Ashita no Anime

Anime of Tomorrow

Madoka > Jesus – The Nature of Evil

I want to thank everyone for joining me on this philosophical journey over the past week.  I had a lot of fun revisiting the Madoka mythos, giving my analytical side a good workout and satisfying my secularist itch, but today is the last part of this series…for now.  It’s my hope that this isn’t the end because I’m looking forward to seeing where this can of worms I’ve opened wriggles off to.

7. The Nature of Evil

Madoka recognizes that good and evil aren’t black and white.  Jesus is absolute and tyrannical.

When Kyuubey reveals to Madoka the relationship between humanity and the incubators, she’s shocked and disturbed, but she recognizes that things would be much worse if we had never encountered them.  What Kyuubey does is a horrifying process, but nonetheless it has yielded something exceedingly beautiful.

By contrast, a certain interpretation of Genesis sees the serpent (a metaphor for Satan) not tempting Eve to sin, but encouraging her to pursue knowledge and free herself and Adam from living in ignorance. I think the majority of Christians would agree with me that learning about ourselves and the world we live in are laudable goals, but god doesn’t see it that way and Satan was punished for it and humanity with him.

Compared to rolling around in the dirt and living to the meager age of 30, the magic girls’ sacrifice for the advancement of the rest of society completely offsets their suffering in my opinion.  Being barely better than beasts is the kind of squalor we escaped from to live in the extravagantly comparable comfort our species enjoys today and knowing what I know now, I’d gladly make that choice if presented with the opportunity (unlikely, since I’m the wrong gender).

The incubators’ system wasn’t perfect, but Kyuubey points out that we’re not treated on the same level as cattle, even though the incubators could have easily harvested us for our emotions.  They recognize that fact that we are self-aware and treated us accordingly.  It can even be argued that because the legacy of magic girls eventually yielded Madoka, that the system was finally able to correct itself into something happier.

God on the other hand intended for us to fall short of our potential and live cloistered lives of pitiful innocence.  As often happens with overbearing parents (like Jesus), they want to remain their children’s superior throughout their lives, always doting on them and keeping them dependent rather than encouraging them to be all they can be and more.  It is the hope of the best parents, teachers and leaders that the next generation surpasses them.  But because Jesus demands subservience, believers find the concept of trying to surpass god’s greatness abhorrent.   Additionally, there’s no contingency for fixing an out-of-date system that has become inflexible to the point of breaking.

Why is Madoka the better savior?

However revolted she was by Kyuubey, Madoka realized that the system of incubators was a necessary evil.  In a way, she “made a deal with the devil,” by twisting his logic into a contradiction that turned the status quo on its head, thereby improving a flawed system by taking advantage of the benefits it offered to remove the darkness and filling it with hope.  Not even Jesus possessed the presence of mind or the courage to make amends with his old archenemy when given the opportunity.

To believers the world over, god can only be perfect, but in the eyes of those on the outside looking in, nothing could be farther from the truth.  The thought that things could be better never occurs to them because anything that opposes god is necessarily bad thing. I think a good analogy would be the Tower of Babel—a story of man’s attempt to surpass god.  God punished man for insolence rather than applauding his  resourcefulness and camaraderie.  It’s clear that god has no desire to make things better now that people have reached a level of philosophical and moral development that exceeds that of the bible.

Madoka > Jesus – Part 1 – Jesus – Human vs God

Madoka > Jesus – Part 2 – The True Sacrifice

Madoka > Jesus – Part 3 – Benevolence Given Freely

Madoka > Jesus – Part 4 – Madoka Succeeded, Jesus Failed

Madoka > Jesus – Part 5 – Madoka is More Plausible

Madoka > Jesus – Part 6 – Madoka Enables; Jesus Indulges

17 responses to “Madoka > Jesus – The Nature of Evil

  1. Ben April 29, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Reminds me a lot of a musical called “Children of Eden”—very moving musical. Out of curiosity, what understanding of Genesis are you citing?

