Forgive me if someone already asked the following question, I am new to this website. Also forgive my English writing.
I was thinking about the root of good and evil. I knew it’s from God’s will, but I was wondering something deeper, which could seem obvious to some. According to the Church, could we say that it’s the will of God itself that makes things good or evil? In other words, it’s not that God likes everything that is good and hates what is evil, but it’s that what God likes or hates MAKES things good or evil. Am I right? I’ve arrived to this conclusion by the exercise of reason, but before spreading it, I’d prefer to be sure I am in the right path.
No , you are not right. God made the world and saw it was all good.
Adam was created, eve next, then the Apple incident and disobedience . The fall, original sin. Evil came into the world. And sin. St Augustine tells us we are all born with good and with the potential for evil. It’s not God’s will. We have free will and can go towards the evil or towards God. Read St Augustine
Our Good nature can become corrupted by evil.
So good exists without God? It’s something that God follows but isn’t coming necessary from him?
God created good. Nothing can exist without God.
God has consigned all men to disobedience so He can have mercy on them.
The root of sin lies in the heart of man, not God.
Don’t commit the sin of finitude.
You are talking about God and good as though they are separate entities. God is goodness, and all that is good finds its origin in God. All evil is a deprivation of the good, a lack.
Thank you for you answers, they are appreciated.
I just read a little bit only to find out that sin (or evil) is the lack of God (St. Thomas Aquina). I accept therfore that evil hasn’t a “substance” like good does and I accept it is not created by God, but by the choice of man to stand away from God. My only interrogation is toward the nature of good itself.
Could we say that good comes from God Himself (not his will like I assumed earlier). Everything that “is God” is good like if good was an adjective to say “from God”? Does good exists from the moment (purely metaphorical) God exists?
This is exactly what I meant 1m ago while I was writing my answer (I accept my mistake on my very first assumption tho). Your comment is also really appreciated.
This would depend on your approach, and I don’t believe Catholics have any one approach favored as dogma. What you say sounds like Divine Command Theory of morality, but I don’t know if I can support it. It seems to be an anthropomorphism, an attempt to understand God by thinking of him as thinking and feeling and acting like we do (just a super powerful version of us).
I prefer the Thomist approach to the issue (named after Saint Thomas Aquinas), which understands evil as being a privation of some goodness that naturally belongs to a thing. So, for example, a triangle should be a closed figure with three straight sides, but a triangle drawn imperfectly is a triangle that lacks some goodness that naturally belongs to triangularity. Likewise, a golfer who is very bad at the game lacks lacks the skill of being a good golfer.
Neither of the above case are concerned with moral goodness or moral evil, of course. Morality only comes into play with the choices made by rational beings such as humans (or angels). When we make the choices consistent with our rational human nature, we make morally neutral or good choices. When we make choices contrary to our rational human nature, we make morally evil choices.
So there is moral evil when we fail to live up to our potential as rational beings. We lack, by our choices, some level of goodness that is consistent with the idea of humanity.
God wills that things act according to their nature, and in humans that entails having a voluntary will, and desires that we live up to the fullness of our nature. In doing so we more fully embrace our existence and become better similitudes of God and his perfect goodness.
But there are some deeper considerations here which I’ve only alluded to, such as the transcendental nature of ideas of being (existence), goodness, and truth, and these being convertible with each other, and that being an objective fact about our reality.
Existence is good.
I am not describing existence as good, I’m saying that existence is goodness and goodness is existence. A thing is good insofar as it exists, and a thing is good insofar as what it should be is actual.
God, as Subsistent Being itself, as Existence Itself, as Pure Act and not something that is being actualized by another and not lacking in any way, is therefore also Goodness Itself. Perfect Act is Perfect Goodness.
I understand this sounds like gobbledygook to people not yet familiar with what I’m saying, but that goes for any highly developed topic. Relevant topics of study:
- Universals and transcendentals
- Actuality and potentiality
- The real distinction between essence and existence
Thank you for your comment. It helped me a lot.
There is created being and good and there is essential or absolute Being and Good which pertains to God alone. As Wesrock noted, philosophically speaking, being and good are convertible terms and are really the same but differ only in idea. Whatever is or exists or is a being is good, and whatever is good is a being of some sort. As St Thomas Aquinas says, ‘the essence of goodness consists in this, that it is in some way desirable. Hence the philospher [Aristotle] says: Goodness is what all desire’. Goodness is an appetible desire. Although being and good are really the same, being is prior in idea to good and being and good differ in idea in that goodness presents the aspect of desirableness, which being does not present. Yet, nothing is desirable except being and being or existence itself is desirable.
Yes, evil is not a nature or essence. It is defined as the lack of being or goodness in a thing. Evil can only exist in good or being. In itself it is a non-being and thus does not exist. Since being and good are convertible terms, both ideas contain the other in some manner. For whatever is a being or exists is good in so far as it is a being. Goodness in itself does not exist without being because whatever exists is a being of some kind. The very idea of being is that something is or exists. Goodness naturally follows being.
Created being and goodness have their origin in God and created being and goodness are a participated likeness to God’s being and goodness which is essential Being and Goodness. Created being and goodness are not univocally the same as God’s uncreated Being and Goodness nor is it entirely different or equivocal but analogous. In St Thomas’ philosophy, this is called the analogy of being.
God’s will is the cause of created goodness just as He is the cause of created being. But, God is not the cause of moral evil or sin which is the lack of being and goodness in a human action that should be there. Moral evil is a defect of the use of the human free will. God is the cause of the being of an evil act but not that the evil act is defective and lacks being and goodness. God’s will is the cause of all things in creation and nothing can happen in creation apart from his will even moral evil or sin. But, God’s will in connection with moral evil is called his permissive will, i.e., God permits it as he created human beings with free will.
God is absolutely simple. So His will, although distinct from His essence in our minds, in in reality identical to His essence.
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