"Evil Doesn’t Worry About Not Being Good"

01 Apr
In the video game Dragon Age: Origins, the character Leliana is a former assassin who is trying to turn her life around by joining the Chantry (the video game universe's equivalent of the Catholic Church). In the game, she flees from a country called Orlais to Ferelden, where the hero of the game lives. During their journy together, Leliana reveals that she had been framed by her former assassin mentor named Marjolaine and jailed, certain for execution and burial in an unmarkd grave. When the opportunity presented itself, she escaped from her imprisonment and fled to Ferelden.
After revealing this part of her past, she and the hero encounter a band of mercenaries hired to kill her. She infers that it was her old friend and mentor Marjolaine who sent them, and asks the hero to help her confront Marjolaine. At the encounter, the hero (who is controlled by the player) has the option to encourage Leliana to kill Marjolaine or to let her go. If you have Leliana kill her, then Leliana gets depressed and questions her morals.
During one of the dialogues with Leliana, she mentions how she enjoyed killing Marjolaine, recalling that during the enconter with Marjolaine, she said that Leliana was only good at espionage and assassinations because she truly enjoyed it. Having dedicated herself to the Maker (i.e. God) and the Chantry since fleeing Orlais, she sees this as proof that she really is an evil person and that her faith is false.
At this point in the dialogue, you have the option to tell her “Evil doesn't worry about not being good” which convinces her that she truly is a good person at heart, and not the cold blooded killer that Marjolaine insisted she was.
What does this have to do with anything? Well, it reminds me of a post that Luke at Common Sense Atheism quoted a couple of days ago, by Dr. Yudkowski:

Fake Morality exposes divine command ethics:

Suppose Omega makes a credible threat that if you ever step inside a bathroom between 7AM and 10AM in the morning, he'll kill you. Would you be panicked by the prospect of Omega withdrawing his threat?  Would you cower in existential terror and cry:  “If Omega withdraws his threat, then what's to keep me from going to the bathroom?”  No; you'd probably be quite relieved at your increased opportunity to, ahem, relieve yourself.

Which is to say:  The very fact that a religious person would be afraid of God withdrawing Its threat to punish them for committing murder, shows that they have a revulsion of murder which is independent of whether God punishes murder or not.  If they had no sense that murder was wrong independently of divine retribution, the prospect of God not punishing murder would be no more existentially horrifying than the prospect of God not punishing sneezing.

[To religious readers: ] it may be that you will someday lose your faith: and on that day, you will not lose all sense of moral direction.  For if you fear the prospect of God not punishing some deed, that is a moral compass.  You can plug that compass directly into your decision system and steer by it.  You can simply not do whatever you are afraid God may not punish you for doing.  The fear of losing a moral compass is itself a moral compass.  Indeed, I suspect you are steering by that compass, and that you always have been.

In other words, people who worry about becoming pedophiles and murderers if their god was truly shown to not exist already demonstrate their moral compass by having that worry in the first place. The writers of Dragon Age: Origin are correct — evil would never worry about not being good. Someone who worries about not being good is proven to be good by having that worry.

Posted by on April 1, 2011 in apologetics, video games


2 responses to “"Evil Doesn’t Worry About Not Being Good"

  1. Evan

    May 4, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Wow, I happen to be playing this game right now. I was thinking how interesting the parallels between the Chantry and Catholicism were as well.

    Do you think the Andraste character is based on Jesus?

  2. J. Quinton

    May 6, 2011 at 4:55 am

    I hope I didn't give away any spoilers lol!

    Yeah, I think Andraste is based on Jesus, but she also has a bit of Mohammad in her too. The whole gathering an army and marching on Tevinter deal. But of course she gets betrayed just like Jesus at the end which leads to her execution.

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