    As someone on the inside, I suppose I’ve come to understand Genesis 1-3 like this:
    Eden was the raw materials, not the finished ideal world. In Genesis 1-2 (esp. 1:28), God commands humans to responsibly develop his earth, to domesticate, and to innovate. In Genesis 2, God gives Adam the task of naming animals, endorsing linguistic innovation. Adam also created the first poem in Eden, before the fall (Gen 2:23).

    Maybe I’m with a minority, but I think God essentially told humans the opposite of “stay in the play pen.” Rather, God gave humanity an undeveloped world and said, “Here, cultivate plants. Domesticate animals. Build culture. Build civilization. Invent. Travel. Have kids who build boats, mine for precious metals, paint, create math, study the stars, fill in the blank, etc.”
    Note that, when Revelation 21-22 rolls around and God has healed the curse, he doesn’t stick the Christians in another garden. He gives them the earth, and its capitol is a metropolis. This doesn’t sound like an anti-development God, but maybe my blind spots are showing again.

    The prohibition was that humans not put themselves in a place equal to or greater than God (Gen 3:5-6). Humans see something God declared bad, decide God’s declaration was wrong, and in doing so go against God, the rightful King of the Universe. (cf. Eve’s seeing the fruit was good in 3:6 and God’s seeing the creation was good in 1:31.)
    So, there would be a distinction between growing up as a human (what God commanded humans to do, and what we do) and trying to become something more than human.

    As far as “keeping them dependent,” well, I think the Bible says everything is constantly dependent on God. The analogy to parents isn’t perfect because children are meant to leave their parents’ care (Gen 2:24), but nothing can exist apart from God’s willing it to exist (Hebrews 1:3), and so the Bible doesn’t picture humans growing out of God. But maybe you define independence from God differently.

    Sorry for the dissertation. I know I’ve got blindspots, so could you point them out. I’ve really enjoyed this series of editorials. Thank you.

    • japesland April 29, 2013 at 9:45 pm

      I very much agree with what Ben had to say, so I will leave that part out of my comment (he already covered a few parts of the article on which I would have commented).

      “By contrast, a certain interpretation of Genesis sees the serpent (a metaphor for Satan) not tempting Eve to sin, but encouraging her to pursue knowledge and free herself and Adam from living in ignorance. I think the majority of Christians would agree with me that learning about ourselves and the world we live in are laudable goals, but god doesn’t see it that way and Satan was punished for it and humanity with him.”

      Although it is impossible to really know the true intentions and nature of the parts of biblical history (particularly as far back as Genesis, of which it is difficult to tell what is literal and what is symbolic), one interpretation I have heard is that the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil was not intended to be permanently off-limits, but off limits in the beginning until humanity had reached the point of being able to handle that knowledge. I do not know if that is an entirely accurate interpretation or what other interpretations exist, but this seems to rather disagree with your point.

      • Marlin-sama May 4, 2013 at 7:00 pm

        That’s something new to me. I never heard an interpretation that the fruit of knowledge was one day intended for us to partake of. I disagree with that interpretation because why then did god not say something like, “Eat not from this tree until I degree the time is right.”?

      • Lightningbarer True December 25, 2013 at 6:33 pm

        Your premise falls down in the biblical understanding, before we ate of the tree of knowledge we were ‘innocent’, now you can take that in whatever way you want, but the hard fact is that this the original meaning would be more ‘pure’, unspoiled and perfect.
        In a closed system like that, without external stimuli to encourage us, we would stagnate, remaining as we were intended by God, to worship him.
        I have said for a long time now that the Genesis story is seen from the wrong side, that the morals are wrong, ‘Learning’ is never a bad thing, but throughout history religious zealots have shown that learning is a bad thing, it is still happening today, even in the west.
        In the story of Genesis, if we had never eaten the fruit, we wouldn’t have done anything and two people would still be all there ever was.
        It’s a moot subject anyway, as the bible isn’t literal in any sense, it’s all allegorical and no more use to us today.

