Previous Page  19 / 25 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 19 / 25 Next Page
Page Background

of religious and philosophical accounts that developed

independently of Christianity. A sense that something

is amiss has been widespread, pace James Boyce, in all

human cultures, not just in the West. And, in the West,

neither rejection nor ignorance of the Christian doctrine

of original sin guarantees the formation of a more positive

outlook on the human condition. As it happens, pessimistic

accounts of the human condition, resting on some notion

of a primordial or ancestral fault, are common everywhere.

It is important to understand that the revealed expla-

nation of the existence of evil offers a correction, or at least

an alternative, to common theories, religious and otherwise,

about the source of moral evil. The account of creation

and the fall in Genesis itself is clearly intended to counter

prevailing dualistic views in ancient near eastern cultures.

Features of the Genesis account “give to the Hebrew concept

of Creation a fundamentally optimistic character which

paves the way…to the solution of the problemof the origin

of evil.”


Genesis affirms the essential goodness of cre-

ation as the fact that “the unique sovereignty of God over

what he has made, a power limited by no antagonistic

primordial principle” with “no suggestion that material

nature is imperfect.”


Moreover, with regard to creation

and the fall of man, Genesis clearly affirms that “God is not

the author of evil and that his creatures were not defectively

made in the first place.”


The exclusion of these erroneous

theories remains a critically important aspect of Catholic


In short, we need the Catholic doctrine of original

sin today precisely in order to counter the pessimism and

21 Sheffczyk, 9

22 Ibid., 6, 9

23 Ibid., 8-9