Mystery of Evil

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milimac

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I still have a hard time coming to grips with how evil first came into the world. Yes, through free will. But what could possibly have caused the very first turning away from God? I can understand the story of Adam and Eve – Satan lies to them and plants the seed that causes them to disobey and not trust God. But what could possibly have caused Satan to turn away from God in the first place and thus tempt Adam and Eve? As the story goes, Satan was an angel, a pure spirit, who for some inexplicable reason, despite knowing the consequences of the choice to turn away from God, did so anyway – a permanent choice to be separated from God. Perhaps I give Satan too much credit. After all, if he had so much knowledge as angels do, did he really think separation from God would bring him some sort of lasting benefit?

If free will is a good given to us from God, will we ever lose it? Once in heaven, will it still be possible for us to turn away from God? I suspect not, but I can’t understand how evil came into this all-good creation, so I also have a hard time coming up with a convincing reason why not. Perhaps like so many Christian things, it’s a paradox. We actually become more free by losing our ability or desire to ever choose anything but God. But why hasn’t it always been like that from when God first created the angels and then later, man?

Obviously I have too much time on my hands this evening, but I welcome your comments.
 
I am not sure how much I can help, but I’ll try. First, when you die, your will becomes fixed, either for God (heaven) or not (hell), so you cannot turn away from God after death.

As far as why Satan turned, we can only speculate. I have heard many times that the reason was that man was to have a closer relationship with God than the angels. Lucifer was supposed to be the most beautiful of all angels, yet God had stated that the second person of the Trinity was to take on human form. Even before we had a need for salvation, God saught the special union with us. Another that I had heard was that Lucifer, taken by his own grandure, felt that he should not be subject to God, but equal to God. Yes, Lucifer would have had to have known what would happen, but he may not have been able to subjugate his desires to fit God’s commands. There are many other possible reasons for the fall. Two important things. First, once an angel decides, it is decided. There is no going back. Second, once Lucifer fell, it makes since from a human perspective that he would do all he could to mess up God’s plan. Yes, he knows he cannot win, but he still tries.

I hope this helps a little. I’ll try again if not.
 
Once in heaven or in hell there is no more choosing on the subject on wheter or not to chose God. PS. Are you planing an easy out just incase you don’t like the decor in heaven? 😛
 
Tyler Smedley:
Once in heaven or in hell there is no more choosing on the subject on wheter or not to chose God. PS. Are you planing an easy out just incase you don’t like the decor in heaven? 😛
lol
No, but judging from the heated discussion in the Novus Ordo thread, sounds like it could be a problem for some of us. I have a feeling it won’t be the decor that grabs my undivided attention.
 
Satan for some reason did not like the creation of man and their relationship with God. In Genesis you see that his whole purpose was to alienate man from god or put a rift between them. Job 2 goes on to show this even better. Why Satan has this animosity towards man I do not know.

In Genesis Eve did not have a concept of Evil when talking to Satan so she was easily deceived. She did have an understanding of obedience and that is where Adam and Eve failed.
 
Why? Here’s as good a guess as any:

**Envy ** - jealous of Man and God’s relationship to Man.
**Gluttony ** - want God all to himself.
**Pride ** - No longer the most beautiful creature, most important creature…
**Anger ** - at being displaced
**Lust ** - for power
**Sloth ** - did not want to direct any effort to Man
**Avarice ** - wanted it all for himself

Or, you can see what St. Thomas said about it.
 
Well, I’m new here and I sent this somewhat lengthy post to you in reply, but it flew into the ether apparently. So, briefly, I wanted to make the point that St. Thomas Aquinas makes. And it is this-we must use as our starting point (as he does in the Summa Theologiae) first philosophy/theology. Because in so doing we prove the existence of God and many things (attributes and characteristics) which are true of Him. Only after we have done this, do we engage in theodicy. This way, theodicy will only be done in the light of already knowing that God necessarily exists and that certain things are true of Him (e.g., that He is goodness).

I know that doesn’t specifically help the various issues you raise, but it is more of a broad type of assistance.

Qu’est-ce que vouz pensez?
 
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Magnanimity:
Well, I’m new here and I sent this somewhat lengthy post to you in reply, but it flew into the ether apparently. So, briefly, I wanted to make the point that St. Thomas Aquinas makes. And it is this-we must use as our starting point (as he does in the Summa Theologiae) first philosophy/theology. Because in so doing we prove the existence of God and many things (attributes and characteristics) which are true of Him. Only after we have done this, do we engage in theodicy. This way, theodicy will only be done in the light of already knowing that God necessarily exists and that certain things are true of Him (e.g., that He is goodness).

