Thursday, July 29, 2010

Evil and Suffering

Q - I was researching answers to the problem of evil and suffering--in particular, an answer to things such as natural disasters.  I found that one of the reasons we have them is largely in part due to the Fall of Adam and Eve. This apparently disrupted the order of nature or as the CCC would say: “Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man.  Because of man, creation is now subject ‘to its bondage to decay.’”

This was one of the best answers I could find--in terms of natural disasters at least.

But, my real question I was wanting to ask was that if we messed up nature at the Fall, did anything particularly happen at the Cross in conjunction with the passion of Mary, the New Eve, and the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ, the New Adam, that would have 'mitigated' or 'made better' anything that happened to nature at the Fall?  I know that we will have a renewed earth when Christ comes again, but is there anything that Christ did since then or that our acts of obeying God now (as opposed to rejecting Him at the Fall) that could, in a sense, un-disrupt the order of nature, e.g., lessening the number of earthquakes or tornados?

A - Thanks for the question. I can tell you have been putting a lot of thought into this, so I hope I can do justice to the topic.

Yes, we have been redeemed and salvation is offered to us. By Christ's passion, death and resurrection we are now able to participate in eternal love in Heaven. But, does this heal all of what was undone at the Fall in the Garden of Eden? Yes, but not necessarily right now.

Ultimately all will be healed - including the fact that the world / nature is not completely redeemed. In other words, Christ has done all that was needed to be done, but the healing of us and the rest of the created order will not be complete until the end of the world. It isn't a question of if He redeemed us fully, but when the Redemption will be made complete.

This is because we are in a time of testing. We are fallen, yet redeemed. We have a sinful tendency, and are re-born in baptism. The struggle between what St. Paul calls "the world" and grace will continue for each of us personally until we die or Christ comes again. The rest of creation also needs the completion of the Redemption. As St. Paul writes:
"I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance." - Romans 8: 19-25
I hope this helps. Peace.

1 comment:

Marcus said...

Every since I tried to explain to my 8 year old the concept of heaven and earth combining creating a new earth where there is no suffering (and most importantly where he'll get to ride a shark), I've been pondering what it means to live in a world very much like our own but without suffering. This reminded me of the verse in Genesis where, because of the fall, god "increased" woman's labor pains, implying that there were labor pains even before the fall. Now, if there was pain before the fall, does that mean there could be pain after the resurrection? In other words, before the fall was the world the same as it will be after the resurrection? My guess is no and I imagine it has something to do with the beatific vision.