Why does evil/sin exist?


#1

Greeting brothers and sisters in Christ.

An another discussion board the subject of sin came up. The poster
basically said that since God created the world and allowed sin to exist, that God is responsible for all the evil in the world. Of course God is not responsible but my question is why did God allow evil to exist? Since God is only concerned with what’s best for us, why are we born with a tendency to sin, i.e. why does original sin exist? Is life on earth basically a big test to see whether we favour God’s will or our own? Does God allow sin because it gives Him and us greater glory when we suceed in fighting against sin? Does the Church understand the reason for the existence for sin or is it a mystery?

So many questions! :slight_smile:

God bless,
Noel.


#2

See this from the AAA forum: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=151384

~Liza


#3

Thanks Lizaanne, I read the post but it doesn’t appear to be relevant to my questions. It also says that God didn’t create Hell. That’s news to me.

God bless,
Noel.


#4

Let me see if I can help:

God gave us the gift of free will, so that a) we can more closely resemble Him and b) our love for him would be a result of our choice. Without free will, we are automatons who do precisely what we are told. Unfortunately, if we have the ability to choose God, we also have the ability to choose “not God” – i.e., sin.

Since God is only concerned with what’s best for us, why are we born with a tendency to sin, i.e. why does original sin exist?

Because we have complete freedom of will but are not perfect, we have always been able to sin. If God made it impossible for us to sin, that would in essence be the same as revoking our free will.

Is life on earth basically a big test to see whether we favour God’s will or our own?

Somewhat, but a better way to put it might be this: that our life on earth is an opportunity to seek and do God’s will out of love for Him.

Does God allow sin because it gives Him and us greater glory when we suceed in fighting against sin?

I think he “allows” it so that our love for him has meaning. It does, indeed, give him glory when we fight against it, for it is only through his grace that we are able ultimately to defeat sin.

Does the Church understand the reason for the existence for sin or is it a mystery?

Here are some passages from the Catechism that deal with the topic of sin.

Peace,
Dante


#5

Those who do not base their lives on a principle of religion attempt to erect a standard of conduct based on the attainment of some purpose in life: wealth, domestic happiness, scientific discovery, social service, philanthropy, or any other worthy object. It is worth while insisting that a false idea of the purpose of human existence, by which we understand that which constitutes the final perfection and happiness of man, must inevitably lead to a false idea of the meaning of human evil or sin. It will be conceived by the humanitarian as an offense against humanity, by the materialist as a kind of disease, by the cynic as a breach of established conventions. The very worst thing one might say about it would be that it is inconsistent with the dignity of the rational being. But once granted that God is the end or purpose of human life, the true idea of sin becomes apparent. It is an offense against God.

The Catholic doctrine on sin and repentance has, for this reason, a more immediate and personal application to the individual than any other doctrine. For the sinner does not hurt the immutable God; he only hurts himself by turning away from his Creator to things created. He introduces into his own being disorder and discord, and, unless he repents, he will remain for ever separated from God. Having failed to attain the only purpose of his existence, he is like a barren tree that is fit for nothing but to be burnt.

Cardinal Newman tells us, in one place, how the doctrine of final perseverance brought home to his mind the existence of two luminously self evident beings: himself and his Creator. It is uniquely from the point of view of the relation between God and the individual soul that we should think about sin, not regarding it as something which brings poverty and misery into the world in general, but as a supreme evil which impoverishes a human soul by averting it from God.


#6

One big answer… FREE WILL.

Let’s imagine a world with NO sin… as God had created it…
Would God have truly been all-loving if He denied the gift of free will? Free will must exist if God is all-loving… otherwise He would have been holding back (ie having control over) His creatures…
Free will must first exist.

Okay… now to the fall. This began with the fall of Lucifer. He had a free will choice to make… and he did just that. He chose to move away from his creator. Unfortunately he was a little bitter about the whole situation and decided to “get back” at God by tempting His human creatures. Adam and Eve were his victims. As human descendants of Adam and Eve we inherit their original sin… it is a mark upon humanity… deep in our DNA.

God created under His own rules… and those rules require free will. Going back on that promise would mean He isn’t all-loving. But God had nothing to do with the sin that entered the world. He wanted NOTHING to do with it. He wants us to have nothing to do with it. He wants us to be reborn into His grace. Our lives are not a “test” or a “game”… they are a gift! God gave us this wonderful gift of life to ENJOY!.. in love, not sin.


#7

Thanks Emily for your reply. I understand that free-will is necessary. If I were to clarify my question, I would ask why does original sin exist? Adam was created without original sin. So why do his descendants inherit OS? I’m sure God has a very good reason for this but it seems like the odds are stacked against us from the start because of our proclivity to sin. It’s really the original sin bit that I don’t understand. So does the Church know why we inherit OS or is it a mystery?

God bless,
Noel.