I know that doesn’t specifically help the various issues you raise, but it is more of a broad type of assistance.

Qu’est-ce que vouz pensez?
Merci.
Thank you for the link to the Summa Theologica. I think it will be helpful.
 
Seems I recall that after our souls are purified and perfected and we enter Heaven, we could not turn away from God, Who is Perfection. Likewise, Satan never actually was in Heaven, or he could not have turned away.
 
milimac, <<<<But what could possibly have caused the very first turning away from God? >>>>> you asked!

I think the answer is Pride. Pride goes before the fall, and if a person makes an analysis their sins it is always Pride. The fallen angels fell because of Pride.

So a good question is where does Pride come from?
 
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milimac:
I still have a hard time coming to grips with how evil first came into the world. Yes, through free will. But what could possibly have caused the very first turning away from God? I can understand the story of Adam and Eve – Satan lies to them and plants the seed that causes them to disobey and not trust God. But what could possibly have caused Satan to turn away from God in the first place and thus tempt Adam and Eve? As the story goes, Satan was an angel, a pure spirit, who for some inexplicable reason, despite knowing the consequences of the choice to turn away from God, did so anyway – a permanent choice to be separated from God. Perhaps I give Satan too much credit. After all, if he had so much knowledge as angels do, did he really think separation from God would bring him some sort of lasting benefit?"

There are several lines of thought in regards to the origin of evil. My favorite, I have dubbed the Doughnut Theory of Evil 😃 It starts with Creation, God created the light, not the darkness. What is darkness? Could it be the absence of light? Sure. Then the absence of Good, or God, is Evil. God didn’t creat Evil or darkness, but allowed it’s possibilty so that we would have freedom. How’s this related to a Doughnut. Think of a Doughnut hole. Are you thinking about that round ball of calories? That isn’t actually a hole is it? No, if you order a dozen doughnut holes, then you are rerally ordering a dozen doughnuts, with a hole in them so that you get the HOLE! The absence of something that should be there. Check out Bernard Haring’s LAW OF CHRIST, A Moral Theology for Preist and Laity for a very good and detailed analysis.

"If free will is a good given to us from God, will we ever lose it? Once in heaven, will it still be possible for us to turn away from God? I suspect not, but I can’t understand how evil came into this all-good creation, so I also have a hard time coming up with a convincing reason why not. Perhaps like so many Christian things, it’s a paradox. We actually become more free by losing our ability or desire to ever choose anything but God. But why hasn’t it always been like that from when God first created the angels and then later, man?

Obviously I have too much time on my hands this evening, but I welcome your comments.
As far as the Angels go, that is tricky. To say Lucifer changed his mind, implys that any angel can. If we go down that road, then we can change our mind too if we go to heaven. So, did he change his mind? YES. How could he do something being in the presence of great truth and love. Something are meant to be mysterious. There are two types of mysteries, 1) Those to be solved (i.e. Sherlock Homes) and 2)those that are to be held in AWE, (i.e. The Annuciation, The Holy Trinity, etc…)
 
milimac,

Your first question is a good one, and I don’t think that anyone here has really answered it. What has been offered so far has only been speculation as to “why” Satan fell. No one has offered an explanation as to how iniquity could be found in a being of pure spirit supposedly created by a “perfect” and omnipotent god.

clarkal
 
Dismas2004 said:
As far as the Angels go, that is tricky. To say Lucifer changed his mind, implys that any angel can. If we go down that road, then we can change our mind too if we go to heaven. So, did he change his mind? YES. How could he do something being in the presence of great truth and love. Something are meant to be mysterious. There are two types of mysteries, 1) Those to be solved (i.e. Sherlock Homes) and 2)those that are to be held in AWE, (i.e. The Annuciation, The Holy Trinity, etc…)

One view is that during the time of Satan’s fall, the lines were drawn and the angels chose sides once and for all, like a mutiny of sorts.

