Jesus came and was crucified two thousand years ago. Wasn’t that supposed to quell God’s wrath against humanity? Jesus was supposed to have gone up to heaven in a cloud with the intention of being back quickly. He’s still not back. What’s going on here? The original sin thesis for ongoing natural evils, aging, corruption, and death (if taken seriously) begs questions surrounding the principle of sufficient reason. None of the reasons offered (so far as I can tell) get anywhere near to being sufficient to explaining the horror and magnitude of suffering in the world, and now I read in Thomas Aquinas himself that God is directly and actively withholding his protection from human beings because of Adam and Eve’s departure from First Reason. Here’s Thomas Aquinas in Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, ch. 52:
[We Christians] affirm that man was, from the beginning, so fashioned that as long as his reason was subject to God, not only would his lower powers serve him without hindrance; but there would be nothing in his body to lessen its subjection; since whatever was lacking in nature to bring this about God by His grace would supply.
In other words, Aquinas is saying that the covenant (deal, bargain) God made with Adam and Eve was this: if they subjected their reason and will to God, then God would, by his grace, prevent their composite bodies (bodies consisting of parts) from disintegrating into corruption and death.
But Adam and Eve didn’t keep their side of the bargain, so God withdrew his grace. He let them age, corrupt, dissolve, die.
Put another way, the human body tends toward falling apart. Dissolution is the result of its potential as something composite reaching its actualization. In Thomism, this is called “potency” and “act”: all composite things posses potencies that are only sometimes actualized. Wood, for example, can become fire. It’s one of its potencies.
Likewise, if Adam and Eve had never sinned; if they had submitted their reason and will to God, then their bodies’ potential for corruption, by God’s grace, would never have manifested.
This means that if a lion had tried to eat Adam and Eve, or a storm to batter them, they would have gone on living by God’s ongoing miraculous protection and grace, but that was withdrawn after they stopped submitting their reason and will to God, and so their “potency” for corruption and death became their “actuality” (they really and truly aged and died). This withdrawal of God’s grace from them as composite beings has continued down to this day, to their descendants. We, Adam and Eve’s descendants, are being punished for our distant parents’ sin.
This is the doctrine of original sin.
This isn’t God wishing it were different. This is God actively letting the battering torment of composite potency turned to actuality go on and on for no apparently sane reason (Adam and Eve disobeyed orders they barely comprehended in the first place, and now their descendants go through excruciating decomposition, unprotected by God, to this day).
What am I missing in the original sin thesis that makes it plausible? And why would one ever give oneself over to the worship of such an inscrutable deity?
Is it fear of additional punishment and hell? What other reason could it be?
Here are some more questions: Is original sin really a sufficient reason for tsunamis wiping out 100,000 people at a time? Has God justly withheld his (her?) protection from Adam and Eve’s descendants? What’s the sophisticated explanation here that I’m missing? What’s the higher good that this ongoing and active withdrawal of God’s protection from Adam and Eve (and their descendants) producing? Why is God prolonging this withdrawal of protection?
I simply don’t understand. Explanations?