#8

That’s a question I’ve pondered myself a lot… like “what did WE do wrong to deserve the OS that Adam and Eve caused??”…

My tendency is to trust the Church and try to find explanations that make sense… so my thoughts here may be totally speculative… (my little caveat :wink: ). Anyone please correct me if I’m wrong…

My thoughts are…
Somehow this “original sin” of eating the “fruit of knowledge”… I truly correlate it to something like doing DRUGS.
(ie… “fruit of knowledge” sounds a lot like something that could be considered “mind expanding”… think 60s flower power… Are ya with me?).

Drugs can be pretty damaging to your DNA, right?
God would have to intervene, going against the laws of life that He already set into motion, to correct this damage done to Adam and Eve’s DNA.
(He DID intervene with Mary so that Jesus could be born into a perfect womb)…
DNA is inherited… we can’t help that. God set those laws of life into motion and correcting that would go against His original creation…

Does that make sense? Sometimes I have to put these things into thoughts I can understand…
Again… this is my totally speculative understanding that seems to jive with the teachings of the Church…

HTH…


#9

Grace & Peace!

Aside from the “free will” answer, there is also a more existential/ontological explanation: we are not God.

Our being (such as it is) is not characterized by being-in-itself, but by contingency and becoming. We exist in order to become, and those things in us which are positive aspects of being are not self-generated, but come to us from outside ourselves. What we are, what we’re made of, is a mixture of dust and the Divine breath, nothing and Something. When we were made, our relationship with God so characterized our beings that the nothingness in us was virtual. When we sinned, we made the choice to prefer that nothingness to God. We fell into the nothing-abyss of our created nature by prefering it to our relationship with God. We have attempted to build a world out of nothing and in a vacuum ever since.

Our nature is not at fault here. Original sin is a defect of the will which wounds our nature, obscures it. God created nothing evil–our choice was at fault. And due to the way we were made, we were capable of making this choice. And due to the way we were made, we were (and are) capable of love. It is being a Creature which makes us Other-Than-God. It is being a Creature which allows us to become Lovers of God. It is in loving God that our creaturliness is eclipsed (though not destroyed–if it were, we would be annihilated!) by God’s being, and we grow, through becoming, into the likeness of God in Christ. We will never “be God” in this identification, but in Christ, we “become God” through union and theosis.

We are Creatures because God loves us and wanted to share his being, his love, with another. The divine Love is overflowing. It is because of that overflowing Love that we are. Because we are Creatures, somewhere between non-existence and Being, we were given the ability to choose whether we wanted the nothing in us or the Fullness of God. It is in that choice that evil arises. And that evil, because it is a choice to prefer nothingness, has no positive existence–it is, in fact, a decision on our part, to move away from being, from fullness, and into nothingness. It is an act of destruction–that is, the willful removal of ourselves from being. That’s what sin is. It is not a positive force. It does not have being. It is parasitical and obscures the good.

It’s not a test–it’s a gift. God isn’t some experimental scientist testing responses. Our life is a gift in which we learn how to give. What do we give? Anything and everything we can–including (and especially) ourselves. The more we cling to ourselves, the more we fall into sin–because what, in us, can we call ours? Only our own emptiness which begs not to be the object of our contemplation and worship (which is what happens in sin), but begs to be filled be God’s overwhelming presence.

God’s glory does not increase or decrease. Sin is allowed because it is a consequence of our poor choices, because it arises out of the radical possibility of Love (which possibility is central to who we are, what we are) which, because it requires willing assent, active submission, must therefore also risk rejection and scorn.

The church understands sin! It is not a mystery–or rather, it is only a mystery insofar as it is baffling why we choose it over God. It’s nature is no mystery. It’s nature is nothingness and death.

Under the Mercy,
Mark

Deo Gratias!


#10

No. Drug abuse can screw you over in a variety of ways, but modifying your actual genetic code is right out.

God would have to intervene, going against the laws of life that He already set into motion, to correct this damage done to Adam and Eve’s DNA.
(He DID intervene with Mary so that Jesus could be born into a perfect womb)…
DNA is inherited… we can’t help that. God set those laws of life into motion and correcting that would go against His original creation…

The idea that original sin is ingrained in our DNA is frankly rather silly. You have the doctrine of an immortal soul, put it to use! :wink:

The Old Testament in general was pretty big on descendants paying for their ancestors’ misdeeds. Original sin is just an extension of that.

I think perhaps to call it ‘sin’ is misleading. Technically true, of course, but it carries with it the connotation that it’s our fault. It might help to say instead that our natural imperfect state is that in which we are free to choose good or evil, and that the so-called original sin was simply the first exercise of that freedom to break away.


nkelly: the Problem of Evil, as it’s called, can get rather tough. It would seem to show that God lacks either omnibenevolence or omnipotence. The usual answer is that God’s love is so perfect that he will allow us to choose to reject it. It does leave the problem, however, of omnipresence: if we reject God, where can we go to escape him (as Jonah found out)? Hell is supposedly the absence of God, yet it is impossible if one considers the deity omnipresent.