      • Marlin-sama December 25, 2013 at 6:53 pm

        I’m pretty sure that god gave Adam and Eve the instruction to be fruitful and populate the Earth before they ate the fruit, so I disagree with your comment that if we had never partaken of the fruit that all of humanity would still be only Adam and Eve.

      • japesland December 25, 2013 at 8:51 pm

        “It’s a moot subject anyway, as the bible isn’t literal in any sense, it’s all allegorical and no more use to us today.”

        I think your comment stems from a lack of biblical understanding. Even the harshest of educated secular scholars will acknowledge some biblical historicity (reign of David/Solomon, invasion of Babylon, birth/ministry/crucifixion of Jesus Christ, conversion of Paul, martyrdom of most of the apostles), so even while many seculars and “liberal” Christians (such as myself) might question the historicity of parts of the Bible (such as Genesis, which seems to be a theological account of humanity and God, not a historical one), discrediting the entire book simply avoids the question of accurate human history rather than answering it.

        Now questioning absolute versus relativistic morals? That’s a debate that can see a lot of support from both sides. I would agree with you that humans should be proactive, else society would still be in the stone ages, but the statement that “‘Learning’ is never a bad thing” is not as clear-cut as it might seem, ESPECIALLY from a morally relativistic standpoint.

        I would go as far as to say, though, that even questioning in pursuit of knowledge is a healthy thing, for where would we be today if everyone had assumed that everything they had learned in their life was true? Even the history of the Christian church shows this, such as the case of the Protestant reformation in the 16th Century. However, this all comes from a current perspective, and who knows how accurate that is (David Hume is a great example of questioning all that comes from our human perspective). If we were all free of error, then perhaps we would not need to question anything, but it is impossible to know that seeing as, even from a secular perspective, we are all fallible beings.

        On another note, Thanks for reminding me of this page Lightningbarer True and thanks for writing this article Marlin-sama. Although I have disagreed with you greatly on issues like this in the past, I do respect your willingness and drive to actually write about it and accept/answer criticism (which I know you have to put up with a lot), something that many holders of many values are unwilling to do. In any case, these articles, back when you wrote them, really pushed me to understand what I believe and to put it into words… an invaluable practice I would say.

        Merry Christmas!

    • Marlin-sama May 4, 2013 at 6:57 pm

      The understanding of Genesis I was citing was from the Satanic Bible (which contrary to mainstream reaction is actually a really nice book and organization). The Satanic Bible reinterprets god as the villain and the devil as the rebel hero.

      The only command I remember god giving to Adam is to be “fruitful and multiply.” That’s awfully vague and doesn’t immediately indicate to me that his intentions follow naturally from what you’ve suggested.

      But here’s the thing. I’ve said it in the comments a couple other times in this series, but I’ll say it again because it seems I can’t say it enough. Our modern society already ignores many of god’s commands because following those commands would be amoral (not to mention illegal) so we’ve already deemed ourselves to be greater than god. Why should it be any stretch of the imagination that we not only can, but SHOULD exceed god’s greatness in other areas of our lives?

      If you disagree with that, then what’s wrong with the pursuit of being greater than god? Why should we assume just by being told that god is the greatest good? Is the pursuit of a good greater than the presumed greatest good not a lofty goal to strive for? That god would punish us for our lofty dreams is simply tyranny to me.

  2. Nami April 30, 2013 at 5:05 am

    Disclaimer for this comment: I’ve not seen any of Madoka, so I’m just addressing the presentation of Christianity in the article. Probably too off topic, but here goes.

