August 5, 2006

God Charged with the Sin of Omission

Posted in scripture, theodicy at 11:20 am by Jerry

Step right up to Make-Your-Very-Own-Theodicy right here…

The all-knowing, all-powerful, wholly good Being known as God is charged with the Sin of Omission:


(Latin omittere, to lay aside, to pass away).

“Omission” is here taken to be the failure to do something one can and ought to do. If this happens advertently and freely a sin is committed. Moralists took pains formerly to show that the inaction implied in an omission was quite compatible with a breach of the moral law, for it is not merely because a person here and now does nothing that he offends, but because he neglects to act under circumstances in which he can and ought to act.

The degree of guilt incurred by an omission is measured like that attaching to sins of commission, by the dignity of the virtue and the magnitude of the precept to which the omission is opposed as well as the amount of deliberation. In general, according to St. Thomas, the sin of omission consisting as it does in a leaving out of good is less grievous than a sin of commission which involves a positive taking up with evil.

There are, of course, cases in which on account of the special subject matter and circumstances it may happen that an omission is more heinous. It may be asked at what time one incurs the guilt of a sin of omission in case he fails to do something which he is unable to do, by reason of a cause for which he is entirely responsible.

For instance, if a person fails to perform a duty in the morning as a result of becoming inebriated the previous night. The guilt is not incurred at the time the duty should be performed because while intoxicated he is incapable of moral guilt. The answer seems to be that he becomes responsible for the omission when having sufficiently foreseen that his neglect will follow upon his intoxication he does nevertheless surrender himself to his craving for liquor.


The Charge:

41″Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;

42for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink;

43I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’

44″Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’

45″Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’

46″These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Matthew 25 (NASB)

STATEMENT: The all-knowing, all-powerful, wholly good Being, at least, is indirectly responsible for human suffering because this Being is aware of all human suffering and has not used any power to extinguish it. If this statement is true, it begs this question — How does a wholly good Being justify the existence of human suffering and the inaction to extinguish it?

If you believe every human being should obey all commands from this all-knowing, all-powerful, wholly good Being, then you must do your part in providing them with a clear conscience to do so…

In Make-Your-Very-Own-Theodicy we can help you answer this question. Just describe in the space following “The Lesser Evil =” what you consider to be the worst human suffering ever experienced.

The Lesser Evil =

Then, describe a greater evil the all-knowing, all-powerful, wholly good Being is stopping from existing yet results in the existence of the lesser evil you’ve described above.

[DISCLAIMER: Theodicys do not rid participants of both greater evils and lesser evils. They merely justify the lesser evils.]


1 Comment »

  1. Natalie Rae said,

    I must admit to personally agreeing with you – which is why I am not a traditional theist. I have written an essay on the problem, looking at tradition answers.

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