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This Is Why God Created Us Limited and Finite and Allows Evil

by Dr. Eitan Bar
7 minutes read

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”.

Genesis 1:31

In our quest to comprehend the intricate subtleties of religious texts, we often grapple with abstract concepts that defy easy understanding. One such notion is the distinction between “good” and “perfect,” especially when considered within the realm of divine creation. The debate primarily revolves around the premise that what is created as “good” is not necessarily “perfect.”

God created human beings as inherently limited in their capabilities, encompassing very little wisdom, understanding, and only a basic emotional depth. This leads us to make mistakes often, which is known as our sinful nature. However, our imperfections serve a profound purpose in the divine blueprint of creation. In this article, I would like to explore why an omnipotent and omniscient God would create humanity with such inherent restrictions.

Is the creation perfect?

Scriptures consistently define the creation as “good,” but nowhere do they pronounce it as “perfect.” This distinction forms the basis of a critical conversation surrounding the nature of existence and the perceived role of God in it.

Consider natural phenomena like earthquakes, volcanoes, and hurricanes. These are intrinsic components of our planetary existence, and while they can cause profound damage, they also contribute to the vital processes that support life on Earth. For instance, volcanoes create fertile land, while hurricanes can distribute heat around the planet. So, in a “good” creation, these events find their place.

However, the notion of a “perfect” world may not accommodate such seemingly destructive elements. But then, where is it stated that God only introduced these elements after the fall? Nowhere in the scriptures do we find such claims, and suggesting otherwise (like pointing to Genesis 3:18) would be considered eisegesis.

What is “perfect”?

The standard for perfection is God. God’s traits include Omniscience (all-knowing), Omnipresence (ever-present), Omnipotence (all-powerful), and Omnibenevolence (all-loving). If humans were to attain all knowledge conceivable, transcending the realm of “good” and edging towards perfection, we would still fall short. Despite attaining vast knowledge, we wouldn’t necessarily be “perfect” because we still lack the other divine traits. Therefore, we cannot say that Adam and Eve were created perfect. In fact, they were created finite and limited in many ways that affected their thought process and decision-making.

Were Adam and Eve perfect?

God’s perfection lies in the fact that there is no necessity for any alteration in His Being, Essence, attributes, decrees, or Persons. God and His perfections are one (as suggested by scriptures such as Malachi 3:6, Numbers 23:19, Psalm 102:25-27, 1 Samuel 15:29, Revelation 22:13, and others.) If God’s nature were susceptible to change through addition, subtraction, infusion, or any other means, it would signify an imperfect nature. Any form of change, whether for better or worse, implies imperfections in the object subject to change.

In contrast, Adam and Eve were created as finite beings with a capacity for learning and growth. This indicates that they weren’t created perfect but good. Here, “good” implies that they were bestowed with free will. However, free will, when coupled with limited knowledge, inevitably leads to sin. Hence, while they were created good, the potential for sin was an inherent part of their nature due to their capacity for choice and limited understanding.

What’s the meaning and purpose of life anyway?

So, it’s necessary to ask: why do we assume that the purpose of life and creation is to attain perfection? An alternative, arguably more profound perspective suggests that the purpose of life and creation is the journey of knowing and understanding LOVE.

This approach brings us to the somewhat paradoxical role of sin. Love, grace, compassion, and their ilk are only truly understood and appreciated in the face of sin. Thus, sin is not an anomaly but a crucial part of the learning process that allows us to grasp these profound concepts. How else would it be possible for Adam and Eve to understand and experience the full depth and extension of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness if it weren’t for their sinning in rebellion?

Christians following Augustinian doctrines (such as Calvinists) see Genesis chapter 3 as God’s “plan B” set in motion by human disobedience. However, I would claim it’s inaccurate to view Genesis chapter 3 as God’s “Plan B.” Instead, sin, within this understanding, serves a purpose. It illuminates the path towards grasping the deeper notions of love and grace, steering us away from the pursuit of unreachable perfection and redirecting us towards the more attainable goal of goodness. Perfection will eventually come, but not in this lifetime (Revelation 21-22).

Undeniably, sin, with its destructive potential, can cause pain, suffering, and upheaval. It distorts the harmony of relationships, erodes trust, and often propels us into a spiral of remorse and guilt. In this sense, sin is indisputably detrimental. Yet, it is also within this harsh reality of sin that we find an opportunity for growth and maturity.

Humans are not robots. Machines cannot sin; humans can. As counterintuitive as it may seem, sin serves as a catalyst for learning. Each misstep or lapse in judgment, while unfortunate, also brings forth an opportunity to reflect and reassess our choices. Sin provides a harsh but effective mirror, reflecting our fallibility and need for grace and forgiveness. It reinforces our human limitations and our constant need for divine guidance.

In essence, sin helps us mature by instigating introspection and repentance. It can lead us to seek forgiveness, not just from God, but also from those we have wronged. In this process, we can learn to exercise humility, demonstrate empathy, and extend compassion—integral aspects of personal and spiritual growth.

