Splendor of Truth - What We Believe



If everything God created was good, how was there an evil serpent in the garden with Adam and Eve? (CCC 391-395)

The evil serpent is Satan. Satan was originally created good; he was angel, traditionally the most beautiful one, and had the name Lucifer, which means angel of light. Before the fall of man, the angels were also given a trial of faith, and Lucifer, along with one third of all the angels, failed this test and “fell.” Their choice was made freely and it is irrevocable. Therefore, the devil who was in the garden, along with the demons, are all fallen angels who were originally created good.

Why did God put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the Garden? Wouldn’t it have been better if there was no opportunity for Adam and Eve to sin? (CCC 396)

No. God wants to be in a relationship with us. A relationship consists in two persons that love one another. In order for us to truly love God, our decision to love Him must be a free choice. If there is no other option, the choice is not free, but obligatory, and therefore, it is not love. Second, mankind needs to understand that God is Creator and man is creature. Imposing regulations on us forces us to acknowledge the Lord is sovereign and that we have total dependence on Him. Furthermore, having a choice leads us to trust and faith. We have to make a free and rational decision – do I trust that what the Lord has asked of me is for my best and for my happiness?  In the first sin of Adam and Eve, and in each sin of mankind, the answer to this question has been “no.” Each sin is a failure to trust the love and goodness of God. In each sin we, in essence, say, “I know better than God for my life.” The Lord desires that we freely choose to acknowledge and trust His love and goodness, and to do this, we need to have the opportunity to choose against Him. For more on this issue, please refer to the question, If God is all-powerful and all-loving, why is there evil in the world?

Did Adam and Eve really eat an apple or is this story meant to be a myth? (CCC 390)

The answer to this question is best expressed by quoting the Catechism: “The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.”

What were the consequences of Adam’s sin? (CCC 402-409)

Humanity lost its state of original holiness and justice, which constituted four general losses. Man lost his harmony with (1)God, (2)other men, (3)himself, and (4)nature. As well, he lost sanctifying grace (faith, hope and love), the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the four preternatural gifts (see question, “What was the condition of man before the Fall?”). The loss of the preternatural gifts means that we are subject to ignorance, obedience is difficult, we are subject to suffering and death, and we are inclined to sin (this inclination is called concupiscence). In general, the natural powers of our human state were (and still are) wounded, no longer able to function to perfection. However, they were wounded, but not lost. We are able, with the grace of God through Jesus Christ, to heal our wounded nature. In the Sacrament of Baptism, we are given sanctifying grace, and through prayer and the other Sacraments, we can receive again the gifts of the Holy Spirit and grow in grace and virtue. The preternatural gifts will be restored and bettered in heaven (we can partially remedy some on earth). Eventually, in heaven we will be completely healed and restored. In fact, because of the mercy of God, our condition heaven will be better than it was before the Fall.  

Are we born sinners? (CCC 402-406)

We are born with original sin. This is not a personal sin that we ourselves committed, but rather a fallen state that is contracted. We inherit a fallen nature that was a consequence of the sin of Adam and Eve. Positively, original sin is wiped clean through Baptism. However, we retain the inclination to the sin, which is called concupiscence, and we will battle with this inclination our whole lives.

Why do we inherit Adam’s sin even if we never sinned ourselves before we are born? (CCC 402-406)

To begin, there is no complete answer to this question, for fullness of understanding will only be granted in heaven. There are two key principles to look at here.

The first one is justice – good and bad both have consequences, not just one or the other. Original holiness and justice (the gifts given to Adam and Eve) were also to be transmittable to all mankind. In other words, had Adam and Eve not sinned, we would all still enjoy the gifts he was originally given.  Positively, we also have the universality of Christ’s sacrifice. Through one man (Adam) sin entered the world, but though one man (Jesus) all men are saved. God applies the same principle for the good and bad acts – this is just. It would be useless to have consequences only for good acts on not bad; reward without the possibility of punishment does not accomplish much.  Again, God’s mercy prevails, as the state of man after Christ’s Redemption is better than our state before the Fall.

The second principle love as a communion.  To love implies having someone to love. We are not autonomous beings that exist in our own bubble; man is a social being. Humanity lives in communion with one another.  One profound way to illustrate this truth is original sin and redemption. These two acts show us that our acts have consequences on others; they do not affect only us personally. Every act, good or bad, has a consequence. This is why Jesus calls the Church a Body (His Body). In the body we clearly see that the actions of one part of the body (good or bad) affect the whole body. While we may look at this negatively, it is really truly beautiful. The responsibility of choosing good for the sake of ourselves and others impels us to love, to go outside ourselves to love our neighbor. If our actions did not have universal consequences, we would be able to live alone within ourselves. This is not love. God, in His wisdom, knew is it “not good for man to be alone” because this is not love. (For more on this truth see questions, Why is God a Trinity and not simply one Person in one God? and What do we mean when we say man was created in the ‘image and likeness’ of God?” and Why did God create us male and female?)

Why did God create us if He knew we were going to sin and cause all this suffering? Wouldn’t it have been better if He never created us in the first place? (CCC 410-412)

There are many aspects to this question so we will simply give a few points to ponder. First, God did foresee our sin and the suffering we would cause. However, this same foresight allowed Him to see that in order to redeem us (even though we do not deserve it), He would have to become man and be cruelly put to death. So at the same time he saw our suffering, He also saw His own greater suffering and chose to create anyway – even though He enjoyed perfect happiness without us. He loves us that much.
Second, it is worth quoting St. Thomas: “There is nothing to prevent human nature's being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good.” Therefore St. Paul says, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” As well, at the Easter Mass we sing, “O happy fault,. . . which gained for us so great a Redeemer!” In other words, God allowed our sins knowing He could bring forth something more beautiful than the original. (For a more in-depth explanation, please see the question, If God is all-powerful and all-loving, why is there evil in the world?)




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