#11

Not exactly.
I’m no expert here, but I do know how to google “marijuana DNA damage”…
If your DNA can be damaged by sun exposure or cigarette smoking (hence skin and lung cancer), it’s definitely possible for illicit drugs to cause DNA damage.

Why is that silly? :confused:
Scientifically, what is inherited from generation to generation?
You don’t inherit your parents’ soul… you inherit their human DNA.
How else can we be “linked” to Adam and Eve…
We didn’t inherit their souls…

My point is that (at least in my crazy mind) this at least is an explanation for why we’ve inherited this “original sin”… which I think was the original poster’s question…

We, as humans, were NOT naturally imperfect until the fall of Adam and Eve. Human sin did not exist until then.

Not a perfect analogy, but not silly either… :rolleyes:


#12

Sorry, I think I misread you :o DNA damage and degradation occur naturally – apoptosis or cell death happens all the time. And everything gives you cancer. Drug use can certainly affect you that way, but the downsides that make it more dangerous than, say, eating, come from its effects on the body as a whole rather than on the DNA contained in individual cells: addiction, overdose, psychosis, et cetera.

Why is that silly? :confused:
Scientifically, what is inherited from generation to generation?
You don’t inherit your parents’ soul… you inherit their human DNA.
How else can we be “linked” to Adam and Eve…
We didn’t inherit their souls…

Not my call (I don’t believe in a soul at all) but I find it hard to believe that one’s spiritual position is dependent on genetics – unless, of course, one is a Calvinist or otherwise denies free will. If DNA determines state of grace, moral culpability flies out the window.


#13

I said nothing about DNA determining our state of grace whatsoever.
I mentioned it as the linking factor that is inherited from generation to generation.
Each and every soul is unique, and each and every one of us can be baptized to free us from that original sin… but of course we’re still burdened by our “damaged” humanity, which is a tendency to sin. We have the free will to choose good or evil in every situation… falling victim to or overcoming our damaged humanity.


#14

Man was created without original sin, because original sin hadn’t “originated” yet.

Why do WE deserve to “suffer” for our first parents sin?

That first sin caused an irrevocable “change” in the very being of man, just as a sudden realization “changes” you such that your “bell can’t be un-rung” and you can’t un-realize a realization.

The change was one where we now had to go the LONG way around to understand WHY the sin (the realization) was what it was, and not a simple matter of our being “cured” of it.

(( EDIT: Many “atheistic” arguments against God’s existence are basically that the universe isn’t “perfect”, ie “no suffering exists”, and since because God is omnipotent He could “fix it” but doesn’t, He is either sadistic or nonexistent, which is simply answered by stating that God is teaching us our needed lessons in the best way possible, which is not necessarily “pleasant”. ))

What was it about the sin (the “why” of it) that we needed to understand? Why did we have to take the LONG way around to come to this understanding?

The Commandments answer the “what” of what we are to learn.

Actually trying to DO the Commandments SHOULD teach the “why” of what we need to learn.

The fact that it’s a really long and drawn out EXPERIENTIAL lesson, which can’t be “taught” in one lifetime, is why all the decendants of our first parents are affected.

The Church, the People of God, The Communion of Saints, are a community, and She is the “being” that is doing the learning.

We are each to do our part.

I’m sure God has a very good reason for this but it seems like the odds are stacked against us from the start because of our proclivity to sin. It’s really the original sin bit that I don’t understand. So does the Church know why we inherit OS or is it a mystery?

God bless,
Noel.

CCC: Original Sin Search

:slight_smile:

Mahalo ke Akua…!
E pili mau na pomaikai iaoe. Aloha nui.


#15

It seems that many people are baffled by the idea of Original Sin. Especially me.
Periodically I come up with “off the wall” ideas to explain it to myself. This is the current one.

We are Angels (Souls), but we are the ones who followed Lucifer. (Original Sin).
We all chose to reject God and thereby chose to be banished from the Beatific Vision. (In the prayer “The Hail Holy Queen”, we are referred to as the “poor banished children of Eve”.) Therefore, we cannot lay OS on our “original parents”. We are each culpable.

God’s plan was to give the angels a second chance by becoming one of us and personally showing how we can re-unite with the Father. His plan was creation, the universe
the planet earth and humankind. Creation is where God cast Lucifer. Jesus refers to Lucifer as the prince of this world.

Mary, an “unfallen angel”, volunteered to be the vehicle for God to enter into his creation. Mary did not commit the original sin, maybe that could explain the “Immaculate Conception” as well.

I have wondered why God would create two types of beings with free will anyway.

Just some wild thoughts!

