How were we to have pleasure without pain?


If humanity was meant to spend eternity with God, but original sin ruined it, IE was not part of the plan, how were humans to remain in a pleasurable state having never known pain?


Do you mean how is it possible to experience good without experiencing evil?

God is Good, so without sin everything is as it should be. Evil is just choosing a lesser good than the good that should have been chosen.


Yes, thats what I mean, in less words.
But if we never choose anything besides “perfect good” so to speak, IE not sinning, if there is no good less than another good, how will we experience pleasure? Or could it be that at some point in Eden they experienced pain in order to have something to compare pleasure to?


I don’t think good and evil are polar concepts. That would be a bit dualistic. Goodness is fundamental since God himself is goodness itself, while evil is simply a corruption of good. Thus, evil is not necessary. Pleasure is one good, but there are other goods as well. Basically, our experience of good does not depend on any experience of evil.

However, God does bring greater good out of evil. This is the sense of the felix culpa, the “happy fault” of original sin that merited for us so great a Redeemer.


If someone was born in great pain and never left it, would they not know that it was bad? They have pain receptors and so something tells them…OUCH!!! Just as this, I’m thinking we had goodness-perceptors in Eden. Eden wasn’t boring. That’s what I think you’re saying. You still FEEL good because of God, even if you never FEEL evil because of sin.


It was originally intended that they would be admited to the Beatific Vision. That is, of course, perfect bliss.


I think the necessity of evil or pain is a big myth. The experience of pain is not necessary to know pleasure. All that’s necessary is a range of experience that includes pleasure. From neutral or just comfortable you can recognize pleasure. You don’t have to have known starvation, or even high hunger, to enjoy a big spoon of your favorite ice crème. A diet consisting of almost all ice crème might blunt your appreciation for the stuff, but not for long. :slight_smile:


Yes, I think those answers make pretty decent sense. But I was thinking perhaps in Heaven, we would have been allowed some sort of pain to have something to compare it to, if we need to feel pain to feel pleasure. I’ve been reading about the Christian (and ancient) concept of happiness, which is a sort of “goodness” of the soul, an interior peace and joy, as opposed to happiness brought on by music or winning the Super Bowl. This sort of happiness can include suffering, since suffering only effects “exterior” happiness.

Would saying there might be a bit of pain in Heaven be heretical?


One of the perfections that those in Heaven have is impassibility, that is, the inability to suffer. This includes spiritual suffering as well as sensual suffering after the resurrection of the body.

I still think that saying pain is necessary for comparison to experience pleasure is dualistic since pain is an effect of original sin. In other words, there are not two gods: a good god and an evil god. God is good and he did not create evil. If goodness can exist without evil, then pleasure (a natural good) can exist without pain (a natural evil).


Pain and pleasure are only part of Laetus. The lowest level of happiness. To read a short description of the 4 levels taught by Aquinas go to


So then if we felt a “lesser pleasure” we could then appreciate greater pleasure?


Yep, all experiences are not equal intensity or the same type. The level of pleasure or enjoyments is relative, but the extreme opposite (pain) is not necessary to know differences between different levels of pleasure or neutral and pleasure.


I have pondered this too but from a slightly different perspective.
From my understanding we will live a life of service of some sort in Heaven.

In this life on earth we receive most of our pleasures (our morally acceptable pleasures) from helping others and from certain life successes. In other words we feel good about a good days work, assisting others in need.

If we will not need to work to survive, if we will not be able to fail, how can we possibly get satisfaction from successes? Of what will we be happy? In this world, when we look back on our most joyous moments, that are all moments that will likely not be possible in the heaven we understand.

–We get a good grade on a test.
we measure this in a competitive measure i.e. how we compare to others. It implies we could have done poorly.

–We get a good job.
This implies there are bad jobs.

–We get a good raise because we did a good job.
This implies we could have done a poor job.

–We save a person from a burning building.
There are no burning buildings in heaven.

I really can’t envision anything “good” without a “bad” counterpart.

Can you?


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