We often speak of good and evil and use the words carelessly, since we are comfortable with their meanings. But I think we may sometimes be lax by tossing them around too freely, not realizing that others may not know what exactly we mean, and we might therefore be alienating them from a viewpoint that would otherwise be helpful to them.
Shakespeare said there was no good or evil, only the saying that made it so, and that is true, since until we label something it lacks concept.
For a moment, let me temporarily compare the word evil with the adjective, bad. Something that is evil is bad, while something that is not evil, is good. But something that is bad, is not necessarily evil. If my car breaks down while I am on the way to the movies, that is bad, but it is certainly not evil.
So let us define good and evil in the context of man, since that is the one arena in which we all have experience, and it will be easier to judge our accuracy. Man, due to to his intelligence, is a collector of memories and experiences, and he categorizes memories and defines and associates meaning to them. To do this, he must integrate many memories, many definitions, building simple truths into ever evolving complexities, much like fractals define the most complex crystals. It is this ability that allows us to manipulate complex ideas, and continually grow and evolve to higher levels of consciousness. Thoughts and actions that allow this process to proceed in an orderly fashion are good. But thoughts or actions that impede the growth of man are bad. Those things that arrest the development of man, preventing him from achieving higher levels of consciousness, we herein label evil. They are like dirt in the gears of a well-oiled machine. They gum up the works and cause disorder in the otherwise orderly ascension of the mind of man.
Twisted thoughts, those based not upon truth and logic, but upon emotion and instinct are the ones that are most commonly evil. I look for a faster evolution, a quicker progression to what I deem are a better set of circumstances, and in my zeal for advancement I shove my brother aside; I bend ethics and a sense of fair play and I try to rob my way faster to where it is that I want to be. This is best for me, I think, because it gets me to my goal faster. But of course, the well-learned mind knows that this is not true, because in order to ascend, one must use the principle of integrated honesty. Without honesty, the entire system becomes unstable. For without honesty, misinformation is integrated into the system, and soon, all of our beliefs fall into question.
For thousands of years, the religions of this world have sought to define the proper course for man, and they have shared many similar beliefs, since in fact, all roads to higher consciousness must inevitably have similar qualities. So we see from the oldest of times things like the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Its sublime wisdom is just as accurate today as it was twenty thousand years ago. Other rules and commandments are just as wise, such as: "Thou shalt not kill, or thou shalt not steal." Common sense dictates that these rules are probably good, but many would, and still do, try to break these simple rules, for their own individual reasons.
Logic demands that we live by certain codes so that we may maximize our personal growth. Utmost among all the rules is the simple golden rule listed above, for by treating others as we would have them treat us, we do not rob or cheat or murder. We do not surreptitiously steal from our neighbor, nor do we covet his wife. We do not commit any acts that we would not want committed against ourselves. By respecting the rights of the individual, we guarantee our own positive growth to higher levels of consciousness, where we can obtain the most satisfaction and understanding from life.
Thus, we can easily see that we arrive at at a preordained system of laws that preexist in the universe for all intelligent life. This is the nature of consciousness. Intelligent, conscious beings must assimilate, order, and integrate knowledge about their environments in order to evolve to higher levels of consciousness. All things that promote that organic growth while simultaneously respecting the rights of all other sentient individuals are good. But those things that interfere with such growth are evil. This is an amoralistic definition of good and evil, and it is a universal law that cannot be ignored without consequence. It is independent of all religions and places no judgments on human behavior other than that all individuals must respect the rights of others.
It is a deceptively simple principle, but it is sound, and no person can become their best without its application. This simple summary of a much more detailed treatise, is all one needs to understand the concept of amoralistic good and evil.
"Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you."