The origin and nature of evil. Central question for the next few weeks: what's wrong with us? Why does human life and action always fall so far short of the ideal? Diagnosing the problem is the crucial first step toward developing and carrying out solutions. 7 Theories.
1. Fallibilism (Aristotle). A certain amount of malfunctioning is inevitable in any concrete system. It is impossible for finite, material systems to perform flawlessly all the time. However, most of the time, human beings do quite well.
1. Human nature as created is wholly good-- its tendencies are the standard of goodness (for us)
2. Evil is wholly bad -- the privation or absence of a corresponding good.
3. There is a universal tendency toward evil among human beings, and this is not due to changeable social conditions.
1. Adam's sin is supposed to be the first in a series -- it propagated itself somehow.
2.How is this tendency toward sin transmitted to new generations?
3. How can we reconcile responsibility for evil with its inevitability?
Sees a self-perpetuating cycle:
1. Human death is unnatural -- the product of human sin. (God's judgment introduced death, in order to put a limit to the scope of human evil).
2. The fear of death is responsible for the universal tendency toward sin.
3.Only the hope for immortality can break the cycle.
1. Evil cannot be subsequent or parallel to the will, since then there would be no explanation of the universality of sin.
2. But, evil cannot precede the will either, since it must either be part of our nature or outside our nature.
1. Original sin is not merely an inherited condition, resulting from a historical fall.
2. All sin is the result of the exercise of human freedom.
3. Human nature is not nullified through sin.
4. Sin is a universal phenomenon.
5. Origin of sin is a mystery: "sin presupposes itself".
1. Sin is a kind of developmental phase -- necessary if we are to reach the higher level.
2. Sin does represent a conflict between individuality and universality, and both are necessary.
1. We are not parts or aspects of God (the Absolute). The contrast between our sinfulness and God's holiness is real, not merely apparent.
2. Philosophical thought of a pantheistic sort offers no viable solution, since it denies our real existence as individuals in space and time.
3. There is no permanent solution to sin: the transition from sin to faith must be continually repeated in our experience. We never simply leave sin and guilt behind.
1. Human existence is a matter of living through time, which involves having a narrative or history to one's life.
2. Therefore, the central challenge of human life is that of "becoming a self" by constructing and maintaining the continuity of the narrative of one's life through time, despite changes.
3. This unity or continuity of one's life-history is either a unity with God or against God. If it does not include God, it necessarily excludes Him.
4. Therefore, human life begins either in a state of unity with God or of opposition to God.
9. When we encounter God's self-revelation in time (the incarnation), we first become aware of our own opposition to God. Guilt and the consciousness of sin is the first result of the encounter with God.
10. The solution to sin is faith, the acceptance of the paradox.