And although free will is a good thing, there is nothing to say that lack of free will is necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. We would simply not have the option to sin in heaven. I think this would be a welcome relief! 🙂
 
More on the angels from St. Thomas:
newadvent.org/summa/106300.htm
newadvent.org/summa/106306.htm
I answer that, There is a twofold opinion on this point. But the more probable one, which is also more in harmony with the teachings of the Saints, is that the devil sinned at once after the first instant of his creation. This must be maintained if it be held that he elicited an act of free-will in the first instant of his creation, and that he was created in grace; as we have said (62, 3). For since the angels attain beatitude by one meritorious act, as was said above (62, 5), if the devil, created in grace, merited in the first instant, he would at once have received beatitude after that first instant, if he had not placed an impediment by sinning.
If, however, it be contended that the angel was not created in grace, or that he could not elicit an act of free-will in the first instant, then there is nothing to prevent some interval being interposed between his creation and fall.
 
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milimac:
I still have a hard time coming to grips with how evil first came into the world. Yes, through free will. But what could possibly have caused the very first turning away from God?
It was more than just Satan’s lies. There was lousy catechesis and a cowardly husband as well.

– Mark L. Chance.
 
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clarkal:
milimac,

Your first question is a good one, and I don’t think that anyone here has really answered it. What has been offered so far has only been speculation as to “why” Satan fell. No one has offered an explanation as to how iniquity could be found in a being of pure spirit supposedly created by a “perfect” and omnipotent god.

clarkal
Dear clarkal and milimac,

I don’t know “why” but I’ll gladly make up an explanation as to how because I just got some really bizarre ideas based somewhat on the ying/yang theory, or if you prefer the cataphatic/apophatic dichotomy. Dismas2004’s ideas were a teeny bit along these lines. (of course I have no real clue what I just wrote but that won’t stop me)

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters. God found this exceedingly boring. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw how good the light was. God then separated the light from the darkness. He said, “that is way more interesting now that there is some variety. First it’s this way, then it’s that. The difference is like day and night.”

Then God thought, “gee, I wonder what else I can liven up around here. Hey I know, Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters, to separate one body of water from the other.” And so it happened: God made the dome, and it separated the water above the dome from the water below it.

Then God said, “this is way more like it. Everything was just too similar. What else can I divide up into opposite sides? Oh, I know. Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin, so that the dry land may appear.” And so it happened: the water under the sky was gathered into its basin, and the dry land appeared. God called the dry land “the earth,” and the basin of the water he called “the sea.” God saw how good it was.

God said, “you know what? It’s been like all this time I’ve just been floating around in some boring universe waiting for it to be born. This variety thing is great. I think I’ll even make things that take minerals and light and water and land and have them bloom into all sorts of things.”

Anyway, He kept doing stuff like this for a few more days (or was that a few thousand years – at this point there weren’t any people to invent a language to define what “day” meant). God found that making distinctions made life a lot less boring. No more same ol’ same ol’ for all of eternity.

And God made man and all that. Then He said, “aha, again I want to make opposites that attract. I’ll make a woman…” anyway, we all know this part, but what about sin? There was good and all, but still a bit boring because even though man had free will, God had made everything so good that things were running smoothly without Him, so God rested. That was fine, for a while.

Finally God decided it was time to step it up a notch. He thought, “I’ve divided up materials, what about spirits?” Then he thought, “I know, I’ll call everything so far “good” and then put in this opposite called “evil” but this time instead of separating the opposites, I’ll let them get all mixed together. That should make things interesting, even for Me.”

(continued)
 
(continued from last post)

So God called his favorite angels Michael and Lucifer together and showed them His creation. They were in awe, especially with the man and woman who were perfectly obedient, and perfectly happy. Then God took an apple from the earth, cut it in half and said, "take this and eat, for this is my Spirit. I have divided it for you into two pieces. When you eat it, you will learn the difference between good and evil, but you won’t know what that means until well after this supper and you see how all this plays out in my new creation. Things are going to be a lot different around here, and you will experience something called ‘an emotional roller coaster’ but it’ll all work out in the end.

“You see, this man and woman are doing fine, but even though they are made in my image, they don’t have any of my spirit so I can’t really connect with them. Plus, they don’t even realize how good they have it because they don’t know it could be any other way. Therefore, for the sake of man, I want you to eat this apple, then once your eyes are open, I’ll let you go play in the garden with the man or the woman and I’m going to let you go. I’m actually going to let you two work together and handle the material aspects of this “earth” you seem to like so much. You will be amazed at even the things you do, but don’t worry. Just act naturally and I’ll handle the rest. Just one thing. That tree I got the apple from? I told the man not to eat from it, so he won’t be like us, in knowing the difference between good and evil”

They ate the apple and looked down at the earth. Immediately Lucifer was filled with grandiose thoughts. He thought, “hey, this is great. I know the difference between good and evil. I could run this whole place, and I could do a great job. I don’t need God or that other angel who doesn’t even have a mind of his own. I bet that man and woman would join me too in running the place. I know what I’ll do. I’ll introduce them to conflict, and they spirits will take on a mixture of good and evil.” Appearing to the woman as a serpent, Lucifer gave her a line she bought into because there were no apologetics in sight to help keep her straight about what is true.