    I would agree with japesland: the point isn’t that God didn’t want men to have knowledge, it’s that He didn’t want them to take on something they could not handle. You could then ask why did he create something that they couldn’t handle in the first place, or why didn’t He create them to handle it. The answer to the second question would be I don’t know: obviously handling it, at least at that point in time, was not in the realm of human capability, not a part of our nature. Perhaps we would not have been human had He created us otherwise. For the first question, I cannot articulate a direct answer, but I can compare it to something else (it will, of course, be a flawed and limited analogy): that is, think of any good thing that you wouldn’t let your child have, or at least not in large quantities, until they’re older. Take, for instance, alcohol–one doesn’t give alcohol to a baby, that would be harmful. But as the person grows up, they become able to ingest it without harmful effects (barring drinking in excess, of course). Therefore, you have a good which naturally speaking is not beneficial at every stage of life. Thus God was trying to bring us to our potential, a far cry from intending us to fall short of it.

    Also, to address the comment at the beginning about good and evil and Jesus’ absolutism. Good and evil are black and white in the sense that good is good and nothing else, and evil is evil and nothing else. However, in the Christian perspective the world and men are fallen and therefore determining what is good and what is evil, and what to do when seemingly faced only with evil options, is difficult. Also, there is a hierarchy, so both greater and lesser goods and greater and lesser evils exist. This doesn’t mean that a lesser evil is a good, but simply that it is evil in a lesser degree. You certainly do not have an evil that is a little bit good, or a good that is a little bit evil. In the face of this Jesus may be absolute–evil is evil and sin is sin–but certainly not tyrannical, as He shows mercy to all people. One does not go to Hell simply by virtue of committing sin. It’s a choice: one either wants to be with God, or doesn’t. If one doesn’t, that’s the choice. And Hell isn’t demons with pitchforks either, it’s the absence of God. Looking at it from the perspective that God is what makes us happy, that we were made to desire him, choosing Hell doesn’t make much sense. So only if a person refuses their desire for God in every way shape or form do they go to Hell. God gives men every opportunity to choose Him, but if they don’t He can’t make them because He gave them that choice.

    This ties in a bit with the comment about making amends with your archenemy–it’s not that God wouldn’t make amends with Satan, but that Satan wouldn’t with God. Satan wanted to be God, something that by his nature he is incapable of being. He knows this but refuses to accept it. So the problem isn’t God, it’s Satan.

    Also, I’m not quite sure what you mean by for believers God can only be perfect and that the idea that things could be better doesn’t occur to believers. Do you mean something that is better than God, or better than this world? In the first case, if something were better or more perfect than God, then God would not be God. That which was above him would be God, since God, philosophically (and not simply religously) speaking, is that which is highest, supreme, and above all else, that which is perfect. Or are you saying that nothing is or ever will be perfect and that there will always be something better than another thing ad infinitum? I promise I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, I’m just trying to understand your comment and what it seems to say to me. (I’m probably demonstrating your comment int my own thinking lol).

    I know the ideas I’ve presented here are incomplete, and I must say that’s partly from my own ignorance and partly because if I tried to put anything more in this insanely long comment then it would be even more laborious to read. And gomenasai for the lack of concision! Succintness has never been my strong-suit.😄

    • Marlin-sama May 4, 2013 at 7:15 pm

      Not sure I like your analogy of alcohol because alcohol is poisonous regardless of when or how much is consumed.

      Your vision of hell as simply a place that is the absence of god is not the hell I was told about and if that’s true it sounds like a really nice place. I can’t wait to go there and meet all of the greatest heroes of intellectualism.

      Your colorful description of Satan sort of gets me feeling sad for him and makes me want to be buddy-buddy with him. Kind of like, “Hey man, I hear it didn’t work out with that whole, ‘being god’ thing. Lets hang out and we can shoot the breeze about the good times.”

      I think it’s pretty clear from scripture that god is not perfect. But to address your question, I know it’s a weird thing to say, but it comes from our curious nature and the concept of doubt, “what if I’m wrong?” What if what we think is the greatest good isn’t and there’s something greater? We should be pursuing that goal of finding the greatest good rather than accepting that we’ve well and truly already found it.

  3. pyrusic May 9, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    *Pyrusic jumps into the fray. (I apologize if none of you know me.)
    Just a few questions Mr Marlin-sama. What do you believe to be good? And how do you think it’s decided?

