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Unformatted text preview: EVIL, ORIGINAL SIN, AND EVOLUTION RICHARD J. PENDERGAST, S.J. Fordham University, Bronx, U.S.A. This article has three sections. The first discusses the problem of evil; the second, the sins of both angels and men that originally introduced evil into the world; the third, a teleological theory of evolution that clarifies the relationship between the first two sections. At present there is a great deal of discussion about the nature of the evolutionary process. Some argue that ultimately it is a strictly random one. But it is quite impossible to prove scientifically that evolution is strictly random. From a Christian point of view the best way to view it is to see it not only as the result of divine intelligence, but also as due to a ferocious conﬂict between superhuman powers – the biblical angels and demons to whom God in the beginning gave the power to guide and develop his creation. I. THE PROBLEM OF EVIL In Christian theology, the benevolent and omnipotent God is the principle of unity and order in the world. How is it, then, that the world has so much disorder and suffering? And why are organisms, and indeed the whole biosphere, so clumsily designed? The world is good and beautiful but it is also evil and ugly. In a Christian culture the existence of good is the subject of praise and thanksgiving, but intellectually it can be taken more or less for granted as something obvious in view of the Creator’s perfect goodness. However, the problem of evil is difficult. Someone has said that the problem of evil is the great rock on which Christian faith founders. Its classic formulation was given by Epicurus and reformulated in modern times by Hume: Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil? 1 This classic atheistic claim is that divine omnipotence, divine goodness, and the existence of evil are incompatible. Christians know, of course, that this cannot be true. Their faith in God is founded on divine revelation and personal religious experience, not on abstract reasoning. Nevertheless, the question remains, how can atheistic skepticism be refuted in a coherent, strictly intellectual way? Before Darwin it was thought that this had already been done, at least partially, by the doctrine of original sin. In my opinion the original sins of angels and men is indeed the answer to the problem of evil, but in our age it needs to be reformulated in a way that takes account of modern science. Otherwise, in an age of science the Christian worldview loses some of its convincing force. Evil is, of course, a problem not only for Christians but also for every human being....
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