceived) good.

[quote="Timi_Celcer, post:7, topic:333872"]
What to do then?

[/quote]

You may not kill the person. That is intriniscally evil.

[quote="Timi_Celcer, post:7, topic:333872"]

This is only an example of curse, hope this never happens :)

[/quote]

It does not matter how many examples you attempt to come up with, the answer is the same.


#9

I have an example of the sort of mess this type of incorrect thinking causes: ie. that a 'small' evil will cause some good result. Eg. - a number of people lied about an event which was rather important, because they believed the people involved were lying to them about what had occurred (they made an error in judgement). They did not believe the people involved were telling the truth, & so they therefore created a new lie about what had occurred in order to represent the situation in the way they 'believed' was most accurate -.one which would also punish those they believed were lying to them. In the end, the truth was even harder to.find because of the lie upon lie upon lie etc. As it turned out, the people involved in the situation had in fact been telling the truth in the first place. But everyone else was given the run around due to all the lies by people who thought they knew better than to tell the truth when it was actually told to them in the first place. The rsult was that a person's wellbeing was seriously risked because of all the lying.
Of course God can bring good out of evil - but we cant plan on that & the commandments are there for a reason. :thumbsup:


#10

The two examples are not equivalent. Telling an untruth is not necessarily wrong, but killing an innocent is necessarily wrong. As for whether “lying” is necessarily wrong, that depends on what we mean by “lying”.

Telling an untruth to an ax murderer at your door is not wrong. Thus, it is not evil, and this is not a case of doing evil to obtain a greater good.


#11

[quote="Prodigal_Son, post:10, topic:333872"]
The two examples are not equivalent. Telling an untruth is not necessarily wrong, but killing an innocent is necessarily wrong. As for whether "lying" is necessarily wrong, that depends on what we mean by "lying".

Telling an untruth to an ax murderer at your door is not wrong. Thus, it is not evil, and this is not a case of doing evil to obtain a greater good.

[/quote]

If an axe murderer was at my door I wouldn't be carring on a conversation with him.

The real point is, a lie is not necessarily the only way out. Learn from the politicians.

May God bless and keep you. May God's face shine on you. May God be kind to you and give you peace.


#12

I agree that it isn’t necessarily the only way out. But *sometimes *it is the only way out. Suppose an ax murderer asks if my friend is inside. I am defenseless. Instead of lying, I say nothing. He barges past me and kills my friend. I fail to see how my inaction could be God’s will for me or my friend.

Ax murderers don’t deserve the truth. :shrug:


#13

[quote="Prodigal_Son, post:12, topic:333872"]
I agree that it isn't necessarily the only way out. But *sometimes *it is the only way out. Suppose an ax murderer asks if my friend is inside. I am defenseless. Instead of lying, I say nothing. He barges past me and kills my friend. I fail to see how my inaction could be God's will for me or my friend.

Ax murderers don't deserve the truth. :shrug:

[/quote]

But do you think an axe murderer would know the truth if it hit him in the nose?

And do you think he would believe you anyway? Even if you lied?

Sometimes you just make the best of a very bad situation and hope.

If it were me, I would slam the door and run.

Just some thoughts.


#14

[quote="The_Serpent, post:3, topic:333872"]
Consider this hypothetical situation. Your home in Nazi Germany, and hiding Jews in the cellar. The authorities knock on you door and ask if there's Jews in the house. You can answer No. Why, because the Lord taught that the Ten Commandments are reducible to the Two Great Commandments They are Love God, Love your neighbor. Gods law can't be twisted to justify evil. You should never kill innocent people deliberately. In a war some innocent non combatants are always killed, in bombings etc. That wouldn't be a sin in my opinion, unless your deliberately targeting them..

[/quote]

Such a scenario would not be a sin.

CCC 2488 The right to the communication of the truth is not unconditional. Everyone must conform his life to the Gospel precept of fraternal love. This requires us in concrete situations to judge whether or not it is appropriate to reveal the truth to someone who asks for it.


#15

You can be clever and allow people to deceive themselves if they are attempting injustice. Take the Nazis example above:

Nazi: "We have reports of Jews hiding in this area."

You: "There are no damned Jews hiding in MY house!"

Nazi: "Thank you, HEIL H! "

You didn't lie. In your opinion the innocent people hiding in your basement are children of God, certainly not "damned Jews." If a despicable Nazi misunderstands based on his own prejudice, that's his fault, not yours. You didn't lie.

You can't kill either.


#16

Let's not be ridiculous. The Church defends our right to defend ourselves and others through force, and sometimes, if need be, by killing a person... yet lying to save a life is not permitted? Please.

Also, let's bear in mind that the only thing that is good is what God says so. There is no such thing as "good" without God's say so. God's will is what is good. Or did God command Abraham to commit evil? Did God command the Israelites to evil? Did God not rebuke Rahab because He approved of her evil?

(Also, the dictionary defines lying in some places as "to convey a false impression". You can't play semantics, here-- it's childish and worthy of rebuke. A lie is a lie whether the statement was categorically false or not, and if you want to debate it with God, go ahead. But not all lies are created equal.)


#17

[quote="SighGuy, post:16, topic:333872"]
Let's not be ridiculous. The Church defends our right to defend ourselves and others through force, and sometimes, if need be, by killing a person... yet lying to save a life is not permitted? Please.

Also, let's bear in mind that the only thing that is good is what God says so. There is no such thing as "good" without God's say so. God's will is what is good. Or did God command Abraham to commit evil? Did God command the Israelites to evil? Did God not rebuke Rahab because He approved of her evil?

(Also, the dictionary defines lying in some places as "to convey a false impression". You can't play semantics, here-- it's childish and worthy of rebuke. A lie is a lie whether the statement was categorically false or not, and if you want to debate it with God, go ahead. But not all lies are created equal.)

[/quote]

This is why we need to consult the CCC on this issue instead of defining things for ourselves. We are not bound to tell others things that will harm them, that are not their concern, nor are we bound to reveal all we know. We are to be as wise as serpents but as innocent as doves. It means we have to use our intelligence in dealing with these situations.

Even if others lives are in danger, we are to take action that will prevent others from being harmed with the least amount of force necessary. IOW, we don't have to kill someone to stop them from hurting/killing others, if that's possible. Again, it depends on the situation, so we need to use prudential judgment based on Church teaching. :)


#18

[quote="Della, post:17, topic:333872"]
This is why we need to consult the CCC on this issue instead of defining things for ourselves. (...)

[/quote]

Yes, agreed, and I gave the realavent sections to the CCC several posts ago, in as far as doing evil for good... ( Post#6)


#19

Looking back, my comment on semantics shemantics came off a bit harsh. Maybe I was being a bit rebukeable myself!:stuck_out_tongue:


#20

In this world, because we’re unavoidably faced with dealing with evil due to its existence here, compromising by choosing a lesser evil over a greater one is sometimes necessary, while acknowledging that both are still evil, outside of God’s perfect will ultimately.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.