    I don’t believe that believing in moral absolutes mean that you have to be a tyrant or a bigot. What’s important is that people consider the circumstances, like how people are raised or what their genetic inclinations are. Anyway, don’t believe that the “rules” of Christianity are what keeps you in or out of Hell. They’re there to tell you what God thinks is important and to keep you safe (and who’d know what keeps you safe better than the one who made you.) No, what saves you is your belief in God (and Jesus).

    And that can be hard thing to come by, people shouldn’t forget that. But hey, you can ask God for help. Or you can ask all us nice people around you.

    Another question then, I guess. Adam and Eve could’ve eaten the fruit and gained that knowledge, or they could’ve asked God for it, since He was there in that garden. Why didn’t they just ask? I’m not quite sure about it, but I think it’s got more to do with their broken trust in Him and short-sightedness than the fact that they ate a bit of fruit.

    Lastly… I don’t think you should be reading/trusting any Bible other than one that strives to preserve the original text. At least, in the context of an argument like this, I think we should try to keep bias out. Bring your logic please =)

    • Marlin-sama May 9, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      “What do you believe to be good? And how do you think it’s decided?”

      I guess I need to reinforce once again that I don’t believe in an absolute morality, so just as I don’t believe that anything is truly evil all the time, I also don’t believe that anything is truly good in every circumstance, either. What is good gets determined by social groups and those groups determine what’s good by analyzing what will be the greatest benefit to perpetuating and growing the group. That’s probably an oversimplification, but you’ve asked a question that could, and probably has been, the topic of a prize-winning sociology paper and I’m not going to write it myself—instead, I’ll defer to an expert if need be.

      “They’re [the rules] there to tell you what God thinks is important and to keep you safe (and who’d know what keeps you safe better than the one who made you.) No, what saves you is your belief in God.”

      This god sure thinks some very nonsensical and pretty darned awful things are important. Additionally, societies all over the world and throughout history did and are still doing just fine not following god’s rules, so sorry to break it to you, but what you’ve said is quite presumptuous. And you may have seen this next bit coming, but the only people who made me are my parents and they did a great job keeping me safe during the time it was their responsibility, but now I’m capable of taking care of myself (and for the most part, so is the rest of humanity as far as I’m concerned). Lastly, I say that belief in god is too high a price to pay for heaven because it’s intellectually dishonest, an issue I talked about a little in part 5 of this series.

      “Why didn’t they [Adam and Eve] just ask [if they could’ve eaten the fruit]?”

      Well first of all, god said, “Don’t eat it,” not “Ask me again some other time,” so I think your question is a little specious. If god were to change his mind, that would mean he made a mistake in the past, which means he’s fallible or if he simply didn’t reveal his full intentions then he’s a schemer (another distasteful quality in an ultimate being). But I think that to answer your question more simply, I’m not sure the overly-simple, impressionable, easily-influenced minds of Adam and Eve even had the where-with-all to concept such a question.

      “I don’t think you should be reading/trusting any Bible other than one that strives to preserve the original text.”

      Well, that’s the thing about the Bible, especially the Book of Genesis. Since we know it’s not literally real, it’s merely a parable that’s open to interpretation. And interpretation can be confusing and since god is not the author of confusion, that means god is not the author of the bible… See where I’m going with this?

      • pyrusic May 9, 2013 at 6:34 pm

        “I don’t believe in an absolute morality, so just as I don’t believe that anything is truly evil all the time, I also don’t believe that anything is truly good in every circumstance, either.”

        This is actually something I’m wondering about at the moment. Seems really reasonable, that the collective would be where these kinds of things come from. But should our ideas of right and wrong only come from what we’ve been taught? If so, it could be said that things like women’s rights or racial equality were wrong back when people were rallying for them. Basically, if society decides right and wrong, why did it ever change?

