What Causes Evil?


After the nature of Christ, the largest cause of heresy and schism seems to me to be the cause of evil in the world.

So which of the following options would you select as the best explanation of the agent(s) which causes evil to exist:

A. God
B. Satan
C. Man
D. God and Satan
E. God and Man
F. Satan and Man
G. God, Satan, and Man
H. None of the above (explain below)


It was one man: Adam. Sin causes all evil.

The consequences of Adam’s sin for humanity

CCC 402 All men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as St. Paul affirms: “By one man’s disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners”: “sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.” The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. “Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.”

CCC 403 Following St. Paul, the Church has always taught that the overwhelming misery which oppresses men and their inclination towards evil and death cannot be understood apart from their connection with Adam’s sin and the fact that he has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted, a sin which is the “death of the soul”. Because of this certainty of faith, the Church baptizes for the remission of sins even tiny infants who have not committed personal sin.

CCC 404 How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam “as one body of one man”. By this “unity of the human race” all men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as all are implicated in Christ’s justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state. It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called “sin” only in an analogical sense: it is a sin “contracted” and not “committed” - a state and not an act.

CCC 405 Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence". Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.

CCC 406 The Church’s teaching on the transmission of original sin was articulated more precisely in the fifth century, especially under the impulse of St. Augustine’s reflections against Pelagianism, and in the sixteenth century, in opposition to the Protestant Reformation. Pelagius held that man could, by the natural power of free will and without the necessary help of God’s grace, lead a morally good life; he thus reduced the influence of Adam’s fault to bad example. The first Protestant reformers, on the contrary, taught that original sin has radically perverted man and destroyed his freedom; they identified the sin inherited by each man with the tendency to evil (concupiscentia), which would be insurmountable. The Church pronounced on the meaning of the data of Revelation on original sin especially at the second Council of Orange (529)296 and at the Council of Trent (1546).


A. God

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. Isaiah 45:7

This is fun.

Next question . . . .


D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:

Ver. 7. Create evil, &c. The evils of afflictions and punishments, but not the evil of sin. (Challoner) — I afflict and comfort my people.


Evil is a privation of good. So evil does not exist.

Moral evil occurs when persons with free will knowingly choose acts that are contrary to the goodness of God and the goodness in Creation.

Satan and the other fallen angels do not cause moral evil in human persons, they can only attempt to influence. Other influences toward moral evil are original sin (concupiscence) and the personal sins of the individual and the world.


The Thomistic view, neatly summarized. I included “None of the above” to accommodate just such a perspective; although Thomists could also adopt the reading not in terms of positive causes of evil but in terms of what prevents good.


You responded A but did not vote in the poll.


**I chose the last answer. I don’t believe evil has a cause, or explanation of any kind; and IMO most evil in the world is done by human beings: which does not make us the cause of evil. **


Evil and all sin is the result of selfish desires.


I responded B because long before there was Adam, Satan fell from the sky like lightning.

But I am willing to listen to well-reasoned statements. :smiley:


In support of my answer: A.

Genesis 2:9

**God made **the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life, then God made man subject to vanity, but not of his own will (Romans 8:20).

Does God make men evil and cause evil to enter them?

I Samuel 16:14-16, 24

Four times God says, “An evil spirit from the Lord entered Saul.”

I Samuel 18:10

The evil spirit from God entered Saul.



From the DR:

14 But the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him. 15 And the servants of Saul said to him: Behold now an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.

14 “From the Lord”… An evil spirit, by divine permission, and for his punishment, either possessed or obsessed him.


I can post at least a dozen Biblical citations of God creates\bringing evil. For instance:

I Kings 21:29

“Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days, {but} I will bring the evil upon his house in his son’s days.”

Isn’t light equated with Truth and sin equated with darkness throughout the Bible?

Eph. 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light

Who created the darkness (sin)?

Isaiah 45:7

I form light (Truth), and create darkness (sin): I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.


And in all those passages you can find the Christian teaching which explains the references being God’s ‘permission’ for the evil to occur, either for teaching, (limited) chastisement, ‘natural’ consequences to evil, etc.

Surely seems funny to see a catholic (I note you identify yourself with a small ‘c’) with a very ‘dualist’ picture of God. Wasn’t that an old heresy, to consider God a dual/ yin and yang, ‘maker of good AND evil’?

How do you reconcile this with the Genesis passages which say that God created all --sun, moon, stars, earth, seas, living creatures etc., and found it all good? Seems to contradict the idea that somewhere in there He decided to create ‘evil’ too. . .


The context is that because Saul listened to public opinion polls rather than the word of God through Samuel, God de-throned Saul.(1 Sam 15:24) and brought the evil spirit to him.


So … cause of fall of Adam was not from satan’s influence on man/woman ?

To the degree God created satan … and has allowed him to tempt man/woman ------------ God has ‘tolerated’ evil.

Still, God is Love … nothing evil in the Trinity. Indeed Christ has conquered death/evil … just the final judgment/punishment is being delayed to suit God’s purposes.


I prefer the actual context, not your interpretation.

Would you care to start a separate thread on Samuel? Might be an interesting avenue to explore and help us to avoid drive-by versifying here.

In short, a list of disparate verses is evidence of a sort, but very weak, as we know how easy it is to keyword search Scripture, pull verses from their proper context, and glue them together as though the whole were greater than the sum of its parts. People do that all the time.

A more compelling support for the notion that God is the author of evil is to explain the theology which lies behind it, and display how that theology is consistent with the whole of Scripture.

Since that’s a big thing, maybe a more detailed discussion of evil in Samuel would be worthwhile.


Aquinas’ view rather was that there is no positive source of evil—it is the absence of good, as darkness is the absence of light.

If God is the source of good, as Aquinas and most Christians believe, evil is therefore a consequence of free will turned against God—sin.

Thomists being rightly renowned for precision of language, I added the none of the above because they might be inclined to point out that evil has no positive cause; it results rather when we choose not to do God’s will (good).


Samuel an evil man ??

Mortal sin, if unconfessed, causes spiritual illness. A slow growing metastatic tumor on our souls.

Saul suffered from such. Still, Saul in certain instances did confess his wrongs … yet, his penance was great and he never fully recovered and gained God’s full favor.

Saul no doubt will be in the Kingdom. David loved him much and admired the first King til his death. Saul could be used as support of OSAS … IMO :slight_smile:

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