Replacing original sin with prayerful hope as Catholic theology's response to the problem of evil
Thesis (M.A.L.S.)--Georgetown University, 2008.; Includes bibliographical references. The theological problem of evil poses a substantial challenge to all monotheistic faith traditions. In Roman Catholic theology, the primary response to the problem of evil is the doctrine of original sin. According to this doctrine, human suffering is attributable to a putatively historical event: The first people, Adam and Eve, introduced disorder into creation by disobeying a divine command. This disorder transformed human existence from a state of "original justice," in which humanity experienced neither death nor suffering, to a state of original sin, in which each person is inclined toward sinful activity and vulnerable to harm. The state of original sin is transmitted from parent to child at conception, and, although baptism erases the metaphysical taint of Adam and Eve's deed, the concrete effects of original sin are permanent, subjecting each person to a lifetime of moral error, physical hardship, and certain death.; In the thesis that follows, I demonstrate that the doctrine of original sin is theologically deficient, that it conflicts with other Church teachings, and that it inflicts harm on both the faith community and the Church itself. As a result, I argue that the Church should cease employing original sin in response to the problem of evil. In place of original sin, I propose adopting a theological concept that I entitle "prayerful hope." This concept -- which is derived from the Church's recent reanalysis of the doctrine of limbo -- argues that those who suffer should challenge God through prayer to end their suffering, and the Church should explain to the faithful that there is good reason to believe that such prayers will be answered. I demonstrate that this teaching would correct the theological errors that pervade the doctrine of original sin, would be consistent with all major Church doctrines, and would take a significant step toward ameliorating the damage that original sin has wreaked on the Church and its followers. I conclude by demonstrating that the Church could replace original sin with prayerful hope at little cost to the Church's magisterial authority, and I recommend a specific procedure for effecting this long overdue theological change.
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Why God and Darwin won't go away [review of An Evolving Dialogue: Theological and Scientific Perspectives on Evolution, by James B. Miller; Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought, by Pascal Boyer; Darwin's God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil, by Cornelius G. Hunter; Doing without Adam and Eve: Sociobiology and Original Sin, by Patricia A. Williams] White, Ronald F. (2002-01)