Monday, 28 July 2014

Is God the Cause of Evil?

A Short Lecture on the Sentences - Book One, Distinction XLVI, Chapter 3
''Whether evils things are done by God's will or against His will''

It is of divine faith that we assert that nothing can come to pass unless God positively ordains it or at least permits it. One may marvel at God's providence concerning both the lowliest creature to the structuring of the galaxy but the matter of evil and God's acceptance at least of it is an opaque mystery in itself and is much more challenging for the mind to grasp.
 Like many theological issues, the Church has set out for us clear parameters to guide the study of special dogmatics to a deeper comprehension of the sacred mysteries. Our two bounderies are the following:

1) All is under the dominion of God. Nothing can escape His providence
2) God can in no way be considered the author of evil.

These two articles are irreducible and it is forbidden for the Catholic theologian of sound mind to go beyond these parameters.

All that occurs in creation can not be contrary to the will of God
Evil is evidently present in creation
Therefore God is in some way responsible for evil.

I distinguish the major. If we are to assert that nothing created can violate the decrees of divine providence, I concede. If we are to state that deficient actions as regards the deficiency are proximately caused by divine premotion, then I deny.
 Let the minor be granted.
 The conclusion is invalid due to the distinction given in the major.

 As the motor power in an animal is not responsible for the weakness in the leg causing it to limp, then neither is God responsible for the malice in the human will. It is out with the proper and adequate object of God's will to love and cause evil. The ''physical'' and ''positive'' act must be caused by God, otherwise the human will would remain totally indifferent and paralysed in potentiality. All thoughts and actions, however great or small, are subject to the divine will. God not only creates and upholds but He turns each intellect and will however He decrees. The most excellent part of man, created in the image of God, is entirely subject to Him. This is a universal truth admitting of no exception. It is also true that God can convert all wills unto Himself, purifying all deficiencies and overcoming all obstacles by His efficacious will. As the Divine Apostle says, ''Who  shall resist His will?'' (Romans, 9:9)There is no simultaneous concurrence as the Molinists assert, where God is dependent on the consent of His creatures and His will is practically equal in weight to theirs. The human will is subordinated to the divine decree which moves man to his natural end (which He intimately knows as He is the author of human nature) sweetly, powerfully and yet without violence.Why this does not occur in the majority of instances is a mystery to be revealed only to the blessed in their glory. For now, let us state with St. Augustine of Hippo, that God saw it more fitting that evil should exist so that good may come out of than that no evil should exist at all.

 God must not be seen as a benevolent passive player in the drama of human existence. We must proclaim His lordship over all creatures and all acts, instead of relegating Him to some helpful but limited anthropomorphized agent. It is in some sense good that evils are done, not in themselves as they grievously offend God, but rather they are conducive to the perseverance of the saints and the greater humility of the penitents. The experience of wickedness may turn man to God in pursuit of justice and holiness.

 In conclusion:

1) God is the Creator and sustainer of all that is.
2) All is subject to His providence and none can resist His will.
3) All that is good is positively ordained by Him.
4) What is evil, in its physical aspect is willed by Him
5) What is evil, in its deficient aspect is permitted by God for a higher purpose.

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