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Christian ButConfused wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Since God is all knowing and omniscient, why did He create us if He knew we would fall to sin?

The Bible says that He created man and woman to know Him, to glorify Him, and to love Him and I understand that to have love implies freedom. Freedom implies the ability to make the wrong choice, i.e., to sin. I get that but that leads me to a few other questions.

  • Through all of this, it is assumed that I wanted to live.
  • That I wanted to have to make these choices.
  • That I even wanted to be a conscious being.
  • I didn't get a choice in that, so why do I have a choice to choose to sin?

This brings on the original sin issue, which I have always had a problem with. All of us being born with a sinful nature irks me.

  • We have to make choices before we are even fully developed and know the difference between right and wrong, yet I am supposed to be condemned for this?
  • Why does the freedom to choose have to be a right or wrong choice?

A loving parent will give their child freedom, even freedom to hurt themselves in a minor way, but they would never let their child wander out into traffic . . . something that could kill them.

  • So why would God give us the freedom to choose death; something nobody in their right minds would choose?

So that makes me ask another question:

  • Why does God create us and then require that we worship Him or suffer death/Hell.

We must worship Him. It doesn't seem like there is really that much free will involved to me.

If I made a lot of living things like myself, I don't think I would expect them to want to worship me.

  • Wouldn't He have more loyal, loving worshippers if the choice is worship or do whatever else for Eternity?

Then the choice isn't so much of an ultimatum. A loving girlfriend wouldn't say to her boyfriend, you need to either marry me and spend forever with me or kill yourself and expect him to just accept these options.

  • So what was the point of God making us in the first place?
  • Did He just want people to worship Him?
  • Or did He want joyful people?
  • Or did He just get bored and lonely?

Christian ButConfused

  { Since God is all-knowing and omniscient, why did He create us if He knew we would fall to sin? }

Eric replied:

Dear Christian ButConfused,

You said:

  • Since God is all knowing, omniscient, Why did He create us if He knew we would fall to sin?


  • Why would a parent conceive a child knowing it would disobey (as they all do from time to time)?
  • Why plant seeds in a garden knowing some will fail to sprout, grow, and bear fruit?

I don't understand the dilemma, I guess.

  • Why would God not want to create us knowing we would fall into sin?

Obviously some people would repent and enter into friendship (communion) with Him and enjoy that for all Eternity. The gift is so much greater than the trespass (cf. Romans 5:15). There is a part of the Roman Easter Vigil liturgy where it says of Adam's fall,

O Happy Fault, that gained for us so great a redeemer!

The idea is that the fall of Adam that caused us all to become sinners paradoxically gave us a better outcome than if it had never happened.

You said:
The Bible says that He created man and woman to know Him, to glorify Him, and to love Him and I understand that to have love implies freedom. Freedom implies the ability to make the wrong choice, i.e., to sin. I get that but that leads me to a few other questions.

  • Through all of this, it is assumed that I wanted to live.
  • That I wanted to have to make these choices.
  • That I even wanted to be a conscious being.
  • I didn't get a choice in that, so why do I have a choice to choose to sin?

You can't make a choice to live without first being created. Thus it is an impossibility to decide not to be created. There is nothing to make a decision! Even if we're talking about living as in continuing to exist rather than being created, we have to make an informed decision — obviously an infant is too young to make a decision, and one might argue that even an adolescent is too young to make that decision — and I'd argue we are never old enough to make that decision. Life and death belong to the Lord.

I don't get the connection between having a choice to choose to sin and having a choice to live or be created.

  • Why is it that you posit they either both have to have a choice or both have to have no choice?
  • What, in your mind, requires them or binds them to work the same way, so to speak?

You said:
This brings on the original sin issue, which I have always had a problem with. All of us being born with a sinful nature irks me.

  • We have to make choices before we are even fully developed and know the difference between right and wrong, yet I am supposed to be condemned for this?

I am not sure what you mean. No one is condemned to punishment for making choices before they know right from wrong. It may be true that we are born into a state deprived of sanctifying grace, but that does not mean we going to be punished for sins we did not commit.

You said:
Even the most justice courts don't punish the children and children's children of a murderer and call that justice.

  • On the other hand, if your father was born a rich man, and squanders away his fortune before you are born and becomes a pauper, you and likely several generations down will be affected by this (or punished), no?
  • Our sin has consequences for those around us. If a father gets put in prison, do not his children and their children suffer?

The punishment of sin chiefly is the natural (I include here the supernatural) consequence of it. Sin is its own punishment. Don't think of it in a legal sense, think of it organically as something that, by the nature of the flow of creation, follows from the action

You said:

  • Why does the freedom to choose have to be a right or wrong choice?

A loving parent will give their child freedom, even freedom to hurt themselves in a minor way, but they would never let their child wander out into traffic . . . something that could kill them.