        (And I know you kinda answered that when you said “…groups determine what’s good by analyzing what will be the greatest benefit to perpetuating and growing the group.” but I’m wondering if you have any… more definitive thoughts on the topic.)

        “This god sure thinks some very nonsensical and pretty darned awful things are important.”

        I’d like to see some examples of those rules xP I mean, if you’re talking about things like “don’t eat shellfish” and “don’t make clothes out of two kinds of fabric”, what they essentially mean is “be careful what you eat, don’t get food poisoning” and “support your community by buying locally made products.” Like I said, what’s important isn’t the rules, it’s understanding the principle of them. C’mon, throw some rules at me. (But I can’t promise I know everything ;___; )

        “societies all over the world and throughout history did and are still doing just fine not following god’s rules,”

        Well, you don’t need to label yourself a Christian in order to be getting things right. Idno how many times I’ve said this, but I think it’s really important to keep in mind that it’s not the rules that matter. I’ll make it really clear now. What matters is knowing the God behind the rules. Knowing Him and having a relationship with Him is why we’re here.

        And also, lol, if you look at the laws of this world, you’ll notice that a lot of them overlap with Biblical rules, AKA, the rules of God. Rules like Don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t sleep with another guy’s wife, don’t lie. You could say that these rules came out of humanity naturally, or you could say that God put them there then asked Moses to write them down later on.

        “god said, “Don’t eat it,” not “Ask me again some other time,””
        Good point. Seems like you’re wholly against the fact that God put a big landmine in the middle of His beautiful garden. I think I have an argument against the “liar, made a mistake, or schemer” point of your’s.

        But I should throw this in really quick, before getting to other things: If it was anyone that lied, it was the serpent. He made it seem like that knowledge was going to be a good thing, ‘cept it just made them ashamed. And he said they wouldn’t die, but that’s where death started in the first place.

        Ok, so to understand why the Tree was necessary, we need to discuss why God put us here. 1. Why are we here? To love and to be loved by God. 2. What does love require? Free will. 3. What is Free Will? The power to make decisions that have consequences.

        Thus, in order to love God, we need the choice to go against Him. and going against Him needs to make a difference in our lives. So in that perfect world of the garden, there had to be something we could do wrong… But sin and forgiveness are all part of the plan, so it’s not a trap we’re led into then left inside. Everything in the Bible points to the planned forgiveness (which is Jesus’ death, btw).

        So God’s not a liar, and He didn’t mess up. In a way, you could still call Him a schemer, but the whole scheme is made to benefit all of us in the end, so I’m not sure if that’s the right word to use~

        Do you use IRC? If so, we can chat on there too .__. let’s be friends.

      • pyrusic May 9, 2013 at 6:42 pm

        Please scroll down. I left something out of my original reply and it didn’t get attached ;___;

  4. pyrusic May 9, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Uh oh, left something out. I’m not sure about the Old Testament, since I’m not a Biblical Scholar or anything, but the New Testament is known to correspond very strongly with history. Neutral sources talking about the same things that the scriptures do, etc. And I might as well throw this point out: Archeologists use the Bible to find and dig up ancient cities and stuff.

    • pyrusic May 9, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      Ugh, I forgot one more thing.

      “…belief in god is too high a price to pay for heaven because it’s intellectually dishonest…”
      Come at me. Perhaps it would be more convenient if we emailed each other, lol. Unless, of course, you’d like our conversation to be public.

      • Marlin-sama May 9, 2013 at 8:31 pm

        I think this conversation has already strayed far enough off topic (nobody is talking about Madoka) and as much as I enjoy a good debate, I just don’t have the time for any more than what you’re seeing on this blog right now (also, I don’t IRC). I’ll continue to address comments here as they come up so you can respond as much as you’d like publicly–by writing this controversial series I sort of opened the door for people to “come at ME,” and not the other way around. But despite how successful my Madoka > Jesus series has been at revitalizing my site, I want to focus on new material as well.

      • pyrusic May 10, 2013 at 8:37 am

        No worries. I can wait =)

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