Through the acknowledgment and confrontation of our sins, we are prompted to learn about mercy, grace, and redemption. These are the very experiences that shape our understanding of divine love, allow us to grow in faith, and ultimately foster maturity. Thus, while sin does cause pain, it paradoxically also becomes a tool that helps us navigate our spiritual journey toward wisdom and understanding.

The Divine Intent Behind Human Limitations

The creation of humanity with finite capacities is a deliberate act by God meant to foster interdependence among individuals. If humans possessed perfect wisdom and understanding, held to all the knowledge in existence, and had a deep emotional capacity, the need for one another would mostly diminish. Relationships are not just social conveniences but are central to God’s plan for human existence. They teach us about love, sacrifice, humility, and patience. Through our interactions, we experience growth, not despite our imperfections but because of them. Each person’s unique limitations and strengths can complement another’s, which fosters a community that thrives on mutual support and understanding.

Moreover, our limitations allow for the expression of free will and the genuine development of character. In a world where every outcome is predetermined by perfect beings, the concept of choice becomes redundant. It is through our flawed decisions and the moral challenges we face that we can truly grow—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. This growth is often most profound when we are able to recognize our vulnerabilities and depend on God and each other for guidance and strength.

Justice, Judgement, and the Nature of God

Addressing the nature of divine judgment, it is vital to contextualize it within the framework of God’s justice, which is inherently tied to His mercy and love. The concept of an all-loving God condemning His imperfect creation to eternal punishment for failing to achieve unattainable standards contradicts the biblical portrayal of a compassionate and forgiving God. Scripture tells us that God’s judgments are righteous and His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). This implies that divine justice is not about harsh punishments, like burning people forever in fire, but about corrective measures designed to bring souls back to righteousness.

The core beliefs of some denominations, holding that the Gospel is about (avoiding) eternal torment for imperfections (beliefs like Penal Substitution Atonement or the Satisfaction Theory of Atonement), is a misinterpretation of the essence of Jesus’ teachings. Christ’s message was predominantly about love, forgiveness, and kindness towards one another. The parables of Jesus, such as the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan, emphasize mercy and forgiveness over strict retribution. These stories illustrate that God values repentance and loving-kindness over flawless adherence to laws.

The Gospel: A Message of Love, Not Fear

The Gospel message, therefore, is fundamentally about how we treat each other (Matthew 22:37-40). It invites us to live out the commandment of loving God and our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39). In doing so, it challenges us to see the face of God in everyone we meet and to act toward others with compassion and empathy, reflecting the love that God shows us despite our imperfections.

In conclusion, our limited and finite nature is a purposeful design by God, intended to cultivate a world where individuals are interdependent, capable of love, and able to grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually through their relationships with one another. The true measure of our lives, according to the Gospel, is not how perfectly we have lived but how deeply we have loved. This perspective aligns with the character of a just and merciful God, who calls us not to a life of fear and punishment but to one of love, service, and mutual care.

Suppose God had created us perfect like Him—omniscient, all-understanding, and all-knowing—we would never sin. Without sin, we would never experience the profound lessons of forgiveness, grace, compassion, or love. These virtues are only learned and appreciated through the challenges and imperfections of the human experience. Forgiveness, grace, and compassion cannot be learned only in theory. Since they involve an emotional experience, they must be experienced. Suppose God had created us perfect like Him—omniscient, all-understanding, and all-knowing—we would never sin. Without sin, we would never experience the profound lessons of forgiveness, grace, compassion, or love.

God must allow sin and evil to exist

In the discourse of theological inquiry, the existence of sin and evil in a world created by a benevolent God often stirs deep existential questions. The Biblical narrative, however, offers a profound explanation: evil, as a stark contrast to good, serves as a necessary element in the divine pedagogy. The presence of evil and sin is a critical component in understanding and appreciating goodness, ultimately leading to spiritual purification and redemption.

Evil Creates Contrast

To comprehend the fullness of light, one must first experience darkness. This metaphor resonates beyond the physical realm, touching on the spiritual essence of human existence. Just as one cannot fully appreciate warmth without the prior chill of cold, the full appreciation of good can only arise from a backdrop of experienced evil. This paradigm helps to explain why a benevolent God might allow sin and evil to persist in the world. It is not to encourage suffering but to enable a true understanding and appreciation of virtue, righteousness, and divine goodness. Humanity must experience evil in order for it to appreciate God’s goodness.

Evil Enables Free Will

The temporal life is marked by contrasts and choices. Every day, humans face decisions that pit good against evil, right against wrong. By navigating these choices, individuals develop moral and spiritual discernment. If the world were devoid of sin, would there be true freedom of choice? Without options to choose from, the ability to love good genuinely and freely might become meaningless. In this light, sin exists as a necessary backdrop for free will, allowing individuals to choose God and goodness out of a genuine preference rather than a lack of alternative.

This article is part of the book, “HELL: A Jewish Perspective on a Christian Doctrine

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Dr. Eitan Bar
Author, Theologian, Activist