Thanks,


#16

Scripture and tradition firmly tell us that creation is good. This I think, is also evident from the awesome beauty of creation, from the Earth to the majestic spiral galaxies and superclusters Astronomers find in the cosmos. Creation is not evil, and neither is any creature, in so far as their being created by God is concerned. As the Wisdom of Solomon says: God made all things that they might be, and he did not wish any to taste death. Therefore it is wrong to say God creates evil or weaves it into the material of creation, or God creates evil to glorify himself.

Humans were not made to choose evil, but rather to participate in the divine life of God by seeing God. As St Iranaeus puts it, the glory of God is man truely alive and living, and the glory of man is the vision of God. However by wrongly using their free choice, Adam and Eve (representing humanity at the beginning) obviously chose somehow to reject this awesome grace God had offered them, and in doing so lost both their original state of holiness and justice and also the ability to partake in the life and vision of God in a natural way as God had initally planned. The problem of evil then arises from the misguided use by humans and angels of their free will; whereas God has originally created both sets of creatures out of boundless love and goodness and freely offered and willed them to participate in the divine goodness and love; this is also the life (according to Gregory of Nyssa) God wills for every person born into existence.

Unfortunately choice also implies the possibility of rejection. Humans can reject God’s grace, especially because the sin of Adam and Eve has weakened our capacity (original sin) to turn to what is good and right. Yet the capacity is not destroyed and humans can still turn to what is good and to the divine life, provided they entrust themselves to God’s mercy and grace.

Evil and sin therefore do not exist because God wants evil and sin to exist, though these things do show God’s awesome mercy and compassion and grace all the more in spite of their existence.


#17

Unfortunately choice also implies the possibility of rejection. Humans can reject God’s grace, especially because the sin of Adam and Eve has weakened our capacity (original sin) to turn to what is good and right.

It seems quite simple. The choice is between an all-good, all-loving, all-powerful God (with eternal bliss and happiness and the company of billions of other creatures) or evil (and death, pain, and loneliness).

What rational human being of sound mind, if given the dilemma clearly, would choose death over God? No one would.

Why doesn’t God make the choice clear, then? Why doesn’t he reveal himself clearly for everyone to see?

Of course, you’ll say that God did so in Jesus. But even then, you’ll agree that Jesus kept it quite secret. It was only after Jesus that believers reflected back and came to the understanding that Jesus was God. Now, two thousand years later, where is God? Why doesn’t he show himself and make his presence obvious?

An all-good, all-loving fatherly God would.

It because we’re supposed to have faith. We’re supposed to believe in Christianity even though God is quite distant. “Blessed are those who do not see but believe.” The point being that God wants us to see if we would choose his love freely even though he’s not quite obvious. But that’s silly. Actually, it’s neglectful. Would a human father, wanting to see if his children would love him freely go away for a few years? No, of course not. That would be horribly neglectful and the father would probably be put in jail.

How is God any different?

“Free Will” does not answer the problem of evil.

I can buy that God gave human beings free will. But I don’t buy that he does everything he can to help human beings make the right choice. While I understand the human father allowing his children to make mistakes every now and then - there are certain points where the mistake the child is making is too dangerous/harmful to justify the father staying out of it. A human father wouldn’t let his child make the mistake of getting into the gun cabinet - but God has… And much worse. We got into the gun cabinet and the gas chambers and the mine fields and much, much worse. There comes a point where the good father has to step in and set the kid right.

Humanity is far beyond that point. And God has stayed silent and distant.

It’s time we stop relying on God to solve our problems. It’s time to stop asking him for help and start helping eachother.

I think he “allows” it so that our love for him has meaning. It does, indeed, give him glory when we fight against it, for it is only through his grace that we are able ultimately to defeat sin.

It takes horrible, destructive, gratitous evil to give a Christian’s faith meaning? Are you serious? So the Holocaust was “allowed” by God so that Christians could love God a little bit better. Do you see how selfish that makes God sound?


#18

Hello Mark, thanks for taking the time to reply. When you used the word “nothingness”, you got me thinking. If we accept that all goodness comes from God and that our natural inclination (without God’s grace) is to sin, then I suspect that original sin is not so much a negative something as a lack of God’s grace. Maybe original sin is a bit of a misnomer. Maybe it should be called original emptiness or somesuch? Without God’s sanctifying grace, we are dead, we are nothing. So original sin isn’t a burden but rather a state of lacking grace. Does this make sense?

God bless,
Noel.


#19

Emily, I think you’re a bit off the mark with your DNA theory. Do you think baptism make a physical change in DNA given that baptism erases original sin.
I don’t believe original sin is a physical defect. It’s a spiritual state in which we lack holiness and justification.

God bless,
Noel.


#20

Hello Pax, you got that much right. You think we were once angels and then became human?? That is a bit wild and probably heretical!


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