Every so often, I hear Christians (Catholics included) claim that God willed or at least passively allowed original sin because it allowed for Jesus to come and redeem us, and that redeemed humanity is actually far better than unfallen humanity would have been. This idea was brought to the forefront of my mind recently when I discovered That C.S. Lewis seems to tout this idea in his book Miricles. I have a great respect for Lewis, but I don’t know how this view can be accepted. I thought that God can not will that we sin, even to bring out a greater good. Furthermore, I have a difficult time accepting that the greatest possible good came about because of human sin. Thoughts?
I’m no expert, but defining “the greatest possible good” seems to be the problem. We only have the perspective of the fallen world and a limited perspective of those two that were originally without sin. What we know is that they existed in perfect union with one another and God. This was a very good state to be in, after all - God himself said it wasn’t good for man to be alone, so he created Eve. We don’t know how long they were in this state before the event with the serpent, but it could have been a long time. At this time, there is no need for a redeemer. These two were an image for us to emulate in our sacramental marriages.
The whole thing boils down then to the mystery of divine providence and foreknowledge of the creation. Multiplication of creatures didn’t happen until after the fall, and Aquinas eluded to this idea. I believe that multiplication of creatures in the fullness of time through Christ will allow for the restoration of this perfect state through His bride. And from our perspective this does seem like the greater good, because it includes us. But clearly, the two sinless creatures in perfect union with one another and God is very good. Is one greater than the other? Can we separate the two and define one as good over the other without prejudice - knowing we are part of the later? So no, God did not cause the sin to allow for our perceived greater good, he just dealt with it appropriately.
Sin entered the world by our first parents. Last time I checked, sin has not left this world. Christ has redeemed the world, he did not bring it back to its former glory and perfection. But I’ll let others, who are far more learned in matters of theology, pitch in.
Fallen humanity is better off than it would have been had God prevented original sin. We are not however, better off than we would have been if we had chosen correctly.
According to our faith God cannot will sin/evil, but He can allow it to occur for His purposes, to bring an even greater good out of it. The greatest good is our Redeemer, through whose sacrifice man will be lifted to even higher heights from which he fell. Because of this the original sin of man is sometimes referred to as the “Felix Culpa” or “Blessed Fault”. From the catechism:
412 But why did God not prevent the first man from sinning? St. Leo the Great responds, "Christ’s inexpressible grace gave us blessings better than those the demon’s envy had taken away."307 And St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, "There is nothing to prevent human nature’s being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good. Thus St. Paul says, ‘Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more’; and the Exsultet sings, ‘O happy fault,. . . which gained for us so great a Redeemer!’"308
FELIX CULPA! oh happy fault! Meaning the bad sin of our parents brought about a greater good