# 13 Toward a Secular Understanding of “The Battle Between Good and Evil”

“The Parable of the Tribes and “the Force of Brokenness”

The foregoing – installments # 2-9 – shows that any creature that embarks on the path of civilization will have, as a major player in its historical drama, a “Force of Brokenness.”

  • If “the parable of the tribes” shows how a creature’s taking the path of civilization condemns that creature to an inevitable “war of all against all”; and
  • if the social-evolutionary and experiential consequences of that “war of all against all” inevitably imparts brokenness into the human world; and
  • if brokenness begets brokenness, albeit in ways that change forms as the pattern moves through time, then it follows that
  • the step onto the path of civilization inescapably introduces into that creature’s world a significant Force of Brokenness, which works consistently – as it moves through cultural systems over time — to make that creature’s civilization worse.

In other words, the inevitable social evolutionary process described by “parable of the tribes” makes it inescapable that a huge Impetus of brokenness would be imparted into any creature’s system of civilization.

(The word “Impetus” points to that ongoing movement, the way an earthquake can transmit into the ocean an impetus that generates a tsunami that, over time, can travel half-way around the world.)

Human beings were compelled to experience their lives in a system that led to the empowerment of a tyrannical few, the enslavement of the mass of people, and the rise of empires whose art-works — carved into the walls — specialized in celebrating the slaughter of enemies.

Brokenness reverberating through time in shape-shifting ways.

And meanwhile the continuing lethal anarchy of the intersocietal system prevents any secure escape from the reign of the Spirit of the Gangster.

As I write, the world waits to see if Russia will invade its weaker neighbor, Ukraine – and provide a recurring fresh impetus of brokenness.

(Later, as I read through this, Russia has indeed launched its unprovoked attack—the Spirit of the Gangster embodied in the thug, Vladimir Putin taking advantage of the remaining elements of anarchy that allow the strong to “do what they can” while compelling the weak to “suffer what they must.” However, the world has fortunately evolved away from anarchy, at least part of the necessary way toward the order that’s needed: at this writing, the wider world has shown that it is no longer so completely fragmented, and has responded to this naked aggression with a remarkable degree of cohesion.

(“The Problem of Power in Social Evolution: is not solved. But neither is humankind still at the starting place, where the disorder in the overarching system was pretty complete, and not solution to the problem was possible.)

The “Force of Brokenness,” and the role of “Evil” in “the Central Challenge”

The recognition of this “coherent force” — that becomes visible in the network of cause-and-effect, in which Brokenness begets Brokenness — puts that “Central Challenge Facing Any Civilization-Creating Creature” in a somewhat clearer light.

If, in the human world, there’s a “coherent force” working to advance destruction, that means that the challenge described earlier — to order our civilization “well enough, soon enough” — can be understood not just as a need to replace the Disorder civilization inevitably brought with it. It can also be meaningfully understood as the need to defeat that “Force,” to disempower it, in time to prevent it from accomplishing our destruction.  

Meeting that Challenge, therefore, takes the form of Winning a Battle against that “Thing” that can be “seen” working destructively in the human world. The form of defeating that “It.”

That something that must be defeated is understood not as something supernatural, not as personified in some malevolent Being, but as a naturally occurring dynamic that gets generated by the inevitably disordered system that is the inevitable consequence of Life’s venturing into an unprecedented circumstance. Defeating a force understood in purely secular terms.

A force that arises naturally and can be understood in purely secular terms. Nonetheless, that “It” has a familiar “face” – familiar from less secular understandings of our world.

A coherent force that consistently spreads a pattern of brokenness” – a Force whose reality I claim to be able to demonstrate – is how I define “Evil.”

Defining “Evil” in this way – or to call such a Force “Evil” — is entirely reasonable. Reasonable—because the way this Force, understood in purely secular terms, operates in the human world so substantially resembles how our civilization, in its religious traditions, has conceived of a Force of Evil working in the world to make bad things happen.

“If it quacks like a duck…”

There are reasons to use the word “Evil,” as I’ll argue later. But I know from experience how many people recoil from the word, and there’s no good reason to get hung up on what term is used.

No one is required to call it Evil, however much it does demonstrably act like it. It could be called a “Destructive Force,” or a “Force of Brokenness,” or perhaps something else.

What does matter is to see and understand the phenomenon of that “coherent force.”

(I say it is “important,” because it has turned out

to be important – in this dangerous time in our own country, the United States – for good people to be able to recognize the reality of such a force, whatever name it’s given, when such a consistently destructive thing arose right before everyone’s eyes to threaten all that’s best – most whole – in the nation.

(It turned out that the battle would go badly – and unthinkable breakages in America could happen — if that part of America onto whom the task necessarily fell to protect a nation from a “Force of Evil” could not see that destructive force for what it is, and fight it accordingly.

(There’s a saying in baseball, “You can’t hit what you can’t see.” And it turned out that if you’re up against a Force that you can’t see, you will not be able to combat it effectively.

(More about that – more about the great costs of Liberal America’s difficulty in recognizing what they were up against as Conservative America got taken over by a “coherent force that consistently spreads a pattern of brokenness —  in future installments.)

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