Knowing Good And Evil

A reply to my post last night mentioned Genesis 3 where the man was to be made like God knowing good and evil. I have good reason to believe that this was meant in a sarcastic manner. Unfortunately, the writer didn’t give the context. I don’t mean the context of the passage, but the way he wanted me to take it. What does he desire for me to draw from this?

I can think of a number of things, but none of them really seem to make sense. Let us suppose the first one. Let us suppose that he wants to get the idea that God knows evil. In this case though, knowledge does not mean experience but speaks of it as a reality. However, evil is only a reality in that it is a privation of the good and God knows the evil by the good.

In fact, if that is the point, it’s nothing new. (Something most critics of Christianity have yet to learn. Many points of this kind have been raised within the past 2,000 years of Christianity and have already been answered but there are some out there who never crack open a book and jump up and down thinking they’ve found a new stumper. Hate to tell you all but you won’t disprove the resurrection by asking who Cain’s wife was, who was his sister by the way.)

In the first volume of Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica, Question 14, Article 10, Aquinas deals with this question. Does God know evil things? The answer is yes. How? If God is to know good things perfectly, he must know their absence as well. If he does not, then he does not know the good. Aquinas uses the argument that by light, darkness is known. In fact, he quotes the writings of the Pseudo-Dionysius which predate him.

These questions have been raised. I urge the reader to check out the source for himself. If it’s hard to understand, that’s alright. There’s a lot in theology and philosophy that’s hard to understand and I read a text and often think “It’ll make more sense in a few years.” However, Aquinas wrote in a time when the students were familiar with great thought.

It was so much a time that this was written for the instruction of beginners. The beginners would have known Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, most of the church fathers, and Scripture. They would also have a knowledge of many of the natural sciences and be familiar with the Muslim philosophers.

Do we have any beginners today? (Yet somehow, we’re the most intellectual era of all supposedly.)

The second objection I can think of is that man did not know good and evil then. I think there are types of knowledge then. Man did not know it on a basis of familiarity. He would have known it was evil to disobey God, but he did not know the reality of what it meant to disobey God. He did not know the reality of the privation of the good.

But since this was about Lewis originally, let’s get it back to his point. Lewis wrote about how God wants to make saints. God does it by having the creatures be themselves and slowly removing all that does not reflect him and the creature does participate in this. (And I would say willingly. This does not mean that we don’t resist it at times though.)

That then is Lewis’s point. We do know evil, and we will still know what evil is I believe in eternity, but we will be free from its presence. It has been said that justification is freedom from the penalty of sin, sanctification from its power, and glorification is freedom from its presence.

Perchance there was more in the objection. If there is, I’m missing it honestly. There are other objections to get to though, and maybe those will come up in the next few days. This writer is busy though, but Deeper Waters will keep going to keep giving you thoughts on theology and philosophy from a Christian worldview.

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