From a Theological to a Psychological / Neuropsychological Understanding of Evil
John Whitmer Historical Association; Community of Christ Seminary Press
The purpose of this paper is to compare scriptural and theological definitions of evil with current psychological concepts of evil. Several events in recent history, from the Holocaust to the Rwandan and Bosnian genocides, along with psychopathic serial killers from Jack the Ripper to Jeffrey Dahmer, have demonstrated that humankind is capable of great harm to human life. Since earlier concepts of evil and sin were based on the limited knowledge and experience of pre-Christian Hebrew cultures and early Christian cultures, current definitions of evil need to be based on our current scientific knowledge about evil behaviors. Contemporary scientific approaches to behaviors that are viewed as sinful and evil respond better to the moral and symbolic flexibility of sin and evil portrayed in contemporary culture.