  • So why would God give us the freedom to choose death; something nobody in their right minds would choose?

Eternal life is being a friend of God and spending all Eternity with him in intimate union.

  • If someone doesn't want to be your friend, or doesn't want to have an intimate relationship with you, would you force them to do so against their will?
  • Would you argue, then, that it is better for God to compel an unwilling person into eternal friendship with him than give them the separation from him that they want?

I don't agree that nobody in their right minds would choose death. You may not choose death, but there are many whose hatred for God is such that they would never want to spend Eternity with Him and would choose Hell over that. No one goes to Hell who doesn't decide to go there themselves. Either the soul says to God,

Thy will be done,

or God says to the soul,

Thy will be done.

You said:
So that makes me ask another question:

  • Why does God create us and then require that we worship Him or suffer death/Hell.

We must worship Him. It doesn't seem like there is really that much free will involved to me.

If I made a lot of living things like myself, I don't think I would expect them to want to worship me.

  • Wouldn't He have more loyal, loving worshippers if the choice is worship or do whatever else for Eternity?

Then the choice isn't so much of an ultimatum. A loving girlfriend wouldn't say to her boyfriend, you need to either marry me and spend forever with me or kill yourself and expect him to just accept these options.

God is the Source of all life, of all good, of all truth, of all beauty. Worshipping God does not benefit God. It benefits us, because it connects us with the Source of life itself. Like a grape on the vine, if we disconnect ourselves from the vine — we shrivel and die.

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

(John 15:4-11) The Holy Bible. (2006). (Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition, San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

It's important to realize that God is not just a being among beings. He is not, contrary to what we often hear, a Supreme Being. Rather, he is the Source of all being in and of itself. "In him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28) He is not independent of the Universe, nor is He part of the Universe, rather He sustains the whole Universe by His Being. If God were to stop actively thinking about you, you would flame out and disappear like the flame of a shut off gas grill.

  • I don't know if you are a parent, but if you are, do you not expect your children to respect and honor you, and stay in contact with you?
  • If they decided never to speak to you again, how would that affect your relationship?

In essence, that is the same scenario you describe, If I made a lot of living people like myself. That's precisely what happens in parenting. Obviously, like God, you would want your children to remain in contact with you. But obviously, if they choose not to remain in contact, they are impoverished to a certain degree (especially if they were runaway minors). With God, it is the ultimate degree, because He is the Ground of all being and the Source of all Life. In this case, you really are hosed if you separate yourself from God, because there is no other Source of life and being. "In him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28) Hence, you experience death.

It's not a matter of God issuing an ultimatum. It's like plucking a flower; it looks good for a while, but eventually -- it dies.

There is a pervasive philosophical error known as Nominalism that posits that free will is the ability to choose between good and evil, so-called Freedom of Choice. Instead of free choice proceeding from reason and will, in Nominalism, reason and will proceed from free choice, because we can choose to reason and to will. Hence each act does not depend on anything but his or her own choice; free choice is the first faculty.

The more traditional Christian view is for something called Freedom for Excellence, which means that we are free to choose what is good and what will make us happy, and not be enslaved to what is bad or self-destructive. In this view, ability to choose evil is actually a defect. The most free person is the one who can't choose evil, and the least free person is the one who can't choose good (these are those in Heaven and Hell, respectively).

In Nominalism's Freedom of Choice, any force outside my autonomy (i.e. God) is a threat to freedom. God has absolute power over the human person; the moral law expresses divine will and limits human freedom by imposing forces of obligation. The law, not love and happiness, is source of morality. Good and evil are defined by legal obligations. If God commanded hate, it would be good (in this view). Moral life is circumscribed by obligations rather than happiness.

I think this is what you're struggling with. You are portraying worship as an obligation (rather than a life-receiving expression of love) and remarking that the dichotomy between serving God (life) and rejecting God (death) seems to violate free will.

I think this is because your understanding of free will is flawed. It's not freedom of choice; it's freedom for excellence. The more we root ourselves in God, the Source of life and being, the more we participate in God; the more we participate in God by grace, the more grace perfects nature and we are able to practice virtue; the more we practice virtue, the freer we are, meaning the more flexibility we have to choose the good (happiness) and reject the bad (self-destruction).

The more we choose the good, the more virtuous we become, and the cycle begins again.

You said:

  • So what was the point of God making us in the first place?
  • Did He just want people to worship Him?
  • Or did He want joyful people?
  • Or did He just get bored and lonely?

The Triune God is entirely self-sufficient and did not need us to fulfill any needs, nor is He enriched by us in any way. He created us for our benefit entirely out of His Own Magnanimity and Generosity.

319 God created the world to show forth and communicate his glory. That His creatures should share in his truth, goodness, and beauty — this is the glory for which God created them.

(Catholic Church. (1997). Catechism of the Catholic Church #319 (2nd Ed., p. 84). Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.)

Eric

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