Well, as we all know she got suckered into eating an apple from the forbidden tree. Suddenly she realized she’d made a boo-boo, a concept she’d never even thought of before because she never felt “not perfect” before. She felt scared, and very isolated because suddently she saw that she was different from the rest of creation, and quite a dish at that. Then she becamed embarrassed, grabbed a fig leaf, and ran to Adam to see if he could help her understand this “separated” feeling she had.

Adam looked at the woman, at the half-eaten apple, and looked up at the sky. “God, what do I do? I’ve always obeyed you and been with my wife, but she has gone where you forbade me to go.” He prayed about it, saying to himself, “obey God or go with the girl? Obey God or go with the girl?”

He knew God had put them together, and no man should ever separate, but this was quite a dilemma. How could he obey God and stay with the woman, when the woman was in a place God said not to go?

Finally he made up his mind. He chose to go with his wife, and until death they did not part.

Alan
 
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ralphinal:
Another that I had heard was that Lucifer, taken by his own grandure, felt that he should not be subject to God, but equal to God.
This can be said of man as well as angels. A person is an entity who can respond to the question “Who are you?” A person can say “I”. A non-person, such as a rock, or a tree, cannot.

Personhood, combined with free will, can lead to evil results when the person in question realizes that there is some Other Person above him who is greater, and must be obeyed. “Well, why should I?” “It’s my life. I’ll do what I want.” We say it, just as Satan said it, even knowing the consequences.

Why would anyone commit mortal sin knowing that it leads to eternal damnation? But we still do it, all the time.

To me, the sin of the angels is not really more mysterious than the sin of humans. But one theory I’ve heard is this: God created the angels (but did not immediately give them the beatific vision), then showed them Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, yet a human being. “This is my Beloved Son,” God commands, “worship him.”
“I will not serve,” replies Satan and the angels who followed him.

Don’t take that as fact. It’s only theological speculation.

But humans do the same all the time, saying “I will not serve,” even knowing their eternal fate hangs in the balance.
 
I personally don’t find the story of the fall of Lucifer and the other angels plausible. Well, at least how I understand it. Feel free to criticize.

OK, God is perfect divine being, and unless you are willing to admit that god created Lucifer imperfect, he was also a perfect being – a perfect creation with free will.

Now say Lucifer is just floating around and suddenly realizes that he is second in power to god and must obey him or face grave consequences. Of course, Lucifer realizes that it is his place as a creature to worship the almighty creator. He realizes that it is the right thing to do and that worship is rightly due to the almighty creator. And He realizes and understands these things in greater depth than any human mind could. He is a pure spirit with infused divine knowledge and a tremendous intellect.

But Lucifer, the perfect angel, suddenly has a negative reaction to the idea of “worshipping” or “obeying” this divine creator. He basically has an angelic hissy fit.

Now I can certainly imagine this being the reaction of a human being with free will and a fallen human nature, but not the reaction of a “perfect” angel with infused divine knowledge and a tremendous intellect. For Lucifer to react in this manner would be “less” than perfect, no matter how much “personhood” or “free will” he possessed.

clarkal
 
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clarkal:
OK, God is perfect divine being, and unless you are willing to admit that god created Lucifer imperfect, he was also a perfect being – a perfect creation with free will… . . .

Now I can certainly imagine this being the reaction of a human being with free will and a fallen human nature, but not the reaction of a “perfect” angel with infused divine knowledge and a tremendous intellect. For Lucifer to react in this manner would be “less” than perfect, no matter how much “personhood” or “free will” he possessed.
But keep in mind that Adam and Eve did NOT have a fallen human nature before they sinned. They were “perfect” human beings, without concupiscience, and without being inclined to evil, and also having the preternatural gifts. So you have the same problem trying to explain their sin, since at that time they were not inclined to do evil. They only had to obey a command of God, as did the angels. What reason was there for them to give in to temptation?

Well, what was Satan’s temptation to them? If you eat of the fruit of the (forbidden) tree, “you shall be like gods.” Sounds pretty similar to what might tempt Satan himself.
 
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